Middle East

Yes, it really is another Vietnam, and just as in 1972, presidential elections will make no difference, concludes Eric Walberg

Scarcely a word is heard about foreign affairs amid US election talk, despite the many fires around the world that the US military is either stoking or trying to douse -- depending on your point of view. Other than Republican contender Ron Paul -- not a serious candidate for the mainstream -- no one questions the plans for war on Iran, Israel’s continued expansion in the Occupied Territories, or US plans to end the Iraq and Afghanistan wars.

 “When I use a word,” Humpty Dumpty said in rather a scornful tone, “it means just what I choose it to mean — neither more nor less.”
“The question is,” said Alice, “whether you can make words mean so many different things.”
“The question is,” said Humpty Dumpty, “which is to be master — that’s all.”
Lewis Carroll, Through the Looking Glass (1871)

The lexicon of Israel and its Western lobbyists constantly needs parsing to know just what is meant. Most glaringly is the term “settlers”, which suggests peaceful pioneers wishing to integrate with the locals. In Israel, the word “settlers” is a loaded term, for they are “aggressive squatters, half a million of them in over 100 illegal colonies — ugly blots on an otherwise lovely landscape ... who terrorise local villagers, vandalise their crops, pollute their land and harass their children,” as described by Stuart Littlewood. The Fourth Geneva Convention forbids that an occupying power transfer parts of its own civilian population into the territory it occupies.

 2011 is already history and will remain a historical turning point in international affairs, enthuses Eric Walberg

A Tunisian fruit vendor, Mohamed Bouazizi, set himself on fire in a public square in a small town in December 2010, sparking protests that brought down dictators in Tunisia and Egypt , and began a tidal wave of change both in the Middle East and farther afield. Add in the 2011 American withdrawal from Iraq and failed attempts to subdue Afghanistan and Iran, and the writing on the wall for empire is written boldly — in blood.

 This week Tunisia’s constitutional assembly elected 66-year-old Moncef Marzouki, a former dissident who was imprisoned and then exiled in France, as Tunisia’s first president after the fall of Zine Al-Abidine Ben Ali. Marzouki told Tunisians he “represents a country, a people, a revolution ... I know you will hold me to account.” As president, he will be a progressive secular counterweight to the moderate Islamist party Al-Nahda (renaissance), now Tunisia's dominant political force.

As people of conscience around the world marked the International Day of Solidarity with the Palestinian People, ever new actions help bring Palestinians closer to achieving a state of dignity, says Eric Walberg

Just in case there was an iota of doubt left in your mind, Israel was officially declared an apartheid state during a session of the Russell Tribunal on Palestine in Cape Town on 7 November.

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Canadian Eric Walberg is known worldwide as a journalist specializing in the Middle East, Central Asia and Russia. A graduate of University of Toronto and Cambridge in economics, he has been writing on East-West relations since the 1980s.

He has lived in both the Soviet Union and Russia, and then Uzbekistan, as a UN adviser, writer, translator and lecturer. Presently a writer for the foremost Cairo newspaper, Al Ahram, he is also a regular contributor to Counterpunch, Dissident Voice, Global Research, Al-Jazeerah and Turkish Weekly, and is a commentator on Voice of the Cape radio.

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Eric's latest book The Canada Israel Nexus is available here http://www.claritypress.com/WalbergIV.html