Wednesday, December 05, 2007
The above article was reader-submitted. All opinons are those of the original authors and may not reflect the views of TokyoProgressive.
This site contains copyrighted material the use of which has not always been specifically authorized by the copyright owner. We are making such material available in our efforts to advance understanding of environmental, political, human rights, economic, democracy, scientific, and social justice issues, etc. We believe this constitutes a 'fair use' of any such copyrighted material as provided for by copyright law in several countries. The material on this site is distributed without profit .
Last Friday American Psychological Association President, and Indiana University professor Sharon Brehm discussed the APA's policies supporting psychologist participation in national security interrogations with faculty and students at her university. The Indiana Daily Student has an account of the meeting.
While the entire article is well worth reading, a few of Dr. Brehm's remarks as cited there are especially worth commenting upon. Either they reflect an unacceptable level of ignorance of the basic facts about psychologists' roles in American torture or they are simply willful falsehoods. For example:
"Brehm said psychologists only acted in an advisory role during questionings, working with interrogators to develop effective strategies that will elicit 'accurate information.'"
There is now overwhelming evidence from reporters and government documents that this statement is not simply false, but almost the exact opposite of the truth. Thus, three major journalists (Jane Mayer at the New Yorker, Katherine Eban at Vanity Fair, and Mark Benjamin at Salon) have reported that the basic torture techniques used by the CIA in its black sites were initially developed and implemented by psychologists James Mitchell and Bruce Jessen. This role is far from Brehm's "...psychologists only acted in an advisory role during questionings, working with interrogators to develop effective strategies that will elicit 'accurate information.'" On the contrary, as Eban reported In Vanity Fair:
"psychologists weren't merely complicit in America's aggressive new interrogation regime. Psychologists, working in secrecy, had actually designed the tactics and trained interrogators in them while on contract to the C.I.A."
Thus, Dr. Brehm's "effective strategies" include months of total isolation with nothing to do and no one to talk to, freezing, being chained up in painful positions for hours and days on end, and, it seems, waterboarding.
The Department of Defense Office of the Inspector General (OIG), in a report declassified last May, documented the central role of psychologists, including those from the military's Survival, Evasion, Resistance, and Escape (SERE) program in the development of what the OIG itself saw as abusive. [See our summary of the OIG report and in pdf format.] The OIG report documents how SERE psychologists trained Guantanamo psychologists in the use of SERE-based torture techniques. The OIG report also documents how SERE and Guantanamo staff went to Iraq to train US soldiers there in abusive SERE-based "counter-resistance" techniques. The OIG report made clear that these techniques were, in the OIG's opinion, abusive.
Just last month the Guantanamo Camp Delta Standard Operating Procedures manual was leaked. As I wrote, this document details the systematic use of a month of isolation on all new detainees "to foster dependence on interrogators and 'enhance and exploit the disorientation and disorganization felt by a newly arrived detainee in the interrogation process'" (emphasis added). The decision about how long a detainee would be held in isolation, the SOP states, was to be made by the GTMO Joint Intelligence Group (JIG). The Chief Psychologist for the JIG at the time the SOP was issued was Col. Larry James. The APA appointed Col. James, along with five others with military or intelligence ties (including the head SERE psychologist), to its Task Force on Psychological Ethics and National Security to formulate "ethics" to decide if it was "ethical" for psychologists to participate in national security interrogations. Further, the APA selected Col. James to present its "anti-torture" policy to the 2007 Convention.
To this extensive record that psychologists were active and central participants in some of the worst of the Bush administration's abuses, Dr. Brehm contrasts her faith:
"'We have great confidence that at least most of our members are really good people and that they would not do bad things,' Brehm said, adding her belief that psychologists had the ability to be heroes in fighting against torture."
Given the historical record, Dr. Brehm's belief only makes sense if the words "heroes," "against," and "torture" no longer mean what they used to mean.
Another of Dr. Brehm's statements is similarly astounding, given that she is a social psychologist:
"'All of our ethical policies are based on individual responsibility,' Brehm said. 'If you violate the behaviors that are prescribed then, if it is a serious violation, we'll kick you out of the association and you may not be able to make a living anymore. It is that basic.'"
Social psychologists are taught from the first day that the social environment often overrules individual behavioral tendencies. Those in abuse-generating situations are likely to participate in abuse. Social psychologists routinely study why "good" people do "bad" things. There is no evidence that psychologists are uniquely able to resist these pressures. Indeed, at the APA Convention last August, Craig Haney, a social psychologist who studies the US criminal justice system, stated that in 30 years of research in prisons, he knew of not a single instance in which a psychologist stopped existing abuse.
Dr. Brehm, like the rest of the APA leadership, ignores that we live in a country which, at this time, is committed to detainee abuse as national policy. Those aiding interrogations in that system are, at best, complicit in the numerous abuses we know are occurring: the kidnapping of detainees from around the world, the purchase of detainees, the lack of any legal rights, the removal of the centuries-old right to habeas corpus, not to mention the abusive interrogations. Rather than denouncing this organized regime, the APA talks obsessively about "influencing policy" through engagement, but has precious little to show for it. The CIA still tortures, using the techniques that were designed by psychologists. We all know it. The press reports on it. But the APA has yet to utter a word condemning these misuses of psychological knowledge and expertise.
Jane Mayer, in an august 8, 2007 Democracy Now! interview pointed out that not only the knowledge and expertise but the prestige of psychology was central to the Bush administration's torture regime. The administration figures who ordered torture hoped psychologist participation would prove to be a "get out of jail free" card in the event of future investigation of and trial for their crimes:
"if you take a look at the so-called torture memos, the forty pages or so of memos that were written by Jay Bybee and John Yoo way back right after 9/11, and you take a look at how they—they're busy looking at the Convention Against Torture, basically, it seems, trying to figure a way around it. One of the things they argued, these lawyers from the Justice Department, is that if you don't intend to torture someone, if your intention is not just to inflict terrible pain on them but to get information, then you really can't be necessarily convicted of torture.
"So how do you prove that your intent is pure? Well, one of the things they suggest is if you consult with experts who will say that what you're doing is just interrogation, then that might also be a good legal defense. And so, one of the roles that these SERE psychologists played was a legal role. They were the experts who were consulted in order to argue that the program was not a program of torture. They are to say, 'We've got PhDs, and this is standard psychology, and this is a legitimate way to question people.'"
We have written Dr. Brehm directly documenting in detail reports that psychologists were central in creating, implementing, standardizing as policy, and disseminating the abusive interrogation techniques used by the American military and the CIA. We sent Dr. Brehm an Open Letter signed by over 700 psychologists. We sent her our summary of the OIG report. She never responded. I sent her my article on the systematic use of isolation at Guantanamo. Again, no response. So, if Dr. Brehm is truly ignorant of the central role of psychologists in US abusive interrogations, it was not for lack of opportunity to inform herself.
Or do APA leaders know the facts, but simply not care? After all, the military and intelligence agencies hire hundreds, or even thousands of psychologists and provided many tens of millions of dollars in grant funding for psychological research. Further, psychologists have a preferred position over their long-time rivals, the psychiatrists, aiding interrogations in US detention centers. A little willful ignorance is, perhaps, a small price to pay for the APA leadership when millions of dollars and preferential treatment for psychologists are at stake.
But whether ignorance or willful avoidance, Dr. Brehm's lack of responsiveness to the legitimate concerns of so many of the APA's membership comes at a high price. The issue is increasingly dividing the organization, and threatens its hegemony as the primary representative of organized psychology at a time when rival psychological organizations are gaining membership and energy.
Only the APA's members can decide that closing one's eyes to abuse is too high a price to pay for government funding and other favors from the powerful.
Stephen Soldz is a psychoanalyst, psychologist, public health researcher, and faculty member at the Boston Graduate School of Psychoanalysis. He maintains the Psychoanalysts for Peace and Justice web site and the Psyche, Science, and Society blog. He is a founder of the Coalition for an Ethical Psychology, one of the organizations leading the struggle to change American Psychological Association policy on participation in abusive interrogations.
Reprinted from Znet
Tuesday, December 04, 2007
submitted by Tokyoite Brkić Sulejman and originally appearing at INFORMATION CLEARING HOUSE 02/26/06 "ICH"
Here we go again! Now it’s Iran. Bush, again mumbling something about Iran’s being a threat to the world, the same crap as about Iraq. But this time, the west European countries (the ”traditional” allies) are at it, too.
Isn’t it strange how all these countries, the USA, Israel, England, France, Germany…with all their weapons of mass destruction, feel so easily threatened? Why shouldn’t Iran be a nuclear power? The U.S, England, France, Israel, Russia, China, Japan (yes! Japan, too), India and Pakistan are.
These idiots are the cause of nuclear proliferation. If they are so concerned about the safety of the world they should lead by example and dismantle their nuclear weapons.
When the U.S, Israel, England France and Germany talk about the safety of the world being their main reason to object to Iran’s possessing nuclear technology, what world are they talking about? They are the only ones (as always) who feel threatened. I don’t hear about Thailand, Bhutan, Bulgaria, Latvia, Vietnam, Zambia… feeling threatened. I mean, really, what world is in question? The world comprised of the U.S, England, Israel, France, Canada, Germany, Italy, and Japan?
The world of GREED?
The O.E.C.D world? The world made up of the G7 the E.U the IMF, World Bank, WTO, N.A.T.O, the UN Security Council, NAFTA, Wall Street, OIL interests, cheap OIL. Is this the world we hear so much about? Because, if this is the world the West is worried about, then it is a world of SHAME that is in question, a world of deceit, greed, wars, theft, colonialism, capitalism, imperialism… An opulent white world born out of mainly colored peoples slave work, sweat and blood and their natural resources.
If this is the world that is in danger then it might as well be done away with!
We hear again words of shame, words like ”the UN Security Council”, “UNSC resolutions”, “International community”… I thought all this didn’t exist anymore. I thought the UN was finally dead, the coup de grâce being the (another) illegal US-UK-led war against the Iraqi people in order to rob them of their OIL. But let’s face it, the UN was never very much alive. Actually, there never was a UN. All there was was the(UN) Security Council, a band of criminals bent on tearing the natural resources of the world at any cost.
Although I am far from being a fan of the ruling Mullahs in Teheran, I still remember the Shah, Reza Pahlavi, a friend of the West, which means “the International Community” and oppressor of the Iranian people, a vicious dictator who was propped up and kept in power by the West, robbed his people blind and made himself and the West even richer and who eventually gave birth to the Mullahs. So, I urge Iran not to put its fate into the hands of “the International Community”. When you hear “International Community” on the news, what countries pop up in your mind? Albania, Burkina Faso, Burundi…? Of course not! The countries that pop up in our mind are usually the US and whoever follows (pretty much the same faithful dogs : Israel, England, France, Germany, Italy, Japan…) or G7, EU, NATO, W.B., IMF, WTO… it’s always the same gangsters anyway.
This ”International Community” that is so worried about the safety of the “world”, that claims the higher moral ground, a higher sense of justice and is so vociferous in its proclamations of being the defender of democratic values, human rights and protector of the “civilized” world, this ”International Community” is the same one that has betrayed millions of people around the real world in need of human rights, democracy, justice…
Millions have been killed, tortured, oppressed, persecuted, exploited…as a result of the criminal policies of our angelic ”International Community”, because what mattered and still matters the most today is the economic interests of this ”International Community” of SHAME!
Here are just a few names, a few peoples that were let down by our ”International Community”, the savior of the “world”: East Timor (200 000 killed), El Salvador (75000 killed), Chile (between 10000 and 30000 killed), these murders (in Chile) started on September 11, 1973 with a coup against the democratically elected president Salvador Allende, orchestrated by the U.S and welcome by “the International Community” and brought to power the fascist general Augusto Pinochet. Although this tragedy took place on a September 11, too, ”the International Community” seems to have a very selective memory when it comes to remember the victims of its criminal policies.
Vietnam (between 2 and 3 million killed), Laos, Cambodia, The Kurds, the Palestinians (robbed of their land and kept in huge prison camps by the only ”democracy” in the middle East: Israel), Rwanda(close to 1 million) Zaire (the Congo), Sabra and Chatila (between 2 and 3 thousand Palestinians killed), San Su Kyi, Lumumba, Leila Zana, Nelson Mandela, the Tibetans, 1.6million Iraqis, including 600 000 Iraqi children, who were killed by US-imposed, West European-backed (read ”International Community”), wrapped in the UN flag economic sanctions. For about 12 years, since the end of the Gulf War up to the current illegal war again against Iraq, the Iraqi people kept dying (600 000 children) like flies under the watchful eye of the humanists that comprise the “ International Community”.
And many more millions of others.
Now, just a few more words about N.Mandela. Mandela, a black South African man, had actually to fight in his own country for the liberation of his people against a white minority racist regime! : APARTHEID. He was labeled as a terrorist, arrested and thrown into jail and left to rot there right up to 1990! Meanwhile, our alrighteous ”International Community” kept doing very profitable business with apartheid, that white minority racist regime that lasted until 1994. That was 12 years ago! Bravo the ”International Community”!
When Mandela, at last, was to be released from prison in 1990, guess who was opposed to his release? No less than the current vice president of the United States of America: Dick Cheney (although, I’m sure he was not the only one). Mandela himself in an interview with the U.S. Magazine, Newsweek revealed this fact, published on Wednesday, 11 September 2002. Excerpts of this interview can also be found on BBC news world edition, Wednesday, 11 September 2002.
And let’s not forget Srebrenica, a place located where I come from : Tito’s Yugoslavia. Now that area is called Bosnia and Herzegovina. In July1995, between 7800 and8000 men and boys were executed, slaughtered by the Serb military and paramilitary forces during the 1992 – 1995 war in Bosnia and Herzegovina in an area that was under the protection of the “United Nations. Srebrenica was even declared a “safe area” , a “haven”. This massacre took place in the heart of Europe, it was the worst massacre since the end of World War2.
It occurred right under the noses of the leaders of the three European countries that are these days so concerned about the safety of the “world”, so much so that they are even considering supporting a military action, undertaken by the U.S.A and its proxy Israel against Iran to stop it from developing nuclear technology. The three European countries I have in mind are: France, England and Germany, all members of the UN ”Security Council” of which two are permanent, France and England. These hypocrites want to protect the “world” when they couldn’t even stop 7800 to 8000 men and boys from being killed in a small town (located on their doorstep) like Srebrenica. Maybe the people of Srebrenica should have applied for EU membership before the massacre in order to get better protection.
When the ”International Community” threatens Iran to force it to give up its nuclear program in order to make the world safer, I wonder if its thoughts of safety include the Chechens, the Palestinians, the Iraqis, the Sudanese in Darfur, the campesinos and the Indios being massacred in Colombia by death squads backed by the cheap – natural resources - hungry U.S. and its west European vassals and Japan (read: ”International Community”) …or the 30 000 daily deaths caused by hunger due to economic policies of the ”International Community”…Will all these peoples and many other oppressed ones feel safer once they find out that Iran has agreed to get rid of its nuclear technology? Who or What will really be safer? The flow of cheap OIL to the West and Japan (the ”International Community”)?
In light of this record of atrocities approved of by ”the International Community”, Iran should really speed up the development of its nuclear technology in order to defend itself against these vultures.
Iran shouldn’t either count too much on the anti-war “movements” in the West or here in Japan. I mean, take a look at Iraq. Close to 200 000 Iraqis killed for OIL so far! You see any outrage? But two bombs go off in London or two buildings go down in New York with some collateral damage, then and only then there is outrage! ”The International Community” goes into uproar, it is the end of the (white) world (of privilege), (white) civilization is in danger, “democracy” and “peace” are under fire. Yeah, sure, the anti – war “movements” in the West and here in Japan, we’ll do our usual thing, just like with Iraq, get in the streets, parade, shout slogans “No war! Peace now! Don’t attack Iran!”, we’ll walk, dance, sing “Blowing in the wind”, carry banners (some with very “aggressive” messages). It will be very colorful, joyful… hell, it might even be better than Le Cirque du Soleil, and all of these “protests” will of course be non-violent! Peaceful, superpeaceful, ultra-peaceful! And then, if our governments despite our strongest objections don’t back off and submit to our will and attack Iran all the same, well, we’ll just have to… go home, I guess, and wait for the next war, as usual.
Therefore Iran should really hurry and develop whatever it needs to protect itself from us, I mean, ”the International Community”.
The above article was reader-submitted. All opinons are those of the original authors and may not reflect the views of TokyoProgressive.
This site contains copyrighted material the use of which has not always been specifically authorized by the copyright owner. We are making such material available in our efforts to advance understanding of environmental, political, human rights, economic, democracy, scientific, and social justice issues, etc. We believe this constitutes a 'fair use' of any such copyrighted material as provided for by copyright law in several countries. The material on this site is distributed without profit .
Wednesday, October 31, 2007
Not Just Our Minds and Hearts But Our Bodies October 29, 2007
By Ted Glick
It was gratifying, I have to admit, to get a fairly long phone message from Nancy Pelosi's Policy Director at the end of last week, the latest in a series of back-and-forth calls since I visited Pelosi's office on the 17th day of my climate emergency fast over three weeks ago. On that day I visited 15 offices of key people in the House and Senate who are dealing with the global warming issue, making efforts, their staffers indicated, to come up with legislation to address this deepening crisis.
I wasn't able to speak to any policy people in Pelosi's office but I was given a name and number to follow up, and I did so. The call last week was the most recent in a game of telephone tag.
Pelosi's person, Lara, commented on the Speaker's concern about my health and about her very strong commitment to taking action on global warming. She then proceeded to tell me that Pelosi's plan is to come up with something "that George Bush can sign," a direct quote. What she talked about was aspects of two different versions of an energy bill passed by the House and Senate this summer that will strengthen laws and regulations to make the U.S. economy more energy efficient. Period. Full stop.
So in the face of the greatest civilizational challenge humankind has ever faced, to paraphrase Bill McKibben, the best the Democratic leadership can do is to capitulate to George Bush?
Honestly, I'm not surprised, given what they've done and not done on the war and the snail-like pace of their efforts on global warming since they took office over nine months ago.
Their strong-statements-backed-up-by-weak-action only deepen my commitment to continue this climate fast and work hard in this last week to make the Monday, Oct. 22nd, No War No Warming nonviolent disruption of business as usual on Capitol Hill in D.C. as large and effective as possible.
I'm really looking forward to risking arrest as part of that stepping-it-up action, and I'm glad that there are at least hundreds of others doing the same. I hope many more will make their plans in this last week to join us.
"Action is the best antidote to despair." I believe Joan Baez said that. It's absolutely true. And it's not just "action," in general. It's "action" appropriate to how you feel, to your past experiences in the world of activism and to the situation. For a lot of us, disrupting business as usual on Capitol Hill on a day, a Monday, that Congress is in session and doing their work sure seems very timely, very necessary.
I think back to other major mass movements in U.S. history over the past century. All the successful ones had an edge to them, people willing to occupy factories, in the case of the labor movement of the 30's, people sitting in or directly confronting racist practices, in the case of the civil rights movement of the 50's and 60's, people burning their draft cards or going into draft boards to destroy Selective Service records, in the case of the anti-Vietnam War movement of the 60's and 70's, or the massive civil disobedience actions at planned and existing nuclear power sites in the '70's and 80's.
And this century, beginning with actions in D.C. in April, 2000 that themselves were a follow-up to the successful late November, 1999 actions in Seattle, the global justice movement put the IMF/World Bank/WTO very much on the defensive and concretely impacted their ability to advance their corporate globalization agenda.
I think of the famous statement of Mario Savio, leader of the Berkeley Free Speech Movement in the mid-1960's: "There's a time when the operation of the machine becomes so odious, makes you so sick at heart, that you can't take part, you can't even passively take part, and you've got to put your bodies upon the gears and upon the wheels, upon the levers, upon all the apparatus, and you've got to make it stop! And you've got to indicate to the people who run it, to the people who own it, that unless you're free, the machine will be prevented from working at all!" It's time for us to emulate those past movements as we build the 21st century movement to Fight Climate Change, Not Wars for Oil! Ted Glick is the coordinator of the U.S. Climate Emergency Council (http://www.climateemergency.org), a leading organizer of No War, No Warming (http://www.nowarnowarming.org) and is on the 41st day of an open-ended climate emergency fast. He can be reached at .
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June 7, 2007
The Pentagon's IG Report Contradicts What the APA Has Said About the Involvement of Psychologists in Abusive Interrogations
A Q&A on Psychologists and Torture
By STEPHEN SOLDZ, STEVE REISNER
and BRAD OLSON
What is the OIG Report and Why is it Important?
On May 18, the Department of Defense (DoD) declassified an August 2006 report by the departments' Office of the Inspector General (OIG) entitled Review of DoD-Directed Investigations of Detainee Abuse. In this report is conclusive evidence from the oversight division of the DoD confirming that psychologists played a central role in the development of the regime of psychological torture used at the US detention facilities at Guantánamo and in Iraq and Afghanistan.
The OIG report further substantiates numerous press reports published over the last several years that the military's Survival, Evasion, Resistance, and Escape (SERE) program had been "reverse-engineered" to develop the harsh interrogation techniques used in our country's detention facilities housing terrorist suspects.
Since 2004, as these reports emerged, the leadership of the American Psychological Association (APA) ignored or disparaged them; in each case reiterating the APA policy statement, that "psychologists have a critical role in keeping interrogations safe, legal, ethical and effective."
This briefing paper documents and explains the content of the OIG report and its refutation of the claims of APA leadership, including those made by Dr. Stephen Behnke, Director of APA Ethics Directorate, and Past Presidents Gerald Koocher and Ronald Levant. At the end of the document is a list of urgent action steps the APA must take to immediately reform its flawed ethics policy and restore the reputation of our profession as a force that defends human rights, promotes core principles of health professional ethics, and acts to protect the well-being of the individual, regardless of political, ethnic, or religious distinctions.
What is SERE?
SERE is the military's Survival, Evasion, Resistance, and Escape program that trains US Special Operations forces, aviators and others at high risk of capture on the battlefield to evade capture and to resist 'breaking' under torture, particularly through giving false confessions or collaborating with their captors. During SERE training, trainees are subjected to harsh and abusive treatment modeled upon the cold war-era psychological torture techniques used by the Chinese, the North Koreans, and the former Soviet Union. SERE-type techniques, when used by other countries, have been described as torture by the United States government in State Department human rights reports for decades.
Reports of the treatment of detainees in US custody as part of the global war on terror have paralleled techniques known to have been used as part of SERE training: prolonged isolation, prolonged sleep deprivation, sensory deprivation, extremely painful "stress positions," sensory bombardment (such as prolonged loud noise and/or bright lights), forced nudity, sexual humiliation, cultural humiliation (such as disrespect to holy books), being subjected to extreme cold that induces hypothermia, the exploitation of phobias, and simulation of the experience of drowning (waterboarding). Experience with torture survivors and the medical and psychological literature document that these techniques can have profound long-term negative effects upon individuals, including psychosis, depression, suicidal ideation and/or post-traumatic stress disorder. Many SERE program graduates have complained of these symptoms.
Do SERE Techniques Violate the Geneva Conventions? YES.
"SERE training incorporates physical and psychological pressures, which act as counterresistance techniques, to replicate harsh conditions that the Service member might encounter if they are held by forces that do not abide by the Geneva Conventions" (OIG Report, p. 23)
"The Commander, Joint Personnel Recovery Agency, explained that he understood that the detainees held by TF-20 [in Iraq] were determined to be Designated Unlawful Combatants (DUCs), not Enemy Prisoners of War (EPW) protected by the Geneva Convention and that the interrogation techniques were authorized and that the JPRA team members were not to exceed the standards used in SERE training on our own Service members." (OIG Report, p. 28)
The OIG Report cites the description in the Army Field Manual 34-52, which makes clear that SERE-type interrogation techniques constitute "physical or mental torture and coercion under the Geneva conventions":
"Physical or mental torture and coercion revolves around eliminating the source's free will and are expressly prohibited by GWS [Geneva Convention for the Amelioration of the Wounded and Sick in Armed Forces in the Field], Article 13; GPW [Geneva Convention Relative to the Treatment of Prisoners of War], Articles 13 and 17; and GC [Geneva Convention Relative to the Protection of Civilian Persons in Time of War], Articles 31 and 32. Torture is defined as the infliction of intense pain to body or mind to extract a confession or information, or for sadistic pleasure. Examples of physical torture include-- electric shock, forcing an individual to stand, sit, or kneel in abnormal positions for prolonged periods of time, food deprivation, and any form of beating. Examples of mental torture include-mock executions, abnormal sleep deprivation, and chemically induced psychosis. Coercion is defined as actions designed to unlawfully induce another to compel an act against one's will. Examples of coercion include-threatening or implying physical or mental torture to the subject, his family or others to whom he owes loyalty." (OIG Report, pp. 3-4)
Are SERE Techniques Regarded as Torture by SERE Psychologists? YES.
PENS Task Force member Captain Bryce Lefever, a former SERE psychologist for the Navy SEALs, describes his SERE duties in his PENS biography as including the supervision of "personnel undergoing intensive exposure to enemy interrogation, torture, and exploitation techniques."
Were SERE Techniques Taught and Utilized at Guantánamo? YES.
The OIG report documents in detail that Ft. Bragg SERE psychologists provided training to interrogators at Guantánamo for the purpose of using SERE techniques to break down detainees:
"Counterresistance techniques taught by the Joint Personnel Recovery Agency [the agency responsible for SERE training] contributed to the development of interrogation policy at the U.S. Southern Command [i.e., Guanatanamo]." OIG Report, p. 24)
"[These] Counterresistance techniques were introduced because personnel believed that interrogation methods used were no longer effective in obtaining useful information from some detainees." (OIG Report, p. 24)
"JTF-170 [the command overseeing interrogations at Guantánamo] requested that Joint Personnel Recovery Agency instructors be sent to Guantánamo to instruct interrogators in SERE counterresistance interrogation techniques. SERE instructors from Fort Bragg responded to Guantánamo requests for instructors trained in the use of SERE interrogation resistance techniques" (OIG Report, p. 26).
Were Psychologists Involved in the Transformation of SERE Training Techniques into Interrogation methods? YES.
"On September 16, 2002, the Army Special Operations Command and the Joint Personnel Recovery Agency co-hosted a SERE psychologist conference at Fort Bragg for JTF-170 interrogation personnel. The Army's Behavioral Science Consultation Team [BSCT] from Guantánamo Bay also attended the conference. Joint Personnel Recovery Agency personnel briefed JTF-170 representatives on the exploitation techniques and methods used in resistance (to interrogation) training at SERE schools. The JTF-170 personnel understood that they were to become familiar with SERE training and be capable of determining which SERE information and techniques might be useful in interrogations at Guantánamo. Guantánamo Behavioral Science Consultation Team personnel understood that they were to review documentation and standard operating procedures for SERE training in developing the standard operating procedure for the JTF-170, if the command approved those practices. The Army Special Operations Command was examining the role of interrogation support as a 'SERE Psychologist competency area.'" (OIG Report, p. 25, emphasis added.)
How did SERE Techniques Become Transformed into Abusive Interrogation Techniques?
On October 11, the Commander of JTF-170 forwarded a memorandum requesting approval of harsh, SERE-based technique. From the memorandum:
"...the following techniques and other aversive techniques, such as those used in U.S. military interrogation resistance training or by other U.S. government agencies, may be utilized in a carefully coordinated manner to help interrogate exceptionally resistant detainees." (OIG Report, p. 26)
"[T]he U.S. Southern Command's request led to the issuance of Secretary of Defense, December 2, 2002, memorandum [authorizing the use of many harsh, abusive techniques]. In response to Service-level concerns, a Working Group was formed to examine counterresistance techniques, leading to the Secretary of Defense, April 16, 2003, memorandum that approved counterresistance techniques for U.S. Southern Command." (OIG Report, p. 26)
Did the Interrogation Methods Considered by the Pentagon's "Working Group" and Authorized by Secretary of Defense Rumsfeld Originate With SERE Psychologists? YES.
"[T]he U.S. Southern Command's request led to the issuance of Secretary of Defense, December 2, 2002, memorandum." (OIG Report, p. 26)
"I stand for 8-10 hours a day. Why is standing limited to 4 hours?" (Rumsfeld Memorandum Dec. 2, 2002)
"In response to Service-level concerns, a Working Group was formed to examine counterresistance techniques, leading to the Secretary of Defense, April 16, 2003, memorandum that approved counterresistance techniques for U.S. Southern Command." (OIG Report, p. 26)
"Application of these interrogation techniques is subject to the following general safeguards: (i) limited to use only at strategic interrogation facilities; (ii) there is a good basis to believe that detainee possesses critical intelligence; (iii) the detainee is medically and operationally evaluated as suitable (considering all techniques to be used in combination); (iv) interrogators are specifically trained for the techniques; (v) a specific interrogation plan (including reasonable safeguards. limits on duration, intervals between applications, termination criteria and the presence or availability of qualified medical personnel) has been developed; (vi) there is appropriate supervision; and, (vii) there is appropriate, specified senior approval for use with any specific detainee(after considering the foregoing and receiving legal advice)."
(Rumsfeld's "Memorandum for the Commander, US Southern Command. Subject: Counter-Resistance Techniques in the War on Terrorism (S). April 16, 2003, p. 5.)
Were the SERE Techniques Used in Iraq and Did Psychologists Play a Role in Bringing Them There? YES.
"The Joint Personnel Recovery Agency [responsible for SERE] was also responsible for the migration of counterresistance interrogation techniques into the U.S. Central Command's area of responsibility [Iraq and Afghanistan]. In September 2003, at the request of the Commander, TF-20 [the special forces group hunting Saddam Hussein and other former Baath and top insurgency leaders], the Commander, Joint Personnel Recovery Agency sent an interrogation assessment team to Iraq to provide advice and assistance to the task force interrogation mission. The TF-20 was the special mission unit that operated in the CJTF-7 area of operations" (OIG Report, p. 28).
Did SERE Techniques Migrate to Afghanistan? YES.
"The Afghanistan SOP was influenced by the counterresistance memorandum that the Secretary of Defense approved on December, 2, 2002 (see Appendix U), and incorporated techniques designed for detainees who were identified as 'unlawful combatants.' Subsequent battlefield interrogation SOPs included techniques such as yelling, loud music, light control, environmental manipulation, sleep deprivation/adjustment, stress positions, 20 hour interrogations, and controlled fear (muzzled dogs)" (OIG Report, pp. 15-16).
Did the OIG Find the Use of SERE Techniques to be Inappropriate? YES.
"We are not suggesting that SERE training is inappropriate for those subject to capture; however, it is not appropriate to use in training interrogators how to conduct interrogation operations" (OIG Report, p. 29).
"We recommend that the Commander, U.S. Joint Forces Command, Office of Primary Responsibility for Personnel Recovery and Executive Agent for all Survival, Evasion, Resistance and Escape training implement formal policies and procedures that preclude the introduction and use of physical and psychological coercion techniques outside the training environment." (OIG Report, p. 30, emphasis removed)
Were Psychologists Central to the Development and Promulgation of Abusive Interrogation Techniques? YES.
As the OIG report documents, SERE psychologists instructed military intelligence, Special Operations forces, psychologists serving as part of the Behavioral Science Consultation Teams (BSCTs), and other interrogation personnel on how to use SERE techniques during interrogations. Additionally, BSCT psychologists understood that they were to utilize SERE methods in "developing the standard operating procedure for the JTF-170 [GTMO interrogators]," pending command approval (OIG Report, p. 29). BSCT psychologists also were directly involved in implementing the SERE tactics during interrogations, according to multiple reports. One well-known example is the involvement of military psychologist Major John Leso in the interrogation of Muhammed Al-Qatani.
Did Leading SERE Psychologists and Other Psychologists Engaged in Interrogations Co-author the PENS Task Force Report and Recommendations? YES.
In response to reports of psychologists' and other health professionals' involvement in abusive interrogations, the APA convened a Presidential Task Force on Psychological Ethics and National Security (PENS) in 2005. Six of the nine voting members were from the DoD and the US intelligence community, most with direct involvement in national security interrogations at Guantánamo, Iraq, and Afghanistan. Perhaps most problematic, it is clear from the OIG Report that three of the PENS members were directly in the chain of command translating SERE techniques into harsh interrogation tactics. Although we cannot know exactly what each of these individuals did, their presence in the chain of command is deeply troubling.
Colonel Morgan Banks "is the senior Army Survival, Evasion, Resistance, and Escape (SERE) Psychologist, responsible for the training and oversight of all Army SERE Psychologists. He provides technical support and consultation to all Army psychologists providing interrogation support, and his office currently provides the only Army training for psychologists in repatriation planning and execution, interrogation support, and behavioral profiling" (PENS Task Force member biographies). Since 2005, several reporters have implicated Colonel Banks in the "reverse engineering" of SERE techniques for interrogation purposes.
Colonel Larry James "was the Chief Psychologist for the Joint Intelligence Group at GTMO, Cuba" (PENS Task Force member biographies) starting in January 2003, immediately after Secretary Rumsfeld authorized the use of the most brutal SERE-based techniques as Guantánamo. He was in command of psychologists at GTMO at the time these abusive policies and practices were in effect with the direct involvement of military psychologists.
Captain Bryce Lefever had been a SERE psychologist (from 1991-1993) where he supervised "personnel undergoing intensive exposure to enemy interrogation, torture, and exploitation techniques." He "was deployed as the Joint Special Forces Task Force psychologist to Afghanistan in 2002, where he lectured to interrogators and was consulted on various interrogation techniques" (PENS Task Force member biographies). That is, he had the requisite SERE background and it appears that he was involved in interrogations in Afghanistan at the time, as the OIG report makes clear, that the abusive SERE-based techniques were being utilized by Special Operations forces and others.
While we do not know exactly what each of these PENS Task Force members did in their settings and how their roles influenced the SERE/BSCT migration process, the OIG report makes it clear that the commands that these psychologists held or served under played a lead role establishing and implementing the policies that adapted SERE tactics use in interrogations during the time the events described in the OIG report occurred. This conflict of interest was already raised in the press at the time of the PENS process by the release of the ICRC report; it is confirmed by the OIG report. This conflict raises the strong possibility that the selfsame psychologists who wrote the APA policy permitting participation in US national security interrogations were part of the process generating the policies and procedures that made the abusive SERE techniques standard operating procedure throughout all three primary theaters of US combat and human intelligence operations as part of the War on Terror.
In addition to the PENS Task Force members apparently involved in DoD interrogations, one member, R. Scott Shumate, was the chief operational psychologist in the CIA Counter Terrorism Center and later for DoD counterintelligence operations. The CIA's so-called "enhanced interrogation methods," as described in several media reports, are strikingly similar to the SERE tactics:
R. Scott Shumate's PENS Task Force biographical statement reads: "He has worked for the federal government in highly classified positions that have required him to travel extensively and live overseas. He has performed many of his duties under highly stressful and difficult circumstances. In May of 2003, Dr. Shumate accepted a senior position in the Department of Defense as the Director of Behavioral Science for the Counterintelligence Field Activity ["CIFA"]. Currently, he has 20 psychologists and a multimillion dollar budget as he provides operational psychological support to several Defense Agencies though CIFA."The biographical statement goes on: "He was the chief operational psychologist for the Counter-Terrorism Center from 2000 to 2003 and has interviewed many renowned individuals associated with various terrorist networks."
A more recent biographical statement posted on a website for a conference where Shumate was scheduled to speak states that, "Dr. Shumate worked as an undercover officer for the Central Intelligence Agency where he worked against a wide array of targets including the Middle Eastern, Russian, and Chinese. From April 2001 until May of 2003 he was the chief operational psychologist for the CIA's Counter Terrorism Center (CTC). He has been with several of the key apprehended terrorists."
Shumate, it appears, was "with several of the key apprehended terrorists," in his capacity as chief operational psychologist for the CIA's Counter Terrorism center or while CIFA Behavioral Science staff were offering guidance for the questioning of Guantánamo detainees. The legality of the interrogation practices used by these units will be the subject of imminent hearings by the Senate Armed Services Committee and the Senate Intelligence Committee.
What has the APA Said About Psychologists Participation in National Security Interrogations [emphases added unless otherwise noted]?
The APA leadership has repeatedly said that psychologists' participation in interrogations helps keep them "safe, legal, ethical and effective." This language, it turns out, is nearly identical to that used by Department of Defense officials, including former Army Surgeon General Lt. General Kevin Kiley, involved in protecting what we now know were abusive interrogation techniques that violate the Geneva Conventions. The following quotes demonstrate how the statements of APA leadership directly contradict the findings of the OIG report:
"APA derives its position from Principle A, "Do No Harm," in the Ethical Principles of Psychologists and Code of Conduct (2002), and from Principle B, which addresses psychologists' responsibilities to society. By virtue of Principle A, psychologists do no harm; by virtue of Principle B, psychologists use their expertise in, and understanding of, human behavior to aid in the prevention of harm. A corollary to this first rule is that psychologists may not participate in interrogations that rely on coercion." (APA Director of APA's Ethics Office, APA Monitor on Psychology, July/August, 2006)
"It is consistent with the APA Code of Ethics for psychologists to serve in consultative roles to interrogation- or information-gathering processes for national security-related purposes. While engaging in such consultative and advisory roles entails a delicate balance of ethical considerations, doing so puts psychologists in a unique position to assist in ensuring that such processes are safe and ethical for all participants." (PENS Report)
"The task force concluded psychologists have a critical role in keeping interrogations safe, legal, ethical and effective." (Olivia Moorehead-Slaughter, Chair of the PENS Task Force, emphasis in original)
"I wish I had the assurance that Jane Mayer and that Dr. Reisner apparently have that there are APA members doing bad things at Guantánamo or elsewhere, because any time I have asked these journalists or other people who are making these assertions for names so that APA could investigate its members who might be allegedly involved in them, no names have ever been forthcoming." (2006 APA President Gerald Koocher on Democracy Now! radio June 16, 2006)
"APA has a strong interest in the role that psychologists are playing in national security investigations as part of the Joint Task Force and wishes to continue to help advise our members and DoD to ensure that such work by psychologists is safe, legal, ethical, and effective." (2005 APA President Ronald Levant in Military Psychology, 2007)
"Survival, Evasion, Resistance, and Escape (SERE) training for BSCTs was discussed. SERE training has been provided to BSCTs so that they can learn the perspective of persons in captivity. General Hood stated that the purpose was not so that they would learn how to use SERE techniques in interrogation." (2005 APA President Ronald Levant in Military Psychology, 2007)
"The Association's position is rooted in our belief that having psychologists consult with interrogation teams makes an important contribution toward keeping interrogations safe and ethical." (2007 APA President Sharon Brehm, Letter to the Editor, Washington Monthly, January 9, 2007).
"A number of opportunistic commentators masquerading as scholars have continued to report on alleged abuses by mental health professionals." (2006 APA President Gerald Koocher, APA Monitor on Psychology, February, 2006)
"colleagues have expressed concerns that behavioral scientists have helped interrogators create aversive interrogation techniques as noted in press accounts (e.g., sleep deprivation, social isolation, extreme temperature changes or degrading and embarrassing interventions). Such concern ignores the fact that the use of such strategies hardly constitutes a recent development, and did not originate as the ideas of psychologists." (2006 APA President Gerald Koocher, APA Monitor on Psychology, July/August, 2006)
"In the purest sense, the mission of the BSCT is to provide forensic psychological expertise and consultation in order to assist the command in conducting safe, legal, ethical, and effective interrogation and detainee operations." (Lt. Gen. Kevin C. Kiley, Surgeon General of the Army "Final Report: Assessment of Medical Operations for OEF, GTMO, and OIF "Section 18-21, p. 13.)
"Students [military intelligence] are trained about the roles of the BSCT staff, which include: checking the medical history of detainees with a focus on depression, delusional behaviors, manifestations of stress, and 'what are their buttons.' Students are alaso trained that BSCT staff will greatly assist them with: obtaining more accurate intelligence information, knowing how to gain better rapport with detainees, and also knowing when to push or not to push harder in the pursuit of intelligence information." (Lt. Gen. Kevin C. Kiley, Surgeon General of the Army "Final Report: Assessment of Medical Operations for OEF, GTMO, and OIF" Section 19-14, p. 19-7.)
What Should the APA Do Now?
With the release of the OIG report, the APA's argument for psychologist participation, that it keeps these interrogations "safe, legal, ethical, and effective," has been definitively proven false. The APA should immediately take several steps to correct its flawed policy:
1. APA should immediately rescind the PENS Task Force Report because it was based upon a flawed process and was written by senior DoD and intelligence personnel involved in the chain of command that oversaw the very ethical abuses it was constituted to investigate.
2. Prior to the upcoming August Council Meeting, the APA Board of Directors and the Ethics Committee should endorse the resolution entitled, "A moratorium on psychologist involvement in interrogations at US detention centers for foreign detainees," introduced by Neil Altman and scheduled for a vote at the August Council of Representatives. The Council of Representatives should pass this resolution. Passing the Moratorium will immediately establish that psychologists no longer belong in the interrogation rooms where, as the OIG report documents, they helped to create the procedures for, and supervise the methods of, abusive SERE interrogations. Such a step would do much to bring the APA in line with the positions adopted some time ago by the American Psychiatric Association, the American Medical Association, and the American Nurses Association.
4. APA should modify Ethics Code Standard 1.02, which allows psychologists to disregard the APA Ethics Code when following a law or military regulation, thus removing what amounts to the "Nuremberg Defense" from the APA Ethics Code.
5. The APA Board of Directors should commence a neutral third-party investigation of any conflicts of interest between the APA and the Executive Branch of the US Government that influenced the PENS process and the APA's position on this important issue.
It is necessary to uncover why and how the APA has steadfastly continued its commitment to its current policy despite the continually emerging evidence that psychology and psychologists have been involved in detainee abuse. An independent investigation conducted by a panel of experts in international, military and US law, health professional ethics, human rights, and other related fields would shed much-needed light on the APA's formulation of policy in this area. as well as structural, cultural, and other issues that contributed to the APA's policy development process.
Among the issues this investigation must examine are:
a) the numerous procedural irregularities alleged to have occurred during the PENS process;
b) the role of the military and intelligence agencies in the formulation and functioning of the PENS Task Force;
c) the reasons why the APA and its leadership have systematically ignored the accumulating evidence that psychologists participating in interrogations are contributing to torture or cruel, inhuman, or degrading treatment, rather than helping to prevent it; and
d) the overall nexus of close ties between the APA staff/leadership and the military and intelligence agencies, and whether that nexus contributed to the APA policy on interrogations, and further, to the failure of the APA to substantively investigate allegations of mass ethical abuses by psychologists in the military and intelligence services.
Steven Reisner is Senior Faculty and Supervisor, International Trauma Studies Program, Mailman School of Public Health, Columbia University; Clinical Assistant Professor, Department of Psychiatry, New York University Medical School:
Cockburn wrote a piece critical of global warming theorists. ZNet asked Monbiot to respond.
Below is their exchange…
Alexander Cockburn is a long time journalist and co-editor of the political newsletter CounterPunch for which his article was originally written. He is author of many books.
George Monbiot is the author of many books, most recently Heat: how to stop the planet from burning (SEP, 2007). He writes a weekly column for the Guardian newspaper.
Debating Global Warming
The precipitating essay by Cockburn…
Cockburn: Global Warming Sin?
Cockburn's second article …
Cockburn: Merchants of Fear?
Cockburn's third article …
Cockburn: Explosion of the Fearmongers
Cockburn's fourth article …
Cockburn: Sources and Authorities
Cockburn's fifth article …
Cockburn: “Peer Review” and Global Warming
Monbiot: Responding to Cockburn
Monbiot: Request for Climate References
Monbiot: Cockburn & Corrupt Science
Monbiot: The Conspiracy Widens
Related items …
Rancourt: Truth or Dare?
O’Keefe: Global Warming Debate
Uncertain Outcomes: The Israeli-Palestine Question
After 9/11, 2001, when I first started examining the various landscapes – physical, political, cultural, military – of events relating to that day, I had no real idea that it would lead me into an advocacy position of Palestinian rights, but everything about the American empire at the time pointed towards Israel and Palestine as the then current focal point of the majority of the Middle East, European, and Asian political problems. I had long been familiar with American arrogance and patriotic jingoism, with its various wars of suppression supposedly in the name of protecting the free world from communism, with its corporate mentality as witnessed by the failed Multilateral Agreement on Investments as supported by the World Trade Organization and others in the group of the Washington Consensus, and with its military supremacy, its phoney antagonism to communism, but most notable in its formidable yet essentially unusable nuclear arsenal. I had a lot of the pieces for the puzzle, but had not put them together into a coherent framework. When that framework did materialize and I was able to see the big picture quite distinctly – yet still with puzzle pieces missing – Palestine-Israel appeared to be the central focus. There are many other nuances in different areas of the globe, but the central feature remained Israel and the Middle East.
Now with events in Iraq and Afghanistan becoming predominant within the newscasts, Israel-Palestine has not seemed to be central to the picture. Unfortunately it still is, as the Jewish lobby in America has the ear – and foremost its wallets – of many Americans in its thrall, and those same groups are now clamouring for an attack on Iran because of Iran’s alleged desire to completely destroy Israel and Israel’s self-willed fear of Iranian nuclear power. Regardless of that global centrality, even if it were not there, the question of what will happen in Israel-Palestine remains.
That basic Palestinian-Israeli question relates to what will be the ultimate kind of country that rises from the current conflict. The ‘status quo’ has never held the same within Palestine-Israel except for the one factor of the power dominance of the Israelis in most aspects of life over the Palestinian people. The geographical situation has changed over time: from the initial Jewish immigrants; the rebellions against the British by both the Palestinians and the Jews; through the sudden and swift changes forced by the nakba and twenty years later the Six Day War (or the naksah); to the gradual and seemingly inexorable pace of settlement colonies in the occupied territories. It has seen government structures within Palestine grow and develop, from a relatively unconstituted state of subjection by conquest to an acceptance of the PLO as the Palestinian representatives, the creation of the Palestinian Authority, and finally the democratic victory of Hamas denied and subverted by everyone caught out on the weak limb of their own democratic discourse. Still the question lingers as there have been no political settlements, only vague negotiations for future status, roadmaps that lead nowhere, and ‘horizons’ that do as all horizons do by simply retreating as the searcher advances. The question remains. What will be the outcome of the Palestinian-Israeli conflict?
It is obvious that the current situation will not remain that way for long. Events within and outside the area both provide momentum towards some kind of change towards some kind of settled outcome, of which there are several, some kind, some not.
The worst possible scenario, the most repugnant of the choices, is that of genocide/ethnic cleansing. While few actually advocate this, the refrain is still evident in some Israeli voices. And while few actually advocate measures that would apply ethnic cleansing in one grand large gesture, it could be argued that most of the events that have occurred in Palestine-Israel over the past half-century are in essence a prolonged form of ethnic cleansing. The UN “Convention on the Prevention and Punishment of the Crime of Genocide” states that genocide “is a crime under international law” which involves various acts “with the intent to destroy, in whole or in part, a national, ethnical, racial or religious group as such.” Of the five acts listed in Article Two the first three are apparent within Palestine-Israel: “(a) Killing members of the group; b) Causing serious bodily or mental harm to members of the group; (c) Deliberately inflicting on the group conditions of life calculated to bring about its physical destruction in whole or in part.” Along with genocide, Article Three finds punishable, “(b) Conspiracy to commit genocide; (c) Direct and public incitement to commit genocide”  Obviously there will be arguments and rationales from the Israelis about defence of their country and the fight against terrorism, but the overall presentation of information coming largely from Jewish revisionist scholarship is that if the above three parameters are applied to Israel, then they are participating in genocide/ethnic cleansing. 
Even before the nakba the Zionist plan included settlements placed intermittently within the Palestinian population to prevent and block a contiguous Palestinian geographic area. The nakba provided a focus in which over five hundred Palestinian villages and towns were destroyed quickly and ‘efficiently’, if terror, murder and expulsion can be considered ‘efficient’. After the 1967 Six Day War colonial settlements became the norm again, continuing the earlier Zionist plans to split the Palestinian areas into non-functional territories surrounded by a Jewish state. Certainly there have been incidents of killing, either in groups as with Tantura, Jenin, Sabra, and Shatilla or within the ongoing IDF interventions during either of the intifadas or as basic ongoing crime and punishment within the daily lives of the occupied Palestinian territories.
To date this settlement pattern has been successful for the Jewish state as the majority of Palestinians reside in small non-contiguous areas, many cut off from their former agricultural areas, water sources, cultural centres, and employment, having to communicate on back roads threaded under and around roads preserved for Jews only. The situation within these bantustan style cantonments very deliberately inflicts “conditions of life calculated to bring about its physical destruction in whole or in part,” with the Israeli voice expressing the idea that hopefully conditions will be made so miserable that the Palestinians will “choose” to leave. This ‘status quo’ will not remain; the pressures are much too great. Gaza is essentially an immense outdoor prison camp; the Westbank is divided up into three small areas, none of which have any control over any aspect of what could be considered state-hood, except when acting as proxies for the Israelis.
Guarding a series of prison-based cantonments is not a viable means of achieving peace for the region, nor of establishing a democratic state. While the situation with Iran remains tenuous, the direction that Israel will take is also uncertain, and while I am loathe to enter into conjecture about the future, an Iranian ‘venture’ on the part of Israel or the U.S. could open up the path to more severe and impulsive genocide/ethnic cleansing of the Palestinian population.
While genocide/ethnic cleansing is an illegal and morally repugnant manner to have a final outcome (especially in consideration of the Jewish trauma from their own holocaust), the path to the other two main solutions are also highly problematic, although much more favourably arguable from a moral-legal perspective. Those two aspects, first the “two state” outcome, secondly the “democratic state for all the peoples” outcome, will require enormous efforts by both sides to make them agreeable, and while not everyone can be satisfied, the majority would hopefully improve the lot of both groups such that peace and a healthy social-cultural-political interaction could grow between the parties.
Yankee go home
The path would be made much easier if one of the main protagonists would simply ‘butt out’. For while there are two cultures, two identities trying to achieve a peaceful home, it is compounded by a third group that is there only for the fortune of political and geostrategic considerations – the Americans, who really do not care about the Palestinians at all and are only supportive of Israel for their grand strategy towards the Middle East. To a lesser but still influential sector, the American Christian right simply wants the Jews to succeed and fulfill Christian prophecy so that they can come in afterwards and establish their own Christian kingdom. A further complicating factor is the Jewish lobby, most highly recognized under the acronym AIPAC, but extending into many more organizations and operations that influence American politics. Even with full and open ended approval of the Bush administration, the Israelis have not progressed to a Palestinian final settlement as expressed above, perhaps recognizing deep down the complete moral contradiction that would have in light of their own history; or perhaps as they recognize that the moral force behind the situation has turned against the use of more explicit violence and relocation, they hesitate to do so unless conditions become suddenly more catastrophic. One of my favourite refrains, “yankee go home”, would not solve the situation but would facilitate - given other appropriate conditions – a more equal dialogue between the two identities.
The American-Israeli relationship is a tenuous symbiotic one with the Israeli government relying heavily on American military and financial subsidies along with the political support. American aid, mostly in the form of military aid, is generally calculated to be around the three billion dollar mark per year , with much of that going into military research that is then exported around the world. This constitutes one third of American foreign aid and makes up about seven per cent of the Israeli annual budget and supports an Israeli per capita income of twenty-six thousand eight hundred dollars . Going the other way, AIPAC exerts great pressure within the U.S. electoral system with its ability to target legislators with financial assistance or conversely with electoral challenges. Arguments swirl around the two as to who has the most significant impact over the other, but regardless of that, the reality for others is of a double-headed monster threatening the countries and cultures of the Middle East.
I realize the likelihood of the duo self-extracting themselves from this relationship is minimal, making the chances of a successful resolution that is acceptable to both sides equally unlikely. It would require a politician/statesman of enormous personal presence – or maybe even enormous skills at subterfuge to get around his or her compatriots – in order to separate the two. However other peoples have resolved their problems, not perfectly, but at least beginnings towards peace and reconciliation have been made and the killings and subjugation of other peoples has been significantly diminished.
Israel, by it sheer military power, could readily prevail in the Middle East without U.S. support. The Arab governments are not united behind Palestine and never have been. Jordan has always played the geostrategic game to its advantage, never being a vociferous voice against Israeli atrocities or occupation, nor challenging or threatening in any way militarily. Saudi Arabia appears much closer in its ties to the Americans than it to the Palestinians. Egypt pursued and achieved peace with Israel, again with massive U.S. foreign aid ($2 billion per year) under a non-democratic government. Lebanon is so torn apart by its own internal factions that it will never be a threat to Israel other than that Israel seems to want the territory up to the Litani River, a mainly Shiite area mixed up with Palestinian refugees, natural antagonists to Israeli desires. Syria has never seriously threatened Israel and the recent incursion by Israeli jets, while still not fully understood as to its full strategic significance, does indicate an Israeli ability and readiness to intrude freely on their air space. Without the U.S., Israel would be able to defend itself against any regional challengers.
That would lead to the conclusion that Israel derives moral support and perhaps even moral ‘diversion’ for its actions in Palestine, while the world in general foments about the imperial hubris of the U.S. as it attacks various countries for its own strategic interests (control of oil, containment of China and Russia being foremost). The U.S. gains a military protégé that is capable of supporting its strategic efforts under the guise of a ‘war on terror’, provides intelligence information, and may or may not accompany the U.S. on an attack on Iran. The combination is lethal and in the short term makes a peaceful settlement in Israel-Palestine remote at the present, but the effort still needs to be put forward as to what that eventual outcome could be.
Two state or one state?
Regardless of the U.S. role, the two identities involved have several levels of definition for what will eventually become of whatever form of co-existence is imposed or chosen. Ethnic cleansing is still a possibility as discussed above. The remaining solutions concern the central idea of a two state or one state solution, with the two state solution carrying within itself several possibilities. The one state solution is obviously a singularity, but the internal workings of such a state could have many possible permutations.
Canada’s CBC Radio talk show “The Current” recently hosted two authors, Ali Abunimah, a Palestinian refugee and American educated founder of The Electronic Intifada, and Akiva Eldar, a Ha’aretz diplomatic affairs correspondent.  The two duelled verbally about their respective ideas, Abunimah favouring the single state, Eldar supporting the two state idea.
Abunimah spoke first, arguing that a government was needed that represented the population of 11 million Arab and Jewish people, to provide “protection for all the communities” with “equal rights”. His view of the current situation is that of a reality “intertwined and inseparable on the ground.”
Eldar started by saying the situation had “nothing to do with religion” but with “national and personal identity” and insisted the one state solution was “not doable”. He continued saying that “most Palestinians I know” support him and “after one hundred years of animosity, we need a good divorce lawyer.” “If we wait any longer,” he said, “we’ll find ourselves in a one state and it’s going to be hell.”
Abunimah, by far the stronger and more eloquent of the two speakers, insisted “We’re already in a one state solution, there’s a fallacy that we have two separate states or entities. The fact that the Israeli government alone decides whether people in Gaza eat or drink, have light or darkness, is a clear indication that there is one government.” He continued his argument along ethnic lines, saying “Right now it is a purely sectarian state, a Jewish sectarian state where just as in Northern Ireland you had a sectarian Protestant state and they’ve found there that total victory of one side or the other was impossible….The only solution was power sharing, and if you think a one state solution in Palestine-Israel is impossible, go to Belfast” where the shared government “between Sinn Fein and the Democratic Unionist Party…is the political equivalent of a Hamas-Likud coalition.” Current events, he stated, are “leading to the destruction of both peoples. It’s time for something new.”
Eldar argued that Israeli-Arabs did not want to leave the Israeli state if given the choice to move to the occupied territories, to which Abunimah replied, “Of course Palestinian citizens of Israel don’t want to leave, why should they? It’s their country, they were born there, but what they are agitating for is….converting Israel from an ethnic Jewish state which gives special and better rights to Jews into a democracy of all its citizens.”
When Eldar started to discuss the Jewish settlers in the occupied territories, Abunimah had to interrupt to get him to agree that one had to include the settlers in Jerusalem in the total. Eldar argued that by removing 50-70 000 of the settlers that a two state situation could be accomplished. Abunimah’s counter argument derided both these aspects, “First of all, how can you exclude Jerusalem? Jerusalem is at the centre of this conflict….he is saying only ten to twelve per cent, fifty to seventy thousand, would leave. A Palestinian state with half a million settlers implanted in the middle of it is a bantustan as in the South African model and that’s why the Camp David accords failed, it wasn’t because of this myth that Arafat rejected a generous offer, it was because Palestinians understood that what they were being offered is a South African style Bantustan.” Arguing that while Israel “is increasingly being recognized as an apartheid state…the solution…is not more partition and apartheid, it is to start to bring the people together in a situation where they have equal rights and protections.”
Eldar’s response, “is a one state solution doable? Israel is a democracy…” became entangled in both participants trying to over talk each other, with clarity returning when Eldar argued that the “right of return” was “another non-starter”. Abunimah riposted quite vociferously, “What is a non-starter for you, it seems Akiva, with all due respect, is anything that approaches equality among all human beings regardless.”
The show host, Anna Maria Tremonti, closed off by asking, “What do you do? What happens?” When the two began overtaking each other, Abunimah again grabbed the lead, talking pointedly at Eldar’s phrase that it is “just the bottom line is different.” Abunimah responded, “The bottom line is equality and whether you can live with it and it sounds to me like you’re not ready but what we are talking about is the equality between Israel as a superpower and Gaza which Israel cuts electricity and water off from, that’s not equality.”
“That’s wrong,” agreed Eldar.
“That’s a bantustan,” Abunimah added a qualification.
“A one state solution is a non-starter because most of the Israelis will not accept it so we are wasting our time discussing it,” Eldar continued.
“Most Israelis don’t accept a two state solution….”
“No that’s not true…”
…and the bell rang to end the round.
Lords of the Land
From this radio discussion, the weight of common sense argument and clarity of argument would have to ride in Abunimah’s favour, and it prompted me to go buy both author’s most recent books to see how their positions were represented within.
Akiva Eldar’s most recent work, co-authored with Idith Zertal, is Lords of the Land – The War Over Israel’s Settlements in the Occupied Territories, 1967-2007 (Nation Books, New York, 2005, 2007). Eldar takes a very negative view of the settlement process that he examines within the years indicated within the title. He recognizes them as being illegal, with his chapter that discusses the issue “analyzes the legalization [legitimation?] of the basic illegality of the civilian Jewish presence in the occupied territories.” Further, while arguing over the legality perspective he ironically supports Abunimah’s contention that there is already only one state, that by “Imposing Israeli judicial authority on the territories, and in thus expanding the authority of the Israeli courts beyond the boundaries of the State of Israel, the army in effect annexed the territories.” Because the inhabitants had no other recourse, they were “coerced….to recognize, whether they wanted to or not, this legal annexation and the authority of the Israeli judiciary system over them.” In full contradiction to what he tried to say to Abunimah on “The Current” he concludes, “This single act also rendered the state of Israel and the territories a single [emphasis added] judiciary-political entity, blurring the borders of June 4, 1967.” The actions of the courts “eventually afforded the highest legal and moral seal of approval to Israel’s ruthless occupation in the territories.” At least for my way of thinking, he is in agreement with Abunimah, that there currently is only one state, “intertwined and inseparable,” legally, politically, and geographically.
For the most part, the book is an excellent guide to a standard political style history of the development of the settlements. To their credit the authors find the process both legally and morally reprehensible. Their view of the future, should the settlement patterns continue, “will lead Israel along a sure path to more disputes, more hatred, and more bereavement.” Consistent with the interview, Israel is seen as a democratic state. Eldar’s two state solution, whether supported by Zertal or not, supports for the Palestinians the “non-starter” of not recognizing the settlements that are effectively annexing Arab Jerusalem, and another “non-starter” the denial of the right of return to Palestinian refugees and diaspora.
A two state solution has many permutations, from the prison-like to the relatively autonomous. If the current situation were stabilized ‘unilaterally’ there would still be much division and separation, with minimal access to other areas, and minimal control of access and egress. Some voices have considered a Jordanian partner to help ‘govern’ the bantustans, a form of governance that would be fraught with difficulty, and still provide only a nominal autonomy – without independence – and a nominal democracy – the kind imposed by an external controlling power.
The wall, presented as a defence against terrorists, and as a boundary to enclose settlements within Israel, may be presented unilaterally as a new boundary between Palestinians and Israelis. But as best described by Roger Lieberman a graduate student at Rutgers University, a unilateral declaration of the wall as a boundary creates a situation where “The economic havoc wreaked by the Wall and hundreds of checkpoints is seen by many hawkish Zionists as the most “practical” means of carrying out ethnic cleansing.” That perspective is compared to the Golan Heights where “depopulation, colonization, and annexation – is what a substantial and dangerous segment of the Israeli body politic (along with its enablers in America) has long had in mind for the West Bank.” According to Lieberman the Golan Heights serves as a demonstration as to the efficacy of “how Israeli unilateralism effectively erased a substantial Arab community in the Levant without many people in the outside world taking notice and protesting.” The wall, and a two state outcome based on it, would not provide a long-term stable structure. The added complication of the Gaza Strip and how it would fit into the arrangement seriously compromises any two state solution at this level.
The most advanced and probably only truly viable acceptable form of a two state solution would be the withdrawal of the Jewish people to the green line, including the areas of East Jerusalem they have annexed and the diplomatic-legal unification with Gaza Strip. The return of the Jordan Valley to Palestinian control would be a good part of this arrangement. While Israel cries ‘fear’ for its security, Jordan has proven consistently that it has no true aggressive stance towards Israel and has been very accommodating in maintaining a peaceful neutrality with its Jewish neighbour. While all this in itself represents a major concession on the part of the Palestinians in consideration of the land occupied and destroyed in the nakba and its aftermath, it could present a ‘realpolitik’ outcome to the current situation.
When there was a tentative agreement reached in 1993, many Palestinians thought, “that this unprecedented historic compromise, though bitter, was necessary. Those who rejected the creation of a state limited to the Westbank and Gaza Strip…were relegated to the margins of the Palestinian movement.” That the Israeli government was only interested in investing in more time to settle more territory became apparent not too much later.
It is the “enablers in America” combined with the ongoing perception of all options being “non-starters” that makes this argument academic today, yet at the same time essential. For while there are many non-starters, and many negative enablers, possibilities do exist and need to be kept up front where the moral and legal weight of the rest of the world can perhaps impose some form of saner view on the situation.
Ali Abunimah’s book, One Country – A Bold Proposal to End the Israeli-Palestinian Impasse is consistent with his arguments on “The Current”. Before discussing the one state outcome, he provides a well-written precise of events leading from the nakba to the present. It is readily accessible, combining anecdotal material with a clearly delineated sequence of events. Throughout it all he remains consistent with his message of democratic and human rights principles for all people. There is not really too much force behind his arguments until later in the book: his arguments are rational and academically sound, but seem to be just that, academic in the face of the real situation on the ground. But then he enters his discussion on South African apartheid and quickly demonstrates that this is more than purely an academic argument, that if the situation in South Africa - very similar to the one in Israel, from the warring occupiers fighting against the British and then trying to dominate and exclude the indigenous population – can be changed so dramatically, then there is a very real possibility that the same could happen in Israel-Palestine.
Abunimah begins this section with several recognizable arguments: first that the Africans and Arabs are seen as uncivilized peoples whose resistance to domination is irrational and motivated by hatred (the White Man’s Burden again); secondly, the Zionist and Afrikaners “responded to resistance” by “rhetorically reversing the colonial relationship, claiming that they…were the true indigenous people; and that neither the Afrikaner nor Zionist would have gained control “without the benefit of British power, which crushed and deligitimized indigenous resistance on their behalf.”
Abunimah defines two points of time in which the academic argument could become a viable reality. First is the “hope held out by South Africa…that when Israelis and Palestinians finally do conclude that separation is unachievable, there is an example of an alternative to perpetual conflict.” Similarly, when “Israelis and Palestinians commit themselves to full equality, there is no rationale for separate states.” Abunimah outlines several points as to how the unified government could sort out its binational, democratic, equal rights self. Hamas, much to the consternation of many, receives support as being the best group to lead any Palestinian identity within a unified state partly as they “have shown little inclination to implement far-reaching social changes along religious lines,” and have genuinely acted at the democratic people’s level, “while remaining remarkably open to peaceful coexistence with Israelis.”
The one state solution, while enviable as presented in the manner done by Abunimah, is far from being a timely proposal. As with South Africa, the two combatants would need to arrive at similar positions of recognizing that ongoing violence will do neither side any good. There are obviously huge obstacles, ranging from American involvement to the current insistence on the part of the Israelis that the Palestinians are terrorists, their state is fully democratic, and that their conquest of the land is a god given right. It will take some time, some significant about face in political ideology, to realize any stable outcome within Palestine-Israel.
There is a way forward
Current prospects are dim for any actual settled, peaceful outcome in which human rights and democracy are basic to whatever the final arrangement would be. Still in a state of tension, magnified by American threats and occupations elsewhere in the Middle East, no settlement is likely to be found soon. There are three over-riding possible outcomes to the Israeli-Palestine problem: bantustan style cantonments; a two state solution of some kind; or a one state solution of some form.
The status quo may deteriorate further into the unacceptable and repugnant form of prison-like cantonments. There may be an imposed ‘agreement’ based on the current wall outlines and the current settlement patterns in the West Bank and Jerusalem, with Gaza complicating that arrangement. How does one reintegrate a ‘hostile entity’ of ones own creation into a Palestinian ‘autonomous’ territory? A withdrawal to the Green Line would more than likely prove acceptable to the majority of Palestinians, reluctantly, bitterly, perhaps necessary.
The one state solution, from an academic human rights – democratic argument is most strongly and effectively argued by Abunimah and has the examples of Ireland (as in the radio discussion) and South Africa (as well-defined in his book) to work with. Obviously, from the way this presentation is worded, I, at the moment, favour Abunimah’s one state solution as the most significant humanitarian, egalitarian, and democratic manner into which the situation would hopefully evolve. It will not be an easy road to follow for either side as both have their internal factions to deal with as well as having external geopolitical interests imposing themselves upon the area. There are also many, many areas – religion, right of return for both groups, education, social structures and support, national and regional governance to name a few - that would need significant discussion and cooperation to facilitate a one state rapprochement. While chances at the moment seem highly improbable, the goal, the vision, the possibility needs to be maintained, for its own end, and also to guard against the bleak view of seeing only a prison landscape. A better world is possible and while it may be well over the horizon at the moment, the hope for it needs to be maintained.
 Adopted by Resolution 260 (III) A of the United Nations General Assembly on 9 December 1948. http://www.un.org/Depts/dpa/prev_genocide/convention.htm
 Rather than footnote all this information, the sources I have read include the following books - see among others:
· Abunimah, Ali. One Country
· Baroud, Ramzy. The Second Palestinian Intifada
· Bucaille, Laetitia. Growing up Palestinian
· Cook, Jonathan. Blood and Religion
· Derek, Gregory. The Colonial Present
· Eldar, Akiva and Zertal, Idith. Lords of the Land
· Haddad, Toufic and Honig-Parnass. Tikva. Between the Lines
· Mishal, Shaul and Sela, Avraham. The Palestinian Hamas
· Pappe, Ilan. The Ethnic Cleansing of Palestine
· Pappe, Ilan. A History of Modern Palestine, Second Edition
· Pappe, Ilan, Ed. The Israel/Palestine Question
· Rabkin, Yakov M. A Threat From Within
· Reinhart, Tanya. Israel/Palestine
· Reinhart, Tanya. The Road Map to Nowhere.
· Simons, Geoff. The Ethnic Cleansing of Palestine
· Sorkin, Michael, Ed. Against the Wall
Many internet sites are also sources of information for anyone wishing to research more information on the Israel-Palestine question.
 Many web sources support this figure while providing a breakdown of the details, including:
· Zunes, Stephen. “The Strategic Functions of U.S. Aid to Israel.” http://www.wrmea.com/html/us_aid_to_israel.htm
· Francis, David R. “Economist Tallies Selling Cost of Israel to US.” www.csmonitor.com/2002/1209/p16s01.html
· de Rooij Paul. “U.S. Aid to Israel – Feeding the Cuckoo.” Counterpunch, November 16, 2002. http://www.counterpunch.org/rooij1116.html
· Frida Berrigan and William D Hartung. “Israel's star-spangled arsenal”, Asia Times Online, July 28, 2006. http://www.atimes.com/atimes/Middle_East/HG28Ak03.html
 18 October, 2007. https://www.cia.gov/library/publications/the-world-factbook/geos/is.html#Econ
 “One-State for Israel-Palestine,” September 24, 2007. http://www.cbc.ca/thecurrent/2007/200709/20070924.html
 Lieberman, Roger. “Annapolis and the Mandate of Heaven”. Palestine Chronicle, October 24, 2007. http://www.palestinechronicle.com/story-10240735218.htm
 Abunimah, Ali. One Country – A Bold Proposal to End the Israeli-Palestinian Impasse. Metropolitan Books, Henry Holt and Company. New York, 2006. p. 11-12.
Child workers, some as young as 10, have been found working in a textile factory in conditions close to slavery to produce clothes that appear destined for Gap Kids, one of the most successful arms of the high street giant.
Speaking to The Observer, the children described long hours of unwaged work, as well as threats and beatings.
Gap said it was unaware that clothing intended for the Christmas market had been improperly subcontracted to a sweatshop using child labour. It announced it had withdrawn the garments involved while it investigated breaches of the ethical code imposed by it three years ago.
The discovery of the children working in filthy conditions in the Shahpur Jat area of Delhi has renewed concerns about the outsourcing by large retail chains of their garment production to India, recognised by the United Nations as the world's capital for child labour.
According to one estimate, more than 20 per cent of India's economy is dependent on children, the equivalent of 55 million youngsters under 14.
The Observer discovered the children in a filthy sweatshop working on piles of beaded children's blouses marked with serial numbers that Gap admitted corresponded with its own inventory. The company has pledged to convene a meeting of its Indian suppliers as well as withdrawing tens of thousands of the embroidered girl's blouses from the market, before they reach the stores. The hand-stitched tops, which would have been sold for about £20, were destined for shelves in America and Europe in the next seven days in time to be sold to Christmas shoppers.
With endorsements from celebrities including Madonna, Lenny Kravitz and Sex and the City star Sarah Jessica Parker, Gap has become one of the most successful and iconic brands in fashion. Last year the firm embarked on a huge poster and TV campaign surrounding Product Red, a charitable trust for Africa founded by the U2 lead singer Bono.
Despite its charitable activities, Gap has been criticised for outsourcing large contracts to the developing world. In 2004, when it launched its social audit, it admitted that forced labour, child labour, wages below the minimum wage, physical punishment and coercion were among abuses it had found at some factories producing garments for it. It added that it had terminated contracts with 136 suppliers as a consequence.
In the past year Gap has severed contracts with a further 23 suppliers for workplace abuses.
Gap said in a statement from its headquarters in San Francisco: 'We firmly believe that under no circumstances is it acceptable for children to produce or work on garments. These allegations are deeply upsetting and we take this situation very seriously. All of our suppliers and their subcontractors are required to guarantee that they will not use child labour to produce garments. In this situation, it's clear one of our vendors violated this agreement and a full investigation is under way.'
Professor Sheotaj Singh, co-founder of the DSV, or Dayanand Shilpa Vidyalaya, a Delhi-based rehabilitation centre and school for rescued child workers, said he believed that as long as cut-price embroidered goods were sold in stores across Britain, America, continental Europe and elsewhere in the West, there would be a problem with unscrupulous subcontractors using children.
'It is obvious what the attraction is here for Western conglomerates,' he told The Observer. 'The key thing India has to offer the global economy is some of the world's cheapest labour, and this is the saddest thing of all the horrors that arise from Delhi's 15,000 inadequately regulated garment factories, some of which are among the worst sweatshops ever to taint the human conscience.
'Consumers in the West should not only be demanding answers from retailers as to how goods are produced but looking deep within themselves at how they spend their money.'
John Mearsheimer and Stephen Walt's 82-page paper "The Israel Lobby and U.S. Foreign Policy" has entered the canon of contemporary political culture in the United States. So much, positive and negative, has been written about the March 2006 essay that the phrase "the Mearsheimer-Walt argument" is now shorthand for the idea that pro-Israel advocates exert a heavy—and malign—influence upon the formulation of U.S. Middle East policy. To veteran students of Middle East affairs, this idea is hardly new, of course. But the fact that two top international relations scholars affiliated with the University of Chicago and Harvard University's Kennedy School of Government, respectively, have espoused this analysis has lent it unprecedented currency. Farrar, Straus and Giroux will publish a book-length version of the professors' argument in late 2007. Along with President Jimmy Carter's volume Palestine: Peace Not Apartheid, "The Israel Lobby" (as the paper is commonly known) has opened up a debate that many members of the lobby have long sought to suppress.
Like Carter, Mearsheimer and Walt have faced ugly and unsubstantiated allegations of racism for drawing attention to the imbalance in U.S. Middle East policy and the lobby's clout. Walt's Harvard colleague, Alan Dershowitz, labeled them "bigots" and "liars," and the Anti-Defamation League accused them of promulgating "a classical conspiratorial anti-Semitic analysis invoking the canards of Jewish power and Jewish control." Reams of angry newsprint later, these kneejerk cries of anti-Semitism have not registered and for good reason. Plainly, a lobby that is universally recognized by Washington insiders—and even promotes itself—as one of the few most powerful in the country is influential. Saying so cannot be inherently anti-Semitic.
The related allegation of sloppy research is also silly. In December 2006, Mearsheimer and Walt released a point-by-point rebuttal, perhaps not coincidentally also 82 pages long, of the charges of poor scholarship leveled by Benny Morris, Martin Kramer and others. Almost every charge was a misreading of the original paper. Nor is "The Israel Lobby" "piss-poor, monocausal social science," as political scientist and blogger Daniel Drezner would have it. On the contrary, the text is full of caveats and qualifiers.
The essential flaw in the Mearsheimer-Walt argument is not, as many critics have said, the authors' exaggeration of the pro-Israel lobby's power, for although the authors do this in some instances, the thrust of their argument remains sound. It is not even their inattention to the other factors that have historically defined the U.S. interest in the Middle East for the bipartisan foreign policy establishment. Rather, the most serious fault lies in the professors' conclusion—soothing in this day and age—that U.S. Middle East policy would become "more temperate" were the influence of the Israel lobby to be curtailed. This conclusion is undercut by the remarkable continuities in U.S. Middle East policy since the Truman administration, including in times when the pro-Israel lobby was weak. And other factors—chiefly the drive for hegemony in the Persian Gulf—have also embroiled the United States in plenty of trouble.
The Cold War prism
Mearsheimer and Walt issue a broad indictment of their subject. "No lobby," they write, "has managed to divert U.S. foreign policy as far from what the American national interest would otherwise suggest, while simultaneously convincing Americans that U.S. and Israeli interests are essentially identical." Has the lobby's influence always explained U.S. support for Israel? This question is crucial because it helps to define the extent to which that influence explains U.S. policy toward Israel today.
From the day in 1948 that President Harry Truman announced his support for the creation of a Jewish state in Palestine, Israel has held a special place in the hearts and minds of many Americans, Jewish and otherwise. The fledgling state was more European than Middle Eastern in orientation, providing common cultural ground. The mythos surrounding the creation of Israel and the sympathy generated by the horrifying tragedy of the Holocaust played major roles in shaping popular American sympathy in the 1960s and 1970s, when the "special relationship" between Israel and the United States was cemented. Christians, including many African-Americans, responded warmly to the narrative wherein a plucky people, fleeing horrific persecution and age-old prejudice, made the desert bloom in the Holy Land and stoutly defended their new polity against all comers.
On the official level, Israel found its early sources of support elsewhere, while working tirelessly to build support in the United States. After Israel's decisive victory over neighboring Arab states in 1967, the United States committed itself more and more to what might be called "the Israel track." The reason, however, was neither a domestic lobby nor a sentimental soft spot among policymakers for the Jewish state. The reason was that policymakers saw the Middle East through the prism of the Cold War.
Concern about Soviet backing for Egypt had led Lyndon Johnson, while a congressman, to oppose President Dwight Eisenhower's determination to force Israel to pull out of the Sinai and away from the Suez Canal in 1956, without some move toward changing the status quo. The outcome of the 1967 war, entailing the humiliation of Soviet-allied Egypt and Syria, strengthened President Johnson's conviction that Israel was a useful Cold War asset. After the war, an anonymous State Department official told the press: "Israel has probably done more for the United States in the Middle East in relation to money and effort than any of our so-called allies elsewhere around the globe since the end of the Second World War. In the Far East we can get almost no one to help us in Vietnam. Here the Israelis won the war singlehandedly, have taken us off the hook and have served our interests as well as theirs.” Aspiring chief executive Richard Nixon—also not known for philo-Semitism—supported Israel vigorously on the 1968 campaign trail, pursuant to a visit to Israel the previous June, when he met wounded Egyptian soldiers in an Israeli hospital. There he wrote down an Egyptian tank commander's complaint: "Russia is to blame. They furnished the arms. We did the dying."
he U.S. arms industry is backing Hillary Clinton for President and has all but abandoned its traditional allies in the Republican party. Mrs Clinton has also emerged as Wall Street's favourite. Investment bankers have opened their wallets in unprecedented numbers for the New York senator over the past three months and, in the process, dumped their earlier favourite, Barack Obama.
Mrs. Clinton's wooing of the defence industry is all the more remarkable given the frosty relations between Bill Clinton and the military during his presidency. An analysis of campaign contributions shows senior defence industry employees are pouring money into her war chest in the belief that their generosity will be repaid many times over with future defence contracts.
Employees of the top five U.S. arms manufacturers—Lockheed Martin, Boeing, Northrop-Grumman, General Dynamics and Raytheon—gave Democratic presidential candidates $103,900, with only $86,800 going to the Republicans. "The contributions clearly suggest the arms industry has reached the conclusion that Democratic prospects for 2008 are very good indeed," said Thomas Edsall, an academic at Columbia University in New York.
Republican administrations are by tradition much stronger supporters of U.S. armaments programmes and Pentagon spending plans than Democratic governments. Relations between the arms industry and Bill Clinton soured when he slimmed down the military after the end of the Cold War. His wife, however, has been careful not to make the same mistake.
After her election to the Senate, she became the first New York senator on the armed services committee, where she revealed her hawkish tendencies by supporting the invasion of Iraq. Although she now favours a withdrawal of U.S. troops, her position on Iran is among the most warlike of all the candidates—Democrat or Republican.
This week, she said that, if elected president, she would not rule out military strikes to destroy Tehran's nuclear weapons facilities. While on the armed services committee, Mrs. Clinton has befriended key generals and has won the endorsement of General Wesley Clarke, who ran Nato's war in Kosovo. A former presidential candidate himself, he is spoken of as a potential vice-presidential running mate.
Mrs. Clinton has been a regular visitor to Iraq and Afghanistan and is careful to focus her criticisms of the Iraq war on President Bush, rather than the military. The arms industry has duly taken note.
So far, Mrs. Clinton has received $52,600 in contributions from individual arms industry employees. That is more than half the sum given to all Democrats and 60 percent of the total going to Republican candidates. Election fundraising laws ban individuals from donating more than $4,600 but contributions are often "bundled" to obtain influence over a candidate.
The arms industry has even deserted the biggest supporter of the Iraq war, Senator John McCain, who is also a member of the armed services committee and a decorated Vietnam War veteran. He has been only $19,200. Weapons-makers are equally unimpressed by the former New York mayor Rudolph Giuliani. Despite a campaign built largely around the need for an aggressive U.S. military and a determination to stay the course in Iraq, he is behind Mrs Clinton in the affections of arms executives. Mr. Giuliani may be suffering because of his strong association with the failed policies of President Bush and the fact he is he is known as a social liberal.
Mrs. Clinton's closest competitor in raising cash from the arms industry is the former Massachusetts governor Mitt Romney, who raised just $32,000.
"Arms industry profits are so heavily dependent on government contracts that companies in this field want to be sure they do not have hostile relations with the White House," added Mr Edsall.
The industry's strong support for Mrs. Clinton indicates that she is their firm favourite to win the Democratic nomination in the spring and the presidential election in November 2008. In the last presidential race, George Bush raised more than $800,000—twice the sum collected by his Democratic rival John Kerry.
Mr. Edsall's analysis of the figures reveals that, over the past 10 years, the defence industry has favoured Republicans over Democrats by a 3-2 margin, making Mrs. Clinton's position even more remarkable.
Sunday, October 07, 2007
The Scandal of Blackwater
A Panglossian View of Success
Threats, Dirty Tricks, Fake Polls: Costa Rica Votes Under Duress on ‘Free Trade’
So Who’s Afraid of the Israel Lobby?
The Last Green Taboo: Engineering the Planet
This Ban Will Not Stop Us
Friday, October 05
Pundit Elite Enraptured by Hillary’s ‘Flawless Campaign’
The Democrats Who Enable Bush
The Making of a Climate Movement
The Latest Revelations of Lawbreaking, Torture and Extremism
Why Are There No War Crimes Trials?
We Need Peacemakers to Counteract Warmongers
Clive Stafford Smith:
Gitmo: America’s Black Hole
Global Warming Requires Local Solutions
To Find Out Something Only Dead Men Know
Rosa María Pegueros:
‘The War’? I’m Sticking to ‘Law and Order’
David Michael Green:
Murdering Butter with Guns
Unencumbered Travel: Environmental Impacts on the Border, Disposable Cups, and Old Band-Aids
The Fallout from an Attack on Iran Would Be Devastating
Thursday, October 04
Sputnik, 50 Years Later: The Launch of Techno-Power
The Martyrdom of Burma’s Marching Monks
US, Iran Play with Fire
Dissenting at Your Own Risk
Sanctions Won’t Bring Down Burma’s Government
Recipe for Disaster
New Quiz Should Leave Prospective Immigrants at a Loss for Words
A Thousand Ways to Disconnect, and Now a Hugging Ban, Too
The Iraq Money Pit
Myanmar: It is Time to Play the Olympics Card.
Who’s Giving Money to Bill Clinton?
Blackwater: Not in Our Backyards
Wednesday, October 03
The State Dept.’s Murderous Guardians
From Here to Junta: Stop Shopping At Wal-Mart, Save The UN And Help Burma
Is It OK to Love Whole Foods?
Katrina Vanden Heuvel:
Obama and Edwards Get It on Nukes
Robert Naiman/Susan Chenelle:
Prove the Intensity of Anti-War Sentiment on October 27
Our Bonhoeffer Moment
We Count, They Don’t
Sinking in a Swamp Full of Blackwater
Ahmadinejad’s US Visit Was a Missed Opportunity for Us
How Not to Win Friends and Influence People
At the Heart of Who We Are As a People
Tuesday, October 02
Delusion of Exceptionalism
The Clinton Campaign: Running on Ambien
Beating the Drums for the Next War
From WMDs to Social Security: More Bush Stories
A Campaign to Love
Paul Rogat Loeb:
Pre-Empting the Next War
The Junta’s Accomplices: Western Interests
McCain and the Monks of Myanmar: Two Very Different Ways of Mixing Religion and Politics
No More Spin Rooms? Say It Ain’t So!
My Thermonuclear Coloring Book
The War Resisters League Bestows Its Peace Award.
Hillary, Condi, Aung Sun Suu Kyi and You
Jena 6 Case Highlights Racial Disparity in American Justice
Admiral Mullen Reports for Duty
Barbara F. Walter:
You Can’t Win with Civil Wars
Monday, October 01
Deborah James/Medea Benjamin:
Bolivia’s Evo Morales Wins Hearts and Minds in US
Political 'Science' and Truth of Consequences
Israel’s Toy Soldiers
Killing Is Okay. Dying, However, Is Not.
History and the Drumbeat of War
NYC, the NYPD, the RNC, and Me
Prayer for the War-Weary
Craig Kielburger/Marc Kielburger:
Non-Violent Protest Has Gone Online
Burma and the Press
An 11th Hour Sequel
NY Is Not Nearly As Liberal or Different As New Yorkers Believe
More Bounties in Afghanistan and Pakistan Will Result in Detention of Innocent Civilians
President Giuliani? He’d be worse than Bush