Monday, July 03, 2006

3rd of July Thoughts

I have been watching seasons 3 and 4 of 24 and small clues enabled me in a soduko like manner to map out the political affiliations of major characters, here is how:

President David Palmer: Democrat; we know this definitely because Sherry said so in season 1.

President John Keeler: Republican; in season 3 President Palmer was in a re-election campaign and John Keeler was his opponent. Its most likely he was thus a Republican

President Charles Logan: A Republican (if Keeler was) as he was Keeler's VP and successor when Keeler became incapacitated.

Secretary of Defense James Heller: Republican, as he was appointed by President Keeler and continued under President Logan.

Audrey Rains: As James Heller's daughter, she is probably a republican too since her dad is a GOP Sec of Def and she works directly for him. Plus in the first episode of seaons four (which I just watched) Sec Heller goes to his son (Audrey's bro's) house to stop him from speaking at an anti-Lockheed Martin rally. They fight and Audrey sides with her dad. [Side note; the son here is a hilarious liberal stereotype. He is sloppy looking with Bob Marley posters everywhere, goes on an assinine rant that his dad calls "sixth grade michael moore logic", and he lights up a joint while talking to his dad. Very funny, 24 writers, but my question is if he is a dumb liberal hippy burnout, what the hell is he doing up and about at 7am?]

Jack Bauer: Definitely liberal leaning, though he may not even be party affiliated let alone a registered voter. Although Bauer had a close relationship with Palmer, he also did directly work for Sec Heller. But he has either characteristics of a liberal or life experiences that would make him be more liberal: He is a single parent, a former drug addict, worked for years in a government beauracracy on a government salary (which is usually not that good). Also, when he "died" and assumed a new life; he lived with astruggling single mother who was apparently so down and out she rents out rooms to mysterious strangers. And in this new fake life, he evidently worked at some oil field, probably for shitty wages unless it was unionized. So as someone who is sympathetic to the plight of drug addictions, who has seen first hand struggling families, who himself had to struggle with shit wages (why else would he be renting a room?) he is probably a liberal.


Whats in the news:

Mexico's presidential election (sunday) still too close to call between Lopez-Obrador and the conservative candidate. I still think the US will make sure Lopez Obrador loses. For God's sake he said he was going to renegotiate NAFTA.

The Bush Admin announced it was going to send $5 bil in weapons to Pakistan (Lockheed-Martin got the contract, prob shitting their pants). While this is a painfully obvious gesture to placate Pakistan's rage after Bush annouced a jaw-dropping nuclear deal with Pakistan's arch rival and next-door neighbor India. Although Im completely against that nuclear deal for a hole host of reasons (shows he could give a shit about nuclear proliferation) I understand the Bush Admin's desire to cement a strategic relationship with India as a counterweight to China/Russia. And I understand the need to then turn and soothe the Pakistani's since they are crucial for fighting terrorism and can play a role in the US desire to dominate central asia. But since Pakistan and India have fought three wars since '47, and it was only a couple of years ago they were literally on the brink of nuclear war, and still have not resolved their biggest issues (ie Kashmir and other stuff); then wouldnt it make sense to push a peace process between the two before you start shipping large amounts of weapons to them? Or put that as a condition? Or at least comment on it? no. Instead the Bush Administration is dealiung with two neighboring countries who are brutal enemies of eaching; helping to massively enhance one's nuclear arsenal and getting the other to shut up about it by giving them $5 b in F-16's. And is anybody at the White House considering that Pakistan is very unstable and if its secular dictator (Musharraf) falls, and he's already had many assasination attempts, he will most likely be succeeded by radical islamic fundamentalist who will have access to not only Pakistan's nuclear arsenal, but brand new F-16's? I would be very curious to find out what Israel thinks about this deal because if I were them I'd be bullshit.

Speaking of Israel; while its increasingly obvious from the Bush Admin's behavior they dont have the security of the Israeli people as a high priority when making decisions in the middle east and greater islamic world; I think its safe to say the Israeli goverment (much like the American public) doesnt have security of their own people as a high priority either. I had been trying to figure out the real reasons behind Israel's military incursions into Gaza (not even the Israeli press believes its all for "a single soldier") but I couldnt figure it out. I immediately discounted arguments this is being done to destroy the Hamas government. That is because despite public rhetoric, most analysists agree the Hamas government is probably welcomed by the Israeli government. This is because if there is a legitimate, 'acceptable' Palestinian government, Israel essentially has to accept them as a partner in the peace process and someone they have to negotiate and maybe even comprimise with. If you have a government like, say Hamas, you can say 'this is a terrorist government we refuse to deal with this' and the EU and US agree because Hamas is a terrorist organization. You then can ignore the Palestinians and dictate the terms of peace entirely according to what you want, not have to negotiate/comprimise with the other side. This is what Israel has been doing. So why go in and attack Gaza, kidnap 1/3 of their government and bomb the prime minister's office?

All of this seemed vaguely familiar and I suddenly thought back to Arafat, the PLO and Lebanon. The PLO was essentially the representation of the Palestinians in the 70's and 80's. Like Hamas, they had a terrorist wing. And while Israel was under international pressure to solve the problem of the Palestinians, they could refuse to 'negotiate with an organization that calls for Israel's destruction' (same thing they've been saying about Hamas.) Here's where it gets interesting: Israel and the US set the bar for the PLO, renounce terror and recognize Israel, only then will we deal with you. As they expected, the PLO refused...for a while. Then in the late 70's/80's the PLO began to change and was considering these demands. Scared shitless they would comply with their demands, the Israeli's launch an attack on the PLO, invading Lebanon (where the PLO was based) and massacring a lot of people. According to Israeli analyist Avner Yaniv, Israel invaded to "undermine the position of the moderates within [the PLO] ranks" and thus to block" the PLO `peace offensive'" and "to halt [the PLO's] rise to political respectability". Even government officials acknowledged this. Fmr head of Israeli military intelligence General Yehoshaphat Harabki said it shouldve been called "the war to safeguard the occupation of the West Bank" and stating it was motivated by Israeli's "fear of the momentum of the peace process."

Fast forward to 2006. Hamas takes power in the occupied territories. Israel states it will refuse to deal with them, Hamas must recognize Israel and renounce terrorism first. Hamas doesnt, Israel continues annexing the most valuable lands of the West Bank, unilaterally choosing its permanent borders. After trying to figure out why Israel was attacking Gaza this week, I suddenly remembered something. Browsing through the international papers in early June, there were a lot of stories about how Hamas was close to deciding to cave in and finally recognize Israel, basically bowing to pressure from Mahmoud Abbas and the international sanctions. And finally, on June 27th, this article appeared Canada's National Post:

GAZA CITY, Gaza Strip - The rival Hamas and Fatah movements agreed on a plan implicitly recognizing Israel, a top Palestinian official said Tuesday after weeks of acrimonious negotiations aiming to lift crippling international aid sanctions.

Moderate President Mahmoud Abbas of Fatah has been trying to coax his Hamas rivals into endorsing the document, which calls for a Palestinian state alongside Israel, in effect recognizing the Jewish state. He has endorsed the plan as a way to end sanctions against the Hamas-led Palestinian government and pave the way to reopening peace talks with Israel.

The next day, June 28th, missiles rained down on Gaza. The IDF swooped in and kidnapped a large part of the Palestinian government, destroyed government buildings, and is still today escalating its attack (yesterday Ehud Olmert ordered an intesification.) And if anyone is left wondering if this is a deliberate collective attack on the Palestinian people and their casualties are not simply inadvertent, Olmert cleared that up too, stating for the press"I have said, and will repeat, nobody will be immune."

I would imagine the whole Hamas about to recognize Israel is being put on hold


Lori said...

There is sooo much to say but it's very difficult to explain Years of oppossion- the Jewish people have been forced out, treated inhumanly throughout history.The Jewish people have always been a peaceful community, except when they are threatened! All we have ever wanted was to raise our children; educate them and give them a better life. After Hitler's reign of terror the Jews were placed in displaced persons camps in Germany- Many of their families had left before the war to Israel- a land that no one seemed to want to develop. Jews were given a chose after loosing most of their family members. Where do you want to settle, everything here is gone- your homes, businesses and loved ones. The US or Israel-many being true Zionists chose Israel. With no family, jobs or belongings they left with much hope to Israel. Maybe there they will be able to be free at last. A land that their ancesters loved and nourished, a land they worked hard and made the land flourish- their land of Milk and Honey. They promised themselves that they as a poeople will never walk off calmly to be slaughted again. They have built a Strong military to protect the Jewish people and the Jewish State.A state that was given to them because no one really wanted it. The Palestines have been used by the other Arab countries for a long, long time. I have been to Israel many time and have gone to Gaza. Many times have have seen rich Arabs drive by with a fleet of Mercedes-why didn't they help their people get out of poverty with all their Oil money and great wealth. Why didn't Jordon or any of the other Arab nations give them a new home-they are Arabs too. Instead they chose to use these poor people as a scapegoat and have created generations of suicide bombers. Jews needed to flee from there homes all over the world until they found this new home- Finally a Jewish State. Jews have a home at last. We want to live in peace more than anything-the Israeli army is Not stupid their very well in formed and have to be very careful in every move they make-they are dealing with an evil enemy- who have been home-grown by the rich Arab nations. Look at a map of the middle East- Israel is a tiny little country-why not leave Israel alone, make a home with their fellow Arabs. How much can a country give up without loosing the safety of their water supply, their borders. Unfortunately we hate war-but alls not fair in war. After years of oppression, we as Jews and the Israeli nation will not be forced from our Homeland Again. Please read about My Jewish history and the plight of the Jewish people-go to Israel and see for yourself.
The world now sees what living with fear is all about. This is happening all over the world! Terrorists are causing everyone to live in fear because they believe that their beliefs and religon is the Only way! They won't be happy until its a Moslem world and we all live according the Koran and their interpretation of it. Please come to our house for Passover.
Lori Swift

Kevin said...

Hi, I appreciate the post and am glad to exchange in dialogue regarding the Israel/Palestinian situation. First let me respond by saying I think my comments regarding Israel were misinterpreted and going on that assumption I apologize if I offended you. So before I respond to your post I'll make a few comments on my views in general.

I hadnt thought the need to clarify my views on Israel based out my own naiveity and the assumption no one read this blog anyway. I thought it went without saying that I have had unwaivered support of Israel's existence for as long as I've been politically engaged.

My IDEAL vision of Israel would follow along the bi-national socialist framework that was one of the main points of the Poale Zion, which was the principle vehicle of the Labor Zionist movement in the 20's and 30's; and who's most famous leaders/supporters include Albert Einstein, David Ben-Gurion and Golda Meir. That movement ended up splitting into two poles, the right pole of which still exists in Israel today as the Labor Party.

Unfortunately that vision is no longer realistic, mainly out of fault of the Arab states. It was shatted when the Arab states rejected that vision in both 1948 and the subsequent Israeli-Arab Wars afterwards. The reason being for such is at those times the Arab states believed in the possibility of the destruction of Israel (for various reasons.) I dont believe any Arab states hold onto that fantasy any longer, ranging from their catastrophic defeats to the position Israel is in today, as a nuclear armed regional superpower.

Regarding the Palestinian situation, Israel captured the current occupied territories in 1967; and offered peace at this time which, again, the Arabs rejected. Beginning in the 1970's the idea of full peace between Israel and the Arab states floated, on the condition Israel withdraw from the West Bank and Gaza. This was routintely rejected by the US and Israel for various reasons (I say the US because of their frequent exercise of the veto power in the UN regarding this); but today it seems like the only real way to peace.

Therefore my main position is I support Israel 100%, but I do not support their occupation and activities in the West Bank and Gaza. The Israeli people are split on this 49%/49%, but the rest of the world, including the Arab states agree that full peace will come when the occupation ends.

The fact is the occupation itself, as Ariel Sharon pointed out last year, is a detriment to Israeli security. Although that excuse is used, it has nothing to do with security. It has more to do with strategic points (Golan Heights) and water resources/valuable lands (West Bank). The occupation itself is, again, a detriment to the security of the Israeli people and keeps them in a state of terror; which has led to the gradual destruction of the socialist framework of Israel's roots that Ben-Gurion and others had envisioned when modern Israel was founded.

Responding to your post: You pointed out that the other Arab states use the Palestinians as a scapegoat, which I agree with. Jordan, Syria, Egypt and other Arab states use the Israel/Palestinian issue as a way to advance their own agendas. The Palestinian people have also suffered from poor leadership, most notably the PLO and the Fatah government(s) which siphon international aid meant for the Palestinian people and stuffed their own pockets to enhance their own wealth. When you said " Look at a map of the middle East- Israel is a tiny little country-why not leave Israel alone, make a home with their fellow Arabs", I disagree with that. For one, the Arab states will not accept the Palestinians, and refugees who have gone to, say Jordan, are treated horribly and even massacred. Secondly its fundamentally immoral to force them off their land, not to mention gross violation of international and human rights laws.

You also said "How much can a country give up without loosing the safety of their water supply, their borders..After years of oppression, we as Jews and the Israeli nation will not be forced from our Homeland." Israel does not have to give up their land or their borders, they just need to withdraw to the '67 borders. If you are refering to the water supplies of the West Bank, I disagree that they belong to Israel at all. Israel did conquer the West Bank, but if they wish to make it apart of Israel they should take the Palestinians with it, not force them off their land and into horrible refugee camps. I also disagree that anyone is forcing Israeli's from their Homeland. The Arab League approved the "Saudi Plan" in 2000 which says that if Israel withdraws to the '67 borders, they will received full recognition from Arab states, a peace plan, and normal integration into the region. That is also the viewpoint of the entire world. No one wants to get ride of Israel, they just want an end to the occupation of the W.Bank and Gaza, much like most want an end to the US occupation of Iraq.

Lastly responding to "Terrorists are causing everyone to live in fear because they believe that their beliefs and religon is the Only way! They won't be happy until its a Moslem world and we all live according the Koran and their interpretation of it." I disagree with this. Terrorism is brutal and inhumane, but most terrorists have a root cause; for example the attacks of Sept 11th had a lot of popular support in the Arab world because of hatred toward US policy in that region since WW2. This does not justify terrorism, but we cannot ignore the root causes. The idea that their prime motivation is converting the entire world to Islam is something I disagree with; I dont deny that terrorist leaders preach that, as demogagues tend to do, but the popular support they receive has different motivations.

I realize the sensitivity of the subject seeing as how the destruction of Israel was the goal of most Arab states until recently, and is the goal of many Arabs throughout the Middle East today. I just dont believe that because of that situation it should warrant a blank check for the Israeli military to do anything it wants and should never be criticized. Freedom in exchange of ideas, dissent and criticism, I believe, help strengthen, not weaken, free, democratic states. Making a state immune from criticism and dissent errodes any concepts of freedom and gives the government itself too much power, which ultimately corrupts. No state likes to be criticised, but its up to the people to speak out anyway because they believe in fundamental and moral principles. Many people do not have that luxury, but in the US we have that right, and we should exercise it when necessary. Much in the case for the United States, where some elements believe that US foreign policy should never be questioned lest you be labeled "anti-american." I support the US, its my favorite country, but if I see what I believe to be immoral actions taken by the government, I speak out against it. And I do that with any country, without exception. And again, as I was saying before, the position that I took on the Israeli actions in Gaza are pretty much the positions taken by the Israeli editorial press and the Israeli people in general.

Again I appreciate the post and I respect your views. I hope that we can agree to disagree on some issues, and also hope that my early post was clarified and not misinterpreted as an attack on Israel. If the invitation for Passover still stands, I would be more than happy to accept. But hopefully I'll be down on Long Island much sooner!