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Obama’s European message– self-determination, equality, dignity– is null and void in Palestine

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Obama drinks tea before his speech yesterday in Brussels, White House photo by Pete Souza

Obama drinks tea before his speech yesterday in Brussels, White House photo by Pete Souza

Obama’s European tour has a strong human-rights message. Just now at a press conference he said of his meeting with Pope Francis, “His Holiness is very interested in the Israel-Palestine issue.”

Yesterday I watched his stemwinder to European youth, laying out the principles that defy the Russian occupation of Crimea. The ideas were stirring. Time and again the president invoked democracy, self-determination, human equality, territorial integrity and dignity — principles the U.S. has nullified in its policy in Israel and Palestine.

First, he outlines his theme like a constitutional scholar. Emphasis mine:

Throughout human history, societies have grappled with fundamental questions of how to organize themselves, the proper relationship between the individual and the state, the best means to resolve inevitable conflicts between states.  And it was here in Europe, through centuries of struggle — through war and Enlightenment, repression and revolution — that a particular set of ideals began to emerge:  The belief that through conscience and free will, each of us has the right to live as we choose.  The belief that power is derived from the consent of the governed, and that laws and institutions should be established to protect that understanding.  And those ideas eventually inspired a band of colonialists across an ocean, and they wrote them into the founding documents that still guide America today, including the simple truth that all men — and women — are created equal.

But those ideals have also been tested — here in Europe and around the world.  Those ideals have often been threatened by an older, more traditional view of power.  This alternative vision argues that ordinary men and women are too small-minded to govern their own affairs, that order and progress can only come when individuals surrender their rights to an all-powerful sovereign. Often, this alternative vision roots itself in the notion that by virtue of race or faith or ethnicity, some are inherently superior to others, and that individual identity must be defined by “us” versus “them,” or that national greatness must flow not by what a people stand for, but by what they are against.

But the governed in Gaza and the West Bank have no voice in the government that controls them. And the Jewish state has constituted itself with an unequal definition of citizenship, with Jews having more rights– in an “older, more traditional view of power.”

Notice his thrilling narration of the age of decolonization, unfolding in the Third World and the U.S.:

the ideals that came to define our [North Atlantic] alliance also inspired movements across the globe among those very people, ironically, who had too often been denied their full rights by Western powers.  After the Second World War, people from Africa to India threw off the yoke of colonialism to secure their independence.  In the United States, citizens took freedom rides and endured beatings to put an end to segregation and to secure their civil rights.  As the Iron Curtain fell here in Europe, the iron fist of apartheid was unclenched, and Nelson Mandela emerged upright, proud, from prison to lead a multiracial democracy.

But there’s apartheid all over the West Bank, and Palestinians in Israel are second-class citizens. Not to mention the growing understanding that Israel is a settler-colonial state in which European immigrants have higher status.

He opposes ethnic cleansing.

Young people in the audience today, young people like Laura, were born in a place and a time where there is less conflict, more prosperity and more freedom than any time in human history. But that’s not because man’s darkest impulses have vanished.  Even here, in Europe, we’ve seen ethnic cleansing in the Balkans that shocked the conscience.

But Israel continues to “Judaize” East Jerusalem, the Negev, parts of the Galilee, and Area C, by demolishing Palestinian homes and villages to make way for Jews.

He opposes militarism:

[W]e are confronted with the belief among some that bigger nations can bully smaller ones to get their way — that recycled maxim that might somehow makes right.

And states that self-determination is at the basis of western progress:

So I come here today to insist that we must never take for granted the progress that has been won here in Europe and advanced around the world… And that’s what’s at stake in Ukraine today.  Russia’s leadership is challenging truths that only a few weeks ago seemed self-evident — that in the 21st century, the borders of Europe cannot be redrawn with force, that international law matters, that people and nations can make their own decisions about their future.

And “annexation” is an evil, around the world. Including the Middle East:

Our own borders are not threatened by Russia’s annexation.  But that kind of casual indifference would… allow the old way of doing things to regain a foothold in this young century.  And that message would be heard not just in Europe, but in Asia and the Americas, in Africa and the Middle East.

But annexation is alive and well in Palestine, and everyone knows we support it.

He honors nonviolent resistance in the name of human rights:

look at the young people of Ukraine who were determined to take back their future from a government rotted by corruption — the portraits of the fallen shot by snipers, the visitors who pay their respects at the Maidan.  There was the university student, wrapped in the Ukrainian flag, expressing her hope that “every country should live by the law.”  A postgraduate student, speaking of her fellow protestors, saying, “I want these people who are here to have dignity.”…

Their voices echo those around the world who at this very moment fight for their dignity…

I am confident that eventually those voices — those voices for human dignity and opportunity and individual rights and rule of law — those voices ultimately will triumph.  …  because these ideals that we affirm are true; these ideals are universal.

But the nonviolent resistance movement in Palestine is opposed by an occupying army that the U.S. supports with billions every year.

More on human equality and dignity:

And, yes, we believe in human dignity — that every person is created equal, no matter who you are, or what you look like, or who you love, or where you come from.  That is what we believe.  That’s what makes us strong.

He cites the UN and human rights law, the very institutions that his administration undermined in the aftermath of the Goldstone Report on the Gaza slaughter.

And our enduring strength is also reflected in our respect for an international system that protects the rights of both nations and people — a United Nations and a Universal Declaration of Human Rights; international law and the means to enforce those laws.

He cites sovereignty and territorial integrity, when Palestinians have never had either, and are losing lands to Jewish settlers with every tick of the clock:

Russia’s violation of international law — its assault on Ukraine’s sovereignty and territorial integrity — must be met with condemnation.  Not because we’re trying to keep Russia down, but because the principles that have meant so much to Europe and the world must be lifted up…

What we will do — always — is uphold our solemn obligation, our Article 5 duty to defend the sovereignty and territorial integrity of our allies.

But Obama vetoed a resolution against Israeli settlements in the UN Security Council.

He addresses the problem of the rights of ethnic minorities, in this case ethnic Russians inside of Ukraine.

Moreover, many countries around the world face similar questions about their borders and ethnic minorities abroad, about sovereignty and self-determination.  These are tensions that have led in other places to debate and democratic referendums, conflicts and uneasy co-existence.  These are difficult issues, and it is precisely because these questions are hard that they must be addressed through constitutional means and international laws so that majorities cannot simply suppress minorities, and big countries cannot simply bully the small.

But Obama continually refers to Israel as a democracy, when Palestinians have limited rights.

He faults the American invasion of Iraq but says we didn’t want to permanently occupy it or annex its land:

I opposed our military intervention there. But even in Iraq, America sought to work within the international system.  We did not claim or annex Iraq’s territory. We did not grab its resources for our own gain.

Yes, and what about SodaStream and Ahava, using Palestinian resources under occupation for their gain?

Again: self-determination, as an “irreducible” ideal for all human beings:

on the fundamental principle that is at stake here — the ability of nations and peoples to make their own choices — there can be no going back.  It’s not America that filled the Maidan with protesters — it was Ukrainians.  No foreign forces compelled the citizens of Tunis and Tripoli to rise up — they did so on their own.  From the Burmese parliamentarian pursuing reform to the young leaders fighting corruption and intolerance in Africa, we see something irreducible that all of us share as human beings — a truth that will persevere in the face of violence and repression and will ultimately overcome.

Palestinians have had never had the right of self-determination, though they’ve affirmed that they are a people for 100 years.

He emphasizes that human rights and rights of sovereignty are universal. If they’re destroyed one place, they’re threatened everywhere.

we must never forget that we are heirs to a struggle for freedom.  Our democracy, our individual opportunity only exists because those who came before us had the wisdom and the courage to recognize that our ideals will only endure if we see our self-interest in the success of other peoples and other nations.

The man who vetoed a UN resolution against settlements.

And imagine someone in Gaza or the West Bank reading this:

Do not think for a moment that your own freedom, your own prosperity, that your own moral imagination is bound by the limits of your community, your ethnicity, or even your country.  You’re bigger than that.  You can help us to choose a better history.  That’s what Europe tells us.  That’s what the American experience is all about.

I say this … as the son of a Kenyan whose grandfather was a cook for the British, and as a person who once lived in Indonesia as it emerged from colonialism.  The ideals that unite us matter equally to the young people of Boston or Brussels, or Jakarta or Nairobi, or Krakow or Kyiv.

No Palestine on that list. The president never mentioned Israel or Palestine. And you can see why. People might say he’s a hypocrite.

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55 Responses

  1. seafoid
    March 27, 2014, 2:55 pm

    “in Palestine” was superfluous, frankly

    Obama is a fraud.


    “It’s not because John McCain doesn’t care. It’s because John McCain doesn’t get it.
    For over two decades, he’s subscribed to that old, discredited Republican philosophy – give more and more to those with the most and hope that prosperity trickles down to everyone else. In Washington, they call this the ownership society, but what it really means is – you’re on your own. Out of work? Tough luck. No healthcare? The market will fix it. Born into poverty? Pull yourself up by your own bootstraps – even if you don’t have boots. You’re on your own.
    Well it’s time for them to own their failure. It’s time for us to change America

    We Democrats have a very different measure of what constitutes progress in this country.
    We measure progress by how many people can find a job that pays the mortgage; whether you can put a little extra money away at the end of each month so you can someday watch your child receive her college diploma. We measure progress in the 23m new jobs that were created when Bill Clinton was president – when the average American family saw its income go up $7,500 instead of down $2,000 like it has under George Bush.
    We measure the strength of our economy not by the number of billionaires we have or the profits of the Fortune 500, but by whether someone with a good idea can take a risk and start a new business, or whether the waitress who lives on tips can take a day off to look after a sick kid without losing her job – an economy that honours the dignity of work.
    The fundamentals we use to measure economic strength are whether we are living up to that fundamental promise that has made this country great – a promise that is the only reason I am standing here tonight.

    On taxes

    Change means a tax code that doesn’t reward the lobbyists who wrote it, but the American workers and small businesses who deserve it.
    Unlike John McCain, I will stop giving tax breaks to corporations that ship jobs overseas, and I will start giving them to companies that create good jobs right here in America.I will eliminate capital gains taxes for the small businesses and the start-ups that will create the high-wage, high-tech jobs of tomorrow.
    I will cut taxes – cut taxes – for 95% of all working families. Because in an economy like this, the last thing we should do is raise taxes on the middle class.

    For the sake of our economy, our security, and the future of our planet, I will set a clear goal as president: in 10 years, we will finally end our dependence on oil from the Middle East.
    Washington’s been talking about our oil addiction for the last 30 years, and John McCain has been there for 26 of them. In that time, he’s said no to higher fuel-efficiency standards for cars, no to investments in renewable energy, no to renewable fuels. And today, we import triple the amount of oil as the day that Senator McCain took office.
    Now is the time to end this addiction, and to understand that drilling is a stop-gap measure, not a long-term solution. Not even close.
    As president, I will tap our natural gas reserves, invest in clean coal technology and find ways to safely harness nuclear power. I’ll help our auto companies retool, so that the fuel-efficient cars of the future are built right here in America. I’ll make it easier for the American people to afford these new cars. And I’ll invest $150bn over the next decade in affordable, renewable sources of energy – wind power and solar power and the next generation of biofuels; an investment that will lead to new industries and 5m new jobs that pay well and can’t ever be outsourced.
    Now is the time to finally keep the promise of affordable, accessible healthcare for every single American. If you have healthcare, my plan will lower your premiums. If you don’t, you’ll be able to get the same kind of coverage that members of Congress give themselves. And as someone who watched my mother argue with insurance companies while she lay in bed dying of cancer, I will make certain those companies stop discriminating against those who are sick and need care the most.
    Now is the time to help families with paid sick days and better family leave, because nobody in America should have to choose between keeping their jobs and caring for a sick child or ailing parent.”

    • Krauss
      March 27, 2014, 5:51 pm

      Obama is all for decolonization after the fact. He shills for Israeli Apartheid because of money.

      This isn’t news.

      What is still astounding me is that such a large portion of the Western public actually takes his hollow moral posturing seriously.

  2. mikeo
    March 27, 2014, 2:56 pm




  3. eljay
    March 27, 2014, 3:05 pm

    Canadian Prime Minister Stephen Harper is vying with Obama for title of “Western World’s Biggest Hypocrite”. He rightly (IMO) condemns Russia for its recent actions in Crimea, but when it comes to the oppressive, colonialist, expansionist and supremacist “Jewish State” of Israel – a state that has been engaged in aggression, oppression, theft, colonization, destruction, torture and murder for over 60 years – he can’t stop doing the donkey long enough to utter a single word of reproach.

    It’s shameful, disgusting and pathetic.

    • K Renner
      K Renner
      March 27, 2014, 9:16 pm

      Harper is far worse then Obama as far as the Palestine issue and really the entire spectrum of Levantine politics is concerned.

      Truly, he and Baird and Kenney don’t speak for “all Canadians” when it comes to their shameless conduct each and every time something happens that has to do with the Israelis doing something.

      The condemnation of Putin and Russia’s actions in Ukraine is a good thing– for the majority of the countries that have spoken out against it/announced their support for Ukrainian territorial integrity. I find the whole waxing really hard and aggressive in condemnation in a way plays into the Putinite narrative, because that way the “United Russia” party and Putin himself can just say “everyone’s over-exaggerating” and then start blathering on some more about the make-believe intrinsic threat to the ethnic Russians that he used before.

      It’s clear that Putin’s not done yet, but the best thing to do is consistently re-affirm support for Ukrainian territorial integrity and be prepared for Putin to potentially escalate, but just watch and wait.

  4. Bumblebye
    March 27, 2014, 3:41 pm

    (I tried something different, dunno if it works – guess i’ll see after pressing the button! – and a bit of edit, yup!)

    “But even in Iraq, America sought to work within the international system. We did not claim or annex Iraq’s territory. We did not grab its resources for our own gain.

    Yes, and what about SodaStream and Ahava, using Palestinian resources under occupation for their gain?”

    And Mekorot Phil, don’t forget stolen water, especially as it’s International Week Against Mekorot:

    “This week – from March 22, World Water Day, to March 30, Palestinian Land Day – marks the first International Week Against Mekorot, an international campaign to boycott Israel’s national water company and hold it accountable for its discriminatory water practices in the Occupied Territories and particularly Gaza. Stop Mekorot is a joint effort by PENGON/Friends of the Earth Palestine, the Palestinian BDS National Committee (BNC), the Land Defense Coalition and other Palestinian Environmental NGOs.”

    • annie
      March 27, 2014, 4:36 pm

      fantastic video, thanks bumblebye. yes, i knew it was international week against mekorot. my bad, we do need to get something up.

    • ritzl
      March 27, 2014, 4:54 pm

      Yup. Thanks. Tweeted.

    • Sumud
      March 27, 2014, 11:03 pm

      Aah that’s wonderful Bumblebye thank for linking to it – I love the closing line:

      “Ethnic privilege at affordable prices”

      It’s great to see how the water issue is getting more coverage these days, rewind 5 or so years to the World Bank report on water in I/P and it was hardly spoken about.

    • just
      March 28, 2014, 5:16 am

      Great video, Bumblebye!

      Mr. Colbert– play it! You can do it! Yes, you can!

  5. amigo
    March 27, 2014, 3:42 pm

    He is as shallow as a zionists promise to make peace.

    Quite honestly , he makes me sick listening to his hypocritical self serving prattle.

    Especially as he is the recipient of a Nobel Peace prize.

    What a major let down O, bummer is.

    • seafoid
      March 28, 2014, 2:07 am

      Peres got a Nobel too.

      • amigo
        March 28, 2014, 12:30 pm

        Nobel becomes ignoble.

    • John Douglas
      John Douglas
      March 28, 2014, 7:28 am

      amigo: ” … he makes me sick listening to his hypocritical self serving prattle.”

      Exactly the feeling I have. I can’t listen to him speechify any longer. I was happily verging on old-age, “seen it all and it’s all bad”, cynicism until he came along. Measured by the expectations for him he is by far the greatest presidential failure during my life. By objective measures of defending the constitution and doing the right thing for the American people he has been a very, very bad president.

  6. Susie Kneedler
    Susie Kneedler
    March 27, 2014, 3:57 pm

    Thanks, Phil, for a stunningly intricate comparison.

    When does “hypocrisy” become duplicity? What “ideals”? How can “a band of colonialists across an ocean”–enslaving one people and annihilating another, while stealing a continent–affirm “the simple truth that all men — and women — are created equal”? Aren’t “colonists” the ones who cling to “the notion that by virtue of race or faith or ethnicity, [they] are inherently superior to others”?

    (And that’s apart even from whatever U.S. officials Victoria Nuland + Geoffrey Pyatt may’ve been plotting as they discussed which “guys [puppets?]” “should go into the [next] government” of [un?]-sovereign Ukraine .)

    • MHughes976
      March 28, 2014, 10:13 am

      I think that there’s always some element of hypocrisy about proclamations of great principles!

  7. geofgray
    March 27, 2014, 4:27 pm

    obama is a deeply cynical politician interested solely in advancing his agenda. i long for the days of nixon–a genuine creep who didn’t try to hide it.

  8. March 27, 2014, 4:34 pm

    “Obama said of his meeting with Pope Francis, “His Holiness is very interested in the Israel-Palestine issue.”

    That means that his Holiness said what everyone is thinking ” How can you (Obama) let Israel get away with this ugly colonization and suppression of Palestine? How can you condone and support such cruel treatment of the Palestinians?”

    • Citizen
      March 27, 2014, 5:48 pm

      Obama tried to get some mojo by chatting with Pope. He bonded by yakking up income redirection, e.g., with Obamacare-minus abortion financing by opposed religious folks. He talked anti-war. He talked people self-determination sans Palestinians:

      Let’s see what Obama does, says in Palestine come next May. He’s all for Mexican illegals getting federal freedom and tax funds. How about Israel’s illegal settlements? LOL

  9. annie
    March 27, 2014, 4:37 pm

    even in Iraq, America sought to work within the international system. We did not claim or annex Iraq’s territory.

    i read this the other day and gagged. did he really imply russia’s intervention in crimea is worse than our instigating a genocide in iraq? pllleease!

    • Citizen
      March 27, 2014, 5:51 pm

      Yeah, it’s not like the USA has centuries of their folks living in Iraq before Bush Jr went in there and murdered millions of Iraq folks, with no Plan B except we
      d get lots of cheap oil and PNAC agenda helped.

  10. Justpassingby
    March 27, 2014, 4:47 pm

    What a sad pathetic man obama is, lies after lies.

  11. ritzl
    March 27, 2014, 4:53 pm

    The Republicans are right about Obama in one sense. He’s making a mockery of the US in the eyes of the world and these kids.

    Everyone who watched or read this speech was thinking exactly what you wrote. Some about Palestine, some about Ukraine, some about Iraq, drones, NSA, etc. etc. etc. One has to wonder what compels Obama to make these lofty sounding, yet recognizably hypocritical speeches as often as he does, across multiple topics. Is it some need to be memorable, or is someone telling him to do it a la Reagan?

    The problem is that [Adelson-backed?] Republicans wouldn’t even make the speech. They’d just invade [wherever] and kill a few hundred thousand people, create global instability, invite nuclear war, raise gas prices by $10/gal, and invite vastly more global mockery and irrelevance, but they’d do it in their own “quiet” way.

    Hopefully the BRICS will move to fill the gap in a less hypocritical way, and counterbalance the US and EU in global influence terms. That at least has the chance of minimizing both varieties of US crazy.

    Good article.

    • Citizen
      March 27, 2014, 5:53 pm

      Do you know how easy it is to read off a teleprompter and look sincere? What’s the real difference between Scarlet Johansson and Obama? I don’t see any.

      • ritzl
        March 27, 2014, 6:11 pm

        Not much Citizen. I’m not an Obama defender, but he does offer up ideals. SJ just caved. Though the end result is pretty much the same.

  12. Hostage
    March 27, 2014, 6:48 pm

    Obama’s European message– self-determination, equality, dignity– is null and void in Palestine

    He’s been using the same talking points for ages. Israel (like every other state except demilitarized Palestine) has the inherent right to defend itself, by itself. The “Sentinels of NATO” had the right and a duty to intervene in the former Yugoslavia to prevent ethnic cleansing of Kosovar villiagers, but there’s no mention of a corresponding right or duty for the League of Arab States to do the same thing on behalf of the Palestinians.

    • ToivoS
      March 27, 2014, 8:47 pm

      had the right and a duty to intervene in the former Yugoslavia to prevent ethnic cleansing of Kosovar villiagers,

      But there was no ethnic cleansing going on in Kosovo, at least not prior to our intervention.

      • K Renner
        K Renner
        March 27, 2014, 9:28 pm

        The Kosovar Albanians would disagree with you.

        This was a multinational intervention, as well, keep in mind, and Clinton, for his faults, was nowhere near as conniving as the kinds of people who had influence in terms of policy making on the whole Iraq boondoggle under Bush, for example.

      • Keith
        March 28, 2014, 5:57 pm

        K RENNER- “The Kosovar Albanians would disagree with you.”

        Prior to the NATO bombing campaign, the number of Serbs killed by the Kosovo Albanians exceeded the number of Albanians killed. The terrorist attacks by the KLA were designed to provoke a response from the Serbs to justify NATO intervention to achieve their separatist goals. Casualties increased dramatically when bombing commenced, as was expected.

        “This was a multinational intervention….”

        Yes, US led NATO pulverized Yugoslavia in general and Serbia in particular. This was an imperial intervention justified by the violence resulting from imperial destabilization actions. Empires are not known for their commitment to humanitarianism, however, all aggressors attempt to justify their actions with humanitarian propaganda.

      • K Renner
        K Renner
        March 29, 2014, 3:20 pm

        Oh, look. More far-left blather.

        I suppose the Serbs didn’t ethnically cleanse and murder Croats and Bosniaks back throughout the 1990s, either?

        Just a bunch of nasty lies and everyone was ganging up on the poor victim Serbians?

        What else? Some on the far-left claim that there was a conspiracy to destroy Yugoslavia by injecting the Croats and Bosniaks with nationalist fervour, and that Milosevic and the rest of the Serb higher ups that ok’d the ethnic cleansing campaign were “just fighting to save the Yugoslavian state against NATO perfidy”.

        The far left is about as nutty as the far right when it comes to things like this.

      • Keith
        March 29, 2014, 4:35 pm

        K RENNER- “I suppose the Serbs didn’t ethnically cleanse and murder Croats and Bosniaks back throughout the 1990s, either?”

        The first massacres were against Serbs. In “late September 1991, over 120 Gospic Serbs, including prominent professors and judges, were abducted and murdered….According to Croatian human rights activists, this was the first major massacre of civilians in the Yugoslav civil wars.” (p29, “Fools Crusade,” Diana Johstone) Subsequently, most of the Serb population was ethnically cleansed from the Krajina district of breakaway Croatia. This was at the start of the US/German/NATO instigated civil war. Croatia was headed by Franjo Tudjman who revived the philosophy and symbolism of the Ustashe party which had allied with Nazi Germany during World War II and had run the Jasenovac death camp where Serbs, Roma and Jews were exterminated. Tudjman’s avowed goal was to eliminate Serbs and ally Croatia with Germany.

        “Oh, look. More far-left blather.”

        Apparently you take comfort in imperial mythology. Hey, if you can’t trust the MSM, who can you trust? Certainly not the likes of Johnstone, Chomsky, Blum, Pilger, Lituchy, Herman and Parenti, among others.

    • American
      March 27, 2014, 11:03 pm

      Hostage says:
      March 27, 2014 at 6:48 pm
      He’s been using the same talking points for ages.>>>>>>>

      Yea and its past its sell by date.

      • Daniel Rich
        Daniel Rich
        March 29, 2014, 8:04 pm

        @ American,

        Q: Yea and its past its sell by date.

        R: Yup, but when will it be past its ‘consume by’ date?

      • ToivoS
        March 30, 2014, 12:49 am

        K Renner says: March 29, 2014 at 3:20 pm Oh, look. More far-left blather.

        Do you think David Bromwich engages in far left blather (see my link below)?

        Renner, it is time to reconsider what you thought was happening in the Balkans during the 1990s and look at some of the history that has come out since. Please, keep in mind the the US government engages in lies when it wants to go to war. If you are in blind love with the Clinton admin, think about Bush in the build up to war against Iraq. If you think only Republicans will lie to the public to support war, please back up a bit and consider what the Johnson admin did to convince Americans to go to war in Vietnam.

      • ToivoS
        March 30, 2014, 1:22 am

        Keith says: March 29, 2014 at 4:35 pm The first massacres were against Serbs. In “late September 1991, over 120 Gospic Serbs, including prominent professors and judges, were abducted and murdered…

        There was that for sure. But also we should mention that Croatian forces in 1996, carried out the largest ethnic cleansing campaign since WWII that has not been rectified to this day. At that time, 140,000 Krajina Serbs were expelled from the border lands between Croatia and Bosnia. Today their property remains in the hands of the Croatians. Those refugees apparently have claims according to international law but they to this day remain refugees from their homeland.

        We should also realize, that the Croatian military action was supported by the Clinton admin. I recall that in 1996 that the Croatian attack against Krajina involved many “retired” US army officers.

    • Keith
      March 28, 2014, 5:56 pm

      HOSTAGE- “The “Sentinels of NATO” had the right and a duty to intervene in the former Yugoslavia to prevent ethnic cleansing of Kosovar villiagers….”

      The ethnic conflict in the former Yugoslavia was primarily a consequence of US/German destabilization activities. One consequence was to transform NATO from a hard to justify faux defensive alliance into an imperial out of area mercenary strike force. In 1990, the U.S. congress passed the Foreign Operations Law of 1991 which, among other things, specified a cut-off of all aid, credits and loans to Yugoslavia within six months. The World Bank and IMF were directed to follow suite. The only money to be permitted was to go to the right-wing separatist forces. It was, in effect, a declaration of economic war against Yugoslavia. The CIA predicted a bloody civil war as a consequence. Of course, that was the intent. Mind you, this was years before anyone even heard of Sarajevo. Germany was directly involved somewhat before the US, however, the German BND (CIA) under Reinhard Gehlen had, along with the US, maintained the network of fascist organizations which Gehlen had constructed when he was a Nazi General on the Eastern front during World War II. Prior to the conflict, the CIA had listed the Kosovo Liberation Army as a terrorist organization. This was yet another case of the Western powers balkanizing the Balkans. The notion of “humanitarian intervention” is bogus to the core. This was yet another imperial intervention for strategic purposes.

      • Hostage
        March 29, 2014, 7:44 pm

        HOSTAGE- “The “Sentinels of NATO” had the right and a duty to intervene in the former Yugoslavia to prevent ethnic cleansing of Kosovar villiagers….”

        Clarification: I was quoting Obama and pointing out the hypocrisy of his position at the same time.

      • K Renner
        K Renner
        March 29, 2014, 8:57 pm

        Obama sounds like a hypocrite a whole lot when it comes to Palestine, that much is certain (although he, at least, has no love for the likes of Bibi Netanyahu, unlike other high-profile American politicians).

        However, the far-leftists and the self-described political “radicals” on this article that’re either denying the occurrence of Serb crimes and abuses throughout the Bosnian wars and the Kosovo wars, or outright speaking of a “conspiracy” to destroy Yugoslavia and referring to the Croats, Bosniaks, and Kosovar Albanians as “fascists” or “terrorists” or whatever are really out of hand.

      • Keith
        March 30, 2014, 6:24 pm

        K RENNER- “…that’re either denying the occurrence of Serb crimes and abuses throughout the Bosnian wars and the Kosovo wars….”

        Why are you fabricating this nonsense? Once Germany and the US succeeded in fomenting a civil war, then, of course, atrocities occurred on all sides. This occurs in all wars, however, civil wars are particularly ugly, including the US civil war. Serbia was the designated enemy, hence, Serb atrocities were widely reported and frequently exaggerated whereas Croat and Muslim crimes were not reported. This is standard imperial propaganda in support of intervention.

        Your original comment was in support of this “humanitarian” intervention which you imply was in response to Serbian ethnic cleansing and which supposedly the bombing put a stop to. The reality is that the bombing was intended to destroy the Serbian infrastructure which it did. One consequence was to increase the ethnic violence which was anticipated and which occurred. One would think it obvious that you don’t bomb some place to save lives, you bomb it to destroy it. Hardly a conspiracy theory.

        As for Kosovo today, its economy essentially consists of international aid, employment at US Camp Bonsteel, and organized crime involving drugs and human trafficking. Most of the remaining Serb population has fled. It is the type of human disaster typical of US led “humanitarian” interventions. Check out Libya. Some quotes and links below. By the way, when you describe unvarnished reality as a far left conspiracy theory, you are part of the problem.

        “The report charged that former Kosovo Liberation Army (KLA) boss and current Prime Minister, Hashim Thaçi, “is the head of a ‘mafia-like’ Albanian group responsible for smuggling weapons, drugs and human organs through eastern Europe,” The Guardian disclosed.”

        “The veil of secrecy surrounding KLA atrocities could not have been as complete as it was without the intervention of powerful actors, particularly amongst political and military elites in Germany and the United States who had conspired with local gangsters, rebranded as “freedom fighters,” during the break-up of Yugoslavia.” (Tom Burghardt)

        “The whole thing, as well as any other illegal business, is controlled by the state both in Kosovo, Albania and all of former Yugoslavia,” said one of the Albanian men, who called himself Rexhep. “No one can do [smuggle] drugs, women, cigarettes or anything without blessing from above.” (Matt McAllester)

        “Based on three months of reporting, involving dozens of interviews with politicians, former KLA members, diplomats, former NATO soldiers, political analysts and officials, GlobalPost has found that concerns about criminality among Kosovo’s ruling political class went largely ignored by the United States, NATO and the United Nations over the past 11 years — and in some cases U.S. and U.N. officials thwarted criminal investigations into former senior KLA figures.” (Matt Mc Allester)

  13. concernedhuman
    March 27, 2014, 7:30 pm

    He cites the UN and human rights law, the very institutions that his administration undermined in the aftermath of the Goldstone Report on the Gaza slaughter.

    And our enduring strength is also reflected in our respect for an international system that protects the rights of both nations and people — a United Nations and a Universal Declaration of Human Rights; international law and the means to enforce those laws.

    US human rights record chastised in UN report

  14. stevelaudig
    March 27, 2014, 7:48 pm

    Obama always gives ‘good speech’ and excellent reason to not watch one, but read the text and compare the talk to the walk. His administration’s behavior is truth.

  15. piotr
    March 27, 2014, 8:37 pm

    Incidentally. does American administration claim that the results of the referendum in Crimea were falsified? Russians point to many differences between the case of Kosovo and Crimea: Kosovo was detached from Serbia through a very destructive military intervention, and Crimea with very little destruction and death, there was no referendum in Kosovo but there was one in Crimea. Serbia had an elected government, and Ukraine, “revolutionary”, overthrowing election results.

    At least there is some consistency: Crimeans should not live the way they choose, nor should Palestinians, unless it meets our approval which is granted on case-by-case basis (no stinking consistent principles to tie our hands or tongues).

    American policies toward former Soviet Union border with hilarious. Typical scenario: Secretary of State lands in Riga and makes a speech about importance of democracy blah blah blah. Next stop, Astana, and he/she tries to improve a deal of Kazakhstan with Chevron.

  16. ToivoS
    March 27, 2014, 8:42 pm

    Phil excellent dissection of Obama’s speech that so clearly reveals the deceit and hypocrisy in his words.

    Other major lies in Obama’s speech that is not commented upon and that is the US war to force the removal of Kosovo from Serbia. Many on the left at that time believed these lies, they were of course Democratic partisans — part of the problem that wars started by democrats are good wars while those started by republicans are bad wars.

    The two major lies are that Serbia committed genocide in Kosovo and they committed ethnic cleansing and that is why we invaded. The first is based on reports in the West (promoted by the US in particular) that the Serbians had killed 25,000 Albanians in the years before we started bombing. Aerial photos of mass graves were produced as evidence. Post war investigations were only able to document the deaths of about 700 people, half of them Serbian police and soldiers and the rest active militants in the Kosovo Liberation Army that decided in 1996 conduct armed rebellion against Serbian rule. That is not genocide by any stretch of the meaning of that term, it is armed combatants dying in war.

    The second lie of massive ethnic cleansing was based on a major logical fallacy. There was no movement of Albanians out of Kosovo before the bombing began. Within a week about 2/3 of the population was driven into neighboring countries. Western press immediately inverted cause and affect to justify Clinton’s war against Serbia.

    Besides these two whoppers, there was a third lie in Obama’s speech. He made reference to a referendum that the Kosovo people had on their independence. There was no referendum on independence. After NATO occupied Kosovo, the first open election was for a president and parliament.

    What happened in 1999 is that the US and NATO committed naked, unprovoked aggression against Serbia and forced them secede their Kosovo province. And if you want to why the US did this, I have never really figured out a better answer than the fact that Clinton was in the middle of the Lewinsky scandal and was trying to distract attention from his impeachment. But there was nothing humanitarian or R2Pish about that war.

    • ToivoS
      March 28, 2014, 5:18 pm

      One small correction. David Bromwich has pointed out one of the big lies in Obama’s Kosovo story: HufPo

  17. just
    March 27, 2014, 10:46 pm

    Great article. Makes me sad, ashamed, and want to puke.

    “He cites the UN and human rights law, the very institutions that his administration undermined in the aftermath of the Goldstone Report on the Gaza slaughter.

    And our enduring strength is also reflected in our respect for an international system that protects the rights of both nations and people — a United Nations and a Universal Declaration of Human Rights; international law and the means to enforce those laws.”

    We ain’t got no “enduring strength”, “we” have no respect for international law or human rights. We “enforce” those laws only when it comes to others– not us, and not Israel……..check our veto and aggression…….

    Shame, shame, shame.

  18. Daniel Rich
    Daniel Rich
    March 28, 2014, 6:30 am

    “Time and again the president invoked democracy, self-determination, human equality, territorial integrity and dignity — of course, brought to you by US us…, …, and the world community…” – Obambi, the Piece Prize Pounder

    Other people giving the world the finger elsewhere @ Settlers prepare move into key E.Jerusalem site

  19. Boomer
    March 28, 2014, 7:08 am

    Thanks Phil, for your analysis. It is a good piece, on which you obviously devoted some considerable effort. I only want to add that, long as it is, good as it is, it still doesn’t seem fully to explain what is going on here. Not that I can. I remain perplexed by the position Obama has taken regarding Crimea. I don’t like his position regarding I/P, but I imagine that I can understand it. But I don’t see the rationale for “punishing” Russia, unless it is fear that Obama will be attacked for being “soft.” If that’s all it is about, it is a poor reason, and Obama is a poor excuse for a man.

    I may be missing something. It does seem that the U.S. has been taking an activist role in Ukraine for some time, working toward the downfall of the Russia-leaning elected President. That policy–wise or not–has worked, except for a small part of Ukraine that reverted to Russia. The cold-war fighters in the U.S. government–people like Victoria Nuland–got 90% of what they wanted. Can all this uproar, all these threats, be because they are miffed about not getting the last 10%?

    Equally perplexing (and perhaps indicating that I’m missing something) is the fact that it is not just Obama sounding as if Hitler has just invaded some neighboring country. The news media have very much gone along with the narrative. One can find exceptions, such as Patrick Smith’s piece, under the title “The New York Times Manufactures Ignorance”

    One can find similar, sober commentary from various scholars and experts, if one looks for it, but they aren’t very visible to most Americans, or, evidently, to President Obama.

    I tend to agree with Congressman Alan Grayson that instead of labeling Russia’s annexation of Crimea as “aggression,” the United States should be “pleased” that Crimeans established “self-determination” for themselves.

  20. seafoid
    March 28, 2014, 7:17 am

    “self-determination, equality, dignity” only apply to middle class people in OECD countries.

    In the United States- 2 million African Americans in prison – 0.5% of global population, 20% of global prison population.

    Obama works for the plutocrats.

    Most MSM do too. The coverage of Ukraine is typical.

    • Walid
      March 28, 2014, 2:40 pm

      “The coverage of Ukraine is typical.”

      Also typical, seafoid, is how the Western press doesn’t seem to be making much about the scandal in Turkey that erupted yesterday on Youtube. David Oglu is caught on tape discussing with top military officers a false flag operation in which Turkey would send 4 agents into Syria to fire 8 missiles into an open field in Turkey, which would give rise to Turkey retaliating by invading Syria. Turkey blocked Youtube.

      Hurriet Daily News today:

      • Walid
        March 28, 2014, 2:58 pm

        Since Turkey has blocked Twitter, traffic is up 138%

        Today with Youtube blocked, the Turks have already found several ways to bypass the blockage:

        MoA (understandably) has been on the story since yesterday..

      • K Renner
        K Renner
        March 29, 2014, 9:04 pm

        Out of curiosity, would a hypothetical Turkish “invasion” (and I put this in quotations because Syria is no longer a sovereign state) end up creating a series of “safe zones” for people fleeing the conflict in general and especially for those fleeing the ISIS?

        The Turkish Armed Forces are considerable and as a general rule very well equipped– the real question, in terms of the hypothetical, would be to what purpose would the military incursion be based around?

      • puppies
        March 29, 2014, 11:56 pm

        @Renner – The purpose, as read between the lines in these last 2 years, seems to be twofold:
        1. Destroy the Kurdish autonomist forces of the Rojava area, who have been quite successful in keeping out the rebel coalition. Rojava obviously gets the support of Kurds from Turkey, Iraq and Iran. While being forced to continue making valuable concessions to the Kurdish autonomist movement in Turkey, the government never missed an opportunity to take back some, especially by military force. A successful Rojava autonomy is among their worse nightmares.
        2. Give a solid token of the current government’s loyalty to the US and the Zionists by helping their side, in a desperate attempt to avoid the Erdogan government being overthrown: the Azrael government has been clamoring for the return of the military dictatorship in Turkey, their once most reliable ally. The current troubles, instigated mainly by the Neocons’ man working out of the US, are extremely threatening and one could hypothesize that a show of obedience to US/Azriel would calm the waters.
        None of this means anything with regard to “safe zones”: not a chance on earth of US/EU/TR effectively opposing al Qa’ida affiliates –they don’t have enough forces of their own.
        As for your your quotes for “invasion”, that’s really outside any conceivable civilized language use. How does the presence of a civil war mean that a country is no more a sovereign state? The Assad government is certainly imposing its will wherever it can reach; state structures are still in place. With a chance at winning, too.

  21. Citizen
    March 28, 2014, 1:59 pm

    Obama is crap, but is he better than Adeelson?

  22. Keith
    March 28, 2014, 7:04 pm

    PHIL- “…principles the U.S. has nullified in its policy in Israel and Palestine.”

    Only there? It is one thing to focus on Israel/Palestine, quite another to turn a blind eye to the reality of empire. Perhaps it is only Israel/Palestine and AIPAC/Zionism which you find disturbing? From a moral standpoint, US actions towards Palestinian rights are quite consistent with its actions elsewhere.

    “He opposes militarism:”

    Have you gone into standup comedy? This is parody, right? I mean what with the massive US military budget, the expansion of NATO, full spectrum dominance, the militarization of space, increased funding for cyber warfare, updating the nuclear arsenal (in violation of the non-proliferation treaty, I might add), the US engaged in wars (old and new) practically everywhere, drone attacks, etc, etc, etc, this is your idea of “opposes militarism?” And what is he doing in Europe if not to scuttle any chance of Russia/EU cooperation? NATO is the US primary means of maintaining a European presence and influence, hence, this US created new cold war with Russia. Finally, has it escaped your attention that the US is a warfare state? If Obama actually opposed militarism, he never would have gone far in politics.

    • puppies
      March 30, 2014, 12:23 am

      @Keith – In fact, Philip Weiss would be much easier to read if he did as we all are supposed to do and only discuss issues directly related to Palestine solidarity. We are a motley of all possible political tendencies here; introducing Phil’s Demolican and Imperial loyalties risk shooing away a significant slice of the readership, who is here to discuss Palestinian and related matters.
      Personally (negligible of course, but readership is a matter of many negligibles adding up), I stopped reading MW for quite a long time, in fact until last November, after he came out in favor of US invasion. The very thought of an Obamite warmonger writing about Palestine solidarity was unbearable. His tribal loyalties are not such a problem, in the sense that they are part of the discussion on Palestine, as also his decision to let in Zionist propaganda. At any rate, if he wants to continue attracting a diverse public interested in Palestine solidarity, his generally “Democrat”-imperialist attitude should be best reserved to a separate web site.

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