Monday, July 31, 2006

Will Israel Take Bush Down the Tubes?

Maybe joining itself at the hip with Israel will finally begin to work against the Bush administration. This article in the WP indicates it may, as does this article from the Christian Science Monitor. An article in yesterday's NYT, however, indicated that the confrontation may have some downsides for Iran, which would be a plus for Bush. In general, though, it looks like Iran is winning the battle for hearts and minds around the world. Bush is responsible for this, mainly by having poked his finger in everybody's eye around the world for the last five or six years, then by invading Iraq on false pretenses, and now by supporting Israel no matter what atrocities Israel commits.

It's true that Hezbollah is worse than Israel in terms of how it is fighting the war, but Israel is supposed to be a civilized country like the US, while Hezbollah gets a pass because it's a known terrorist group; so, everybody expects it to act like a terrorist group. People do not, and should not, expect the US and Israel to act like terrorists, although they have done so in Iraq and Lebanon. The US needs to return to its former law abiding self, and begin to treat Israel as it treats other countries.

Of course, the US position in support of Israel points out the fact that the administration has sold itself to big Jewish contributors, to AIPAC, and to evangelicals looking for the Rapture, who are poorer but vote in larger numbers for Republicans than rich Jews.

Thursday, July 27, 2006

Would the Mid-East Be Different Without Israel?

Israel seems to be the focus of unrest in the Mid-East, as the Jewish state in midst of a sea of Arab and Muslim states. If it weren't there would the Middle East be calmer? Of course, we don't know, but probably not. Zionist Jews were fighting for the creation of the state of Israel for decades before it was created by the UN after World War II. Jews introduced terrorist tactics into the Middle East with the Stern Gang and other Jewish terrorist organizations. Their terrorism was mainly directed at Britain as the colonial power ruling the Palestine mandate. But Jewish terrorists were also responsible for killing the first UN envoy after the creation of the UN and Israel, because they so violently opposed his mission of looking into the possibility of a right of return for Arabs evicted from Israel.

If Israel had not been created, Jews would still be fighting in Palestine for the creation of a Jewish homeland. However, they would probably be the aggressors attacking Arab states instead of the current situation where Arabs attack the Jewish state created from formerly Arab land. But the fight long predated the creation of Israel and would no doubt be going on now because both groups want the same piece of land.

However, the Jews in the Middle East would probably not have nuclear weapons, F-16s with laser guided missiles, and other US supplied weapons if Israel did not exist.

Saturday, July 22, 2006

Who Are We Supporting in Israel?

Why is the US more supportive of Israel than any other nation in the world? I feel like I am going to be called anti-Semitic for my concerns about Jewish influence on American foreign policy, but it is a problem. The article by Mearsheimer and Walt shows that my concerns are not unique.

There are at least three main kinds of Jews with differing views on Israel and American foreign policy. First there are the religious Jews, most of whom are also ethnic or racial Jews. Of course, they fall into different categories, too, from orthodox to reform. The closer they are to Orthodox, probably the more strongly Jews support Israel. Then there are secular Jews, Jews by race or ethnicity who are not religious. I understand that many of the Jews in Israel are secular Jews, although many others, particularly in the occupied territories are very religious. Finally there are the Zionists, Jews of all backgrounds who strongly support Israel.

Israel confuses the whole Jewish issue and the anti-Semitism argument. If you don't like Israel, many Jews take that as meaning that you don't like Jews, when that is not the case. When we lived in Poland, I thought Poland did a good job in discriminating between the Nazis and the Germans. They may not have been totally successful, but they tried to direct their dislike at the Nazis, rather than at all Germans. It should be possible to dislike or disapprove of a state, in particular because of its government and rulers, without disliking or disapproving of all the people who live there.

So, Jews who take disapproval of Israel as disapproval of all Jews take that weight on themselves. If that were true, it would mean that all Jews are loyal to Israel first, and then to whatever country they happen to live in, e.g., the U.S. I don't believe that all Jews are disloyal Americans, but rabid Zionists would have us believe that they are.

Wednesday, July 19, 2006

No Arafat

One player missing from the current Middle East crisis is Arafat. Israel and the US couldn't wait to be rid of him. Israel kept him prisoner in his office for the last few years of his life, which may have shortened his life. But he could control the Palestinians better than anyone else when he wanted to. Abbas is not his successor. Although he holds the same position, he doesn't have the same power. If he were around there would be someone meaningful to negotiate with, although Bush and Olmert wouldn't talk to him.

Leo Strauss and the Neo-Cons

A recent New York Times Book Review article on a new book about Leo Strauss says that his conservative disciples who promoted the Iraq war as members of the Bush administration do not reflect his thinking. His neo-con disciples include Paul Wolfowitz and Richard Perle, among others. (Perle has recently written an op-ed for the Washington Post and conducted an on-line discussion.)

They were among the most outspoken advocates of war with Iraq and had enormous power because they held important government positions or because they were well connected politically with senior administration officials. I don't know enough about Strauss' political philosophy to argue the point of whether he would have favored invading Iraq or not, but there is one element of his background in the review that is connected to Iraq: Strauss' embrace of Zionism. It may not be an accident that his disciples who were most ardent in arguing for war with Iraq were also Jewish. Perhaps the main thing they took from him that influenced their feelings about Iraq was his Zionism, rather than his political philosophy. Israel was a big promoter of the war with Iraq, just as it is now a big promoter of war with Iran. (While Israel is trying to get the US to go to war with Iran, it is engaged in its own war with Lebanon.)

Was it the Zionism of the influential Jews in the administration -- learned from or reinforced by Strauss -- which led them to lead the charge for war with Iraq? We'll probably never know, but it could well be. There certainly seems to be some link between Leo Strauss and the war.

Saturday, July 15, 2006

Rich Get Richer

All of the papers, including the NYT, report a rise in tax revenues that will reduce the budget deficit. It looks like the wealthy are getting wealthier.

The NYT reports:
Corporate tax payments are expected to exceed $300 billion, up from $131 billion three years ago. The other big increase is an extraordinary jump in individual taxes that were not withheld from paychecks, usually a reflection of taxes on investment income and executive bonuses.
So, the taxes are being paid by rich people who do not get paychecks, but get dividends, stock options, live off of their investments, etc.

We know that Bush's tax cuts predominately went to wealthy taxpayers; therefore, the tax revenues would have been even higher without the tax cuts. Bush, of course, claims that the increased income of rich people is due to his policies, but that's not clear. The fact that wage earners' incomes have not increased indicates that wages have not increased in sync with the dividends and capital gains received by the wealthy. Unemployment is around 4 percent, which is pretty close to full employment. With a booming economy at full employment, why is there no wage inflation? It's because of globalization. Manufacturing and services jobs are both being outsourced for much lower wages than those prevailing in the US. In addition, illegal immigrants tend to depress American wages even further for those jobs still remaining in the US. Because lower end wages are being kept so low, the upper end CEOs , other senior executives, and investors are reaping even greater profits, and thus paying more taxes. It is not because they are investing in America, creating new jobs, etc. They are profiting from the selling of America.

Friday, July 14, 2006

North Korean Missile Test Failure

A lot of politicians and talking heads have taken solace from the failure of the North Korean Taepodong-2 missile shortly after its launch. They have not mentioned that the rocket sat on the launching pad for days, possibly being fueled and unfueled. Then, it looks as if the rocket was launched on a very short deadline, just after the Shuttle launched on July 4, which means that the technicians may have been under a lot of pressure to launch it quickly. They may have being doing this on the political orders of Kim Jong-Il, rather than the rocket scientists who built the rocket. If the test were done on political orders and on a political schedule, then we can take less comfort in its failure than if the test had been a purely technical one. On the other hand, because of that, the scientists may have gotten less useful data than if they had run the test on their own schedule.