Thursday, June 3, 2010

Gaza Blockade Will Ease Up, Droning On and On...

On Israel:
Michael Oren
Nicholas Kristoff

A Lighter Touch:
Kathleen Parker
Dana Milbank
Gail Collins
"Israel has a right and a duty to defend itself from Hamas and its backers. Our struggle is not with the people of Gaza but only with the radical regime that overthrew the legitimate Palestinian Authority and has pledged to seek Israel’s destruction." - Michael Oren
"When you visit Gaza, you see that the siege has accomplished nothing — except to devastate the lives of 1.5 million ordinary Gazans" - Nicholas Kristoff

Michael Oren is the Israeli Ambassador to the US, and his opinion piece represents the official Israeli viewpoint on the commando raid. Nicholas Kristoff more eloquently represents what I have been trying to say for the past several days, he has a much greater audience than I do and has actually been to Israel and Gaza lately. The Jewish newspapers Haaretz and Jerusalem Post are chockfull of articles and opinions over the wisdom of having a naval blockade of Gaza, and the raid on the Turkish ship filled with activists, journalists, and politicians. The outcome will be that the blockade will be loosened. Ships will be allowed to come into Gaza City, but only after their cargo has been inspected and shown not to have any guns or munitions. The ban on chocolate will be repealed, as well as the one on blank notebook paper. Remember that half of Gaza's 1.5 million citizens are under the age of 25, oh my god, a nation of sullen teenagers, no wonder why Hamas has been able to stay in charge... If Israel is smart, they will get Sgt Gilad Shalit back in exchange for loosening the blockade, and insist that all Palestinians have a new election. Mahmoud Abbas's term ran out months ago as head of the Palestinian Authority, and Hamas has not had an election since they won a few years ago. It's time that they proved that they can become a responsible state ready to build an economy for their people, much like has been done in the West Bank. Last, the peace talks sponsored by the US must continue, and they must accomplish specific goals... In the weeks to come you will probably read about these things being put on the table.

The sad part of this affair is that there will now be a backlash by people who think they are getting back at Israel or the US. A Catholic bishop has been stabbed in Turkey, and the Jewish community in Turkey are afraid for their lives. Repercussions may be felt around the world, as even Mexico is chiming in with protests....

shears looking at you, kid...
With the US sending a $69 million bill to BP for expenses incurred so far, we'll know tomorrow if the newest try at capping the pipe is successful. It will be under the watchful eye of President Obama, who is traveling back to the region tomorrow. The oil has reached the Florida panhandle, waiting for the first hurricane of the season to drive it inland, like a blender mixing sealife, oil, and dispersants together in one big, frothy cocktail... Bottoms up. BP is doing its part, by hiring 27 new lobbyists who used to work on Capitol Hill and spending $50 million on the latest commercial campaign that, hey, it's not our fault, but we'll be here to the end...The reaction to the spill has also spurred the debate over what the responsibilities of a federal government should be. The tea partyers have been rather subdued lately, seeing that dumping more shit into the harbor would only add to the mess and not be very helpful. Plus, the slapping down that Rand Paul received revealed that their golden boy had actually used the same spray tanning booth that John Boehner frequents. His golden sheen was actually an orange color, with the media mistaking him for some old Hare Krishna instead of a Kentucky bluegrass good old boy...

droning on and on...
The UN also chose to dump on the US predator drone program, in a report to be issued next Tuesday. It represent the first time to grapple with the idea of using drones in an extrajudicial circumstance - read remote assassinations, and listing: "... the legal implications of armed drones — also proposed a summit meeting of “key military powers” to clarify legal limits on such killings.

In an interview, Mr. Alston said the United States appeared to think that it was “facing a unique threat from transnational terrorist networks” that justified its effort to put forward legal justifications that would make the rules “as flexible as possible.”

But that example, he said, could quickly lead to a situation in which dozens of countries carry out “competing drone attacks” outside their borders against people “labeled as terrorists by one group or another.”
“I’m particularly concerned that the United States seems oblivious to this fact when it asserts an ever-expanding entitlement for itself to target individuals across the globe. But this strongly asserted but ill-defined license to kill without accountability is not an entitlement which the United States or other states can have without doing grave damage to the rules designed to protect the right to life and prevent extrajudicial executions.”

The report focuses on the US's sneaky use of drones by the CIA, that lacks the open transparency of being under military oversight, in case there needs to be a review or investigation. The CIA contracts out to Blackwater and has their employees man the controls of the drones from trailers in Nevada, so that when civilians get blown to smithereens the military can have some deniability and pass the buck onto the road to nowhere... If predator drones are changing the face of warfare, soon the ground soldiers will be obsolete, and our atmosphere will be crowded with thousands of drones launched by dozens of countries, so that they will become a danger to regular passenger planes and corporate jets... This report comes at a time when we are finding more uses for the drones, from searching the deserts of Yemen to checking out our own border between Mexico, to cruising the Caribbean for Haitians trying to flee the deathtrap that their island has become. Soon, our police departments will use them instead of helicopters or highway patrol cars. Instead of getting a speeding ticket, your car will get blown up by a Hellfire missile... it may be more of a deterrent than that motorcycle cop hiding behind the billboard...

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