Gary Don’t. Please, Just Don’t.

by matttbastard

I have no clue who I’m going to endorse for the NDP leadership — but I sure as shit know which potential candidate will never, ever receive a vote from yours truly: sellout 3rd way posterchild Gary Doer, who has apparently sold his soul to rock & roll Ethical Oil, that filthiest of filthy lucre.

The G&M:

Since becoming Canada’s ambassador to the United States in late 2009, the former Manitoba premier has travelled from the Carolinas to California, and to most points in between, to make the case for the oil sands.

[…]

Calgary-based TransCanada’s $7-billion Keystone XL pipeline fits into Mr. Doer’s economic pitch as a major infrastructure project that would create 20,000 unionized construction jobs and hundreds of millions of dollars in tax and other revenues in the six states through which it would pass.

The pipeline would almost double the capacity of Alberta crude that TransCanada can ship south, to 1.1 million barrels a day, and provide a direct line to Gulf of Mexico refineries on the Texas coast.

The U.S. State Department must approve the project since the pipeline crosses an international boundary and Secretary of State Hillary Clinton has promised a decision by year-end.

[…]

Mr. Doer, who was a highly-popular New Democratic premier and whose name has been raised as a future federal party leader, is hardly taking the pipeline’s approval for granted.

To everyone he meets these days, he insists the 2,700-kilometre Keystone XL would adhere to far tougher safety standards than any of the 235,000 kilometres of oil pipelines already built in the United States.

And he counters the reputation of oil sands crude as “dirty” owing to the greater amounts of freshwater depletion, greenhouse gas emissions and deforestation it causes compared with conventional oil production.

“We believe that when somebody claims something that’s 10 years old about water utilization or [carbon] emissions, we have to put the facts on the table,” he said, noting that it now takes far less water to produce a barrel of oil sands oil than it does to produce the same amount of ethanol.

“There have been major improvements made. We’re not saying to anyone that they’re complete. We’ve got to keep using innovations to improve water utilization and emissions per barrel.”

Yeah, no offense to those who get giddy imagining Doer at the NDP helm going into 2015, but come the fuck on. Handing the party over to the Harper Government’s hand-picked agent of environmental destruction would be the ultimate desecration of Layton’s pragmatic, progressive legacy. And that is attendant reality Dippers will also have to face.

Really.

Two Minutes Hate for Turkey (Hiss! Spit!)

by matttbastard

Via John Cole:  The Murdoch Street Journal sounds the battle cry as Outer Wingnuttia declares war on the declining Turkish Republic (the biggest BFF breakup since Paris & Nicole deleted each other from their respective Sidekicks):

Israeli special forces and their commanders were apparently shocked to find their boarding attempt on the Mavi (“Blue”) Marmara met with violence. They should not have been. I have no doubt that the Turkish “peace activists” aboard the ship regarded Israeli troops as something akin to the second coming of Hitler’s SS.

To follow Turkish discourse in recent years has been to follow a national decline into madness.

***

The obvious answer to the question of “Who lost Turkey?”—the Western-oriented Turkey, that is—is the Turks did. The outstanding question is how much damage they’ll do to regional peace going forward.

Meanwhile, the Islamic Hitler (mea culpa, Godwin) threw a hissy fit because brave IDF commandos risked life and limb killing 9 Turkish (one with dual 14th Amendment citizenship — thank gawd Mr 4 shots to tha dome ain’t a Real American) jackboots armed to the teeth with a makeshift arsenal (assuming one discounts conspiracy theories re: old photo datestamps) that would make Dennis the Menace proud:

From now on, Turkish-Israeli ties will never be the same. This incident has left an irreparable and deep scar,” Abdullah Gul said in a televised speech on Thursday, as thousands gathered in the streets of Istanbul to pay their respects to the humanitarian activists killed during the raid.

The raid “is not an issue that can be forgotten… or be covered up… Turkey will never forgive this attack,” he said.

Wah wah. That’s what you get for deliberately provoking a midnight Israeli commando raid on an aid vessel in international waters.  I mean, come on — a boat full of  humanitarian activists (some of whom wore Islamic garb and ZOMG SCARY MUSLIM TERRORIST LYNCH MOB!!11) purportedly armed with a weapons cache that looks like the rusty contents of my late grandfather’s toolshed. 

Clearly they were asking for a muscular response, much like those calculating Freedom Rider agitators who, via scary negro commie tactics, fiendishly forced brave white Alabama citizens to vigourously defend Jim Crow with baseball bats, iron pipes and bicycle chains (aka, a REAL lynching).

Seriously, though — what’s the big fucking deal about a little collective punishment and a huge-ass diplomatic clusterfuck?

Recommend this post at Progressive Bloggers

Israel & the Freedom Flotilla Assault: It’s All About the Gaza Blockade

by matttbastard

Israel does it again.

With one deadly commando raid of an aid flotilla bearing essential goods in violation of Israel’s (illegal) blockade of Gaza, the Israeli government has reasserted its expressed right to, essentially, defend its borders by any means necessary. Thus far, a good amount of the discussion of events has centered around whether Israel was prudent in ordering the military assault in light of the likely PR fallout, or if it should have been prepared for stiffer resistance. Yet focusing on proportionality, optics, or even the pristine character (or lack there of) of some passengers on board misses the point — or, rather, the context this incident occured within.

One can argue about whether or not IDF naval commandos were justified in using extreme force in reaction to violent provocation. But the entire event — the aid flotilla, the lethal IDF response — took place as the result of an immoral, oppressive policy structure designed to destabilize the already-strained foundations of Gazan civil society. No matter how restrained (or excessive) its actions, the reputation of Israel’s military will always be tainted by its dutiful service on behalf of a rogue mission.

Dan Drezner, no far-left anti-Zionist with a rep for laying down rhetorical IEDs he, makes the bold analogy of Israel as North Korea and the US, leery of stirring already unsettled diplomatic waters in the Middle East and provoking the political ire of domestic lobbyists, as China, a placid benefactor that enables an increasingly isolated state to continually act in brazen defiance of international law:

True, Israel’s economy is thriving and North Korea’s is not. That said, both countries are diplomatically isolated except for their ties to a great power benefactor. Both countries are pursuing autarkic policies that immiserate millions of people. The majority of the population in both countries seem blithely unaware of what the rest of the world thinks. Both countries face hostile regional environments. Both countries keep getting referred to the United Nations. And, in the past month, the great power benefactor is finding it more and more difficult to defend their behavior to the rest of the world.

As Peter Beinart (again, hardly a radical left-wing agitator) aptly notes, this US (and Canadian)-supported strategy (and resulting tactics) is entirely counterproductive if one’s aim is to convince an already besieged population that it should reconsider its support of a despicable but duly-elected government. No matter how horrible the Hamas leadership is, their government represents a plurality of (admittedly complex) Palestinian public opinion in Gaza (even as the West and Israel still refuse to recognize its legitimacy). Outside pressure directed towards the population inevitably pushes the masses towards the one element of what meager day-to-day security and certainty that still remains: Hamas.

But, again, all this should be moot. Until Israel lifts its illegal, immoral blockade of Gaza, many more people, Palestinian and Israeli, will continue to live in fear of escalating hostilities and almost guaranteed casualties. This is the frame in which we need to centre any discussion of the Freedom Flotilla raid or any other incident that occurs as a consequence of furthering Israel’s unacceptable policy of collective punishment.

We in the US & Canada who recognize the insustainability of this ongoing moral calamity must pressure our leaders to cease enabling the Israeli government as it makes a mockery of human rights and international law — and, in the process, offers a stark vision of the most clear and present danger to the purportedly democratic character of the Jewish state.

Related: Esther Kaplan evaluates the US media response to the Israeli flotilla assault, noting the overly “credulous” coverage of most mainstream news outlets, while over at TAP the inimitable Gershom Gorenberg patiently outlines the events that lead to yesterday’s disasterous raid, calling it “a link in a chain of premeditated folly”.

Recommend this post at Progressive Bloggers

Obama on Afghan Marital Rape Law: Fighting Terror Trumps Women’s Rights

by matttbastard

While holding a press conference the NATO summit in France, Obama was just asked a tough question from Fox News’ Major Garrett (I know, even a stopped clock is right twice a day) regarding the absolutely disgusting Afghan marital rape law and what steps the US intended to take (if any).

Obama sputtered out some mealy mouthed diplo-speak about how the law is “abhorrent” and that  “the views of the administration have been and will be communicated to the Karzai government.”

Not satisfied with this non-response, Garrett followed up, asking for clarity.

The subsequent statement from the POTUS absolutely floored me:

“We have stated very clearly that we object to this law. But I want everybody to understand that our focus is to defeat al Qaeda… .” [statement clarified based on transcript–mb]

Excuse me?!

Ok, reality check time.

Canada’s government? It sucks. Big time.

And yet Parliament is publicly putting pressure on the Afghan government to roll back this despicable proposed legislation (even if the Harpercons could be a bit more muscular in expressing their ‘deep concerns’).

President Barack Obama? He basically said that the war effort trumps human–women’s–rights–in other words, “screw the wimminz, our primary interest is rootin’ out terrorism!” Yeah–the amoral influence of Brzezinski on the Obama admin’s foreign policy (to paraphrase, “winning the war on terror is more important in the long run that a few violated women”) is definitely shining through like a lighthouse beacon.

Update: Video and transcript of the exchange, courtesy Think Progress:

Q Thank you, Mr. President, and good afternoon. I’d like to ask you about a law that’s recently been passed in Afghanistan that affects the 10 percent of the Shia population there. A summary of it says it negates the need for sexual consent between married couples, tacitly approves child marriage, and restricts a woman’s right to leave the home. The United Nations Development Fund for Women says this legalizes the rape of a wife by her husband. I’d like your assessment of this law, number one. Number two, will you condition future troop movements of the U.S. to Afghanistan on the basis of this law being retracted or rewritten? And if not, sir, what about the character of this law ought to motivate U.S. forces to fight and possibly die in Afghanistan?

PRESIDENT OBAMA: Well, first of all, this was actually a topic of conversation among all the allies. And in our communication — communiqué, you will see that we specifically state that part of this comprehensive approach is encouraging the respect of human rights. I think this law is abhorrent. Certainly the views of the administration have been, and will be, communicated to the Karzai government. And we think that it is very important for us to be sensitive to local culture, but we also think that there are certain basic principles that all nations should uphold, and respect for women and respect for their freedom and integrity is an important principle.

Now, I just want to remind people, though, why our troops are fighting, because I think the notion that you laid out, Major, was that our troops might be less motivated. Our troops are highly motivated to protect the United States, just as troops from NATO are highly motivated to protect their own individual countries and NATO allies collectively. So we want to do everything we can to encourage and promote rule of law, human rights, the education of women and girls in Afghanistan, economic development, infrastructure development, but I also want people to understand that the first reason we are there is to root out al Qaeda so that they cannot attack members of the Alliance.

Now, I don’t — those two things aren’t contradictory, I think they’re complementary. And that’s what’s reflected in the communiqué.

Q But do you object to the law –

PRESIDENT OBAMA: We have stated very clearly that we object to this law. But I want everybody to understand that our focus is to defeat al Qaeda and ensure that they do not have safe havens from which they can launch attacks against the Alliance.

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Der Spiegel: Former Peace Negotiators Call for End to Hamas Boycott

by matttbastard

This is big:

They were part of the peace settlements in Cambodia, Somalia and Bosnia, they negotiated with militant groups like the Tamil Tigers in Sri Lanka or the IRA in Northern Ireland and a few of them were also engaged in the Middle East peace process. Fourteen elder statesmen from Europe, Australia, South America, Africa and Asia are calling in an open letter for the Mideast Quartet, comprised of the European Union, United Nations, Russia and the United States, to end their diplomatic boycott against Hamas.

The signatories of the letter, which is being published exclusively by SPIEGEL ONLINE in Germany and the Times of London on Thursday, include former Israeli Foreign Minister Shlomo Ben-Ami; Alvaro de Soto, who served as the UN envoy for the Middle East Quartet from 2005 to 2007; Lord Chris Patten, the former British governor of Hong Kong and European Commissioner; and Lord Paddy Ashdown, who served as the High Representative for Bosnia-Herzegovina and oversaw the implementation of the Dayton Accords.

[…]

Former Israeli Foreign Minister Ben-Ami told SPIEGEL ONLINE the letter was directed equally at the European Union and the United States, but also at Israel. “Israel has to start thinking outside the box. I can recall the case of the Palestine Liberation Organization. The PLO didn’t recognize Israel as a precondition, but as a result of the Olso process. The same should happen with Hamas.”

The letter (PDF format)

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It burns, it burns…

by matttbastard

Shorter (heh) Five Feet of Batshit: “Inapt analogies + diplomatic maneuvering = A RISE IN ANTISEMITISM IN VENEZUELA!!!!1one

Dear fucking God–a permanent cloud of noxious disingenuity positively wafts off that intellectually odious individual.

h/t Brooks Bayne via tweet

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Israel, Palestine and Demographic Realities

by matttbastard

Gershom Gorenberg, writing in the Jan-Feb issue of Foreign Policy, outlines the cold, harsh reality with regards to the efficacy of any so-called two-state solution (where Israel and the former occupied territories revert to pre-1967 borders, Israelis and Palestinians set aside lingering grievance and resentment to the delight of the global community, and Zbigniew Brzezinski and Brent Scowcroft subsequently distribute free ponies for everyone!):

From my home in West Jerusalem, the road that Israelis use to head south toward Hebron runs through two tunnels in the mountains. Known simply as the Tunnel Road, it was built in the mid-1990s during the Oslo peace process, when Bethlehem was turned over to Palestinian rule and Israelis wanted a way to bypass the town on their way to settlements that remained in Israeli hands.

A turn from the Tunnel Road takes you past the Palestinian village of Hussan to Beitar Illit, a settlement covering two hills. The streets are lined with apartment buildings, faced in rough-cut, yellowish-white stone, all with red-tile roofs, so alike they could have been turned out by the same factory. In 1993, when Yitzhak Rabin and Yasir Arafat shook hands and peace seemed close enough to touch, about 4,000 people lived in Beitar Illit. Now, 34,000 live here, and more will soon move in.

The message written on the landscape is simple: Every day, the settlements expand. Every day, Israel grows more entangled in the West Bank. To a large degree, the Israeli and Palestinian publics have accepted the need for a two-state solution. But time, and the construction crews, are working against it. No one knows exactly where the point of no return is—when so many Israelis will have moved into so many homes beyond the pre-1967 border that there is no going back. But each passing day brings that tipping point nearer. If a solution is not achieved quickly, it might soon be out of reach.

According to Gorenberg, “[i]n 1993, when the Oslo process began, 116,000 Israelis lived in the Gaza Strip and the West Bank… . Last year, when Olmert resigned and elections were announced, the number of settlers in the West Bank had passed 290,000, living alongside 2.2 million Palestinians.”  And, following elections in February, “more than 300,000 Israelis are likely to be living in the West Bank, with the number continuing to climb [all emph. mine].”

Remember, several years back, the domestic PR headache posed by engaging in the forced removal of angry, militant Israeli settlers from their homes in Gaza?

Yeah, that–all over again, only with at least 35 times the population to send packing.

So, when people act as if a viable choice between pursuing a single or two-state solution with Israel and the former occupied territories still exists, one must first account for a very precious non-renewable resource, one that, as noted by Gorenberg, is in increasingly short supply:

Time.

Related
: John Bolton shows why he’s the AEI’s new go-to guy for solving tough diplomatic conundrums with his latest op-ed in the Washington Post, in which he proposes a three (yes, three) state zombie solution to Israel’s current post-colonial woes.  Yeah, that’s a brilliant idea — simply foist the entire Palestinian problem onto Egypt and Jordan, using all the diplomatic leverage that the US has accrued in the Middle East over the past 8 years (especially the past 6).  I’m sure that’ll fly in Cairo and Amman–especially if Brzezinski and Scowcroft throw in extra ponies to account for the extra state involved.

OMG PONIES!

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