Posts Tagged ‘Israel’

The Making of the Modern Middle East Mess

July 29, 2014

What a time to be reading Scott  Anderson’s Lawrence in Arabia.  The moment I  saw the book’s cover, I knew  I had to read it because one of the most impressive movies I have ever seen is David Lean’s 1966 masterpiece epic Lawrence of Arabia.

T.E. Lawrence, British soldier who played a key role in leading the Arab Revolt that helped  bring down the Ottoman/Turkish Empire in World War One.

T.E. Lawrence, British soldier who played a key role in leading the Arab Revolt that helped bring down the Ottoman/Turkish Empire in World War One.

With the daily Middle East  horrors being shown just about every day on TV, it’s interesting the learn how the modern Middle East was formed a hundred years ago when World War One started in 1914, and the role that T.E Lawrence played in that formation, and about how the United Kingdom and France arbitrarily drew up the borders of the  Middle East nations that resulted in the carving up o the defeated Ottoman empire.  It also delves into the beginning of the formation of Israel. And it tells us about early American  involvement in it all.

The full and very appropriate title of the book is Lawrence in Arabia: War, Deceit, Imperial Folly and the Making of the Modern Middle East.

 

 

 

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Maybe Israel Should be Giving the United States Foreign Aid

August 28, 2013

Opher Aviran, Counsul General of Israel to the Southeast United States, with Dr. Tim Mescon, President of Columbus State University, who introduced him  to the Rotarfy  Club of  Columbus.

Opher Aviran, Counsul General of Israel to the Southeast United States, with Dr. Tim Mescon, President of Columbus State University, who introduced him to the Rotary Club of Columbus.

Opher Aviran, Consul General of Israel to the Southeast Eastern United States,  spoke to Columbus Rotarians about the close ties between the United States and Israel.  He spoke of the mutual economic benefits of American-Israeli trade connections,  using, as example,  how Israel’s high-tech development community contributes  to American businesses that  have facilities in Israel. I have read Israel does have some really talented digital whizzes.

Perhaps the  relationship’s working the best for Israel.  Their national economy is in much better shape.  Their national debt as a percent  of their  Gross National Product is less than 75 percent.  Our national debt’s percentage of our GNP is 106 percent.

We give Israel about $3 billion a year in foreign aid, which is the most we gave  any country between 1976 and 2004.  Maybe it should be the other way around.   To  be fair, a lot of that $3 billion goes to American arms manufacturers.  You could say it’s just another way of subsidizing the military-industrial complex.

Maybe our government should just stop sending money gifts to any  Mideastern ountry.  What  are we getting for it?  The country that we buy the most oil from, Saudi Arabia, doesn’t need handouts from the U.S.

Then there is the  military factor to consider.  What have we gained by spending almost $900 billion on the war in Iraq?  Actually, according to  a paper by Linda J. Bilmes of Harvard, the cost of the Iraq and Afghanistan wars will total somewhere between $4 to $6 trillion when you factor in longterm  medical care and disability compensation for service members, veterans and families, military replacements, and social and economic costs.  Our government says the Iraq war is over. If that’s the case why are we still pouring money into it?  We’ve budgeted $5.2 billion for it this year. 

Cruise missle

Cruise missle

What are we going to gain by sending $1.4 million Cruise missiles into Syria?  I guess it will give a boost to Raytheon, who now  manufactures those missiles.  We’ll have to buy some more to replace the ones we use. Will we raise taxes to pay for them? Of course not. We’ll just have to borrow some more from China.  Well, we could just transfer the funds from Medicare and Social Security.  It would be interesting to see the political fallout from that since the millions who have paid money into those insurance programs would be affected.

And those Cruise missiles may just be the beginning of the cost of getting mixed up in that civil war.  We don’t know what the consequences of attacking Syrian targets may be.  You just never know until you do it.

The Network Evening Half-Hour Newscasts Leave Out a Lot

September 27, 2012

THAT”S WHY I ALSO RECORD AND WATCH THE PBS NEWSHOUR AND THE DAILY SHOW

Every night I record the NBC Nightly News,  the PBS NewsHour, and the Daily Show with Jon Stewart.  At one time I thought that if I watched one of the mainstream network newscast that would be enough to keep me basically informed. I have since learned that is not the case.

With just a half-hour –  well less than a half-hour because of all the commercials – the NBC evening newscast just can’t do the job.  For  instance, tonight there was nothing about the UN meeting going on in New York. The PBS NewsHour did have coverage, and last night on the Daily Show, Jon Stewart had a very informative interview with Jordan’s King Abdullah II on how the Arab Spring is affecting the Middle East.  There were some laughs, and the king got some himself; after all, it was the Daily Show. It was, though, a serious interview. Watching the NBC Nightly News definitely was not enough.

Josh McKoon on Georgia 85, Georgia Legislature Coverage, Excessive Crime Reporting, and Gaza

January 7, 2009

  Josh McKoon, chair of the the Muscogee County Republican Party, sent the following email to me about recent  posts on this blog.  I decided to use it as a post rather than run it as a comment to one of the posts he addresses. 

Dear Dick,
 
As always I enjoy reading your blog posts and just wanted to share a few comments with you.
 
I am glad you reminded people they can travel on Georgia 85, it is much better than I-85 given the mess between Exit 41 and 47.  And as you mentioned, it is a more pleasant drive.
 
And I could not agree more with your January 3 post regarding news coverage of the Georgia Legislature.  I wonder if the various local media organizations could pool resources to send one reporter up for the session.  I get tired of having to read the Atlanta and Savannah papers to find out what our legislators are up to under the Gold Dome.  Lawmakers is an excellent resource, as is Dick Pettys web site, Peach Pundit.com, the AJC’s political insider on ajc.com, the Georgia Gang (if you can get Atlanta television stations) and Insider Advantage online.  I am interested to see how Richard Hyatt and hopefully you, provide information to local citizens on the upcoming session.  But it is right to put a big spotlight on this issue as the lack of coverage the last few years is a dereliction of duty on the part of the press.
 
I also have to agree with you regarding the overemphasis on crime in the media.  If I want to hear about the police 24/7, I will buy a scanner.  If you really want to cover crime, how about an in depth story on the incredible success of the Muscogee County Juvenile Drug Court program, or the Junior Marshal program or the Truancy Intervention Project, or Big Brothers/Big Sisters, and the hundreds of volunteers that devote time to helping at-risk children from becoming another crime blotter story?
 
Finally I do have to take issue with you on your most recent entry regarding the conflict in Gaza.  I agree with you that any short take on the conflict is necessarily simplistic given the history.  However, take this most recent upsurge in violence and what I see is the Israeli government making significant territorial concessions (Sharon’s effort to abandon settlements in Gaza and leave it to the PA to control).  In return, terrorists take control of the government and now being even closer to Israeli population centers they fire rockets indiscriminately, killing men, women and children.  The Israelis suffer this for so long before finally saying, we cannot let the killing of our people continue unanswered and take military action to end the violence. 
 
To put this in perspective, let us say that Mexico wanted to reclaim portions of California and Texas and, that after lengthy negotiation, the U.S. agreed to territorial concessions.  Within a short period of time, militant Mexican nationalists start firing rockets into Los Angeles, Houston and New Orleans.  What would the U.S. do in response?  I highly doubt we would have negotiated for any period of that time and given the aggressors the opportunity to cease and desist.  I expect U.S. tanks would be rolling immediately into those areas and taking those responsible out of commission.
 
Unfortunately, the terrorists in Gaza not only target innocent Israeli civilians, when they are confronted with a counterattack they hide behind innocent people as well, and then when someone is killed in the ensuing fighting the terrorists seek to blame the Israelis for killing people they are using as human shields.
 
So it is unsurprising to me that Republicans and Democrats widely agree on the subject of supporting our ally Israel, the only totally functioning democracy in the whole of the Middle East, over the terrorists running Gaza.
 
Thanks for letting me share my thoughts with you and keep up the great work, it is always a delight to read your take on what is going on in our community and elsewhere.
 
Regards,
 
Josh

It Takes A Fake News Show to Get to the Truth

January 6, 2009

  The place to get to the basic truth about world events is a fake newscast.  Beneath the outrageous comedy routine’s on the Daily Show with Jon Stewart is a very serious look at the underlying, unvarnished truth in the important issues facing our country and the world.

  No where had I seen on television, or read in newspapers or news magazines, about something I suspected from the moment Israel launched its devastating attack on Gaza,  until Jon Stewart said it last night.  Israel picked now to launch this attack because it knew it had the full support of the Bush administration in whatever it did, but it was not certain that President-elect Barack Obama would continue the anything-Israel-does-is-right policy of the Bush administration.

Jon Stewart, a Jew, dared to do something that no national political leader, Democrat or Republican, would  do: look at the other side of the Israeli-Palestinian endless disaster.  He showed a parade of Democratic and Republican politicians, including Senate majority leader Harry Reed, and independent New York Mayor Michael Bloomberg, all coming down on Israel’s  side in its response to rockets fired by Hamas into Israel, with no qualifying comments about the complications involved, no recognition of the suffering going on in Gaza.

Stewart, and his guest David Gregory, new host of Meet the Press, and also a Jew, said the situation in Israel and Palestine is complicated, but political leaders, when coming down on the side of Israel, would not get into those complications.

Stewart summed up the endless conflict in the Middle East by saying that Israel was promised the land by God, but, he added, God also made that promise to the Palestinians.