Obamas Perpetual War

Micah Zenko - Foreign Policy

"The United States is in a state of perpetual war, spending $633 billion this year on defense, with over 200,000 US servicemembers deployed around the world."

During his second inaugural address on 21 January 2013, President Obama offered two aspirational statements that struck many observers as incongruous with administration policies: "A decade of war is now ending" and "We, the people, still believe that enduring security and lasting peace do not require perpetual war."

We should question these observations, not least because of the string of US government plans and activities that increasingly blur the conventional definition of war.

My own list of war-like activities since Obama's inaugural would include:
four drone strikes that killed 16 people (all in Yemen);
the acknowledgement by Secretary of Defense Leon Panetta regarding drones, "We've done that in Pakistan. We're doing it in Yemen and elsewhere. I think the reality is its going to be a continuing tool of national defense in the future";

the announcement that the US military would provide intelligence, transportation, and refueling support for the French intervention in Mali;
the signing of a US-Niger status of forces agreement that will likely include a drone base for surveillance missions, although US officials "have not ruled out conducting missile strikes at some point";
the forthcoming expansion (perhaps quintupling) of US Cyber Command, including "combat mission forces" for offensive cyberattacks;
the executive branch's secret legal review determining that Obama "has the broad power to order a pre-emptive strike if the United States detects credible evidence of a major digital attack looming from abroad";
the Marine commandant's announcement of a new "crisis response unit" that would be "rapidly employable" to "address crises";

Israel Still Ban Christmas Trees in Nazareth ~ by Jonathan Cook DECEMBER 25, 2012 BY OCCUPIEDPALESTINE

Israel Still Ban Christmas Trees in Nazareth ~ by Jonathan Cook

By Jonathan Cook on 12/24/2012 | Sabbah Report

The terror lurking in a Christmas tree

Israel tries to ban non-Jewish celebrations

Israel’s large Palestinian minority is often spoken of in terms of the threat it poses to the Jewish majority. Palestinian citizens’ reproductive rate constitutes a “demographic timebomb”, while their main political programme – Israel’s reform into “a state of all its citizens” – is proof for most Israeli Jews that their compatriots are really a “fifth column”.

But who would imagine that Israeli Jews could be so intimidated by the innocuous Christmas tree?

This issue first came to public attention two years ago when it was revealed that Shimon Gapso, the mayor of Upper Nazareth, had banned Christmas trees (Hebrew) from all public buildings in his northern Israeli city.

“Upper Nazareth is a Jewish town and all its symbols are Jewish,” Gapso said. “As long as I hold office, no non-Jewish symbol will be presented in the city.”The decision reflected in part his concern that Upper Nazareth, built in the 1950s as the centrepiece of the Israeli government’s “Judaisation of the Galilee” programme, was failing dismally in its mission.

Far from “swallowing up” the historic Palestinian city of Nazareth next door, as officials had intended, Upper Nazareth became over time a magnet for wealthier Nazarenes who could no longer find a place to build a home in their own city. That was because almost all Nazareth’s available green space had been confiscated for the benefit of Upper Nazareth.

Michael Mansfield QC on Palestine's new status at the UN Amelia Smith Thursday, 06 December 2012 11:15

Michael Mansfield QC on Palestine's new status at the UN
Amelia Smith   
Thursday, 06 December 2012 11:15

Mansfield describes the exercise of the Security Council veto as "totally anachronistic and anomalous".


Almost one week after the United Nations upgraded Palestine to non-member observer status, it is very appropriate to be speaking with Michael Mansfield QC about Israel's future. "Basically Israel is very, very isolated now," he tells me. "It needs to consider whether it wants to be this form of pariah."

A human rights lawyer and long-standing member of the Russell Tribunal, an international people's court which examines violations of international law, Mansfield is insisting on the significance of last week's vote. "Once you have a raft of actions, it's exactly what happened in South Africa. In the end no country can be isolated, whatever Israelis may think."

Israel, on the other hand, is adamant that the upgrading of Palestine was purely symbolic. "The decision at the UN will change nothing on the ground," were the words used by Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu in anticipation of the vote. That was just before he authorised 3,000 new illegal settlement units to be built in the occupied West Bank and prevented the payment of Palestinian tax revenues.

Shattered lives in Gaza: how the Israeli army targeted civilians 10 December 2012 Eva Lewis & James Marc Leas

Shattered lives in Gaza: how the Israeli army targeted civilians
10 December 2012     Eva Lewis & James Marc Leas     Palestine and Israel

“My mother, gone. My sisters, gone. My brother, gone. My aunt, gone. My sister-in-law, gone. My nieces, nephews, all gone. Why did they do this? For what?”
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By Eva Lewis & James Marc Leas

10 December 2012

Palestinian women mourn four-year-old Mahmoud Raed Sadallah, killed in Gaza by Israeli airstrike, 16 November 2012.

THE FATHER OF THE FAMILY, Jamal Mahmoud Yassin al-Dalu, was praying when the missile struck.

It was the afternoon of November 18th, the fifth day of the Israeli attack against Gaza misnamed “Operation Pillar of Defense”.

Jamal’s wife, Tahani Hassan al-Dalu, 52 was at home preparing lunch. His grandchildren, ages 1, 4, 6, and 7 were playing with their toys, waiting to eat.
Also in the house were Jamal’s 73 year old sister, his two daughters, 16 and 25, his son, 29 and his son’s wife, 25. All 10 were killed at once. Three generations of a family wiped out in a single event: five children, 4 women and the father of four of the children.

Two neighbors in an adjoining building, 75 year old Ameena Matar al-Mauzannar and 19 year old Abdullah Mohammed al-Muzannar, were also killed, crushed by collapsing walls.

Two weeks later, there was a vigil with neighbors, friends and family of the 12 victims of the attack.  Children stood with candles on the ruins of the home remembering their loved ones who were killed.

Kitty Holland: Call for ban on imports from Israeli settlements

Kitty Holland - Irish Times

Ireland must move to ban goods imported from illegal Israeli settlements in Palestine, the Irish Congress of Trade Unions has said.

David Begg, general secretary of Ictu is calling for an “urgent meeting” with Tánaiste and Minister for Foreign Affairs Eamon Gilmore “to seek an immediate and effective intervention by the Irish Government in light of the recent conflict in the Gaza Strip.”

In a letter to Mr Gilmore, sent over the weekend, Mr Begg calls on the Tánaiste to demand revocation of the favoured trading status Israel enjoys with the EU and an Irish push for an EU ban on trade with Israeli settlements.

In another letter, also sent to Mr Gilmore over the weekend, a coalition of Palestinian agricultural and farming groups calls for “a ban on trade with illegal Israeli settlements”.

The appropriation of Palestinian land on the West Bank has continued since 1967. According to the Israeli human rights organisation B’Tselem, Israel has established more than 200 settlements in the Gaza Strip and West Bank. Some 42 per cent of the West Bank has been occupied by over 500,000 Israeli settlers.

Justin Kilcullen, executive director of Trócaire, says while Palestinians endure check-points, water and medicine shortages, house demolitions and land confiscations, Israeli settlers “enjoy tax-breaks [and] access to swimming pools”.

Among the settlement goods on sale here are agricultural crops, plastic garden furniture made by Keter, and Soda Stream products.

They are labelled as coming from Israel. Their value is small – between €7 and €8 million a year. However Joe O’Brien, advocacy co-ordinator with the Ecumenical Accompaniment Programme in Palestine and Israel (EAPPI) says an Irish ban would be internationally and symbolically “very important”.

‘Meaningful pressure’

ISRAEL BREAKS CEASEFIRE - unpublished letter in Irish Times


so Ehud Barak says he will quit politics after the January general election but he refuses to rule out serving again as defence minister (World News 27 November). This sounds a bit like an Israeli ceasefire.

The breaking of the current one occurred last Friday when the IDF shot dead 20-year old Anwar Qudaih near the border. The report by Mark Weiss (26 November) that “both sides continue to observe the Egyptian-brokered ceasefire” is inaccurate and his comment later in the report that “Along some areas of the border, Hamas police kept residents away from the fence, following clashes with Israeli troops on Friday in which a resident was killed and 19 wounded” is deeply mischievous.

Meanwhile the suggestion by Richard Haass (World News, 23 November) that the US Government has a positive role to play in a long term solution is, as one tweet noted last week regarding Tony Blair’s role as middle east peace envoy, “a bit like asking Gary Glitter to chair an enquiry into Jimmy Saville”. Successive US Governments have left a bloody legacy in the Middle East. No real peace will be achieved while they continue to interfere.

Yours etc.

PRO Steering Committee,
Irish Anti War Movement,
PO Box 9260,
Dublin 1.

Why Israel did not win its latest war on Gaza

Why Israel did not win its latest war on Gaza
26 November 2012     Adam Shatz     Palestine and Israel
The killing of entire families and the destruction of government buildings and police stations, far from encouraging Palestinians to submit, will only fortify their resistance.

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By Adam Shatz

London Review of Books
23 November 2012

THE CEASEFIRE AGREED by Israel and Hamas in Cairo after eight days of fighting is merely a pause in the Israel-Palestine conflict.

It promises to ease movement at all border crossings with the Gaza Strip, but will not lift the blockade. It requires Israel to end its assault on the Strip, and Palestinian militants to stop firing rockets at southern Israel, but it leaves Gaza as miserable as ever: according to a recent UN report, the Strip will be ‘uninhabitable’ by 2020. And this is to speak only of Gaza.

How easily one is made to forget that Gaza is only a part – a very brutalised part – of the ‘future Palestinian state’ that once seemed inevitable, and which now seems to exist mainly in the lullabies of Western peace processors. None of the core issues of the Israel-Palestine conflict – the Occupation, borders, water rights, repatriation and compensation of refugees – is addressed by this agreement.

The fighting will erupt again, because Hamas will come under continued pressure from its members and from other militant factions, and because Israel has never needed much pretext to go to war.