Just Foreign Policy News, March 20, 2013
A16: Let Sarah Knuckey and James Cavallaro Testify About the Drone Strikes
Go Straight to the News Summary
Help your friends sign up to receive the Just Foreign Policy News
Do you know someone who might want to receive the Just Foreign Policy News? You can send them this link:
Support the Work of Just Foreign Policy
Your support helps us to educate Americans about U.S. foreign policy and create opportunities for Americans to advocate for a foreign policy that is more just.
I) Actions and Featured Articles
A16: Let Sarah Knuckey and James Cavallaro Testify About the Drone Strikes
On April 16, Senator Durbin’s Constitution subcommittee of Senate Judiciary is holding its first-ever hearing on the drone strike policy. This could be a historic opportunity for the public to find out what is really going on with the drone strike policy – if Durbin invites the right witnesses to testify. There are a number of good witnesses one could suggest, but two of them meet the following criteria: they’re professors of law, they went to Pakistan and interviewed drone strike survivors, and they wrote a report about it.
*Action: 10 Years later, Don’t Iraq Iran!
Together with Win Without War, Peace Action West, the National Iranian American Council, and the Friends Committee on National Legislation, we’re calling Congress today, urging them not to repeat their disastrous Iraq war with Iran. Urge your Senators and Representative not to cosponsor AIPAC’s bills for war with Iran, and to insist that these bills go through committee markup so that (at least!) their most egregious features can be removed – like trying to pre-approve US participation in an Israeli attack on Iran. FCNL has offered the use of its toll free number, 1-855-68-NO WAR. More information, and a place to report your call, here:
Gaza’s Ark will try to break the Gaza blockade from the other side: the blockade on Gaza’s exports. A boat will sail out from Gaza carrying Palestinian goods. The campaign will also attack the blockade more broadly. There are many ways to support the campaign, and they can be found here:
1) On Sunday, the New York Times ran an extraordinary magazine piece on West Bank Palestinians who are resisting the Israeli occupation through non-violence, MJ Rosenberg writes. The extraordinary aspect of the piece was that the article appeared in the New York Times at all. Ben Ehrenreich’s piece had a clear point of view: the occupation is a terrible thing that should not continue.
2) Operating theatres in Iran are running out of anaesthetics due to a shortage of medicine caused by international sanctions, the Guardian reports. Iranian doctors and pharmacists have warned that hospitals across the country are facing difficulties finding the drugs used during life-saving surgery. In his latest report on the situation of human rights in Iran, UN special rapporteur Ahmed Shaheed expressed concerns about "the potentially negative humanitarian effect of general economic sanctions" and called on the countries behind the punitive measures to make sure that "humanitarian exemptions are effectively serving their intended purpose."
3) Cypriot lawmakers rejected a 10 billion euro bailout package on Tuesday, the New York Times reports. The IMF-backed plan, which would have set an extraordinary precedent by taxing ordinary insured bank depositors to pay part of the bill, led to street protests in Cyprus and set off a wave of anxiety across Europe.
4) Sen. Patrick Leahy, D-Vt., wrote to a constituent that the F-35 program is "poorly managed" and "a textbook example of how not to buy military equipment," the Burlington Free Press reports. Leahy’s letter to Christopher Hurd, a member of the Stop the F-35 coalition, said the F-35 program "is approaching a point where the military services and a majority of Congress will recognize that the jet is just too costly to proceed with purchases at today’s planned levels."
5) Senator Rand Paul says the 2001 Authorization of Force that effectively began the Global War on Terror should be repealed, but that attempting to do so now is not likely to go anywhere, writes David Weigel for Slate. [The New York Times suggested in an editorial repealing it now, effective when US troops leave Afghanistan – JFP.] Paul noted that he tried and failed to repeal the Iraq AUMF, but said he would try again. [The previous effort was in Fall 2011, before all US troops were withdrawn; an effort today stands a much better chance of success, and would set a good precedent for repealing the 2001 AUMF in the future – JFP.] Paul says there are 20 countries the US is operating in now under the 2001 AUMF, which he says reflects too loose of an understanding" of what is authorized.
6) Posters in Ramallah warn President Obama not to bring his smartphone when he arrives in the West Bank because there is no 3G service, one of an untold number of complaints Palestinians have about their life under Israeli occupation, Jodi Rudoren reports for the New York Times.
Palestinian legislator Ziad Abu-Amr said Abbas would make clear to Obama that he would return to the negotiating table under either of two conditions. One is a mutual six-month freeze in which Israel halted building in West Bank settlements and Palestinians refrained from using their new observer-state status in the United Nations to pursue claims in the International Criminal Court or other agencies. The other is a broad agreement on borders, dividing the land between the Jordan River and the Mediterranean Sea along the pre-1967 lines, with some land swaps to accommodate the largest Israeli settlements. If Obama fails to deliver the Israelis, Abbas will be forced to go to the international institutions, Abu-Amr said.
7) A Dutch NGO is pushing for a Nobel Peace Prize nomination for Uruguayan President José Mujica for his opposition to the global "war on drugs," in particular, his efforts to legalize marijuana, ABC reports. Frans Bronkhorst of the Drug Peace Institute said his organization would gather "the voices of victims of the drug war" in its campaign to get a Nobel Peace Prize nomination for Mujica. He said organizations that campaign against prohibitionist drug policies currently lack a global symbol or a famous spokesman, and added that Mujica could fill this void.
1) The Times Eviscerates The Occupation
MJ Rosenberg,19 March
On Sunday, the New York Times ran an extraordinary magazine piece [http://www.nytimes.com/2013/03/17/magazine/is-this-where-the-third-intifada-will-start.html] (it was the cover story) on West Bank Palestinians who are resisting the Israeli occupation through non-violence. For those who follow the issue closely, the extraordinary aspect of the piece was not so much anything author Ben Ehreneich revealed as it was that the article appeared in the New York Times at all.
You just don’t expect to find this type of reporting on Israel in the Times which, ever conscious that it is the _New York_ Times, is always cautious about its reportage on Israel. Most of its coverage is either extremely balanced ("the Palestinians say this, the Israeli government says that") or slavishly supportive of the Israeli line. (Columnists Tom Friedman and Nick Kristof both consistently deviate from the line, but they are columnists, influential columnists to be sure, but opinion columnists nonetheless).
Ehrenreich’s piece neither adhered to the Israeli line nor was it balanced. It had a clear point of view: the occupation is a terrible thing that should not continue. Does that make it biased? It would, if there was another side to the argument. But in the case of the occupation there isn’t. Imagine Ehrenreich’s counterpart on the right explaining that the 45-year occupation is a good thing which should continue forever.
Other than West Bank settlers and their supporters on the far right of the Israeli and American political spectrum, no one makes that case. The United States government is committed to the "two-state solution." Prime Minister Netanyahu has also endorsed it as has every Israeli prime minister since Yitzhak Rabin signed the Oslo agreement with Yasir Arafat. As for the lobby here in the United States, it too supports the two-state solution.
It hardly needs to be said that endorsing the "two state solution," by definition, means opposing the occupation. After all, there is no place where a Palestinian state could be created other than the West Bank (including east Jerusalem) and Gaza. That is if you favor two states. The "one state solution" would include the land that is now Israel in a single state for all the people who live there. But that, obviously, is something different than the "two state" framework.
Of course, neither the Netanyahu government nor the lobby here _really_ want the occupation to end. If they did, they would not, in the case of the Israeli government, keep expanding settlements or, in the case of pro-Israel organizations here, support Israel’s right to do so. Nor would they use their influence to prevent any pressure from the United States on Israel to end the occupation. In short, both Israel and its lobby here nominally oppose the occupation while actually supporting it.
The reason they can’t say they support occupation is the same reason that the New York Times will never run a major piece that takes the opposite point of view from Ehrenreich’s. That is because in the year 2013, it is no longer possible to defend occupation and the denial of rights to the native people that goes along with it. Like defending colonialism or segregation, defending occupation is beyond the pale of civilized discourse.
And that is why hardly anyone defends it. It survives because those who favor it, do not engage on that issue directly, saying "of course, I oppose the occupation _but_ …."
And it is the arguments that follows the "but" that allow an institution universally believed to be wrong to continue.
The words that invariably follow the "but" rarely, if ever, defend the occupation itself. Instead they attack the people whose land is being occupied, the Palestinians in particular and sometimes Muslims in general.
[…] The best news about the Ehrenreich piece is that he simply describes the occupation in all its ugliness, forcing the reader to forget for a time all the propaganda about Palestinians and instead focus on the conditions Palestinians are subjected to simply because the settlers (and the Israeli government that supports them) wants their land. And, beyond that, he defends non-violent resistance to the occupation as the one means that can end it. (He quotes one Israeli army official saying that he prefers dealing with resisters who shoot, "you have the enemy, he shoots at you, you have to kill him." But he is confounded by non-violent resistance. Another is quoted as saying, "We don’t do Gandhi very well." In short, Ehrenreich eviscerates the occupation and describes how it can be ended.
No, that is the second best news about the piece. The best news is that it appeared in the New York Times. Most definitely, the Times, they are a changing.
2) Surgeons struggle in Iran as sanctions squeeze drug supplies
Doctors and pharmacists warn operating theatres will close as medics turn to "old drugs" to make up shortfall in vital supplies
Saeed Kamali Dehghan, Guardian, Monday 18 March 2013 16.17 EDT
Operating theatres in Iran are running out of anaesthetics due to a shortage of medicine caused by the unintended consequences of international sanctions.
Iranian doctors and pharmacists have warned that hospitals across the country are facing difficulties finding the drugs used during life-saving surgery.
"Drugs such as Atracurium, Isoflurane and Sevoflurane are either not available in the market or are very scarce," said Kheirollah Gholami, a leading pharmacist from Tehran University of Medical Sciences.
"If these drugs are not supplied, our operating theatres will have to close," he said, according to quotes carried by the semi-official Ilna news agency. "You can’t just use a hammer to make patients become unconscious… If you don’t have anaesthetics, patients in need of operations may simply die."
Gholami’s warning has been echoed by many of his colleagues and medical officials, including Mohammad-Mehdi Ghiyamat, who is the head of the Iranian society of anaesthesiology and critical care. "In the wake of [the Persian new year] Nowruz holidays, only patients in emergencies can be transferred to operating theatres and we don’t know what to do with the others," Shafaonline, a medical news website, quoted Ghiyamat as saying.
[…] In his latest report on the situation of human rights in Iran, UN special rapporteur Ahmed Shaheed expressed concerns about "the potentially negative humanitarian effect of general economic sanctions" and called on the countries behind the punitive measures to make sure that "humanitarian exemptions are effectively serving their intended purpose".
Marietje Schaake, an MEP, called on the EU last month to reconsider sanctions so that Iran’s ability to undertake life-saving operations is secured. "Crippling sanctions are only justifiable if they target the Iranian regime and not the civilian population," she wrote to the EU’s high representative Catherine Ashton. "The EU should stand with the Iranian population, instead of making their lives even harder."
3) Rejection of Deposit Tax Scuttles Deal on Bailout for Cyprus
Liz Alderman, New York Times, March 19, 2013
Nicosia, Cyprus – Lawmakers rejected a 10 billion euro bailout package on Tuesday, sending the president back to the drawing board to devise a new plan that might still enable the country to receive a financial lifeline while avoiding a default that could reignite the euro crisis.
The bailout package, which would have set an extraordinary precedent by taxing ordinary bank depositors to pay part of the bill, led to street protests in this tiny Mediterranean country and set off a wave of anxiety across Europe.
As hundreds of demonstrators gathered outside Parliament chanting antigovernment slogans, lawmakers voted 36 against with 19 abstaining, arguing that it would be unacceptable to take money from account holders. One member who was out of the country did not vote.
Protesters angry at what they saw as a dictate by Germany to enforce harsh bailout terms wielded unflattering posters of Chancellor Angela Merkel, a day after one climbed to the roof of German Embassy and threw down the German flag.
4) Leahy criticizes cost of F-35 jet program
Letter describes $12.5 billion a year program as ‘too costly to proceed’
Burlington Free Press, Mar 13, 2013
Sen. Patrick Leahy, D-Vt., wrote Tuesday to a constituent that the F-35 program is "poorly managed" and "a textbook example of how not to buy military equipment."
Leahy’s letter reflects closer scrutiny of the F-35 in budget-conscious Washington because of its rapidly increasing cost. A March 11 update from the Government Accountability Office, which monitors spending of public money for Congress, said the program will cost "$12.5 billion a year through 2037."
The GAO said the program, designed to provide a new warplane for the Marines, Air Force and Navy, "is nearing $400 billion to develop and procure 2,457 aircraft through 2037." The plane has experienced frequent engineering and design problems leading to delays in deployment, additional expense for retesting and the GAO said the three services have spent about $8 billion to keep warplanes such as the F-16s based at Burlington International Airport in service while development work on the F-35 continues.
Leahy has joined Sen. Bernie Sanders,I-Vt., and Rep. Peter Welch, D-Vt., in supporting the basing of the F-35A at the Burlington Air Guard station, despite local concerns that it will be up to four times louder than the F-16s. Airport noise has led to the need under FAA guidelines to purchase and raze homes near the airport.
Leahy’s letter to Christopher Hurd, a member of the Stop the F-35 coalition, said the F-35 program "is approaching a point where the military services and a majority of Congress will recognize that the jet is just too costly to proceed with purchases at today’s planned levels."
[…] Hurd said he is gratified that Leahy "has acknowledged the massive problems" of the plane’s cost and development. "Finally!" he said. "However, this does not exonerate Sen. Leahy from his responsibility to hold public hearings" to discuss the basing of the plane at the Burlington airport … He needs to be accountable."
5) Rand Paul Talks About How (Hard It Would Be) to End the War on Terror
David Weigel, Slate, Tuesday, March 12, 2013, at 9:51 AM
Early this morning, Sen. Rand Paul met with a small group of reporters this morning in the D.C. offices of the National Review. The roundtable had been scheduled before Paul became "the man of the week," in the words of NR’s Robert Costa—before his filibuster of now-CIA director John Brennan. Paul said that "five or six" Democrats who didn’t join the filibuster had since expressed some support for his line of questioning, about whether Americans could be targeted for killing on American soil as part of the war on terror. The Thursday-morning quarterback criticism from Sens. John McCain and Lindsey Graham didn’t bug him.
"I spoke for 13 hours and didn’t really mention names," he said. "They spoke for 20 minutes and used my name quite a bit." When pushed to get more real about Graham, he demurred: "I prefer to make it about ideas. He believes America is part of a battlefield, and therefore the laws of war apply." This was an idea backed by "the Wall Street Journal and a couple people" and who else?
A smart national security reporter and friend encouraged me to ask about one practical response to this. Why not repeal or tweak the 2001 Authorization of Force that effectively began the Global War on Terror? Is it time to revisit that?
"Actually, yes," said Paul. "All of this stems from a very expansive understanding of the use of the Authorization of Force in 2001. I think most of the people who voted on that, when they did, thought we were voting to go to war with the people who attacked us on 9/11. They didn’t realize it was a war without geographic limits and without end. And that’s the problem with saying, oh, we’re just going to give up—while we’re involved in war—we’re going to give up some of our liberties here at home. This is a war that has no end and it’s hard to stop."
Paul reminded the room that he’d tried, and failed, to end the Iraq War legislatively. "I’m going to try to do that again, if I can get the votes, to deauthorize the Iraq War, because we should have to vote again," he said. "I’m not saying there’s never another time when we go back into any of these countries, Afghanistan included. If they regroup, and we think they’re theatening to attack us again, we might have to go in, or we might have to use the Air Force. There should be a debate again in Congress. It’s not so much Afghanistan that’s a problem. There’s 20 other countries we’re involved in now, all under that Authorization of Force, which I think is too loose of an understanding."
But could it be repealed? "I think it would have absolutely no chance of going anywhere if I were to introduce it right now," said Paul. There was progress, even in his party, in getting more people to question the GWOT. "I talk to congressmen who you would say reflexively support the interventions who now say we should come home."
6) For Some Palestinians, Wariness on Eve of Obama Visit
Jodi Rudoren, New York Times, March 19, 2013
Ramallah, West Bank – There are no American flags lining the streets here, no banners bearing the official "Unbreakable Alliance" logo of President Obama’s visit, as there are seven miles away in Jerusalem. Instead, dozens of posters warn the president not to bring his smartphone when he arrives in the West Bank because there is no 3G service, one of an untold number of complaints Palestinians have about their life under Israeli occupation.
On most posters, Mr. Obama’s face has been painted over or torn off.
"It’s a waste of time," Osama Husein, 38, who owns a new coffee shop downtown, said of Mr. Obama’s planned journey here Thursday afternoon, in the middle of his three-day stay in Jerusalem. "Four or five hours here for no reason. It’s just for show, just to take some pictures with some young kids. I don’t see any benefit."
Though many here said they had been encouraged by Mr. Obama’s early speeches in Cairo and Istanbul, and by his 2009 demand that Israel freeze construction in the West Bank territories it seized in 1967, they have been disappointed with his distancing himself since from the stalemated peace process. Cafe patrons and activists alike describe Mr. Obama as a tool of Israel, a captive of what they call the "Jewish lobby" in the United States.
The White House statements in recent days that he is coming to listen rather than to offer a new plan for resolving the long-running Israeli-Palestinian conflict seems only to have made matters worse.
"He can’t be just an average person coming to listen – he knows the situation," said Sam Bahour, an Ohio-born Palestinian businessman and consultant. "We’re beyond talk right now. If he comes and says good things and does nothing, it does damage."
[…] A Palestinian legislator, Ziad Abu-Amr, said Mr. Abbas would make clear to Mr. Obama that he would return to the negotiating table under either of two conditions. One is a mutual six-month freeze in which Israel halted building in West Bank settlements and Palestinians refrained from using their new observer-state status in the United Nations to pursue claims in the International Criminal Court or other agencies. The other is a broad agreement on borders, dividing the land between the Jordan River and the Mediterranean Sea along the pre-1967 lines, with some land swaps to accommodate the largest Israeli settlements.
[…] "If he manages to convince the Israelis to sit and negotiate, then the Palestinians wouldn’t go to any other place – if he fails to deliver the Israelis, Abu Mazen will be forced" to go to the international agencies, Mr. Abu-Amr said, using the Palestinian president’s nickname. "If Obama goes back without any significant visible step that will revive the peace process or give hope to the parties, the visit may be counterproductive."
Mustafa Barghouti, a member of the Palestine Liberation Organization’s central council, said on Tuesday morning in a briefing to international reporters that he was disappointed that Mr. Obama would not be meeting with relatives of Palestinian prisoners, or visiting Hebron, where he would see Palestinians shut out of the Old City. He denounced the White House for "passivity" when "the process of assassinating the two-state solution is going on in front of our eyes."
7) A Nobel Peace Prize for the World’s "Poorest" President?
Manuel Rueda, ABC, March 15, 2013
A Dutch NGO called the Drugs Peace Institute recently made a bold proposal to Uruguayan President José Mujica.
The organization is pushing for a Nobel Peace Prize nomination for the 76-year-old head of state, on account of his efforts to legalize marijuana in the South American country.
"We have come to Uruguay to ask for [Mujica’s] permission to campaign on his behalf," said Frans Bronkhorst of the Drug Peace Institute.
"We believe that he has made a proposal…that aims to end this [global] drug war, which has done nothing but serve the interests of obscure parties," Bronkhorst told Uruguayan newspaper El Observador in an interview published on March 13th.
In mid 2012, Mujica promoted a bill that would legalize the consumption of Marijuana in Uruguay, and regulate the production and sale of the plant.
The proposal, known to Uruguayans as the marijuana law, was tabled by Mujica at the end of last year after polls showed that most Uruguayans did not approve of legalizing marijuana. Regardless, Mujica continues to support the marijuana law, and it could be approved later this year if congressmen in Uruguay garner more public support for the initiative.
[…] Bronkhorst said that his organization would gather "the voices of victims of the drug war" in its campaign to get a Nobel Peace Prize nomination for Mujica. He said organizations that campaign against prohibitionist drug policies currently lack a global symbol or a famous spokesman, and added that Mujica could fill this void. "He could be the Bob Marley of the 21st century," Bronkhorst joked with El Observador.
Every year in September, the Nobel Peace Prize committee sends out nomination ballots to some 300 academics, former prize winners and government representatives around the world.
To be nominated for the peace prize, Mujica would have to secure the support of one of the people receiving a ballot. Winning the prize is far more difficult, as Mujica would have to defeat hundreds of worthy nominees from all over the world.
Bronkhorst argued that the Uruguayan president was a strong candidate for the peace prize, not just because of his efforts to change drug policy but because of his personal background. "He is a former [left-wing] guerrilla, who abandoned weapons, and became president through the ballot box in a democratic process," Bronkhorst said.
Mujica currently donates 90 percent of his salary to charitable causes, and leads a simple lifestyle which has earned him the nickname "the world’s poorest president."
If he were to win the nobel peace prize, Mujica would become the first person to receive this honor for tackling prohibitionist drug policies.
Just Foreign Policy is a membership organization devoted to reforming US foreign policy so it reflects the values and interests of the majority of Americans. The archive of the Just ‘Foreign Policy News is here: