NYT Columnist Tom Friedman Accuses Israel of Terrorism

The horror
New York Times: more photos of Gaza operation

Via Glenn Greenwald. Tom Friedman, one of the nation’s leading propagandists for the Iraq War and a vigorous supporter of all of Israel’s wars, praises the Israeli attack on Gaza in today’s New York Times (emphasis added):

In Gaza, I still can’t tell if Israel is trying to eradicate Hamas or trying to “educate” Hamas, by inflicting a heavy death toll on Hamas militants and heavy pain on the Gaza population. If it is out to destroy Hamas, casualties will be horrific and the aftermath could be Somalia-like chaos. If it is out to educate Hamas, Israel may have achieved its aims.

[Note: in the updates below, the death toll in Gaza so far is reported as approximately 1,000, of whom 330 or so may have been Hamas fighters. That's less than two percent of the estimated 20,000 fighters commanded by Hamas in Gaza-- far from the "heavy death toll" Friedman thinks Israel is trying to inflict.]

Greenwald points out that Friedman is in fact cheerleading for a strategy that meets the definition of terrorism. Here is how terrorism is defined in Title 22 of the United States Code, Section 2656f(d): [Link to USC provided for context, after comment pointed out the omission]

The term “terrorism” means premeditated, politically motivated violence perpetrated against noncombatant targets…

At a pro-Israel rally in New York recently, Senator Chuck Schumer highlighted Israel’s supposed humanitarian methods of warfare by pointing to its text messaging of certain Gaza Strip residents urging them to vacate their homes before Israeli forces bombed them. “What other country would do that?” Schumer shouted from the podium.

What would Schumer say if someone phoned him in the middle of the night threatening to blow up his house? Would he call it terrorism?

Updates in the continuation of this post…

UPDATE:Matt Yglesias weighs in on Friedman’s endorsement of terrorism:

This in much the same way that Osama bin Laden sought to “educate” American civilians about the price to be paid for supporting corrupt oil monarchies by killing people who happened to be in a prominent skyscraper …Friedman is positing a much sicker rationale for military action than its actual initiators have been willing to articulate.

UPDATE: Today the death toll of Gaza residents reached 1,000, including an estimated 670 noncombatants. More rockets launched from Lebanon hit northern Israel– the IDF responded with artillery fire.

UPDATE:
New York Times: Israeli Rights Groups Call for War Crimes Inquiry.

“This kind of fighting constitutes a blatant violation of the laws of warfare and raises the suspicion, which we ask be investigated, of the commission of war crimes,” the groups said in their first news conference on the 19-day-old war.

And yes, they were referring to the IDF’s assault on Gaza.

UPDATE: H/T to Leo BrownRichard Spencer seems able to divine something like a rational and achievable Israeli objective in Gaza:

Israel is likely trying to get Hamas—as well as the Palestinian people—on a war footing before Obama takes office, heading off at the pass a potential pro-Palestine intervention or even a substantial shift in policy by the new administration.

UPDATE: Israeli 155 mm artillery pounds United Nations Relief and Works Agency (UNRWA) in Gaza. WP rounds set the compound on fire, destroying the U.N.’s central distribution facility for food and medicine. Story and video. Israeli PM Olmert has apologized for this particular fire mission. Over at Danger Room, Nathan Hodge tries to sort out if this was an accident of war or a deliberate attempt to destroy the UNRWA facility.

UPDATE:
This all started with Glenn Greenwald, so let’s give him the last word before moving on:

To follow up on the Tom Friedman claim from yesterday that Hamas will lose support if Israel kills enough Palestinian civilians, The New York Times today reports that “The more bombs in Gaza, the more Hamas’s support seems to be growing at the expense of the Palestinian Authority.” This was the (self-evident) point made so well yesterday by Daniel Larison: if a foreign power drops lots of bombs on a population (to say nothing of stories like this and this), they tend to become more hostile to those doing the bombing and more supportive of their own leaders, especially if those leaders vow retribution against the attackers. As Jonathan Schwarz recalls, Tom Friedman’s own demented reaction to the 9/11 attacks illustrates exactly how that dynamic works.

UPDATE: OK, this is really the last update. Israeli President Shimon Peres deserves the last word, as he confirms that the objective of the Gaza operation is collective punishment, something Friedman only speculated about.

  1. #1 by Rich Okelberry on January 14, 2009 - 11:29 am

    Richard,

    It is good to see you finally willing to criticize a fellow leftist like Senator Schumer.

    Still, to the topic at hand. I remember you writing that you believed Israel had used uneven or inappropriate force against Hamas in response for the continued rocket attacks.

    Just curious, what would you have said would have been a more appropriate use of force? Or are you really saying that Israel was not within its rights to use force to defend its self at all?

    Also, on topic, can you name a single US war that we have engaged in that would not fit your description of Terrorism?

    I say “your definition,” because your quoted definition under Title 22 of the United States Code, Section 2656f(d) has a vital omission.

    “(d2) the term “terrorism” means premeditated, politically motivated violence perpetrated against noncombatant targets by subnational groups or clandestine agents;” – Title 22 of the United States Code, Section 2656f(d)

    Please note the rest of the clause that requires that these acts be carried out by “subnational groups or clandestine agents” before it is considered terrorism. You do know that this means groups that aren’t considered nations, right?

    Did you omit that section yourself Richard? Or did you simply copy it from someone else who omitted it. I noticed that you failed to link to the actual title so that other’s could verify your excerpt. I also know that by your definition through our discussions about Bush omitting some information about Iraqi WMDs, you believe such omissions are out right lies.

    Essentially I want to ask you straight out Richard, are you a LIAR by your own definition? Did you purposely publish this in an attempt to deceive the public and artifically rally people to your anti-Israeli agenda?

    Shame… Shame… Brother!

  2. #2 by Rich Okelberry on January 14, 2009 - 11:32 am

    Sorry, this post is just because I forgot to mark the “Notify me of followup comments via e-mail” button below.

    I eagerly await your comment, Richard…

  3. #3 by Richard Warnick on January 14, 2009 - 11:49 am

    I’m pretty sure neither I nor Senator Schumer can be reasonably described as “leftists.” Schumer is typically referred to as “the senator from Wall Street.” Neither I nor Schumer can be said to have an “anti-Israel agenda,” either. Your accusations are made up.

    Like many on the right, you are setting up a false choice between Israel launching an all-out attack on Gaza or doing nothing at all. I think we all know that this operation is more about the upcoming Israeli elections than it is about self-defense. Israel and Hamas already had a cease-fire until Israel violated it on November 4.

    As for the definition of terrorism, it came from Glenn Greenwald’s post which I linked to– and you apparently didn’t read. You should, the full argument is there– I just made it shorter.

    I deliberately omitted the part about “subnational groups” because it is a distinction without a difference. I submit that the victims of terrorism care not if the perpetrators are governments or non-state actors.

    I recall that the Libyan government acknowledged responsibility for the bombing of Pan Am Flight 103, the single worst act of foreign terrorism against United States citizens before the 9/11 attacks. By your interpretation, it wasn’t an act of terrorism. By your interpretation, the Bush administration’s linking Saddam Hussein to 9/11 amounted to a category error. By your interpretation, nobody can rightly accuse Hamas of terrorism either because they are a government entity.

    I won’t argue that the United States has never done what Israel is trying to do. Hiroshima and Nagasaki are prime examples.

    I don’t think it’s possible to argue with a straight face that attacking civilians on purpose to achieve a political goal isn’t the very definition of terrorism, that which distinguishes it from warfare in general.

    Tell me– do you agree with Tom Friedman that Israel is correct to deliberately inflict harm on innocent people?

  4. #4 by Leo Brown on January 14, 2009 - 2:17 pm

    It is clearly in the interest of the state to define terrorism as only something non-state actors can commit. Whether that correctly serves either the English language or the practice of statecraft, I will leave the reader to decide.

    The question I have about Israeli tactics is their long-term effectiveness. Is their policy self-defeating in the long run? I consider this an open question. If their tactics are self-defeating, then they are obviously wrong. The same could be said for Hamas.

  5. #5 by Richard Warnick on January 14, 2009 - 2:33 pm

    Leo–

    You should read Gwynne Dyer’s column that was in today’s Salt Lake Tribune.

    As was said after the execution of the Duc d’Enghien on Napoleon’s orders, the Gaza operation “is worse than a crime. It is a mistake.”

  6. #6 by Leo Brown on January 14, 2009 - 3:00 pm

    Richard W,

    Thanks for the link. See also this link.

    Rich O,

    This link suggests the understandable saying

    It’s a Child Not a Choice?

    be matched with

    It’s a Kid Not Collateral Damage?

  7. #7 by Richard Warnick on January 14, 2009 - 3:12 pm

    Wow, Antiwar.com talking about 4GW. My favorite pseudo-military jargon. I once tried to discuss 4GW in e-mail with Bill Roggio of The Long War Journal and he just dismissed the idea as crap. Maybe because he heard it from some anti-war people.

    It will be interesting to see how many 4GW wars we have to lose before people like Roggio start believing. They have all the instincts of Donald (insurgency? what insurgency?) Rumsfeld.

  8. #8 by Moribund Republic on January 14, 2009 - 3:17 pm

    All the gnashing of teeth and qualifications what is legal,illegal, terrorism or not, are really funny. We are past that, these issues are decided one at a time, depending on the circumstances and how powerful, or friendly the perpetrators are to our interests. Pick up Machiavelli and we can see that the law is just a tool, to be wrenched on the uncompliant, or the weak.

    For example, the water boarding torture thing. Well the US incarcerated a Japanese officer after trying and convicting him of the deed, for a 20 year term, after WW2. So what he did for his country to us was illegal, and proven so by the conviction and the prison term. Water boarding for the US in the name of security is NOT illegal until such time as some idiot that did it is tried and convicted and sentenced for it. This is the practical application of the law. It means nothing unless there is some form of justice meted out.

    Until that time all the discussions are simply about whether or not there is enough evidence, or if the act is a crime at all in the context within which it was done. Once again, an entirely subjective exercise until one train of thought gets the upper hand.

    More idiotic turnabouts by the Fried Man, Hey, let’s all not forget his job is to sell script and newsprint. Nothing like contradictory statements and controversy to sell the rags.

  9. #9 by Leo Brown on January 14, 2009 - 3:46 pm

    Richard W.,

    You might also appreciate this link.

    Of course, the ultimate outcome of this war remains to be seen. As they say, predictions are hard, especially about the future.

    Mori,

    Good points, but “really funny” is not the right phrase, especially if you happen to be the victim.

  10. #10 by Richard Warnick on January 14, 2009 - 3:52 pm

    In Leo’s link, Richard Spencer is able to divine something like a rational and achievable Israeli objective in Gaza:

    Israel is likely trying to get Hamas—as well as the Palestinian people—on a war footing before Obama takes office, heading off at the pass a potential pro-Palestine intervention or even a substantial shift in policy by the new administration.

    I wondered why Israel attacked on November 4th …

  11. #11 by Rich Okelberry on January 14, 2009 - 4:33 pm

    Richard,

    You deliberately omitted the part about “subnational groups?” So it is true that you were attempting to deceive readers by giving an edit version of the law to falsely support your argument. Regardless of your intentions, you have just done the very thing that you accuse Bush of doing to lead us into war. Of course I imagine you feel that your deception is far more excusable, what it tells me is that no one reading your essays can ever again trust the content.

    If it were truly your intention to alter the definition to express your stated belief that the victims of terror see no difference, you would have made that part of your initial argument. What a wicked web we weave when first we practice to deceive. Compounding one falsehood with another is never a good idea.

    Also, I would like to note how when caught in such a deception you instantly turn on the offensive with a load of “by your interpretation” statements. Unfortunately for you, the deception you have attempted is not by my interpretation but by yours, as I noted in my first post. Please note that I did not once reveal my position on the actual topic at hand but only asked for you to clarify your position.

    I also should note that you never answered my questions about what would be an appropriate response for Israel to the rocket attacks. Instead you fall back on them as the initiators of the conflict. I will assume that it is then your position that Israel deserves what it has been getting and should just sit back and take it. Also, I should note that you readily refer to Israel as using terror but have yet to say the same about Hamas who is with all certainty guilty of not only your modified definition of terror but the true criminal definition under Title 22. You see sir, it is obvious by your one sided nature and rush to defend Hamas that you do have an anti-Israeli agenda. Nothing is made up on my part as you have suggested, only on yours.

    Finally, while you did point to WWII as an example of the U.S. using terror by YOUR definition, you failed to state any other wars where you believed this to be true. I also imagine that you also don’t believe that when Bill Clinton bombed that aspirin factory that he was acting as a terrorist. I believe this to be true because you have continually refused to answer whether or not Bill Clinton should be tried for war crimes along side Bush.

    While you are certain to claim that I am somehow obsessed with Clinton again to slide out of answering the question, I would tell you that I do not ask the question because of any dislike for Clinton, but to show you for the hypocrite you are. You see I don’t believe that either Bush or Clinton lead our nation into “illegal” wars, but have merely pointed out that almost every such argument that you have made against Bush could and should also be applied to the husband of your new Secretary of State. Is it any wonder why Obama would like to put the past behind us?

    I’m sorry Richard, but you have been exposed for what you are!

  12. #12 by Rich Okelberry on January 14, 2009 - 4:38 pm

    Leo,

    Interesting take… Are you saying that the inadvertent or accidental death of a child in a war zone is equal to the purposeful late term abortion of a child? Is your author and you thus arguing that a child in the womb at some point is deserving of human rights and should be protected by the same international laws against it’s brutal killing?

    Would this make abortionists basically terrorists under Richard Warnick’s definition?

    It’s a Kid Not Collateral Damage, it’s a Child NOT a Choice?

  13. #13 by Rich Okelberry on January 14, 2009 - 4:42 pm

    Moribund,

    I could not have said it better myself. The US knows how corrupted by politics international courts are. This is why we will not subject our servicemen to them. We reserve the right to try them ourselves. While it would be nice to have a truly unbiased judicial system appointed by a democratic process, no such body exists.

    Also, note that Richard Warnick does not want international laws to be applied to those that he supports like Bill Clinton and Hamas. He only wants it applied to Bush and Israel.

  14. #14 by Obama the Paul [merLot] on January 14, 2009 - 5:59 pm

    RO:

    Still apologizing for the bush atrocity to the nation and world?

  15. #15 by Leo Brown on January 14, 2009 - 6:17 pm

    Rich O,

    Things should be called by the right names. Saying A is like B is some ways, does not mean A is B. So no, an intentional death is not the same as an accidental death. However, Richard W. argues that the collateral damage is the underlying intent or Israel for reasons of power politics. That is arguably terrorism by some commonly used definitions.

    Most people with moral and ethical sensitivities are troubled both by abortion, especially late term abortion, but potentially all abortion, and by civilian casualties in war, intended or otherwise, and even by military casualties in war. This springs from a widely shared view that human life is sacred.

    I am not a pacifist, but I am generally anti-war. I am pro-life, but I see limitations on what the law can do given strongly entrenched positions in American law and politics. My favored platform on right to life issues is to support programs that would reduce the number of abortions within the limits of what is politically and legally possible. My favored platform on Gaza is that we ought to do what we can to end the violence, which may not be much given political realities at home and abroad. Here is a link I found worth reading and which represents a view I find compelling. That website is one that contains many posts that I think you would agree with.

  16. #16 by Richard Warnick on January 14, 2009 - 7:02 pm

    Wow. Who knew R.O. had such a capacity for outrage? Of course, I linked to the full argument in Glenn Greenwald’s post– my post was abbreviated for the convenience of One Utah readers.

    I am merely angry about war crimes and terrorism, and the violent deaths of more than a thousand people. R.O. is apparently apoplectic because I used an ellipsis (…) in a blog post.

  17. #17 by Rich Okelberry on January 15, 2009 - 8:19 am

    Richard W.

    Now, Now, Richard…. You know full well that I supported the war not because of WMDs but because of human rights violations and genocide on the part of Saddam. This is why I also supported Clinton’s “Illegal War” in Bosnia. So you should know that I am completely capable of outrage.

    In fact, I have purposely decided to not enter into a debate with you over this topic, especially after discovering your willingness to distort the truth by altering information to suit your argument.

    I merely wanted to use this opportunity to show people that no matter how crafty someone thinks they are, when you follow a losing argument you will always eventually end up losing. In this case you have now lost both your integrity and good name to make some false point.

    Still I would like to give you the opportunity to defend yourself and your positions. While it is obvious that there are some questions that you refuse to answer that will help us determine your overall opposition on this issue, perhaps you will indulge your readers by clarifying a few points directly related to your position on Israel.

    You say that you do not have an anti-Israeli agenda. We all know that you are possibly the most regular contributor here at One Utah. How many essays would you say you have penned here and elsewhere that are supportive of any Israeli positions? Conversely how many of your essays have been critical of Israel and/or our support for Israel? Can you please link us to at least one essay where you defend Israel?

    More to the point I also want to ask if you support the stated goal of Hamas; the destruction of Israel? I have become suspicious of how far you are willing to support Hamas since you failed to be even slightly critical of Hamas when asked. Is this just a case of the enemy of my enemy is my ally? Or is your support for Hamas more involved ideologically?

    A question about your essay: You use the fact that Israel has been text messaging civilians in Gaza, warning them of pending attacks as an example of terrorism. Others would argue that this is a humane gesture that is intended to allow civilians to evacuate and are that will be involved in combat operations. I would argue that this is a dangerous thing for the Israeli military to do because it allows Hamas to know where the next assault will come from. Still it appears that Israel is willing to put their soldiers at this increased risk in an attempt to lower civilian casualties. Would you mind elaborating on why you believe this is actually a terror tactic? Also, should there be an international law
    Prohibit a warring party from making such announcements to civilian populations?

    Finally, I will be co-hosting next week on KVNU: For the People. While I don’t control the topics for the show, I would like to suggest that you come on the air and discuss these issues and the concept of the use of terror and the illegal wars by the U.S.? Are you game?

  18. #18 by Richard Warnick on January 15, 2009 - 9:10 am

    My message is: terrorism is a crime against humanity no matter who the perpetrators are. R.O. is welcome to disagree if he so desires. Instead, he seems to want to silence the messenger according to standard right-wing practice.

    I don’t defend the current Israeli government, but that does not make me anti-Israeli any more than being against the Bush administration equates with being un-American. Look at the updates above, and you will find a link to this article: Israeli Rights Groups Call for War Crimes Inquiry. I have a lot of sympathy for Israeli patriots, including residents of Sderot, who have tried in vain to stop the Olmert government from further wrecking Israel’s reputation with yet another boneheaded invasion.

    I have never supported Hamas or expressed sympathy for their goals. That’s all in your imagination. I challenge you to discover one quote where I said any such thing.

    On Senator Schumer’s remarks about text messaging, I simply speculated how he would react if someone messaged him that his home was about to be bombed. That’s a question someone ought to ask him.

    I actually never listen to talk radio. IMHO it’s a format where the guest is totally at the mercy of whoever controls the show, which makes honest debate a rarity.

  19. #19 by Moribund Republic on January 15, 2009 - 9:46 am

    Yes RO, it becomes clear that many would like the world to conform to their notions of reality and legality. What become s clear is that like most perceptions made by human beings, the exercise is entirely subjective. What keeps a nation’s subjectivity safe against extremes, against all that oppose it, is cunning, guile, and force of arms.

    For disagreements that are not that important, or where there is some common ground between subjectively opposed adversaries, there is always giving diplomacy a try.

  20. #20 by Rich Okelberry on January 15, 2009 - 10:14 am

    Richard,

    I would assure you that if you were willing to debate me on air at KVNU it would be me who would be at a disadvantage. The host for the show next week is Jason Williams. While he is a good friend of mine whose ideas I respect immensely, as a professed liberal Democrat we certainly bump heads on more than one issue. I think at least on the issue of illegal wars he would be far more likely to side with you. I can’t say how he would stand on the issue with Israel because it is a subject that we have yet to discuss. This would put me at a two to one disadvantage. Believe me; Jason will not let me get away with presenting weak arguments without putting me in my place.

    Still, having you on the show would ultimately be his and Tyler’s decision. If you are not up for taking your message to a larger audience or defending your positions on air then I will simply shelve the idea.

    Back to topic: While it is true that I have yet to hear you give direct support for Hamas and their goals, you have also been so far unwilling to condemn as you do with Israel, any of their actions even when I asked you specifically about your apparent reluctancy to do so. Thus you seem to hold them completely unaccountable for the current conflict.

    The enemy of my enemy is my ally, eh? That is all the support that Hamas needs. So what is it Richard? Is Hamas just a victim in this situation, have they not committed acts of terrorism? Have they not engaged in illegal hostility under international laws that you hold so dear? Essentially, are you a hypocrite on yet another issue?

  21. #21 by Richard Warnick on January 15, 2009 - 10:27 am

    R.O. —

    I suppose you could say Hamas is “accountable” for Israel’s assault on Gaza the same way Hezbollah was “accountable” for Israel’s invasion of Lebanon. They laid the trap and the Israelis walked into it. But the Israeli government could have chosen to avoid these traps.

    I’ve said it before several times, we Americans don’t have a dog in this fight. That’s why I’m in favor of cutting off military aid to Israel.

    By your definition, and according to the wording of the U.S. Code definition of terrorism, Hamas cannot commit terrorism because they are a government. But I say they have engaged in terrorism, because they targeted rockets on civilian areas for political effect.

    That said, it is a separate question whether Hamas can attack Israel at all without violating international law. The right of self-defense is never denied. Israel has made war on Gaza ever since Hamas took power: a blockade is an act of war, and aerial bombing is an act of war.

    It’s interesting that you bring up the “enemy of my enemy” argument. Israel is more worried about Fatah than Hamas, and for years their policy was to strengthen Hamas in order to make trouble for Fatah. Look where that got them.

    Are you going to say whether you agree with Friedman’s column?

  22. #22 by Rich Okelberry on January 15, 2009 - 11:02 am

    Richard,

    Finally we seem to have made some progress. Thank you for addressing my question. I would hope that we could agree that this conflict has been going on for so long that it is impossible to determine who threw the first stone especially when long standing religious bigotry is involved.

    Still, I have long argued that the Palestinian people would do much better utilizing passive resistance the way that Gandhi did against Great Britain. This type of resistance would be much more beneficial for the Palestinian people than constantly waging a war against a much better armed and train military. Especially, in today’s world of hypermedia reporting, world condemnation of any aggression by Israel against a passive non-violent group would be swift.

    As for our allegiance and support for Israel, we cannot be ignorant of the fact that a very large number of Israeli citizens are also U.S. citizens. In fact, those with dual citizenship can fulfill their military obligation in Israel by serving in the U.S. military. Because our ties with Israel run so deep it is not realistic to suspect that we would simply cut off aid with Israel. Disarming Israel in this conflict would only invite more bloodshed as many of their neighbors have long called for the destruction of Israel and the Jewish people. Note that Israel has never called for the destruction of Islam.

    Also, I would like to propose that our support both militarily and financially for Israel is what helps us have a say in what happens over there. Without such a connection, your voice against war in the region would only fall on deaf ears.

    For these reasons and more I support Israel’s right to defend it’s self. I know if I were in a similar situation, I would expect our military to act swiftly and with devastating force to stop the attacks. While I agree that civilian casualties must be minimized, I also believe that the first priority for Israel to act according to it’s democratic mandate and protect the lives of their civilians first.

    Is it your belief that the conflict in Israel and the region would be reduced if we cut off military aid? Do you believe that if weakened militarily, Israel’s neighbors would simply end their opposition? Ultimately, which would save more lives; a strong or weak military in Israel? It is easy for us to all criticize from the comfort and safety here in the U.S. Ultimately, how would you resolve these conflicts?

  23. #23 by Richard Warnick on January 15, 2009 - 11:31 am

    R.O.–

    Surely you realize that there are around three million Arab-Americans, the vast majority of whom are citizens. That would argue for an even-handed policy.

    Of course, dual citizenship Israelis occupy very prominent positions in Washington government and think tanks. White House Chief of Staff Joshua Bolten is one. Also on this list: Attorney General Michael Mukasey, Homeland Security Secretary Michael Chertoff, Richard Perle, Paul Wolfowitz, Douglas Feith, Edward Luttwak, Henry Kissinger, Kenneth Adelman, I. Lewis “Scooter” Libby, Elliott Abrams, Ari Fleischer, James Schlesinger, David Frum, and John Bolton.

    Can you imagine if our Department of Homeland Security was headed by a dual citizen of Saudi Arabia?

    Then there’s AIPAC, the most powerful lobby in Washington. Both Barack Obama and Hillary Clinton kowtow to them. I’m not holding out much hope for a U.S. policy reversal– we give more aid to Israel than any other country, even though their actions are harmful to U.S. foreign policy. The undue influence of Israel was illustrated recently when Ehud Olmert was able to reverse the U.S. position on a Gaza cease fire with one phone call.

    Israel doesn’t need U.S. military aid. They have their own arms industry. The Merkava tank is better than the Abrams, IMHO. What Israel wants is 100 percent backing from the world’s superpower, even when they commit war crimes and crimes against humanity. What Israel really needs is a responsible U.S. policy geared toward peace in the Middle East.

  24. #24 by Rich Okelberry on January 15, 2009 - 2:15 pm

    Richard,

    You say, “What Israel really needs is a responsible U.S. policy geared toward peace in the Middle East.”

    What specifically would this policy include? We know that you advocate eliminating financial and military support for Israel to help solve the conflict and you have expressed a more even handed approach. While I don’t expect you to write up an entire peace plan for the middle east, what are the top 5 things you would like to see our future President do to resolve the situation?

  25. #25 by Richard Warnick on January 15, 2009 - 2:35 pm

    R.O.–

    I didn’t mean to imply that U.S. policy vis a vis Israel has any hope of becoming responsible under President Obama. I expect him and nearly all other American politicians to continue lockstep support for Israel no matter what, and give the Israelis whatever they want whenever they want it. Just check out Susan Rice’s statement to the Senate Foreign Relations Committee.

    If you seek a workable Mideast peace plan, FWIW the Saudis have one on the table.

  26. #26 by Rich Okelberry on January 15, 2009 - 3:25 pm

    Richard,

    It is unfortunate that the Saudi Mideast peace plan that you have suggested seems acceptable to all parties except those on the Palestinian side like Hamas. My question was not what you think would happen but what you would like to see happen. If you were President, how would you bring about the implication of this peace plan? What would you do that is different? I know that you want to cut off Israel but what else would you do specifically? Would you for example use U.N. forces to hunt down and kill those Palestinians that refused to honor the peace agreement?

  27. #27 by Richard Warnick on January 15, 2009 - 3:43 pm

    R.O.–

    Realistically, even if I were magically sworn in as President on Tuesday, Israel still dominates American politics to a phenomenal extent. I could veto military aid to Israel, but Congress would just override or stick it in some must-pass economic recovery bill.

    Apparently, even the most horrific war crimes now meet with near-unanimous approbation in Washington. We even sent a special shipment of the latest bunker-busting bombs just in time to drop them on Gaza. Rep. Dennis Kucinich impotently complained that the Arms Export Control Act is being violated.

    The point is, the Israelis are hopelessly out of control. The only way they will get back on track is to stop electing boneheads. From what I’ve read about politics in Israel, it’s not possible to form a government anymore without the “crazies” (their term) who are allied with the illegal (according to Israeli law) West Bank settlers. If Netanyahu becomes the next PM, well, don’t expect sanity to return.

    The United States ought to give Israel a dose of tough love by cutting off that $3 billion a year in military aid and instead using the money to help the victims rebuild in Gaza and Lebanon. But we won’t, unless I miss my guess.

  28. #28 by Rich Okelberry on January 16, 2009 - 12:08 pm

    Richard,

    So it is your oppinion that there is nothing that a U.S. President, even one with such a stronge mandate like Obama can do to stop the violence in the Middle East. right?

  29. #29 by Richard Warnick on January 16, 2009 - 12:20 pm

    R.O.– Does Obama have a mandate to change policy toward Israel? Not that I know of. I expect him to call for a another cease fire. Are you anticipating big changes?

    Over on HuffPo, Daniel Levy writes that the last official act of Condi Rice will be to sign a memorandum of understanding to commit U.S. forces to the Gaza blockade, thus limiting the incoming President’s options even further.

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