Just Foreign Policy News
July 7, 2010
Hamas Lawmaker: Gaza Flotilla Did More Than 10,000 Rockets
Who now doubts that strategic nonviolent action can transform the politics of the Israel/Palestine conflict? Not Hamas parliamentarian Aziz Dweik, the Wall Street Journal reports: "When we use violence, we help Israel win international support," said Aziz Dweik, a leading Hamas lawmaker in the West Bank. "The Gaza flotilla has done more for Gaza than 10,000 rockets." What might happen if Muslim-majority nations demanded that the US stop subsidizing Israeli settlements in the West Bank that even the Israeli government says are illegal? What might happen if they backed the boycott of corporations explicitly linked to the Israeli occupation?
Viral IDF dancing video unwittingly reveals reality of occupation in Hebron
Adam Horowitz notes at Mondoweiss that this video of Israeli soldiers dancing in Hebron - which has been viewed on youtube more than a million times - unintentionally reveals a picture of the Israeli occupation that most Americans don't know about. Why is the street deserted? Because Palestinians are forbidden to use it; though it was formerly a major Palestinian commercial street; though the Israeli government agreed to re-open the street under the Oslo accords.
South of the Border, scheduled screenings:
Who now doubts that strategic nonviolent action can transform the politics of the Israel/Palestine conflict?
Not Hamas parliamentarian Aziz Dweik, the Wall Street Journal reports:
"When we use violence, we help Israel win international support," said Aziz Dweik, a leading Hamas lawmaker in the West Bank. "The Gaza flotilla has done more for Gaza than 10,000 rockets."
A few months ago, the Israeli government's blockade of Gaza was not a prominent issue on the world's agenda. Now, the Israeli government is being politically compelled to "ease" the blockade. Not end it: still, materials for reconstruction are not yet being let it in; still, exports from Gaza are not yet being allowed out; still, inputs for Gaza's factories are not yet being allowed in. But even the measures to "ease" the blockade which have now been announced, such as replacing the list of allowed items with a list of prohibited items, are demands which prior to the Gaza Freedom Flotilla the Israeli government summarily rejected.
And this story is far from over: international press are reporting on the blockade as they did not do before, scrutinizing Israeli government claims as they did not do before, citing the counter-claims of Israeli, Palestinian, and international human rights groups as they did not do before. And more boats are on the way.
What else could be accomplished if governments and mass movements that oppose Israeli government policies towards the Palestinians threw their weight behind other strategic and morally irrefutable demands?
Just Foreign Policy News
July 6, 2010
3/5 of House Dems 'Obsessed' With Afghan Withdrawal Timetable
Less than a week after President Obama complained that there's "a lot of obsession" about the withdrawal date for U.S. troops from Afghanistan, three in five House Democrats voted for the McGovern-Obey amendment that would have required President Obama to establish a timetable for withdrawal; in an usual move - the Speaker usually doesn't vote on the floor - Speaker Pelosi voted for it too.
South of the Border, scheduled screenings:
Oliver Stone's documentary shows you the South America the New York Times doesn't want you to see.
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1) The White House "startled" Democratic lawmakers and "stunned" teachers' unions by threatening to veto the war supplemental because it included money to save 140,000 teachers' jobs that was partially offset by a cut to a White House education initiative of which the teachers' unions are skeptical, the New York Times reports. Administration officials said the House bill had little chance in the Senate.
"Obsession" isn't just "a fragrance for men." According to our Commander-in-Chief, "obsession" now also characterizes the widespread interest in the timeline for bringing home 100,000 American boys and girls safely from Afghanistan so they can grow old with their sweethearts and lead economically productive lives, rather than becoming Pentagon statistics or lifelong burdens on their family members and the public purse.
President Obama said there's "a lot of obsession" about the withdrawal date for U.S. troops from Afghanistan, AP reported Sunday.
This "obsession" has so afflicted the body politic that Thursday night, three-fifths of the Democrats in the U.S. House of Representatives voted for an amendment on the war supplemental that not only tried to lock in the July 2011 timetable for the beginning of the drawdown that President Obama promised last year, but also would have required the President to establish a timetable for the completion of the drawdown.
Are some of us "obsessed" with a withdrawal timetable for U.S. forces from Afghanistan? Damn straight we are. Advocacy of a withdrawal timetable is the principal means by which Americans outside of the military can act politically to protect the lives of our fellow citizens who are being deployed. Every day by which we can shorten the war is a day on which our fellow citizens won't have the opportunity to be blown up in Afghanistan.
And as for the people of Afghanistan, the withdrawal timetable is our ticket to freedom from having the same relationship with Pashtun residents of Kandahar in southern Afghanistan as the Israeli army has with Palestinian residents of Hebron in the southern West Bank.
Tonight, the House of Representatives is expected to vote on the Pentagon's request for $33 billion for open-ended war and occupation in Afghanistan. While press reports suggest that when the dust settles, the Pentagon will have the war money, it's likely that a record number of Representatives will go on the record in opposition to open-ended war and occupation.
Representative Jim McGovern [D-MA] and Representative David Obey [D-WI] are expected to introduce an amendment on the war supplemental that would require President Obama to present Congress with a timetable for military redeployment from Afghanistan.
Ninety-eight Representatives have already signed their names to this policy, by co-sponsoring McGovern's bill, H.R. 5015.
In addition, the McGovern-Obey amendment would try to lock in the President's promise to begin a "significant withdrawal" of troops in July 2011 by requiring another vote on funding if the promise is not kept. The amendment also requires a new National Intelligence Estimate by January, which would hopefully have the effect of forcing the Administration's promised December review of the war policy to be real and its main conclusions public.
So far, the high-water mark for House opposition to the Administration's war policy in Afghanistan came in June 2009, when 138 Members voted for an amendment introduced by McGovern requiring the Pentagon to present Congress with an exit strategy. Among House Democrats, McGovern's June amendment had majority support by a margin of 131-114, a 53-47 split.
Just Foreign Policy News
June 30, 2010
War Supplemental Expected in the House Thursday
Rep. McGovern said today he expects the vote on the war supplemental tomorrow.
Reps. McGovern and Obey have introduced an amendment that would require the President to establish a timetable for withdrawal (same idea as the Feingold-McGovern bill); the amendment would also try to lock in the summer 2011 "serious drawdown" that the President promised.
Speaker Pelosi, Put Afghanistan Drawdown On Record with McGovern-Obey
Please contact your Representative, and ask him or her to 1) vote NO on the war money 2) vote YES on the McGovern-Obey amendment, requiring the President to establish a timetable for military withdrawal from Afghanistan.
The Capitol Switchboard is 202-225-3121. Ask to be connected to your Representative's office. Try to get the Foreign Policy Legislative Assistant on the phone; tell whomever you get to speak with that you urge the Representative to vote NO on war funding and YES the McGovern-Obey amendment; try to get them to say how the Representative will vote; report back to us any result of your query at the following link:
Peter Hart, FAIR: NYT's Larry Rohter Responds on His South of the Border Slam
With the House poised to consider the Pentagon's request for $33 billion for more death in Afghanistan, Speaker Nancy Pelosi has told the Huffington Post she expects a "serious drawdown" of U.S. troops from Afghanistan in the summer of 2011. The House Rules Committee has now approved an amendment for consideration on the war supplemental that will allow Speaker Pelosi to "put her money where her mouth is."
Some folks in Washington who want the war and occupation in Afghanistan to continue indefinitely are trying to pretend there has been no commitment made for a significant drawdown, or indeed any drawdown at all, in the summer of 2011. Speaker Pelosi is in a unique position to weigh in on this question, since the House could put the drawdown in writing when it considers the war supplemental, by approving an amendment introduced by Representatives McGovern and Obey to try to lock in the drawdown.
In Jonathan Alter's book, The Promise, Vice-President Biden told us that we can "bet" on "a whole lot of people moving out" in July 2011. Under pressure, presumably from people in the Pentagon who want a "serious drawdown" in July 2011 to be hostage to "conditions," Biden's people have tried to walk back this statement by saying it was an "offhand comment" made as Biden was leaving an interview.
But if you actually read Alter's text, "offhand comment" is hard to swallow. Here's the paragraph:
Just Foreign Policy News
June 28, 2010
NYT Attacks "Border" with False Rant of Pro-Coup Reporter
No reasonable person would have bet serious money that news editors at the New York Times would be huge fans of Oliver Stone's new documentary about South America, "South of the Border." But still, there are supposed to be rules for newspapers like the Times. On Friday, the Times ran an attack on Oliver Stone's documentary by Larry Rohter. Not only was the Times attack inaccurate, more importantly, the Times failed to acknowledge the bias of Larry Rohter in running the article. Rohter covered Venezuela for the Times during the period of the April 2002 coup, and during the coup, on April 12, 2002, Rohter wrote a piece for the Times claiming that the coup was not a coup, but a popular uprising. That should have disqualified Rohter from writing a piece on the film for publication by the Times. At the very least, the paper should have acknowledged Rohter's previous advocacy for the coup - and its own.
FAIR: NYT Reporter, Playing Film Critic, Pans Film About Himself
Stone, Weisbrot, Ali Respond to Attack From the New York Times' Larry Rohter
No reasonable person would have bet serious money that news editors at the New York Times would be huge fans of Oliver Stone's new documentary about South America, "South of the Border." A key point of the film is that mainstream US press coverage of South America in recent years has generally followed State Department priorities more than objective news standards. The New York Times comes in for specific criticism in the film, which notes that the paper editorially backed the short-lived US-backed coup against the democratically-elected government of Venezuela in 2002. (Key evidence on the U.S. role in the coup can be found here. After the coup collapsed, the Times half-apologized for its pro-coup editorial, as also noted in the film.)
But still, accepting that no-one likes to be criticized, there are supposed to be rules for newspapers like the Times. In an editorial, they can express any opinion they want. But news articles are supposed to be accurate, and if a reporter has a direct interest or bias in a situation, the paper should assign another reporter or at least disclose the interest or bias.
But on Friday, the New York Times ran an attack on Oliver Stone's documentary by Larry Rohter, an attack that claimed the film was full of inaccuracies. Not only was the New York Times attack itself inaccurate in its factual claims, as documented by Oliver Stone, Mark Weisbrot, and Tariq Ali in their response - do they have fact-checkers at the Times?
Just Foreign Policy News
June 25, 2010
Speaker Pelosi, More War Funding Next Week is No "Emergency"
Speaker Pelosi says she is committed to passing an emergency war supplemental before the July Fourth recess. But there is no "emergency" requiring the House to throw another $33 billion into bloody and pointless occupation of Afghanistan before we celebrate the anniversary of our Declaration of Independence from foreign occupation. Representatives McGovern and Obey have demanded answers on Afghanistan and teachers' jobs at home before voting on more money for war. If the House wants those answers, it has to be prepared to call the Pentagon's bluff.
27 Congress Members Write to Secretary Clinton on Honduras
The Members express "concern regarding the grievous violations of human rights and the democratic order which commenced with the coup and continue to this day."
Stone's "Border" Shows Fall of South America's Berlin Wall
The failure of the Bush Administration's effort to overthrow President Chavez sent a new signal about the limits of the ability of the U.S. to thwart popular democracy in the region. Following the reversal of the coup, presidents were elected across South America promising to reverse the disastrous economic policies promoted by Washington. The story of this dramatic transformation has been largely untold in the U.S.. But today, Oliver Stone's new documentary, "South of the Border," opens in New York.