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December 10, 2009

New Tomdispatch


Living by the Gate From Hell
A Portrait of Nonviolent Resistance in One Palestinian Village

By Ellen Cantarow

Much is heard of violence in the Israeli-Palestinian conflict, but the story of the determined, long-term nonviolent resistance of many Palestinian villagers to the loss of their lands, striking as it may be, is seldom told. Here’s my report from just one village on the West Bank.

At no time since its 1967 West Bank occupation have Israel’s seizures of Palestinian land and water resources seemed as shocking as the ones attending its construction of “the wall,” begun in 2002. Vast, complex, and shifting in form, the wall appears most dramatically as 25-foot-high concrete slabs punctuated by militarized watch towers, supplemented by electronically monitored electrified fences stretching over vast distances.

In 2004, the International Court of Justice (ICJ) declared the wall illegal, but Israel ignored the ruling. Now, it undulates through the West Bank for over 280 kilometers, clasping Israel’s major colonies and some minor ones in its embrace. The completed wall will incorporate more than 85% of the West Bank’s settler population, a de facto annexation by Israel of significant chunks of the territory it first occupied in 1967. This is the dream of Greater Israel rapidly turned into architecture.


The Nine Surges of Obama’s War
How to Escalate in Afghanistan

By Tom Engelhardt

In his Afghan “surge” speech at West Point last week, President Obama offered Americans some specifics to back up his new “way forward in Afghanistan.” He spoke of the “additional 30,000 U.S. troops” he was sending into that country over the next six months. He brought up the “roughly $30 billion” it would cost us to get them there and support them for a year. And finally, he spoke of beginning to bring them home by July 2011. Those were striking enough numbers, even if larger and, in terms of time, longer than many in the Democratic Party would have cared for. Nonetheless, they don’t faintly cover just how fully the president has committed us to an expanding war and just how wide it is likely to become.

Despite the seeming specificity of the speech, it gave little sense of just how big and how expensive this surge will be. In fact, what is being portrayed in the media as the surge of November 2009 is but a modest part of an ongoing expansion of the U.S. war effort in many areas. Looked at another way, the media's focus on the president’s speech as the crucial moment of decision, and on those 30,000 new troops as the crucial piece of information, has distorted what’s actually underway.

In reality, the U.S. military, along with its civilian and intelligence counterparts, has been in an almost constant state of surge since the last days of the Bush administration.

—Jonathan Schwarz

Posted at December 10, 2009 03:22 PM

"Exiled Thucydides knew
All that a speech can say
About Democracy,
And what dictators do,
The elderly rubbish they talk
To an apathetic grave;
Analysed all in his book,
The enlightenment driven away,
The habit-forming pain,
Mismanagement and grief:
We must suffer them all again."

The Rest:

Posted by: N E at December 10, 2009 09:59 PM

o/t (but it's all related): Mission accomplished!

Posted by: Save the Oocytes at December 11, 2009 02:04 AM

I think it's about time for a moratorium on quoting that poem in blogs.

Posted by: godoggo at December 11, 2009 01:05 PM

"What exactly is that going to accomplish?"

The Pentagon and Langley, aka The Real Deciders, probably don't fret all that much about the Taliban. And please tell me what "cannot be won via force" actually means? The Real Deciders likely have quite a different understanding of what it means to "win" than you do.

StO was correct about the nature of our interest in Central Asia. It is indeed the same story as Majnoon and the other Iraqi giant fields: Oil (and natural gas). The world's biggest oil fields, Ghawar and Burgan in the Persian Gulf, are in decline, and sometime surprisingly soon they will likely follow Mexico's Cantarell into severe decline.

The biggest new field discovered in the last 30 years is Tengiz in Khazakstan's part of the Caspian, and the biggest field discovered this decade is Kashagan, also in western Khazakstan on the Caspian. Those who look at a map of Central Asia will see that there is really only way to get oil and gas out of Kazakhstan and the rest of the Caspian that does not go through Russia, China, or Iran. That ONE route of access to one of the biggest, if not the biggest, remaining oil producing regions in the world goes through Afghanistan and Pakistan to the Indian Ocean, where the Chinese have been building a port for the Pakistanis at Gwadar.

Apparently Predators are not enough to secure the pipeline route adequately in the eyes of The Real Deciders. So we are going to do some counterinsurgency. We will spend some money to try to create some economic activity in Afpak, and we will brutally suppress resistance with the goal of creating a stable enough situation to permit the transshipment of oil, and we will keep a big stick hovering over Pakistan's head lest they get too chummy with the Chinese.

No that our goals do not involve promoting the general welfare, or securing the blessings of liberty for anyone, or have anything to do with lofty ideals. We just need to keep the oil moving our way and keep the Russians and Chinese and Iranians, whether individually or through the Shanghai Cooperation Organization, from taking control of the international energy market away from the US and Britain.

For The Real Deciders, that would be a very big win.

Posted by: N E at December 11, 2009 02:16 PM

Hi, Onload of page my antivirus put alert, check pls.

Posted by: Doggy at December 12, 2009 02:24 PM

sorry godoggo, you apparently read more widely in blogs than I do, but i'm not surprised by what you say. As the crowd repeated on cue to the great prophet Brian, "We are all individuals!"

Posted by: N E at December 12, 2009 03:05 PM

It is strange that the Israeli govt and its supporters at home and abroad, keep asking "Where is the Paestinian Gandhi"?

Non-violent protesters, whether in Jayyous, Ni'lin or Bi'ilin, have met with teargas, gas cannisters ( composition of gas unknown except it being toxic causing choking and suffocation ), rubber bullets and live bullets ( including a blindfolded and handcuffed Palestinian, shot at close range with a live bullet ) from the IDF. Many Human Rights organizations have been working on behalf of Palestinians for justice, in Israel and abroad. There is tremendous support for the Palestine refugees and Palestinians in the International community ( not necessarily though from their govts).

There was a massive demonstration in Tel Aviv for Human Rights and democracy on Human Rights day.

And there was a weekly Friday protest in Bi'ilin where their leader was arrested in the middle of the night.

BDS campaign is protesting non-violently ( it has been accused of being anti-semitic and wanting to destroy the state of Israel!).

J Street, imho started as a non starter with its pro-Israel position ( without mentioning justice for Palestinians, though in the beginning, I thought, it would make a difference).

IN spite of all that is happening, NOTHING will change unless our elected officials realise who the REAL victims are, have a conscience and get a spine and stop the aid-no strings attached, to Israel and end its impunity.

ps sadly, Gaza is all but forgotten. we are so busy waging and winning!! wars, there is no time for the people and a place destroyed by another war with our help!

Posted by: Rupa Shah at December 12, 2009 04:20 PM

It is strange that the Israeli govt and its supporters at home and abroad, keep asking "Where is the Palestinian Gandhi?"

Not strange at all. People who won't shoot back are so much easier to kill. And remember, a kid throwing a rock at an Israeli tank is Goliath, and the tank is David. It's really hard for the Israelis to get the world to see this.

Posted by: Duncan at December 13, 2009 12:39 PM

A very sorry state of "State of Israel" and a very moving diary by Prof Shulman about the latest non-violent protest and IDF reaction.....

Posted by: Rupa Shah at December 13, 2009 03:03 PM

The ongoing great game over access to central asia isn't even thinly veiled in the article below showing the tension between the US military and Pakistani military.

Posted by: N E at December 15, 2009 08:04 PM