Friday, December 26, 2014

Jewish Spies in Cuba

As this Washington Post op-ed says, Alan Gross's involvement in the US rapprochement with Cuba is a subplot that will soon fade away.  To me, however, it illustrates the enormous power of Jews in America and the Jewish lobby in Washington.  The US embargo on Cuba and related sanctions, including the Helms-Burton Act which I find horrendous, has been in place for decades and attacked by various people and groups for decades, but it took the Cuban arrest of Alan Gross, an American Jew who was working on some sort of spy mission involving Cuban Jews, to break the back of the sanctions.  The fact that Alan Gross was exchanged for three high value Cuban spies illustrates his importance and the Jewish influence behind him.  The US claimed that the three Cubans were exchanged for an unidentified American spy, not Alan Gross, but the reason the other spy was never identified is because he did not exist.  There may have been another spy exchanged, but he was nothing compared to Alan Gross and his importance to the Jewish lobby.

It's not clear to me what Gross's spy mission was.  He was setting up a clandestine internet for Cuban Jews, but I don't know if this clandestine connection was for American Jews to use to support Cuban Jews, or was to get Cuban Jews to report information about Cuba to the CIA or some other American group collecting such information.  In one case, Cuban Jews stood to benefit from outside contact, in the other they became liable to arrest as spies working for America.  The Cubans seemed to view it in the latter light, no matter what the original intent was.

Interestingly, Raj Shah, the head of USAID, resigned shortly after Gross's release, although everyone claimed there was no connection between the two events.  Shah was also accused of being involved in two other clandestine activities in Cuba, some kind of hip-hop activity and some kind of twitter set up.  The Washington Post article noted above raises the question whether Gross was an unwitting civilian contractor manipulated by USAID.  Of course the other question is whether Gross was really a CIA agent operating under USAID cover, or perhaps under the additional cover or some Jewish organization.

Wednesday, December 17, 2014

Cuban Relations

It sounds as if the US will restore diplomatic relations with Cuba, according to news reports.  This is something that should have been done years ago.  The terrible Helms-Burton Act denying visas to children with even the slightest connection to Cuba was one of the reasons I left the Foreign Service.

Nevertheless, I am disappointed that it happened the way it has.  It gives the impression that Jews are in control of the United States Government.  The main emphasis of the announcement was the release of Alan Gross, an American Jew, from a Cuban prison, and his return to the United States.  According to the Jerusalem Post, Gross was sent to Cuba to set up a clandestine internet service for Cuban Jews.  Although he is an American, Gross was essentially an Israeli Mossad spy sent to Cuba under American USAID cover.  Interestingly, Gross was released while the US released three Cuban spies, but to cover the Mossad connection, the US said Gross was released on "humanitarian grounds, "not as part of a swap of spies.  Despite the denials, Gross was apparently worth three Cuban spies.

So, we see the Jewish lobby is more powerful than the Cuban lobby, and also more effective than clear-thinking, normal Americans (as opposed to Jewish-Americans, Cuban-Americans, or other hyphenated Americans).  It's sad that Jews and Cubans are both so racist, but in this case the result was the correct one.

Wednesday, December 10, 2014

Congressional Torture Report

I think that to some extent the Congressional torture report is much ado about nothing.  I haven't read the report, but based on TV and press discussions of it, I don't think that there is much new in it.  It may just be official verification of allegations already made by journalists.  It does accuse the CIA of torture, but I think torture is a vague term.  When I was in Brazil, the military government used to do much worse things to Brazilian dissidents than waterboarding.  I had one American prisoner who was sort of my responsibility since he was a fellow Vietnam veteran, and I went to visit him frequently to discourage the Brazilians from doing anything bad to him.  He was held in the basement of an unmarked house in a very nice neighborhood with other "political prisoners."

But whether something is torture or not, it is probably good for the US to debate whether we want (or should) do it or not.  We are debating this for us, to maintain our integrity, not to coddle the prisoners.

One thing that seems to have come out is that career CIA officers did not want to do these things, waterboarding, etc.  So, the CIA hired some contractors to do it.  The fact that career officers did not want to do it seems to speak well of the CIA, and seems to call into question whether it should have been done.  The other question is whether these tactics worked, whether they got information.  There seems to be a split of opinion on whether they did or not.  It seems to me that this is a question that additional information should help clear up.  How did we learn about Osama bin Laden's courier?  Somebody must know the correct answer.  But it seems like all we get are political answers.

Constitutional Convention

The following are my thoughts on this article about calls for a Constitutional Convention.

When I grew up in the South, the standard justification for the Civil War was that it was not about slavery, it was about “states’ rights.”  That is what this constitutional convention is promoting.  I’m not worried that war is coming soon, but clearly discontent is building.  Much of this article is about the evils of money in the political system.  My view is that the Supreme Court’s conservative justices are largely responsible for that problem, in part by striking down their fellow Republican’s legislation, the McCain-Feingold Act, and of course the more recent decisions, such as Citizens United v. FEC.  This has basically turned Washington over to the billionaires and corporations and their lobbyists.

On term limits, I think their efficacy is debatable.  Sometimes it takes a while to learn how the system works.  In the old days, this meant that some old timers like Everett Dirksen, Bob Dole, Sam Nunn, etc., could get some good things done.  Now they use their expertise to block legislation rather than create it, but that could change.  Another big problem is gerrymandering.  Each party creates safe house districts that make it impossible for the opposing party to challenge the incumbent.  House elections are no longer genuinely democratic (small “d”); they are rigged by both parties to return the incumbent in every election.

Monday, December 01, 2014

Unfavorable Book on Gen. George Marshall

I was saddened to read the review of the new book on Gen, George Marshall, who is one of my heroes.  The New York Times Book Review of George Marshall by the Ungers and Hirshson is critical of Marshall and downplays his leadership.  The review by Mark Atwood Lawrence states:

Debi and Irwin Unger take exception to this [usual] heroic depiction [of Marshall] in their elegant and iconoclastic biography, which pokes innumerable holes in Marshall’s reputation for leadership and raises intriguing questions about how such reputations get made. Marshall emerges not as the incarnation of greatness but as an ordinary, indecisive, “less than awe-inspiring” man who achieved an unexceptional mix of success and failure.  

Looking up Debi and Irwin Unger and Stanley Hirshson on the Internet, Iwas not surprised to find that they appear to be Jewish.  Jews do not like Marshall because as Secretary of State he opposed Truman's immediate recognition of Israel when it was created.  Marshall thought it might create problems in the Middle East.  Jews also resent the fact that Allied leaders -- including FDR, Churchill, and Marshall -- delayed invading Europe until D-Day.  Jews feel that the Anglos allowed more Jews to die while they were preparing the assault.  Of course, more Anglos would have died, and the invasion might have failed, without that preparation.  Nevertheless, many Jews hate the Anglo leadership, including Marshall, for not trying to stop the Holocaust years earlier than they did.  Interestingly, the review states:

  They also laud Marshall’s determination, in the face of opposition from much of the American public, to prioritize the war in Europe over the fight against Japan and, over British objections, to make a major attack across the English Channel the focal point of Allied strategy rather than operations in the Mediterranean. 

Of course, these decisions helped speed up the rescue of Jews from the Holocaust, just not by enough to win more praise from the authors.

Thus, I find this biography to be flawed by the prejudices of the authors.