|Progressive Calendar 02.02.09||<– Date –> <– Thread –>|
|From: David Shove (shove001tc.umn.edu)|
|Date: Mon, 2 Feb 2009 11:00:16 -0800 (PST)|
P R O G R E S S I V E C A L E N D A R 02.02.09 1. SF 395/state IRV 2.02 11am 2. Peace walk 2.02 6pm RiverFalls WI 3. Uhcan-mn 2.02 7pm 4. Gordon CAMpaign 2.02 7pm 5. Dakota people 2.03 5pm 6. RNC court watch 2.03 6pm 7. Salon/poetry 2.03 6:30pm 8. Eco design film 2.03 7pm 9. Afghan women 2.03 7pm 10. Amnesty Intl 2.03 7pm StCloud MN 11. StP DFL/Coleman 2.03 12. PC Roberts - Bankrupt & discredited - the death of US leadership 13. Ralph Nader - What to do about Wall Street 14. Allan Nairn - A shift toward worker power? The time is ripe 15. M Shahid Alam - Chomsky on oil and the Israel lobby --------1 of 15-------- From: David Strand <lavgrn [at] gmail.com> Subject: SF 395/state IRV 2.02 11am https://www.revisor.leg.state.mn.us/revisor/pages/search_status/status_detail.php?b=Senate&f=SF0395&ssn=0&y=2009 Sens. Marty, Scheid & Pappas are introducing a bill on Monday in the state senate to require IRV be used in local, state and federal elections in Minnesota! The Senate will be going into session at 11 AM and it might be nice to have some people there to mark the occassion! --------2 of 15-------- From: Nancy Holden <d.n.holden [at] comcast.net> Subject: Peace walk 2.02 6pm RiverFalls WI River Falls Peace and Justice Walkers. We meet every Monday from 6-7 pm on the UWRF campus at Cascade Ave. and 2nd Street, immediately across from "Journey" House. We walk through the downtown of River Falls. Contact: d.n.holden [at] comcast.net. Douglas H Holden 1004 Morgan Road River Falls, Wisconsin 54022 --------3 of 15-------- From: Joel Albers <joel [at] uhcan-mn.org> Subject: Uuhcan-mn 2.02 7pm The next Universal Health Care Action Network - MN (UHCAN-MN) (first monday of every month) mtg is Monday, Feb 2, 7PM , Walker Church, downstairs gallery, 3104 16th ave S, Mpls (1 block from Lake Street and Bloomington Ave). The major discussion for the mtg would be: organizing an action (press conference, demo ?) as a public response to the recent worsening of the health care crisis: 1000s of jobs lost along w/ health insurance, 84,000 people expected to be eliminated from Medical Assistance, and the major hospitals cutting 100s of staff, including health practitioners. Why the system needs to change. other items: 1.Intros, background, orientation to HC reform movement 2.Reportbacks: MLK Day, KFAI Wave Project organized by media person Sheldon Gitis 3.Starting a legal arm to help victims of HMOs, focal point to change HC system 4.State budget deficit, Pawlenty to cut 85,000 from HC, MN Health Plan (SP) solution 5.Organizing Practitioners; UHCAN-MN's new list serve for Practitioners to network 6. Action event, demo or press conference to show public resistance ? 7.Progress of UHCAN-MN's proposed emergency HC fund,A Prairie Health Companion's Fund other items ? --------4 of 15-------- From: Cam Gordon <CamGordon333 [at] msn.com> Subject: Gordon CAMpaign 2.02 7pm You are all invited to join us for our next campaign team meeting Monday, February 2nd from 7-9:00 pm at the Blue Moon Cafe on 39th and East Lake St. Please note the new location. Cam 612 296-0579 --------5 of 15-------- From: Eric Angell <eric-angell [at] riseup.net> Subject: Dakota people 2.03 5pm (SPNN 15/MTN 17/online): MN History, Indigenous Perspective Wise St. Paul Neighborhood Network (SPNN) viewers: "Our World In Depth" cablecasts on SPNN Channel 15 on Tuesdays at 5pm, midnight and Wednesday mornings at 10am, after DemocracyNow! All households with basic cable may watch. Tues, 2/3, 5pm & midnight and Wed, 2/4, 10am What Does Justice Look Like? Guest Waziyatawin, Dakota author and scholar of indigenous peoples' history, describes some of the key events around the founding of the state of MN 150 years ago. With an important narrative, Waziyatawin shares the struggles of the Dakota people to retain their lives, land and identity and gives an indigenous perspective on current environmental crises. Cohosted by Karen Redleaf and Eric Angell. --------6 of 15-------- From: Do'ii <syncopatingrhythmsabyss [at] gmail.com> Subject: RNC court watch 2.03 6pm RNC Court Watchers are in need of participants to help with organizing court information, documentation and etc. RNC Court Watchers Meetings are every Tuesday, 6 P.M. at Caffeto's. Below is announcement for our meetings. Preemptive raids, over 800 people arrested, police brutality on the streets and torture in Ramsey County Jail. Police have indiscriminately used rubber bullets, concussion grenades, tasers and chemical irritants to disperse crowds and incapacitate peaceful, nonviolent protesters. The RNC-8 and others are facing felonies and years in jail. We must fight this intimidation, harassment and abuse! Join the RNC Court Solidarity Meeting this coming Tuesday at Caffetto's to find out how you can make a difference in the lives of many innocent people. Caffetto's Coffeehouse and Gallery (612)872-0911 708 W 22nd Street, Minneapolis, MN 55405 Every Tuesday @ 6:00 P.M to 7:00 P.M participate and help organize RNC court solidarity. For more information, please contact: rnccourtwatch [at] gmail.com THE PEOPLE UNITED WILL NEVER BE DEFEATED! --------7 of 15-------- From: patty <pattypax [at] earthlink.net> Subject: Salon/poetry 2.03 6:30pm Poetry night. Amaze us with your quirky linguistic insights, your cunning use of phrases only your psyche understands (darkly), your terpsichorian alliteration that storms the heavens, the subtle rhythms that linger linger linger after the words have ended. For a start. [ed] Pax Salons ( http://justcomm.org/pax-salon ) are held (unless otherwise noted in advance): Tuesdays, 6:30 to 8:30 pm. Mad Hatter's Tea House, 943 W 7th, St Paul, MN Salons are free but donations encouraged for program and treats. Call 651-227-3228 or 651-227-2511 for information. --------8 of 15-------- From: Curt McNamara <mcnam025 [at] umn.edu> Subject: Eco design film 2.03 7pm Celebrate Sustainability Film Series Doors 6:30 p.m., Film 7 p.m. Free! MCAD College Center Minneapolis College of Art and Design 2501 Stevens Ave. S. Please join us for the following screening about key sustainability issues affecting our world. Discussion with practicing eco- designers after the showing. In Ecological Design: Inventing the Future, Buckminster Fuller, Paul MacCready, Paolo Soleri, Amory and Hunter Lovins, Ian McHarg, and more provide perspective on topics such as solar architecture, bioshelters, city farming, domed cities, and electric cars. The Story of Stuff provides an in-depth look at how our products impact the planets. --------9 of 15-------- From: Charles Underwood <charleyunderwood [at] hotmail.com> Subject: Afghan women 2.03 7pm Tuesday, 2/3, 7 pm, Afghan Institute for Learning president Sakena Yacoobi gives free talk on "Advancing the Status of Women in Afghanistan," Weyerhaeuser Chapel, Macalester College, 1600 Grand Ave, St Paul. http://www.micglobe.org/calendar/cosponsored.php --------10 of 15-------- From: Gabe Ormsby <gabeo [at] bitstream.net> Subject: Amnesty Intl 2.03 7pm StCloud MN Saint Cloud Area Amnesty International meets on Tuesday, February 3rd, from 7:00 to 8:00 p.m. at the St. Cloud Public Library, 1300 W. St. Germain, Saint Cloud. For more information contact Jerry Dirks, 320-251-6491 or jerry.dirks [at] gmail.com. --------11 of 15-------- From: TCDP editor <editor [at] tcdailyplanet.net> Subject: StP DFL/Colemen 2.03 NEWS YOU CAN USE | Precinct caucus time - again! http://www.tcdailyplanet.net/node/20004 by Mary Turck, TC Daily Planet We haven't recovered from the last election, and already the next campaign season has begun. If you live in St. Paul and vote DFL - and no, the two conditions are not synonymous - your precinct and ward caucuses are Tuesday. THIS Tuesday, February 3. In Minneapolis, you have a whole month to wait for precinct caucuses (March 3), though candidates are already announcing in both cities. St. Paul will vote for mayor and school board members in November. Minneapolis will vote for mayor, city council members, Park and Recreation Board members, and members of the Board of Estimate and Taxation. -- Date: Sun, 1 Feb 2009 16:18:52 -0600 From: Hope For Saint Paul <hopeforsaintpaul [at] gmail.com> Subject: No Endorsement for Chris Coleman As a leader in your community, I am writing you today about a very important and urgent issue. Please feel free to forward on this message! With the caucuses leading to the City endorsing convention on Tuesday, it is time for Progressive St.Paul DFL'ers to make it clear to Chris Coleman that his leadership (or lack thereof) of the Republican National Convention, the trampling of free speech rights and the whitewashing of the event by "his committee" is NOT OKAY. In fact, it is shameful, embarrassing and a disgrace to our city. It is shameful to our values as a democracy and as progressives! Leaders like him have no place leading any further! While there may not currently be any progressive challenger, this could change, and I encourage you to deny Chris Coleman the DFL endorsement. It is very plausible, given the rules and the amount of people who have expressed their lack of trust and shame in having Chris Coleman as Mayor that WE CAN DENY HIM THE DFL ENDORSEMENT! It only takes 40% of delegates to vote no endorsement! Show up to your caucus and become a delegate, it's a very easy process. In addition to his shameful handling of the RNC, Chris Coleman has been an ineffective, distant and apathetic mayor. He has no MAJOR accomplishment to show for his tenure (apart from the disaster of the RNC!). Even his 3 re-election campaign mailers last week didn't even list one accomplishment?!?!?! We deserve progress - we deserve better! We decide who we endorse - we decide the path of our city by who we pick. Let's leave the race open for a true progressive to consider entering! Let's make a clear statement about our values - let's make a clear statement about free speech, human rights and democracy! We need a real progressive Mayor, not the conservative Chris Coleman! With a little time and a little effort we can restore St.Paul to it's progressive foundations! p.s. Some may take issue with the anonymity of this email. I know that many of you will understand that in many instances, especially when dealing with vindictive individuals, that some anonymity at the beginning of grassroots campaigns when one is taking on an institutional force and challenging a structure that has a lot to lose, anonymity can be an unfortunate necessity. And to be clear, I am not someone, or anyone, who intends on running for Mayor! Just someone who is disgusted... --------12 of 15-------- A Bankrupt and Discredited Country The Death of American Leadership By PAUL CRAIG ROBERTS CounterPunch February 2, 2009 Vast numbers of people in the United States and abroad are hoping that President Obama will end America's illegal wars, halt America's support for Israel's massacre of Lebanese and Palestinians, and punish, instead of reward, the shyster banksters whose fraudulent financial instruments have destroyed economics and imposed massive sufferings on people all over the world. If Obama's appointments are an indication, all of these hopeful people are going to be disappointed. Obama chose as his Treasury Secretary Timothy Geithner, the man who helped Bush's Treasury Secretary, Hank Paulson, engineer the $700 billion dollar rip off of the US taxpayer, money that was gifted to the banksters who destroyed Americans' pensions, jobs and health care coverage. These banksters, and the negligent federal regulators that enabled them, should be put in prison, not handed hundreds of billions of dollars. Obama's National Economic Council is just as depressing. Clinton's Treasury Secretary, Larry Summers, is its head. Summers recently declared that he had no inkling that a financial crisis was about to hit. Why did Obama put a person without a clue in charge? Summer's colleagues are just as bad. Obama has appointed Diana Farrell, lead author of a phony study that claimed offshoring of American jobs is a win-win game for Americans, as deputy director of the National Economic Council. Farrell is affiliated with McKinsey & Company, a firm that helps American corporations offshore their operations. In his book, Outsourcing America, economist Ron Hira tore Farrell's McKinsey report to shreds. Why not appoint Ron Hira and Nouriel Roubina, who predicted the crisis, to the National Economic Council? The discouraging fact is that even when faced with crisis in the economy and in foreign policy, the American political system is incapable of producing any leadership. Here we are in the worst economic crisis in a lifetime, perhaps in our history, and on the brink of war in Pakistan and Iran while escalating the war in Afghanistan, and all we get is a government made up of the very people who have brought us to these crises. The era of American leadership has passed. America's shyster financial system has brought economic crisis to the world. America's wars of aggression are seen as serving no purpose except the enrichment of the military industries associated with Dick Cheney. The world is looking elsewhere for leadership. Vladimir Putin made a play for this role at Davos, where his speech at the opening ceremony was the most intelligent speech of the event. Putin reminded the World Economic Forum that "just a year ago, American delegates speaking from this rostrum emphasized the US economy's fundamental stability and its cloudless prospects. Today, investment banks, the pride of Wall Street, have virtually ceased to exist. In just 12 months, they have posted losses exceeding the profits they made in the last 25 years". Putin made his case that the existing financial system based on the US dollar and American financial hegemony has failed. Putin showed that his economic understanding was superior to that of the Obama team when he said that creating more debt on top of the "hopeless debts," as Obama is doing, would "prolong the crisis". With another swipe at America's failed economic leadership, Putin said it is time to get rid of virtual money, false financial reports, and dubious credit ratings. Putin proposed a new reserve currency system to "replace the obsolete unipolar world concept". Putin said that a secure world requires cooperation which requires trust. He made it clear that the Americans have proven that they cannot be trusted. This was a powerful message. It got a lot of applause. Paul Craig Roberts was associate editor and columnist for the Wall Street Journal, columnist for Business Week, and columnist for the Scripps Howard Newspapers. --------13 of 15-------- How "Brilliant" Men Crashed the Economy What to Do About Wall Street By RALPH NADER February 2, 2009 CounterPunch Soon after the passage in 1999 of the Clinton-Rubin-Summers-P. Graham deregulation of the financial industry, I boarded a US Air flight to Boston and discovered none other than then-Secretary of the Treasury Lawrence Summers a few seats away. He was speaking loudly and constantly on his cell phone. When the plane took off he invited me to sit by him and talk. After reviewing the contents of this Citibank-friendly new law called the Financial Modernization Act, I asked him: "Do you think the big banks have too much power"? He paused for a few seconds and replied: "Not Yet". Intrigued by his two word answer, I noted the rejection of modest pro-consumer provisions, adding that now that the banks had had their round, wasn't it time for the consumers to have their own round soon? He allowed that such an expectation was not unreasonable and that he was willing to meet with some seasoned consumer advocates and go over such an agenda. We sent him an agenda, and met with Mr. Summers and his staff. Unfortunately, neither his boss, Bill Clinton, nor the Congress were in any mood to revisit this heavily lobbied federal deregulation law and reconsider the blocked consumer rights. The rest is unfolding, tragic history. The law abolished the Glass-Steagall Act which separated commercial banking from investment banking. This opened the floodgates for unwise mergers, acquisitions and other unregulated risky financial instruments. Laced with limitless greed, casino capitalism ran wild, tanking economies here and abroad. One champion of this market fundamentalism was Alan Greenspan, then chairman of the Federal Reserve. Last October before a House Committee, Greenspan admitted he was mistaken and expressed astonishment at how corporations could not even safeguard their own self-interest from going over steep speculative cliffs. Greenspan and Summers were deemed "brilliant" by the press and most of Congress. Summers' predecessor at Treasury - Robert Rubin - was also a charter member of the Oracles - those larger-than-life men who just knew that the unfettered market and giant financial conglomerates would be the one-stop shopping mart consumers were assumed to be craving. Now the world knows that these men belong to the "oops oligarchy" that bails itself out while it lets the companies collapse into the handcuffed arms of Uncle Sam and bridled taxpayers who have to pay for unconditional megabailouts. Instead of the Wall Street crooks being convicted and imprisoned, they have fled the jurisdiction with their self-determined compensation. Corporate crime pays, while pensions and mutual fund savings evaporate. Now comes the next stage of the Washington rescue effort in a variety of stimulus packages which every vendor group imaginable wants a piece of these days. When trillions are offered, many come running. As the public focus is on how much, when and where all this money should be spent, there are very serious consequences to be foreseen and forestalled. First, consider how much more concentrated corporate power is occurring. Forced or willing mergers, acquisitions and panic takeovers of big banks by bigger banks along with bankruptcies of companies further reduce what is left of quality competition for consumer benefit. Remember the anti-trust laws. Obama needs to be their champion. The fallout from the Wall Street binge is likely to lead to a country run by an even smaller handful of monopolistic global goliaths. In the stampede for stimulus legislation, there is a foreboding feeling on Capitol Hill that there is no proposal on the table to pay for it other than by the children and grandchildren. Just the opposite is raining down on them. Everybody including the private equity gamblers, Las Vegas casinos and Hollywood studios along with the banks and auto companies are looking for tax breaks. So with the economy deteriorating and taxes being cut, where is the enormous money coming from? From borrowing and from printing money. So look out for big time inflation and decline in the dollar's value vis-a-vis other currencies. In all the hundreds of pages of stimulus bills, there is nothing that would facilitate the banding together of consumers and investors into strong advocacy groups. We have long proposed Financial Consumer Associations, privately and voluntarily funded through inserts in the monthly statements of financial firms. If this bailout/stimulus/Wall Street funny money waste, fraud and abuse sounds confusing, that is because it is. A brand new paperback "Why Wall Street Can't Be Fixed and How to Replace It: Agenda For a New Economy" by long-time corporate critic, David C. Korten will explain some of the wheeling and dealing. You don't have to agree with all or many of Korten's nostrums. Just read Part II - The Case For Eliminating Wall Street. He considers three central questions: First, do Wall Street Institutions do anything so vital for the national interest that they justify trillions of dollars to save them from the consequences of their own excess? Second, is it possible that the whole Wall Street edifice is built on an illusion of phantom wealth that carries deadly economic, social, and environmental consequences for the larger society? Third, are there other ways to provide needed financial services with greater results and at lesser cost? Ralph Nader is the author of The Seventeen Traditions. --------14 of 15-------- A Shift Toward Worker Power? The Time is Ripe to Tip the System, Now by Allan Nairn January 31st, 2009 Dissident Voice In bad situations, people lower their standards for what it is that constitutes good news. There's a very sick man with a withered arm, but it hasn't been amputated, contrary to what a garbled and panic-inducing report had indicated. Similarly, a boy has been coughing for three months, but a TB test says it isn't TB. Saying this, the parent, on a cell phone from the Burma border can be heard shivering in the rare cold, even though the family has just invested in a blanket - their second, which is now handy, since for three nights they've been sleeping in the forest to dodge police who (in a case of bad good news) aren't seeking bribes, but are instead seeking to catch people and - word has it - ship them to Naypyidaw (the capital) for one year's bondage labor. The question always is, bad compared to what? One person's dump is another's home hearth. And that can be said literally, since, not far from that coughing family, there is a garbage dump where others live in slime. But they live there not as bottom-dwellers, but as relatively speaking, rich aunts and uncles - economic migrants - who periodically transfer money back home, since by picking (and living in) trash they make more cash than do their relatives on, or off, the farm in Burma. There are dump cities around the world. In Guatemala, they feature vultures (the bird kind). In the Philippines there are frequent dump-slides, killing people. And in Cambodia, The New York Times just visited a dump city and used the existence of this particular hell to argue against labor standards on the grounds that if people would only work more cheaply, that would create more jobs for, say, dump dwellers, on the neoliberal assumption that capitalists don't currently have enough desperate, oppressed, potential workers to choose from (See Nicholas D. Kristof, "Where Sweatshops Are a Dream," The New York Times, January 14, 2009). Very poor people can indeed be delighted when what we call a sweatshop comes to town (see my posting of Nov. 8, 2007, "Duduk - Duduk, Ngobrol - Ngobrol. Sitting Around Talking, in Indonesia".), but what the Times misses is that they would be even more delighted if it paid them better wages, didn't rape and fondle the female workers, didn't spray them with toxics, etc. Whether or not that happens and whether or not enough jobs get created depends crucially on the balance of power. When workers are weak, it is indeed true that cutting labor standards can get more factories built. But by that Times/Davos/Burma-junta logic of job creation, you should also abolish the minimum wage, permit prostitution, even permit human bondage/ slavery, since each of those steps would indeed - under weak-worker conditions - induce the creation of new jobs. (Inconsistently, the Times editorially does support the minimum wage, and that Times writer has, as it happens, crusaded against poor-country prostitution.) A better job-creation solution is to change the power balance and make workers strong, in which case capital is the one that has to take bad news as good, adjust their expectations downward, and realize that if they want to put their capital to work they'll have to pay people enough to, say, eat well. It's true that, depending on what kind of historical moment one is in, such a job solution may not always be pragmatic. If say, for example, interest rates were high, capital could say: "Screw these workers, who needs a factory? For now, we'll just put our money in Citibank!" Or if capital were riding higher than usual in political leverage, it could just say to a government bent on imposing laws to strengthen workers: "Screw you, government. What do we businesses need from you? What are you going to do, bribe us?" But of course, those are not the conditions that exist today. Today, in what's called the financial crisis (though for those hungry, life has always been "crisis", even when rich people were calling it "prosperity"), interest rates are very low and business needs a lot from government. Workers (or unemployed) are, of course, today still more vulnerable than bosses, but the key changeable variable now is government: it has leverage, perhaps unprecedented leverage, as businesses pant for government's bailout trillions. And vis-a-vis worker-staffed production, businesses need to get that revivified, since stashing cash in banks is not now hugely rewarding. Which is to say, this could be a moment for a power shift - from workers being weak to being strong - but only if people force government to kick in on the workers' side to, for one thing, use its leverage and condition bailouts on deep, thoroughgoing reforms that hugely elevate labor standards, not cut them, and that alter how capital is owned and controlled so that the crisis-induced power shift stays permanent and maybe even opens the door to a more rational, less-killing, system that, at the least, does not starve people. That's not current rich-world government policy, and angry workers aren't currently mobilized. But they could be, if some see without illusion that this strange moment could be their opening. It could be if they make it so, without waiting for team Obama. Sad but true, US economic policy is now shaped by the man, Prof. Lawrence Summers, who wrote the Concise Encyclopedia of Economics entry on "Unemployment" and observed - to the great pleasure of Bush Jr's advisers - that: "If unemployment insurance were eliminated, the unemployment rate would drop . . . Another cause of long-term unemployment is unionization . . ." (Lawrence H. Summers, .Unemployment,. The Concise Encyclopedia of Economics, 2008). These Summers quotations were highlighted on the blog of Bush's old economics chief, Gregory Mankiw, of Harvard, who told neoliberals not to worry too much about the orientation of Obama Democrats. Mankiw wrote: "What would you call a group of economists who are skeptical of regulating mortgage markets, who think unemployment insurance and unions increase unemployment, who say that tax hikes retard economic growth, and who believe that the recovery from the Great Depression was a monetary phenomenon rather than the result of New Deal fiscal policy? No, it is not a right-wing cabal. It's Team Obama . . ." (".The Next Team," Greg Mankiw's Blog, Nov. 30, 2008. Mankiw followed with extensive quotations from Summers and other Obama economists). Again, such neoliberal thinking only works in a politically weak-worker environment. But that doesn't have to be the environment now - and for the future, unless workers decide, by inaction, to politically amputate their own arms. Allan Nairn is an award-winning U.S. investigative journalist whose writings have focused on US foreign policy in such countries as Indonesia, East Timor, Guatemala, El Salvador and Haiti. Vist his blog.Allan Nairn is an award-winning U.S. investigative journalist whose writings have focused on US foreign policy in such countries as Indonesia, East Timor, Guatemala, El Salvador and Haiti. --------15 of 15-------- Chomsky on Oil and the Israel Lobby by M. Shahid Alam January 31st, 2009 Dissident Voice In the slow evolution of US relations with Israel since 1948, as the latter mutated from a strategic liability to a strategic asset, Israel and its Jewish allies in the United States have always occupied the driver.s seat. President Truman had shepherded the creation of Israel in 1947 not because the American establishment saw it as a strategic asset; this much is clear. "No one," writes Cheryl Rubenberg, "not even the Israelis themselves, argues that the United States supported the creation of the Jewish state for reasons of security or national interest".1 Domestic politics, in an election year, was the primary force behind President Truman's decision to support the creation of Israel. In addition, the damage to US interests due to the creation of Israel - although massive - was not immediate. This was expected to unfold slowly: and its first blows would be borne by the British who were still the paramount power in the region. Nevertheless, soon after he had helped to create Israel, President Truman moved decisively to appear to distance the United States from the new state. Instead of committing American troops to protect Israel, when it fought against five Arab armies, he imposed an even-handed arms embargo on both sides in the conflict. Had Israel been dismantled [at birth], President Truman would have urged steps to protect the Jewish colonists in Palestine, but he would have accepted a premature end to the Zionist state as fait accompli. Zionist pressures failed to persuade President Truman to lift the arms embargo. Ironically, military deliveries from Czechoslovakia may have saved the day for Israel. Once Israel had defeated the armies of Arab proto-states and expelled the Palestinians to emerge as an exclusively Jewish colonial-settler state in 1949, these brute facts would work in its favor. Led by the United States, the Western powers would recognize Israel, aware that they would have to defend this liability. At the same time, the humiliation of defeat had given an impetus to Arab nationalists across the region, who directed their anger against Israel and its Western sponsors. This placed Israel in a strong position to accelerate its transformation into a strategic asset. In tandem with the Jewish lobby in the United States, Israel sought to maximize the assistance it could receive from the West through policies that stoked Arab nationalism; and as Israel's military superiority grew this emboldened it to increase its aggressive posture towards the Arabs. Israel had the power to set in motion a vicious circle that would soon create the Arab threat against which it would defend the West. As a result, at various points during the 1950s, France, the United States, and Britain began to regard Israel as a strategic asset. America's embrace of Israel did not begin in 1967. Israel's victory in the June War only accelerated a process that had been underway since its creation - even before its creation. Indeed, the Zionists had decided in 1939 to pursue the United States as their new mother country; they knew that they could use the very large and influential population of American Jews to win official US backing for their goals. This paid off handsomely in 1948; but thereafter, the United States sought to contain the damage that would flow from the creation of Israel. However, these efforts would be self-defeating; the die had been cast. Israel - not the United States - was in the driver's seat; and Israel would seek to maximize the negative fallout from its creation. As Israel succeeded in augmenting - within limits - the Arab threat to itself and the United States, the Jewish lobby would regain confidence; it would re-organize to reinforce Israel's claim that it was now a strategic asset. We have here another vicious circle - virtuous, for Israel. The Jewish lobby would gain strength as the Arab-cum-Soviet threat to the Middle East grew. When Israel scaled back the Arab threat in 1967, the Jewish lobby would step in to spend the political capital the Jewish state had garnered in the United States. The Israeli capture of Jerusalem in 1967 also energized the Christian Zionists, who, with encouragement from Jewish Zionists, would organize, enter into Republican politics, and soon become a major ally of the Jewish lobby. The sky was now the limit for Israel and the Zionists in the United States. The special relationship would become more special under every new presidency. Several writers on the American left have pooh-poohed the charge that the Jewish lobby has been a leading force shaping America's Middle East policy. They argue that the United States has supported Israel because of the convergence of their interests in the region.2 Oil, primarily Saudi Arabian oil, they maintain correctly, is "a stupendous source of strategic power, and one of the greatest material prizes in world history".3 Incorrectly, however, they insist that this is what has driven US policy towards the Middle East. A priori, this is an odd position to maintain, since Britain - up until 1948 - had managed quite well to maintain complete control over Middle Eastern oil, a dominance the United States could not sustain "despite" the "strategic support" of Israel. Successively, they argue, Western control over oil came under threat from Arab nationalism and militant Islamism. Israel has demonstrated its strategic value by holding in check and, later, defeating, the Arab nationalist challenge. Since then, Israel has fought the Islamist challenge to US hegemony over the region. It may be useful to examine Noam Chomsky's analysis of this relationship, since he enjoys iconic status amongst both liberal and leftists in the United States. Chomsky frames his analysis of "causal factors" behind the special relationship as essentially a choice between "domestic pressure groups" and "US strategic interests". He finds two limitations in the argument that the "American Jewish community" is the chief protagonist of the special relationship between Israel and the United States. First, "it underestimates the scope of the 'support for Israel,' and second, it overestimates the role of political pressure groups in decision-making". Chomsky points out that the Israel lobby is "far broader" than the American Jewish community; it embraces liberal opinion, labor leaders, Christian fundamentalists, conservative hawks, and "fervent cold warriors of all stripes".4 While this broader definition of the Israel lobby is appropriate, and this is what most users of the term have in mind, Chomsky thinks that the presence of this "far broader" support for Israel diminishes the role that American Jews play in this lobby. Two hidden assumptions underpin Chomsky's claim that a broader Israel lobby shifts the locus of lobbying to non-Jewish groups. First, he fails to account for the strong overlap - barring the Christian fundamentalists - between the American Jewish community and the other domestic pressure groups he enumerates. In the United States, this overlap has existed since the early decades of the twentieth century, and increased considerably in the post-War period. It is scarcely to be doubted that Jews hold - and deservedly so - a disproportionate share of the leadership positions in corporations, the labor movement, and those professions that shape public discourse. Starting in the 1980s, the ascendancy of Jewish neoconservatives - together with their think tanks - gave American Jews an equally influential voice in conservative circles. Certainly, the weight of Jewish neoconservative opinion during the early years of President Bush - both inside and outside his administration - has been second to that of none. The substantial Jewish presence in the leadership circles of the other pressure groups undermines Chomsky's contention that the pro-Israeli group is "far broader" than the American Jewish community. There is a second problem with Chomsky's argument. Implicitly, he assumes that the different pro-Israeli groups have existed, acted and evolved independently of each other; alternatively, the impact of the lobbying efforts of these groups is merely additive. This ignores the galvanizing role that Jewish organizations have played in mobilizing Gentile opinion behind the Zionist project. The activism of the American Jews - as individuals and groups - has operated at several levels. Certainly, the leaders of the Zionist movement have directed a large part of their energies to lobbying at the highest levels of official decision-making. At the same time, they have created, and they orchestrate, a layered network of Zionist organizations who have worked very hard to create support for their aims in the broader American civil society. American Jews have worked through several channels to influence civil society. As growing numbers of American Jews embraced Zionist goals during the 1940s, as their commitment to Zionism deepened, this forced the largest Jewish organizations to embrace Zionist goals. In addition, since their earliest days, the Zionists have created the organizations, allies, networks and ideas that would translate into media, congressional and presidential support for the Zionist project. In addition, since Jewish Americans made up a growing fraction of the activists and leaders in various branches of civil society - the labor, civil rights and feminist movements - it was natural that the major organs of civil society came to embrace Zionist aims. It makes little sense, then, to maintain that the pro-Israeli positions of mainstream American organizations had emerged independently of the activism of the American Jewish community. Does our contention fail in the case of the Christian Evangelicals because of the absence of Jews in their ranks? In this case, the movement has received the strongest impetus from the in-gathering of Jews that has proceeded in Israel since the late nineteenth century. The dispensationalist stream within Protestant Christians in the United States - who believe that the in-gathering of Jews in Israel will precede the Second Coming - has been energized by every Zionist success on the ground. They have viewed these successes - the launching of Zionism, the Balfour Declaration, the creation of Israel, the capture of Jerusalem, "Judea" and "Samaria" in 1967 - as so many confirmations of their dispensationalist eschatology. The movement expanded with every Zionist victory. At the same time, it would be utterly naive to rule out direct relations between the Zionists and the leaders of the evangelical movement. The Zionists have rarely shrunk from accepting support even when it has come from groups with unedifying beliefs. Noam Chomsky raises a second objection against the ability of the Jewish lobby to influence policy on its own steam. "No pressure group," he maintains, "will dominate access to public opinion or maintain consistent influence over policy-making unless its aims are close to those of elite elements with real power [emphases added]".5 One problem with this argument is easily stated. It pits the Jewish lobby as one "pressure group" -. amongst many - arrayed against all the others that hold the real power. This equation of the Jewish lobby with a narrowly defined "pressure group" is misleading. We have argued - a position that is well supported by the evidence - that Jewish protagonists of Zionism have worked through many different channels to influence public opinion, the composition of political classes, and political decisions. They work through the organs that shape public opinion to determine what Americans know about Israel, how they think about Israel, and what they can say about it. This is no little Cuban lobby, Polish lobby or Korean lobby. Once we recognize the scale of financial resources the Jewish lobby commands, the array of political forces it can mobilize, and the tools it commands to direct public opinion on the Middle East, we would shrink from calling it a lobby. Chomsky quickly proceeds to undermine his own argument about "elite elements with real power". He explains that the "[elite] elements are not uniform in interests or (in the case of shared interests) in tactical judgments; and on some issues, such as this one [policy towards Israel], they have often been divided".6 Yet, despite the differences in their interests, their tactics, and their divisions, Chomsky maintains that these "elite elements" have "real power". Oddly, these "divided" elites - whoever they are - exercise the power of veto over the multi-faceted Jewish lobby with its deep pockets, hierarchical organizations, and influence over key organs of civil society, campaign contributions, popular votes, etc. Chomsky's argument shifts again - a second time in the same paragraph - away from "elite elements" to "America's changing conceptions of its political-strategic interests" in the Middle East.6 This suggests a new theory of the chief determinant of US policy towards Israel. At the heart of these "political-strategic interests" is the oil wealth of the Middle East - and the twin threats to American control over this oil wealth from Arab nationalists and the Soviets. Presumably, Israel protects these "political-strategic interests" by holding the Arabs and the Soviets at bay. Chomsky conveniently forgets that the Arab nationalist threat to US interests in the Middle East was - in large part - the product of Israel's insertion into the region, its ethnic cleansing of Palestinians, and its aggressive posture towards Arabs since its creation. It is unnecessary to account for the Soviet threat, since they entered the region on the back of Arab nationalist discontent. Indeed, had Israel never been created, it is more than likely that all the states in the Middle East - just like Turkey and Pakistan - would have remained firmly within the Western sphere of influence. In another attempt to convince his readers that oil has driven US policy towards the Middle East, Chomsky claims that the United States was "committed to win and keep this prize [Saudi oil]". Presumably, the United States could not keep this "prize" without help from Israel. This argument fails because it ignores history. Starting in 1933, American oil corporations - who later merged to form Aramco - gained exclusive rights to explore, produce and market Saudi oil. Saudi Arabia first acquired a 25 percent ownership stake in Aramco in 1973. Had there emerged an Arab nationalist threat to US control over Saudi oil in the 1950s - in the absence of Israel - the United States could have handled it by establishing one or more military bases in Saudi Arabia or, preferably, in one of the Emirates, since American military presence in Saudi Arabia might inflame Islamic sentiments. Far from helping entrench American control of Saudi oil, Israel, by radicalizing Arab nationalism, gave Saudi Arabia the excuse to first gain a 25 percent stake in Aramco and then nationalize it in 1988. Chomsky claims that the United States was committed to winning and keeping the "stupendous" oil prize. This claim is not supported by the results that America's Middle Eastern policy has produced on the ground over the years. If the United States was indeed committed to this goal, it would have pursued a Middle East policy that could be expected to maximize - with the lowest risks of failure - the access of US oil corporations to exploration, production and distribution rights over oil in this region. This is not the case. In creating, aiding and arming Israel, the United States has followed a policy that could easily have been foreseen to produce, as it did produce, exactly the opposite effects. It gave a boost to Arab nationalism, radicalized it, and led within a few years to the Arab nationalist takeover of three of the four key states in the Arab world. In turn, this contributed to the nationalization of oil wealth even in those Arab countries that remained clients of the United States, not to speak of countries that were taken over by Arab nationalists, who excluded the US oil corporations from this industry altogether. In addition, America's Middle Eastern policy converted the Middle East into a leading arena of wars. It also became a source of deep tensions between the US and the Soviets, since US partisanship of Israel forced the Arab nationalist regimes to ally themselves with the Soviet Union. In the October War of 1973, the United States provoked the Arab nations - because of its decision to re-supply the Israeli army during the war - to impose a costly oil embargo against the United States. In opposition to the pleadings of its oil corporations, the United States has also prevented them from doing business with three oil-producing nations in the Middle East - Iran, Iraq and Libya.7 If oil had been driving America's Middle East policy, we should have seen the fingerprints of the oil lobby all over this policy. In recent decades, according to Mearsheimer and Walt, the oil lobby has directed its efforts "almost entirely on their commercial interests rather than on broader aspects of foreign policy". They focus most of their lobbying efforts on getting the best deals on tax policies, government regulations, drilling rights, etc. Even the AIPAC bears witness to this. In the early 1980s, Morris J. Amitay, former executive director of AIPAC, noted, "We rarely see them [oil corporations] lobbying on foreign policy issues. In a sense, we have the field to ourselves".8 Why does it matter whether it is oil or the Jewish lobby that determines US policy towards Israel and the Middle East? The answer to this question has important consequences. It will determine who is in charge, and, therefore, who should be targeted by people who oppose Israel's war mongering and its destruction of Palestinian society. If US policy is driven by America's strategic interests - and Israel is a strategic US asset - opposing this policy will not be easy. If Israel keeps the oil flowing, keeps it cheap, and keeps down the Arabs and Islamists - all this for a few billion dollars a year - that is a bargain. In this case, opponents of this policy face an uphill task. Sure, they can document the immoral consequences of this policy - as Noam Chomsky and others do. Such moral arguments, however, will not cut much ice. What are the chances that Americans can be persuaded to sacrifice their "stupendous prize" because it kills a few tens of thousands of Arabs? On the other hand, if the Jewish lobby drives US policy towards the Middle East, there is some room for optimism. Most importantly, the opponents of this policy have to dethrone the reigning paradigm, which claims that Israel is a strategic asset. In addition, it is necessary to focus attention on each element of the real costs - economic, political and moral - that Israel imposes on the United States. Winning these intellectual arguments will be half the battle won; this will persuade growing numbers of Americans to oppose a policy because it hurts them. Simultaneously, those who seek justice for the Palestinians must organize to oppose the power of the Israel lobby and take actions that force Israel to bear the moral, economic and political consequences of its destructive policies in the Middle East. 1 .Virtually every professional in the foreign affairs bureaucracy, including the secretaries of state and war (later, defense) and the joint chiefs of staff, opposed the creation of Israel from the standpoint of US national interests (Rubenberg: 1986, 9-10).. [.] 2 For criticisms of Chomsky, see James Petras, The Power of Israel in the United States (Atlanta: Clarity Press, 2006): 168-81; and Jeff Blankfort, .Damage control: Noam Chomsky and the Israeli-Palestine conflict.. [.] 3 This assessment comes from a 1945 report of the State Department (Chomsky: 1999, 17). [.] 4 Noam Chomsky, Fateful Triangle: 13. [.] 5 Noam Chomsky, Fateful triangle: 17. [.] 6 Noam Chomsky, Fateful Triangle: 17. [.] [.] 7 Mearsheimer and Walt, The Israel Lobby and US Foreign Policy (Farrar, Straus and Giroux, 2006): 143. [.] 8 Mearsheimer and Walt, The Israel Lobby: 145. [.] M. Shahid Alam is professor of economics at Northeastern University. He is author of Challenging the New Orientalism (2007). He may be contacted at: alqalam02760 [at] yahoo.com. Copyright 2007 M. Shahid Alam. ------------------------------------------------------------------------------ - David Shove shove001 [at] tc.umn.edu rhymes with clove Progressive Calendar over 2225 subscribers as of 12.19.02 please send all messages in plain text no attachments vote third party for president for congress now and forever Socialism YES Capitalism NO To GO DIRECTLY to an item, eg --------8 of x-------- do a find on --8
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