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What The Osama Bin Laden Video Reveals As Impetus For Terrorism: Israel

by on Tuesday, May 10, 2011 at 1:03 pm EDT in Afghanistan, Middle East, Pakistan, Politics, World

Fox & Friends recently spoke with former Head of CIA’s Bin Laden Unit, Michael Scheuer, about the Bin Laden videos obtained during the Navy Seal raid at the al-Qaeda leader’s compound.

One of the program’s hosts, after describing how Bin Laden seemed obsessed with his own self image, asked Scheuer if this is why the Obama Administration would release video tapes with no audio — merely to expose Bin Laden’s vanity:

My Question is, Clay mentioned ‘No audio on these tapes’, why did the government release them? You can’t glean a whole lot from them, there’s no audio, no real information. Is it to kind of demystify what we all know, and what people think of Bin Laden?

What the host was not anticipating was that Scheuer would use this question as an opportunity to debunk the official neocon/Fox News Channel “they hate us for our freedom” narrative:

No. No, the government has lied to the American people since 9/11. What they don’t want you to hear again is that Osama Bin Laden doesn’t care — and his organization and his allies do not care — about liberty in America, democracy in America, gender equality in America, or elections.

What Bin Laden was saying on the tape that they’re talking about almost certainly was, “We don’t care how you think or how you live. We want you out of our world, and we will attack you until you stop doing that.”

And of course Mr. Bush, Mr. Clinton, and Mr. Obama have consistently told America this is about how we live and how we think, rather than what we do.

And as you might expect, the Fox News host promptly changed the subject, probably kicking himself for having ever asked the question.

HERE’S THE FULL INTERVIEW:

YouTube Preview Image

Well, Haaretz has now reported what Bin Laden did actually say in his final video (filmed just before his death). Addressed to President Obama, the video was focused entirely on the plight of the Palestinians, and in particular US support of Israel.

Bin Laden was quoted as saying:

“America will not be able to dream of security until we live in security in Palestine. It is unfair that you live in peace while our brothers in Gaza live in insecurity.”

“Accordingly, and with the will of God, our attacks will continue against you as long as your support for Israel continues,” the al-Qaida chief said in the audio recording.

“So the message we wanted to convey through the plane of our hero, the fighter Umar Farouk, may God be with him, confirms a previous message which had been sent to you by our heroes of September 11,” bin Laden reportedly said in the minute-long recording.

Bin Laden’s statement that the Israeli/Palestinian conflict remains an impetus for terrorism, is consistent with what has already been stated by both former US President Bill Clinton and US Middle East envoy George J. Mitchell; as well as by nearly every cabinet member of the Obama Administration, who have asserted repeatedly that peace between Israel and the Palestinians is “vital to US national security interests”.

If President Obama were really serious about pressuring Israel to end the illegal settlements and embrace peace wouldn’t this new revelation be something he would add to his rhetorical arsenal in pressing the US Congress to stop undermining his Middle East peace efforts?

Wouldn’t he be using this revelation to bring the American public on board for tougher pressure on Israel? Since the 9/11 attacks, wars have been waged, trillions of dollars spent, tens if not hundreds of thousands of lives lost — all to allegedly “protect Americans from terrorism”. And here is Bin Laden (mastermind of 9/11) pointing directly at Israel’s treatment of the Palestinians as an underlying cause for his terrorist attacks.

Unfortunately, President Obama does not want this topic to be part of the public discourse in the run up to his 2012 reelection campaign. Why? Because it would complicate his efforts at winning over America’s deep-pocketed pro-Israel political donors. Imagine Candidate Obama reaffirming his ‘sacrosanct’ commitment to Israel if it were widely known that this foreign country’s intransigence posed a direct threat to our national security. He’d be accused of treason.

In fact, Obama has been trying to repair frayed ties with pro-Israel groups and Israeli officials, due to the little pressure he actually did put on Netanyahu during the last two years. By recently promoting Dennis Ross — the ‘living embodiment‘ of the Israel Lobby — to Chief White House Middle East strategist the President sent a clear message to these groups that he has transitioned away from pursuing Middle East peace to accepting the status-quo.

Here is one possibility: Obama’s new strategy for peace in the Middle East may be — get this — to just do nothing.

The UN General Assembly (the same entity which recognized Israel as a state in 1948) is gearing up to declare Palestine a state along the 1967 borders this September, and the United States holds no veto power to stop it. Any future Israeli settlement expansion, or even a resistance in abandoning the present illegal settlements, would no longer be met with “unhelpful” comments from the US State Dept, but instead with harsh sanctions by the international community.

Let’s face it, the Israel Lobby (backed by full unflinching support of the United States Congress) will punish the President politically and contest all efforts to press Israel to choose peace over apartheid. So why should he continue to bother? It would make sense for him to just sit back and watch the UN General Assembly mandate the 1967 borders as the official dividing line between Israel and Palestine.

Essentially by doing nothing, the President will pay no political price (he’s powerless to stop it), he will assure peace in the Middle East under his Presidency, thereby removing a major impetus for world terrorism — crucial to the national security interests of the United States. And equally as important, the Palestinians will finally become free — free from the oppression, the violence, the cleansing, and bigotry they’ve endured over the last sixty years.

The President may have finally found a way to get his cake and eat it too.

Why Has Bill Clinton Gone ‘Jimmy Carter’ On Israel?

by on Sunday, October 10, 2010 at 1:37 am EDT in Middle East, World

Former President Bill Clinton — a favorite both in Israel, and amongst pro-Israel supporters here in the US — recently made an abrupt shift in his public statements on Israel, breaking completely from the dominant ‘neo-conservative, inner-beltway’ narrative on US foreign policy in the Middle East.

First, Clinton created an uproar in the Israeli government when he took aim at the Israel Defense Forces, and in particular the extreme elements that make up an increasing number of those serving:

“An increasing number of the young people in the IDF (Israel Defense Force) are the children of Russians and settlers, the hardest-core people against a division of the land. This presents a staggering problem,” Clinton said. “It’s a different Israel. Sixteen percent of Israelis speak Russian.” […]

Clinton called the Russian immigrant population in Israel the group least interested in a peace deal with the Palestinians. “They’ve just got there, it’s their country, they’ve made a commitment to the future there,” Clinton said. “They can’t imagine any historical or other claims that would justify dividing it.”

The former president added that those who have been in Israel the longest and “have the benefit of historical context” were those most supportive of peace in Israel.  “They can imagine sharing a future,” he said.

Clinton added that he feared this growing extremist element within the IDF would make it very difficult for Israel to deal with the half-million illegal settlers in the West Bank — something essential for any future peace agreement with the Palestinians.

As one might expect, this statement provoked a sharp rebuttal from Israel’s far-right Foreign Minister, Avigdor Lieberman, whose core supporters happen to be these same extremist — often Russian — settlers.  He accused Clinton of meddling in Israel’s internal affairs.  Benjamin Netanyahu — trying to downplay the controversy — stated he “regretted” Clinton’s statement.  MK Lia Shemtov (Yisrael Beitenu), chairperson of the Committee for Immigration, Absorption and Diaspora Affairs, actually went on the offensive.  Shemtov accused Clinton of having once provided Palestinian terrorists with rifles that lead to the deaths of Russian Jewish settlers, and demanded that he apologize.

So it was quite a shock to learn that after the fall-out from his first statement, Bill Clinton lobbed an even larger bomb shell at Israel.  This time he blamed much of the world’s terrorism on the Israeli/Palestinian conflict:

“It will take about half the impetus in the whole world — not just the region, the whole world — for terror away,” he told an audience of Egyptian businessmen from the American Chamber of Commerce in Egypt. “It would have more impact by far than anything else that could be done.”

Clinton — as both Vice President Joe Biden and General David Petraeus had done last March — linked the necessity for a Middle East peace agreement with the strategic interests of the United States of America (proclaiming it to be the very cornerstone of our battle against global terrorism).  This is a HUGE rhetorical shift for the former President.

The former President’s comments should not be taken lightly.  Not only is his wife, Hillary Clinton, serving as Secretary of State, he is a seasoned politician who devoted much energy and time to the Israeli/Palestinian conflict during his eight year term.  He understands better than anyone the political ramifications in America for criticizing Israel publicly.  It’s considered a faux pas for any American politician to suggest that the strategic interests of the United States are not identical to Israel’s, much less that Israeli policies are risking American lives.

Hillary Clinton, while serving as US Senator from New York and while running as a 2008 Presidential Candidate, never once dared to stray from the AIPAC-boilerplate narrative with regards to Israel.  Last March, however, after Israel announced a resumption of illegal settlement expansions, Secretary of State Clinton rebuked Netanyahu in a telephone call .  She was reported to have told him that “this action had undermined trust and confidence in the peace process and in America’s interests.”  But after intense pressure from the Israel Lobby, the Administration backed away completely from this line of messaging.  So why is Bill Clinton all of a sudden exorcising it from the grave?

The Obama Administration knows too well that each side of this conflict literally hangs onto every word uttered by an American President, past or present, but especially when an ex-President happens to be married to the current Secretary of State.

Haaretz reported that the Obama Administration is “incensed” with the Israeli government for not agreeing to extend the settlement moratorium in exchange for “unprecedented U.S. political and security assistance”:

Senior American officials said they were frustrated by Netanyahu’s conduct in the affair.  “We’re not buying the excuse of political difficulties anymore,” a senior U.S. official told his Israeli counterpart.

The Americans said Netanyahu’s conduct is humiliating the president,” said a senior European diplomat who met with senior U.S. officials in New York last week.

Madame Secretary Clinton and Middle East Envoy George J. Mitchell are still pressing Israel to extend its now-lapsed moratorium.  So was Bill Clinton — who just polled as the most popular politician in America — tasked with laying the groundwork for a potential US policy shift?  His statements would obviously be reported world-wide and generate the appropriate controversy, thus guaranteeing the attention of both American and Israeli politicians and press — all without directly implicating the current Democratic Administration just before midterm elections.

One thing is for certain: it will be impossible for Bill Clinton (and extremely difficult for Secretary of State Hillary Clinton) to walk back his statement — blaming the absence of a Middle East peace agreement as the main impetus for world terrorism.  It will also be impossible for the Obama Administration (or even the voices of the Israel Lobby, for that matter) to convince anybody that Israel is not 100% responsible for intentionally sabotaging the current peace talks.

According to Bill Clinton’s statement, this would logically leave the US and Israel at a strategic impasse — that being Israeli intransigence in forging peace remains the major cause of worldwide terrorism, thereby threatening the lives of US citizens and US troops.

Which begs the obvious question: how should the United States respond when an ally’s intransigence poses a grave threat to US national security?

The Politics Of Genocide Denial

by on Wednesday, March 3, 2010 at 7:58 pm EDT in Politics, Turkey, World

The House Foreign Affairs Committee is preparing to consider H.Res.252—The Armenian Genocide Resolution—this Thursday (March 4, 2010), and it has some key Congresspeople scrambling to kill it.

The resolution calls upon the President of the United States:

(1) to ensure that U.S. foreign policy reflects appropriate understanding and sensitivity concerning issues related to human rights, ethnic cleansing, and genocide documented in the U.S. record relating to the Armenian Genocide and the consequences of the failure to realize a just resolution; and

(2) in the President’s annual message commemorating the Armenian Genocide to characterize the systematic and deliberate annihilation of 1.5 million Armenians as genocide, and to recall the proud history of U.S. intervention in opposition to the Armenian Genocide.

The resolution is basically a formal acknowledgment by the United States of America of the first genocide of the 20th Century.  It essentially proclaims that the U.S. government is NOT a Holocaust denier, and it includes quotes from former US Presidents (including Ronald Reagan, Bill Clinton, and George W. Bush) who publicly acknowledged the Armenian genocide in speeches during their respective terms.

One quote included within the body of Resolution 252 was made by none other than Adolph Hitler, acknowledging what he personally had taken from the preceding Armenian genocide:

As displayed in the United States Holocaust Memorial Museum, Adolf Hitler, on ordering his military commanders to attack Poland without provocation in 1939, dismissed objections by saying ‘[w]ho, after all, speaks today of the annihilation of the Armenians?’ and thus set the stage for the Holocaust.

That quote exemplifies how deranged leaders often look back to previous massacres and genocides in gauging how the international community might deal with them should they too embark on the annihilation of a targeted group.  Unfortunately, in Washington, DC, lobbyist threats are far more likely to move politicians than the snuffed out voices of 1.5 million innocent human beings.

Turkish Deputy Prime Minister Cemil Cicek warned of repercussions, if the motion passes:

“Turkey and the United States are two important allies,” he said. “We have a shared history over the past 50-60 years. Adopting this resolution will harm relations.”

In a rare show of unity, a powerful Turkish bipartisan parliamentary group is in Washington to deliver that message.

Three US Congresspeople are leading the charge to squash the resolution, as reported by The Hill:

In a February 22 letter to House Foreign Affairs Committee members obtained by The Hill, Reps. Steve Cohen (D-Tenn.), Kay Granger (R-Texas) and Ed Whitfield (R-Ky.) ask their colleagues to reject a resolution that would recognize the killing of an estimated 1.5 million Armenians by the Ottoman Turks during World War I as genocide. […]

“A vote on this resolution will do nothing to rectify the tragedies of the past, but it will most certainly have significant negative consequences on current and future relations with Turkey,” the letter says. Cohen, Granger and Whitfield are all co-chairs of the Congressional Caucus on U.S.-Turkey Relations.

The three lawmakers are also working on a separate letter to Reps. Howard Berman (D-Calif.), the committee chairman, and Ileana Ros-Lehtinen (R-Fla.), the panel’s ranking member, opposing the resolution. The trio is gathering members’ signatures and 14 lawmakers have signed onto the letter to Berman and Ros-Lehtinen. Aides are expecting many more to sign on before that letter’s release on Tuesday.

The resolution was aborted the last time it was introduced in 2007, after aggressive lobbying by the Turkish Lobby and the Bush Administration:

In 2007, the resolution squeaked by the panel with a close vote of 27-21 in its favor. But after intense pressure from Turkey, Speaker Nancy Pelosi (D-Calif.) decided against bringing the resolution to the House floor after originally promising to do so.

But some believe that this time around the odds are good for its passage.  According to Democratic Rep. Adam Schiff, who introduced the resolution for consideration, there are more favorable conditions today than in 2007.

For one, President Barack Obama was rather vocal on the campaign trail in promising to acknowledge the Armenian genocide:

“I also share with Armenian Americans — so many of whom are descended from genocide survivors — a principled commitment to commemorating and ending genocide. That starts with acknowledging the tragic instances of genocide in world history. As a U.S. senator, I have stood with the Armenian American community in calling for Turkey’s acknowledgement of the Armenian Genocide.

In 2006, Obama was quoted as saying:

I criticized the secretary of State for the firing of U.S. Ambassador to Armenia, John Evans, after he properly used the term ‘genocide’ to describe Turkey’s slaughter of thousands of Armenians starting in 1915. I shared with secretary Rice my firmly held conviction that the Armenian Genocide is not an allegation, a personal opinion, or a point of view, but rather a widely documented fact supported by an overwhelming body of historical evidence.”

Asserted Mr. Obama, back then: “The facts are undeniable. An official policy that calls on diplomats to distort the historical facts is an untenable policy.”

Mr. Obama also stated unequivocally that “as President I will recognize the Armenian Genocide.”

Of course many will recall that when President Obama finally got the opportunity to make good on his promise in Turkey (April 2009), he opted out.  Could you even imagine an American President choosing not to use the word ‘Holocaust’ or ‘genocide’ while in Germany, so as not to offend any German Holocaust deniers in the audience?  Could you imagine an American President choosing not to use the word ‘genocide’ in Rwanda or in Cambodia so as not to offend any Hutu or former Khmer Rouge genocidaires?

The good news, as far as this resolution is concerned, is that President Obama (unlike his predecessor) has chosen to remain silent on the measure:

… the Obama administration has taken no public position on the measure, set for a vote Thursday by the House Foreign Affairs Committee. Aides to senior lawmakers on the committee say there has been no pressure against the resolution from the White House.

Another factor working in favor of the resolution is the now-strained relationship between Israel and Turkey:

The [House Foreign Affairs] committee is strongly pro-Israel, and prospects for passage could be affected by rising tensions between Turkey and Israel, as well as Turkey’s relatively warm relationship with Iran. In the past, Turkey and Israel had friendlier relations, and Israel had quietly lobbied against the resolution.

But after what happened in 2007, Speaker Pelosi in not about to commit to anything:

A spokesman for Pelosi did not say whether or not the House leader would bring the resolution to the floor for a vote if it passed the committee again.

“It’s important to take it one step at a time and see what the committee does next week. Following their action, we can have a discussion with the chairman and others about next steps,” said Nadeam Elshami, Pelosi’s spokesman.

It is long past due for the United States of America to stand up and be counted in acknowledging the Armenian genocide.  To do otherwise is akin to rewarding the genocidaires.

As Thomas Jefferson once eloquently stated, “There is not a truth existing which I fear… or would wish unknown to the whole world.”

UPDATE:

It appears President Obama has once again proven himself to be a spineless, non-principled, duplicitous wimp.  The AP is reporting:

Obama Administration Urges Congress to Wait on Armenian Genocide Resolution

WASHINGTON — The Obama administration is urging Congress to hold off on a resolution declaring the Ottoman era killing of Armenians as genocide.

The House of Representatives Foreign Affairs Committee was scheduled to vote on the resolution Thursday, and appeared likely to endorse it.

But White House spokesman Mike Hammer said Secretary of State Hillary Rodham Clinton had spoken with the committee’s chairman, Democratic Rep. Howard Berman, on Wednesday and indicated that such a vote would jeopardize reconciliation talks between Turkey and Armenia.

The move breaks a campaign promise by President Obama to brand the killings genocide.

UPDATE 2:

Anyone who cares to see the House Foreign Affairs Committee Mark-Up of the Armenian Genocide Resolution can watch it live HERE.

UPDATE 3:

It passed the House of Representatives Foreign Affairs Committee, but remains to be seen whether Pelosi will do what she did in 2007 and deny a Full House vote:

House panel approves resolution recognizing Armenian genocide

Reporting from Washington – A divided congressional panel Thursday voted 23 to 22 to approve a resolution to officially recognize the Armenian genocide despite a last-minute attempt by the Obama administration to delay a vote on the long-debated measure.

Whether the measure will come before the full House remained uncertain. House Foreign Affairs Chairman Rep. Howard L. Berman (D-Valley Village), has said he would only bring the issue before the House if there were enough votes to pass it.  […]

UPDATE 4:

I thought I’d address one of the core arguments being made by some of the critics of this resolution; that being: “It’s not the US’s business to weigh in.”

Here’s Justice Richard Goldstone’s explanation regarding the international community’s responsibility over crimes as grave as genocide, and how the Holocaust in particular changed the fundamentals of international law:

These crimes were so great, he explained, they went beyond their direct victims or the countries in which they were perpetrated, to harm humanity as a whole. This definition, he said, meant that perpetrators were to be prosecuted anywhere, by any country … This rational, he went on to say, constituted the basis for the concept of universal jurisdiction.

In other words the world views genocide as a crime against “humanity as a whole,” and therefore it is in fact OUR BUSINESS — the business of the international community. It is not just a private dispute between the perpetrators and the victims.

So even though the Turkish genocidaires all died evading both prosecution and even vilification during their lifetimes for slaughtering 1.5 million men, women and children, the world still owes it to their victims to set the public record straight — to help thwart Turkish historic revisionism.

Do you believe the Holocaust is our business? After all we have Holocaust museums here in the US (taxpayer subsidized) and yet that was a crime committed by Germans against Jews, Poles, Gypsies, gays, Russians, etc. Why should that incident be our business, but not the Armenian genocide?

Do you believe the Rwandan genocide is our business? How about Khmer Rouge’s genocide in Cambodia? How about Sadam Hussein’s genocide against the Kurds? How do we pick and choose which are to be acknowledged? How do we determine which genocide deniers are to be imprisoned (such as Holocaust deniers in Europe), and which ones are to be placated (Turkish genocide deniers)?

There’s no exceptionalism when it comes to genocide. Genocide against one group is a crime against all of us.

UPDATE 5:

I read this great comment left by Appok over on digg (in response to this post), and I thought I’d share it with readers:

For anyone who needs a contextual footnote to put this article in perspective, here it is:

My great-great-grandfather was a prominent Armenian businessman who owned a number of large orchards in what is now Turkey. He had seven children and four siblings (1 brothers and 3 sisters) each with their own families. The entire extended family consisted of approximately 45 people, many of whom were young children. None of them were active in politics or military affairs. Needless to say they posed no threat to the Ottoman Empire.

Of the 45 people in my extended family, only 2 survived – my great-grandmother and 1 of her cousins.

Acknowledging this genocide isn’t simply a matter historical accuracy, politics, or retributive agenda. Why this bill is important is the same reason why it is a crime to deny the holocaust in Germany. By politicizing this bill, they are essentially turning history into a commodity, to be bought and traded in exchange of political and diplomatic capital. There is a reason why history is taught in school. Hitler used this justification for the holocaust: “”Who, after all, speaks today of the annihilation of the Armenians?”

My 2 cents.

War Of Words: Why Failed Theories, Like Reaganomics, Continue To Linger

by on Tuesday, December 1, 2009 at 2:55 pm EDT in Politics

The Republicans have long engaged in historic revisionism as a means of covering up a long record of failed policies and blunders.  Some of their most disastrous ideological experiments over the years, like Reaganomics, have been successfully re-framed into mythological successes.  Democrats have no one to blame for this, but themselves.  They’ve done next to […]

Bill Clinton Turns ‘Politicizing’ Charge On Its Head, As He Turns His Back On The Uninsured

by on Monday, November 23, 2009 at 12:06 pm EDT in Healthcare, Politics

Former President Bill Clinton disclosed to Firedoglake last Thursday that he would not attend a free medical clinic in Arkansas organized by MSNBC’s Keith Olbermann — an event which would be attended by well over 1,000 uninsured Arkansans needing medical attention — because he claims that Olbermann had “politicized the event.” The event went on […]