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Prime Minister Stephen Harpers trip to Israel and the West Bank will not be just a simple filling out of his resum and staging a series of photo-ops geared to the 2015 election although it will certainly be both of those things. The domestic Canadian politics of the visit have been made more urgent by the Liberals point that Justin Trudeau has already been to Israel and the curiously incurious Prime Minister has not, either before coming to office or in the eight years since.
Beyond the comms plans and optics, though, it is the substance that matters, as the visit falls in the middle of some of the most politically and strategically fraught negotiations of our times the quest for a two-state solution for Israel and Palestine and the curtailing of the Iranian nuclear program. Success or failure in each of these talks will have profound consequences, including for Canadians. The national interest requires the Prime Minister to be more statesman than partisan.
The alleged Iranian nuclear weapons program will likely be preoccupying Mr. Harpers Israeli hosts. Jerusalem has gone to great lengths to warn that a nuclear weapon-equipped Iran would be a danger to Israel and could trigger a nuclear arms race in the Middle East as Saudi Arabia, Egypt and Turkey seek means to deter Iran and defend themselves.
Were all that to happen, Israels nuclear deterrent would lose some or all of its value and its own strategic situation would become near incalculably complex. Under pressure from Israel, the U.S. has sworn not just to contain Iran but to use force if necessary to prevent the Shia state from producing nuclear weapons. Despite the posturing in Jerusalem, the view is widely held that on its own Israel could only interrupt Irans nuclear program briefly not stop it and that American participation, even leadership, in attacks on Irans nuclear facilities would be indispensable to any missions operational success. The American time frame for any such military action is considerably longer and more conditional than Tel Avivs because of Washingtons vastly greater technical capability and the presidents sharing of the publics skepticism of preventive wars.
The unintended consequences of a military attack on Iran would probably include the destruction of the international consensus for imposing sanctions on Iran; redoubled determination on the part of Iranian hardliners to escape the confines of the Non-Proliferation Treaty; deepening Muslim hatred of the U.S. (and Israel) for an attack on yet another Muslim country; opportunistic political profit-taking by Moscow and Beijing; disruption of oil and possibly financial markets at least temporarily and the concomitant impacts on European economies; and destruction of potentially thousands of lives.
Those are some of the consequences if the attack succeeds in crippling the Iranian nuclear program. A failed operation would be all that and worse, not least, the shredding of Israels political and military reputation. Further, Americans attitudes towards Israel could be undermined if the U.S. public, already fed up with fighting in the Middle East, came to believe that Israel had dragged them into another war.
For all of Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahus outrage, real or feigned for bad cop effect, the deal and the ongoing negotiations between Tehran and Security Council members on the Iranian nuclear program is vastly preferable to war. The negotiations might lead Iran to accept limits on its nuclear program, pull Tehran out of its isolation and lead to more normal relations with a democracy-hungry Iranian people. The Iranians have not eternally been enemies of the U.S. or of Israel. Times can change.
The Iranian and Palestinian issues are linked, at least indirectly. The Israeli governments determination to keep building settlements is eroding support for Israel internationally at precisely the time it needs international legitimacy to attract support for action against Iran. In the words of former Israeli national security adviser Uzi Arad the Prime Minister [Netanyahu] has been dealing with Iran as if there were no Palestine and Palestine as if there were no Iran (quoted by Ari Shavit in Does This Mean War? Haaretz, 2012). But, for Israel, the road to Tehran runs through Washington because the decision-makers on Iran are the decision-makers on Palestine. In addition to its intrinsic merits, an agreement on a two-state solution would give Washington greater cover in the Middle East, and in the mid-West too, for military action if Tehran proved intransigent. Given these highly complex circumstances, Prime Minister Harper needs to take special care not to complicate Secretary John Kerrys efforts, and to contribute judiciously to them where he can.
The status quo in the West Bank will not endure eternally whatever some Israelis might wish and neither side will get all it wants in negotiations whatever some Palestinians might hope. Partly because there are people including cabinet ministers on both sides, not just among the Palestinians, who do not believe the other side has a right to exist, Mr. Harper ought to reiterate publically Canadas long-standing support for a two state solution based on the pre-1967 lines and mutually agreed land swaps. To be taken seriously by Israelis, Mr. Harper will want to demonstrate publically as well as privately that he understands Israels need for security and its right to defend itself when threatened. To be taken seriously by others, he will need to accord greater importance than heretofore to the Palestinians desire for a state of their own. He should spend some of the political capital he has amassed from unwavering support of the Israeli government to urge Israel to cease building settlements, which are illegal under international law and render a two-state solution moot. Mr. Harper should program enough time in the West Bank to see for himself how difficult life there is.
On Iran, Mr. Harper should not endorse Mr. Netanyahus impatience with a diplomatic solution even prominent Israeli national security specialists are divided on the necessity of military action and should manifest strong support for a negotiated outcome. He needs to be more statesman than partisan. Too much is at stake for free-lancing and self-serving expressions of skepticism. He should make the point with the Israelis that progress on the Palestine question would strengthen Israels standing internationally and attract more support when Israel rings the alarm about Irans nuclear intentions.
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THE WORDS BELOW ARE THE “RAP” WORDS Love is patient and kind Have you read the youtube comments lately “ma, that's gay” gets dropped on the daily we've becom…
By: Freda Lee
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Passionate is the only word to describe Alberta Wells Godfreys intense enthusiasm for teaching children. A retired elementary school principal, she was an educator in the Miami-Dade Public Schools for 36 years
The American Studies Association, a group of scholars on American culture and history, recently decided to honor the call of Palestinian civil society to boycott Israeli institutions. This academic and cultural boycott aims to bring under scrutiny the actions of the Israeli government and put pressure on Israeli institutions to end the oppressive occupation and racist policies within both Israel and occupied Palestine.
For those who understand that the struggle for rights is global, this is an important academic boycott which is why Bowdoin should join it.
To date, Israeli academic institutions have been notoriously silent with regard to the daily oppression of their Palestinian counterparts. No Israeli university has actively or publicly opposed the occupation. Israeli universities give priority admission to soldiers, discriminate against Palestinian students and have developed remote-controlled bulldozers for the Israeli Armys home demolitions. Israeli universities conduct research for the Israeli military, and several of them operate out of illegal settlements built on Palestinian land occupied since 1967.
Therefore, in their current state, Israeli universities are both actively and passively complicit in the crimes of both the Israeli military and the Israeli government in all its settler-colonial forms.
In their resolution, the ASA emphasized that the boycott is decidedly not aimed at individual persons. The boycott is aimed at institutions that condone and perpetuate state practices of discrimination and deny academic freedom to others. The boycott refuses to discriminate based on citizenship, race or nationality and merely asks that institutional ties be severed with those institutions complicit in the Israeli occupation.
In other words, a professor from the University of Tel Aviv can still present research at an ASA conference, provided that he or she does so as an individual scholar and not expressly as a representative of Israeli academic institutions or of the Israeli government. Representatives include deans, rectors and presidents of an institution.
Since the ASA declared its support for Palestinians in their struggle for human rights and academic freedom, the association has come under intense criticism, including from Bowdoin College President Barry Mills.
We respect Mills right to express his views. However, his rejection of the boycott does not speak for the Bowdoin community because it ignores the plurality of viewpoints at Bowdoin, the rights of Palestinians and the voices of those in solidarity with the Palestinian struggle for freedom and human rights.
Furthermore, Mills statement fundamentally misrepresents the essence of the boycott. He falsely categorizes the boycott as stifling discussion and the free exchange of ideas, ignoring how the boycott has instead served as the catalyst for greater discussion of Israels human rights abuses. Questions are now being raised even in the previously silent corners of the mainstream media. His categorization also overlooks that it is Israel that has stifled discussion, having passed a law in 2011 that bans Israelis from even proposing a boycott of anything Israeli, be it a consumer, academic or cultural boycott.
As reported in The Guardian, in Israel, an individual or organization proposing a boycott may be sued for compensation by any individual or institution facing possible damage as a result. Evidence of actual damage will not be required.
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By now, its well known that the National Security Agency is collecting troves of data about law-abiding Americans. But the NSA is not alone: A series of new reports show that state and local police have been busy collecting data on our daily activities as well under questionable or nonexistent legal pretenses. These revelations about the extent of police snooping in the U.S
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The North Atlantic Treaty Organisation (NATO) was founded in 1949, in the early years of the Cold War. Initially conceived as a defensive organisation, the founding members were Belgium, Canada,Denmark, France, Iceland, Italy, Luxembourg, The Netherlands, Norway, Portugal, the UK and the USA. The Warsaw Pact was established in response in 1955, by the then Soviet Union and its allies. In the 1950s, Greece, Turkey and West Germany also joined NATO, followed by Spain in 1982.
At the end of the Cold War,the Warsaw Pact was dissolved,but NATO was not. Hopes of a peaceful new world order werenot realised. Rather than scaling back its global military presence,the US moved to fill the positions vacated by its previous rival. As the countries of eastern Europe embraced free market economics and multiparty democracy, the US movedrapidly to integrate them into its sphere of influence via NATO.This would prove to be an effective strategy, as witnessed by the support of those countries for the US-led invasion of Iraq in 2003.
The 1990s saw NATO developing its regional cooperation forums and inviting new members to join the alliance. In March 1999, Hungary,Poland and the Czech Republic were all admitted as full members. Ten days later they found themselves at war with their neighbour Yugoslavia, as part of NATO’s illegal bombing campaign. But developments at that time were not limited to NATO expansion. At NATO’s fiftieth anniversary conference in Washington in April 1999, a new ‘Strategic Concept’, was adopted. This moved beyond NATO’s previous defensive role to include ‘out of area’ in other words offensive operations,anywhere on the Eurasian landmass.
In March 2004, Estonia, Latvia, Lithuania, Slovenia, Slovakia, Bulgaria and Romania were admitted to NATO not only former Warsaw Pact members, but also former Soviet republics in the case of the Baltic states. In 2009, Albania and Croatia also became members. This scale of expansion has contributed to international tension as Russia sees itselfincreasingly surrounded by US and NATO bases, including in the Balkans, the Middle East and central Asia. Georgia, Macedonia,Montenegro and Bosnia and Herzegovina arealso in various stages towards becoming members.
Out of area activity
Over the past decade, the US drive for global domination through military influence has become increasingly active, most notably in Afghanistan. NATO assumed control of the International Security Assistance Force (ISAF) in Afghanistan in 2003, marking NATO’s first deployment outside Europe or North America. ISAF will transfer responsibility for the security of the country to the Afghan National Security Forces (ANSF) by the end of 2014, which should signal the end of the NATO-led combat mission. However, NATO stated ina declaration following a summit in Chicago in May 2012 that it will establish a ‘new post-2014 mission of a different nature in Afghanistan’, thereby maintaining its influence in the region. Recently, NATO has also undertaken operations inLibya and the Horn of Africa.
NATO adopted a new Strategic Concept at its summit inPortugal in November 2010, entitled Active Engagement,Modern Defence. It recommitted to an interventionistmilitary agenda that set back the cause of peace and nuclear disarmament. This included an expansion of its area of work to counterterrorism, cyber-security, and theproliferation of chemical, biological and nuclear weapons’.The summit also agreed to integrate the US missile defencesystem with a European theatre missile defence programmeunder the auspices of NATO. But concerns remain thatmissile defence will enable the US to attack another country without fear of retaliation. Following its summit in May 2012 in Chicago, NATO reaffirmed its determination to retain and develop the capabilities necessary to promoting security in the world. At this summit, NATO declared that it had taken successful steps towards establishing a missile defence system. It also announced developments in its air command and control system, as well as plans for improved and more integrated armed forces. There seems no doubt that there is a long term plan formaintaining and extending its global influence.
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Margaret MacMillans latest book on World War I, The War That Ended The Peace, opens with the Paris Universal Exposition in 1900. Countries from around the globe gathered in Paris to reveal inventions and works of art and to generally boast about nationhood. The event was underscored by political tensions but fueled by a collective optimism that technological advancements, many of which were on display at the exposition, would bring the world closer together and usher in lasting peace on Earth.
Fourteen years later, the world order collapsed. The Great War engulfed the very nations who proclaimed the 20th century as a new and peaceful era. Within five bloody years, vast empires had crumbled, maps were redrawn and a generation of men was decimated.
Great Britain entered World War I as one of the most impressive imperial empires the world had ever known; incredible given its size. Much of their greatness was attributed to being the greatest naval power in history. After the war, it was never the same. There are obvious parallels to be drawn between the position of the United States today and Great Britains a century ago. There are lessons to be heeded from their story.
Our disastrous wars in the Middle East at the beginning of the 21st century are akin to the Boer War fiasco Britain was embroiled in at the turn of the 20th century. The Boer War engendered near-universal antipathy toward the aging lion. Most notably, it drew strident criticism from the German people and Kaiser Wilhelm, which contributed to the burgeoning schism between the two nations.
One of the most striking similarities between the two eras is the manner in which Britain and the United States approached empire-building at the turn of the 20th and 21st centuries, respectively. Britain was suffering from growing pains related to over-colonization as its empire stretched around the globe. The U.S. is experiencing similar aches in its attempt to recover from naked imperialism under the guise of spreading democracy for the past 60 years.
Both nations display a paternalistic attitude toward lesser nations and believe a western style of governance was easily adopted through what Franklin Henry Giddings termed, consent without consent. In doing so both empires wore out their welcomes abroad and maintained relations strictly through fear of violent reprisal or loss of economic trade.
The British government was increasingly pouring resources into maintaining the largest navy in the world while ignoring the domestic cost of an aging population. Instead of cutting back on imperial pursuits and bolstering spending at home to stabilize its economy, it engaged in an arms race with Germany and sought new economic alliances in the event the two nations proceeded down the path to war.
The problem with military power is that it creates a desire among world leaders to employ it. Just as Capitalism requires constant growth, the suppression of labor and consumption of natural resources, the Military Industrial Complex requires conflict in order to sustain and justify its very existence. Despite famously being credited with the phrase, Speak softly, and carry a big stick, President Theodore Roosevelt sent Americas Great White Fleet around the globe to impress the world and privately lamented the fact that he did not preside over a war while serving in the Oval Office. His successors would put Americas newfound might to use, however, as the United States embarked on a century of unprecedented warfare and imperial harassment.
The dawn of the 20th century was rife with warmongering characters such as Roosevelt, who shared his attitude toward war. This idea is perfectly encapsulated in the words of Count Franz Conrad von Hotzendorf of Austria-Hungary: The army is not a fire extinguisher, one cannot let it rust until the flames are coming out of the house. Instead it is an instrument to be used by goal-conscious, clever politicians as the ultimate defence of their interests.
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Toronto Raptors’ Rudy Gay (22) in action against Golden State Warriors’ Harrison Barnes during the second half of an NBA basketball game on Tuesday, Dec. 3, 2013, in Oakland, Calif. Golden State won 112-103
Nelson Mandela’s life, included violence and controversy but he “walked the walk” paying the price of twenty seven years in jail for the racial equality he fought for South Africa. For all the country’s complexities, imperfections and astonishing betrayals (i) the concept of the Truth and Reconciliation Commission surely averted a cycle of vengeance which would have dwarfed the country’s continuing turbulence.
In death, however, he has uniquely highlighted the monumental paucity of integrity, intelligence, introspection and vision of a swathe of Western politicians.
On Monday December 9th, four days after his death, eight hours of tributes were paid in a special sitting of London’s Houses of Parliament. Mandela’s statue stands just yards away, in Parliament Square.
Prime Minister David Cameron led the session reminding:
“We must never forget the evil of apartheid and its effect on every day life. Separate benches, separate buses, separate schools … Inter-racial relationships criminalised, pass laws and banning orders, a whole language of segregation (expressing) man’s inhumanity to man.”
He might ponder on his words when he, his Foreign Secretary or Party Members next jet off on a Conservative Friends of Israel junket to that apartheid State, which behaves as he described, additionally seizing lands, demolishing homes, that “temple of the family”, as described by David Halpin (ii) who nearly lost his own life at Israel’s State hands in his commitment to Palestine. Olive and apricot groves are razed, as orchards, farms, livelihoods. Even fishing is restricted and fishermen shot from Israeli gun boats – in Palestine’s territorial waters.
Having spouted sanctimonious insincerity, Cameron flew to attend the Memorial the following day, Tuesday 10th December – the twentieth anniversary of Mandela and South Africa’s last apartheid-era President, F.W. de Klerk, receiving the Nobel Peace Prize: “for their work for the peaceful termination of the apartheid regime …”
It has to be wondered whether the Prime Minister reflected on his 1989 “all expenses paid trip” to South Africa “funded by a firm that lobbied against the imposition of sanctions on the apartheid regime”- or the “Hang Nelson Mandela” badges that aspiring Conservative MPs wore at the time – some now actual MPs in his Party. (iii)
President Obama’s address was a masterpiece of oiled humbug:
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The Liberal Capital of The United States Gets Hit with Dose of Tradition by Ex-NBA Player and Eugene Dentist, Crisdental
Merry Christmas. (PRNewsFoto/Crisdental)
EUGENE, Ore., Dec. 12, 2013 /PRNewswire/ — Former NBA player, Luke Jackson, and Crisdental, a Eugene, Oregon based dental chain, does politically incorrect “Merry Christmas” tv ad. Jackson, now Head Coach of Northwest Christian University in Eugene, Oregon, and Dr. Michael Bratland, owner of Crisdental, have teamed up in an effort to celebrate Christmas in the business sector and public eye of Eugene, Oregon.
(Photo:http://photos.prnewswire.com/prnh/20131212/PH32453-a) (Photo: http://photos.prnewswire.com/prnh/20131212/PH32453-b)
Crisdental Owner Dr. Michael Bratland states: “I’m tired of businesses feeling they can’t celebrate Christmas. In an effort to pacify a small group of individuals, this country has slowly taken out the words ‘Merry Christmas’ from our lives.” Dr. Bratland goes on to say, “We have been flooded with calls and support from people in the community stating they love the ad.”
Luke Jackson states: “Christmas is synonymous with Apple Pie and Chevrolet in the history of our country; I don’t want somebody telling me I can’t celebrate what this country has been celebrating for over 100 years.”
Crisdental uses Luke in its advertising campaigns. During a recent marketing meeting about their next advertising strategy an idea was born to start a campaign celebrating Christmas, which fits well with Jackson’s beliefs and his working relationship with Northwest Christian University.
Crisdental has six locations in the state of Oregon in Eugene, Roseburg, Springfield and Salem.
Dr. Michael Bratland: www.crisdental.com 541-643-6772 Email
Luke Jackson: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Luke_Jackson_(basketball) http://www.nwcu.edu Luke Jackson 541-221-0906 Email
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