“Soft despotism is a term coined by Alexis de Tocqueville describing the state into which a country overrun by "a network of small complicated rules" might degrade. Soft despotism is different from despotism (also called 'hard despotism') in the sense that it is not obvious to the people."

Saturday, November 30, 2013

"Citizenship counts for nothing in Israel if you happen to be an Arab. Tens of thousands of Palestinian Bedouin are being forcibly displaced from their homes and lands. At the same time, there are Israeli government advertisements on the web that promise you funding as a British immigrant to come and live in 'vibrant communities' in the Negev – if you are Jewish. This is ethnic cleansing."

Britons protest over Israel plan to remove 70,000 Palestinian Bedouins

More than 50 public figures including Antony Gormley and Brian Eno put names to letter opposing expulsion from historic land

Harriet Sherwood in Jerusalem, Friday 29 November 2013 13.49 EST

More than 50 public figures in Britain, including high-profile artists, musicians and writers, have put their names to a letter opposing an Israeli plan to forcibly remove up to 70,000 Palestinian Bedouins from their historic desert land – an act condemned by critics as ethnic cleansing.
The letter, published in the Guardian, is part of a day of protest on Saturday in Israel, Palestine and two dozen other countries over an Israeli parliamentary bill that is expected to get final approval by the end of this year.
The eviction and destruction of about 35 "unrecognised" villages in the Negev desert will, the letter says, "mean the forced displacement of Palestinians from their homes and land, and systematic discrimination and separation".
The signatories – who include the artist Antony Gormley, the actor Julie Christie, the film director Mike Leigh and the musician Brian Eno – are demanding that the British government holds Israel to account over its human rights record and obligations under international law.
According to Israel, the aims of the Prawer Plan – named after the head of a government commission, Ehud Prawer – are economic development of the Negev desert and the regulation of Palestinian Bedouins living in villages not recognised by the state.
The population of these villages will be removed to designated towns, while plans for new Jewish settlements in the area are enacted.
But Adalah, a human rights and legal centre for Arabs in Israel, says: "The real purpose of the legislation [is] the complete and final severance of the Bedouin's historical ties to their land."
The "unrecognised" villages in the Negev, whose populations range from a few hundred to 2,000, lack basic services such as running water, electricity, landline telephones, roads, high schools and health clinics. Some consist of a few shacks and animal pens made from corrugated iron; others include concrete houses and mosques built without necessary but unobtainable permission.
The Bedouin comprise about 30% of the Negev's population but their villages take up only 2.5% of the land. Before the state of Israel was created in 1948 they roamed widely across the desert; now, two-thirds of the region has been designated as military training grounds and firing ranges.
Under the Prawer Plan, between 40,000 and 70,000 of the remaining Bedouin – who became Israeli citizens in the 1950s – will be moved into seven over-crowded, impoverished, crime-ridden state-planned towns. The Israeli government says it is an opportunity for Bedouins to live in modern homes, take regular jobs and send their children to mainstream schools. They will be offered compensation to move, it adds.
Miranda Pennell, a film-maker and one of the letter's signatories, said: "Citizenship counts for nothing in Israel if you happen to be an Arab. Tens of thousands of Palestinian Bedouin are being forcibly displaced from their homes and lands. At the same time, there are Israeli government advertisements on the web that promise you funding as a British immigrant to come and live in 'vibrant communities' in the Negev – if you are Jewish. This is ethnic cleansing."

The actor David Calder said: "The Israeli state not only practices apartheid against the Palestinians in the occupied Palestinian territories, but it seems they have no hesitation in practicing apartheid on their own citizens – in this instance, the Bedouins. When is the west going to find these actions intolerable?

Where is a wolf when you need one?

Friday, November 29, 2013

If they work for the government, they would not lie to us, would they?

The US Public is waking up to the Israeli-Saudi Axis of Con

Iran: It's Not About Nuclear Weapons

It's actually about Israel and Saudi Arabia.
Sheldon Richman | November 28, 2013

You’re thinking: Of course it’s about nuclear weapons. Everyone says so.
Well, not everyone does. But it isn’t a numbers game. As William O. Beeman points out in the Huffington Post,
There is a strange irony in President Obama’s announcement of the temporary agreement. He mentioned the term “nuclear weapon” multiple times in his announcement, implying that Iran was on a path to develop such a weapon. One wonders if he actually believes this or if his repeated implied accusation was a rhetorical device designed to placate his hard-line critics.
The president must know by this time that there is no evidence that Iran has or ever had a nuclear weapons program. Every relevant intelligence agency in the world has verified this fact for more than a decade. Two U.S. National Intelligence Estimates that were made public in 2007 and 2011 underscored this. The International Atomic Energy Agency has also consistently asserted that Iran has not diverted any nuclear material for any military purpose.
Even Israeli intelligence analysts agree that Iran is “not a danger” to Israel.
Ironically, when critics of the interim agreement say Iran gave up little, they are right. “By yielding to the P5+1 demands, in essence Iran has allowed itself to be persuaded to stop temporarily doing what it never intended to do — make a nuclear weapon,” Beeman writes. “The United States and its allies … made the improbable leap that having enriched uranium would immediately lead to a nuclear weapon. This is an immense mistake — so large that one must suspect that it is essentially hyped for public consumption.”
In return for agreeing to stop doing what it had no intention of doing, Iran will get the slightest relief from the economic sanctions that inflict so much suffering on the people.
There’s another irony. The reactionaries on all sides – including in the U.S. Congress – oppose rapprochement between Iran and the United States for some of the same reasons.
Look at the leading opponents of the agreement: Israel and Saudi Arabia. They are among the U.S. government’s closest allies in the Middle East. For overlapping reasons, both would hate to see the 34-year-old cold war between the United States and Iran come to an end.
Saudi Arabia, which is well-equipped militarily by the United States, is an Arab Sunni Muslim kingdom. Iran is the large, influential Persian state dominated by the other side in the Islamic schism: Shiism. (What Iran calls the Persian Gulf, Arabs call the Arabian Gulf.) Iran was a U.S. client-state until 1979, when the Islamic Revolution overthrew the repressive shah, whom the U.S. government had restored to power after ousting a democratic regime in 1953. Saudi Arabia, which  enjoys protection under America’s nuclear umbrella, does not want to see Iran back in the good graces of the United States, since it would diminish its prominence in the Middle East.
Israel, the world’s largest recipient of U.S. military armaments, a nuclear power, and thus the most potent country in the region, has used its might to subjugate the Palestinians, systematically steal their land, and intimidate its neighbors, for example, by periodically invading Lebanon. Its leadership needs to manufacture enemies to distract the world from its inhumane policies, which the U.S. government, pushed by Israel’s lobby, enables. Thus the Iranians, who have made repeated peace overtures, are portrayed as an “existential threat,” which is absurd: Even if one were to make all the fantastic assumptions required to see Iran with a nuclear weapon, what good would it be against Israel, which has hundreds of nukes, some of them on invulnerable submarines?
Yoel Guzansky, a former member of Israel’s National Security Council, revealed much when he condemned the interim agreement as giving “Iran … a signature that it’s a legitimate country.” How hypocritical.
The Iranian people, which includes a large, educated middle class, would welcome friendship with America. Both they and the American people would prosper from trade, tourism, and other personal contact.
As a bonus, such friendship would inevitably weaken Iran’s theocracy – which is why the hardliners on all sides are determined to prevent it.

This column originally appeared on the Future of Freedom Foundation.a

Thursday, November 28, 2013

200 + 1

With NO Thanks to Israel, The US has a Thanksgiving without a new war in the Middle East

Iran nuclear deal: ill-informed friends of Israel are refusing to face facts

Benjamin Netanyahu’s acolytes are hell-bent on undermining Barack Obama's nuclear pact with Iran

It was one of those coincidences that a novelist might hesitate to invent. One of William Hague’s first tasks after signing a historic nuclear agreement with Iran was to address the grandest and most important gathering of Britain’s pro-Israel lobby.

Having flown back into London from Geneva on the Sunday, the Foreign Secretary then turned up the next day at the Park Plaza hotel at Westminster for the annual lunch of Conservative Friends of Israel (CFI). More than 100 Tory MPs, as well as hundreds more CFI supporters, were present to hear Daniel Taub, the Israeli ambassador, chide Mr Hague over Iran. One reporter present wrote that Mr Hague was “humiliated”, adding that when he rose to speak he was greeted with “light applause” and “heard in obvious silence”.

Some close to Mr Hague insist, by contrast, that it was a cheerful event. Nevertheless, the atmosphere was by no means as warm and easy as it was last year, when David Cameron was the guest of honour. At some tables, I am told, there was palpable resentment. Each guest had been given a briefing pack that included a caustic summary of the deal that Mr Hague had signed the previous day. A longer version of this document was then dispatched to Conservative MPs, ahead of the Foreign Secretary’s afternoon statement to the House of Commons on Iran.

I have obtained this briefing, which parroted the overblown rhetoric with which Benjamin Netanyahu, the Israeli prime minister, responded to the deal in Geneva. The CFI warned Tory MPs that “the world’s most dangerous regime has taken a significant step towards obtaining the world’s most dangerous weapon” – echoing Mr Netanyahu almost verbatim.

This was not merely propaganda. It was ignorant and poorly informed. Under the accord reached in Geneva, Iran must convert all uranium enriched to the 20 per cent level (the closest to weapons grade) into harmless oxide. That cannot fairly be described as a “step towards” a nuclear bomb. It’s obviously a welcome step in the opposite direction.

The CFI document then asserted that last weekend’s deal “does not dismantle the plutonium reactor in Arak”. But there is a good reason for this: that plutonium reactor has not been built. It’s very eccentric to complain about Iran failing to deconstruct something that hasn’t been constructed. Crucially, however, the agreement has frozen essential work on Arak, with the aim of ensuring that it never does get built.
The briefing goes on to claim that “Iran has actively enriched uranium to 20 per cent fissile purity, far exceeding civilian purposes”. In fact, there certainly is a civilian purpose for such uranium: it can be used to fuel the Tehran Research Reactor, a facility that produces medical isotopes and nothing else.

Most misleading of all, the CFI told Tory MPs that “Iran is operating as many as 18,000 centrifuges, including more than 1,000 new models (IR-2m) that are far more efficient”. In fact, Iran is running 10,000 centrifuges. It does have another 9,500, including those advanced ones, but they are standing idle. Under the Geneva agreement, they will remain that way, since Iran has agreed not to use them.

To sum up, the CFI briefing note was biased, partial and deeply misleading. It omitted key facts, while including many others that were not true. The explanation is simple. As so often happens, British politics is following the United States, where the pro-Israel lobby would love to destroy the provisional deal that John Kerry has thrashed out with the Iranian foreign minister.

Inspired by the formidable American Israel Public Affairs Committee (AIPAC), legislators in Washington are already planning to undermine the authority of the White House by inflicting fresh sanctions on Iran. The situation is so desperate that AIPAC has teamed up with its enemies in the Arab lobby – an unprecedented development – to wreck the deal. So far they have met no success: an unusual case of one plus one equals nought.
This is a remarkable turn of events. For the past 15 years, the fundamental assumption behind American (and therefore British) foreign policy has been that international problems should be solved by force, in a world divided up, very simplistically, into good guys and bad guys. In the wake of Iraq and Afghanistan, President Obama and his Secretary of State have returned to a version of the great power politics of the 19th century.

Mr Kerry has, of course, experienced combat, in Vietnam. This is rare among contemporary statesmen, and may be one reason why he prefers diplomacy to war. He also seems not to be constrained, like his busy but pointless predecessor Hillary Clinton, by ambition. That means that he will not make her mistake and allow domestic politics to thwart substantive achievement. I believe that he can be a great secretary of state, comparable to Baker, Kissinger or even Marshall.

His new understanding with Iran, for example, can open many doors. No settlement is possible in Syria without Tehran’s assent. Nor can America and Britain withdraw peacefully from Afghanistan. It is not absurd to speculate that Kerry and Obama will soon press for the prize that has eluded every president so far – a lasting solution to the Israeli/Palestinian conflict.

Already, one can imagine the outrage from AIPAC and CFI at the prospect of the concessions such a deal would imply. But we have been reminded over the past few weeks that these two powerful bodies share an important flaw. Polls show that the hardline position that they advocate, which tends to be that of Netanyahu’s Right-wing Likud party, tends not to be shared by the majority of British or American Jews.

As the journalist Anshel Pfeffer has accurately noted in the Israeli newspaper Haaretz, “British Jewry’s politics could be best termed as Left-of-centre on the Israeli spectrum”. Polls show 78 per cent are in favour of a two-state solution, 74 per cent oppose expanding the West Bank settlements, and 67 per cent would trade land for peace. More than half would even negotiate with Hamas, officially designated a terrorist organisation.

Yet the CFI – by far Britain’s most powerful pro-Israel lobbying group – acts as if every Jew in the country is a Likud supporter. The same is true of AIPAC in the US. Personally, I suspect the deal struck on Sunday is far more popular among British and American Jews than the pro-Israel lobby is prepared to countenance – especially since its apparently blind support of Netanyahu is not even reflected within Israel itself, where his conduct has been widely condemned.

Mark Twain defined patriotism as “supporting your country all the time, and your government when it deserves it”. CFI needs to remember that its initials stand for Conservative Friends of Israel: there is a reason why it is not called Conservative Friends of Likud. It is possible to admire Israel as a wonderful country with a rich, democratic history – and still be appalled by its dreadful treatment of the Palestinians or dismayed by its poorly judged intransigence on Iran. Israel’s interests would be much better served if its advocates in Britain and the United States stood up and condemned the witless ranting and raving of prime minister Netanyahu.

Wednesday, November 27, 2013

Q.E.D. >

  • They may have a plan, but so do we. The US now has a tyranny that has offended so many people in North Africa and the ME that anyone who has the chance is going to try to bring harm. No one is going to trust him. The president's MSM tells us that Saudi Arabia did not understand. Saudi publications say the government was lied to for months and they were betrayed. Those folk have long memories and a need for revenge. Israelis are well versed in history and Obama will not be the first emperor to get a face full of Jewish spit. Israel cannot win a war conventionally with the US. But we don't need to, because we can destroy your civilization. Do yourself a favor and have a look at our tenacity in war.
  • .

    They may have a plan, but so do we.

    Israel cannot win a war conventionally with the US. But we don't need to, because we can destroy your civilization.

    Do yourself a favor and have a look at our tenacity in war.

    The were accusations regarding dual loyalties a while back. Accusations made. Accusations denied.

    I'll leave it to the blog to view the previous post and judge for themselves.


  • Tuesday, November 26, 2013

    The NSA is not a force for protection, it is a governmental agency out of control and a menace to freedom


    End the N.S.A. Dragnet, Now
    Published: November 25, 2013 NY TIMES

    WASHINGTON — THE framers of the Constitution declared that government officials had no power to seize the records of individual Americans without evidence of wrongdoing, and they embedded this principle in the Fourth Amendment. The bulk collection of Americans’ telephone records — so-called metadata — by the National Security Agency is, in our view, a clear case of a general warrant that violates the spirit of the framers’ intentions. This intrusive program was authorized under a secret legal process by the Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Court, so for years American citizens did not have the knowledge needed to challenge the infringement of their privacy rights.

    Our first priority is to keep Americans safe from the threat of terrorism. If government agencies identify a suspected terrorist, they should absolutely go to the relevant phone companies to get that person’s phone records. But this can be done without collecting the records of millions of law-abiding Americans. We recall Benjamin Franklin’s famous admonition that those who would give up essential liberty in the pursuit of temporary safety will lose both and deserve neither.
    The usefulness of the bulk collection program has been greatly exaggerated. We have yet to see any proof that it provides real, unique value in protecting national security. In spite of our repeated requests, the N.S.A. has not provided evidence of any instance when the agency used this program to review phone records that could not have been obtained using a regular court order or emergency authorization.
    Despite this, the surveillance reform bill recently ratified by the Senate Intelligence Committee would explicitly permit the government to engage in dragnet collection as long as there were rules about when officials could look at these phone records. It would also give intelligence agencies wide latitude to conduct warrantless searches for Americans’ phone calls and emails.
    This is not the true reform that poll after poll has shown the American people want. It is preserving business as usual. When the Bill of Rights was adopted, it established that Americans’ papers and effects should be seized only when there was specific evidence of suspicious activity. It did not permit government agencies to issue general warrants as long as records seized were reviewed with the permission of senior officials.
    Congress has a crucial opportunity to reassert constitutionally guaranteed liberties by reforming the N.S.A.’s overbroad collection of Americans’ personal data. But the Intelligence Committee bill squanders this chance. It would enable some of the most constitutionally questionable surveillance activities now exposed to the public eye. The Senate should be reining in these programs, not giving them a stamp of approval.
    As members of the Intelligence Committee, we strongly disagree with this approach. We had already proposed our own, bipartisan surveillance reform legislation, the Intelligence Oversight and Surveillance Reform Act, which we have sponsored with a number of other senators. Our bill would prohibit the government from conducting warrantless “backdoor searches” of Americans’ communications — including emails, text messages and Internet use — under Section 702 of the Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Act. It would also create a “constitutional advocate” to present an opposing view when the F.I.S.C. is considering major questions of law or constitutional interpretation.
    Rather than adopt our legislation, the Intelligence Committee chose to codify excessively broad domestic surveillance authorities. So we offered amendments: One would end the bulk collection of Americans’ records, but still allow intelligence agencies to obtain information they legitimately needed for national security purposes by getting the approval of a judge, which could even be done after the fact in emergency situations. Another of our amendments sought to prevent the N.S.A. from collecting Americans’ cellphone location information in bulk — a capability that potentially turns the cellphone of every man, woman and child in America into a tracking device.
    Each of these proposals represents real and meaningful reform, which we believe would have fulfilled the purpose of protecting our security and liberty. Each was rejected by the committee, in some cases by a single vote.
    But we will continue to engage with our colleagues and seek to advance the reforms that the American people want and deserve. As part of this effort, we will push to hold a comprehensive reform debate on the Senate floor.
    There is no question that our nation’s intelligence professionals are dedicated, patriotic men and women who make real sacrifices to help keep our country safe and free. We believe that they should be able to do their jobs secure in the knowledge that their agencies have the confidence of the American people.
    But this trust has been undermined by the N.S.A.’s domestic surveillance programs, as well as by senior officials’ misleading statements about surveillance. Only by ending the dragnet collection of ordinary Americans’ private information can this trust be rebuilt.
    Congress needs to preserve the agencies’ ability to collect information that is actually necessary to guard against threats to our security. But it also needs to preserve the right of citizens to be free from unwarranted interference in their lives, which the framers understood was vital to American liberties.

    Ron Wyden of Oregon, Mark Udall of Colorado and Martin Heinrich of New Mexico, all Democrats, are United States senators.

    Monday, November 25, 2013

    President Obama does not need any advice from the Israeli Prime Minister

    ...Echoed by his crazy extremist Foreign Minister, Avigdor Lieberman – "All the options are on the table!" – the Israeli Prime Minister is clearly threatening to attack Iran. Too bad we can’t count on President Obama to take Zbigniew Brzezinski’s advice and shoot down the Israeli planes as they wing their way through Iraqi airspace toward Tehran.”...

    A Moment of Great Danger
    ... and great promise
    by Justin Raimondo, November 25, 2013

    The news that the P5 + 1 and the Iranians have reached an interim agreement limiting Tehran’s nuclear program sent a chill down my spine.
    That may seem like a counterintuitive reaction: after all, wouldn’t a shout of joy be more appropriate? Finally, after decades of a very tense adversarial relationship – which more than once threatened to escalate into open conflict – Washington and Tehran have managed to bridge an enormous gap, and war has been averted in the Middle East, albeit temporarily.
    What’s not to like?
    Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu has found plenty he doesn’t like, and the signals he and his government are sending must be taken seriously. For just one example, here’s what Naftali Bennett, the economics minister and member of the extremist "Homeland" party, had to say about the agreement:
    "If five years from now a nuclear suitcase explodes in New York or Madrid, it will be because of the deal that was signed this morning."
    What’s interesting about this prepared statement – it wasn’t just an off the cuff remark – is that Bennett doesn’t say who would be responsible for that nuclear suitcase. I mean, can we assume he means the Iranians will do it – or is he threatening the US with the specter of Israeli retaliation? Given the anger level in Tel Aviv right now, I think that’s a fair question.
    Everything about the Israeli response to the agreement implies a threat of some kind. Says Bibi:
    "Israel is not bound by this agreement. As prime minister of Israel, I would like to make it clear: Israel will not allow Iran to develop a military nuclear capability."
    Echoed by his crazy extremist Foreign Minister, Avigdor Lieberman – "All the options are on the table!" – the Israeli Prime Minister is clearly threatening to attack Iran. Too bad we can’t count on President Obama to take Zbigniew Brzezinski’s advice and shoot down the Israeli planes as they wing their way through Iraqi airspace toward Tehran.
    An Israeli attack on Iran, however, would be Bibi’s last resort: the Israelis are good at agitating for other nations to go to war on their behalf, but when it comes to actually doing the fighting themselves – and losing some of their own people – their enthusiasm tends to cool down a bit. Before they attack Iran, the Israelis will do everything in their power to derail the agreement – and no one should underestimate what they’re capable of.
    Their first line of attack is through Congress, where the Israel lobby holds a dominant position. Even before the agreement was signed, the lobby’s congressional contingent was already being lined up to introduce new sanctions on Iran. Prominent Democrats, including Majority leader Harry Reid, New York’s Chuck Schumer, and Bob Menendez of New Jersey have already endorsed the new sanctions bill, and the usual Republican suspects are already denouncing the agreement as "another Munich."
    The second line of attack is a possible provocation engineered by the Israelis: this could involve an incident between the US and Iran in international waters in the Gulf, as has happened before, or it could be a simple exposure of an alleged Iranian violation of the terms of the interim agreement. This latter course could be carried out by Israel’s regional allies, including the Mujahideen-e-Khalq (MEK), a neo-Marxist cult that has long been an instrument in Israeli hands and has a history of pushing disinformation about Iran’s alleged nuclear activities. Nor should we rule out Israeli collaboration with hardliner elements within Iran: although they are ostensibly in irreconcilable opposition, both Israeli and Iranian hardliners are united in their opposition to a nuclear deal.
    The third line of attack would be direct Israeli action against the US – no, not military action (don’t be silly), but some kind of covert action that would inflict enough damage to impact our ability to make the interim agreement permanent.
    This isn’t pure speculation: in 1954, the Israelis recruited a group of Egyptians to plant bombs in Western targets, including the American information center, in major Egyptian cities. The idea was to blame the attacks on Islamists and Nasserites, and cause the British government to keep its troops in the Suez Canal zone. The plan failed, but only because the Israeli scheme was exposed: after years of denying the affair, the Israeli government finally owned up to it by awarding their agents medals of appreciation, bestowed on the surviving spies by President Moshe Katzav in 2005.
    For years the Israelis have been saying their country faces an "existential" crisis on account of Iran’s nuclear program: another Holocaust, they have said, is imminent unless the Iranians are stopped. And Tehran, they aver, is intent on breaking any agreement they make with the West: the Iranians are determined to acquire nuclear weapons, and will stop at nothing in their drive to destroy Israel.
    It doesn’t matter what the Israelis really believe: that they are saying this means we should take them at their word – and not underestimate their capabilities. Do I really have to remind my readers of this Carl Cameron story, run in four parts on Fox News in December of 2001, in which Cameron declared:
    "Since September 11, more than 60 Israelis have been arrested or detained, either under the new patriot anti-terrorism law, or for immigration violations. A handful of active Israeli military were among those detained, according to investigators, who say some of the detainees also failed polygraph questions when asked about alleged surveillance activities against and in the United States. 
    "There is no indication that the Israelis were involved in the 9-11 attacks, but investigators suspect that they Israelis may have gathered intelligence about the attacks in advance, and not shared it. A highly placed investigator said there are ‘tie-ins.’ But when asked for details, he flatly refused to describe them, saying, ‘evidence linking these Israelis to 9-11 is classified. I cannot tell you about evidence that has been gathered. It’s classified information.’” 
    America has never been in greater danger than it is now. The battle between the US and Israel has always been fought on a covert level, but recently this hidden conflict has been coming closer to the surface – and is now about ready to erupt aboveground. If the President hasn’t put America’s defenses on a state of high alert, then he isn’t doing his duty to defend the country.
    We have reached a moment of great promise – the promise of peace in the Middle East – and of great danger. Let us pray that the latter is bypassed and the former is fulfilled.
    We are entering a very difficult and potentially perilous period: the President is trying to take US foreign policy in a different direction, but he’s running into huge obstacles not the least of which is Israel’s powerful lobby in the US. I’m not exaggerating, not even a little bit, when I say that anything could happen in the next few months – yes, anything – and warning my readers to prepare themselves for the worst and the best.
    The worst – the collapse of the peace negotiations with Tehran and the prospect of war with Iran. The best – the President manages to get over the obstacles put in his path by the Israel lobby and get a finalized agreement.
    You can bet the Israel lobby will be working overtime to derail the peace process, with a propaganda campaign unsurpassed by any we’ve seen before. That’s why is more necessary than ever – and that’s why it’s vitally important that you give our fundraising campaign a boost. Because it sure as heck needs it.
    Yes, our fundraising campaign is still ongoing – and, at this rate, it looks like it’ll be ongoing through the entire next month. That is, unless my readers step up to the plate and start to donate.
    Since 1995, we’ve been bringing you the real story about US foreign policy and how it gets made – a truly ugly story that the "mainstream" media doesn’t dare reveal for fear of infuriating their government minders. But we can’t continue to tell that very important story without your financial support. Because we aren’t answerable to any corporate entity, or eccentric billionaire with an agenda, we are free to speak truth to power – and we’ve never hesitated to do just that. Please help us maintain our independence and keep the best foreign policy news site going: make your tax-deductible contribution today.
    You can check out my Twitter feed by going here. But please note that my tweets are sometimes deliberately provocative, often made in jest, and largely consist of me thinking out loud.
    I’ve written a couple of books, which you might want to peruse. Here is the link for buying the second edition of my 1993 book, Reclaiming the American Right: The Lost Legacy of the Conservative Movement, with an Introduction by Prof. George W. Carey, a Foreword by Patrick J. Buchanan, and critical essays by Scott Richert and David Gordon (ISI Books, 2008).

    You can buy An Enemy of the State: The Life of Murray N. Rothbard (Prometheus Books, 2000), my biography of the great libertarian thinker, here.

    Sunday, November 24, 2013

    ...”an awful lot of other people in the world, including the West – will have wondered whether Israel, which long ago obtained the world’s most dangerous weapon, is now – in rejecting the Geneva deal - the world’s most dangerous government.”

    Robert Fisk: He may huff and puff but Benjamin Netanyahu is on his own now as nuclear agreement isolates Israel

    Sudden offer by Tehran to negotiate a high-speed end to this cancerous threat of further war was thus greeted with almost manic excitement

    Sunday 24 November 2013

    It marks a victory for the Shia in their growing conflict with the Sunni Muslim Middle East. It gives substantial hope to Bashar al-Assad that he will be left in power in Syria. It isolates Israel. And it infuriates Saudi Arabia and Qatar and Kuwait and other Sunni Gulf States which secretly hoped that a breakdown of the Geneva nuclear talks would humiliate Shia Iran and support their efforts to depose Assad, Iran’s only ally in the Arab world.
    In the cruel politics of the Middle East, the partial nuclear agreement between Iran and the world’s six most important powers proves that the West will not go to war with Iran and has no intention - far into the future - of undertaking military action in the region. We already guessed that when – after branding Assad as yet another Middle Eastern Hitler - the US, Britain and France declined to assault Syria and bring down the regime. American and British people – those who had to pay the price for these monumental adventures, because political leaders no longer lead their men into battle - had no stomach for another Iraq or another Afghanistan.
    Iran’s sudden offer to negotiate a high-speed end to this cancerous threat of further war was thus greeted with almost manic excitement by the US and the EU, along with theatrical enthusiasm by the man who realises that his own country has been further empowered in the Middle East: Russian foreign minister Sergei Lavrov. Assad’s continued tenure in Damascus is assured. Peace in our time. Be sure we’ll be hearing that Chamberlonian boast uttered in irony by the Israelis in the weeks to come.
    But there’s no doubt that Geneva has called Israeli Prime Minister Netanyahu’s bluff. He may huff and puff, but if he wants to bash Iran now – on the basis that Israel must remain the only nuclear nation in the Middle East – he’s going to be on his own when his planes take off to bomb Iran’s nuclear plants. The Aipac attack dogs can be sent up to Congress again by that most infamous of Israeli-American lobby groups to harry Republicans in support of the Likudist cause, but to what purpose? Did Mr Netanyahu really think the Iranians were going to dismantle their whole nuclear boondoggle?
    When he said yesterday that “the most dangerous regime in the world took a significant step towards obtaining the world’s most dangerous weapon”, many Arabs – and an awful lot of other people in the world, including the West – will have wondered whether Israel, which long ago obtained the world’s most dangerous weapon, is now – in rejecting the Geneva deal - the world’s most dangerous government. If Mr Netanyahu and his clique in the government decide to twit the world’s major powers amid their euphoria, he may bring about – as several Israeli writers have warned – the most profound change in Israel’s relations with the US since the foundation of the Israeli state. It would not be a change for Israel’s benefit.
    But six months – the time it takes to solidify this most tangential of nuclear agreements – is a long time. In the coming days, Republicans in Washington and the right-wing enemies of President Rouhani will demand to know the real details of this febrile game at Geneva. The Americans insist that Iran does not have the “right to enrichment”. Iran insists that it does. The percentages of enrichment will have to be examined far more carefully than they were yesterday.

    Mr Rouhani – or Ayatollah Khamenei, the Supreme Leader whose dark wings hover over every elected Iranian leader – says that the fear of an Iranian nuclear weapon will be seen by future generations as a “historical joke”. Netanyahu says the whole shenanigans in Geneva will prove to be a “historic mistake”. The Sunni Saudis, always waiting to spot the winner before opening their mouths, have already sat down with their Sunni Qatari and Kuwaiti allies to commiserate with each other over Shia Iran’s new victory. In Damascus, I suspect, Bashar, himself an Alawite-Shia, will tuck the kids into bed and share a glass with wife Asma and sleep well in his bed tonight.

    Saturday, November 23, 2013

    “This deal means that we agree with the need to recognize Iran’s right for peaceful nuclear energy, including the right for enrichment, with an understanding that those questions about the [Iranian nuclear program] that still remain, and the program itself, will be placed under a strictest IAEA control,” Russian Foreign Minister Sergey Lavrov told journalists.

    P5+1 and Iran agree landmark nuclear deal at Geneva talks
    Published time: November 24, 2013 02:00 
    Edited time: November 24, 2013 03:58

    The P5+1 world powers and Iran have struck a historic deal on Tehran’s nuclear program at talks in Geneva on Sunday. Ministers overcame the last remaining hurdles to reach agreement, despite strong pressure from Israel and lobby groups.
    “This deal means that we agree with the need to recognize Irans right for peaceful nuclear energy, including the right for enrichment, with an understanding that those questions about the [Iranian nuclear program] that still remain, and the program itself, will be placed under a strictest IAEA control,” Russian Foreign Minister Sergey Lavrov told journalists.
    Under the agreement, Iran will freeze its nuclear program for six months. It will not build new centrifuges or in some other way expand its nuclear facilities. The nation has also agreed to halt construction of a reactor in Arak for the next 6 months.

    Moscow is convinced that the international community and Iran will benefit from the agreement reached in Geneva.

    “The totality of factors in general is a plus. Nobody lost. All turned out to be winners. Hopefully, this agreement will be beneficial for the efforts to resolve the Syrian problem in engaging Iran in constructive work to hold the Geneva 2 conference,” Lavrov said.

    Lavrov also expressed hope that the step taken by the P5+1 group and Iran to create the prerequisites for the convening a Middle East free of weapons of mass destruction conference.

    The interim deal will provide the time and space to try to reach a “comprehensive solution” to the nuclear standoff between Tehran and the West, EU foreign policy chief Catherine Ashton said.
    US President Barack Obama said that temporary nuclear deal is an important first step toward a comprehensive solution to Iran’s nuclear program. 
    According to reports by Fars news agency, under the deal Iran has agreed to halt enriching uranium up to 20 percent for 6 months, while enrichment under 5 percent will be continued. 
    Under the agreement Iran will get access to $4.2 billion in exchange for halting its nuclear program, a Western diplomat told Reuters.
    US President Obama is expected to deliver a speech on the historic resolution within the next hour.

    The P5+1 and Iran arrived at the historic deal over Iran’s nuclear program at approximately 3:00 AM local time in Geneva. 

    The brutal truth: Our president got his legacy program passed by deceiving the American people in a giant swindle.


    By: Patrick J. Buchanan
    11/22/2013 06:00 AM

    Human Events

    By 1968, Walter Lippmann, the dean of liberal columnists, had concluded that liberalism had reached the end of its tether.

    In that liberal epoch, the 1960s, the Democratic Party had marched us into an endless war that was tearing America apart.

    Lyndon Johnson’s Great Society had produced four “long, hot summers” of racial riots and a national crime rate that had doubled in a decade. The young were alienated, the campuses aflame.

    Lippmann endorsed Richard Nixon.

    For forty years, no unabashed liberal would be elected president.

    Jimmy Carter won one term by presenting himself as a born-again Christian from Georgia, a peanut farmer, Naval Academy graduate and nuclear engineer. Bill Clinton ran as a centrist.

    So toxic had the term “liberal” become that liberals dropped it and had themselves rebaptized as “progressives.”

    Barack Obama, however, ran unapologetically as a man of the left. An opponent of the Iraq war, he had compiled a voting record to the left of Bernie Sanders, the socialist senator from Vermont.

    And Obama proudly placed his signature achievement, Obamacare, right alongside, and in the tradition of, liberal giants FDR and LBJ.

    This is the new progressivism of the 21st century, Obama was saying, and I the transformational figure who will usher in the post-Reagan era. Where Clinton failed, I will succeed.

    But now that Obamacare is coming to be perceived as a political catastrophe, not only does it threaten Obama’s place in history, it could invalidate, indeed, eviscerate the defining idea of the Democratic Party itself.

    For Democrats are the Party of Government. They believe that government is more nobly motivated than a private sector that runs on self-interest and the profit motive, and that government can achieve goals private enterprise could never accomplish.

    To liberals, government is us, the personification of the nation.
    Social Security, Medicare, Medicare and the Civil Rights Act of 1964 are monuments to this belief. So, too, are the world wars fought and won under liberal presidents Woodrow Wilson and FDR.

    It was 1968, the Tet Offensive, the assassinations, the urban riots, the campus anarchy, the smash-up of the Democratic Party in the streets of Chicago that caused the national recoil from liberalism that lasted for forty years.

    Now consider what the rollout of Obamacare is doing, not only to this president and his administration, but also to the idea that government has the solution to America’s problems.

    Though they had as long as World War II to get it done, Obama’s crowd could not even produce a working website. Now we learn the White House was alerted to the website problems in March but plunged ahead.

    Obama’s reputation for competence has been shredded, and, so, too, has his reputation for truthfulness.

    With millions losing their health insurance because of Obamacare mandates, we learn that Obama and his team knew this was inevitable, even as they reassured us, “If you like your health care plan, you can keep your health care plan. Period.”

    The brutal truth: Our president got his legacy program passed by deceiving the American people in a giant swindle.

    Not only have millions lost their health care plans, tens of millions more may lose theirs at year’s end when they learn that their employer’s health care plans also do not meet Obamacare mandates.

    Hillarycare cost the Democrats the House in 1994. Obamacare, the love child of Hillarycare, could cost Democrats the Senate in 2014.

    But what makes this a disaster not just for a party but a philosophy is that Obamacare is liberalism incarnate. It is premised on the idea that progressives, starting from scratch, can redesign a health care system, 16 percent of the economy, and make it more fair, more just and more efficient for us all.

    Obamacare was an act of hubris by an administration of talking heads most of whom never ran anything in their lives. And what we are witnessing is the antithesis of what we were promised.

    So confident were they in the wonks that wrote the bill that Nancy Pelosi could say, “We have to pass the bill so you can find out what is in it.”

    Seven weeks in, the website is not fixed. Millions have lost their health care plans. Quality hospitals are being cut out of the program as too costly. 

    Individuals are being offered plans inferior to what they had in terms of benefits, but with far more costly premiums.

    The crisis for Obama, his party, and his philosophy is that this is not only a nightly national story; it is a daily story in every state. And the anecdotes of debacles have been piling up, one upon another, for seven weeks. They do not cease, and there is no end in sight.

    Nothing, it appears, will interrupt the litany of personal woes before Democrats, in panic, cut themselves loose of Obamacare and try to swim away from the Lusitania.

    It will likely be a long time before another Democratic president dares again another such Great Leap Forward.

    Patrick J. Buchanan is the author of “Suicide of a Superpower: Will America Survive to 2025?” 

    Thursday, November 21, 2013

    Reflections on the Loss of Freedom - A report by the Information Technology and Innovation Foundation suggested that the surveillance revelations could cost the U.S. cloud-computing industry $22 to $35 billion in lost revenues over the next three years.

    Tell me you did not enjoy this:

    The Quest to Build an NSA-Proof Cloud
    European leaders want to go head to head with Amazon and Google. But some tech executives are pushing back against the plan.

    NOV 21 2013, 7:00 AM ET

    BERLIN – If Germany’s special parliamentary session on U.S. surveillance this week was any indication, European politicians are still worked up about former NSA contractor Edward Snowden’s leaks. Chancellor Angela Merkel declared that the revelations had “tested” U.S.-German relations. Green Party politician Hans-Christian Strobele urged the German leader to thank Snowden and offer him asylum for discovering that her cell phone “was probably bugged.” Merkel even got called a “scaredy-cat” for not standing up to Washington.   
    The criticism comes as politicians in the region—from Estonia to Germany—are calling for the European Union to create a cloud-computing infrastructure of its own to compete with American providers like Amazon, Google, and Verizon.
    The idea is that if the EU has its own cloud—and what form it would take, who would build it, and where it would be based remain unclear—then member states could compel providers to abide by the EU’s (comparatively) stricter data-protection rules. It's part of a backlash against the long arm of the U.S. intelligence community that has echoes everywhere from Brazil to the United Nations.
    One of the main proponents of a European cloud is EU Commission Vice President Viviane Reding, who was in Washington earlier this week to hammer out a treaty that would, if signed, assure that any EU citizens’ data stored in the United States be given the same privacy protections as U.S. citizens’ data (in the aftermath of the Snowden leaks, however, policymakers and privacy advocates in the U.S. are questioning the effectiveness of those protections).
    Reding’s cloud formation plan essentially calls for EU nations to band together and create a European champion in cloud systems just as France, Germany, and Britain did in the 1960s, when they created aircraft manufacturer Airbus to compete with Boeing.
    “For awhile now, I have been saying it’s time for the Europeans to build their own cloud,” Reding told a German radio station last week. “I think data protection needs to be thought of not as some extra cost, but something that makes us more competitive. When a company can guarantee that its customers’ data will remain secure, they will flock to you—it’s a golden business opportunity for European tech companies. It can become a sales argument.”
    Indeed, part of the motivation here is a business one. European politicians want to see their companies exploit a gap in trust in U.S. companies as a result of the Snowden leaks. And two recent studies suggest that this is a sensible idea.
    In one study of “industry practitioners and cloud-computing stakeholders” based outside the United States, the Cloud Security Alliance found that 56 percent of those polled would be less likely to work with U.S.-based cloud service providers due to data-protection fears. Another report by the Information Technology and Innovation Foundation suggested that the surveillance revelations could cost the U.S. cloud-computing industry $22 to $35 billion in lost revenues over the next three years.
    European politicians want their companies to exploit a gap in trust in U.S. companies as a result of the Snowden leaks. And two studies suggest this is a sensible idea.
    European providers have already been positioning themselves to become the router and storage solution of choice for companies in Africa, which has seen its share of traffic passing through the U.S. drop dramatically over the last 10 years. In 1999, some 70 percent of African Internet traffic went to the United States, according to a 2012 report by Analysis Mason. By 2011, the study noted, less than 5 percent of that traffic went to the U.S., “having been replaced by bandwidth to Europe.” It is unclear, however, what percentage of this data actually migrated away from American companies, many of which have built data centers in Europe to be closer to customers in the EU and Africa.
    Not all Europeans share the outrage voiced by their political leaders over U.S. surveillance. A survey commissioned earlier this month by the magazine Wirtschaftswoche, for instance, found that 76 percent of Germans were not bothered by Snowden’s leaks. “Most people didn’t think that anything in their lives would be of interest to the American intelligence service,” the survey’s authors wrote. While the study didn’t ask whether Germans were concerned about charges that U.S. intelligence tapped into their chancellor’s phone, it did reveal that Germans are uneasy about their own officials: only 17 percent of those polled trusted the German government’s handling of their personal data. 
    Caught between public apathy and politicians’ anger, some German tech industry figures are calling for a middle path (others, like Deutsche Telekom’s CEO, have eagerly backed Reding’s cloud proposal). They like the data-protection treaty that Reding wants to sign with the U.S., but favor more stringent use of data encryption over rash plans to build EU clouds. The thinking is that stronger and more regular use of encryption could slow, to a degree, apparent U.S. attempts to comb through the world’s Internet traffic.
    One German tech industry figure I spoke with felt it would be difficult, if not impossible, for Europeans to migrate completely away from U.S. services. He likened America’s hegemony on the Internet to the control Gulf States wield over oil resources. 
    “What you have with oil in the Middle East, you have in the U.S. with information,” said Malte Pollmann of Utimaco Safeware AG. “The U.S. is in a unique position of geopolitical strength in the information age—and there’s no other country like this.”
    Pollmann suggested that U.S. and British intelligence services are exploiting gray zones in treaties between nations—and that European diplomats should, first and foremost, push for clarity on this issue.
    “What we need right now is a debate,” Pollmann told me. “Two years from now, we will have a better idea of which tactics are clearly illegal, and which are legal, but not what we wanted. There will have to be a rebalance in terms of legal oversight. That’s why you have people like [Google's] Eric Schmidt saying ‘I don’t know’ if it is legal for the U.S. and British intelligence agencies to tap into Google’s cables.”
    “What you have with oil in the Middle East, you have in the U.S. with information.”
    The CEO of a leading German marketing consultancy described the mood among German executives like this: They’re bothered by the U.S. government’s intelligence-gathering overreach, but they don’t see the U.S. as Europe’s main threat the way some politicians might.
    “It’s sad and stupid that Merkel’s phone was listened to,” said this CEO, who asked not to be named because he was critical of some of the countries in which he consults. “But I think most of the economic elites in Germany still see the U.S. as a strong ally. They don’t see economic espionage as the motive. Most economic elites here agree that the real danger and threat is in the emerging powers, like China.”
    This CEO said his business stores most of its data on clouds in the United States, and that he wasn’t concerned about the situation because everything the company does is encrypted. 
    “We are using fully encrypted hard disks,” he noted. “As for phone communication—it just hasn’t been a topic for us. Many times what we are saying on the phone really isn’t too sensitive. And, if it is sensitive—construction plans or stock market-related transactions—we just don’t talk about it on the phone.”
    Pollmann also echoed this sentiment.

    “In the end,” he noted, “It’s cheaper to fly someplace and have a conversation in a room than to build elaborate systems for super-secret conversations.”