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John McCain’s odyssey into international law

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This post is part of Marc H. Ellis’s “Exile and the Prophetic” feature for Mondoweiss. To read the entire series visit the archive page.

The dog days of summer are upon us and my Facebook friends – yes I am back on Facebook after a long hiatus – are posting their vacation photos.  Facebook provides an amazing perspective on affluent justice and peace activists. In my view it doesn’t encourage a sanguine view of the future of activism.

Having been on vacation from Facebook for a few years, I’ve noticed a change – for the worse.  Whereas before there was interchanges on posts no matter how superficial, it seems that now Facebook is filled with bulletins to display a person’s interests.  One bulletin post follows another in a steady stream of individualized statements that purport to speak about the world. 

Perhaps one day Facebook will be medically classified as a form of autism.  It is certainly symptomatic of our cultural – and political -malaise.

Meanwhile in the real world, I’ve been following the Japanese nuclear power plant catastrophe that continues to unfold.  The New York Times reports that the situation is actually getting worse. Contaminated water continues to spill from the Fukushima nuclear plant into the Pacific Ocean at alarming rates. The “solution” to the problem has been treated in a localized, privatized, bureaucratic and corrupt manner.

Is this an issue that can be left to Japan itself?  Government officials confirm that some 300 tons or about 75,000 gallons of contaminated groundwater is flowing – daily – into a man-made harbor at the Fukushima plant.  This is overflowing a wall into the ocean.  But the proposed national solution seems iffy at best. 

The plan calls for freezing the soil around the buildings.  This would shut off the flow of contamination into nearby groundwater and, if it worked, the leaks into the sea would end. Doing this would require an ice wall nearly a mile in length that would reach almost 100 feet into the ground.  An ice wall of such a scale has never been attempted before.  Chief Cabinet Secretary Yoshihide Suga told a news conference that “there is no precedent in the world to create a water-shielding wall with frozen soil on such a large scale.  To build that, I think the state has to step in to support its realization.”

If there was ever a need for an international solution to a problem here it is.  Yet the world stands silent while Japanese politics and pride plays out.  The ice wall may do the trick but what if it doesn’t?

Meanwhile in Egypt, the John McCain odyssey – with Lindsey Graham as his Senatorial sidekick – continues.  Their statement of American law and the Egyptian coup sound a lot like Japanese nuclear plant politics. 

Both Senators argue that the coup was a coup, thus American aid should be cut off to the Egyptian military – with a caveat.  If the behavior of the military regime improves the coup that is a coup will be forgotten.  US relations can go on as usual. 

That’s practical politics as the yardstick.  The kicker though is the principle the Senators enunciate:  “We share the democratic aspirations and the criticisms of the Morsi government that led millions of Egyptians into the streets” but the “circumstances of the former government’s president’s removal were a coup, and we have said that we cannot expect Egypt or any other country to abide by its laws if we do not abide by ours in the United States.”

Abiding by our laws – with the NSA surveillance flap and many other obvious violations of American law abiding– the Senators are stretching a bit.  Then they add an international flavor of law-abiding.  The stretch is too much. On the international front the US doesn’t have a law-abiding leg to stand on.

Talking about stretching the law-abiding theme, check out the New York Times article article on the enrichment of Cory Booker, the African American Senatorial candidate in New Jersey, whose pro-Israel views make him a favorite of Jewish enablers as the next, much friendlier, Barack Obama.  It seems his “ideas” have landed him a company – Waywire – that others foot the bill for and may make him a dotcom zillionaire.  Booker’s response to inquiries about his company which he seems to be absent from – except when the profits eventually roll in – is that he would “put it into motion, you know, but get out of the way.”

By his own account, Booker is a Twitter fanatic, a platform that makes Facebook autism appear retro.  With Japanese ice walls and John McCain law abiding seminars around the world, is our political fate to be held in the hands of a future Twitter President? 

Marc H. Ellis
About Marc H. Ellis

Marc H. Ellis is Professor of History and Jewish Studies and Director of the Center for the Study of the Global Prophetic. His latest book is Finding Our Voice: Embodying the Prophetic and Other Misadventures.

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7 Responses

  1. HarryLaw
    August 7, 2013, 12:49 pm

    Of course it was a coup, the only question now is whether democracy ever returns to Egypt, apparently the Brothers have been offered seats in Government, if they accept, then they would have conceded, they had no right to govern Egypt as the election winners, if they are banned at the next election how could anyone call it a democracy? The parlous state of the Egyptian economy with millions barely able to survive is not conducive to peaceful change, the Saudis pumping billions into Egypt must also have a negative effect. Interesting times.

  2. bilal a
    bilal a
    August 7, 2013, 1:04 pm

    McCain Graham , wounded in Syria, r now playing for destabilization in Egypt, civil war has a neocon upside. But from the WSJ, Where have the Liberals in Egypt gone?
    Video report:!770E9C94-CDC1-4C81-91B9-4EA60CDEB8A9

  3. Bumblebye
    August 7, 2013, 1:11 pm

    Ahh, those not so halcyon days of the Arab Spring, when one could hear “coup coup, coup coup”.

    • bilal a
      bilal a
      August 7, 2013, 8:06 pm

      from The Atlantic:

      ” As the Brotherhood leader spoke, the policemen laughed, while others looked on anxiously, mirroring the divisions within Egyptian society. Not everyone hates the Islamists, and not everyone loves the police.

      On TV, the camera panned over the shouting Brotherhood supporters a few miles away, mourning a protester just shot dead. At the airport, an officer with three bars on his shoulder laughed. “Morsi’s finished,” he said, bringing his heel down and slowly savoring the crushing motion. “In two more days, the Brotherhood will be finished too.”

      Beside him a stone-faced man winced. ”

  4. piotr
    August 7, 2013, 6:04 pm

    Somewhat off topic, but consider this description: “operational activity meant to preserve the calm for the northern communities in particular and for the residents of Israel in general”

    I hope that the IDF soldiers wounded yesterday during those “activities” inside Lebanon were not maimed etc., but does it sound if these activities were legal or illegal? And does it matter?

  5. Brown-Eyed Girl
    Brown-Eyed Girl
    August 7, 2013, 11:55 pm

    Thanks for the link regarding the nuclear accident in Fukushima. Several times I have thought about it and wondered what was going on. Since the earthquake and tsunami are no longer “flavor of the month,” the main-stream media has lost interest in the story. Sometimes it boggles the mind: how much real news and information one misses by watching and listening to the American evening news.

    • Citizen
      August 9, 2013, 11:38 am

      @ Brown-Eyed Girl
      Yep. The US main media news is a bad joke. I don’t see any journalists out there but Snowden and Manning, two guys who grew up working class, with high school educations. Our ivy league shows it may be the best and the brightest, but the absolutely worse source of real American journalists and leaders. A PFC is better for us than our top brass, military or secular. Greenwald stands high as the best of the traditional brightest, but he has to stay outside the USA to remain so. And Americans have to read media from outside the US to understand what’s happening in the US. Pretty pathetic for Old Glory rippling in the breeze of petty materialism.

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