Wednesday, June 24, 2009

Temptations of Intervention – Iran et. al.

To fish in troubled waters or not? That is the question. The recent tizzy and follies over Iran pushes the issue front and center.

When Castro took Cuba in 1959, the US right wing wanted to stage a counter revolution and snatch Fidel's New Years prize from him; however, the left wing led by the NY Times prevailed. Many believed Castro was not a Communist, but rather an agrarian reformer; this foolishness persisted well after Castro lined up his opponents before a firing squad and nationalized US commercial interests in Cuba without compensation.

All this developed right under Republican President's I like Ike's nose. If there was ever a historical moment to intervene, a Cuban intervention by the US was it – succeeding history has made this clear; the time was ripe and the US has paid a costly price for its hesitation and military failures.

The Hungarian Revolution in 1956 was another period of political chaos. The Hungarians were encouraged by the Voice of America to revolt against the Soviet occupation. When the Soviet Union proceeded to slaughter about 2500 Hungarian freedom fighters, the US just stood by, meeting 200,000 refugees at the Austrian border with bandages and US visas – for the US, it was a debacle.

Despite the call for revolt, the US was not prepared to fight the Red Army over Hungarian freedom; on the contrary, the Red Army would fight for Hungarian captivity. After suppressing the revolt, to make this clear, the USSR increased the size of its garrison with more motorized infantry and tank divisions.

When the Soviet Union invaded Czechoslovakia, I had a birds-eye view as a US Army Military attache stationed in Moscow. It was clear from Washington's skeptical reaction to cables that portended Soviet invasion of Czechoslovakia, that no one in high places wanted to hear of any such possibility. Anyone on the ground knew the Soviet Union would not twiddle its thumbs as Dubček with his so called Prague Spring would be permitted to withdraw from the Warsaw pact. I had a well-placed source in Moscow that reported regularly to me on the build-up of Soviet forces. These reports alarmed Washington to the extent that I was ordered not to send the reports by cable, but forward them by pouch only. (FYI Pouch is much slower and has lower level dissemination.)

A few days after the invasion, in the last week of August 1968, I met my source at a diplomatic reception. I asked him half-jokingly why he did not provide me the date/time on the invasion. He replied with: What difference would it had made? All your country would do is protest. He added that he had the invasion routes, troop lists and Warsaw Pact components. He then suggested we follow a Russian proverb which advises, what will be, will be, but it is always necessary to drink. At that he dragged me to the bar and we polished off a brandy snifter filled with Armenian cognac toasting the proverb...

Weeks later we learned that negotiations for the Strategic Arms Limitation Talks had been initiated and the US Administration stupidly could not believe the USSR would jeopardize them with an invasion of Czechoslovakia.

The US Ambassador in Moscow confessed to a congressional delegation visiting Moscow that half his staff believed the Soviets would invade and the other half did not. CIA told him what he wanted to hear and his military attaches the opposite. CIA was to repeat its pitiful bootlicking in a SLAM DUNK run-up to the Iraq war later in 2002-3, with much more damage to US interests.

The invasion of Kuwait was Phase I of the invasion of Iraq. President GHW Bush called for the Iraqi Shiites to revolt as coalition forces exited Kuwait/Iraq after ejecting Saddam. Weapons captured from the Iraqis were held on Iraqi land. When Shiites requested these weapons to fight Saddam in an insurrection, their repeated requests were denied by the US. An estimated 60-100 thousand Shiites were slaughtered by Saddam as they rose against him. Loose lips by dopey American pols have had people killed.

Many Republicans in congress have criticized Obama for not intervening politically during the current crises in Iran. Both houses of congress, however, passed resolutions finding abuse of the Iranian people morally repugnant. Ron Paul was the only member from both houses who refused to vote for it. He should be congratulated for not joining the knee-jerk stampeding congressional herd.

Some Republican senators, obediently following Israeli policy, are calling for a regime change. You have to wonder whether these people are Israeli lap dogs or running dogs. US military and political entanglement in Iran is not in the US interest. This is why Obama tries to hold the US criticism on a moral level. By this time the American people should have figured out that what is good for Israel is not good for the US.

What Bomb Bomb McCain and his Israeli pals wish would backfire badly; it would inflame Persian nationalism; Iranian leadership would scapegoat the US for their internal problems to include the bloody suppression of anti-regime elements. It would destroy any hope for US/Iranian rapprochement.

As with the pictures from Somali during starvations there during the Bush/Clinton periods, the over-excited main stream media again wants action. Shepard Smith at Fox News last weekend nearly had a calf over the brutal photography from Iran. He almost wept over his vexation that he had serious problems confirming facts. Glen Beck also at Fox News cries easily too. He gives us tears weekly. Come on girlie-boys, the US ain't really got a dog in this fight.

There is almost no difference in Ahmadinejad and his opponents – all want a religious state; all have centralized economics and, all hate the West as they are children of the Iranian revolution. Let us hope both sides lose. Colonel Robert E Bartos USA Ret.

Tuesday, June 16, 2009

Murder at the Holocaust Museum

It was an 88-year old man with a relic 22 calibre rifle named von Brunn who murdered a black security guard in an attempt single-handedly to storm the Holocaust Museum and Memorial in Washington DC a few days ago.

Von Brunn apparently was so physically decrepit that the guard whom he killed with a single shot in the breast sought to help his assailant through the door. After he fired, other museum guards quickly brought von Brunn down in the doorway with head shots: two 38 calibre slugs in the face. Last report was that von Brunn was in critical condition in a Washington, DC hospital, charged federally with murder.

Murder in our nation's capitol is a recurring horror, but this one stopped traffic on a key artery, the 14th Street Bridge, and caused paroxysms of journalistic frenzy. We learned immediately that the killer was a neo-nazi anti government hater. He left his manifesto in his car that was double parked outside the museum – it was reread repeatedly for at least three days by a titillated main stream media.

About the only groups that pay much attention to these neo-nazis or skin heads are the Southern Poverty Law Center, whose main spokesmen appear Jewish; swastika tattooed Aryan Brotherhood types, who abound locked in prisons; and, wanna-be storm troopers found roaming in wooded mountain states. There are American Jewish groups who react to Holocaust issues with fury and hunt for Holocaust deniers, now that most of the Nazis are dead and gone.

For example, on 11 June 09, published an over-the-top story by Rabbi Dr. Morton H. Pomerantz titled: Obama Breeds Climate of Hate Against Jews. He wrote: Our new president did not tell a virulent anti-Semite to travel to the U.S. Holocaust Memorial Museum in Washington to kill Jews, but he is most certainly creating a climate of hate against us. It is no coincidence that we are witnessing this level of hatred toward Jews as President Barack Obama positions America against the Jewish state... In Cairo, Obama said things that pose a grave danger to Jews in Israel, in America and everywhere. This screed gives you the sense of the hysteria that can be found over the issue in America.

Relax Rabbi, Dr. Pomerantz, no Jews were killed; only black people are in mourning and they do not blame Obama.

The FBI took the neo-nazi threat seriously some time ago and crushed the leadership cadres. At best, the movement survives on an individual basis or small cell – the open, mass David Duke appeal has long disappeared. A Lone Wolf like von Brunn continues to be a problem for the FBI as they operate in outside networks, and are not easily penetrated.

One crazy fallout is the fascist and racist memorabilia attraction. About 20 years ago the New York Times Sunday Magazine section published an article with photographs depicting American Jews as the largest group of collectors of Nazi uniforms and objects. Ebay now proscribes the sale of such Third Reich items, but the market flourishes and not only among Jews. Sale of the such items in Germany is VERBOTEN.

As museums are opening in the US celebrating the racial struggle, a market in slave related items, segregation signage, and Klan regalia is developing. Little Black Sambo has returned to its historical niche.

The general media outrage of the murder by von Brunn at the museum may have had the opposite intended effect: by publishing his demented creed while it condemned, the process had the opposite affect of propagandizing it. The adage that a WICKED BOOK GATHERS NO DUST has merit. Except for the announcement that the museum is now open, the sudden collapse of the story after three days of intensity bears witness to the editors' late enlightenment. Too late, the neo-nazis will count him as hero and figuratively send von Brunn to Valhalla with a Viking funeral.

The FBI has announced von Brunn will survive his wounds. Depending on how much cognition the 88-year old man, shot twice in the head, has left, the projected trial may draw more freakish attention than OJ's. It is a sordid tale that will end sordidly. Colonial Robert E Bartos USA Ret.

Wednesday, June 10, 2009

Obama’s Words & Actions

A WORD AND THEN A BLOW was probably a motto on some ancient nobleman's crest. Reviewing President Obama's rapid fire, BANG BANG speech itinerary this last week in foreign lands, you have to wonder when his rhetoric stops and his deeds begin. The more speeches he delivers, the more he sounds the same. Much of his substance is recycled stuff that promoted him during his presidential bid, now retuned for a world audience. One exception was his speech in Cairo, Egypt.

Sure the Cairo speech had that artful Axelrod blissful touch of making a black man non-threatening to a non-black audience. It had the typical apologetic self-effacing hallmarks of a better world combined with thoughtful logic. In this case, this audience was third world; it had painful recollections of invading, rootin shootin pink-skinned, bible quoting crusader GW Bush – so brown Obama, using Arabic and Koranic phrases, could have had a tail, horns, bat wings and pitchfork; he still would have received a standing ovation with shouts from the assembled at Cairo University of WE LOVE YOU.

There were some unusual themes in the President's speech that if instituted might result in quantum changes in the Middle East. His message to Iran was conciliatory and much to Israeli discomfort, he mentioned a nuclear-free Middle East; implicitly, this proposition called for no Israeli nucs too. His call for no new Israeli settlements stuck a finger in the Israeli eye and undermines the current Likud Israeli campaign promises. Further, Obama's call for a separate Palestine state is enough to cause the current Israeli regime to have a stroke.

Republican House Minority Leader Boehner dutifully assisted Israel by condemning Obama's speech for his position on Iran and the Israeli. Pro Israeli NEW YORK TIMES tried to argue that GW Bush had unofficially green-lighted continued settlements; it had to admit, however, that there was nothing in writing. Best the paper could report was that American Jew, Elliot Abrams, member of the Holocaust Committee, reported that he understood such an arrangement existed. With his troubled legal history, who believes him on anything?

Israeli Prime Minister Bibi Netanyahu has promised to deliver a speech soon. This will provide the American Jewish Lobby its marching orders. Israeli settlers are already building shacks calling them Obama Huts. So expect a full-court press against Obama's proposition. My sense is that Obama's knees will buckle in the face of pressure. Israelis will produce a political knife fight over the issue; it will be too messy for Obama who will find a reason to back down.

On Obama's previous European trip he committed to 108 billion dollars to the International Monetary Fund. Now is time to pay up. The US Senate has attached a 108 billion appropriation to a 96 billion supplemental war bill. Republicans are fairly asking: Is the US borrowing from China to give money to IMF so it can lend it? The dollar is worth less than 60 cents versus the Euro as of today. The whole thing is fiscal insanity. You may want your dentist to cap your teeth with gold to protect your net worth and make it portable.

As reality closes in on Obama, the more he appears driven to speech making. The more speeches, the less his accomplishments. That is a correlation for disaster. His economic programs are faltering. Unemployment figures are staggering. Federal debts are met with printing more money or funds from China. His stock market is pumped up artificially by statements from his three stooges economic team of Summers, Geithner and Bernarke. His war strategy is failed Nixonian: PEACE WITH HONOR.

Alternatives? None. The Republicans hopelessly are goofier than ever – squealing over Socialism started by GW Bush and still Crazy for Christ. Colonel Robert E Bartos USA Ret

Wednesday, June 03, 2009

Obama, Jews, & The Promised Land

After the wall came down, I visited Berlin. During a taxi tour of East Berlin, the German driver pointed out to me the site for the new US embassy. He then added with a thin smile: “It will be adjacent to the proposed Holocaust Memorial”. Years later the memorial has been built; the US Embassy sits on its north side.

This close proximity of the two installations may be a metaphor for US/Israel relations. Over the years these links have become more entangled; more fused. Whether this situation projects US National Security interests or damages them, appears under review in the Obama Administration.

American Jews voted loyally for Obama. Members donated generously to his campaign. Their celebrities in the entertainment world spoke at political rallies. Jewish supporters and gentiles such as the Clintons, expended a major effort for Obama, mainly focused in Florida.

About the only group of Jews opposed to Obama were the Neocons led by Senator Lieberman who wanted the war in Iraq to continue with US troops stationed there permanently. Both Bomb Bomb McCain and Giuliani also had principal Jewish American national security advisors. These Neocon advisors advocated permanent war. As a result, some American and Israeli Jews argue smugly that they have a serious political influence in both parties. Based on the evidence, who can challenge this conclusion?

Jews represent 1.7% of the US population of which 78% voted for Obama. That was up from 60% that voted for Kerry four years previously. Despite this high percentage that vote Democratic, they are a diverse group – secular and non-secular and from different tribes, some asiatic or north African or European. Intermarriage with non jews dilutes their homogeneity, but nearly all fervently unite on the survival of Israel as a nation.

This fixation brings into question their loyalty, especially those Jews who have dual citizenship. Are they American Israelis or Israeli Americans? The foreign policy goals of both countries are different and in some cases clash.

Evidence of this is apparent in Israeli conduct over the years. In 1967 the Israelis repeatedly attacked an unarmed US Navy research ship the USS Liberty in international waters near Israel. Rockets, bombs and napalm hit the ship launched from Israeli aircraft; Israeli torpedo boats hit the ship from the sea. Thirty four US sailors were killed and 171 were wounded. Israel paid about 7 million to compensate their families. This attack remains as the only serous maritime incident that was never investigated by Congress.

One explanation that dramatizes the effort of American Jews to influence policy is an example provided by John Gunther Dean a former American Ambassador to Lebanon, Denmark, India and Thailand. J. G. Dean is a Jew born in Germany who had relatives murdered by the Nazis; he became a US citizen and rose quickly in the US State Department. In his memoirs, DANGER ZONE, he explains how he was besieged by American Jewish congressman, lobbyists and Israeli operatives to influence policies favorable to Israel. Their argument centered on the Zionist appeal for unity and loyalty to the Jewish tribes. Dean is convinced he was a target for assassination.

Israel engages in massive espionage operations against the US. For its extent and details Google ISRAELI SPYS USA. The latest outrageous cover up was the recent dropping of espionage charges against two Jewish American members of AIPAC, a major Jewish lobby in USA. We know Jewish American Congresswoman Harmon was involved, pressuring the US Justice Department.

An interesting detail that came out was that Condoleezza was to be involved by defense lawyers; that they intended to call her to the stand, because she used APAC to communicate directly with Israel. Why would she circumvent the State Department’s discreet backchannel communication to Israel is unknown. One reason is that there is no US documentation of the communication. This should be investigated as it casts continued suspicion on the affair. But we know the US Congress does not investigate Israel.

Another wing of the Israeli support system in America is the so-called Zionist Christian Evangelists. These Americans have established links with Israel investing in religious facilities in Israel. This sect is fixated by the final battle between the forces of good and evil at Armageddon

I witnessed a preacher on TV from the group. He wore a blue suit, had the slick appearance of a reborn Vincent Price and spoke from Israel. He appealed for donations by offering a silver-plated shofar (Hebrew ceremonial rams horn pipe blown at Jewish rituals) for 1,000 dollar contributions. Guess that is better than gold-plated circumcision instruments. While many dismiss the group as another pack of religious crackpots, Israel does not. On the same TV show the freshly minted Israeli Prime Minister Netanyahu personally thanked the zealots for their support.

Obama has been inclusive with American Jews. In his White house staff, Axelrod is his long-time friend and closest political advisor. Emanuel is the most powerful as his chief of staff. The President has honored Hebrew traditions with a Seder at the White House. In a few weeks he plans to visit a Holocaust site near Buchenwald.

President Obama became involved in the Arab/Israeli conflict while he was still in his transition period, before his inauguration. Israel was bombing Gaza and striking on the ground in retaliation for rocket attacks from Gaza. By any civilized standard, it was an over reaction by the Israelis. GW Bush, as he did in the most recent bombing of Lebanon, stood by and blocked any International ceasefire.

Uncertain how he did it, but Obama, though not yet president, is given credit for the ceasefire. By that time, 1400 Arabs were dead, many more wounded and the city destroyed. More than 800 of the Arabs killed were women and children while Israelis lost less than six people; it was a slaughter not a victory. Israelis used mainly US military equipment and ordnance in the operations.

After the election of Obama, a left winger, the Israelis elected right winger Bibi Netanyahu as Prime Minister. Bibi had been out of power for about 10 years; he has an aggressive reputation of shoot first and ask questions later. He and his Likud party are kindred souls of the US Neocons. So there is an awkward historical irony of an American left-wing president having to do business with an Israeli right-wing leader

Netanyahu and Obama's face-to-face meeting occurred in Washington a few weeks ago. There was a clash of policies between the two countries. Previously, Obama had sent his CIA Director, Panetta, to Israel to warn them not to be stupid and bomb Iran.

There are sharp differences between Bibi and Obama other than bombing Iran, i.e.: division of Jerusalem, return of Lebanese land, right of Arabs to return to their land, Golan heights, two-state solution, unrestricted travel of Arabs on their lands and halting settlements on Arab lands. Obama has already drawn a line in the sand on the settlement issue: told them to stop and the Israelis have refused. Some of the Israeli leadership called Obama a pharoah over this issue.(FYI, last time a big time American politician was called a pharoah was the legendary mayor of Chicago Richard J. Daley; Obama may be flattered and accept the intended insult, smiling graciously.)

Obama has leverage on Israel. First, Israel without the US cannot survive long term. The US provides diplomatic support and an estimated 4 billion in aid plus loan guarantees for building construction. With much of the aid Israel buys weapons from the US – so some money is recycled to the US for military ordnance and manufactured military equipment. Whether Obama has the political courage to use his leverage is another question, which will soon be determined.

As far as Israel being the only Democracy in the area... How can a theocratic state with officially one religion be democratic? Ask an Arab muslim living under Israeli law about that. You will get another take.

At one time one could argue that Israel was strategically important to the US. With the existence of the USSR and its wars of national liberation, the US support was an acceptable counterpoise. With the end of the Soviet threat, Israel's strategic importance has diminished. If the US needs to stage from the Middle East, there is always Kuwait even if the US presence is curtailed in Iraq. Every time an Israeli kills an Arab with a US weapon, the US pays a price in its ability to influence the situation; it makes more enemies for America in the Islamic world. Blank check support of Israel by the US now is out of habit, not national security interest.

Though the longitude and the latitude are wrong according to Hebrew prophets, the US is their Promised Land. The Jews tried to find it historically in Spain, Germany, Poland and Central Asia; their flourishing communities were rejected – in most cases in a bloody fashion. The beleaguered state of Israel is a warrior state bound to perish unless its leadership finds another path. Until then, the US will continued to be its Promised Land, only if as a minority it does not over reach and rile the majority. Colonel Robert E Bartos USA Ret

Photograph: Poster Wake Up America by James Montgomery Flagg