UAE “torture” scandal and cover-up sparks outrage in the U.S.

Glenn Greenwald’s delightfully ironic take on the UAE torture scandal. A must read.

As more videotapes emerge documenting the torture inflicted on numerous victims by Sheikh Issa bin Zayed al-Nahyan, a prince of the United Arab Emirates, the controversy is beginning to jeopardize the UAE’s relationship with the United States, a country that absolutely loathes torture and demands real accountability for those who do it:

“I have more than two hours of video footage showing Sheikh Issa’s involvement in the torture of more than 25 people,” wrote Texas-based lawyer Anthony Buzbee in a letter obtained by the Observer.

The news of more torture videos involving Issa is another huge blow to the international image of the UAE . . . . The fresh revelations about Issa’s actions will add further doubt to a pending nuclear energy deal between the UAE and the US.  The deal, signed in the final days of George W Bush, is seen as vital for the UAE.  It will see the US share nuclear energy expertise, fuel and technology in return for a promise to abide by non-proliferation agreements. But the deal needs to be recertified by the Obama administration and there is growing outrage in America over the tapes. Congressman James McGovern, a senior Democrat, has demanded that Hillary Clinton, the US secretary of state, investigate the matter and find out why US officials initially appeared to play down its significance.

The U.S. is a very tolerant nation, but the one thing we simply cannot abide is when a government fails adequately to investigate allegations of torture on the part of key officials and fails to hold them accountable.  That’s where we draw the line.

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Chalmers Johnson – Blowback

chalmers_johnsonBlowback is a 2004 lecture by Chalmers Johnson on the US Empire.  Drawing comparisons with Rome, Johnson describes the end of the Republic through imperialism and militarism.

Blowback (57:00): MP3

The core of Johnson speech is on American militarism but discussing Iraq he explains the influence of the neocons as the main reason for war (although perhaps also overstating the case of oil politics too).

There is ample evidence that within this group [the Neoconservatives], and I’m not in any sense trying to be anti-israeli because I’m in fact quite alarmed by the dangers Israel is in today, but that many of these people have very close ties to the right-wing of the likud party, I mean close ties to Benjamin Netanyahu of which they have written papers for him, they’re personal associates of his, and things of this sort, and much of what they stand for does reflect the particular views of the sharonistas, if you will, that it serves their interests to destroy Iraq even if it has not particularly served ours.

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The Iraq war has been a monstrous crime

‘Politicians crave a whitewash – but Britain must hold a fully open public inquiry into the bloodbath it helped to create’, writes Seumas Milne.

It’s hardly surprising that those responsible for the human and social catastrophe unleashed by the illegal invasion and occupation of Iraq, on both sides of the Atlantic, should be desperate to rewrite its history – or try to salvage the shattered reputation of those armies that carried it out. In Britain, as the bulk of its troops withdraw after a campaign that has already lasted longer than the second world war, that propaganda offensive has now reached fever pitch.

Gordon Brown claimed yesterday that the wreckage of blood-drenched Iraq was a “success story”. The defence secretary John Hutton insisted Britain should be proud of its “legacy” in the devastated cities of the south. Hilary Benn, the environment secretary boasted of his support for the original aggression on BBC’s Question Time yesterday, declaring that ” we leave Iraq a better place” – a line repeated word for word by the Sun today and echoed across much of the media.

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Israel 61: The country that wouldn’t grow up

As Zionists prepare to celebrate the 61 anniversary of the ethnic cleaning of Palestine, and declaration of the state of Israel, its an opportune moment to republish some of the better literature covering the six decades.  The following is by Tony Judt published in the Haaretz in May 2006 titled The country that wouldn’t grow up.

wk2By the age of 58 a country – like a man – should have achieved a certain maturity. After nearly six decades of existence we know, for good and for bad, who we are, what we have done and how we appear to others, warts and all. We acknowledge, however reluctantly and privately, our mistakes and our shortcomings. And though we still harbor the occasional illusion about ourselves and our prospects, we are wise enough to recognize that these are indeed for the most part just that: illusions. In short, we are adults.

But the State of Israel remains curiously (and among Western-style democracies, uniquely) immature. The social transformations of the country – and its many economic achievements – have not brought the political wisdom that usually accompanies age. Seen from the outside, Israel still comports itself like an adolescent: consumed by a brittle confidence in its own uniqueness; certain that no one “understands” it and everyone is “against” it; full of wounded self-esteem, quick to take offense and quick to give it. Like many adolescents Israel is convinced – and makes a point of aggressively and repeatedly asserting – that it can do as it wishes, that its actions carry no consequences and that it is immortal. Appropriately enough, this country that has somehow failed to grow up was until very recently still in the hands of a generation of men who were prominent in its public affairs 40 years ago: an Israeli Rip Van Winkle who fell asleep in, say, 1967 would be surprised indeed to awake in 2006 and find Shimon Peres and General Ariel Sharon still hovering over the affairs of the country – the latter albeit only in spirit.
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End Palestinian demolitions in Jerusalem, UN tells Israel

A new report by the UN OCHA details the demolition of Palestinian homes in East Jerusalem and calls on Israel to immediately halt the activities. 60 000 Palestinians are at risk of being dispossessed. Rory McCarthy reports for the Guardian, in his typically bland style:

The United Nations has called on Israel to end its programme of demolishing homes in East Jerusalem and tackle a mounting housing crisis for Palestinians in the city.

Dozens of Palestinian homes in East Jerusalem are demolished each year because they do not have planning permits. Critics say the demolitions are part of an effort to extend Israeli control as Jewish settlements continue to expand. The 21-page report from the UN office for the co-ordination of humanitarian affairs is the latest round in an intensifying campaign on the issue.

Although Israel’s mayor of Jerusalem, Nir Barkat, has defended the planning policy as even-handed, the US secretary of state, Hillary Clinton, in March described demolitions as “unhelpful”. An internal report for EU diplomats, released earlier and obtained by the Guardian, described them as illegal under international law and said they “fuel bitterness and extremism”. Israel occupied East Jerusalem in the 1967 war and later unilaterally annexed it, a move not recognised by the international community.

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The Way We Were and What We Are Becoming

hudson02Another excellent Guns and Butter interview with economist Michael Hudson.  The interview is almost a month old but still well worth listening to.  Hudson examines the death of Europe and how neoliberalism, with its favouring of property and finance over labour and industry, is driving society back to feudalism.  As Gore Vidal has said, in the future, Europe will just be a big farm for China.

The Way We Were and What We Are Becoming (59:52): MP3

The Way We Were and What We Are Becoming with financial economist and historian, Dr. Michael Hudson.  We begin with an analysis of the continuing bailout of insurance giant AIG and Monday’s stock market selloff; price and debt deflation; the two sectors of the economy; two definitions of ‘free markets’; the classical economists; revolution from the right and the former Soviet states; the threat of war; IMF/World Bank resurgence; the dollar versus the euro; analogies to Rome, neo-feudalism.

Manufacturing Consent for Apartheid

Ali Abunimah, author of “One Country,” discussed here, exposes One Voice, a Zionist organisation posing as pro-peace pollsters, and shows that the supposed consensus among Palestinians and Israelis for the mythical two-state solution does not exist. The one-state solution seems increasingly viable to Palestinians, and this reality may panic ‘realist’ Zionists to arrange a formal bantustan settlement during the Obama term. This is a fertile moment, argues Ali, “when no vision carries a consensus among Palestinians, underscoring the urgent need for an inclusive debate about all possible democratic outcomes.”

How do Palestinians living under Israeli military occupation and siege see their world, especially after Israel’s massacre of more than 1,400 people, mostly civilians, in the occupied Gaza Strip three months ago?

Two recent surveys shed light on this question, although one — published on 22 April by the pro-Israel organization One Voice — appears intended to influence international opinion in a direction more amenable to Israel, rather than to record faithfully the views of Palestinians or Israelis (“OV Poll: Popular Mandate for Negotiated Two State Solution,” accessed 30 April 2009). The other — a more credible survey — was published in March by the Oslo-based Fafo Institute for Applied International Studies and funded by the Norwegian government (“Surveying Palestinian opinions March 2009,” accessed 30 April 2009).

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