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Nederlog

Oct 7, 2016

Crisis: On Israel, Hitler & Trump, Inequality, Bacevich, Obama & Nuremberg
Sections                                                                                     crisis index
Introduction

1.
U.S. Admits Israel Is Building Permanent Apartheid
     Regime — Weeks After Giving It $38 Billion

2In ‘Hitler,’ an Ascent From ‘Dunderhead’ to
     Demagogue

3. "America Divided": New TV Series Explores Inequality
     from Water to Housing to Mass Incarceration

4. Andrew Bacevich: Election Pits Hawkish Clinton vs.
     Ill-Prepared, "Strategically Illiterate" Trump

5.
Obama Stands Nuremberg on Its Head
Introduction: 

This is a Nederlog of Friday, October 7, 2016.

A. This is a crisis log with 5 items and 5 dotted links: Item 1 is about an article by Glenn Greenwald on the current Israel and the current USA; item 2 is about a review in the NYTRB of what is nominally a book about Hitler, but that seems a lot about Trump (and I agree); item 3 is about inequality as the main political and economical theme in the present USA (and I agree); item 4 is about Bacevich who discusses the current relation between politics and the military in the USA; and item 5 is about Obama who - very consciously, no doubt - completely inverted the principles established at Nuremberg: According to Obama people may torture other people and be not at all prosecuted or discriminated, provided the torturers are Americans doing what their superiors told them to. (All of this was refuted at the Nuremberg Trials.)

-- Constant part, for the moment --

B. In case you visit my Dutch site: I do not know, but it may be you need to click/reload twice or more to see any changes I have made. This certainly held for me, but it is possible this was caused by the fact that I am also writing it from my computer.

In any case, I am now (again) updating the opening of my site with the last day it was updated. (And I am very sorry if you have to click/reload several times to see the last update: It is not what I wish, nor how it was. [1]

C. In case you visit my Danish site: It now works again (!), but I do not know how long it will keep working.

I am very sorry, and none of it is due to me. I am simply doing the same things as I did for 20 or for 12 years, that also went well for 20 or for 12 years.

I will keep this introduction until I get three successive days (!!!) in which both providers work correctly. I have not seen that for many months now.

---

1. U.S. Admits Israel Is Building Permanent Apartheid Regime — Weeks After Giving It $38 Billion

This first item is by Glenn Greenwald on The Intercept:
This starts as follows:

In 2010, Israel’s then-defense minister, Ehud Barak, explicitly warned that Israel would become a permanent “apartheid” state if it failed to reach a peace agreement with Palestinians that creates their own sovereign nation and vests them with full political rights. “As long as in this territory west of the Jordan River there is only one political entity called Israel, it is going to be either non-Jewish, or non-democratic,” Barak said. “If this bloc of millions of ­Palestinians cannot vote, that will be an apartheid state.”

Honest observers on both sides of the conflict have long acknowledged that the prospects for a two-state solution are virtually non-existent: another way of saying that Israel’s status as a permanent apartheid regime is inevitable. Indeed, U.S. intelligence agencies as early as 45 years ago explicitly warned that Israeli occupation would become permanent if it did not end quickly.

Yes indeed, though I should perhaps add that Israel seemed rather different in 1971 from what it seems to be now, under Nethanyahu.

Here is more on Israel:

All relevant evidence makes clear this is what has happened. There has been no progress toward a two-state solution for many years. The composition of Israel’s Jewish population — which has become far more belligerent and right-wing than previous generations — has increasingly moved the country further away from that goal. There are key ministers in Israel’s government, including its genuinely extremist justice minister, who are openly and expressly opposed to a two-state solution. Israel’s Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu has himself repeatedly made clear he opposes such an agreement, both in words and in deeds. In sum, Israel intends to continue to rule over and occupy Palestinians and deny them self-governance, political liberties, and voting rights indefinitely.
I agree. And there is this on the USA:
Worst of all is that U.S. political orthodoxy has not only funded, fueled, and protected this apartheid state, but has attempted to render illegitimate all forms of resistance to it. Just as it did with the African National Congress and Nelson Mandela, the U.S. denounces as “terrorism” all groups and individuals that use force against Israel’s occupying armies. It has formally maligned non-violent programs against the occupation — such as the boycott, divestment, and sanctions movement — as bigotry and anti-Semitism (a position Clinton has advocated with particular vehemence), and that boycott movement has been increasingly targeted throughout the West with censorship and even criminalization. Under U.S. political orthodoxy, the only acceptable course for Palestinians and supporters of their right to be free of occupation is complete submission.
I agree again. There is more under the last dotted link above, and this is a recommended article.

2. In ‘Hitler,’ an Ascent From ‘Dunderhead’ to Demagogue

The second item is by Michiko Kakutani on The New York Review of Books:

This starts as follows and is nominally the review of yet another biography of Hitler, but actually seems to be at least as much about Donald Trump as it is about Adolf Hitler. And Michiko Kakutani seems to be the chief reviewer of the NYRB.

She starts as follows:

How did Adolf Hitler — described by one eminent magazine editor in 1930 as a “half-insane rascal,” a “pathetic dunderhead,” a “nowhere fool,” a “big mouth” — rise to power in the land of Goethe and Beethoven? What persuaded millions of ordinary Germans to embrace him and his doctrine of hatred? How did this “most unlikely pretender to high state office” achieve absolute power in a once democratic country and set it on a course of monstrous horror?

In fact there is a rather plausible theory by John Maynard Keynes, in "The Economic Consequences of the Peace" (<- Wikipedia). The book was published in 1919, and Wikipedia's review of it starts as follows:

Keynes attended the Paris Peace Conference, 1919 as a delegate of the British Treasury and argued for a much more generous peace. It was a best-seller throughout the world and was critical in establishing a general opinion that the Versailles Treaty was a "Carthaginian peace". It helped to consolidate American public opinion against the treaty and involvement in the League of Nations. The perception by much of the British public that Germany had been treated unfairly in turn was a crucial factor in public support for appeasement. The success of the book established Keynes' reputation as a leading economist especially on the left. When Keynes was a key player in establishing the Bretton Woods system in 1944, he remembered the lessons from Versailles as well as the Great Depression. The Marshall Plan, after the Second World War, was a similar system to that proposed by Keynes in The Economic Consequences of the Peace.

I think Keynes was right, although there are more causes: Germany had been treated quite unfairly, and had been mostly very poor for 15 years, until Hitler seized power in 1933, and this probably would not have happened with some more fairness, in 1918/19.

Back to the review:

Mr. Ullrich, like other biographers, provides vivid insight into some factors that helped turn a “Munich rabble-rouser” — regarded by many as a self-obsessed “clown” with a strangely “scattershot, impulsive style” — into “the lord and master of the German Reich.”

Michiko Kakutani gives the rest of her review in terms of 9 dotted points, of which I will quote parts of three:

• Hitler was often described as an egomaniac who “only loved himself” — a narcissist with a taste for self-dramatization and what Mr. Ullrich calls a “characteristic fondness for superlatives.” His manic speeches and penchant for taking all-or-nothing risks raised questions about his capacity for self-control, even his sanity.
(...)
• Hitler was known, among colleagues, for a “bottomless mendacity” that would later be magnified by a slick propaganda machine that used the latest technology (radio, gramophone records, film) to spread his message. A former finance minister wrote that Hitler “was so thoroughly untruthful that he could no longer recognize the difference between lies and truth”
(...)
• Hitler’s ascension was aided and abetted by the naïveté of domestic adversaries who failed to appreciate his ruthlessness and tenacity, and by foreign statesmen who believed they could control his aggression. Early on, revulsion at Hitler’s style and appearance, Mr. Ullrich writes, led some critics to underestimate the man and his popularity, while others dismissed him as a celebrity, a repellent but fascinating “evening’s entertainment.” Politicians, for their part, suffered from the delusion that the dominance of traditional conservatives in the cabinet would neutralize the threat of Nazi abuse of power and “fence Hitler in.”

In other words (it seems to me and quite a few others): Trump is much like Hitler - for Trump is a narcissist, he is an extreme liar and a fantasist, and very few took him seriously.

There are more parallels, which you can check out for yourself by clicking on the last of the above dotted links of this recommended article.

And yes, I agree.

3. "America Divided": New TV Series Explores Inequality from Water to Housing to Mass Incarceration

The third item is by Amy Goodman and Nermeen Shaikh

This starts with the following introduction:

With the presidential election less than five weeks away, the explosive new documentary "America Divided" explores inequality in America. The show follows high-profile correspondents as they explore aspects of inequality in education, housing, healthcare, labor, criminal justice and the political system. (..) For more on this groundbreaking series, we speak with the three creators of "America Divided": Rick Rowley, Solly Granatstein and Lucian Read.

Yes, indeed: I agree inequality is the basic theme in the United States: Far too few get far too much; far too many get far too little - and this has all been quite consciously arranged by the few rich, for themselves: Since 1980 the few rich have enormously expanded their riches, while the many poor have advanced nothing or lost money.

So this is quite welcome. Here is part of the introduction of the film (with other voices deleted: Clink on the last dotted link if you wish to read them):

ROSARIO DAWSON: Our democracy threatened. (..)
Our society, frayed. Our economy, split. (..)
We inherited a promise of justice, democracy, equality under the law. But we live in an America divided.  (..)
When was the moment that you started to see an effect or that there might be something wrong? (..)
It’s time to cut through the noise. It’s time to uncover the roots of the problem and how it affects us all.

I agree with this sum-up, although it is simple - and incidentally I have been seeing this since the early 1980ies [2], though indeed quite a lot was added in the 2000s by 15 years of continuous war and by the NSA and the other secret services plundering and destroying the privacy of everyone connected to the internet (for that is what I think has happened, quite consciously, quite illegally, the last 15 years). [3]

Here is one of the makers of the documentary:

SOLLY GRANATSTEIN: Well, we felt like the country is really at a crisis point when it comes to inequality. The fruits of the economic recovery were going, as we all know, to the 1 percent, and not to most of the people. And we wanted to examine different aspects of inequality in people’s daily lives. And so, we went to different parts of the country. Each one explored a different aspect of inequality. And each of these stories was presented and explored by a high-profile correspondent, who each have their own entrée into the different stories.

Yes, indeed and this is a fine idea. I haven't seen the documentary yet, but it appears it can be seen, for free:

AMY GOODMAN: So, you’ve done this series for Epix network. Where can people see it?

SOLLY GRANATSTEIN: Well, the easiest way to see the whole series is to go to Epix.com, E-P-I-X.com-slash-freetrial. It’s a premium cable channel like HBO and Showtime; you have to subscribe. But, actually, you can stream the whole thing online, and actually, right now, you can do it for free.

AMY GOODMAN: This is incredible and explosive, and to be here in the midst of the election season raising all of these issues. We’re going to continue the conversation, and we’ll post it online at democracynow.org.

There is a lot more in the article, that is recommended.

4. Andrew Bacevich: Election Pits Hawkish Clinton vs. Ill-Prepared, "Strategically Illiterate" Trump

The fourth item today is by Amy Goodman and Nermeen Shaikh on Democracy Now!:

This starts with the following introduction:

Vice-presidential candidates Virginia Senator Tim Kaine and Indiana Governor Mike Pence squared off Tuesday night in the only vice-presidential debate. Ahead of the debate, Democracy Now! hosted a roundtable with a number of guests, including Columbia University law professor Katherine Franke, who chairs the board of the Center for Constitutional Rights, and historian Andrew Bacevich, a retired colonel and Vietnam War veteran. His latest book is "America’s War for the Greater Middle East."

I admit that I have not seen the debate between the vice-presidential candidates. Also, I will concentrate in this review on only one of the two that were interviewed on Democracy Now!

Here is Andrew Bacevich (<- Wikipedia), about the first debate between the presidential candidates:

ANDREW BACEVICH: Well, it was a—it was a great missed opportunity, because the moderated interviews, first with Hillary Clinton and then with Donald Trump, basically were a waste of time. The candidates were never asked the sorts of questions that Americans need to hear about with regard to national security. So, for example, there was no discussion of President Obama’s planned trillion-dollar modernization of our nuclear arsenal, whether or not that’s a good idea, bad idea, necessary, inflammatory. There was no discussion about what we might learn from our post-9/11 wars in the greater Middle East, particularly Iraq and Afghanistan, but not limited to those two. Those wars have obviously been unsuccessful. What should we learn from them? And how would those lessons apply to either a Trump administration or a Clinton administration going forward? So, again, I think it was a—really, a terrible missed opportunity.

I agree (and while I haven't seen the first debate between the presidential candidates either, the sum-up of some - of the many - questions that were not asked althought they should have been is sufficient for me).

Then there is this about the relation between politics and the military in these days in the USA, where it may make sense to keep in mind that Von Clausewitz (<- Wikipedia) has said that "War is the continuation of politics by other means":

ANDREW BACEVICH: Well, you’re making a very good point. And, of course, our politicians do ritually talk about the military being a last resort, but any examination of U.S. policy, not simply since the end of the Cold War—or, since the end of—since 9/11, but, I think, more broadly, since the end of the Cold War, would suggest otherwise, that the military has become the preferred option as far as American statecraft is concerned. Why? Because of expectations in Washington, shared by both parties, shared by both of these two presidential candidates, that, somehow or other, military power offers the most effective way to achieve our purposes.

In other words (and with some interpretation): From 1991 onwards, when the Soviet Union and its "socialist" [4] empire effectively collapsed and the USA thereby more or less automatically became THE ruling nation on the earth, it seems as if both the leading American politicians and the leading American military have - in fact, though not publicly - inverted Clausewitz's saying to the far more dangerous and far more aggressive "Politics is the continua- tion of war by other means".

And it seems the main reason for this is the fact that the USA indeed was made the absolute military Number One in 1991.

Then there is this on Donald Trump and also on Hillary Clinton:

ANDREW BACEVICH: Well, I think, frankly, it’s impossible for us to gauge what a Trump foreign policy would look like. He is, by and large, uninformed. He’s strategically illiterate. He knows as much about national security policy as I know about running a business. And what I know about running a business is next to nothing.

And the problem, I think—one of the problems with our—with the media coverage of the campaign, the way the mainstream media has covered it, is that the appalling prospect of a Trump presidency has caused the campaign to be about Trump, the imperative of revealing simply how ill-prepared he is for the office, of revealing how uncouth he is, his sketchy relationship with truth, and therefore the discussion of the campaign hasn’t really admitted any debate, serious debate, over what—over the national security issues that we really do confront.

As for Secretary Clinton, it seems to me she is very much a mainstream, hawkish, liberal internationalist.

Yes, I agree: Trump is unpredictable (but will deliver a disaster if he becomes president), while Clinton very probably will continue Obama's policies, except that she is more hawkish.

The last bit that I will quote from this fine interview about the legal authorization of the wars that the USA is fighting:

ANDREW BACEVICH: Well, I think—I think one question is—has to do with the—what is the authorization, what is the authority, under which the president continues to conduct our wars in the greater Middle East, specifically the new war in Iraq against ISIS and U.S. involvement in the civil war in Syria? Nominally, the authorization is the document that was passed by the Congress in the immediate wake of 9/11. That document said that the president was authorized to go after parties that perpetrated 9/11. Obviously, the Assad regime didn’t perpetrate 9/11. ISIS didn’t perpetrate 9/11. It didn’t exist at the time. So I think we really ought to have a serious discussion over who says that we should be at war and why doesn’t the Congress exercise any serious voice in that regard, as the Constitution of the United States calls for.

I agree again, though I should add that with the present Congress I do not see this happening, although I agree that they in fact allowed the president to mostly do what he wanted, on the basis of an anyway bad authorization that is 15 years old and pertains to parties that have disappeared, while not at all acknowledging the parties that replaced them.

This is a fine interview with a lot more text, and it is recommended.

5. Obama Stands Nuremberg on Its Head

The fifth and last item today is by Mike Farrell on Truthdig:

This was first printed in 2009 and is a reprinted now by Truthdig. It starts as follows:

President Obama’s decision to spare CIA torturers from prosecution stands the Nuremberg principles on their head. “Good Germans who were only following orders” are not exempt from the bar of justice. Individuals must be held responsible for war crimes and crimes against humanity. 

Justice Robert Jackson, chief United States prosecutor at the Nuremberg trials, declared in his opening statement to the tribunal that the men charged “represent sinister influence that will lurk in the world long after their bodies have returned to dust. They are living symbols of racial hatreds, of terrorism and violence, and of the arrogance and cruelty of power.”

The arrogance and cruelty of CIA officers who torture and brutalize helpless prisoners are not expunged just because, as Obama said, they “carried out their duties relying in good faith upon legal advice from the Department of Justice.” Attorney General Eric Holder says it’s “unfair to prosecute dedicated men and women working to protect America for conduct that was sanctioned in advance by the Justice Department,” but he fails to note these very CIA agents requested said authority in order to engage in what all but the most insidious parsing of legal thought recognizes as torture.

Yes, indeed: Quite so (bolding added): "President Obama’s decision to spare CIA torturers from prosecution stands the Nuremberg principles on their head."

In case you do not know know much or anything about the Nuremberg Trials, the last link is to Wikipedia.

And Obama did stand "
the Nuremberg principles on their head" when he ruled that the torturers of the CIA are excused by the fact that they "carried out their duties relying in good faith upon legal advice from the Department of Justice":

They are not thus excused on the principles established at Nuremberg, which gives everyone a personal responsibility to see to it that people are not tortured, nor abused, and that such international laws that have been agreed to are indeed maintained.

Here is more, all completely justified in my eyes:

How we cheapen ourselves today. “Enhanced interrogation,” “coercive techniques” and “harsh treatment” pretend torture is not torture. By what moral or ethical standard does a rational person determine that smashing a shackled human being’s head into a wall is legal, let alone acceptable? It has been clear from before Nuremberg that the duty of the individual is to refuse to commit an illegal act, even if so ordered by one’s commanding authority. 

Yet, “nothing will be gained by spending our time and energy laying blame for the past,” says our president, missing the point entirely. As a constitutional scholar, he above all should understand that impunity for torturers gnaws at the wound of injustice and denies healing.

The president engaged in his favorite trick:

Whenever he does not want to discuss something (or see it discussed) he claims - always completely falsely - that "the past" is past and needs no discussion whatsoever - precisely as if he is a prosecutor who insists that the Mafia cannot be prosecuted because they committed their crimes in "the past".

And since he was a professor of law, he knows this is a verbal trick with which any crimes by anyone can be apparently disappeared and declared irrelevant (as does the incredible fraud Eric Holder). But he insists on using the trick.

Here is a final bit by Mike Farrell, who wrote this originally in 2009:

The pressures on a new president are intense, of course, but for the Obama administration to demean justice based on what can only be understood as political calculus is deeply disheartening. At a minimum, one would hope that the price exacted from the “intelligence professionals” involved in this dehumanizing exercise would be immediate dismissal. 

And as for their superiors, we might look again to Jackson, who made clear at Nuremberg that he was not indicting a nation. Instead, he condemned a group that “was not put in power by a majority” and that “came to power by an evil alliance between the most extreme of the … revolutionists, the most unrestrained of the … reactionaries, and the most aggressive of the … militarists.”

Yes, indeed. And this is a recommended article.

---------------
Notes
[1]  Alas, this is precisely as I said it does, and it goes on for months now. I do not know who does it, and I refuse to call the liars of "xs4all"destroy (really: the KPN), simply because these have been lying to me from 2002-2009, and I do not trust anything they say I cannot control myself: They have treated me for seven years as a liar because "you complain about things other people do not complain about" (which is the perfect excuse never to do anything whatsoever for anyone).

[2] The main two reasons why I was so early are that I am the oldest son of two lifelong communists (and while I disagreed with Marx since I am 20, I did not and do not disagree with my parents' radicalism, and I also agree with them that capitalism is not a good idea), while I was also rather heavily involved with student politics in the late 1970ies and the first half of the 1980ies. (The second was a mistake of mine, but it happened.)

[3] The last bit is the most important to me. I think this is a very major danger; I think it is totally illegal (the Fourth Amendment (!!) (<- Wikipedia) and I think that it will start neofascism if it is not thoroughly destroyed: To give the secret services the right to compile secret dossiers on anyone is fascism, and it is also extremely sick.

[4] In fact, ever since I was 14 (in 1964) (!!) and visited the German Democratic Republic (aka Socialist East Germany) I knew that the "socialism" of the Soviet Union was not socialism in the sense I admitted. I don't think it was capitalism either: The best overall analysis I know of the Soviet Uinon is
"Nomenklatura" by Michael Voslenski (<- Wikipedia).

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