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CounterPoop edited by alexander cockup and jeffrey st. obscure
example: 'Israel has turned into a "pariah
state" under prime minister Ariel Sharon and
his ways of dealing with terrorism are
"unacceptable", Jewish senior Labour
MP Gerald Kaufman has
"What could Israel do to cease being a pariah state, if its Washington masters permitted it?" (C.G. Estabrook, CounterPunch, December 5, 2001).
Jewish activists know [...] what is normally done to contain a pariah state.And the Punch (or CounterPunch) line? Here it comes:
Normally, all aid is cut off. There is an arms and trade embargo. All transfers of funds are frozen. Foreign bank accounts are seized. Air links and most diplomatic ties are cut. Cultural and scientific exchanges are terminated. To make all this stick, the pariah state must be surrounded by obviously superior military forces. There is a crash program to bolster its neighbors' defense capabilities; a US-led coalition sends many thousands of troops; naval forces are deployed; intelligence and counterintelligence efforts accelerated. Such a state is quietly given to understand that, should it ever use nuclear weapons, it can expect retaliation in kind. This of course would be a very moderate response, nothing like what happened to Serbia or Iraq. But simply to contain Israel--not to attack it--would require an initiative orders of magnitude greater than the buildup to the Gulf War.
One thing is clear: when crimes of this magnitude are committed by your people, in your name, bleating does not absolve you of responsibility. You must at the very, very least--even if you "do" nothing--advocate something that will stop the crimes. By that standard, as far as I know, not even Chomsky's hands are clean.Oh stout fellow! I said to myself when reading these lines. FINALLY someone who is willing to DO something about the situation, not just bleat. I wrote to Prof. Neumann saying how much I admired the tone and words of his article. He wrote back saying that he doubted than even a single Jew of note would support such action. Still, he seems to have been inspired to write a more recent one, on January 7, 2002 entitled Blame yourself - American Power and Jewish Power in which he said, essentially, "It's the Americans, stupid, not the Jews" (i.e., it's the Americans whose apathy perpetuates the evils we see everywhere.) Read both his articles: they make excellent reading. I've given you the links.
These final words of Neumann's say it all:
Jewish tribalism is real and strong, but it does not enslave Americans. For all its prestige, it is not something 'special' or specially powerful. It is just another instance of the ordinary, vulgar racism and nationalism found all over the world. It is immoral, but not as contemptible as the whining of those who supposedly want to do something about Israel, yet are astounded to encounter Jewish opposition and slink off, muttering about 'being in the grip of Jewish power'. These people should themselves get a grip, and do something about it.Michael Neumann, said CounterPunch, is a professor [of ethics, logic and philosophy, I found out] at Trent University in Ontario, Canada. He can be reached, said CounterPunch, at email@example.com.
Do what? How about an experiment? It involves an unprecedented and essential first step towards real change in America's Middle East policies--actually asking for measures that would hurt Israel.
Right now, what passes for radicalism is a call to stop military aid to Israel, despite the fact that hardly any country in the world is more capable of doing its killing unaided. That this represents the most daring opposition to the American-Israeli alliance is both shameful and absurd. It all but proclaims to the whole world that even the American left would rather moan about the agony of the Palestinians than try to stop it. Publishing something like the following statement would test for the presence of a backbone among American radicals:Israel has, on many well-documented occasions, committed war crimes and crimes against humanity. It has violated international law and defied numerous UN resolutions. It manufactures chemical, biological and nuclear weapons, as well as a sophisticated technology for delivering them anywhere in the world. Its settlement policies in the illegally occupied territories endanger the continued existence of the Palestinian people. For all these reasons, Israel is a rogue state and should be treated accordingly. We therefore demand that all nations should:Notice how moderate this is: nothing questioning Israel's right to exist, nothing about the Palestinians' right of return, nothing about prosecutions for war crimes, no endorsement of Palestinian violence. How many leftish Jewish notables would sign such a statement? My guess is two, at most. But how many non-Jewish notables would do so? My guess is ten, proportionately fewer than among the Jews. If so, it is a testimony, not to Jewish power, but to American insularity, laziness and cowardice.
-- immediately cease all assistance to Israel, military, economic, and 'humanitarian';
-- impose a total trade embargo, including a ban on all transfer of funds to Israel;
-- freeze all Israeli accounts abroad;
-- sever diplomatic relations;
-- cut air links;
-- and cut all cultural, academic, and scientific exchanges.
The United States should inform the Israeli government that any use of nuclear weapons, strategic or tactical, will be met by an overwhelming response in kind.
The United States should form a coalition including Arab and Muslim states to contain Israel along the lines of the coalition to contain Iraq during the Gulf War.
Again, I said to myself, oh, bravo! Here's someone who really thinks about doing something about the horrible situation in the world, not just bleating about the Bush.
But then a funny thing happened at this point. I happen not to be Jewish, and so I happen not to think of Jewish sins as the only - or even the worst - sins in the world. And I also happen not to be Palestinian, and so I happen not to think of Palestinian suffering as being the only - or even worst - suffering in the world. Are the East Timorese not suffering? I asked myself. Are the Colombians not suffering? Are the Kurds not suffering? Did not Nicaragua, Honduras, Haiti suffer, and continue to do so? Did not hundreds of thousands of Iraqis perish in the ten years following Bush War I? How many Afghans died in the year 2002 alone - of not only bombs but starvation? (See side bar for links documenting these atrocities, all either directly committed, or aided and abetted, by the good ol' US of A.) Why, I figured, should we take on a prick like Israel, while letting the biggest bully in the entire world go scot free? Even if Israel were to disappear today, and all the American Jews to emigrate to Paflagonia - wherever that may be - by how much would the sufferings of the world diminish? I figured, not much more than 5 per cent. Do the math yourself.
So I modified Prof. Neumann's statement some, and came up with this:
The United States of America (hereinafter called America, the US or the USA) has, on many well-documented occasions, committed large numbers of war crimes and crimes against humanity. It has violated international law many times and defied numerous UN resolutions. It manufactures unprecedented quantities of chemical, biological and nuclear weapons, as well as sophisticated technology for delivering them anywhere in the world. Its policies endanger the continued peace, well being and indeed the very lives of millions of people all over the world, including many living - or trying to live - within its own borders.I added:
For all these reasons, The USA has become by every reasonable definition of the term a rogue state, and should be treated accordingly by the world community.
We therefore demand, in the interests of world peace, that all the nations of the world should:
-- immediately cut off all contacts with the USA, whether in the military, economic, and/or so-called 'humanitarian' spheres;
-- impose a total trade embargo on the US, including a ban on all transfers of funds to and from the USA;
-- freeze all American accounts abroad;
-- sever all diplomatic relations;
-- cut off all air and sea links;
-- cut off all cultural, academic, and scientific exchanges;
-- and immediately arrest and bring to trial any US citizens travelling abroad who have a record of, or against whom there is "probable cause" to suspect, these US citizens having committed war crimes or crimes against humanity.
We call upon the United Nations General Assembly to inform the US government that any use of nuclear, chemical or biological weapons, whether strategic or tactical, will be met by an overwhelming response in kind: coming at least but by no means exclusively from the following states: Russia, the Ukraine, China, the UK, France, India, and Pakistan.
We also call upon the United Nations to form a coalition including European, South American, East and South Asian, and Muslim states, to contain the USA along the lines of the coalition formed during the 1991 Gulf War to contain Iraq.
And lastly, we call upon all decent and moral American citizens to do everything in their power to overthrow their criminal, tyrannical and mendacious government, and thereby to bring about a "regime change" in their country so as to allow the USA to take its place as a legitimate and peace-loving member of the community of nations.
Can the long-suffering people of the world count on your signature? Please take this very, VERY seriously. Millions of lives are at stake - perhaps more than at any other time in the entire history of our planet.Notice how exceedingly legal all this is: no endorsement of violence, except in retaliation for the USA first using weapons of mass destruction; everything kosher under international law, and nothing treyf, like flying a couple of fully loaded airliners into the Twin Towers - or even hacking into the Pentagon's mainframe and transferring its entire budget to Human Rights Watch. How many leftish Jewish notables would sign such a statement? My guess was, nearly all of them. Hey, why not? There's not a word of anti-Semitism in it. How many Christian, Buddhist, Hindu, Sikh, Muslim or atheist notables would do so? My guess was, again, nearly all of them. Hey, why not? There's not a word of anti-Semitism in it. (Do I have to repeat myself?)
If they didn't sign, I figured, it would be, in Neumann's words, "a testimony, not to Jewish power, but to American [and Canadian, and German, and Swiss, and Indian, and Indonesian ...] insularity, laziness and cowardice". And how many leftish notables - virtually all of whom are atheists, and thus morally superior even to Christians, let alone Jews - would be caught with their pants down as purveyors of "insularity, laziness and cowardice"? Especially since they all, without exception, are well versed in history, and as a result know very well that for four centuries after Christ virtually all the early Christians defied the mightiest Empire of their time (misguidedly perhaps, but still they defied it) with nothing more than words and convictions, and many of them paid for their defiance with their lives. How could a morally superior atheist let himself be upstaged by the very scum of the earth - Christians and (gasp) even Jews???
So with the subject line "Call for sanctions against the USA (please, please take this seriously!)", I sent this out to, oh, say 50-odd people, including of course Prof. Neumann; to all my friends - Jewish or otherwise; and a whole bunch of excellent writers who publish in CounterPunch and YellowTimes: people of such enormous left-wing stature as Alexander Cockburn and Jeffrey St. Clair, the editors of CounterPunch; Kurt Nimmo, who puts out an excellent web site Another Day in the Empire; Adam Engel, who is willing to take on the USA singlehandedly in a duel; Francis A. Boyle, who is prepared to call for genocide sanctions against Israel under international law, and even to fight using all legal means for the rights of the native Hawaiian people against the USA; and a whole bunch of others, too numerous to mention [click here to see the full list of names - but be forewarned, your name might be there too!] Some of them have even taken time off to rail vehemently against that weener of all leftish weeners, Rabbi Lerner of Tikkun magazine. Who among these brave hearts would fail to sign?
Imagine my astonishment when the only 39 signatures I got were (was?) from one single red-blooded American, Bob Betz of Tampa, Florida! Prof. Neumann was the very first to "dissent", claiming that it wouldn't be "tactically" beneficial for him to sign my statement - as if the less-than-a-dozen signatures he expected, by his OWN admission, for his original statement against Israel would be "tactically" any more beneficial! I wrote back saying, Hey, don't get me wrong, I'm willing to sign your statement: so why aren't you willing to sign mine? I even sent him cogent arguments to demonstrate that even if his petition were to succeed, it would hardly make a dent in the evil in the world; whereas if mine were to succeed, it would make a HUGE dent. No answer. This from a prof. who teaches ethics and logic!?! Does that make one wonder, or what, what he meant by writing "Publishing something like the following statement would test for the presence of a backbone among American radicals".
And Adam Engel, who is willing to take on the entire US military singlehandedly, replied, essentially, that it wouldn't do any good for him to sign my statement, indeed all it does is make the petitioner feel better. (And that's supposed to be a bad thing?) He said: "Rewriting the petition as an article urging people to action - whatever they can afford to do: shut down their office/factory, take to the streets, boycott various corporate products etc - might inspire them. Time to throw rocks. Or demonstrate without a permit. Or simply just sit down and refuse to do. Or boycott, as you suggest. Whatever, people must resist through action, from bottom to top, not calls for action by the "authorities" of other Nation States which are just as evil, more or less as the U.S. Nation state, just not yet as rich and powerful." That, in his view, is because "a petition signed by Americans such as myself, or even 5 billion people worldwide, assuming that many of the mostly impoverished people of this planet can write their own names, is guaranteed to be ignored [...] people know these things don't work, their voices are ignored, and they grow apathetic."
Now maybe it's just me, but I don't see it having done much good to the Palestinians for their kids having thrown rocks against Merkava tanks, and lots of them having got themselves shot to death for the trouble. Am I totally off the wall? Does throwing rocks against tanks, or even toppling Twin Towers, work any better? Or does it simply cause leftish writers like Lenni Brenner to say "Zionism survives in Palestine only because the Palestinians have not cleaned up their act, i.e., have not developed a movement that even looks like it has a winning strategy"? (L.B. also did not answer my call, by the way. Just what, may I ask, looks like it's a winning strategy? Uncle O-Sam-a-bin-there-done-that McLaden's?)
But maybe it's just me, but lemme tell you fair and square: I have a certain - heck, a LARGE - degree of doubt that "5 billion [...] signatures [or X's for those who can't sign their names] is guaranteed to be ignored". That's because, to paraphrase Neumann, "It involves an unprecedented and essential first step towards real change in America's policies - actually asking for measures that would hurt the US." Not a lot, to be sure, but they would hurt: otherwise why would Americans refuse to sign? Heck, one of my "friends" even broke off with me for just asking.
But hell yes, the lack of 5 billion signatures is guaranteed to be ignored, except by the Almighty: just as the lack of just five righteous men in Sodom and Gomorrah was. (That is, if you believe in the Almighty, and in fire and brimstone - but of course you don't, what am I talking about.)
"Dear member of the U.S. military: Thank you for defending our freedom," reads the message on the Department of Defense's "Defend America" website. Fill in your name and hometown, and click to join the more than 2.9 million who have sent the message. Two-point-nine MILLION! And not a SINGLE left-winger of note - or even of no particular note - will sign what I drafted.
Don't get me wrong: I admire and applaud all the work the pro-Palestinian people have done and are still doing; but even if all the Jews were to disappear from the face of the earth this very minute, by how much would the sufferings of the world diminish? As I said, I figure, not much more than 5 per cent. (Do I have to repeat myself?)
Ohk-kay, I said to myself. If these are the best bold atheists of the American left (and even non-American - I sent my petition to lots of Canadians too, and a smattering of Indians - I'm originally from India, couldn't you tell?) then they deserve every hot flame of the radioactive bonfire they are going to end up in, given the way Dubya's been relentlessly going these last two years. With "friends" like these, who needs Dubya? At least we know one hundred per cent where Dubya and his cronies stand. They want to kill us all and enslave the rest, and they make no bones about it. They are at least honest, like Jabotinsky, Mussolini and Hitler were in their time. We know what to expect of them. (Well, all except Colin Powell: we don't know what to expect of him: but then again, he's not a Chickenhawk, he's just a Hawk.) Those of us who'd rather live a few more years than die right now, can make up their minds to acquiesce to their diktats, and the rest of us can die like free and honourable men and women. Hey: none of us are immortal: we're all headed relentlessly towards death, one way or another. And the Washington crew - along with God-damn Hussein - is headed just as relentlessly for the gate above which are written, in Italian, the words "Lasciate ogni speranza voi ch'entrate".
So, as another - and much more
enlightened - Neumann said, What: me worry?
But one thing is clear: when crimes of THIS, and not just THIS, magnitude (see sidebar) are committed by - or against - your people (and, at least if you are an atheist, all people are your people), bleating does not absolve you of responsibility. You must at the very, very least - even if you "do" nothing - advocate something that will stop the crimes. By that standard, as far as I can see, not even Michael Neumann's hands are clean.
And neither, I may add, are the
hands of pretty much all of you ball-less gutless
spineless Chickendoves. Your lack of signatures to a
call for sanctions against what Pilger calls "The Leading Rogue
State" in the world is, in Neumann's
own words which I now throw back at him with the
greatest disgust, "a testimony, not to Jewish power,
but to American [and Canadian, and German, and Swiss,
and Indian, and Indonesian ...] insularity, laziness
and cowardice." If you don't "get yourselves get a
grip, and do something about it", as Neumann
adds ... well, excusez moi while I throw up.
Addendum (seriously and rationally, now.)
While the above is charged a bit - some might say very - emotionally, nevertheless there are serious rational principles behind it. (May I remind my readers that just because something is emotionally charged doesn't necessarily mean it's not also based on reason?)
The first - and I should think, the most obvious as well as the most important - principle is the one Chomsky never tires of trying to drill into our thick skulls: the elementary principle of universality in morality. Or in other words, if an action is right to take for - or against - one person (or nation) under certain circumstances, then it's right for - or against - others as well under those same, or very similar, circumstances, and vice versa.
Thus if sanctions such as the ones outlined earlier by Neumann are justified against Israel - and against South Africa during the apartheid era - (as is rather obviously the case), then they are, just as obviously, justified against the US as well, and against any other rogue state, present or future.
This is so simple a principle that I'm sure we all learned it from the time we attended Kindergarten. If my readers do not agree with this principle, well then there is nothing more to be said, at least by me: for then all of morality collapses, and we are left with the principle "might is right", justifying any and every atrocity whatsoever, including mass murder and the wiping out of entire peoples.
The second principle we must bear in mind is, that the greater the evil, the greater the efforts that should be made to counter it. It would be rather ludicrous, now wouldn't it, to catch and punish pickpockets while letting murderers and rapists go scot free? Every country's criminal justice system is based on the principle that the more heinous the crime, the greater the efforts that should be made by the police and the prosecution to punish the criminals, and to prevent such things happening again.
If so, one can't logically go and say that this principle should apply "only up to a point", now can one. If one were to do that, one would again undermine morality; and then, even though not any and every crime would be condoned, at least the greatest ones, such as the hauling off of millions of Africans in chains to the "New World", would be.
One counter-argument made in this regard is that from a tactical point of view, different kinds of efforts need to be made to catch major criminals than to catch minor ones - and I admit that this is often correct. Neumann himself makes such a counter-argument. Another friend of mine, an ex-Indian Air Force pilot, agrees with him.
This is fine, as far as it goes. But it doesn't go far enough, not by a long mile: because - and this is a BIG "because" - they don't give any alternative suggestions as to what to do against the US! To say - or imply, as they do, by not advocating any other measures that might be taken - that NO efforts should be made to catch major criminals is ludicrous. Those who do make such a counter-argument are pretty much obligated to give us an outline of just WHAT they intend to do about the BIGGEST, BADDEST bully on the block; and to explain how their tactic is more likely to succeed. If they don't, how can such a counter-argument be seriously entertained?
A third principle is that if we
are asked to do something that is right, but costs us
next to nothing in time and money, then we ought never
to refuse to do it. It would be like being asked by a
kid for help in crossing the street. Which of us, even
when pressed for time, would refuse? We can't refuse little
things, like supplying our signature to a statement,
on the excuse that we are already busy doing other
things, such as saving the Palestinians. Or, if we do
refuse, we need to give some reason for refusing, and
make sure that the reason stands up to criticism. If
it doesn't, we ought to reconsider.
Speaking of criticism brings us to the fourth crucial principle: namely, that we should welcome criticism, not shun it. We should particularly welcome it from our friends, and particularly if it makes sense. Even if it doesn't, we ought to perhaps think that our critical friend doesn't have the skill to adequately put his thoughts into words: for the very fact that he has criticised us is proof that something is wrong with our stand. We should clear it up, if not with out friend, then at least in our own heads. And then if we still feel justified in our stand, we should try to set our friend right too.
Indeed we ought to be our own worst critics. And if we make a mistake, we ought to be willing to admit it, and revise our stand. Without self-criticism, we are virtually no better than demagogues.
However, the corollary to this is - and this is an equally important matter - when you have tested your theory and are firmly convinced that it is right, and when you can defend it against criticism, you should stand up for it: and if standing up for what you are convinced is right makes you look like a demagogue, so be it! Your authority derives, in such a case, not from the might of your weapons, but from the rightness of your argument. This kind of authority and "obstinacy" is not at all wrong. As long as you are willing to change your mind if convinced by argument, you have a right, indeed a duty, to stand up for your convictions.
And lastly, we ought to realise,
as Neumann says very rightly, that doing NOTHING when
crimes of great magnitude are being committed makes us
guilty of aiding and abetting in their commission. We
all would admit that if a kid is being beaten up by a
gang in a school yard we ought to intervene, and that
if we don't, we'd be contributing, at least to some
small extent, to that unfortunate kid's injuries:
wouldn't we? If we can admit that, then I'd like each
of you, even those of you who have done yeoman service
over years and years for the cause of the
Palestinians, to ask yourselves: "What did I
do to stop the East Timorese, the Nicaraguans, the
Colombians, the Kurds in Turkey, and the Algerians -
among others - from being massacred by US policies and
US-supplied weapons?" If the answer is "nothing", or
even "not very much", then please ask yourselves: is
it not time to reconsider?
These five principles are all so elementary that it almost seems superfluous to enunciate them: and yet, when people have criticised me for my asking them to sign the statement of sanctions against the US, I have often found myself bombarded with arguments that seem to have forgotten one or another of these five principles - most often the very first one, the simplest and most elementary moral principle of them all. Why, in heaven's name, don't people just THINK before acting - or refusing to act? In light of the above principles, I ask you, once again: will you sign the statement I drafted? If not, why not?
And FINALLY, if my article STILL
doesn't convince you, go read Michael Moore's Stupid
Men, you stupid white (or
brown, or black, or yellow) man (or woman).
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Global Rogue State
Face The Facts: Rogue State Par Excellence
Yes, We Need a 'Regime Change' in this Rogue State
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The US: Rogue Nation
The Editorial Staff of "The
The Ultimate Rogue Nation
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History of a Rogue Nation
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Donald E. Miller
Religion Must Lead the Charge in Questioning War
The United States of America Has Gone Mad
East Timor: The Elephant and the Fleas
The Trial of Henry Kissinger
East Timor Catastrophe
East Timor Retrospective
The Destruction of Yugoslavia
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The Pornography of Power
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The New War Against Terror
What Everyone Should Know About Nicaragua
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"The Colombian State Has Turned to Terror"
Perception management of the US's terror war
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Chatting With Chomsky
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Basic Statistics for US Imperialism
Interview with Ramsey Clark,
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Mounting anger over US atrocities in Afghanistan
A Timeline of CIA Atrocities
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Two Weeks to Avert War
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