Tuesday, May 31, 2011

US North Korea trust building through technology and public management

A little publicised programme between Syracuse University's Maxwell School and the DPRK's Kim Chaek University of Technology has been ongoing since 2001. Donald Gregg, former US ambassador to Seoul and president of the New York based Korea Society, has long championed this initiative.
Stuart Thorsen, the project's director and a professor of international relations and political science, is, since 2009 is Maxwell's first Donald P. and Margaret Curry Gregg professor specifically focussing on Korean affairs. The chair is funded, it is said, by a private Korean businessman, impressed by the 10 year track record of the technology project.
The programme has brought North Korean computer scientists for a six week exchange; its goal is to sweep aside 'non trivial political differences' separating the US and North Korea, through a frank discussion of a technological nature in the field of information technology. In the course of a decade, the project has forged a degree of trust and funding, which has allowed its continuance and expansion, resulting in a chair of Korean studies at Maxwell.
Everything is done to create an easy going atmosphere to build friendship among the North Korean and Maxwell students. A certain feeling of friendship is created through dinners and excursions and everyday encounters.
On one hand, the underriding conceit of the programme that technology can in some way erode ideological differences has a romantic ring to it. Certainly, the North Koreans do appreciate the contact and the courses, especially from a country, it is technically at war with, and which, even today, has pursued an aggressive policy against its leadership.
Were it not for Gregg, with the green light from the US government, the project would never have gotten off the ground. The former ambassador, once a senior officer in the CIA and former national security advisor to Bush pere, is more or less well regarded in and out of government, and has actively pursued, within the 'realpolitik' of US policy towards North Korea, widening any opening towards Pyongyang. It would not be an exaggeration to say, he has achieved some success, even in the more tense moments during the Bush junior and Obama administration.
It is to his credit that he can gather in symposia the pride of the US North Korea clerisy who remain fundamentally hostile to North Korea, and quiet their zealous exuberence.
Of late, Gregg has gone against the grain of political correctness: consider two examples: one, he departed widely from the held view that a North Korean submarine sunk the South Korean corvette 'Chenon' in March 2010. He has publicly pronounced his support of the conclusions of a report Russia prepared that the 'Chenon' churned up a dormant torpedo, lying at the sea's bottom either from world war two or the Korean war, and that the turbulence of the ship's movement exploded the projectile. [China, sources say, found the Russian report convincing, thereby checking Lee's and Obama's elan at the UN Security to condemn North Korea for the sunken 'Chenon'. It is equally telling that the US media hardly mentioned Russia's investigation of the incident, nor its conclusions, but went by the numbers in backing the US and ROK claims in spite of the glaring sins of omissions and commissions of a much delayed joint study on Seoul's and Washington's part. See 'GaumDairy's blogs on the sinking of the 'Chenon' and its aftermath'.]
Two, he has called on South Korea's president Lee Myung bak to begin again delivery of food aid to the North suffering from the effects of bad whether that killed its crops; Lee and two US administrations have stopped food to the North completely since 2008.
Gregg's patronage of building trust with the DPRK through technology continues and is a testament to his strong belief that through discussions and exchanges a breakthrough between enemies is possible. We've seen it with China, then why not with North Korea?

Sunday, May 29, 2011

The Red Chapel: Mads Brugger's bad bet

Mark Olsen of the 'Los Angeles Times' got it right when he reviewed the Danish Mads Brugger's award winning 'Det Rode Kapel' at the 2010 Sundance Film Festival: he called it 'a prankish charade gone very wrong'.
Olsen was being too kind. Brugger's film is hardly a harmless practical joke. It is a cynical, calculating film to trash North Korea.
Brugger chose the title: 'Red Chapel' which all for the initiatied remains puzzling.'Die Rote Kappelle' [Red Orchestra] was a name the Gestapo gave to anti Nazi spy rings made up of Communists. So the choice of title, Brugger grandly confers the title of his 'plot' to subvert in the post modern sense North Korea.
Although Kim Jong il's DPRK is a harsh dictatorship, it is not a replica of Nazi Germany. It is open to criticism for sure and the world's rod has not been spared, it goes without saying.
Let's look at Brugger's bad bet to make North Korea 'laugh', through his stealth campaign of falsehood, outright lying, and using his two main actors as his pawns.
The documentary's plot is simple enough: Brugger wiggled an invitation for a cultural exchange of a two young man troupe from Denmark, to perform in North Korea.
The two are Korean born Danes who, born in South Korea, went to adoptive Danish families when they were less than a year old. Neither spoke Korean, and thought of themselves as Danes. One, Jakob Nossell,a spastic who has embraced his infirmity as a strength, is fluent in Danish and English, slurred speech notwithstanding, and exhibited a good intelligence; the other, Simon Jul, a much tattoo bilingual singer and comedian.
Clearly from the opening scenes, whatever Jakob's and Simon's comedic strengths, Brugger had combled together a third rate act, to carry out his ideological objectives. And the dialogue lead by him is betrayed by his two 'stooges' and by the North Koreans themselves.
Had Brugger come with two blond, blue eyed Danes, he might have pulled off his 'prank'.
Two Koreans who never know life other than in Denmark, is thrust on a North Korean reality. And both in their own way suffers 'culture shock' and relate to his 'Koreanness', and for the North Koreans, they, too, tried to claim them as their own.
Brugger, Jakob and Simon got the DPRK treatment for visitors, but Jakob and Simon got much more attention because they were of Korean birth. Brugger encourages to play along, keep a diary, lie if must needs be. Which the two do but Korea, however, speaks to a condition they never know they felt or had.
At the DMZ at Panmunjom, shown the room where North and South meet, Simon asks if he can walk over to the South's side, a Korea he never saw but where he was born, Jakob follows suit. And in that one scene, Brugger's whole design is torpedoed. It is scene charged with significance and emotion.
The duo's performance is recast to please North Koreans: it is obvious their act is hopeless and the director wants, among other reasons, to put a bright face on the Simon's and Jakob's talents. Not only that, Simon delivers with sincerity the wish of all Koreans: a reunified Korea. Jakob challenges Brugger: not hoodwinked by the North's wiles to win them over, he suddenly reminds him that everything is not all black nor all white as Brugger seems to believe.
Even though Brugger had to turn over his daily takes to his North Korean handlers, it is surprising that hardly anything seems excised, including Jakob's complaints of being stiffled and babied. Brugger operates on the theory that no one in North Korea understood Danish. Is he wrong?
Equally obvious is the North's willingness to show its beautiful face, but no warts. Brugger does remind Jakob that disabled people like him are 'killed'. And in a move to embarass his Korean handler, Jakob hopes he could see someone like himself. Her face betrays embarrassment, but good hearted Jakob says that maybe he can when he visits the North again. The disappointment on Brugger's face tells it all. Foiled again!, it seems to say. [In societies like Korea--North or South--the disabled are hidden from public view or abandoned and more likely neglected. The burden traditionally is on the family, not as in Denmark where the state or private agencies come to the rescue.]
The narrative is pure Brugger. It's full of falsity and occassinal truths. But more than that, it is so ocnfected to meet his no shadows script: North Korea bad, bad, bad. Jakob and Simon saves him and his film from himself and his ideologically driven script. And strangely enough, the North Koreans we see have a human face, something Brugger has no purchase.
Brugger is as rigid as a good Stalinist. And his whimsicality nothwithstanding, does not detract from our judgment.

The border opens at Raffah

As the gates swung open on 28 May 2011 Egypt opened the Raffeh crossing with Gaza. For moment no commerical trade is allowed and the very young and the old can cross without restriction. Egypt, under the pressure of a political tsunami at home, has begun dismantling its coordinated policy with Israel against Hamas.
For the first time in years, freedom of travel, albeit not complete, is open to Palestinians living in Gaza.
On the other hand, GuamDiary wonders why the western, and particularly US, media cringe hands in despair fearing the worst for Zionist Israel.
Israel is the 800 pound guerrilla that dominates the region militarily and has a bunker full of at least 200 atomic weapons. It is not a pushover although recent military ventures have wounded it badly on the world stage.
Of course, the usual refrain is why Hamas refuses to recognise Israel. Why should it? Israel's blitzkrieg war against Hamas in the last days of 2008--Cast Lead--was launched as a war of collective punishment against Gazans so that the pain and deaht visited on them by Israel would make them rise up and overthrow Hamas, a democratically elected party as governing the Strip. It failed but not without killing 1400 civilians --men, women and children--and destroying industry, agriculture, and Gaza's infrastructure.
Whatever is Israel's case, its propaganda machinery has long convinced the west it is a democracy in a sea of Arab reaction. Well today that argument wears thin, and Israel, especially for the US, has become an albatross, and like a wounded bull elephant dangerously and easily willing to go on the warpath.
The opening of the border at Raffeh spells the beginning of the end of the special relations of Egypt with Israel, even though Cairo says it will respect treaties with Zionist Israel. But a crack in the structure that Sadat created by getting back the Sinai peninsula and recognising Israel, shall widen and drive further Israel into the isolation it has constructed for itself.

US sends human rights envoy to take imprisoned American Korean home

Are the days of sending a former US president to Pyongyang to bring back imprisoned US citizens in North Korea? Let's consider: Bill Clinton's private mission of mercy in 2009, and Jimmy Carter's in 2010. Each mission of mercy, orchestrated by the White House, had the private stamp of approval of it: no need to leave official finger prints, thank you very much. And each president hand or orally delievered a message from Kim Jong il about the North's willingness to improve relations with the US. And as far as we know, he got no answer, safe Obama's firming up US support for South Korea's president Lee Myung bak's vindictive campaign against the DPRK that almost set off a shooting war in November 2010.
At that time the American Korean business Jun Yong su was arrested in Pyongyang on charges of funny commerical dealings. A wag might put Jun's arrest in another light: he was 'hostage' so that the US wouldn't encourage Lee's warlike manoeuvres with the US along the NLL [Northern Limit Line].
The locking up of Jun was firmly kept under wraps and the US managed to bring, more or less, Lee to heel like a good attack dog. Jimmy Carter came to North Korea as part of a peace mission of Elders had hoped he could win the release of the imprisoned American Korean. He left emptied handed to the good delight of those in the South and the US who consider him a menace, because of his attempts to open the door to dialogue with Kim Jong il & co.
This time, North Korea wanted an official. It got him in the person of Robert King,a career diplomat and a Morman, with the duties of human rights envoy. Ostensibly, he had to 'talk' about possible food aid that the US cut off in 2008, in order to align US policy with South Korea's when Lee took over the Blue House. Of late, the US has come under growing pressure to resume food aid to the North suffering from the effects of a triple natural disaster whammy in years, thereby nuturing grown famine and starvation. Obama has strongly resisted this appeal, but can he continue to do so?
In any case, Kim Jong il released Jun, in the hope that the US would soften somewhat its intransigence towards the North. One thing, however, is clear, North Korea no longer is willing to rely on high powered figures who act in a private capacity to talk to the US.

Friday, May 27, 2011

The Park Chung Hee Era: The Transformation of South Korea

Yesterday [26 May 2011] at the New York Korea Society, Ezra Vogel, emeritus professor, Harvard, and Charles Armstrong, professor, Columbia had a conversation on 'The Park Chung Hee Era: The Transformation of South Korea' [Harvard University Press], which Vogel coedited with Kim Byung kook, appearing in the very month when Col. Park overthrew the government of Chang Myon 50 years ago. This hefty volume contains contributions from leading South Korean scholars who laboured long in bringing it to the public's attention.
The book shows, it is said, dictator Park Chung Hee's strengths and weaknesses; it does not shy away from a 'warts and all' approach.
Vogel spoke at great length on a comparison between Deng Xiao ping and Park. Interesting as the similarities and differences are, he would have done the packed room a service by limiting his remarks, which in themselves, shed much light on the 17 years of Park's rule until his generals assassinated him. Armstrong in very measured tones parsed the various essays in the book in an oral historical essay.
During the Q&A, it was very obvious that the Whig appreciation of the dictator's rule, which did make a determining mark on the history of South Korea, had won approval by the questioners and by the rapt attention of the audience. Recognising the repressive side of Park, it became clear that the 'strong man' won hands down in the light of what South Korea is today.
Saying this, time did not permit the questioning of Park's role to subvert the US constitution in what is now far from the American imagination: 'Koreagate', nor the payoff the US delivered when the dictator sent ROK troops to fight in Vietnam, nor, too, the attempt to kidnap and assassinate Kim Dae Jung, who later became president in the late 1990s, won a Nobel for peace and opened dialogue with North Korea in the now dead 'Sunshine Policy' which Lee Myung bak killed when he entered the Blue House in 2008.
Admittedly the Whig approach to history appeals to US and US trained South Korean scholars. The strong man embodies the nexus of economic and political and cultural trends which flow from a country's history, but it is his personality that here took centre stage. The role of Japan under whose colonial rule formed the soldier Park did not escape comment nor notice, but the role of the US did ironically.
For some time now, Park has been going through rehabilitation. Where he gets a hearty pat on the back, it is curious that a towering figure like Kim Il sung who played an equally important role in Korea's history gets a thumb's down. Obviously what is good for one Korean goose is illicit for another Korean gander!
'The Park Chung Hee Era: The Transformation of South Korea' sells in hardcopy at the retail price of us$55, a good sum in tight economic times. GuamDiary suggests looking for it in a university library.

Thursday, May 26, 2011

The opening of Gaza's border with Egypt

Hamas has paid a small prize by joining forces with the Palestinian Authority, in a deal brokered by Egypt's transitional military council, which until the fall of Hosni Mubarak. It would play down violence. As such, when the Rafeh border with Egypt opens on Saturday 28 May 2011, a mighty plank of Israel's structure to hem in Gaza on all sides - by sea as by land - will go the way of all flesh. Material and food long denied the people of Gaza by Israel will now flow freely, thereby allowing Palestinians in Gaza with the wherewithal to rebuild a strip of land almost bombed back to the Year Zero by Israel's blitzkrieg against Hamas and the entire population of Gaza during the 22 days of 'Cast Lead'.
Egypt's military council has done a turnaround for the very high ranking officers who a month or two ago pursued a policy which favoured Israeli designs, let them drown in the Red Sea. And what's more has delivered a stinging rebuke to its Zionist ally. The council's decision opens speculation as to the redrawing of agreement with Israel on matters of security and the economy. Already Egypt has reduced the flow of much need national gas to Israel by 40 percent.
Renewed unity and collaboration of Hamas and the Palestinian Authority puts Israel more and more on the defensive and drives it further into a self defined and self imposed isolation which not even the oratory of prime minister 'Bibi' Netenyahu nor the flowery speeches of president Obama can dislodge.
The opening of the Egyptian border with Hamas at Rafeh puts a shine on an Egypt eager to regain its central influence in the Arab world, and brings to the fore the plight and rights of the Palestinians who are pushing for a homeland recognised by the UN.

Wednesday, May 25, 2011

Kim Jong il again in China

If the US bet on China's abandoning its neighour and ally North Korea, it reveals that Mr. Obama is a sorry gambler. In less than a year, Kim Jong il has visited China.
Pundits also have given odds that the 'Dear Leader' was on his last legs, and his visits to People's China were more than in part to pave the way for his heir and successor, his third son Kim Jong eun. Has anyone looked at the latest photos of Kim Jong il? Compare them to the photograph of him sitting next to Bill Clinton in July 2009? At the time of the former US president's visit, Kim was a shadow of his former self: thin and emaciated looking. Today, in China, he looks more and more like his old self: corpulent and fleshed out. Surely, it is a sign of health regained, and an indication that as ever he is in firm control of the North Korean ship of state. [In consequence, Kim Jong eun will have more time to hone his education and gain experience in the craft of statemanship.]
The the failed diplomacy of George W. Bush to use China as a foil to tame a maverick North Korea, China, though obliging, has backed away from doing America's will. And surely more so today when Obama has hitched America's policy towards the North firmly to South Korea's Lee Myung bak war train. The identity of view on North Korea by these two countries aim at 'rolling back' Kim Jong il. In plain English, in pushing North Korea to the edge of collapse on one hand, and using China to engage in regime change. China demurred.
With Kim again in China, it is clear, if it wasn't before to Washington and Seoul China has stayed true to a policy Mao initiated when he sent volunteers to fight with North Koreans against US led UN troops as they raced to the Chinese borders. GuamDiary has long suggested to its readers that it look for ALLEN Whiting's Rand study 'China crosses the Yalu', for a good understanding of why China intervened in the Korean War. Beijing wanted a buffer against an aggressive South Korea and its US protector. Bush junior and Obama have revived old fears of a hostile unified Korea under the South on its borders. A sad commentary of the US North Korea clerisy grasp of history since they too are looking to destroy the North by any means necessary. And if they didn't get the message, the South's shelling of North Korea's territorial waters revived fears of reopening the frozen Korean war.
China is sending a clear message: hands off North Korea in part. On the other hand, China is striking out on an independent Asian policy of its own in Afghanistan, Pakistan, and Iran which can only anger Obama & co. If blame be apportioned, much of it falls on America's shoulders.
Kim Jong il has regained his health; has the assurances of a powerful neighbour of a protective border and aid, and embodies the lasting power of North Korea founded by his father Kim Il Sung.

Third intifada?

Israeli prime minister 'Bibi' Netanyahu's refusal to negotiate an equitable two state solution has raised fears among the US chattering class of another intifida.
These talking heads fear the worst: they shudder at the idea of a repeat of the violent second intifada with its suicide bombings, the loss of Israeli life [yet not the concern of Israeli state violence against the civilian Palestinian population; the mass arrest and long stays in military gaols, and the like].
Yet unbeknownst to the talking heads who hog access to major media a third intifida is underway. A startling example is the breaching of barriers along the Syrian borders by Palestinian youth born in refugee camps who 'returned' ever so briefly to the land of their ancestors, marking 'naqba' day [15 May] commemorating the displacement of Palestinians by the Israeli military in 1948. Surely, a symbol action, yet one which foretells others.
What escaped the Israeli obedient US media is that a campaign of passive resistance has been underway in the Israeli 43 years of occupying the West Bank which is the land of the future Palestine. Who in the US saw the award winning 'Badrus'? It tells of the passive resistance of the Palestinian village of Badrus that the Israeli separation wall would cut it off from its fields, meaning endless humiliation and harassment by the IDF in gaining use of agricultural land which would suffer from neglect owing to bureaucratic red tape, resulting in loss of livelihood, food, and ultimatelyillegal land seizure by the Zionist state. A campaign vigorously waged by the villagers, especially women, with sympathetic Israeli human rights activists prevailed and the path of the Wall was modified in Badrus' favour.
Or the boycott of Israeli products sold on the West Bank, some of which produced on illegally grabbed and settled by Jewish colonists. Or better still the DBS worldwide movement calling for Boycott, Divestment and Sanctions against the Zionist state and its companies.
DBS targets a wide variety of companies and product, such as Ahava, a maker of beauty products on the illegal settlement of Mitzpe Shalem in the West Bank. And then there are demonstrations outside major food chains selling Israeli produce, wines, and other products produced on illegal settlements in the West Bank.
Another thing which has escaped the chatters notice, because it is the Palestinians and therefore hardly worth noting, is the patiently growing campaign of resisting passively the Israeli occupier. Taking a page out of Gandhi's and Martin Luther King's book, the movement is teaching techniques of non violence to achieve goals; to stress human rights and dignity; and to challenge illegal Israeli domination. And passive resistance means imprisonment, beatings, and yes death. History has shown that passive resistance breaks the chains of servitude, restores a sense of self and of nationhood, and the feeling that although the mills of justice grind slow they grind fine for the Palestinian people and the nation of Palestine.
And what's more, it gains worldwide respect for it educates and eschews violence, thereby forcing the Zionist occupier to resort more and more to violence, itself an admission of impotence.
Church groups have threatened divestment; some have, others have buckled under pressure and the fear of being labelled anti Semitic. Yet the campaign is spreading steady but slowly like the lava of a volcano that is erupting.
The Zionist state understands this and like the French colons in Algeria would rather resort to war or military actions, such as 'Cast Lead', which won it global condemnation and a rebuke from the UN. Yet Israel remains as stubborn as Salah of Yemen. Sooner or later Israel will have to give ground, and this third intifida, as yet not recognised as such, will help in shaking the pillars of its arrogance and unfounded belief that it will always win. Remember its defeat in the last war with Lebanon!

Making proletarians out of high paid lawyers

The US is two tiering everything. Now, it's the turn of lawyers. Pocket full of dough, barrels of money, and rich clients who baulk at high lawyerly fees, law firms are now doing what universities have been doing for a long time now, and cities and states have done and are still pursuing: creating two classes of employees: one with a clear path to partners; the other a non tenured path which means long hours and low pay and little room for advancement.
Instead of beginning with a low six figure salary with a freshly minted law degree, a lawyer second class will earn at best us$60.000 annually. Not much when you think the lawyer has the weights and chains of us$100.000 debt to pay off as he or she starts off in life. No glory there. No advancement. A cubicle in the back room, boys! But who would want the same? In a few years to come, start seeing the number of law degrees decline.
Today in the US, a Ph.D. does not mean much. In fact, he or she might do better at Starbucks which offers its employees medical benefits, and which as an 'adjunct instructor or professor' hardly keeps food on the table.
This as banks and corporations feed healthfully off the public, the careers which once led to hopping up the social ladder, are being debased, and Ph.Ds and now lawyers are forced to join the ranks of the declasses and are more akin to a blue collar background than before.
What about the big bracket banks? Well, they've sold the problem by outsourcing to India, for example. An Indian banker costs them us$0,31 or 31 cents, meaning a saving of 69 cents and a big injection to the banks' bottom line and senior management bonuses and some gravy to coupon clippers.
The age of robber barons is back with a vengeance. Bilk the masses for sustaining the plutocrats. Crush unions or barricade the paths to social advancement. Revive a restricted democracy for haves, and damn the have nots who should keep a civil tongue and toil in the fields of another man's profit and leisure.

Read your Freud! Netenyahu and the US chattering class

The US Congress is an audience easily pleased: it greeted Israel's prime minister 'Bibi' Netenyahu's address with great explosions of cheerful approval, as though the members of Congress were studying the Talmud at a Yeshina, twisting and turning over ancient lore and millenia old wisdom. He clearly etched more deeply in stone his position: no concessions, no negotiations, for the illegal land grab of Palestinian West Bank land and Arab East Jerusalem and the implantation of settlers are by right Israel's right to the biblical lands of Judea and Samaria, and by thunder, the Zionist state stand firm and won't give up a millemetre of their hoary claims. Netenyahu's speech gave nothing and promised even less.
The US clattering class went into its cheerleading overdrive in praise of Netenyahu. Clearly by a wide margin, they firmly disapprove of president Obama introduction of the 1967 borders into the peace process, a gambit which, like it or not, upset Israel's and pro Israel America's apple cart.
On the much watched PBS [Public Broadcasting System] Charlie Rose Show, four Israel boosters praised the American president for talking the talk with Arabs, but thought his speech on the 1967 borders a big faux pas, to say the least. Representing 'Haaretz','the Wall Street Journal', 'the Atlantic' and 'New America Foundation', you couldn't find a critic of Israel's intransigence nor its stealing of Palestinian land in the West Bank and Arab East Jerusalem. In brief, they were of the opinion, let sleeping dogs lie.
GuamDiary says to Netenyahu and members of the US chattering class: read your Freud. The eminent Viennese father of modern psychology opined that as in personal life, in politics the repressed tends to return to consciousness with a vengeance. And that is precisely what bringing back into the conversation the 1967 borders does.
Say what he might, Netenyahu has no wiggle room. These borders include all the West Bank, Gaza, and Arab East Jerusalem, and it is upon that basis Israel will have to deal with the Palestinians. If the Palestinians in negotiation want to modify their rightful boundaries then it is up to them, not to the Israelis, to do so, simply stated.
What is repressed among the US chatters is the blind spot which does not see that perhaps the American public would like to hear Palestinians reaction to Netenyahu's speech before the US Congress. Like Netenyahu, they see Palestinians as a lesser race to whom orders are given and who best keep a civil tongue in their head. Shades of colonial rule!
Of course, the chattering class did not correct Netenyahu's misrepresentations: two will suffice: one, Israel will be dwarfed by the 1967 borders unable to support its population. Wrong. Israel is four times larger than any Palestinian state on the West Bank and can support the 500.000 illegal settlers on the West Bank. But the real truth is that Israel is after the water under Palestinian real estate! Two, the appeal to rightful settlement in Palestinian which he calls Judea and Samaria is a plank of the Revisionist Zionist belief in a greater Israel stretching from the Mediterranean to the Jordan River.
Continual flaunting of the real issues won't save Israel nor the Israeli centric US mindset from its irrelevance and ultimate place on the dust bin of history.

Tuesday, May 24, 2011

Danny Ayalon gives the game away

Interviewed on NPR [National Public Radio] on 23 May 2011, Danny Ayalon, Israeli deputy foreign minister, member of Avigdor Lieberman's right wing 'Yisrael Beiteinu' and former ambassador the US, spoke in measured, condescending tones. He did not break any new ground but pointed to the direction of what Likud led coalition 'Bibi' Netenyahu would, grosso modo, say when he addresses the American Congress.
For him, president Obama's call for basing any two state solution on the 1967 borders, badly shuffles Israeli's winning cards on the diplomatic playing table. In fact, these borders, recognised by the International Court of Justice, and which includes Arab east Jerusalem, has become a nightmare for Israel.
According to smooth talking Ayalon, they do not and should not exist since the ground rules, set by Israel, have changed the geopolitical reality through occupation, illegal land grabs and Jewish settlers since 1967, the year of the Six Day War. Reciting the endless mantra that any peace with the Palestinians requires, nay demands, 'secure borders for Israel, it is, he implies, a 'sine qua non' for any agreement.
Forced to admit that the peace process is a dead letter, owing to Israel's inflexibility, he stressed that Israel will not swap a millemetre of land of Jewish illegal settlement. And without missing a beat, he did acknowledge that there are no discussions under way...until the Palestinian Authority falls into step to Israel's tune.
So when you scrap all Ayalon's remarks, and remember he belongs to a party that revindicates all the land on the West Bank comprising what the Revisionist Zionists claim as 'Judea and Sumaria: in other words the establishment as a God given right for Israel to occupy the land from the Mediterranean to the Jordan River, based on the Bible, and with a few islands of Palestinians which they can call 'Palestine'. Translation: Israel is willing only to accept a Palestine, a nonmilitarised patch of land surrounded by a heavily armed neighbour who will dominate its foreign affairs and economic life. Now, no state worthy to be called 'sovereign' can and will accept such conditions.
Obama's call for a return to the 1967 borders opens the dreaded Pandora's box for the Israelis. And reading between Ayalon's comments, Israel can continue putting forth unacceptable demands or as its isolation grows, rev up for war, unless other members of the Israeli elite more willing to accept the 1967 borders come to the fore. That is possible, but is it probable?
Before ending his interview, Ayalon, clever by half, struck out by asking why does not NPR ask the Palestinian Authority what they want? The answer is right there at the lip of his nose: an independent Palestine based on the 1967 borders which includes Arab east Jerusalem as its capitol, no more, no less.

Monday, May 23, 2011

Obama at AIPC

US president Barack Obama spoke at AIPC [American Israel Public Affairs Committee] annual meeting on Sunday 22 May 2011. The chattering classes smelled blood as Obama entered the powerful Israeli lobby's den.
The American presence managed to don the cloak of a Daniel, and in his own oratorical way, 'charmed' the lions who thirsted for his flesh.
Obama did it, not by backing down on his publicly calling for a recognition of the 1967 borders as a negotiating point for Israel and the Palestinian Authority to delineate a Palestinian state with defensible borders for Israel--whatever that means. In other words, he took Israeli premier's words and fashioned them to his own purposes.
Let Israel and the Palestinians work out a future Palestine through land swaps without talking about Arab east Jerusalem, among other glaring omissions.
The US president is a master of words but we suggest our readers look at the Al Jazeera documents which revealed the duplicity of Israeli negotiations with the Palestinian Authority to give in to every Zionist demand which always added another condition, and the central role that US pressure played in twisting Abu Mazam or Mahmoud Abbas arms to 'say Uncle!'. And yet, Israel was never satisfied for in truth it was negotiating not only from a position of strength but one of utter rejection of any agreement short of its gobbling up as much of the West Bank for a Greater Israel.
The Al Jazeera dossier had the momentary effect of a bombshell in the way Wikileaks release of US diplomatic cables. Yet owing to the feckless media Israel's security and defence take centre whilst the Palestinians' rights remain underreported if not ignored.
Still by brining up the centrality of the 1967 borders which the International Court of Justice affirmed as inalienably the right of the Palestinian state, Obama try as he might cannot shunt aside the court's verdict. Palestinians have rights which no American president nor Israeli premier nor any lobby can erase.
Obama's tack is a desperate ploy to rescue it's client state from its own self, from isolation which its policies are driving the Zionist state, and ultimately staying its hand for beginning yet another war which it is not certain to win on the playing fields of world diplomacy and will brand it with the mark of a pariah state. Such are the American president's worries, for the US total support of Israel in the wake of the 'Arab spring' is quickly eroding its influence in the Middle East.

We're prepared to be generous...., says Netenyahu

Israeli premier 'Bib' Netenyahu is prepared to be 'generous' to the Palestinians only if they jump through the Zionist hoop. As an indication of his generosity in engaging further on the road map to a two state solution, he has given the green light for more [illegal] settlements on the occupied West Bank.
Netenyahu is a snake oil salesman who sells big. The bigger the falsehood the more able he is to get away with robbing the Palestinians of their own birthright and land on the West Bank.
A quick study of the Zionist's state 'generosity' will strip bare the falsity of its claims and expose its calculation violation of the truth. Israel's occupation and illegal land grabbing of land of Palestinians puts it squarely in the mould of colonial settlements of a Europe of the last century.
Although Sartre is hardly read today, it is a useful exercise to read his preface to Franz Fanon's 'les damnes de la terre' [Wretched of the Earth]. Why? one may asks. For its spot on description of the coloniser's attempt to dehumanise the colonised, and yet in spite of stealing land, humiliations, betrayals, and the like, Israel like France in Algeria could not and cannot douse the Palestinians' innate desire and quest of throwing off the occupier's yoke and claiming their place in the sun of nations.
The Zionist state under Netenyahu's leadership is bereft of ceding anything to the Palestinians short of Apartheid South African 'Bantustans', and disconnected dots on a map 'dubbed' Palestine, with total and complete dependency on Israel's largesse.
Forty three years of occupation are proof enough of Israel's duplicity and generosity.
Netenyahu has set Israel's course of incorporation through illegal land grabs and settlers of the West Bank into a Greater Israel, by claiming Palestinian land on hoary biblical claims that it was once the Hebrews' Sumaria and Judea. In this, he is faithful to his ideological upbringing as a Revisionist Zionist. [GuamDiary has suggested following the dots of 'ordinary' Zionism and Revisionist Zionism', which in one way or another, lead to the same goal: an Israel from the Mediterranean to the Jordan River. However, 'ordinary Zionism' would settle for half a loaf, a state along side a Palestine with 1967 defensible borders'.]
So in the end, Netenyahu is an enemy of any peace progress. Furthermore, the record shows he has done his most ingenious best to kill it.

Sunday, May 22, 2011

Wikileaks comes to Pakistan

The Obama administration is going after Julian Assange for leaking, among other things, low grade official or declassified US diplomatic cables. It has gone out of its way to deny direct access to them to Americans.
Now, ironically, these very same cables, is as though Assange's Wikileaks has thrown Obama a line in the wake of the US killing of Osama Bin Laden in a comfortable villa in Abbotabad, Pakistan, and the uproar that assassination has provoked among Pakistan's civilian and military elite, not to scant the rising temperature of popular anti Americanism among the Pakistani masses. They make known and continue to bring to public light that Pakistan's worst enemy is not the US but itself!
Simply explained: in April 2011, Wikileaks turned over 4000 American diplomatic cables dealing with Pakistan to Pakistan's newspaper of note, the English language 'Dawn'.
'Dawn', after analysising the data, will publish them in print and on its website. The info therein, written mainly by Anne Patterson, Washington's ambassatrix to Islamabad, should, and more likely turn up the heat on the military, especially head of the Pakistani army, gen. Kayani, concerning approval of US drones; the civilian leadership's recognition of the efficacy of these raids in taking out Taliban leaders, yet sparing civilian lives to a great number. Furthermore, it blackens the bona fides of Nawaz Sharif, leader of Pakistan's powerful opposition party, who favoured suppressing the independent judiciary, which the attempts by Mushariff to sideline the supreme court judge Chaudry, led to his downfall.
Wikileaks' agreement provides the Obama administration ammuniation, which US diplomats created but revealed by an non American sourse, with a stronger hand to deal with a testy ally that has relied on anti Americanism to bolster its standing with its own people.
The diplomatic documents should sharpen criticism of Pakistani elite, military or civilian, who play for power on a medieval chessboard of fiefdoms, temporary alliances, and endless scheming for complete power. They have not hesitated to broker deals with the Taliban and al Qaeda that lead us sarcastically are eroding their base of power.
With 'Dawn's' has poked its journalistic finger into this sorry puffery and put Pakistani top leaders on the spot. Even though the 4000 documents might not immediately lower anti American fever, they will in the longer run turn to the US' advantage, not only on Afghanistan but also providing a restraint or two on Pakistan's proclivity to go to war, in one form or another, with India.

Israel's right to defend itself? And Palistine's right to do the same?

US president Obama has always spoken of Israel's right to defend itself. In fact, after announcing that the basis for a two states solution is the 1967 borders, he has gone a step further by saying that the US will make sure that Israel has the military edge in the Mid East. On the other hand, whilst continuing arming Israel to the teeth, he is calling on the Palestinians [Palestinian Authority and of course Hamas]to lay down arms and trust Israel's benevolence and good will, in the pursuit of a treaty of peace leading to a Palestinian state.
The American president speak with a forked tongue: how can you say one state has the right to defend itself, whereas another doesn't? The simple answer is: you cannot. Yet, saying this, has stopped the US from preaching pie in the sky simplistic coneptualisation clashes with a hard nosed realism.
What is missing in the conversation is looking at Zionist ideology which propels Israel's penchant for war. Israel's right wing swing, particularly the Netenyahu Likud led government, has mightily embraced Revisionist Zionism which sees a 'Greater Israel', absorbing the Palestinian West Bank, now 43 years under Zionist occupation and illegal theft of Palestinian land for Jewish settlers. Netenyahu & co. cavalierly speak of that land as 'Samaria and Judea', an irredentist claim based on hoary biblical claims.
[The 'milder' form of Zionism shares the same goals but does not put them into words. Remember Golda Meir's definition of a Palestinian people: 'there is no such thing as Palestinians'. Denial of the right of Palestinians to a state of their own runs like a red thread from Ben Gourian to Shimon Peres. The brighter face of 'this' Zionism will engage in discussions that have one and one object in mind: to emasculate any claim to a Palestinian state.]
So, when Netenyahu says 1967 borders are not a basis for negotiations is simply his recognition of Israeli policy of dismantling the 1993 Oslo Accords and aggressively stealing Arab land and settling Jews on Palestinian lands, of crisscrowwing the West Bank in a planned way by pushing Palestinians into islands of poorer land, which would shape any Palestiniant 'state' into unconnected dots, incapable of sustaining itself but existing only through Israeli control. [Thus, the comparison with apartheid South Africa's 'bantustan' takes on an importance.]
Israel's wars, most preemptive, against Arab neighbours of theirs and Palestinians, have been initiated by Israel. Today, despite Obama's revving up military aid, which the US ratepayer is footing the bill, is making Israel sweat and increase its 'extistential' fear of isolation and at their mercy. What a mockery of the truth on the ground! Consider Israel's wars against Lebanon and the collective punishment of Gaza in Cast Lead and incidents of piracy and murder on the high sea exemplified by the 'Mavi Mamara', will resort to military actions.
The probability of Israeli initiated war like behaviour spikes even higher: the fear that the UN will in September confer 'de jure' and 'de facto' recognition, in spite of an American veto in the Security Council, but overridden in the General Assembly.
Netenyahu & co. feel their back to the wall and as such, will lash out in preemptive strikes and the peace process be damned!
And we have to wonder why Palestinians are called on by the US president to lie down with a wounded lion? Not only is Obama's pretty logic twisted like a pretzel, it is a professorily escape into romanticism.

Saturday, May 21, 2011

Dennis Ross exposed

President Barach Obama's bringing back the centrality of the 1967 borders of a future Palestine has put an end to much bitter debate within the White House on whither US policy in the Middle East.
Today's 'New York Times' [21 May 2011]brought to the public's attention the 'vital role' of Mid East envoy to three presidents -- Clintin, junior Bush, and Obama -- Dennis Ross. At present, he's Obama's advisor on the Middle East, and has for a good many years an influence in shaping US policy in that region but also on Iran.
In tight and heated discussions in the White House and at Foggy Bottom, Ross has always favoured Israel to the broader strategic interests of the US in the Arab world. His standpoint is hardly surprising: America has not too finely cut its cloth to Israeli measurements. Now, Obama has broken the tight stitches of the past by bringing back to his country's consciousness the 1967 borders, which had long slipped out of American radar.
[As Henry Kissinger has amusingly noted: history counts for little for Americans, when a longer and deeper view is very much needed in the corridors of a major world power on the decline.]
Ross has ended up on the losing end of the argument to reorientate US policy in the Arab World. The Times reported that Abdullah of Jordan in his tete a tete with Obama 'concluded [Ross] is giving wrong advice to the White House'.
Is it because Ross is a Jew? Maybe. It is a known fact that he became 'religiously Jewish' after the Six Day War, a war which has coloured the way he fashions his ideas and advice on the Middle East. He is not unlike many Jews and friends so affected. One only has to consider the case of the Lubavitcher rebbe Menachem Schneerson who withheld his support and recognition of Israel for only an Israel could arise at the coming of the 'Moshiach' [messiah]. Yet after Israel's lightning Six Day War, thus extending Zionist state from the Mediterranean to the Jordan River, in his eyes, did Israel become 'kosher' or religiously licit for Schneerson and his global community of followers. [The ultra Orthodox heredi, the Satmar remain true to the Biblical injunction of the coming of the Messiah, thereby refusing to accord legitimacy to the state of Israel.] And then there's Eliot Spitzer the Iran contra fame who is a rabid support of Zionism out of religious and philosophic and political reasons.
Therefore in Ross' optique, war plays a crucial rule in the way he advises and influences American presidents towards the Mid East. Change if change be should come gradually and in small steps. So we can imagine how earth shaking Obama's position on a two states' solution leaves him on the outs when he so often is the man with the magic touch on Middle policy.
Obama's call to attention of the 1967 borders has the weight of international law and opinion. The International Court of Justice as well as the UN General Assembly, recognises the 1967 borders that includes East Jerusalem, the American president's silence on the status of East Jerusalem notwithstanding.
Events in the Arab world are forcing the slight change of focus in the once Isrealo centric US policy, one which Ross has argued against. The visible waning of America's influence among the Arabs is a trend which has to be reversed. Obama's 20 May speech at the headquarters of the department of state at Foggy Bottom put some muscle into a tired, flabby outlook. And the realisation that time is no longer on America's side: it is more than probable that the UN General Assembly would override a UN Security Council veto cast by the US by conferring 'de facto' and 'de jure' status on a Palestinian state, the territory of which is under 43 years of Israeli occupation and of which great swaths of land have illegally been seized and occupied by Zionist settlers. Hence the haste for redefining US policy in the region.
Will Ross step down? Unlike the Republican whip in the House of Representatives he did not put in writting his allegiance as a Jew to the state of Israel, which he had hours later had to repudiate, for by his eagerness to please prime minister 'Bibi' Netenyahu he brought to the fore of an elected official loyalty to another country than his own, otherwise known as 'dual loyalty'.

[Eric Cantor and dual loyalty and the rise of anti Semitism

Eric Cantor, soon to be the Republican majority whip in the US lower house of Congress, is a political naif,in spite of the fact that his Virgina congressional district sent him back to Washington for a fifth term.
As a Jew, he keeps kosher home. He may observe Jewish dietary laws and pray at his local synagogue and is a member in good standing of the pro Israel lobby group AIPAC [American Israel Public Affairs Committee, since he was first elected to Congress in 2001, but as a Republican whip with large powers, he has allowed his loyalty to the US to take back seat to his fealty to Israel.
After a cozy tete a tete with the conniving visiting Israeli prime minister 'Bibi' Netenyahu, his office issued a statement making clear that the security of the US is dependent on Israel's.
The Jewish Telegraphic Agency bureau chief in Washington qualified Cantor's position as 'extraordinary'. It was before long that the incoming Republic whip's allegiance to a foreign government raised political uproar, the more especially since the Obama administration has been willing to sell its shirt in order to get Netenyahu back to talks with the Palistinian Authority. His personal commitment to Israel could have sabotage America's two state strategy.
The uproar Cantor caused put him in a bad light. He beat a hasty retreat. He apologised in haste. [Cantor has a long history of as having a loose mouth followed by apologies.]
His thoughtless words reveal the immense influence Israel can and does exercise in the US government. They raise the anti Semite's old bugaboo of dual loyalty. In other words, as a Jew, first political attachment is not to the US but to a Jewish state.
Jews in the Diaspora suffer from an existential insecurity that in whatever country they live in, someone will accuse them of disloyalty. Cantor's thoughtlessness may have muddied the waters of America's Jews political adhesion to the Constitution. And adds fuel to the fires of an energised anti Semitism in what Jews call 'de goldene Medina' or the US where they have been embraced and accepted. Now, Cantor has called that 'security' into question.
The fallout of a severe economic recession has awakened the sleeping dogs of anti Semitism in all segments of the right. It ain't nothing that the shibboleths of a Jewish conspiracy. Consider the CNN's sacking of reporter Rick Sanchez for condemning the Jewish control of the press. Consider, too, the dusted off innuendos of Glen Beck & his clones who raise the spectors of a worldwide Jewish conspiracy in manipulating the levers of banking, the media, education, the chattering classes, so on and so forth. GuamDiary 20 November 2010]

Thursday, May 19, 2011

Obama puts Israel on notice

For the US chattering class, president Obama's talk on the Middle East at Foggy Bottom seemed like the same old, same old. And in a way, it was. What wasn't and the New York Times man in Israel with a son in the 'Tsuhal' or IDF [Israeli Defence Force] baldly put it: 'It is the first time an American president has explicitly endorsed [the 1967] borders as the baseline for negotiations'.
With those words, sweetened by the stock phrases -- 'Israel's right to defend itself'; Israel has a right to exist and the like -- Obama knocked the pins out from under right wing premier 'Bibi' Netenyahu's almost 20 years of delays that began by sabotaging the Oslo Accords and went on to expand illegal settlements and expulsion of Palestinians in the west bank and east Jerusalem of their land and homes, justified by a hoary reading of biblical accounts that the land of Samaria and Judea belonged to two Jewish kingdoms which ceased to exist thousands of years ago.
Now the Zionist state is between a rock and a hard place. The American president's words have branded Israel an occupier who has to abandon Israel's pretensions for a state stretching from the Mediterranean to the Jordan River. Furthermore, it has to evacuate the west bank which represents the territorial integrity of a Palestinian state to be. And one that the UN General Assembly is very likely to recognise and confer statehood in September.
Netenyahu, as a Revisionist Zionist, will resist as he always has. [GuamDiary has already commented on Simon Schema's interview with Tzipi Lipni, also a Revisionist Zionist and leader of the Kadima party, which Ariel Sharon cobbled together. As a former member of Mossad and foreign minister, she acknowledges that time is not on Israel's side; she says that all items are on the table for discussion of a peace treaty and the creation of a Palestinian state on the west bank and in Gaza, including east Jerusalem and the removal of illegal settlements.]
Obama is trying to avoid recognition of Palestine by the UN, which he probably won't be able to delay. The US president's recognition of the 1967 boundaries as a basis for a peace treaty with Israel is a clean sign that the debate in the White House is over; Hillary Clinton has won over the objections of pro Israeli advisors like Dennis Ross.
At tomorrow's gathering of AIPAC [American Israel Public Affairs Committee], at which both Netenyahu and Obama are going to address should prove interesting. The president will be frostily received. His words on the other hand should bolster another Jewish lobby group, J Street, which had a full page ad in today's NYT, urging him to call for rolling Israel's expansion back to the 1967 borders.
More likely than not, the Arab and Muslim world will applaud Obama for his seemingly bold words, which are long overdue. He will surely draw rapid fire criticism from the hard core supporters of Israel for whom any criticism is equated with anti Semitism. In fact, Obama's position on the 1967 borders should now make hollow such a charge.
If the UN does accord 'de jure' and 'de facto' status on a Palestinian state under 43 years of Israeli occupation, what will the Zionist state do? Will it pick up its marbles and walk away? If it does that it will darken its own image since in the 1930s Imperial Japan and Nazi Germany walked out of the League of Nations.
The implications of Obama's recognition of the 1967 borders for Palestinian independence will in the longer run force Israel to adapt to the swiftly changing reality within the Arab world and its own untenable claims. Ultimately, it will have to admit that it is a Levantine state, no more no less. Anything less than that will put Israel on the path to war with its neighbours.

A divided US Jewish community

In the pages of today's 'New York Times' [19 May 2011] the reader's eye will spot a half page ad by the ADL [American Defamation League], a full page ad by J Street, a Jewish lobby, and an opinion peace by Likud's deputy speaker in the Knesset Danny Danon.
The ADL strongly condemns Hamas as a terrorist group, which is not remarkable, since it has not departed from its characterisation of that Palestinian group. It, however, highlights how much the ADL, the 'Simon Wiesenthal' of seeing anti Semitism any and everywhere, is off the radar in the rush of events in the Middle East.
On the other hand, J Street is calling for the US to call for a two state solution based on 1967 borders, which Israel until now has firmly rejected. Will president Obama's speechifying on the Middle East today reverse US Israelocentric oars? The US president may suggest that but the touts are giving wide odds that he will.
And finally, as a loyal Revisionist Zionist, Danon is calling for the immediate incorporation of the illegal occupied Jewish settlements into Israel as part and parcel of Israeli's biblical irredentist claims to restore Samaria and Judea to the Jews. A romantic notion nonetheless, but one which sinks any viable Palestinian state or eradicates any acknowledgement of Palestinian legitimate claims for a state of their own.
Which makes the move to petition the UN by a united Palestinian Authority and Hamas, for 'de jure' and 'de facto' recognition of a Palestinian state.
And that recognition will give Israel and its pro consul protector the US more trouble than its worth, and will pour cold water on any warm words Obama may make on Arabs, Muslims, and making the Israeli lion lie down with the Palestinian 'lambs'.

Monday, May 16, 2011

Israel get a jolt! The Naqba won't be forgotten

Pictures on the front pages of world newspapers of Palestinian refugees in Lebanon and Syria jumping fences to enter Israel on Israel's 63 anniversary [to the Palestinians this represents the Naqba' the day of cataclysm on equal footing with Titus expulsion of the Jews], has to be a wake up call for the Likud led government that its policy to illegally grab Palestinian territory through settlements is doomed for failure. Netenyahu the prime minister has stalled too long for anything but a diplomatic defeat for the Zionist state in the up coming UN General Assembly which will formally recognise Palestine as a state. The US cannot do much about that unless Obama forces Netenyahu to cry Uncle! That seems unlikely.
Does not Israel see Palestinian refugees throwing bodies of theirs over barbed wired fences or the tightly controlled Palestinians under 44 years of Israel occupation of the West Bank who rose up in peaceful protest, an echo of the the Holocaust survivors braving the British occupation of Palestine?
Time is running out for the Zionist state and its leadership is absent of any ideas but stealing land.

Saturday, May 14, 2011

Reading Pakistan

As Pakistan points the finger of blame at the US or India or Israel, it engages in flummery. For the problem lies within Pakistan: the military, the feudal fiefdoms inherited from the days of the rage, and an awful economy and infrastructure that provides the grist for terrorist groups, which the military in part nutures in the maintain its power.
During the Manichean foreign policy of the Eisenhower presidency, Washington found in Pakistan a countervailing weight to India, which adhered to the spirit of Bandung and did not shy away from relations with the Soviet Union, earning New Delhi a black mark in the US' book of the good and evil. Since 1958, Pakistan has received the US ratepayers' largess and Washington's turning a blind eye as Islamabad slouched into a Faustian bargain with Islamic militancy.
With the killing of Bin Laden in Abbotabad, the laser heat of analysis is searing Pakistan. Its elite refuses to deal with its complicity with the Taliban domestic or foreign; its hospitality for Afghani Taliban and Al Qaeda; and its inability to control Pakistan's Taliban, preferring a paper thin social peace as Islamabad, be it civilian or military leadership, caves into the mullahs and the terrorists who use religion for a political agenda arising out of the lack of country's leaders to tackle the concerns and cares of keeping skin and bone together for the ordinary man or woman in the street.
GuamDiary suggests the reading of a handful of books on Pakistan.

Mohammed Hanif's 'Exploding Pineapples' [runner up for the Man Booker Prize]
Anatol Lieven's 'Pakistan: a hard country'
Bruce Riedel's 'Deadly Embrace; Pakistan, America, and the future of the global jihad'
Rohan and Khuram Iqbal: 'Pakistan: terrorism ground zero'
Zhid Hussain' 'The Scorpion's Tail: the rentless rise of Islamic Militants in Pakistan and its threatens America'

And Ahmed Rashid's review of the last four titles: 'Cry, the beloved country' in the 26 May 2011 issue of 'The New Republic'.

Thursday, May 12, 2011

Anatomy of CUNY's Board of Trustee's Cockup

The City University of New York’s board of trustees is composed of seasoned political players appointed by the gouveneur or the mayor. The trustees represent big money and influence that have benefitted its sprawling 23 colleges and almost a half million students. CUNY traditionally has been the ladder for the poor and the immigrant to ascend the ladder of social melioration which the American dream promises. Generally the trustees’ decisions decisions have not attracted public notice. But, 10 days ago, Benno Schmidt, former president of Yale and professor of constitutional law, decided table the award of a Ph.D. ‘honore causis’ to Tony Kushner one of America’s foremost dramatists, best known for his award winning ‘Angels in America’.

The denial of CUNY’s John Jay College of Criminal Justice’s request to honour Kushner, based on the rant of a trustee, Jeffrey Weisenfeld, claiming that the playwright, who’s a Jew, had defamed Israel. As a child of Holocaust survivors Weisenfeld wears the badge of his parents’ suffering at the hands of the Nazis, and has made him judge and jury of any criticism of the Zionist state. In an interview with Jeffrey Goldberg of ‘the Atlantic Monthly’, he went as far as claiming that his mother would pin the label of ‘Kapo’, a concentration camp prisoner appointed by the SS as overseer of slave work gangs of fellow prisoners.

So completely suffused and skewed is public discourse favouring Israel that any critical standpoint of the Zionist state is tarred and feathered with ‘anti Semitism’. As frequently happens, any critical views on Israeli policy is quashed or sidelined. And if one is a Jew like Kushner who supports the existence of the state of Israel, yet is not blind to its shortcomings, he is called a ‘self hating Jew’. So ends discussion.

The board’s decision raised an outpouring of protest, which GuamDiary has commented on. A special session of the trustee’s executive committee rescinded the board’s action and in Benno Schmidt’s admission that it was not only a bad decision but it violated the principle of academic enquiry and freedom of thought. Nonetheless, despite his clamming ‘apologia’, he was not present when the committee reversed course. The trustees, however, did not see the bitter irony of its initial decision: the denial of justice!

Kushner was gracious enough to say that he will accept the degree at John Jay’s graduation ceremony in early June. Still the tear in CUNY’s reputation is not mended yet. As GuamDiary sees it, Benno Schmidt shares some of blame in caving into Weisenfeld’s violent denunciation of Kushner and his racialist slurs on Palestinians.

As a former president of Yale, Schmidt knows the time honoured tradition of a university’s academic freedom. He himself had defended it often during his tenure at the Ivy League university. And as a constitutional lawyer, he should have at his finger tips legal precedent defending Kushner’s right to dissent. Nevertheless, to avoid controversy, he took the easy way out by tabling the awarding of the degree, thereby killing it. The trustees did not raise any questions of substance, but, like sheep, concurred. In fact, one trustee admitted he didn’t know who Kushner was [and he sits on a university board!].

Schmidt’s pusillanimous move brought shame on CUNY. And if he had any decency, he along with Weisenfeld should step down. But he wont in all probability: he is in the charter school business these days and he depends on Wall Street bankers and hedge fund managers [of which Weisenfeld is], to fund his business ventures, which milks the public coffers for private gain. So, he is not one to upset his own applecart. Furthermore with visions of billions directed from public to privately run education, he should not be sitting on CUNY’s board of trustees.

Luckily the public outcry put the spot light on the intellectual dishonesty and the board’s cowardice. CUNY has to examine appointments of political ‘hacks’ and yes men and women, and demand accountability and strong academic oversight.

Wednesday, May 11, 2011

Kissinger on China

Age, it seems, has not slowed Alfred Heinz Kissinger -- better known as Henry Kissinger. As he approaches is 88 birthday, a new book of his is out on the market: 'On China'.
Kissinger has a long association with the 'Middle Country', ever since he brokered the terms for Richard Nixon's trip to China in 1972.
Methodologically speaking, the book is modelled on Kissinger's previously published musings on diplomacy and power. Today he has become a much respected avuncular figure who like a leaking faucet spouts pearls of hoary wisdom.
Kissinger on China is not a kiss and tell account. It is a clever weave of history and the banal and portraits of the movers and shakers of the Communist Party of China.
'Uncle' Henry has always kept in the shadows that Kissinger Associates represents the interests of the Chinese government, a client that pays well for influence in America's political and economic structure. With this in mind, in reading the 586 page book on China, it should never escape our attention that the former secretary of state and nobel prize winner, has his eye on presenting himself and his 'wisdom' in the best possible light, so that he does not come off as a vulgar hack hustling for crumbs from the table of the powerful.

Friday, May 6, 2011

A Flake at Korea Society

As GuamDiary already observed, the New York Korea Society has become inconsequential to its general membership, offering them a steady diet of pretzels and beer in the form of book chats, films, exhibits, and the like. Ambassador Minton & co. serve up more substance fare for a List A of toffs.

On 5 May 2011 Korea Society found its way back to the days when Donald Gregg and Fred Carriere ran the show: then members feasted on subjects they could quench their thirst of issues on the two Koreas. Gordon Flake, executive director of the Mansfield Foundation, the invited speaker, chose to discourse on ‘China’s approach to North Korea’.

Flake dabbles in conflict resolution. Fluent in Korean which he learnt during his stint as a Mormon missionary to South Korea. On the question of Korea, he wears many hats and, according to him, occupies in the various organisations with which he is associated,where he at times is a ‘liberal’, at others a firm ‘conservative’. Flake is no stranger to the Korea Society whose sycophantic senior vice president Stephen Noerper introduced as the ‘future secretary of state’. With a mane of well style white hair, dressed in a black suit, Flake makes a good impression as he stepped up to the podium. In manner and dress, he looks like a Mormon elder and has the bearing of a man on a religious mission.

Substantively, he had little to say on China than what a reader would discover in a general article in the ‘New York Times’ . On North Korea, however, Flake had a lot to impart. On the subject of the DPRK he is like an angry god hurling thunderbolts. Kim Jong il & co., to him, have little redeeming qualities, as he fingered his rosary of indictment, disapproval, and outright condemnation, with a shtick laced with ‘facts and figures’.

His charges are part of the standard vocabulary of the hoary vocabulary of the U.S. North Korean clerisy. Flake put his name to the conclusions of the CFR [Council on Foreign Relations] special report on Korea [March 2010] that calls on the Obama administration to ‘roll back’ North Korea. At heart that is the alpha and omega of his remarks, which, of course, are honey coated in more soothing words.

Time and time again, the Mansfield Foundation's executive director kept coming back to the generous U.S. initiatives to resolvw issues with North Korea, if only the DPRK's leadership would listen with open ears. Flake's approach should give us pause in astonishment: as a maven of conflict resolution, surely he would grasp more clearly than others that North Koreans would look upon his 'solutions' as nothing but a transparent conspiracy to 'reform' and 'modernise' the DPRK through subterfuge, as a reason to resist them. For to North Korea they carry the bad odour of regime change. Undoubtedly, too, he more than others should know that North Korea's long resistance to Japanese colonialism and the rebuilding a country flattened by U.S. bombing during the Korean War -- which is frozen in place by a 1953 armistice -- the DPRK has a certain image of itself which is in conflict with Flake's standpoint. Thus, the confusion and incomprehension he expresses when he puts forth the U.S.' case, as well as his inability to see that transacting any business under these circumstance with the North runs into a cul de sac.

Flake is a muscular ‘imperialist’, with a message which has hardly changed in substance since the heady days of the Cold War, where in Korea stubbed its big toe in stalemate. Smoothly ambitious in thrust, his mantra is something straight out of John Foster Dulles’ bag of tricks. The U.S. has wisely calibrated its policy towards North Korea with South Korea’s Lee Myung bak’s take no prisoners approach. To anyone who has some knowledge of North Korea, they appear to be chasing a ma dream.

Well, the message shed of all the snake oil Flake’s peddling reads loud and clear. During the Q&A, some of his facts were boldly challenged. And like a smooth operator he is, he hid behind a ‘well, this is my opinion’, without conceding his slant on events.

The Mansfield Foundation’s executive director’s spiel carries weight in Washington where he is frequently called to testify on Korean policy, China, etc. Flake is fulsome in false modesty, which rings hollow the moment his words leave his mouth. The tragedy is that he and his fellow North Korean ‘clerks’ hog the conservation on U.S. policy towards the DPRK, hardly allowing a dissenting voice to be heard. As such, they hope to square the circle as they engage in a strategy of 'rolling back' North Korea, which runs the risk of renewed warfare as the world witnessed by South Korea's shelling of North Korean waters along the NLL [Northern Limit Line] in November 2010.

Thursday, May 5, 2011

Tony Kushner censored: The dead hand of Israel on CUNY’s academic freedom

City University of New York has felt the dead weight of the US Israeli lobby when a trustee managed to sway the Board of Trustees to stop CUNY’s John Joy College of Criminal Justice from awarding the playwright Tony Kushner a ‘doctorate honoris cause’ at the 2011 graduation ceremony.

Kushner who is Jewish is poisonous to the Zionist state of Israel and its American cheering squads because he criticises Israel for its sins of omission and commission. So, in a word, if he’s not an anti Semite, he’s a ‘self hating Jew’ according to the boots of the army of Israel can do no wrong. Well where is the justice of that? The trustees’ decision has the sulfurous odour of criminality against freedom of dissent and of freedom of thought!

One of the U.S.’ famous dramatist, Kushner is known for his ‘Angels in America’ and in film for the script of Steven Spielberg’s harrowing ‘Munich’, which didn’t please Israel.

The larger issue here is the meddling through a rich American surrogate of the Zionist state of Israel on functioning of a New York City tax funded university. What is at stake is not only academic freedom but the freedom of the university to conduct its own affairs without the stamp of a foreign censor–the state of Israel.

CUNY’s president is hiding behind bureaucratic excuses, and not challenging the university trustee who are large donors with political connexions. It is intolerable that such interference is allowed. The arm twisting trustee should step down or be forced ot resign. And if CUNY’s president had any guts, he would allow John Jay to confer the degree on Kusher. And not only that, he should be sentenced to community service in order to learn the lessons of American democracy.

Will there be a ground swell of protest? Let’s sincerely hope so! And cast out the devils who attack America’s fundamental rights to criticise and hold other opinions!

Wednesday, May 4, 2011

Three cheers for Daniel Barenboim

Argentine born, Israeli citizen, holding honourary Palestinian citizenship, world renown musician and conductor Daniel Barenboim and his Diwan orchestra, made up of Israeli and Palestinian musicians, gave its first peace concert in Gaza.
The bi national orchestra is the brain child of Maestro Barenboim and the late Edward Said. The vision of these two men sought to go beyond the borders separating physically, morally, and psychological Israeli and Palestinian. And thereby foster understanding and friendship between the two peoples.
Yet the Israeli government looks at Barenboim with a severe eye. In fact, it denied him entry to Gaza at the Israeli border. That move, however, didn't stop the maestro, he travelled with his 25 musicians in tow through Egypt's Raffah border, no longer closed since the fall of Hosni Mubarak.
The Diwan orchestra played Mozarts' 'Eine Kleine Nachtmusik' and 'Symphony in G Minor. The programme was well received and opened a link to encouraging music appreciation in Gaza and bolstering the morale of musicians suffering from the fallout of 'Cast Lead' who now know that the isolation that Israel tried to impose on them has failed.
Barenboim deserves our thanks and gratitude for swimming against Zionist waves of disapproval. Hip hip hurrah we say to him and his courageous musicians!

An historic occasion for Palestine

Today [4 May 2011] in Cairo history was made: Hamas and the Palestinian Authority signed an agreement to put away differences and concentrate on furthering the legitimate rights of the Palestinian people living under the boot of Israel's 43 occupation. Today, to be sure, is an historic occasion for Palestinians in Gaza, the occupied West Bank, and in the Palestinian diaspora.
Israel's right wing government headed by the Revisionist Zionist 'Bibi' Netenyahu issued a statement by which he called dealings with the Palestinian Authority dead on arrival and as is his wont, condemned Hamas as a terrorist organisation.
Netenyahu's boldness knows no bounds since owing to his 'Drang nach der Jordan' has but one goal to parcel out the Palestinians in the West Bank into Bantustans made in Israel and absorb through accelerated Jewish colonisation what he calls 'Samaria and Judea' into a Zionist entity stretching from the Mediterranean to the Jordan River, based on the hoary reading of the Old Testament.
Truth be told, Israel's policy is backed up by a 60 history whereby its conditions are the tar and substance of a one way street: in a word, they have the force of a steamroller which its pro consul and protector the US backs up to the hilt.
Today's accord between Hamas and the PA is a shot across Israel's bow that the old days are gone. Of course Netenyahu is prepared to start military initiatives, but judging by recent history -- Cast Lead in Gaza, piracy and murder on the high seas, two lost wars in Lebanon -- the US will not sanction them, the more especially since the Obama administration is trying to find its feet in the Arab world since the uprisings in Tunisia and Egypt, not to speak of its ham handed policies in Yemen and Bahrain.

Tuesday, May 3, 2011

US Pakistan: cheek to jowl

Osama Bin Laden's death has, as it should, raised questions about US relations with Pakistan. However, realistically speaking, calls from the wells of Congress, the press, and the street for abrupt end of aid to Islamabad are premature. The simple truth is: the US'
hip is knitted to Pakistan's hip.
This scorpion like dance lies in decisions made in Washington a half century or more ago to tilt in favour of Pakistan and punish 'neutralist' India. Not only that the US backed the military seizure of power that engaged in pushing an Islamist agenda. Who remembers Ayub Khan? The Baghdad Pact? CENTO? SEATO? General Zia al Haq proved especially a useful tool until he's was blown up along with the US ambassador. Military in power means arms to stay in power, suppress internal rivals, and engage in outside adventures.
Pakistan lost three wars against India, and the ground was laid for seeing India as its main enemy and target, the more especially one war cost Pakistan its eastern property now known as 'Bangladesh'.
As a result of US' anti India bias, Pakistan became a reservoir of America's taxpayer largesse.
Clever by half Ronald Reagan [and Jimmy Carter] pumped in billions in arms and funds to defeat the Soviet invasion of Afghanistan to save its client. When the Soviets withdrew, so did Reagan's concern as the Taliban seized power in that mosaic of tribes with a capital in Kabul. By washing its hands, the US left Pakistan with a legacy of refugees and other financial strains. And so Pakistan's army and its intelligence arm throw a protective cloak over Afghanistan, as radical Islam seeped into its neighbourhood. Meanwhile, it played the US for all its worth for arms and money even despite the cleavage in military and political identity of views.
If readers of GuamDiary find it troublesome in our argument, we suggest they quickly review US Iran relations until 1979. The US was played like an Amati violin by the Shah for his own advantages, and it is the same with Pakistan today holding the US hostage to its 'realism' in Pakistan, so much so the ally Pakistan is playing both sides of the street as the state descends into anarchy, but the military pulls the strings. [Events in Egypt should be a warning!]
So there's little the US can do to penalise Pakistan. It prefers playing charades with a public who sees through the gambit: Pakistan knew Bin Laden and others, including Mollah Omar are on the receiving end of its protection, largesse, and money a great deal of which comes out of the US rate payers' pockets.
Cheek to jowl is the best way to characterise US Pakistan relations until they implode.

Monday, May 2, 2011

Osama Bin Laden

Osama Bin Laden's dead. After an almost 10 year search for him, the US found and killed him in an upmarket compound in a peaceful setting in a town in Pakistan 150 km from Islamabad. On one hand the American people have 'closure' on 9/11; on the other, they are waiting for the other shoe to drop on the revenge of Bin Laden's al Qaeda. The page, nonetheless, is turned but the WTC is not forgotten.
President Obama's terse but eloquent announcement from the White House at almost midnight on May day raises more questions than it answers. Do we buy into his argument that he had the full cooperation of Pakistan? Or the simple details of the JSOC mission aided and abetted by the CIA? His words are a challenge the more especially hour by hour and day by day, more info, mostly leaked, will come out to fill in the puzzle of Osama's death during an exchange of gunfire in his well built and fortified compound.
Already Philadelphia lawyers are condemning Bin Laden's death: wouldn't it have been better to capture him, bring him to trial, so on and on? It is a stretch of the imagination that Osama would've allowed himself be captured, slipping into a hoary life from a Hollywood oater--'he died with his boots on!' Then, there are the conspiracy theorists who believe he had nothing to do with 9/11, even though Bin Laden is caught on tape boasting about planning the attack on the WTC. Nothing will ever convince those who take fantasy for reality.
Where is Bin Laden's corpse? Buried at sea? Cremated? In a shallow grave according to Muslim burial custom? Many thirst for a photo like Che's strikingly like a Christ brought down from the cross that once graced the cover of 'Paris Match'. Alas their wish will not be granted.
With Osama's death the decline of al Qaeda will continue, in spite of the bombing of the Agana Cafe in Marrakesh. Germany broke the rhythm of an operation to collar Muslim terrorists on its territory to arrest two Moroccans and another Muslim a few days ago.
Bin Laden's death buoys the sagging ratings of Obama and enhances his stature against a sea of second rate Republicans who are wanting to run against him in 2012. It is a sign of a thaw in a run of bad luck -- political, military, and economic -- for the US. Is it the single swallow, a harbinger of a false spring? Will Osama no longer being on the scene mean that the US will wind down the war in Afghanistan? Now that General Petraeus will head the CIA, it may mean that the US is turning towards a JFK solution relying on guerrilla warfare? So many questions, so few answers.
And of course Pakistan continues to be a failed state with nuclear weapons. GuamDiary suggests reading Mohammed Hanif's excellent 'Exploding Pineapples' for a 'retour aux sources' in the radicalisation of Pakistan with the aid of the US. Looking behind Obama's words, it is obvious the US does not trust Pakistan whose secret services, controlled by the military, have been playing a treacherous double game: hold the US hostage for billions whilst coddling with the terrorists home grown or Afghani or serving as a training ground for global terrorists. Thus, the US cannot disengage without scars. [Remember the long 'love affair' with Pavlavi the Shah of Iran who held the US hostage for 25 years until he fled and the Mollahs took charge!]
Yet, the US military which is more firmly in the cat bird's seat in running the US will be emboldened to more adventurist designs that will continue to bleed the US treasury white and hasten America's decline.
Lastly but not least the tonnes of ink that will follow on the meaning of Osama Bin Laden's death, a new cottage industry.

Sunday, May 1, 2011

Egypt claims its traditional role in the Arab world

In the aftermath of the overthrow of Mohammed Hosni Mubarak, the military hanger ons who are transitioning Egypt to a 'brighter' future, has begun discarding the old chains of foreign policy that have weakened Egypt's traditional, and perhaps guiding, role in the Arab world: Cairo has brokered a peace between the Palestinian Authority and Hamas, thereby healing a five year old breach; with that, it has recognised Hamas in Gaza, which Muburak had collaborated with Israel to not only isolated but destory; and it has renewed ties with a traditional rival Iran.
These three steps burnish Egypt's amorial bearings in the Middle East. Nonetheless, they have given Israel's right wing Likud led government of 'Bibi' Netenyahu a giant migraine headache. Suddenly, the Zionist state is thrown off its stride of 'bully' and now is girding its loins for more setbacks. One anticipated setback is going to be the 'de facto' if not 'de jure' of Palestine on land which the Israeli occupied as booty of the 1967 six day war and has steadfastly illegally peopled with settlers and proclaimed ownership based on a hoary interpretation of the Bible. A Palestine recognised by the world community immediately challenges Israeli colonisation and theft of another people's land; it raises the