Friday, August 4, 2006


Rumsfeld tried to belittle Hillary Clinton's dressing down by responding with one mocking word: "My!", but I don't think  it broke through the wall of disgust and distrust evident in comments from CNNs listeners about the Bush administration (and Congress too for that matter, where it's too little too late).

A propos Hezbollah, everyone is saying that you can't have a state within a state, but at the same time, it is being mooted that as after the fighting stops, and the Lebanese government is in full control, it would invite Hezbollah to become part of its security forces.  That, together with Israel's decades-long refusal to have the international community come in and set things right between it and the Palestinians, only to have to finally agree on just such a thing to prevent rockets from falling on its citizens at home, must make the Jewish state feel really good.

Question: How many self-identified Jews are there in the world?  What percentage of them chose to emigrate to the Jewish state?  Is it reasonable for so many people to die to ensure the survival of that state, when its inhabitants have done everything possible and imaginable to turn latent anti-Semitism into hatred by its neighbors far and wide?

Second questions: Would our Senators and Representatives be able to afford election campaigns without the help of AIPAC, the Israeli lobby?   IF ever there was a justification for federally financed election campaigns, this war is it.

Last night, PBS showed Adriana Bosch's two-hour film about Fidel Castro.  Aside from a few inconsistencies and hysterical moments, it seems like a decent piece of work.  But the inconsistencies are important: at the beginning, the commentators declares that "thousands" of Cubans were executed when the Revolution took power.  Later, but barely audible, it cites a much more plausible figure of 500.  Fidel is repeatedly shown wildly gesticulating; having witnessed many speeches, I can say these moments are rare.   Also, the commentators are all identified as "professor of international affairs" without affiliation, which is rather suspicious.  It's remarkable how, while confirming what I knew at the time from talking to people there, the film feeds the standard line that the Cuban revolutionaries were "really" communists.  This doesn't prevent the director from making a case, in the latter part of her document, that suddenly, communists were being added to the government.  The truth is carefully avoided: there was a robust Cuban Communist Party which, until late in the battle, followed Moscow's orders to avoid taking power (as was true in Western Europe).  When they did enter talks with the 26th of July Movement, they had different opinions as to how to proceed.  Fidel's group prevailed.  Also, both Fidel and Raul were known to have read Marxist literature in prison, and it was always said that Raul and Che considered themselves to be Marxists before Fidel did.  What is never mentioned in Bosch's documentary, is that this was really a collegial enterprise,, with as many nuances as there were participants.  Some participants, such as Matos, who was featured in the film, were quickly disillusioned, others, like Carlos Franqui, also featured, distanced themselves years later.  Commander Guillermo Garcia, features in my picture gallery, is mentioned in Jon Lee Andersen's recent New Yorker article as being still there.

I can't see any difference between these attitudes and behaviors, and what goes on in a nominally democratic system, where people also resign, and where party discipline is as tight in a two party system as in a one-party system.

More about parties another time.

....No sooner does one sign off than the TV spits out more incredible information:

- Cynthia McKinney, the scaandal-prone black representative from Georgia, is facing a primary in which Republicans can vote.  Too bad she didn't manage to fix that since she's been in Congress.

But here's something she couldn't have done anything about : AIPAC, the powerful Jewish lobby, asks congresspeople to sign a pledge that they will ensure that Israel remains the dominant military power in the Middle East.  McKinney didn't sign, and didn't get any money.  Talk about interfering in the internal affairs of another country!  Shouldn't stuff like that be illegal?

Even the Economist refers to Hezbollah as an "armed militia", while Juan Cole, on "Democracy Now" makes clear that it represents the POOR Shias living in the south of Lebanon.  How uncomfortable for spin doctors that sooner or later all conflicts turn out to be about equity.....

Which brings forth another question: how is it that Hezbollah could find the money to set up much needed social services, while the legitimate Lebanese government could not?  Could the answer possibly be that Hezbollah's backers are more concerned with equity than the government's (meaning the U.S.)?

Finally, while I'm asking questions, might as well put the big one on the table: is it possible that the violence is continuing in Iraq because this suits the U.S.'s long-term plans for that country - and its oil?  It seems to me that if all those troops had  appropriate orders, they could stop this.

No wonder there is increasingly a united front from Afghanistan to Lebanon.  I think the Bush administration believes U.S. power will ultimately prevail thanks to technology: technology destroys material things, but it has never suceeded in destroying people's desires.

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