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Monday, February 29, 2016

Climate Disruption's New Record: Carbon Dioxide Levels Reach Highest Point in 15 Million Years

Climate Disruption's New Record: Carbon Dioxide Levels Reach Highest Point in 15 Million Years

Economic Recovery? 13 Of The Biggest Retailers In America Are Closing Down Stores

Economic Recovery? 13 Of The Biggest Retailers In America Are Closing Down Stores

Clinton Foundation Discloses $40 Million in Wall Street Donations - Breitbart

Clinton Foundation Discloses $40 Million in Wall Street Donations - Breitbart

Holy Water - Antiwar.com Original by -- Antiwar.com

Holy Water - Antiwar.com Original by -- Antiwar.com

The Lion and the Sheep - Antiwar.com Original by -- Antiwar.com

The Lion and the Sheep - Antiwar.com Original by -- Antiwar.com

First They Came for the iPhones... - Antiwar.com Original by -- Antiwar.com

First They Came for the iPhones... - Antiwar.com Original by -- Antiwar.com

Articles: The Closet Statist and the Constitutional Conservative

Articles: The Closet Statist and the Constitutional Conservative

Want to Hear How Bernie Sanders Sounds Like One of America's Greatest Presidents? Listen to Teddy Roosevelt | Alternet

Want to Hear How Bernie Sanders Sounds Like One of America's Greatest Presidents? Listen to Teddy Roosevelt | Alternet

Why Insurance Companies Are Nervous About Sanders' Health Care Agenda | Alternet

Why Insurance Companies Are Nervous About Sanders' Health Care Agenda | Alternet

The Clintons and Wall Street: 24 Years of Enriching Each Other | Alternet

The Clintons and Wall Street: 24 Years of Enriching Each Other | Alternet

Noam Chomsky Wants You to Wake Up From the American Dream | Alternet

Noam Chomsky Wants You to Wake Up From the American Dream | Alternet

Major Leader of the American Jewish Mainstream Does 180, Calls State of Israel a 'Failure' | Alternet

Major Leader of the American Jewish Mainstream Does 180, Calls State of Israel a 'Failure' | Alternet

We’re Never Winning These Wars: America Has Zero to Show For Its Decades of Bloodshed in the Middle East

We’re Never Winning These Wars: America Has Zero to Show For Its Decades of Bloodshed in the Middle East

Armed conflict in Iraq, Afghanistan and beyond hasn't brought anything close to lasting peace. Quite the opposite.


http://www.alternet.org/world/were-never-winning-these-wars-america-has-zero-show-its-decades-bloodshed-middle-east

A New Libya, With ‘Very Little Time Left’ - The New York Times

A New Libya, With ‘Very Little Time Left’ - The New York Times

New Alzheimer’s treatment fully restores memory function - ScienceAlert

New Alzheimer’s treatment fully restores memory function - ScienceAlert

Bishop Barron on Nature and Grace

Bishop Barron on Nature and Grace



https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=j7a7MFs0cQc&feature=em-subs_digest

Bishop Robert Barron's Lent Day Reflecton Lent Day 20 Calling Us Out of the Tomb

 
 
 
 
Calling Us Out of the Tomb
 Let's reflect a bit more on Jesus' encounter with Lazarus. At the tomb of Lazarus, Jesus “groaned in spirit.” Jesus’ trouble here is the result of his identification with sinful humanity. He goes all the way to the bottom of it, letting its truth affect him. Jesus does not just love us abstractly or from a distance; no, he comes close to us. More to the point, this groaning of Jesus signals the pain that God feels at our imprisonment. If his glory is our being fully alive, his agony is our sin. How salvific it can be to listen to this groaning of the Lord at our own lack of life.

In the same vein, Jesus weeps for his friend. There is something heartbreaking about this for it is the only time in the Scripture that Jesus is described as weeping. Whatever form death takes in us—physical, psychological, spiritual—it is something deeply troubling to God.

One detail is particularly moving: Jesus asks, “Where have you laid him?” Sin alienates us from our God, making us strangers to him. Just as God in the book of Genesis looked for Adam and Eve who were hiding from him, so here God incarnate doesn’t know where his friend Lazarus is.

Then the Lord comes to the tomb. We hear that it was a cave with a stone laid across it. When things are dead, we bury them away, we hide them. When we feel spiritually dead, we lock ourselves up in the darkness of our own anxiety and egotism and fear. But there is a power, a divine power, sent into this world whose very purpose is to break through all such stones.

“Lazarus, come out!” Are there any words more beautiful and stirring in the whole New Testament? From whatever grave we are lying in, Jesus calls us out.

The North Goes South Or The South Comes North


The North Goes South Or The South Comes North

The North Goes South Or The South Comes North
Graham E. Fuller (grahamefuller.com)
29 February 2016
It does not take much imagination to see where refugees are taking the world over the longer run.
This issue currently lies at the heart of some very ugly American politics. It is also tearing apart one of the noblest political experiments in human history, the EU. It is radicalizing broad regions  of the world and fueling global violence, from Myanmar to Tunisia and South Africa.
The basic conclusion is simple: either the North goes to the South, or the South comes to the North.
The meaning of South coming North is already clear: conditions in the South are driving refugees to  flee to the North. Most refugees bring along serious political, social, economic and cultural problems of their homelands which complicate their ready integration into the North. This is especially true in smaller, and hence more culturally fragile countries in Europe—“nation-states” that possess unique cultural and social balance that any major influx of foreigners will disrupt. There is only one unique Netherlands or Denmark, or Estonia, or Norway. They are not classical “immigrant nations” as are the vast spaces of the US, Canada, Australia, even Russia and Latin America. 
This larger long-term movement of populations is certain. Existing conditions in large numbers of countries in the “South” are becoming untenable—poverty, disease, misgovernance, conflict, environmental degradation, unemployment. Many of these blights are locally generated. But the West cannot deny its role in this as well. Western imperialism, remember, took over most of the known world for a good century or more; its sole purpose was to benefit the imperial metropole through resource extraction; the world order was designed to facilitate those gains. Its blessings to the colonized were mixed, to say the least. 
But the blame game is not important here—the current reality is that we face a global problem of massive proportions however we ascribe the causes. And affixing blame does not solve the problem either. What is certain is that the problem today has now arrived on the doorstep of the affluent North. http://grahamefuller.com/the-north-goes-south-or-the-south-comes-north/

Redrawing the map of the Middle East

Redrawing the map of the Middle East


http://www.cbc.ca/radio/thesundayedition/extinct-jobs-teaching-in-the-digital-age-ben-bell-s-bassoons-redrawing-the-middle-east-1.3460123/redrawing-the-map-of-the-middle-east-1.3460303

Ahead of Super Tuesday: Students Assess Candidate Positions on Foreign Policy

Ahead of Super Tuesday: Students Assess Candidate Positions on Foreign Policy



http://watson.brown.edu/news/explore/2016/StudentCampaignSummary

Saudi Arabia Rethinks Its Commitments to Lebanon

http://www.washingtoninstitute.org/policy-analysis/view/saudi-arabia-rethinks-its-commitments-to-lebanon

Saudi Arabia Rethinks Its Commitments to Lebanon

David Schenker

February 25, 2016
Riyadh's latest financial and diplomatic measures may just be a shot across Beirut's bow, but several signs point to a potentially wider Gulf withdrawal that could leave Lebanon even more at Iran and Hezbollah's mercy.
Earlier this week, Saudi Arabia announced it was withdrawing its deposits from the Central Bank of Lebanon. The withdrawal was the latest in a series of recent Saudi actions against Lebanon, including an official advisory against travel there and the cancellation of a $3 billion grant to the Lebanese Armed Forces (LAF) and $1 billion to the Internal Security Forces. Ostensibly, these measures were precipitated by Lebanon's abstention last month from a nearly unanimous Arab League resolution condemning Iran for not preventing the January 3 sacking of the Saudi embassy in Tehran and consulate in Mashhad. The non-vote was cast by Lebanese foreign minister Gibran Basil of the Free Patriotic Movement, a coalition partner of the Iranian-backed Shiite militia Hezbollah.
Riyadh's moves also coincided with the passage of the "Hizballah International Financing Prevention Act of 2015," a new U.S. law that many in Lebanon are concerned will undermine the state's robust financial services industry. Taken together, the Saudi and U.S. measures threaten a perfect storm that could shake the foundations of Lebanon's already tenuous economy. http://www.washingtoninstitute.org/policy-analysis/view/saudi-arabia-rethinks-its-commitments-to-lebanon

Don’t Fall for Obama’s $3 Billion Arms Buildup at Russia’s Door

http://www.defenseone.com/ideas/2016/02/dont-fall-obamas-unnecessary-3-billion-arms-buildup-russias-door/126255/

Defense One
Don’t Fall for Obama’s $3 Billion Arms Buildup at Russia’s Door
By Lawrence J. Korb and Eric Goepe
February 26, 2016
In one of the key justifications for the new $600 billion defense spending request, the Department of Defense has fallen back on a tried-and-true Cold War boogeyman: the threat of Russian aggression against allies in Europe. While there is no ignoring the Russian annexation of Crimea in 2014 and the Russo-Georgian war in 2008, to interpret these events as some kind of Russian “resurgence” is to grossly inflate the danger Russia poses to NATO and the United States.
Ukraine and Georgia were targeted precisely because they fell outside of U.S. security guarantees, lacked significant strategic importance to the west, and, most importantly from the Russian viewpoint, were making overt moves toward NATO membership. Russia has long opposed the expansion of NATO into its traditional sphere of influence. The reasons are rooted in a history of aggression from Western Europe, as memories of the devastation meted out by Napoleon, Kaiser Wilhelm, and Hitler still linger. http://www.defenseone.com/ideas/2016/02/dont-fall-obamas-unnecessary-3-billion-arms-buildup-russias-door/126255/

Why the Arabs Don’t Want Us in Syria

http://www.politico.com/magazine/story/2016/02/rfk-jr-why-arabs-dont-trust-america-213601

Why the Arabs Don’t Want Us in Syria

They don’t hate ‘our freedoms.’ They hate that we’ve betrayed our ideals in their own countries—for oil.
By Robert F. Kennedy, Jr.
February 22, 2016

In part because my father was murdered by an Arab, I've made an effort to understand the impact of U.S. policy in the Mideast and particularly the factors that sometimes motivate bloodthirsty responses from the Islamic world against our country. As we focus on the rise of the Islamic State and search for the source of the savagery that took so many innocent lives in Paris and San Bernardino, we might want to look beyond the convenient explanations of religion and ideology. Instead we should examine the more complex rationales of history and oil—and how they often point the finger of blame back at our own shores.
America’s unsavory record of violent interventions in Syria—little-known to the American people yet well-known to Syrians—sowed fertile ground for the violent Islamic jihadism that now complicates any effective response by our government to address the challenge of ISIL. So long as the American public and policymakers are unaware of this past, further interventions are likely only to compound the crisis. Secretary of State John Kerry this week announced a “provisional” ceasefire in Syria. But since U.S. leverage and prestige within Syria is minimal—and the ceasefire doesn’t include key combatants such as Islamic State and al Nusra--it’s bound to be a shaky truce at best. Similarly President Obama’s stepped-up military intervention in Libya—U.S. airstrikes targeted an Islamic State training camp last week—is likely to strengthen rather than weaken the radicals. As the New York Times reported in a December 8, 2015, front-page story, Islamic State political leaders and strategic planners are working to provoke an American military intervention. They know from experience this will flood their ranks with volunteer fighters, drown the voices of moderation and unify the Islamic world against America. http://www.politico.com/magazine/story/2016/02/rfk-jr-why-arabs-dont-trust-america-213601

Saturday, February 27, 2016

Bernie Sanders Is No Socialist - The Globalist

Bernie Sanders Is No Socialist - The Globalist

Unclassified Clinton Emails May Have Consequences for a Key Deputy - The New York Times

Unclassified Clinton Emails May Have Consequences for a Key Deputy - The New York Times

Obama Administration Set to Expand Sharing of Data That N.S.A. Intercepts - The New York Times

Obama Administration Set to Expand Sharing of Data That N.S.A. Intercepts - The New York Times

The U.S. has Gone F&*%ing Mad — Medium

The U.S. has Gone F&*%ing Mad — Medium

This racist backlash against refugees is the real crisis in Europe | Apostolis Fotiadis | Opinion | The Guardian

This racist backlash against refugees is the real crisis in Europe | Apostolis Fotiadis | Opinion | The Guardian

Wolf Richter: Is This the Beginning of the Next Recession? | naked capitalism

Wolf Richter: Is This the Beginning of the Next Recession? | naked capitalism

Bishop Robert Barron's Lent Reflections: Lent Day 18 God of Nations

Lent Day 18 
God of the Nations
While we take comfort from much of the Bible’s message, the Bible is not always comforting news. It often carries a message of warning and danger. It’s good for us, during this Lenten season, to attend to the darker side of the Biblical message.

For example, when we read in the Old Testament about the pollution of the Lord’s Temple, it’s a familiar prophetic theme: the people have wandered from the ways of God, rendering impure what God intends to be just and upright. God sends prophet after prophet in order to bring his people back, but they are ignored, mocked, and rejected. Then God’s judgment falls on the unfaithful nation.

What is the instrument of God’s justice? One of the heathen nations, the Chaldeans, who come and destroy the city of Jerusalem, burn the Temple, carry off its most sacred objects, and lead the people into exile.

What is this? Dumb bad luck? Just the give and take of geo-political forces? No! The Bible insists that this should be read as God’s action—more specifically as God’s judgment and punishment. How at odds this is with the typically modern/Enlightenment view, according to which religion is a private matter, confined to the heart and the mind of the individual. For the Biblical authors, God is the Lord of history and time, and hence the Lord of nations and the Lord of nature. His works and actions must be discerned in all events.

Let me give you an example of such a boldly theological reading of political events. Karl Barth is considered one of the greatest Protestant theologians of the twentieth century. At the start of the First World War, he was a country pastor in Switzerland who had been trained in the confident liberal theology that was all the rage around the turn of the last century. This theology shared the common view that with the rise of the natural sciences, with the development of technology, and with political and cultural liberation, human beings could build the Kingdom of God here on earth.

From the quiet of his parsonage in Switzerland, Barth followed the horrors of the First World War, the slaughter of hundreds of thousands, the devastation of nations, the collapse of the European social order. Then something dawned on him: the conviction that it was precisely the inflated self-regard and hubris of nineteenth century liberalism that led to this disaster!

He saw the European powers as descendants of the builders of the Tower of Babel, attempting to reach up to God on their own terms and in their own way. Behind the sunny confidence of the liberal period, he discerned arrogance, imperialism, and colonialism. The advances of science were made possible through the rape of the environment and economic comfort for some was made possible through the enslavement of others. In all of this, he read current events in light of God's great plan.

As difficult as that sometimes is to do, it's how we're to read our lives as well.

Friday, February 26, 2016

Bernie Sanders in 1995: A Brutal Assessment of Bill Clinton’s First 2 Years as President - In These Times

Bernie Sanders in 1995: A Brutal Assessment of Bill Clinton’s First 2 Years as President - In These Times

The Decline and Fall of Hillary Clinton

The Decline and Fall of Hillary Clinton


http://thearchdruidreport.blogspot.com/2016/02/the-decline-and-fall-of-hillary-clinton.html

Here's your go-to source for debunking all the Fukushima fables | oceans | Earth Touch News

Here's your go-to source for debunking all the Fukushima fables | oceans | Earth Touch News

Washington's Broken Civil Discourse Muddies Our Foreign Policy (written by Chas Freeman) | Watson Institute

Washington's Broken Civil Discourse Muddies Our Foreign Policy (written by Chas Freeman) | Watson Institute

Major American Jewish Leader Changes His Mind About Israel

Major American Jewish Leader Changes His Mind About Israel


http://www.tikkun.org/nextgen/major-american-jewish-leader-changes-his-mind-about-israel

Arms Sales Boom Amid Iran, Saudi Arabia Proxy Wars

Arms Sales Boom Amid Iran, Saudi Arabia Proxy Wars

Weapons imports have skyrocketed in a Middle East torn by war.

Saudi army artillery fire shells towards Yemen from a post close to the Saudi-Yemeni border on April 13, 2015, in southwestern Saudi Arabia. http://www.usnews.com/news/blogs/data-mine/2016/02/22/arms-sales-boom-amid-iran-saudi-arabia-proxy-wars
Nations in the Middle East are buying more weapons and ammunition as war plagues the region – especially Saudi Arabia, whose arms purchases skyrocketed during recent years amid an escalation of its rivalry with Iran, according to new studies.
A report published on Monday by the Stockholm International Peace Research Institute shows Saudi Arabia is now the world’s second-largest weapons importer, based on data that showed the kingdom increasing its purchases from 2011 through last year by 275 percent compared with sales between 2006 and 2010.
[READ: Here’s What Would Happen if Saudi Arabia Deployed Troops to Syria]

Neocon Kagan Endorses Hillary Clinton

Neocon Kagan Endorses Hillary Clinton


https://consortiumnews.com/2016/02/25/neocon-kagan-endorses-hillary-clinton/

Letter from Cairo

Strategic Europe continues its Capitals Series exploring how EU foreign policy is viewed by ten countries in Europe’s Southern neighborhood. We have asked our contributors from each capital to give a candid assessment of the EU’s approach toward their country, with a ranking on a scale from “irrelevant” to “helpful.” This week, the spotlight is on Egypt.

http://carnegieeurope.eu/strategiceurope/?fa=62891&mkt_tok=3RkMMJWWfF9wsRonvKXNZKXonjHpfsX57uQsW6Sg38431UFwdcjKPmjr1YIGRcR0aPyQAgobGp5I5FEIQ7XYTLB2t60MWA%3D%3D 

Bacteria-Laden Mosquitoes May Be the Cheapest Way to Stop Dengue and Zika

Bacteria-Laden Mosquitoes May Be the Cheapest Way to Stop Dengue and Zika

Defenders of Democracy Turn To An Awkward Ally: Saudi Arabia

http://lobelog.com/defenders-of-democracy-turn-to-an-awkward-ally-saudi-arabia/#more-33229

Defenders of Democracy Turn To An Awkward Ally: Saudi Arabia

by Ali Gharib
So desperate to punish Iran are the hawks of the Foundation for Defense of Democracies that they’re willing to partner with one of the least democratic countries on earth to get it done. In an op-ed in the neoconservative opinion pages of the Wall Street Journal, FDD’s executive director Mark Dubowitz and senior fellow David Weinberg are positively giddy about what Saudi Arabia has to offer in the way of defending democracies. It’s, at first blush, a strange alliance, but not when one considers either FDD’s monomania and the geopolitics surrounding Iran.
Dubowitz and Weinberg, under the headline “Where Obama Fails on Iran Sanctions, the Gulf States Can Step In,” posit that “Saudi Arabia and its allies have potent financial weapons they can deploy against Iran.” They note that the “sectarian war between the Sunni and Shiite states”—read: Saudi and Iran and their allies—”is intensifying militarily” and that Saudi Arabia already cut off commercial and travel ties to Iran. So why not escalate things a little, huh?
There are lots of ideas here:  http://lobelog.com/defenders-of-democracy-turn-to-an-awkward-ally-saudi-arabia/#more-33229

Apple Uses a Barrage of Legal Arguments in San Bernardino Case

Apple Uses a Barrage of Legal Arguments in San Bernardino Case

Thursday, February 25, 2016

Meet the fossil-fuel loving hedge fund billionaire behind Hillary's surge

Meet the fossil-fuel loving hedge fund billionaire behind Hillary's surge

How America Made Donald Trump Unstoppable

How America Made Donald Trump Unstoppable

He's no ordinary con man. He's way above average — and the American political system is his easiest mark ever



http://www.rollingstone.com/politics/news/how-america-made-donald-trump-unstoppable-20160224?page=13

U.S. Unable To Halt ISIS March Towards Libyan Oil | OilPrice.com

U.S. Unable To Halt ISIS March Towards Libyan Oil | OilPrice.com

A Clinton Presidency Has Been/Would Be a Disaster for Black and Brown Communities. Here’s Why.


A Clinton Presidency Has Been/Would Be a Disaster for Black and Brown Communities. Here’s Why.

http://www.nakedcapitalism.com/2016/02/a-clinton-presidency-has-beenwould-be-a-disaster-for-black-and-brown-communities-heres-why.html?utm_source=feedburner&utm_medium=email&utm_campaign=Feed%3A+NakedCapitalism+%28naked+capitalism%29

Bishop Robert Barron's Lent Reflections: Lent Day 16 Like a Flash of Lightning

Lent Day 16
Like a Flash of Lightning

One of the key visuals in the story of the Transfiguration is the divine light that radiates from Jesus. Matthew says, “His face shone like the sun, and his clothes became as white as the light.” Luke reports, “His clothes became as bright as a flash of lightning.” And Mark says, “His clothes became dazzling white, whiter than anyone in the world could bleach them.”

This light seems to signal the beauty and radiance of a world beyond this one, a world rarely seen, and only occasionally glimpsed, amidst the griminess and ordinariness of this world.

Is this beautiful and radiant world ever seen today? Let me share a few stories with you. When I was traveling recently, I met a man who, as a young man, encountered St. Padre Pio, the famous stigmatist. He was privileged to serve his Mass. During the elevation of the host, after the consecration, this man noticed something remarkable: there was a glow around the holy man’s hands. Years later when he heard reports of “auras” he said to himself, “That’s what I saw that day.”
Malcolm Muggeridge, the English journalist and convert to Catholicism, was filming Mother Teresa for a documentary. One day, the electricity was out, and he bemoaned the fact that he had to film her without lights, convinced that the day would be lost. But when the film was developed, he noticed that the scenes were beautifully lit, and it appeared as though the light was coming from her.

And I know this might be a bit of a stretch, but there is scientific speculation that the marks on the shroud of Turin, the holy icon thought by many to be the burial shroud of Christ, were caused by a burst of radiant energy—light energy.

From the time of the earliest disciples, the holy followers of Jesus were pictured with halos above their heads. What is a halo if it is not the divine light breaking into our world today?

War, What Is It Good For? Absolutely Nothing. And No Kidding, That’s the Literal Truth When It Comes to War, American-Style

War, What Is It Good For? Absolutely Nothing.
And No Kidding, That’s the Literal Truth When It Comes to War, American-Style
By Tom Engelhardt
It may be hard to believe now, but in 1970 the protest song “War,” sung by Edwin Starr, hit number one on the Billboard Hot 100 chart.  That was at the height of the Vietnam antiwar movement and the song, written by Norman Whitfield and Barrett Strong, became something of a sensation.  Even so many years later, who could forget its famed chorus?  “War, what is it good for?  Absolutely nothing.”  Not me.  And yet heartfelt as the song was then  -- “War, it ain't nothing but a heartbreaker.  War, it's got one friend, that's the undertaker...” -- it has little resonance in America today.
But here’s the strange thing: in a way its authors and singer could hardly have imagined, in a way we still can’t quite absorb, that chorus has proven eerily prophetic -- in fact, accurate beyond measure in the most literal possible sense.  War, what is it good for?  Absolutely nothing.  You could think of American war in the twenty-first century as an ongoing experiment in proving just that point.
Looking back on almost 15 years in which the United States has been engaged in something like permanent war in the Greater Middle East and parts of Africa, one thing couldn’t be clearer: the planet’s sole superpower with a military funded and armed like none other and a “defense” budget larger than the next seven countries combined (three times as large as number two spender, China) has managed to accomplish -- again, quite literally -- absolutely nothing, or perhaps (if a slight rewrite of that classic song were allowed) less than nothing.
Unless, of course, you consider an expanding series of failed states, spreading terror movements, wrecked cities, countries hemorrhaging refugees, and the like as accomplishments.  In these years, no goal of Washington -- not a single one -- has been accomplished by war.  This has proven true even when, in the first flush of death and destruction, victory or at least success was hailed, as in Afghanistan in 2001 ("You helped Afghanistan liberate itself -- for a second time," Secretary of Defense Donald Rumsfeld to U.S. special operations forces), Iraq in 2003 ("Mission accomplished"), or Libya in 2011 ("We came, we saw, he died," Hillary Clinton on the death of autocrat Muammar Gaddafi).
Of all forms of American military might in this period, none may have been more destructive or less effective than air power.  U.S. drones, for instance, have killed incessantly in these years, racking up thousands of dead Pakistanis, Afghans, Iraqis, Yemenis, Syrians, and others, including top terror leaders and their lieutenants as well as significant numbers of civilians and even children, and yet the movements they were sent to destroy from the top down have only proliferated.  In a region in which those on the ground are quite literally helpless against air power, the U.S. Air Force has been repeatedly loosed, from Afghanistan in 2001 to Syria and Iraq today, without challenge and with utter freedom of the skies.  Yet, other than dead civilians and militants and a great deal of rubble, the long-term results have been remarkably pitiful.
Click here to read more of this dispatch.
http://www.tomdispatch.com/post/176108/tomgram%3A_engelhardt%2C_the_disappointments_of_war_in_a_world_of_unintended_consequences/#more

Q&A: Author Martin Jacques explains UK’s pivot to China


Q&A: Author Martin Jacques explains UK’s pivot to China


http://atimes.com/2016/02/qa-author-martin-jacques-explains-uks-pivot-to-china/

Daesh bombs are made with products bought in 20 countries including in the EU – report

http://neurope.eu/article/daesh-bombs-are-made-with-products-bought-in-20-countries-including-in-the-eu-report/

Daesh bombs are made with products bought in 20 countries including in the EU – report

By Dan Alexe
Contributing Editor, New Europe

Companies from 20 countries are involved in the supply chain of components that end up in the explosives used by the Islamic State. The terror group relies on commercially available components for most of its bombs, with some parts coming from as far away as the United States and Japan, according to a report released by a London-based arms research group.
Conflict Armament Research (CAR) says most components —such as chemicals and detonators — come from companies in Turkey and Iraq, which may not know the parts are being bought by the extremists. Many components are also used for civilian purposes, such as mining, making them relatively easy to get.
The European Union-mandated study showed that 51 companies from countries including Turkey, Brazil, and the United States produced, sold or received the more than 700 components used by Islamic State to build improvised explosive devices (IEDs).
IEDs are now being produced on a “quasi-industrial scale” by the militant group, which uses both industrial components that are regulated and widely available equipment such as fertiliser chemicals and mobile phones, according to CAR which undertook the 20-month study.
The researchers traced the origins of over 700 components recovered from IS bomb factories and unexploded bombs. The parts they were able to fully document had all been legally acquired. http://neurope.eu/article/daesh-bombs-are-made-with-products-bought-in-20-countries-including-in-the-eu-report/

US Strategy and Strategic Culture from 2017 : Global Brief

US Strategy and Strategic Culture from 2017 : Global Brief

US Strategy and Strategic Culture from 2017

http://globalbrief.ca/blog/2016/02/19/american-strategy-and-strategic-culture-%E2%80%93-next-administration/

US Strategy and Strategic Culture from 2017


JOHN E. MCLAUGHLIN

February 19, 2016

The US will remain indispensable to global problem-solving, provided an updated mindset, new institutions, and flexible alliances are in place

The American government elected in 2016 will face a transforming world – one that will require strategic approaches that are markedly different from those of the last two US administrations. http://globalbrief.ca/blog/2016/02/19/american-strategy-and-strategic-culture-%E2%80%93-next-administration/

A 2016 Foreign Policy Report Card

A 2016 Foreign Policy Report Card

Which candidates are most likely to be guided by realism and restraint?



http://www.theamericanconservative.com/articles/a-2016-foreign-policy-report-card/

Rudolf Hess in Guantanamo

http://lobelog.com/rudolf-hess-in-guantanamo/#more-33217

Rudolf Hess in Guantanamo

by Paul R. Pillar
Spandau Prison in Berlin was a red brick structure, on the western side of the city, constructed in the 1870s with the capacity to hold several hundred inmates. The Nazis later used it to detain some of their political opponents; it became a site of torture administered by the Gestapo before the concentration camps were built. After World War II the victorious allies took it over to house Nazi war criminals. Only seven such criminals ever were placed there, all of them ranking figures in the Nazi regime who avoided execution but were given prison sentences in the trials at Nuremberg. By 1957 just three of them were left, and as of 1966 only one: the mentally unbalanced former deputy f├╝hrer Rudolf Hess. Hess lived in the prison another 21 years before committing suicide in 1987 at the age of 93. http://lobelog.com/rudolf-hess-in-guantanamo/#more-33217

Wednesday, February 24, 2016

Article: Sanders the "Realist"; Hillary the "Neocon" | OpEdNews

Article: Sanders the "Realist"; Hillary the "Neocon" | OpEdNews

And the winner of the Sheldon Adelson primary is... Hillary Clinton

And the winner of the Sheldon Adelson primary is... Hillary Clinton

Knights of Columbus, In Defense of Christians mount genocide petition | National Catholic Reporter

Knights of Columbus, In Defense of Christians mount genocide petition | National Catholic Reporter

How America Made Donald Trump Unstoppable

How America Made Donald Trump Unstoppable


http://www.rollingstone.com/politics/news/how-america-made-donald-trump-unstoppable-20160224?page=13

Grand Old Primary

Grand Old Primary


http://www.politico.com/blogs/2016-gop-primary-live-updates-and-results/2016/02/noam-chomsky-donald-trump-fear-219723

Washington's Broken Civil Discourse Muddies Our Foreign Policy

http://www.realclearworld.com/articles/2016/02/23/washingtons_broken_civil_discourse_muddies_our_foreign_policy.html?utm_source=World+News&utm_campaign=582d122ebd-RSS_EMAIL_CAMPAIGN&utm_medium=email&utm_term=0_d519acabbf-582d122ebd-84279353

Washington's Broken Civil Discourse Muddies Our Foreign Policy

By Chas Freeman
Candidates for president are loudly promising that if elected, they would restore America's position as the unchallenged leader of the world. But the only way we can do that is by rebuilding our country at home. We cannot be stronger in the world if our own society continues to weaken.
When the Soviet Union collapsed a quarter-century ago, Americans celebrated our unrivaled military power. We proclaimed ourselves the indispensable nation. But we failed to define a coherent vision of a new world order, and we failed to pronounce an inspiring role for the United States within it. Our incompetence in foreign affairs has become a serious international problem.
Today the United States is steadily less geopolitically dominant, less internationally competitive, less emblematic of equal opportunity, less faithful to the core values of our republic, and less looked to for leadership by foreigners. We have worse relations with each of our great power rivals than any of them has with any other. Even our allies, while not turning against us, are often no longer with us.
Our global standing has been diminished not just by the rise of others and the estrangement of allies, but by structural changes in our economy and disinvestment in education and research. We are becoming less competitive. Social mobility in America now compares unfavorably with that in other industrialized democracies.http://www.realclearworld.com/articles/2016/02/23/washingtons_broken_civil_discourse_muddies_our_foreign_policy.html?utm_source=World+News&utm_campaign=582d122ebd-RSS_EMAIL_CAMPAIGN&utm_medium=email&utm_term=0_d519acabbf-582d122ebd-84279353

Why the Burning Bush is Such Good News


Why the Burning Bush is Such Good News

http://www.wordonfire.org/resources/homily/why-the-burning-bush-is-such-good-news/5087/

Details

Our first reading for this Sunday presents us with one of the most famous and commented upon texts in the entire Bible, in which God appears in a burning bush, a bush on fire but not consumed. God is present to it in the most powerful way, but nothing of the bush has to give in order for God to work with it and through it. When the true God comes close, things are not destroyed; in fact, they become radiant and beautiful.

Mass Readings

Reading 1 - Exodus 3:1-15
Psalm - Psalm 103:1-11
Reading 2 - 1 Corinthians 10:1-12
Gospel - Luke 13:1-9

Clinton Campaign Attacks Sanders With Rumors, Dishonesty

Clinton Campaign Attacks Sanders With Rumors, Dishonesty

Donald Trump Is Right – Here Are 100 Reasons Why We Need To Audit The Federal Reserve

Donald Trump Is Right – Here Are 100 Reasons Why We Need To Audit The Federal Reserve

Robert Reich: Are We Witnessing the Death of America's Political Establishment? | naked capitalism

Robert Reich: Are We Witnessing the Death of America's Political Establishment? | naked capitalism

Hillary Clinton, The Council on Foreign Relations and The Establishment

Hillary Clinton, The Council on Foreign Relations and The Establishment

The Long Shadow of the Gulf War

The Long Shadow of the Gulf War

The Evidence Clearly Shows That Deep Poverty Has Worsened | Demos

The Evidence Clearly Shows That Deep Poverty Has Worsened | Demos

A Plague of Black Swans in the Middle East

http://lobelog.com/a-plague-of-black-swans-in-the-middle-east/#more-33189

A Plague of Black Swans in the Middle East

by Gary Sick
In the parlance of political risk assessment, a Black Swan is an event regarded as highly improbable or even impossible before it happens. A Black Swan is not only surprising but has the capacity to disrupt or severely alter the anticipated course of events. Once a Black Swan is sighted, however, the expert community quickly adjusts to the new reality and begins to explain why, under the circumstances, a Black Swan was likely to appear and, perhaps, was even inevitable.
As a card-carrying member of the chattering class, I am intimately familiar with all aspects of this phenomenon. And as someone who focuses on the Middle East, I can produce a number of historical examples. The Iranian revolution was a Black Swan. The Saudi-led oil boycott of 1973 was a Black Swan, even though the self-inflicted wounds of the embargo persuaded the Saudi leadership and its Arab allies to renounce the use of such tactics in the future. Some of the wars and coups in modern Middle East history might count as Black Swans. However, once the dust settled, things frequently returned to approximately their previous state, little changed except perhaps the cast of characters and the national balance sheet. The persistence of a seemingly unshakeable, if highly disagreeable, status quo made outcomes more predictable.
The Middle East today is in a new stage altogether. It seems as though an entire flock of Black Swans has descended on the region, confounding both experts and local populations. Since the region shows no signs of returning to what we came to regard over a period of generations as “normal,” it is worth cataloguing some of these events and their implications. http://lobelog.com/a-plague-of-black-swans-in-the-middle-east/#more-33189

The Mystery of the Super PAC - The Atlantic

The Mystery of the Super PAC - The Atlantic

Orbital View: Rising Oceans, Shrinking Glaciers - The Atlantic

Orbital View: Rising Oceans, Shrinking Glaciers - The Atlantic

San Jose's Intergenerational Mobility - The Atlantic

San Jose's Intergenerational Mobility - The Atlantic

How Clinton and Sanders Are Courting the Black Vote in South Carolina - The Atlantic

How Clinton and Sanders Are Courting the Black Vote in South Carolina - The Atlantic

Opinion: Last chance for the refugee crisis | Opinion | DW.COM | 19.02.2016

Opinion: Last chance for the refugee crisis | Opinion | DW.COM | 19.02.2016

Greek migration crisis enters worst-case scenario

Greek migration crisis enters worst-case scenario

Austria hosts Balkan refugee conference without Greece | News | DW.COM | 24.02.2016

Austria hosts Balkan refugee conference without Greece | News | DW.COM | 24.02.2016

Policy Shifts on Refugees Lead to Clashes Between Migrants and Police - The New York Times

Policy Shifts on Refugees Lead to Clashes Between Migrants and Police - The New York Times

Migrants find doors slamming shut across Europe

Migrants find doors slamming shut across Europe


https://www.washingtonpost.com/world/europe/migrants-find-doors-slamming-shut-across-europe/2016/02/23/056b0f78-d9a1-11e5-8210-f0bd8de915f6_story.html

Donald Trump Seals GOP Front-Runner Status With Nevada Win; Marco Rubio Second - WSJ

Donald Trump Seals GOP Front-Runner Status With Nevada Win; Marco Rubio Second - WSJ

Citizens Against Corruption: Report from the Front Line | GAB | The Global Anticorruption Blog

Citizens Against Corruption: Report from the Front Line | GAB | The Global Anticorruption Blog

Should Silicon Valley Go to War?

Should Silicon Valley Go to War?

America Backs the Feds in the Apple Encryption Fight, and So Does Bill Gates (Sort of)

America Backs the Feds in the Apple Encryption Fight, and So Does Bill Gates (Sort of)

“It’s the corruption, stupid”: Hillary’s too compromised to see what Donald Trump understands - Salon.com

“It’s the corruption, stupid”: Hillary’s too compromised to see what Donald Trump understands - Salon.com

ENE News Update Officials: “Historic crisis” along US West Coast

Officials: “Historic crisis” along US West Coast… “We’re facing a fishery disaster”… “Very never-seen-before things”… Should be exclamation alarm to public — Extinction threat for salmon runs; Loss of sardines, squid, sea urchins, kelp; Massive sea star deaths; Marine mammal strandings… more

Published: February 23rd, 2016 at 9:37 am ET
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Press Democrat, Feb 11, 2016 (emphasis added): Scientists and lawmakers foresee grim outlook for California’s ocean fisheries… the outlook is overwhelmingly grim, presenters said at an annual forum of the joint legislative Committee on Fisheries and Aquaculture. “Something’s going on in the ocean, and it’s not right, and it doesn’t fit our historical understandings,” California Fish and Wildlife Director Chuck Bonham told members of the committe… Bonham noted stretches of coastline suddenly barren of sea urchins… [N]umerous anomalies… are growing increasingly apparent, Bonham said. “This should be an… alarm to the general public”… Bonham said… [S]everal witnesses Thursday forecast what most in the industry already have anticipated: a collapse, or near collapse, of key salmon runs in the state… “I cannot say this more bluntly,” [State Senator Mike McGuire] said. “We are facing a fishery disaster here in California”… U.S. Department of Commerce [is] considering a request by Gov. Jerry Brown to declare a fishery disaster…
Ocean Beach Rag, Feb 18, 2016: California’s Crab and Salmon Fisheries Threatened By Historic Crisis… [O]fficials testified about the dire situation that the salmon and crab fishery is in at a recent forum at the State Capitol… “The salmon and crab fisheries are threatened by a historic crisis. We’re facing a fishery disaster” [said Senator Mike McGuire]… “We’ve gone from abundance to scarcity… “During the last two years, we’ve lost over 95 percent of the Sacramento River winter-run chinook and over 95 percent of the fall-run Chinook.”… things are expected to be even worse this year… Something’s going on in the ocean — State officials and scientists spoke on the unprecedented changes in the ocean believed to be impacting crab, salmon and other fish populations… These include the massive deaths of sea stars, the decline of the squid fishery, the closure of the sardine fishery, the decline of kelp habitat and the loss of most of the red sea urchins north of San Francisco recently…
Mad River Union, Feb 18, 2016: Ocean behavior alarming, puzzling… The following is one of several stories about the crab and fisheries calamities… [Bonham] testified that menacing changes are altering both marine biology and ecology and the changes do not fit historical understandings of ocean behavior. Bonham declared grimly, “This should be an exclamation alarm to the general public to stay aware and engaged in the ecological change going on in the ocean.”… [M]ost of the red urchin population has perished, moving from abundance to scarcity in just a few years.Mile-long stretches of the North Coast [are] urchin barrens,” Bonham stated… There have emerged “very never-seen-before things“… The salmon outlook remains unfavorable… The Sacramento winter run “really raises the existential threat of extinction,” he testified… [T]oxic contamination generated by algal blooms may spread well beyond crabs and urchins, raising sinister unknowns, Bonham predicted warily. “Why not more and more species one right after another?” he asked…
Daily Astorian, Feb 18, 2016: Marine mammal strandings concern experts; A humpback whale that washed ashore in Seaside was one of several strandings… In the past few weeks, a humpback whale washed ashore in Seaside, and a harbor porpoise and two striped dolphins were found on the North Coast…
See also: Sickened animals “unlike anything doctors have ever seen” on West Coast — “They’re eating themselves from the inside” — Cancers… liver, pancreas, intestines shut down — Unprecedented catastrophe to cause loss of 200,000 sea lions (VIDEO)

A Plea for Reason: An Open Letter to Netanyahu

Netanyahu

Summary: Palestine – no peace process, failed by all including its own leaders – and above all by Netanyahu.
There is no good news from Palestine. In our posting of 17 February we mentioned the continuing random violence which seems more a product of personal despair than of politics, Ban Ki-moon’s comment on half a century of occupation and his spokesman’s retort accusing Netanyahu of twisting his words.
There is no peace process. Palestine is split in two and the presidency of Mahmud Abbas is stalled. Cairo, Riyadh, Damascus and Baghdad have other fish to fry, so does Washington with only the two Jews Bernie Sanders and Michael Bloomberg among the presidential hopefuls even attempting any balance on Palestine. In yet another hand-wringing statement on 18 February deploring the “recent spiral of violence, which has to date taken at least 137 Palestinian and 19 Israeli lives” the UN special coordinator concluded “The cold reality for the Israeli and Palestinian people is that all have failed them.”
Alon Ben-Meir, New York-based commentator on Middle East politics who is notable for his balanced approach, points the finger in an open letter to the Israeli Prime Minister.
A PLEA FOR REASON
An open letter to Prime Minister Netanyahu
Alon Ben-Meir February 23, 2016
Dear Prime Minister Netanyahu,
I write this letter to you with a heavy heart as it pains me deeply to see the beautiful dream of a strong and proud Israel, the country that was expected to embrace what is virtuous, moral, and just, now losing its reason for being—as a free and secure Jewish state living in peace and harmony with its neighbors.
The state’s social fabric is being torn apart by political divisiveness and economic injustice. The country is increasingly isolated, degenerating into a garrison state surrounding itself with walls and fences, vilified by friends and reviled by enemies.
As the Prime Minister who served longest in this position, the country is virtually crumbling under your watch. The question is, where are you leading the people, and what will be in store for them tomorrow as Israel is now at a fateful cross-road and facing an uncertain future?
Certainly you and those who follow you in good faith will disagree with my analysis, but I urge you to look carefully into the dire issues I am raising here as they unfold, for which you are now more responsible than any of your predecessors.
You conveniently surround yourself with a corrupt political elite—ministers with no morals, no compunction, and nothing but an insatiable lust for power. They are consumed by their personal political agendas and absorbed in domestic corruption and intrigues.
You have several such ministers—among them a Justice Minister, Ayelet Shaked, who endorsed the idea that “the entire Palestinian people is the enemy” which is nothing short of a call for indiscriminate killing that will include “its elderly and its women, its cities and its villages, its properties and its infrastructure”; an Education Minister, Naftali Bennett, who wants to annex most of the West Bank without giving a single thought to the ominous danger that such an ill-fated scheme would inflict on Israel; and a Cultural Minister, Miri Regev, who is out to stifle freedom of the arts and expression—who make a mockery of Israel’s democratic foundation and institutions.
You backed three draconian bills: one would suspend Knesset members who deny Israel as a Jewish and democratic state; the second would withdraw funding from cultural institutions deemed “not loyal” to Israel; and the third would require leftwing NGOs who receive foreign funding to label themselves as such in any publication (while exempting privately-funded right-wing NGOs). You are enveloped in an ideological siege with a ghetto mentality and selective religious precepts, supported by a blind chorus of parliamentarians that only echoes your distorted tune.
You manipulate the public with national security concerns and falsely connect security to borders, only to usurp more Palestinian land and defend the ruinous settlement policy.
You delight in facing an inept political opposition—relegated to a permanent state of suspension—and are thrilled to see them decaying with no political plans to challenge you to find a solution to the endemic Palestinian conflict on which you politically thrive. With these lame opposition parties sitting on the fringes of political despair, they have now become easy to co-opt in support of your misguided domestic, foreign, and Palestinian-targeted policies, all in the name of national unity.
You still boast about Israel’s economic prowess, when in fact the economy as a whole is in a state of stagnation and labor productivity is the lowest among Organization for Economic Co-operation and Development (OECD) countries, and a handful of billionaires control the financial heart of the state while tens of thousands of families are scrambling to survive.
More than 1.7 million Israelis are living in poverty—775,000 of whom are children—while hundreds of millions of dollars are siphoned off to spend on illegal settlements and hundreds of millions more are spent to protect the settlers, leaving Arab villages and towns with mostly Middle Eastern Jews to rot.
The gulf between the rich and poor is widening. The top 10 percent of the population earns 15 times that of the bottom 10 percent, making Israel one of the most unequal countries in the developed world. Tourism is diving, foreign investments are plunging, and the boycott, divestment and sanctions movement is gaining momentum.
The corruption and criminality among top officials is staggering; more than 10 ministers and at least 12 members of the Knesset have been convicted of crimes over the past 20 years alone. Former President Moshe Katsav and Prime Minister Ehud Olmert were sentenced to seven years and 19 months in prison, respectively. Scores more were indicted, but escaped punishment through various legal loopholes often accorded to top officials.
You discriminate against Israeli Arabs (who constitute 20 percent of the population) with your government’s policy of unequal treatment, and then question their loyalty to the state.
Radical Zionists like you claim that a multi-culturist Israel cannot survive – that apartheid, or something like it, is the only viable alternative – essentially repeating the argument which was used in earlier European history against the Jews themselves.
I might add with deep sorrow that discrimination is not confined to the Israeli Arabs, but extends to Middle Eastern and Ethiopian Jews four generations after the establishment of the State of Israel. The May 2015 violent clashes between police and Jews of Ethiopian origin only reveal the depth of Israel’s social disparity.
Israel’s President Reuven Rivlin, from your own Likud Party, could not have made the reality more painfully clear than when he stated, “Protesters in Jerusalem and Tel Aviv revealed an open and bloody wound in the heart of Israeli society. This is a wound of a community sounding the alarm at what they feel is discrimination, racism and disregard of their needs. We must take a good hard look at this wound.”
Demographically, the country is facing a grave danger. The number of Israelis emigrating from Israel is roughly equal to the number of those who immigrate to Israel. Nearly one million Israelis, representing 13 percent of the population, emigrated from Israel in the past 20 years. Several polls consistently show that given the opportunity, 30 percent of Israelis would consider leaving the country, mainly for economic reasons and the lack of a prospect of ending the debilitating conflict with the Palestinians.
In particular, the immigration of young American and European Jews to Israel is consistently trending downward. Many of them have lost the sense of pioneering spirit and excitement that gripped their earlier counterparts who wanted to be a part of a historic enterprise unmatched by any in contemporary human experience.
The Palestinians
You treat the Palestinians in the territories like objects, to be used and abused contingent on the call of the hour. You violate their human rights with brazen impunity and never came to grips with the debilitating and dreadful impact of nearly 50 years of occupation.
You scornfully claim, “The Jewish people are not foreign occupiers.”  You never wanted to understand the meaning of being utterly overpowered by another, of having one’s house raided in the middle of the night, terrifying women and children, one’s village arbitrarily divided by the building of fences, one’s home destroyed, and of losing the sense of having any control over one’s life.
Invoking memories of the Holocaust as if to justify the mistreatment of the Palestinians only debases the historical relevance of this unprecedented human tragedy. One would think that those who suffered as much as the Jews would treat others with care and sensitivity. That the victim can become a victimizer is painful to face, but it is a reality nonetheless. Having suffered so much does not give you the license to oppress and persecute others.
US ambassador to Israel Dan Shapiro, no less, put it succinctly when he said, “…too many attacks on Palestinians lack a vigorous investigation or response by Israeli authorities…Too much vigilantism [in the West Bank] goes unchecked, and at times there seems to be two standards of adherence to the rule of law, one for Israelis, and another for Palestinians.”
Not that I exempt Palestinians of their role, but by you and your ministers’ own actions and policy toward the Palestinians, you are inciting hostility and ultimately fostering violent extremism. You use national security to justify your prejudicial policies, including the mistreatment of the Palestinians and the expansion of settlements that became the mantra of Israel’s domestic policy, using old and tired talking points about national security which are dismissed as empty, self-convincing gospel.
You speak in support of a two-state solution, but you have never lifted a finger to advance it; your actions only point to the opposite direction. Yes, although the Palestinians have made scores of mistakes and are likely to make many others that will severely undermine their own national interests, they are here to stay.
Israel must determine its own destiny and not leave it to the Palestinians’ whims. You claim that the Palestinians do not want peace, but by being the far more powerful party, you can take a calculated risk, and assume the responsibility to pave the way for eventually reaching a peace agreement instead of further entrenching Israel in the occupied territories. This will make the conflict ever more intractable when coexistence is inevitable under any circumstance.
Time is not on Israel’s side, and even though they are suffering, the Palestinians can wait. You cannot freeze the status quo, and given the regional turmoil, violent extremism targeting Israel will only increase.
Without a carefully thought-out plan to gradually disengage from the occupied territories, there will likely be a million settlers within a few years. This will amount to a de facto annexation of the West Bank, from which Israel will be unable to extract itself without perpetual violent confrontations with the Palestinians and risking a civil war, should a decision be made to evacuate a substantial number of settlers.
Ending the occupation is not a charitable gift to the Palestinians. Only by accepting their right to a state of their own will Israel remain a Jewish and democratic state enjoying peace and security, instead of being drawn toward an abyss from which there is no salvation.
Israel is the only country in the modern era that has maintained, in defiance of the international community, a military occupation for nearly five decades. The Israelis’ complacency about the occupation is adversely affecting Jews all over the world, and as long as the occupation lingers, anti-Semitism will continue to rise.
What has added potency to the substantial rise in anti-Semitism in recent years is your disregard of the international consensus about the illegality of the settlements, the policy of the continuing occupation, and your disregard of the Palestinians’ suffering and right to self-determination.
Did you consider what would be the ramifications of what you said during the last election, which I believe reflects your true position, that there would be no Palestinian state under your watch? There will be no peace with the Arab states, Jordan and Egypt (regardless of how they feel toward the Palestinians) may well abrogate their peace treaties with Israel under mounting regional and public pressure, the wrath of the EU will be immeasurable, the US will lose patience (if it hasn’t already) and no longer provide Israel with automatic political cover, and the world will blame Israel for feeding into the region’s instability; much of this is already happening.
Israel will constantly live in a state of violence and insecurity, but perhaps this is precisely what you want—to spread fear and use scare tactics to foment public anxiety by painting every Palestinian as a terrorist, as if the occupation has nothing to do with Palestinian extremism.
On foreign policy
A sound and constructive foreign policy is foreign to you, which is consequently alienating Israel’s allies and bewildering its friends.
You wantonly discard diplomatic conventions and protocol; you willfully undercut President Obama by addressing a joint session of US Congress, challenging him on the Iran deal only to fail miserably, baffling Democratic and Republican leaders alike.
You clashed with US Ambassador to Israel Dan Shapiro for criticizing Israel’s policy in the West Bank, and condescendingly refuse to offer another Ambassador to Brazil after it rejected your nominee, Dani Dayan, who personifies the worst of the settler movement.
You berated Swedish Foreign Minister Margot Wallstrom, who called for a credible investigation of Palestinian killings, and publicly sparred with UN Secretary General Ban Ki-moon, who stated “…it is human nature to react to occupation”.
You antagonized Secretary of State Kerry, who highlighted “the injustice of settlement building”, prompting various US officials to call you “myopic, entitled, untrustworthy, routinely disrespectful and focused solely on short-term political tactics to keep [your] right-wing constituency in line.”
As the US and EU are wholly convinced that the settlements represent the main obstacle to peace, you are now not only inviting criticism but forcing both to take measures to awaken the Israelis to the harsh  reality of the settlements and your perilous ideology.
Due to your imprudent policies, Israel has few friends left. Anti-Israel sentiment is on the rise not only in Europe but in the US as well, which provides the last bastion of public support for Israel.
Starting with the EU’s demand to label settlement products, you remain typically dismissive, shaming the EU and blaming them for applying double standards. You revert to the old narrative of accusing any critics of your policy as being anti-Semitic in order to deflect from your ill-advised actions which are bound to backfire.
EU members are growing increasingly skeptical that you will ever seek peace based on a two-state solution, and they will more than likely over time become less restrained to impose sanctions. The EU could potentially expand the sanctions on goods manufactured in Israel proper as well and ratchet up its political pressure on Israel to end the oppressive occupation.
The French government is now preparing to convene an international conference to address the Israeli-Palestinian conflict because they see no hope that you would enter into serious bilateral negotiations if left to your own devices. Your reaction was as always dismissive, using again the worn-out argument that a solution can be found only through direct negotiation. You offer to resume peace talks unconditionally but then refuse to discuss borders first, and still insist that the Palestinians must first recognize Israel as a Jewish state.
And here is the irony of it all—while Iran’s President Rouhani received red carpet treatment in Italy and France, you are being cast as a loathsome leader blinded by a defunct ideology decades past its time.
Israel’s destiny
Israel’s achievements in science, technology, medicine, agriculture, and many other fields in less than seven decades is nothing short of a miracle. This miracle became a reality due to the incredible resourcefulness, creativity, and dedication of men and women who committed to building a powerful and proud nation that offers a safe haven in perpetuity for the Jews. These unprecedented accomplishments, however, mean little unless Israel can live in peace and all of its citizens can enjoy equality and freedom, which are the pillars on which Israel’s very future rests.
What is your vision of Israel’s future? Do you know where the country will be in a decade or even less? I challenge you to provide a clear answer. If you truly take to heart Israel’s security and wellbeing, then you must save it from the very self-destructive path that you have paved with fear, anxiety, and bloodshed.
You must focus on reforming Israel’s dysfunctional political system instead of capitalizing on it to promote your narrow political agenda.
You must make a supreme effort to bridge the alarming gap between rich and poor, and provide job opportunities for the tens of thousands of young men and women who want financial stability and growth so that they can build a promising future in Israel rather than seek employment abroad.
You must focus on rebuilding the run-down neighborhoods mostly occupied by Israeli Arabs and Jews of Middle Eastern origin, instead of channeling each year surpluses of nearly a quarter of a billion dollars to the settlements.
You must provide adequate funding for hospitals, and health care to the poor whose social security assistance has cruelly and shamelessly been cut in recent years, especially for Holocaust survivors and others who are forced to choose between feeding their families and paying their electric bills, and who can’t afford to buy lifesaving medicine they desperately need.
You must allocate more funding for schools that would allow thousands of young men and women to attend colleges, instead of cutting budgets for secular and Christian schools while diverting funds to orthodox students, who enjoy free tuition.
You must now choose to live with the Palestinians in peace and prosper together, or live by the sword and violently consume one another. You must never forget that Israeli and Palestinian destinies are irreversibly intertwined.
You must restore Israel’s stature among the community of nations as a true democracy that treats all of its citizens, regardless of sect, ethnicity, or religion, equitably rather than engage in discriminatory policies that will only erode Israel’s standing.
You must reach out to the international community, strengthen Israel’s alliances, and mitigate differences with its enemies. Remember, Israel will always need the political support of the international community and military and political assistance from the US in particular, not the other way around.
You must recommit to the moral principles that gave birth to Israel, starting with an honest public narrative based on Israel’s reality on all fronts instead of engaging in a fictional, self-indulgent narrative that distorts the truth the country and its people are facing.
Having said all this, nothing will make me happier should by some miracle you rise to the historic occasion and heed the call of the hour and answer the plea of the people to end the conflict with the Palestinians, and make Israel proud again for its unsurpassed achievements in all spheres of life.
You have demonstrated tremendous political and leadership skills to reach the pinnacle you currently enjoy, but sadly, you have chosen misguided policies that undermine Israel’s security and prospects for peace.
You should use those same qualities to lead the country and realize its destiny as a Jewish, democratic, and secure state on friendly terms with its neighbors. This will not be an aberration; many leaders before you have demonstrated the courage, vision, and capacity to drastically change course that time and circumstances have dictated. You can too if you only will it.
Yitzhak Rabin, Anwar Sadat, Mikhail Gorbachev, F.W. de Klerk, and many others came to recognize the new realities, and decided to take the risks and change course out of conviction that the country and the people need a revolutionary change of direction and deserve a trusted leadership that will guide them to a better and more promising tomorrow.
This is the legacy I would want to leave behind if I were you.
Respectfully yours,
Alon Ben-Meir






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