On Bullying Pro-Palestinian Activists

In his speech at the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign, Professor Steven Salaita, who was “de-hired” by that school quite suddenly

Megan Marzec, who is facing death threats for calling out Israel's slaughter in Gaza

Megan Marzec, who is facing death threats for calling out Israel’s slaughter in Gaza

after the university’s chancellor faced strong pressure from major donors objecting to Salaita’s tweets about Israel’s massive military campaign in Gaza, issued this warning: “As the Center for Constitutional Rights and other groups have been tracking, this is part of a nationwide, concerted effort by wealthy and well-organized groups to attack pro-Palestinian students and faculty and silence their speech. This risks creating a Palestinian exception to the First Amendment and to academic freedom.”

At Ohio University, we recently saw the disturbing reality of the different treatment accorded to pro-Israel, as opposed to pro-Palestinian views which supports Salaita’s statement. Read More at LobeLog

Israel-Palestine Without A Peace Process

What we’re seeing now in Israel-Palestine is what this looks like when the US-led peace process is removed and nothing replaces it. Maybe it’s better than an institutionalized process that serves only to sustain the occupation while Israel gobbles up more land for settlements, maybe it’s even worse. That is for Israelis and Palestinians especially to decide. What is certain, however, is that it is a more overtly violent and volatile situation and a fertile ground for the plans of annexationists in Israel. I explore today at LobeLog.

How to Save Ukraine: Why Russia Is Not the Real Problem

Dear readers,

This is not something I do very often. The discourse, everywhere I look, surrounding Ukraine is so remarkably one-sided and shallow. I see this among supporters of current US/EU policy and critics. So, when I find an article that is reasonably sensible and useful, I feel a need to spread the word.

This piece, surprisingly enough, was in Foreign Affairs. It comes from an approach I don’t share, and the recommendations and point of view of it do not entirely reflect mine, though I agree with a good chunk of it. But understanding that a lot of what is happening in Ukraine is, in the last analysis, Ukrainian is a point that is routinely lost in the media, among policymakers and among both supporters and critics of US/EU/NATO or Russian policy. Thus I am sharing a link to the article, by Keith Darden. You needn’t agree with his worldview or conclusions to learn a lot from it. Please check it out.

UPDATE: The New York Times kindly demonstrates precisely what I’m talking about with this atrocious piece of drivel passing for “coverage” of today’s events in Eastern Ukraine. No consciousness whatsoever that there is a real split among Ukrainians, a country that has always had serious nationalist divides. No, it’s all about Russian meddling, which, though certainly real, has been balanced all along by meddling from NATO, the EU and US. In both cases, however, the outside meddling is far from the whole story, or even the root cause. That is native Ukrainian.

Perhaps the most pathetic part of the Times’ blatant propagandizing is this: “(The Ukrainian army) faced not only the civilians, but behind them a force of well-armed men in unmarked green uniforms who Western governments said are either Russian soldiers or Russian-equipped militants. These soldiers were well-armed. They carried radios and ammunition pouches. Some had rocket-propelled grenade launchers slung over their soldiers.” (emphasis mine)

Leaving aside how poorly written that paragraph is, the propagandizing here is just so shameless. Radios? Ammunition pouches? This is supposed to be the hi-tech equipment that proves the militants are Russian-backed? Hell, would we even want to think about how many grenade launchers are in private hands in the more remote areas of Montana or Texas? Please.

I wonder if this is what it was like to read about Russian issues in the 1950s. McCarthy would surely have been pleased in any case.

Framing Putin

The past month has been nostalgic for me. The crisis over Ukraine and Crimea has felt and sounded, in the media and common conversation, very much like the halcyon days of my youth when the Cold War raged with all its mindless enmity. It’s a bit depressing to think someone like Hillary Clinton, who compared Vladimir Putin to Hitler thereby demonstrating she has absolutely no understanding of the situation and an even worse sense of global perspective, would be the person I’d be compelled to vote for if presidential elections were held today. I examine the atmosphere around Putin and the crisis in today’s Souciant. Check it out.

Learning from Syria

It seems the overwhelming opinion, from across the political spectrum and around the globe, is that we must stand aside and let Syria

A US protester in support of the late, lamented Egyptian revolt. (photo courtesy of Sasha Kimel, published under a Creative Commons license)

A US protester in support of the late, lamented Egyptian revolt. (photo courtesy of Sasha Kimel, published under a Creative Commons license)

burn, offering a bit of humanitarian aid but doing nothing else substantive. This arises for a variety of reasons, including the sordid history of outside intervention and a binary bit of thinking where the only options are to support Assad or to support the dominant militias like al-Nusra and ISIL (sometimes referred to as ISIS, the Islamic State in Iraq and the Levant/Syria). Personally, I’m not satisfied with any of the options being proposed, but I also recognize why we are so limited and why the international community is stymied.

Rather than simply bemoan the horror, I propose a new idea for how such tragedies might be addressed. If it, or something like it, were even attempted, it would be too late, at this point, for it to help Syria, more than likely. But the world needs some new system, some new entity, that provides a third choice, that addresses both regional and great power interests that are causing the current paralysis. I describe my ideas in Souciant today.

Obama of Arabia

The talks between the P5+1 and Iran are stirring up an already bubbling cauldron in the Middle East. The US’ position in the region is going to change in the next few years, though how that change manifests remain to be seen. One thing is certain, and that is that a deal between the United States and Iran is desired by both of those parties and scares the hell out the US’ closest regional allies, Israel and Saudi Arabia. I explore in this week’s column at Souciant.

The Syria Strike Debate: A Political Scorecard

A review of the politics of the debate over a US strike on Syria. Who made political gains and losses and why? One thing that was certainly set back was room in the discussion about doing anything within international diplomacy about a war which has killed 110,000 people and created some 7 million refugees (which amounts to about 1/3 of the population!). Still, how this plays out among important players in the international community and within US foreign policy matters. So, I looked at a few of those key players (by no means an exhaustive list) at Lobelog.