Friday October 24th, 2014, 4:35 am (EDT)

Middle East

Middle East

May 2007 (Volume 59, Number 1)

May 2007 (Volume 59, Number 1)

Recent attempts, however tentative, by Congressional Democrats to establish a timetable for the withdrawal of U.S. combat forces from Iraq should be looked upon as a victory for the antiwar movement. Not only is the Democratic Party clearly aware that its current congressional majority was the result of popular dissatisfaction with the war, but nationwide antiwar rallies have recently driven the point home. Under these circumstances, the Democrats had no choice but to challenge administration policy on the war. However, it would be a grave mistake to conclude from this that the political establishment in the United States is severely split on the question of imperialism, or that the Democratic Party is shifting towards a general anti-imperialist stance. Recent attempts, however tentative, by Congressional Democrats to establish a timetable for the withdrawal of U.S. combat forces from Iraq should be looked upon as a victory for the antiwar movement. Not only is the Democratic Party clearly aware that its current congressional majority was the result of popular dissatisfaction with the war, but nationwide antiwar rallies have recently driven the point home. Under these circumstances, the Democrats had no choice but to challenge administration policy on the war. However, it would be a grave mistake to conclude from this that the political establishment in the United States is severely split on the question of imperialism, or that the Democratic Party is shifting towards a general anti-imperialist stance… | more |

Israel in the U.S. Empire

Any reader of Israel Studies’s recent issue on the “Americanization of Israel” would be likely to conclude that the most important aspect of U.S.-Israel relations was cultural and religious exchange.* U.S. commodification of Israeli consumption is a key focus here, as is the impact of U.S. religious trends on Israeli religious practices. Though politics does feature in the issue, its place is largely restricted to the influence of the United States on the Israeli party political system and to the ideological convergence between Christian fundamentalism and the Likud Party. The informing conception of the issue, then, seems to be the endeavor to pinpoint those aspects of Israel that have been “Americanized” in recent years. Contributors are thus preoccupied with determining how specific U.S. forms and norms have migrated to and been translated into Israeli culture and society… | more |

December 2006 (Volume 58, Number 7)

December 2006 (Volume 58, Number 7)

In a survey of the Iraqi population, the results of which were released last June, 76 percent of those surveyed gave as their first choice “to control Iraqi oil” when asked to choose three reasons that the United States invaded Iraq. The next most common answers were “to build military bases” and “to help Israel.” Less than 2 percent picked “to bring democracy to Iraq” as their first choice (University of Michigan News Service, June 14, 2006 [http://www.nsumich.edu], U.S. News & World Report, August 17, 2006). In the United States the “blood for oil” explanation for the war is regularly scorned by the powers that be, including the corporate media. However, there is no way of getting around the fact that nearly all questions regarding Iraq return in one way or another to oil… | more |

April 2006 (Volume 57, Number 11)

April 2006 (Volume 57, Number 11)

As we write this in late February, threats of a U.S. military intervention in Iran are intensifying in response to Washington’s claims that Iran is attempting to develop nuclear weapons capabilities. The International Atomic Energy Agency has voted to take the issue of what it views as Iran’s noncompliance with the Nuclear Nonproliferation Treaty Safeguards Agreement to the United Nations Security Council in early March. Meanwhile, the Bush administration has repeatedly stated that a military strike against Iran by the United States is now “on the table.” Washington’s waving of its big stick coupled with its feeding of misinformation to a U.S. media system that has not hesitated to pass these distortions on to the general public have already had their effect. A Los Angeles Times/Bloomberg poll taken in January indicated that “57% of Americans favor military intervention if Iran’s Islamic government pursues a program that could enable it to build nuclear arms” (Los Angeles Times, January 27, 2006). A few days later President Bush declared in his State of the Union address that “the Iranian government is defying the world with its nuclear ambitions, and the nations of the world must not permit the Iranian regime to gain nuclear weapons. America will continue to rally the world to confront these threats.”… | more |

The Language of Empire

The Language of Empire

Abu Ghraib and the American Media

The Language of Empire is a study of how and why the torture of Iraqi prisoners at Abu Ghraib was white-washed by the American media. Tracing the connections between such apparently unrelated incidents as the videotaped beheading of the American contractor Nicholas Berg and the massive siege and bombing of Fallujah—the Guernica of the 21st century—it builds a compelling case that the torture of Iraqi prisoners was not an aberration but systematic, rehearsed, and in line with the history and policies of the U.S. military.… | more |

September 2005 (Volume 57, Number 4)

September 2005 (Volume 57, Number 4)

More than a year after the supposed “transfer of sovereignty” the war of aggression that the United States is waging in Iraq shows no sign of abating. Washington’s plan is to continue to occupy Iraq by force until it is brought securely within the American Empire. After that U.S. troop presence in the major urban centers can be sharply reduced and its remaining forces relocated to a few strategic military bases, with the new Iraqi government security forces stepping in to replace American troops in most parts of the country… | more |

A Cup of Tea, Summer of ‘72

My sister was the only one who had sensed something about the issue. I had just stepped into the room from the terrace one day when she jumped in front of me and said, “What the heck is going on with you? Every time the bell rings you grab your briefcase and step out on the terrace.” She was loud and her tone was angry. I don’t remember her exact words. She may have added, “Do you think that you can just grab your briefcase and jump over the wall if they suddenly show up?”… | more |

December 2004 (Volume 56, Number 7)

December 2004 (Volume 56, Number 7)

New Political Science, a journal associated with the Caucus for a New Political Science, has devoted its entire September 2004 number to “The Politics of Empire, Terror and Hegemony.” The quality of the contributions to this special issue, some of them by MR and MR Press authors, including David Gibbs, Sheila Collins, Edward Greer, and William Robinson, is remarkable. In particular, Greer’s essay on the use of torture by the United States in the “Global War on Terror” uncovers facts that no one can afford to ignore. The deep impression that this essay and the reporting on U.S. acts of torture by Mike Tanner, writing for the New York Review of Books (October 7, 2004), have had on our own thinking is evident in this month’s Review of the Month… | more |

The New Israel

With the assassination of Prime Minister Yitzak Rabin on November 4, 1995, a long interval of relative openness, liberalization, and attempts at peace and normal relations with the Arab world came to an end. By assassinating Rabin the Israeli right not only seized political power—including inside the Labor Party—but also drove the last nail in the coffin of a certain kind of Israel. That Israel gave way to a new kind of country, with its own particular values and, in the end, a new constitutional framework and set of institutions. How was the transformation to this new Israel accomplished? … | more |

Toward an Open Tomb

Toward an Open Tomb

The Crisis of Israeli Society

Since the breakdown of the Oslo peace process in 2000 and the beginning of the second Intifada, conflict has escalated in Israel/Palestine and come to seem irreversible. The overwhelming power of the Israeli military has been unleashed against a largely defenseless population in the occupied territories of the West Bank and Gaza, driving Palestinians to despair and to desperate measures of retaliation. Michel Warschawski, has for many decades been active in building alliances of Jews and Palestinians to oppose the Israeli occupation. In this book, however, he focuses especially on the effects of the occupation on the occupiers—that is, on Israeli society—rather than its victims.… | more |

U.S. Imperial Strategy in the Middle East

U.S. Middle Eastern strategy for the decade 1991–2000 had run up against its limits on both of its main fronts: the Israeli-Palestinian front, and the Arab-Persian Gulf… | more |

Behind the Invasion of Iraq

Behind the Invasion of Iraq

Since September 11, 2001, there have been many accounts of the ways in which the alignment of global power is changing or will be changed by the U.S. war on terrorism. Most of them take as their starting point the options facing the wealthy and powerful nations of the world seeking to control an ever larger share of the world’s resources. Behind the Invasion of Iraq is written from a different perspective, and one that makes possible a far more comprehensive point of view.… | more |

Eastern Cauldron

Eastern Cauldron

Islam, Afghanistan, Palestine, and Iraq in a Marxist Mirror

The route to any coherent understanding of our time runs through the issues addressed in this collection of essays: the political meaning of Islam, the relation of the West to the Islamic world, the new form of imperialism signaled by the Soviet and U.S. occupations of Afghanistan, the intractable conflict over Palestine. In confronting these inescapable issues global power is being reshaped and the ends for which it will be used are being decided.… | more |

June 2003 (Volume 55, Number 2)

June 2003 (Volume 55, Number 2)

The chief, indeed the only, justification that Washington offered for its invasion of Iraq during its build-up for war between September 2002 and March 2003,was the need to “disarm” an Iraqi regime that Washington contended had broken UN resolutions banning weapons of mass destruction in that country. The problem, though, was that there was no hard evidence that Iraq, which had effectively destroyed its weapons of mass destruction in the 1990s under UN supervision, had any such weapons—or if it did that they were functional and constituted a significant threat. Nevertheless, the Bush administration continued to insist (based on speculation, hearsay, and what turned out to be fabricated evidence) that Iraq had such banned weapons in significant quantities and was actually deploying them. In an extraordinary propaganda campaign in which the whole mainstream media took part, the U.S. population was led to believe that they were in imminent danger of attack from these phantom weapons and had no choice but to support a pre-emptive invasion of that country… | more |

‘I Am in the Midst of a Genocide': E-Mails from Gaza

I have been in Palestine for two weeks and one hour now, and I still have very few words to describe what I see. It is most difficult for me to think about what’s going on here when I sit down to write back to the United States. Something about the virtual portal into luxury. I don’t know if many of the children here have ever existed without tank-shell holes in their walls and the towers of an occupying army surveying them constantly from the near horizons. I think, although I’m not entirely sure, that even the smallest of these children understand that life is not like this everywhere. An eight-year-old was shot and killed by an Israeli tank two days before I got here, and many of the children murmur his name to me—Ali—or point at the posters of him on the walls. The children also love to get me to practice my limited Arabic by asking me, “Kaif Sharon?” “Kaif Bush?” and they laugh when I say, “Bush majnoon,” “Sharon majnoon” back in my limited Arabic. (How is Sharon? How is Bush? Bush is crazy. Sharon is crazy.) Of course this isn’t quite what I believe, and some of the adults who have the English correct me: “Bush mish majnoon”—Bush is a businessman. Today I tried to learn to say, “Bush is a tool,” but I don’t think it translated quite right. But anyway, there are eight-year-olds here much more aware of the workings of the global power structure than I was just a few years ago… | more |

February 2003 (Volume 54, Number 9)

February 2003 (Volume 54, Number 9)

On December 19, 2002 U.S. Secretary of State Colin Powell declared that the 12,000 page document that Iraq delivered to the United Nations on December 7, listing its secret weapons programs together with any dual use agents that could be used in proscribed weapons systems, contained significant omissions. It thus constituted, in the view of the Bush administration, a further “material breach” in Iraq’s obligations under current U.N. resolutions. All of this was meant to add to Washington’s case for waging a war on Iraq, ostensibly in order to “disarm” it… | more |

Global Capitalism and Israel

Jonathan Nitzan and Shimshon Bichler, The Global Political Economy of Israel (London and Sterling, Virginia: Pluto Press, 2002), 407 pages, cloth $75.00, paper $24.95.

One of the characteristics of much academic writing is an obsession with theory at the expense of empirical investigation. It is rare to find a book that combines genuinely novel theoretical exploration with rigorous empirical study, the more so in fields such as political science where abstraction seems to have become the norm. It is for this reason that The Global Political Economy of Israel is such a gripping read. A remarkable investigation into the concrete workings of the Israeli and U.S. economies that avoids the fatuous generalities of much of the globalization literature, it presents a challenging theoretical framework that not only clarifies the past but also seeks to understand the present… | more |

Punishment by Detail

Aside from the obvious physical discomforts, being ill for a long period of time fills the spirit with a terrible feeling of helplessness, but also with periods of analytic lucidity, which, of course, must be treasured. For the past three months, now I have been in and out of the hospital, with days marked by lengthy and painful treatments, blood transfusions, endless tests, hours and hours of unproductive time spent staring at the ceiling, draining fatigue and infection, inability to do normal work, and thinking, thinking, thinking. But there are also the intermittent passages of lucidity and reflection that sometimes give the mind a perspective on daily life that allows it to see things (without being able to do much about them) from a different perspective. Reading the news from Palestine and seeing the frightful images of death and destruction on television, it has been my experience to be utterly amazed and aghast at what I have deduced from those details about Israeli government policy, more particularly about what has been going on in the mind of Ariel Sharon. And when, after the recent Gaza bombing by one of his F-16s in which nine children were massacred, he was quoted as congratulating the pilot and boasting of a great Israeli success, I was able to form a much clearer idea than before of what a pathologically deranged mind is capable of, not only in terms of what it plans and orders but, worse, how it manages to persuade other minds to think in the same delusional and criminal way. Getting inside the official Israeli mind is a worthwhile, if lurid, experience… | more |

Class, Economy, and the Second Intifada

The current Palestinian Intifada and Israel’s brutal response has been the subject of countless articles over the last two years. There is however a disappointing vacuum within left analysis, with much of this writing attempting to explain the character of Israeli policy through the right-wing views of Ariel Sharon. Within this framework, Israeli strategy is presented as a racist extension of colonialist designs on the Occupied Territories sometimes including the expulsion of Palestinians from the West Bank and Gaza Strip (hereafter referred to as WB/GS)… | more |

Understanding the Other Sister: The Case of Arab Feminism

One evening, shortly after September 11, I was conducting a college English class when one of my students asked a question about the accumulating body of information on women and Islam. It was one of many questions about the Middle East asked of me in the days after the tragedies; this one was about the veil, and why women in the Middle East “had to wear it.” I explained that not all women in the Middle East were Muslim (I myself am a Palestinian Christian), but that even many Muslim women did not veil. However, many did, and for myriad reasons: mostly for personal and religious reasons and, for some, upon compulsion… | more |

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