Jim Reed

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February 11, 2009

The Prescience of Karl Marx Not Lost on Wall and Bay Street Biggies; Middle East Impasse

My friend Jay Foreman came across a Marxian quote that was forwarded to him by someone else and it is so good that I had to share it. Marx

Back in 1867, Marx wrote the following:

"Owners of capital will stimulate the working class to purchase more & more expensive goods, buildings & technology.  This will push them towards assuming more expensive credits until such credits will become unaffordable.  Unpaid credits will lead towards insolvency of the banks, which will be nationalized by the government, which consequently will lead to creation of communism".

Governments, especially the U.S. government may not be nationalising the banks or the auto industry - but they are using public money to keep them in business. That just means that once again, the little guy taxpayer is on the hook for the wealthy capitalists who gave us this crisis.

Our childrens' children will pay.

The Middle East: End of Hope?

But Have They Learned Their Lesson?

A favorite expression of Israeli Generals, when they go to war against Arabs is, "We simply have to teach them a lesson".

These Arabs have to recognize their "place".

The Palestinians must accept, "in the deepest recesses of their collective soul, that they are a defeated people".

 Tom Segev is an Israeli journalist and author who - like me - recognizes  that 60 years of "lessons" have resulted in little "learning". Like me, Mr. Segev has pretty much lost hope in the possibility of a two-state solution. The world just doesn't care enough.

In any case, the so-called "peace process", he believes, was never a peace process at all. Perhaps it was always intended to be just for show.

Israel pulled out of Gaza and immediately planted 200,000 new settlers in its West Bank colonies and built a wall.

So what to do?

 - Mr. Segev has reached the bottom of his suggestion box and now advocates only for a better approach to conflict management. But in his heart and in his brain, as can be seen from this essay in Ha'aretz, Tom Segev knows that historically, Israeli policy has been counter-productive and Palestinians are now "living in the past".

All that can be done now is "better conflict management".



February 10, 2009

Should Israelis Be Afraid of Israeli Palestinians? Or-- should they be afraid of themselves?

An aspect of Israel that is seldom shown by the Mainstream Media

Arab citizens of Israel are often called Arab Israelis or Israeli Arabs, a term with which some identify but the majority reject.

They make up about 20% of the population of Israel and there is research that supports the contention that the overwhelming majority of Palestinian Israelis would choose to remain Israeli citizens rather than become citizens of a future Palestinian state.

A candidate in today's Israeli elections named Lieberman, a recent immigrant from Russia, wants each Palestinian Israeli to swear an oath of loyalty to Israel. If he or she refuses, then the individual would be expelled.

Mr. Lieberman has strong support in the country for a programme that recalls the excesses of the McCarthy period in the United States. Some Palestinian Arabs think that Lieberman's support comes from people who have forgotten Jewish history.

A Guardian Report from the Israeli-Arab town of Umm al-Fahm

February 09, 2009

Frank Rich of The New York Times is Brilliant

Quote of the day, week, maybe even of the year...

“The cemeteries of the world are full of indispensable men.”

You can find out who said it by reading Frank Rich's brilliant column.

February 03, 2009

The United States, The U.N., NATO, Afganistan: Back To The Drawing Board

The U.S. goal of eliminating the Taliban from Afghanistan is unrealistic.

It is also counter-productive, in the sense that the Taliban are a deeply-rooted indigenous phenomenon with powerful allies in Pakistan.

Moreover, there is no clear evidence of any effective Taliban participation in the events of 9/11, which were carried out mainly by Saudi nationals. That fact alone renders the present strategy ineffective.

As a movement, the Taliban are illiterate, fanatical religious zealots, with no grand plan outside of Afghanistan itself. Taliban2 As an organization it has no genuine central command and no ability to mount attacks outside its fairly narrow sphere of influence. This latter contention has been verified by any number of intelligence reports, which indicate that al Qaeda has always operated independently of the Taliban.

The anti-Taliban campaign by the United States and NATO, with very tenuous U.N. support, can serve only to further alienate the general Afghan population. The number of aerial attacks resulting in civilian casualties has had the inevitable effect of driving more Afghans into the arms of the insurgency.

According to Pentagon officials, as reported by CBS News today, insurgent violence in Afghanistan is worsening significantly. This trend will continue under the present strategy and also under the "modified strategy" recommended by the Joint Chiefs and by Admiral Mullen. The addition of a few more brigades of American soldiers will only contribute to the trend.

What is required is a virtual "volte-face" in western strategic and tactical operations.

Although there is no recognizable Taliban central authority, a decision by the U.S., NATO and the U.N. to advertise a willingness to shift from an offensive strategy to a more "laid back" approach, concentrating on re-construction and development in Kabul and the immediate surrounding region, would go a long way to removing the willingness of the population to support the insurgency.

The expenditure in terms of lives and money does not justify either the present approach, or the proposed "surge".

A Kabul-centered effort using additional funds now being expended ineffectively in an offensive strategy would signal a willingness on the part of the western forces to promote a programme that would benefit Afghanistan and undermine the insurgency.

However, this approach would work only if the western forces ally themselves with regional powers considered to be neutral.

NATO and the U.S. could propose a U.N. resolution calling on the formation of a regional Council to meet in Islamabad for the purpose of devising a regional strategy, aimed at achieving stability in Afghanistan. At the present moment - this is a western-style effort to defeat an indigenous movement by military means. It needs to be transformed into regional effort aimed solely at bringing stability to Afghanistan. It needs to be an inclusive effort, involving a wide range of representation from Muslim countries, which could speak to the aspirations of the Afghan people as a whole.

A western-oriented (read Christian) offensive effort in Afghanistan will not succeed any more than the preceeding communist offensive effort.

So there you have it.

Pentagonners and others - assuming they are sincere about achieving a peaceful solution in Afghanistan - need to go back to the drawing board. They need to consult widely and re-evaluate from scratch, their underlying purpose in even being there.

A regional Council under the chairmanship of say, Ban Ki Moon, might just do the trick.

The present approach or some variant of it, will never work.

January 28, 2009

Conservative - Liberal - The Real Difference

How Come liberals do a better job?

There's a certain weird irony to be found in the political cycle that vacillates back and forth between Liberal/Conservative/Democrat - or liberal/conservative rule.

When Paul Martin was Finance Minister in Ottawa, he and J.C. (Jean Chretien), took the Liberal Party to the right, cut spending, maintained a decent tax base, eliminated the deficitand started to pay down the national
debt. In other words the Liberals, generally speaking, took a "conservative" approach. (Bill Clinton did pretty much the same thing).

Now...8 years of Conservative government in Washington and elsewhere, including a few in Ottawa have devastated the economy...lost jobs, lost homes, lost health care coverage, lost retirement savings, caused
environmental degradation ...and the list goes on. And now these "Conservatives" are attempting to solve these problems by profligate spending. Go figure.

So how come? What gives with this weird pattern? What's the difference between Liberals and Conservatives?

The conclusion can only be that Liberals/liberals/Democrats/New Democrats actually think.