Response to a Criticism of the One-State Solution in Israel

I have previously advocated the one-state solution in Israel, and I recently discovered this op-ed piece in the Boston Globe that argues the one-state solution is simply a “euphemism for the destruction of the Jewish state of Israel” while also denying that the apartheid in South Africa shares any commonalities with “democratic Israel.” I encourage one to read the op-ed piece, but to question the rationality behind it. A true democratic state does not occupy land belonging to others without providing them equal citizenship, even if they do not share their religious faith or ethnic heritage. For Israel to be democratic, it must grand citizenship and equal rights to all of its citizens. Until then, it remains comparable to the apartheid in South Africa. The prospect of a two-state solution is dwindling fast as Israel continues to settle more territory that the UN and every nation believes belongs to the Palestinians. Establishing a single state of Israel is not about denying Israel its Jewish heritage, but recognizing that the Israel and Palestinian territory has a multi-cultural and religious heritage.

Is the War Drum Beating “Bomb Iran”?

Israeli and American rhetoric condemning Iran’s nuclear ambitions is rising. Israeli Prime Minister Netanyahu will not discount preemptively striking Iran, and he is currently seeking American support for an attack. With the exception of Ron Paul, who has no shot to win the Party’s nomination, the Republican presidential candidates are all competing to use the most hostile rhetoric possible against Iran, which is reminiscent of 2008 Republican candidate John McCain’s “Bomb Iran” Beach Boys song. But an attack seems much more likely this time around. Since the Republican candidates are too busy competing to be the least rational of the candidates, it’s difficult to imagine any of them gaining the support of more moderate Americans, and likely Obama will get reelected in the fall. Would Obama support an attack on Iran? I do not believe Obama would want to strike Iran, but the pressure of Israeli and Zionist lobbies may be overwhelming. Hopefully Obama and Americans can resist the drum beat for a war before it leads us into another disastrous foreign invasion of a Muslim nation.

If Iran did not feel the only way to protect itself from an American and / or Israeli invasion is by possessing nuclear weapons, perhaps it would not feel the need to acquire nuclear weapons. The rhetoric needs to be cooled down or else Israel and Iran will be staring into a new Cold War in the Middle East.

Video of marines urinating on Afghan corpses

How is it possible that members of the U.S. military are not trained, especially in after Abu Ghraib, to know that urinating on corpses is completely unacceptable? Treating foreign victims or even enemies with the utmost humanity as representatives of the United States should be something hammered home to every soldier from day one when begin serving active duty.

Video of Marines Urinating on Corpses

P.S. Yes, I intend to resume my blogging once again.

Protests in Syria continue, but Assad’s grip on power remains safe

This is my first post in a couple months, but a friend encouraged me to blog about Syria, so here I am, and hopefully this motivates me to continue posting again.

The protests in Syria have persisted for eight months now, and the Syrian government’s aggressive crackdown has now killed over 3,500 protesters, according to the UN. The international community has grown increasingly frustrated by the brutal repression by the Assad regime. The Arab League has suspended Syria’s membership and is threatening it with economic sanctions, and the UN has attempted to strengthen its sanctions against Syria, but was vetoed by Russia. Some members of the military have defected and formed the “Free Syrian Army,” (FSA) which seeks to overthrow Assad and have started attacking military bases. But is this enough to challenge Assad?

Although Assad’s regime is isolated in the international community and resented by its own citizens, I do not believe his hold on power is threatened yet. Perhaps, if the pressure continues to build for him to step down, he may transfer power to a crony from the Ba’ath Party, but it will not be a true revolution and little will change. Since Syria holds such tight control over the media, it is difficult to know how far these defections go and how strong the Free Syrian Army is.

Assad has made it clear that he will not accede to demands to step down, so the only hope is for an organized revolution that will bring him down. Unfortunately, the revolution will have to be violent. The peaceful protests were a good start for Syrians to voice their discontent and bring awareness to their struggle, but Assad has shown he will not listen to the protesters, so the protesters’ greatest hope is that the military will listen to their discontent and continue to defect. I said it months ago in one of my posts, and it remains true today: the revolution’s chance for success rests on the military’s willingness to defect and side with the protesters.

Again, it’s difficult to know how strong the Free Syrian Army is in comparison to the military still loyal to Assad, but it is doubtful they would stand a chance against the Syrian army currently. Unlike Libya, where military defectors took Benghazi — Libya’s second largest city — shortly after the rebellion began, the FSA has not made any substantial gains. Libya’s rebel army took nearly half of the country before the UN established a No Fly Zone, and the U.S., France, and Britain began aiding the rebels. Besides attacks on military bases, where they likely gained more defectors and military supplies, the FSA has not accomplished anything. While the FSA estimates a count of 10,000 members (which cannot be verified), the Syrian army has 200,000. Clearly they are significantly outnumbered, and the most elite members of the military are extremely loyal to Assad, so they will unlikely defect.

The international community’s approach is to apply sanctions to Syria. Sanctions will hurt Syria’s economy, but it will not weaken Assad’s control over the country, so if he is determined to remain in power, he will just shrug off the sanctions and allow the economy to falter, as so many other dictators have done and continue to do. Sanctions never destabilized the dictatorships in Cuba, Iraq, Libya, or North Korea, and I cannot imagine it would be any different for Syria. In addition, Syria will likely be able to continue trading with China and Russia as well, so they still have two powerful economies to trade with.

I strongly believe that Assad’s downfall would require the FSA to be strengthened by international support, similar to what happened in Libya. Economic sanctions just will not cripple Assad or his loyal military. The FSA likely realizes this and has called on a No Fly Zone, which could be used to provide military support. There are several reasons why this will not happen: establishing a No Fly Zone with the approval of the UN would almost certainly be vetoed by Russia and China, who did not anticipate how far the U.S., France, and Britain would take the No Fly Zone in Libya and would not want to see a repeat of it in Syria. Furthermore, it is difficult to imagine the public in U.S., France, and Britain would support yet another military intervention in the Arab world, and with an election in less than a year, I doubt Obama would risk an unpopular war. Also, for foreign powers to throw their support behind a revolutionary army, they need to know that army has a very good chance of winning, and no one would say that about the FSA yet. Furthermore, besides Syrians’ discontent with Assad’s dictatorship, there is no ideological thread that tie the protesters together, and the FSA has no ideology other than to try to protect the protesters. Without some common ideals representing the movement, foreign powers will not support them because they do not what they stand for. In a country where anti-Americanism is especially high such as Syria, the U.S. has to fear what would replace Assad. While the U.S. dislikes Assad, they know what they have with him and Syria is stable. With Syria sharing borders with Israel and Iraq, a revolution in Syria could create chaos that would pour over in neighboring countries such as Iraq and Israel, which the U.S. certainly can ill afford. Finally, Syria also lacks the oil that Libya possesses, so there is less of a capitalist incentive to gain access to its land.

Hence, I do not see the U.S. or other countries throwing their military support behind the Syrian protest movement, I do not believe the FSA is capable of removing Assad from power without significant foreign help, I do not think Assad will step down unless he is physically removed from power, and Syrians’ peaceful protests and international sanctions are incapable of removing him.

Sorry for lack of recent updates…

I just wanted to apologize for the lack of updates recently. I have been busy with other things, but I will get back into blogging this weekend with a couple new submissions. Since it’s been a couple weeks, I have a lot of things to say, including my thoughts on the Occupy Wall Street movement. So be on the lookout for new posts this weekend!

Shame on you, Georgia.

There is no excuse, none, for a state to kill someone when there is ANY reasonable doubt whether he committed the crime. You have blood on your hands tonight.

Rest in peace, Troy Davis. I hope you didn’t commit the crime that you were accused of, and I hope your death represents a change in the U.S.’s idea to execute people. Maybe then your death won’t be for nothing.