Christianity’s Surge in Indonesia

Monday, Apr. 26, 2010

Christianity’s Surge in Indonesia

By Hannah Beech / Temanggung

 

They flocked to the open field by the hundreds to praise Allah. In a village in central Java, just a few miles from where Indonesian special forces shot dead an Islamic terrorist linked to the fatal July bombings of two hotels in Jakarta, worshippers raised their hands to the heavens. But this ceremony, which took place as the call of the muezzin echoed in the sultry air, was not a celebration of Islam. Instead, in the heart of the world’s most populous Muslim-majority nation, Christians held a Pentecostal revival, complete with faith healing and speaking in tongues. As a tropical downpour fell, believers’ tears mixed with rain — and a line of sick and disabled took to the stage to claim they had been cured by a God they, like Indonesian Muslims, call Allah. “People think Indonesia is just a Muslim country, but look at all these people,” says pastor David Nugroho, whose Gesing church boasts a congregation of 400 worshippers today, up from 30 when it was founded in 1967. “We are not afraid to show our faith.”

A religious revolution is transforming Indonesia. Part of the spiritual blossoming entails Muslims embracing a more conservative form of faith, mirroring global trends that have meant a proliferation of headscarves and beards in modern Islamic capitals. More surprising, though, is the boom in Christianity — officially Indonesia’s second largest faith and a growing force throughout Asia. Indeed, the number of Asian Christian faithful exploded to 351 million adherents in 2005, up from 101 million in 1970, according to the Pew Forum on Religion and Public Life, based in Washington, D.C. (See pictures of spiritual healing around the world.)

Much of the growth comes from Pentecostal and Evangelical conversions, which have spread charismatic Christianity across the globe and are a large reason for estimates that by 2050 a majority of Christians will be living in developing nations. Already, less than a quarter of the world’s 600 million Pentecostals reside in the West, where the modern movement has its roots. Indeed, Pentecostalism is believed by some to be the fastest-growing faith in the world, if measured by conversions as opposed to births.

Because of the relative youth of these Evangelical sects, they are less bound by the history of colonial conversion that has complicated the legacy of, say, Roman Catholicism or mainstream Protestantism. Instead, by focusing on personal salvation adapted to local environments, Evangelicals, especially Pentecostals, have found great success across Asia in recent years, from Indian metropolises like Chennai to rural China where homegrown sects are drawing in tens of thousands of people each year. The world’s largest megachurch is the Yoido Full Gospel Church in South Korea, which claims a membership of 830,000 people. Its Pentecostal Sunday services regularly attract a quarter of a million people to an upscale neighborhood of Seoul. In poorer regions of Asia, as well as within many ethnic Chinese communities, converts are lured by the so-called prosperity gospel, an American theology linked to charismatic Christianity that promises riches to those who follow a moral path. (See “The Biology of Belief.”)

For many in the global Evangelical community, though, it is the faith’s inroads in Indonesia — a nation with some 215 million Muslim adherents — that are most riveting. Exact figures are hard to gather in a country where conversions from Islam to Christianity face a stigma and likely lead to an underreporting of Christian believers. The 2000 census counted just under 10% of Indonesians as Christians, a figure many Christian leaders believe is too low. Anecdotal evidence paints a compelling picture of the faith’s rapid rise. In the early 1960s, for instance, there were no Evangelical churches in Temanggung, where the soccer-field revival took place; now there are more than 40. In the capital Jakarta, newly built megachurches that might seem more at home in Texas send steeples into the sky. Other Christians worship at unofficial churches based in hotels and malls, where Sunday services rival shopping as a popular weekend activity. Asia’s tallest statue of Jesus Christ, built in 2007, presides over Manado city in eastern Indonesia, while Indonesian cable TV beams 24-hour Christian channels.

State of Grace — and Disgrace
What is it about Evangelical Christianity that has so resonated in Indonesia? As in many other crowded, developing-world countries where a person can feel lost in a teeming slum, the concept of individual salvation is a powerful one. At the same time, the attempted hijacking of Muslim theology by a small band of homegrown terrorists who have killed hundreds of Indonesians in recent years has led some to question their nation’s majority faith. So, too, has the general trend toward a more conservative Islam that has given rise to hundreds of religiously inspired bylaws, from caning for beer-drinking to enforced dress codes for women.

Not everyone, though, is celebrating Christianity’s boom. Some Muslims view the faith as an unwanted foreign influence, even though Islam, too, is an imported religion. Since the country exchanged dictatorship for democracy more than a decade ago, a great diversity of voices has arisen. But an unfortunate byproduct of this pluralism has been an uptick in religious conflict, which has affected unorthodox offshoots of Islam and Christian sects alike. Although bloody outpourings — like the communal riots that claimed more than 1,000 Christian and Muslim lives in Poso and Ambon around a decade ago — have ceased, spasms of violence are still occurring.

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Over the past couple of years, Christian groups say, dozens of churches and theological academies have been destroyed or forced to shut by Islamic groups who accuse Christians of stealing believers from Muslim ranks. Despite appointing prominent Christians to his Cabinet, Indonesian President Susilo Bambang Yudhoyono has said little to defend religious minorities, and has remained silent as dozens of local governments pass Islamic-based laws that threaten Christian rights. Such moves “conflict with the constitution and have the potential to threaten freedom of religion in this country,” according to Hendardi, chairman of the Setara Institute, a Jakarta-based NGO that promotes pluralism.

Last year, the Indonesia Ulema Council, an influential Islamic clerical body, sounded the alarm about Christian proselytization and called on Muslims to more staunchly guard their faith. The pace with which unlicensed churches are being shut down by local authorities is also increasing. Christians complain that gaining official sanction to build a mosque is easy while getting similar permission for churches is glacial. As a consequence, most Christian houses of worship are unofficial. “There is a real fear that Christianity is on the march,” says Mike Hilliard, a Scottish minister who with his Indonesian wife runs an orphanage outside Jakarta that has been targeted by militant Muslims. “Because of this fear, emotions are easily stirred up and mobs can form quickly.” (See pictures of colorful religious festivals.)

Defenders of faith have mobilized in neighboring Malaysia too. After a local court ruled on Dec. 31 that a Malaysian Christian newspaper could refer to the Christian deity as Allah, many Muslims, who constitute the multiethnic country’s majority, protested. Christians professed puzzlement: when speaking Malay, they had used the word Allah for centuries — why the sudden outrage now? Prominent Islamic activists responded by saying that sharing one word for two different gods could lead some Muslims to unwittingly stray to Christianity. By January, passions had spilled onto holy turf, with around a dozen churches, one mosque and a Sikh temple attacked. Late that month, eight people were arrested for suspected roles in the firebombing of a Pentecostal church in the capital of Kuala Lumpur.

As both Muslims and Christians more fervently express their faith, a kind of spiritual siloing is developing in Southeast Asia, in contrast to the sectarian mixing that often characterized relations in previous generations. “Even compared to five years ago, relations between Christians and Muslims have worsened,” says Father Andang Binawan, a Roman Catholic priest in Jakarta who holds a Ph.D. in theology from a Belgian university. “Many people now, including government officials, feel pressure by society to identify themselves as good Muslims and they worry that by associating with people of other religions, they will be seen as less pious. Even saying ‘Merry Christmas’ to a Christian can be seen as a problem.” (See “Indonesia Faces Muslim Pressure.”)

At the same time, aggressive proselytization by Evangelical groups, both foreign and local, leads to accusations that Christians are hungry for souls — and church donations. Website and sermon invectives, in which some Christian preachers dismiss Muslims as terrorists, also feed a prejudicial cycle that is spinning both sides away from Indonesia’s pluralistic underpinnings. (Unlike neighboring Malaysia, which was set up as a Muslim state — although one that guarantees minority religious rights — Indonesia recognizes six official faiths: Islam, Catholicism, Protestant Christianity, Buddhism, Hinduism and Confucianism.) “We have many [religions], and they all coexist peacefully,” President Yudhoyono told TIME last November. “This is the capital we will use to show that a clash of civilizations can be prevented.” But even as he spoke, Christian theological students were staging a sit-in on a busy Jakarta street to protest having been intimidated into evacuating their campus after threats from Muslim mobs. A clash of civilizations seemed to be exactly what was taking place.

Raising Spirits
To get to the hip-hop concert, you have to walk through a five-star hotel’s lobby, go past a parking lot and take a cramped elevator ride to the 12th floor. There, in an anonymous Jakarta annex syncopated by a purple strobe light, Indonesian youths dance for Jesus. The congregation bops to the beat, waving their arms in the air as the lyrics implore them to let their “lives be a celebration” of Jesus’ love. After pastor Jose Carol takes to the stage, some worshippers whip out their iPhones, onto which they have loaded electronic copies of the Bible. Back when the Jakarta Praise Community Church formed a decade ago, only a couple hundred people attended its services; today the congregation has grown to 5,500 mostly young urbanites.

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A few hours earlier, in Jakarta’s Kemayoran business district, parishioners gathered in the main auditorium of the Evangelical Reformed Millennium Center, which seats more than 4,500 people. Above the crowds, a pair of giant TV screens broadcast the sermon of Stephen Tong, an Indonesian pastor who conducts weekly services throughout Asia — including Singapore, Malaysia, Taiwan and Hong Kong — and ministers to a regional congregation that has grown to 15,000 in just two decades. Opened in 2008, the church complex cost $30 million to build — and it took 17 years to obtain permission from local authorities. The privately funded church is the largest licensed one in the capital, although an unofficial megachurch with space for 10,000 faithful is nearing completion in a Jakarta suburb. When Tong, 69, raised a crucifix onto the church’s massive steeple, worshippers at a nearby mosque complained. Tong didn’t back down. “Jakarta has 1.2 million Christians, so a church for 4,000 people is nothing,” he says. “We did this all legally, so why can’t we put a cross on our church, just like mosques have their symbol?”

Other Indonesian Christians worry that such towering icons will only serve to inflame Muslim sentiment. The dangers are all too real. Take the hundreds of students from the Arastamar Evangelical School of Theology, who staged the November sit-in. They were subsisting in refugee-like conditions, sleeping on thin mats in an abandoned Jakarta building with no electricity or running water. Before that, the beleaguered students lived for months in a park, 35 to a tent. Yet on the outskirts of east Jakarta, the Christian college actually had a handsome campus. In July 2008, hundreds of Islamic extremists crowded the school’s gates, accusing students of proselytizing among the local Muslim community — a charge the institute’s leaders deny. When three students tried to escape, thugs threw acid in their faces. With local government officials advising the student population to decamp because of continuing danger, Arastamar officials had no choice but to accept the government’s proposal for makeshift housing. “How can you say there is true freedom of religion here if things like this can happen to us?” asks school principal Jusup Lifire. (See 10 surprising facts about the world’s oldest Bible.)

Muslim converts to Christianity are also targets, their apostasy viewed by some radical Islamic scholars as deserving of execution. Syaiful Hamzah grew up as the madrasah-attending son of a Muslim family in Jakarta that helped build the neighborhood mosque. But while working in eastern Indonesia’s Maluku archipelago, which has a substantial Christian population, he was swayed by Evangelical teachings. By 2000, he had been baptized at a Pentecostal church and returned to Jakarta to begin theological studies. His family cut him off; one brother threatened to burn his house down. Undeterred, he began lay-preaching to a house-church congregation in his modest home near Jakarta’s port. In 2008, a mob armed with clubs showed up and demanded Syaiful stop. He shuttered his church but still guides Muslim converts to Christianity, the number of which he says is growing, in part, because of the terror attacks unleashed in Indonesia in the name of Islam. “So many have converted,” he says, “but they are afraid to say so publicly because Muslims will harass them.”

The numbers of converts may not be as high as Islamic groups fear. Some so-called converts were Christians all along. In the 1960s, a government anticommunist drive forced each citizen to pick a religion for inclusion on their national ID card. (Suspected communists were quick to pick a religion to convince authorities they were not atheist Marxists.) Worried about future persecution and loath to give up the chance for certain career opportunities reserved for Muslims, some Christians chose Islam for their ID cards, even though they quietly kept going to church. Now they’re officially switching to their true religion, seeing safety in growing numbers. Another significant group of Indonesian converts to charismatic sects is ethnic Chinese. But they are abandoning Chinese religions or mainline Protestantism, not Islam. (See “Indonesia’s Fatwa Against Yoga.”)

still, it’s hard to ignore the power of a revival like the one held in Temanggung — and easy to understand why some Muslims have reservations about encroaching Christianity. Permission to hold the meeting was only granted after the organizers put up a sign forbidding Muslims from entering. Nevertheless, among the line of sick and suffering hoping to be healed was an elderly Muslim man who others said was blind. After fervent prayers from worshippers in the driving rain, he suddenly blinked and gazed at the gathered crowd. “A Muslim who can now see,” said pastor Jason Balompapueng, tears rising in his eyes. “It is a miracle.” The faithful urged the tottering man onstage to bear witness to his regained sight. As the man clambered up the stairs, he removed his peci, an Indonesian fezlike hat often associated with Islam. A visiting minister from Jakarta blessed him. Another soul was saved, the Christian pastor rejoiced. Tomorrow, he vowed, there would be more.

With reporting by Jason Tedjasukmana / Jakarta

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Islamic Theology in Indonesia, was infected by USA?

This article from Washington Post. About Islamic Theology that is infected by American?

By Andrew Higgins

In the early 1980s, Nasir Tamara, a young Indonesian scholar, needed
money to fund a study of Islam and politics. He went to the Jakarta
office of the U.S.-based Ford Foundation to ask for help. He left
empty-handed. The United States, he was told, was “not interested in
getting into Islam.”

The rebuff came from President Obama’s mother, Ann Dunham, a U.S.
anthropologist who lived in Indonesia for more than a decade. Dunham,
who died in 1995, focused on issues of economic development, not matters
of faith and politics, sensitive subjects in a country then ruled by a
secular-minded autocrat.

“It was not fashionable to ‘do Islam’ back then,” Tamara recalled.

Today, Indonesia is a democracy and the role of Islam is one of the most
important issues facing U.S. policy in a country with many more Muslims
than Egypt, Syria, Jordan and all the Arab countries of the Persian
Gulf combined. What kind of Islam prevails here is critical to U.S.
interests across the wider Muslim world.

“This is a fight for ideas, a fight for what kind of future Indonesia
wants,” said Walter North, Jakarta mission chief for the U.S. Agency for
International Development (USAID), who knew Dunham while she was here
in the 1980s.

It is also a fight that raises a tricky question: Should Americans stand
apart from Islam’s internal struggles around the world or jump in and
try to bolster Muslims who are in sync with American views?

A close look at U.S. interactions with Muslim groups in Indonesia —
Obama’s boyhood home for four years — shows how, since the Sept. 11,
2001, attacks, rival strategies have played out, often with consequences
very different from what Washington intended.

In the debate over how best to influence the country’s religious
direction, some champion intervention, most notably a private
organization from North Carolina that has waded deep into Indonesia’s
theological struggles. But, in the main, U.S. thinking has moved back
toward what it was in Dunham’s day: stay out of Islam.

A change in public mood

In many ways, Indonesia — a nation of 240 million people scattered
across 17,000 islands — is moving in America’s direction. It has
flirted with Saudi-style dogmatism on its fringes. But while
increasingly pious, it shows few signs of dumping what, since Islam
arrived here in the 14th century, has generally been an eclectic and
flexible brand of the faith.

Terrorism, which many Indonesians previously considered an American-made
myth, now stirs general revulsion. When a key suspect in July suicide
bombings in Jakarta was killed recently in a shootout with a
U.S.-trained police unit, his native village, appalled by his violent
activities, refused to take the body for burial.

A band of Islamic moral vigilantes this month forced a Japanese porn
star to call off a trip to Jakarta. But the group no longer storms bars,
nightclubs and hotels as it did regularly a few years ago, at the
height of a U.S. drive to promote “moderate” Islam. Aceh, a particularly
devout Indonesian region and a big recipient of U.S. aid after a 2004
tsunami, recently introduced a bylaw that mandates the stoning to death
of adulterers, but few expect the penalty to be carried out. Aceh’s
governor, who has an American adviser paid for by USAID, opposes
stoning.

Public fury at the United States over the Iraq war has faded, a trend
accelerated by the departure of President George W. Bush and the
election of Obama. In 2003, the first year of the war, 15 percent of
Indonesians surveyed by the Pew Research Center had a favorable view of
the United States — compared with 75 percent before Bush took office.
America’s favorability rating is now 63 percent.

There are many reasons for the change of mood: an economy that is
growing fast despite the global slump; increasing political stability
rooted in elections that are generally free and fair; moves by President
Susilo Bambang Yudhoyono, a U.S.-trained former general who won
reelection by a landslide in July, to co-opt Islamic political parties.

Another reason, said Masdar Mas’udi, a senior cleric at Nahdlatul Ulama,
Indonesia’s — and the world’s — largest Islamic organization, is that
the United States has backed away from overt intrusions into religious
matters. A foe of hard-line Muslims who has worked closely with
Americans, Mas’udi said he now believes that U.S. intervention in
theological quarrels often provides radicals with “a sparring partner”
that strengthens them. These days, instead of tinkering with religious
doctrine, a pet project focuses on providing organic rice seeds to poor
Muslim farmers.

In the immediate aftermath of the Sept. 11 attacks, Washington deployed
money and rhetoric in a big push to bolster “moderate” Muslims against
what Bush called the “real and profound ideology” of “Islamo-fascism. ”
Obama, promising a “new beginning between America and Muslims around the
world,” has avoided dividing Muslims into competing theological camps.
He has denounced “violent extremists” but, in a June speech in Cairo,
stated that “Islam is not part of the problem.”

North, the USAID mission chief, said the best way to help “champions of
an enlightened perspective win the day” is to avoid theology and help
Indonesia “address some of the problems here, such as poverty and
corruption.” Trying to groom Muslim leaders America likes, he said,
won’t help.

Rethinking post-9/11 tack

This is a sharp retreat from the approach taken right after the Sept. 11
attacks, when a raft of U.S.-funded programs sought to amplify the
voice of “moderates.” Hundreds of Indonesian clerics went through
U.S.-sponsored courses that taught a reform-minded reading of the Koran.
A handbook for preachers, published with U.S. money, offered tips on
what to preach. One American-funded Muslim group even tried to script
Friday prayer sermons.

Such initiatives mimicked a strategy adopted during the Cold War, when,
to counter communist ideology, the United States funded a host of
cultural, educational and other groups in tune with America’s goals.
Even some of the key actors were the same. The Asia Foundation, founded
with covert U.S. funding in the 1950s to combat communism, took the lead
in battling noxious strands of Islam in Indonesia as part of a
USAID-financed program called Islam and Civil Society. The program began
before the Sept. 11 attacks but ramped up its activities after.

“We wanted to challenge hard-line ideas head-on,” recalled Ulil Abshar
Abdalla, an Indonesian expert in Islamic theology who, with Asia
Foundation funding, set up the Liberal Islam Network in 2001. The
network launched a weekly radio program that questioned literal
interpretations of sacred texts with respect to women, homosexuals and
basic doctrine. It bought airtime on national television for a video
that presented Islam as a faith of “many colors” and distributed
leaflets promoting liberal theology in mosques.

Feted by Americans as a model moderate, Abdalla was flown to Washington
in 2002 to meet officials at the State Department and the Pentagon,
including Paul D. Wolfowitz, the then-deputy secretary of defense and a
former U.S. ambassador to Jakarta. But efforts to transplant Cold War
tactics into the Islamic world started to go very wrong.
More-conservative Muslims never liked what they viewed as American
meddling in theology. Their unease over U.S. motives escalated sharply
with the start of the Iraq war and spread to a wider constituency. Iraq
“destroyed everything,” said Abdalla, who started getting death threats.

Indonesia’s council of clerics, enraged by what it saw as a U.S.
campaign to reshape Islam, issued a fatwa denouncing “secularism,
pluralism and liberalism.”

The Asia Foundation pulled its funding for Abdalla’s network and began
to rethink its strategy. It still works with Muslim groups but avoids
sensitive theological issues, focusing instead on training to monitor
budgets, battle corruption and lobby on behalf of the poor. “The
foundation came to believe that it was more effective for intra-Islamic
debates to take place without the involvement of international
organizations, ” said Robin Bush, head of the foundation’s Jakarta
office.

Abdalla, meanwhile, left Indonesia and moved to Boston to study.

One U.S. group jumps in

While the Asia Foundation and others dived for cover, one American
outfit jumped into the theological fray with gusto. In December 2003, C.
Holland Taylor, a former telecommunications executive from
Winston-Salem, N.C., set up a combative outfit called LibForAll
Foundation to “promote the culture of liberty and tolerance.”

Taylor, who speaks Indonesian, won some big-name supporters, including
Indonesia’s former president, Abdurrahman Wahid, a prominent but ailing
cleric, and a popular Indonesian pop star, who released a hit song that
vowed, “No to the warriors of jihad! Yes to the warriors of love.”
Taylor took Wahid to Washington, where they met Wolfowitz, Vice
President Richard B. Cheney and others. He recruited a reform-minded
Koran scholar from Egypt to help promote a “renaissance of Islamic
pluralism, tolerance and critical thinking.”

Funding came from wealthy Americans, including heirs of the Hanes
underwear fortune, and several European organizations. Taylor, in a
recent interview in Jakarta, declined to identify his biggest American
donor. He said he has repeatedly asked the U.S. government for money but
has received only $50,000, a grant from a State Department
counterterrorism unit.

“You can’t win a war with that,” said Taylor, who is working on a
26-part TV documentary that aims to debunk hard-line Islamic doctrine.
“People in Washington would prefer to think that if we do nothing we
will be okay: just cut off the heads of terrorists and everything will
be fine.”

As the atmosphere has grown less hostile, Abdalla, the much-reviled
American favorite, returned this year to Jakarta. He hasn’t changed his
liberal take on Islam but now avoids topics that fire up his foes. “I’ve
changed. The environment has changed,” he said. “We now realize the
radical groups are not as dominant as we thought in the beginning.”

Tired of being branded a fringe American stooge, he plans to run in an
election next year for leadership of Nahdlatul Ulama, a pillar of
Indonesia’s traditional religious establishment. He doesn’t stand much
of a chance but wants to “engage with the mainstream instead of the
periphery.” His Liberal Islam Network doesn’t get U.S. money anymore,
skirts touchy topics on its radio show and no longer hands out leaflets
in mosques.

“Religion is too sensitive. We shouldn’t get involved,” said Kay
Ikranagara, a close American friend of Obama’s late mother who works in
Jakarta for a small USAID-funded scholarship program. Ikranagara worries
about Islam’s growing influence on daily life in the country, but she’s
wary of outsiders who want to press Indonesians on matters of faith.

“We just get in a lot of trouble trying to do that,” she said.

http://www.washingt onpost.com/ wp-dyn/content/ article/2009/ 10/24/AR20091024 02279.html

Bibles with ‘Allah’ are Confiscated

 http://www.latimes. com/news/ nationworld/ world/la- fg-briefs30- 2009oct30, 0,7232083. story

 
October 30, 2009
 
MALAYSIA

Bibles with ‘Allah’ are confiscated

Malaysian authorities have confiscated more than 15,000 Bibles because they referred to “God” as “Allah,” a translation that has been banned in this Muslim-majority country, Christian church officials said.

The Rev. Hermen Shastri, general secretary of the Council of Churches of Malaysia, said authorities seized a consignment of 10,000 copies sent from Jakarta, Indonesia, to Kuching, in Sarawak state, on Sept. 11 because the Indonesian-language Bibles contained the word “Allah.”

An additional 5,100 Bibles, also imported from Indonesia, were seized in March, said an official from the Bible Society of Malaysia.

A Home Ministry official said he was not aware of the seizures.

Church officials say “Allah” is not exclusive to Islam but is an Arabic word that predates Islam.

C.I.A. Sought Blackwater’s Help to Kill Jihadists

August 20, 2009

C.I.A. Sought Blackwater’s Help to Kill Jihadists

WASHINGTON — The Central Intelligence Agency in 2004 hired outside contractors from the private security contractor Blackwater USA as part of a secret program to locate and assassinate top operatives of Al Qaeda, according to current and former government officials.

Executives from Blackwater, which has generated controversy because of its aggressive tactics in Iraq, helped the spy agency with planning, training and surveillance. The C.I.A. spent several million dollars on the program, which did not successfully capture or kill any terrorist suspects.

The fact that the C.I.A. used an outside company for the program was a major reason that Leon E. Panetta, the C.I.A.’s director, became alarmed and called an emergency meeting in June to tell Congress that the agency had withheld details of the program for seven years, the officials said.

It is unclear whether the C.I.A. had planned to use the contractors to actually capture or kill Qaeda operatives, or just to help with training and surveillance in the program. American spy agencies have in recent years outsourced some highly controversial work, including the interrogation of prisoners. But government officials said that bringing outsiders into a program with lethal authority raised deep concerns about accountability in covert operations.

Officials said the C.I.A. did not have a formal contract with Blackwater for this program but instead had individual agreements with top company officials, including the founder, Erik D. Prince, a politically connected former member of the Navy Seals and the heir to a family fortune. Blackwater’s work on the program actually ended years before Mr. Panetta took over the agency, after senior C.I.A. officials themselves questioned the wisdom of using outsiders in a targeted killing program.

Blackwater, which has changed its name, most recently to Xe Services, and is based in North Carolina, in recent years has received millions of dollars in government contracts, growing so large that the Bush administration said it was a necessary part of its war operation in Iraq.

It has also drawn controversy. Blackwater employees hired to guard American diplomats in Iraq were accused of using excessive force on several occasions, including shootings in Baghdad in 2007 in which 17 civilians were killed. Iraqi officials have since refused to give the company an operating license.

Several current and former government officials interviewed for this article spoke only on the condition of anonymity because they were discussing details of a still classified program.

Paul Gimigliano, a C.I.A. spokesman, declined to provide details about the canceled program, but he said that Mr. Panetta’s decision on the assassination program was “clear and straightforward.”

“Director Panetta thought this effort should be briefed to Congress, and he did so,” Mr. Gimigliano said. “He also knew it hadn’t been successful, so he ended it.”

A Xe spokeswoman did not return calls seeking comment.

Senator Dianne Feinstein, the California Democrat who leads the Senate Intelligence Committee, also declined to give details of the program. But she praised Mr. Panetta for notifying Congress. “It is too easy to contract out work that you don’t want to accept responsibility for,” she said.

The C.I.A. this summer conducted an internal review of the assassination program that recently was presented to the White House and the Congressional intelligence committees. The officials said that the review stated that Mr. Panetta’s predecessors did not believe that they needed to tell Congress because the program was not far enough developed.

The House Intelligence Committee is investigating why lawmakers were never told about the program. According to current and former government officials, former Vice President Dick Cheney told C.I.A. officers in 2002 that the spy agency did not need to inform Congress because the agency already had legal authority to kill Qaeda leaders.

One official familiar with the matter said that Mr. Panetta did not tell lawmakers that he believed that the C.I.A. had broken the law by withholding details about the program from Congress. Rather, the official said, Mr. Panetta said he believed that the program had moved beyond a planning stage and deserved Congressional scrutiny.

“It’s wrong to think this counterterrorism program was confined to briefing slides or doodles on a cafeteria napkin,” the official said. “It went well beyond that.”

Current and former government officials said that the C.I.A.’s efforts to use paramilitary hit teams to kill Qaeda operatives ran into logistical, legal and diplomatic hurdles almost from the outset. These efforts had been run by the C.I.A.’s counterterrorism center, which runs operations against Al Qaeda and other terrorist networks.

In 2002, Blackwater won a classified contract to provide security for the C.I.A. station in Kabul, Afghanistan, and the company maintains other classified contracts with the C.I.A., current and former officials said.

Over the years, Blackwater has hired several former top C.I.A. officials, including Cofer Black, who ran the C.I.A. counterterrorism center immediately after the Sept. 11 attacks.

C.I.A. operatives also regularly use the company’s training complex in North Carolina. The complex includes a shooting range used for sniper training.

An executive order signed by President Gerald R. Ford in 1976 barred the C.I.A. from carrying out assassinations, a direct response to revelations that the C.I.A. had initiated assassination plots against Fidel Castro of Cuba and other foreign politicians.

The Bush administration took the position that killing members of Al Qaeda, a terrorist group that attacked the United States and has pledged to attack it again, was no different from killing enemy soldiers in battle, and that therefore the agency was not constrained by the assassination ban.

But former intelligence officials said that employing private contractors to help hunt Qaeda operatives would pose significant legal and diplomatic risks, and they might not be protected in the same way government employees are.

Some Congressional Democrats have hinted that the program was just one of many that the Bush administration hid from Congressional scrutiny and have used the episode as a justification to delve deeper into other Bush-era counterterrorism programs.

But Republicans have criticized Mr. Panetta’s decision to cancel the program, saying he created a tempest in a teapot.

“I think there was a little more drama and intrigue than was warranted,” said Representative Peter Hoekstra of Michigan, the top Republican on the House Intelligence Committee.

Officials said that the C.I.A. program was devised partly as an alternative to missile strikes using drone aircraft, which have accidentally killed civilians and cannot be used in urban areas where some terrorists hide.

Yet with most top Qaeda operatives believed to be hiding in the remote mountains of Pakistan, the drones have remained the C.I.A.’s weapon of choice. Like the Bush administration, the Obama administration has embraced the drone campaign because it presents a less risky option than sending paramilitary teams into Pakistan.

Source: http://www.ny times.com/2009/08/20/us/20intel.html?_r=1&th=&emc=th&pagewanted=print

Letter from an Israeli Jail

http://english. pravda.ru/ world/americas/ 08-07-2009/ 108016-letterisr aelijail- 0

08.07.2009

Letter from an Israeli Jail

This is Cynthia McKinney and I’m speaking from an Israeli prison cellblock in Ramle. [I am one of] the Free Gaza 21, human rights activists currently imprisoned for trying to take medical supplies to Gaza, building supplies – and even crayons for children, I had a suitcase full of crayons for children. While we were on our way to Gaza the Israelis threatened to fire on our boat, but we did not turn around.

The Israelis high-jacked and arrested us because we wanted to give crayons to the children in Gaza. We have been detained, and we want the people of the world to see how we have been treated just because we wanted to deliver humanitarian assistance to the people of Gaza.

At the outbreak of Israel’s Operation ‘Cast Lead’ [in December 2008], I boarded a Free Gaza boat with one day’s notice and tried, as the US representative in a multi-national delegation, to deliver 3 tons of medical supplies to an already besieged and ravaged Gaza.

During Operation Cast Lead, U.S.-supplied F-16’s rained hellfire on a trapped people. Ethnic cleansing became full scale outright genocide. U.S.-supplied white phosphorus, depleted uranium, robotic technology, DIME weapons, and cluster bombs – new weapons creating injuries never treated before by Jordanian and Norwegian doctors. I was later told by doctors who were there in Gaza during Israel’s onslaught that Gaza had become Israel’s veritable weapons testing laboratory, people used to test and improve the kill ratio of their weapons.

The world saw Israel’s despicable violence thanks to al-Jazeera Arabic and Press TV that broadcast in English. I saw those broadcasts live and around the clock, not from the USA but from Lebanon, where my first attempt to get into Gaza had ended because the Israeli military rammed the boat I was on in international water … It’s a miracle that I’m even here to write about my second encounter with the Israeli military, again a humanitarian mission aborted by the Israeli military.

The Israeli authorities have tried to get us to confess that we committed a crime … I am now known as Israeli prisoner number 88794. How can I be in prison for collecting crayons to kids?

Zionism has surely run out of its last legitimacy if this is what it does to people who believe so deeply in human rights for all that they put their own lives on the line for someone else’s children. Israel is the fullest expression of Zionism, but if Israel fears for its security because Gaza’s children have crayons then not only has Israel lost its last shred of legitimacy, but Israel must be declared a failed state.

I am facing deportation from the state that brought me here at gunpoint after commandeering our boat. I was brought to Israel against my will. I am being held in this prison because I had a dream that Gaza’s children could color & paint, that Gaza’s wounded could be healed, and that Gaza’s bombed-out houses could be rebuilt.

But I’ve learned an interesting thing by being inside this prison. First of all, it’s incredibly black: populated mostly by Ethiopians who also had a dream … like my cellmates, one who is pregnant. They are all are in their twenties. They thought they were coming to the Holy Land. They had a dream that their lives would be better … The once proud, never colonized Ethiopia [has been thrown into] the back pocket of the United States, and become a place of torture, rendition, and occupation. Ethiopians must free their country because superpower politics [have] become more important than human rights and self-determination.

My cellmates came to the Holy Land so they could be free from the exigencies of superpower politics. They committed no crime except to have a dream. They came to Israel because they thought that Israel held promise for them. Their journey to Israel through Sudan and Egypt was arduous. I can only imagine what it must have been like for them. And it wasn’t cheap. Many of them represent their family’s best collective efforts for self-fulfilment. They made their way to the United Nations High Commission for Refugees. They got their yellow paper of identification. They got their certificate for police protection. They are refugees from tragedy, and they made it to Israel only after they arrived Israel told them “there is no UN in Israel.”

The police here have license to pick them up & suck them into the black hole of a farce for a justice system. These beautiful, industrious and proud women represent the hopes of entire families. The idea of Israel tricked them and the rest of us. In a widely propagandized slick marketing campaign, Israel represented itself as a place of refuge and safety for the world’s first Jews and Christian. I too believed that marketing and failed to look deeper.

The truth is that Israel lied to the world. Israel lied to the families of these young women. Israel lied to the women themselves who are now trapped in Ramle’s detention facility. And what are we to do? One of my cellmates cried today. She has been here for 6 months. As an American, crying with them is not enough. The policy of the United States must be better, and while we watch President Obama give 12.8 trillion dollars to the financial elite of the United States it ought now be clear that hope, change, and ‘yes we can’ were powerfully presented images of dignity and self-fulfilment, individually and nationally, that besieged people everywhere truly believed in.

It was a slick marketing campaign as slickly put to the world and to the voters of America as was Israel’s marketing to the world. It tricked all of us but, more tragically, these young women.

We must cast an informed vote about better candidates seeking to represent us. I have read and re-read Dr. Martin Luther King Junior’s letter from a Birmingham jail. Never in my wildest dreams would I have ever imagined that I too would one day have to do so. It is clear that taxpayers in Europe and the U.S. have a lot to atone for, for what they’ve done to others around the world.

What an irony! My son begins his law school program without me because I am in prison, in my own way trying to do my best, again, for other people’s children. Forgive me, my son. I guess I’m experiencing the harsh reality which is why people need dreams. [But] I’m lucky. I will leave this place. Has Israel become the place where dreams die?

Ask the people of Palestine. Ask the stream of black and Asian men whom I see being processed at Ramle. Ask the women on my cellblock. [Ask yourself:] what are you willing to do?

Let’s change the world together & reclaim what we all need as human beings: Dignity. I appeal to the United Nations to get these women of Ramle, who have done nothing wrong other than to believe in Israel as the guardian of the Holy Land, resettled in safe homes. I appeal to the United State’s Department of State to include the plight of detained UNHCR-certified refugees in the Israel country report in its annual human rights report. I appeal once again to President Obama to go to Gaza: send your special envoy, George Mitchell there, and to engage Hamas as the elected choice of the Palestinian people.

I dedicate this message to those who struggle to achieve a free Palestine, and to the women I’ve met at Ramle. This is Cynthia McKinney, July 2nd 2009, also known as Ramle prisoner number 88794

Indonesia’s dark-horse candidate

http://www.atimes. com/atimes/ Southeast_ Asia/KC31Ae01. html

Mar 31, 2009

Indonesia’s dark-horse candidate
By Katherine Demopoulos

JAKARTA – Career soldier Prabowo Subianto is still a dark-horse candidate among the 38 different political parties jockeying for position ahead of next month’s legislative elections and a looming presidential race set for July.

A former son-in-law of dictator Suharto, and an alleged mastermind of the violence and abuses that attended East Timor’s break from Indonesia in 1999, he is running a decidedly slick and well-financed campaign that appears to have substantial grassroots resonance.

Although he is trailing incumbent president Susilo Bambang Yudhoyono and frontrunner Megawati Sukarnoputri in the polls, Prabowo and his political party’s numbers could be pivotal to the formation of the next ruling coalition. His Great Indonesia Movement party, or Gerindra, claims 11.2 million members.

The most recent polls forecast his party to win between 2.6% and 6.23% of the legislative vote, sufficient popular support to cross the 2.5% threshold needed for a party to assume legislative seats. Those figures could rise considering between 9% and 50% of polled voters say they are still undecided.

Political analysts say that if Gerindra wins 6-7% of the legislature, it will be a major player in the coalition building for presidential nominations. A party or coalition needs 20% of seats of parliament or 25% of the popular votes to put forward a presidential candidate.

Political analysts partially credit Prabowo’s and Gerindra’s early success to the financial resources of his brother, Hashim Djojohadikusomo, who last year was ranked by Globe Asia magazine as Indonesia’s 14th richest person with a net worth of just over US$1 billion.

He has helped to bankroll Prabowo’s prime time media barrage, depicting glossy panoramas of Indonesia, peopled with smiling children and hard-working farmers and fishermen. Market research firm Nielson estimates Gerindra has garnered more TV exposure than any other party by positioning its ads around Sikar, the country’s most popular soap opera and most viewed news bulletin.
His campaign has also been burnished by high-profile foreign advisors, including US political communications expert Rob Allyn, who worked for outgoing US president George W Bush‘s successful Texas governor campaign in 1994, and reportedly a German scriptwriter involved in various popular Indonesian soap operas.

“If you were a political actor in Indonesia, you’d have to be looking at him closely and paying attention. There might be a hidden agenda. It might be quite a legitimate tilt at the president or it might be a tilt for 2014, or getting something else he wants,” said Damien Kingsbury, associate professor at Australia’s Deakin University.

Rural sensitivity
By spending much of his campaign time in rural villages, Prabowo has shown a populist touch certain other top candidates have lacked. He has in particular courted farmers and fishermen, demographic groups which make up the majority of the rural population.

He has leveraged his position as chairman of the Indonesian Farmers’ Association, which claims 10 million members nationwide, to build up his grassroots credentials and has lobbied the agriculture ministry on matters of rural concern. He has also vowed to create 36 million new agricultural jobs and double the average per capita income from its current $2,000 to $4,000 per year.

“I haven’t seen any politician who has been so active and so persistent in approaching the farmers down to the village across the archipelago, ” said Aleksius Jemadu, professor at Pelita Harapan University, located on the outskirts of Jakarta.

“He is a military strategist and he has a long-term perspective and he knows what he can do to strengthen his popularity. He used to be known by the public as a general, but knows he has to change his image to [that of] an effective leader,” he added.

Gerindra spokesman Haryanto Taslam echoes that assessment. He said in an interview with Asia Times Online that during a recent village visit Prabowo bought up palm oil stocks – at above the market price – from farmers who had complained about falling prices.

He has also distributed fertilizer directly to farmers and tried to get cheaper rice seed than that on offer from a government-appointe d company, according to Haryanto.

In many ways, Haryanto is central to Prabowo’s image-conscious electoral strategy. As a former democracy activist, Haryanto was kidnapped and held for 40 days during the waning days of the Suharto regime. In his capacity as former Kopassus commander, Prabowo has since personally apologized to him for his detention, Haryanto says.

“The issue is not personal, but [it was] the system at that time,” he said. “Prabowo asked me to join him to fight together to fix Indonesia. And I wanted to join because my political attitude is parallel with Prabowo’s, wanting to give the best for Indonesian people. I think there is no problem working together with him.”

Prabowo has in the past admitted responsibility for kidnapping pro-democracy activists. Speaking recently to foreign journalists, Prabowo said of the government’s past political kidnapping policy: “Under one regime it is preventative detention, then there is regime change and it is called kidnapping.”

Controversial past
Such elliptical wordplay does little to assuage the activists who recall Prabowo’s controversial history. He stands most pointedly accused of organizing thugs who terrorized pro-independence figures in East Timor, as well as involvement in orchestrating the riots that targeted ethnic Chinese Indonesians in 1998.

In a fully embedded democracy, “a candidate like him would not stand a snowball’s chance in hell,” said Kingsbury. “Indonesia is on a reformist political and economic path and Prabowo represents the opposite of that.”

But for most of Indonesia’s rural poor, activists’ kidnappings and communal riots are a world away. Their hardships have not eased in the decade of democracy and among many there is nostalgia for Suharto’s strong leadership and policies that helped to uplift tens of millions out of poverty.

“Some people are harking back to the New Order. I think there has been some re-swinging of the pendulum,” said one Jakarta-based commentator, who requested anonymity. “My fear [of Prabowo’s candidacy] is a reversion to fascism.”

Prabowo’s campaign appeals to the masses through promises to reschedule foreign debt payments and put the cash into education and healthcare. He has also taken a nationalistic line in vowing to stop the sale of strategic state assets to foreigners and review perceived unfavorable existing government contracts.

“The message is so concrete, so real, so relevant with the situation of his audience, especially the farmers, the people at the grassroots … He provides a clear vision to solve all the real problems that they are facing in their everyday life,” added Pelita Harapan University’s Jemadu.

“He’s making some very basic appeals to popular nationalism and populist economics,” said Tim Lindsey at Melbourne University’s Asian Law Center. He warns that if some of Prabowo’s proposed policies were actually implemented, Indonesia would risk being cut off from international credit markets.

Some analysts fear that a Prabowo-led or influenced government could bid to turn back the clock on Indonesian democracy. Prabowo has said he wants to revert to the original form of Indonesia’s constitution, which gives strong powers to the executive and lacks checks and balances. Others, such as Lindsey, believe Indonesia has moved past Suharto’s and his former New Order regime’s legacy.

“The time for New Order leftovers is running out. In 2014, it’s pretty unlikely that we’ll be seeing the same array of politicians. We’re witnessing a generational shift,” said Lindsey. “Young ones are not aware of Prabowo’s record, but it also works against them because the ideas they stand for resonate with fewer people. Rather than being the re-emergence of New Order politicians, perhaps this is their last hurrah.”

Katherine Demopoulos is a journalist based in Jakarta, Indonesia. She works as a freelance reporter for the BBC and Guardian, and also writes extensively on Asian energy markets.

(Copyright 2009 Asia Times Online (Holdings) Ltd. All rights reserved. Please contact us about sales, syndication and republishing)

Israel’s War of Deceit, Lies and Propaganda

Israel’s War of Deceit, Lies and Propaganda

By Uri Avnery

January 12 “Gulf Times” — – -Nearly 70 years ago, in the course of the Second World War, a heinous crime was committed in the city of Leningrad. For more than a thousand days, a gang of extremists called “the Red Army” held the millions of the town’s inhabitants hostage and provoked retaliation from the German Wehrmacht from inside the population centres.

The Germans had no alternative but to bomb and shell the population and to impose a total blockade, which caused the death of hundreds of thousands.

Some time before that, a similar crime was committed in England. The Churchill gang hid among the population of London, misusing the millions of citizens as a human shield. The Germans were compelled to send their Luftwaffe and reluctantly reduce the city to ruins. They called it the Blitz.

This is the description that would now appear in the history books – if the Germans had won the war.

Absurd? No more than the daily descriptions in Israeli media, which are being repeated ad nauseam: the Hamas “terrorists” use the inhabitants of Gaza as “hostages” and exploit the women and children as “human shields”, they leave Israel no alternative but to carry out massive bombardments, in which, to Israel’s deep sorrow, thousands of women, children and unarmed men are killed and injured.

In this war, as in any modern war, propaganda plays a major role. Almost all the Western media initially repeated the official Israeli propaganda line. They almost entirely ignored the Palestinian side of the story, not to mention the daily demonstrations of the Israeli peace camp. The rationale of the Israeli government (“The state must defend its citizens against the Qassam rockets”) has been accepted as the whole truth. The view from the other side, that the Qassams are a retaliation for the siege that starves the one and a half million inhabitants of the Gaza Strip, was not mentioned at all.

Only when the horrible scenes from Gaza started to appear on Western TV screens, did world public opinion gradually begin to change.

War – every war – is the realm of lies. Whether called propaganda or psychological warfare, everybody accepts that it is right to lie for one’s country. Anyone who speaks the truth runs the risk of being branded a traitor. The trouble is that propaganda is most convincing for the propagandist himself. And after you convince yourself that a lie is the truth and falsification reality, you can no longer make rational decisions.

Falsification

An example of this process surrounds the most shocking atrocity of this war so far: the shelling of the UN Fakhura school in Jabaliya refugee camp.

Immediately after the incident became known throughout the world, the army “revealed” that Hamas fighters had been firing mortars from near the school entrance. As proof they released an aerial photo which indeed showed the school and the mortar. But within a short time the official army liar had to admit that the photo was more than a year old. In brief: a falsification.

Later the official liar claimed that “our soldiers were shot at from inside the school”. Barely a day passed before the army had to admit to UN personnel that that was a lie, too. Nobody had shot from inside the school, no Hamas fighters were inside the school, which was full of terrified refugees.

But the admission made hardly any difference anymore. By that time, the Israeli public was completely convinced that “they shot from inside the school”, and TV announcers stated this as a simple fact.

So it went with the other atrocities. Every baby metamorphosed, in the act of dying, into a Hamas “terrorist”. Every bombed mosque instantly became a Hamas base, every apartment building an arms cache, every school a terror command post, every civilian government building a “symbol of Hamas rule”. Thus the Israeli army retained its purity as the “most moral army in the world”.

The truth is that the atrocities are a direct result of the war plan. This reflects the personality of Ehud Barak – a man whose way of thinking and actions are clear evidence of what is called “moral insanity”, a sociopathic disorder.

The real aim (apart from gaining seats in the coming elections) is to terminate the rule of Hamas in the Gaza Strip. In the imagination of the planners, Hamas is an invader which has gained control of a foreign country. The reality is, of course, entirely different.

A top priority for the planners was the need to minimise casualties among the soldiers, knowing that the mood of a large part of the pro-war public would change if reports of such casualties came in. That is what happened in Lebanon Wars I and II.

This consideration played an especially important role because the entire war is a part of the election campaign. The planners thought that they could stop the world from seeing these images by forcibly preventing press coverage. But in a modern war, such a sterile manufactured view cannot completely exclude all others – the cameras are inside the strip, in the middle of the hell, and cannot be controlled. Al Jazeera broadcasts the pictures around the clock and reaches every home.

Hundreds of millions of Arabs from Mauritania to Iraq, more than a billion Muslims from Nigeria to Indonesia see the pictures and are horrified. This has a strong impact on the war. Many of the viewers see the rulers of Egypt, Jordan and the Palestinian National Authority as collaborators with Israel in carrying out these atrocities against their Palestinian brothers.

If the war ends with Hamas still standing, bloodied but unvanquished, in face of the mighty Israeli military machine, it will look like a fantastic victory, a victory of mind over matter.

What will be seared into the consciousness of the world will be the image of Israel as a blood-stained monster, ready at any moment to commit war crimes and not prepared to abide by any moral restraints. This will have severe consequences for our long-term future, our standing in the world, our chance of achieving peace and quiet.

In the end, this war is a crime against Israelis too, a crime against the State of Israel.

Uri Avnery is an Israeli writer and peace activist with Gush Shalom. He is a contributor to Counter Punch’s book ‘The Politics of Anti-Semitism’ .


Palestine’s Guernica and the Myths of Israeli Victimhood

This is a guest post written by Mustafa Barghouthi, Secretary General of the Palestinian National Initiative. These comments and views are his own and do not necessarily reflect the views of the Huffington Post. Barghouti is a former secular candidate for President of Palestine and has been a strong advocate of non-violent responses to Israeli occupation. Barghouti is thought by many to be a leading contender in the next Palestinian presidential election. Perspectives have also been solicited from various national leaders and incumbent Knesset leaders in Israel.

Here is a link to an interview that Steve Clemons did with Barghouti in July 2008 regarding Barack Obama’s trip to Israel and Palestine.

Palestine’s Guernica and the Myths of Israeli Victimhood

The Israeli campaign of ‘death from above’ began around 11 am, on Saturday morning, the 27th of December, and stretched straight through the night into this morning. The massacre continues Sunday as I write these words.

The bloodiest single day in Palestine since the War of 1967 is far from over following on Israel’s promised that this is ‘only the beginning’ of their campaign of state terror. At least 290 people have been murdered thus far, but the body count continues to rise at a dramatic pace as more mutilated bodies are pulled from the rubble, previous victims succumb to their wounds and new casualties are created by the minute.

What has and is occurring is nothing short of a war crime, yet the Israeli public relations machine is in full-swing, churning out lies by the minute.

Once and for all it is time to expose the myths that they have created.

1. Israelis have claimed to have ended the occupation of the Gaza Strip in 2005.

While Israel has indeed removed the settlements from the tiny coastal Strip, they have in no way ended the occupation. They remained in control of the borders, the airspace and the waterways of Gaza, and have carried out frequent raids and targeted assassinations since the disengagement.

Furthermore, since 2006 Israel has imposed a comprehensive siege on the Strip. For over two years, Gazans have lived on the edge of starvation and without the most basic necessities of human life, such as cooking or heating oil and basic medications. This siege has already caused a humanitarian catastrophe which has only been exacerbated by the dramatic increase in Israeli military aggression.

2. Israel claims that Hamas violated the cease-fire and pulled out of it unilaterally.

Hamas indeed respected their side of the ceasefire, except on those occasions early on when Israel carried out major offensives in the West Bank. In the last two months, the ceasefire broke down with Israelis killing several Palestinians and resulting in the response of Hamas. In other words, Hamas has not carried out an unprovoked attack throughout the period of the cease-fire.

Israel, however, did not live up to any of its obligations of ending the siege and allowing vital humanitarian aid to resume in Gaza. Rather than the average of 450 trucks per day being allowed across the border, on the best days, only eighty have been allowed in – with the border remaining hermetically sealed 70% of the time. Throughout the supposed ‘cease-fire’ Gazans have been forced to live like animals, with a total of 262 dying due to the inaccessibility of proper medical care.

Now after hundreds dead and counting, it is Israel who refuses to re-enter talks over a cease-fire. They are not intent on securing peace as they claim; it is more and more clear that they are seeking regime change – whatever the cost.

3. Israel claims to be pursuing peace with ‘peaceful Palestinians’ .

Before the on-going massacre in the Gaza Strip, and throughout the entirety of the Annapolis Peace Process, Israel has continued and even intensified its occupation of the West Bank. In 2008, settlement expansion increased by a factor of 38, a further 4,950 Palestinians were arrested – mostly from the West Bank, and checkpoints rose from 521 to 699.

Furthermore, since the onset of the peace talks, Israel has killed 546 Palestinians, among them 76 children. These gruesome statistics are set to rise dramatically now, but previous Israeli transgressions should not be forgotten amidst this most recent horror.

Only this morning, Israel shot and killed a young peaceful protester in the West Bank village of Nihlin, and has injured dozens more over the last few hours. It is certain that they will continue to employ deadly force at non-violent demonstrations and we expect a sizable body count in the West Bank as a result. If Israel is in fact pursuing peace with ‘good Palestinians’ , who are they talking about?

4. Israel is acting in self-defense.

It is difficult to claim self defense in a confrontation which they themselves have sparked, but they are doing it anyway. Self-defense is reactionary, while the actions of Israel over the last two days have been clearly premeditated. Not only did the Israeli press widely report the ongoing public relations campaign being undertaken by Israel to prepare Israeli and international public opinion for the attack, but Israel has also reportedly tried to convince the Palestinians that an attack was not coming by briefly opening crossings and reporting future meetings on the topic. They did so to insure that casualties would be maximized and that the citizens of Gaza would be unprepared for their impending slaughter.

It is also misleading to claim self-defense in a conflict with such an overwhelming asymmetry of power. Israel is the largest military force in the region, and the fifth largest in the world. Furthermore, they are the fourth largest exporter of arms and have a military industrial complex rivaling that of the United States. In other words, Israel has always had a comprehensive monopoly over the use of force, and much like its super power ally, Israel uses war as an advertising showcase of its many instruments of death.

5. Israel claims to have struck military targets only.

Even while image after image of dead and mutilated women and children flash across our televisions, Israel brazenly claims that their munitions expertly struck only military installations. We know this to be false as many other civilian sites have been hit by airstrikes including a hospital and mosque.

In the most densely populated area on the planet, tons upon tons of explosives have been dropped. The first estimates of injured are in the thousands. Israel will claim that these are merely ‘collateral damage’ or accidental deaths. The sheer ridiculousness and inhumanity of such a claim should sicken the world community.

6. Israel claims that it is attacking Hamas and not the Palestinian people.

First and foremost, missiles do not differentiate people by their political affiliation; they simply kill everyone in their path. Israel knows this, and so do Palestinians. What Israel also knows, but is not saying public ally, is how much their recent actions will actually strengthen Hamas – whose message of resistance and revenge is being echoed by the angry and grieving.

The targets of the strike, police and not Hamas militants, give us some clue as to Israel’s mistaken intention. They are hoping to create anarchy in the Strip by removing the pillar of law and order.

7. Israel claims that Palestinians are the source of violence.

Let us be clear and unequivocal. The occupation of Palestine since the War of 1967 has been and remains the root of violence between Israelis and Palestinians. Violence can be ended with the occupation and the granting of Palestine’s national and human rights. Hamas does not control the West Bank and yet we remain occupied, our rights violated and our children killed.

With these myths understood, let us ponder the real reasons behind these airstrikes; what we find may be even more disgusting than the act itself.

The leaders Israel are holding press conferences, dressed in black, with sleeves rolled up.

‘It’s time to fight’, they say, ‘but it won’t be easy.’

To prove just how hard it is, Livni, Olmert and Barak did not even wear make-up to the press conference, and Barak has ended his presidential campaign to focus on the Gaza campaign. What heroes…what leaders…

We all know the truth: the suspension of the electioneering is exactly that – electioneering.

Like John McCain’s suspension of his presidential campaign to return to Washington to ‘deal with’ the financial crisis, this act is little more than a publicity stunt.

The candidates have to appear ‘tough enough to lead’, and there is seemingly no better way of doing that than bathing in Palestinian blood.

‘Look at me,’ Livni says in her black suit and unkempt hair, ‘I am a warrior. I am strong enough to pull the trigger. Don’t you feel more confident about voting for me, now that you know I am as ruthless as Bibi Netanyahu?’

I do not know which is more disturbing, her and Barak, or the constituency they are trying to please.

In the end, this will in no way improve the security of the average Israeli; in fact it can be expected to get much worse in the coming days as the massacre could presumably provoke a new generation of suicide bombers.

It will not undermine Hamas either, and it will not result in the three fools, Barak, Livni and Olmert, looking ‘tough’. Their misguided political venture will likely blow up in their faces as did the brutally similar 2006 invasion of Lebanon.

In closing, there is another reason – beyond the internal politics of Israel – why this attack has been allowed to occur: the complicity and silence of the international community.

Israel cannot and would not act against the will of its economic allies in Europe or its military allies in the US. Israel may be pulling the trigger ending hundreds, perhaps even thousands of lives this week, but it is the apathy of the world and the inhumane tolerance of Palestinian suffering which allows this to occur.

‘The evil only exists because the good remain silent’

From Occupied Palestine. . .

— Dr. Mustafa Baghouthi

http://www.huffingt onpost.com/ mustafa-barghout hi/palestines- guernica- and-t_b_153958. html


Attack on Gaza:As Usual, U.S. Media (And Most Liberals) Silent –As Israeli Newspaper Raises Doubts

Attack on Gaza:
As Usual, U.S. Media (And Most Liberals) Silent —
As Israeli Newspaper Raises Doubts

By Greg Mitchell
December 30, 2008
http://www.opednews .com/populum/ print_friendly. php?ok=y& p=Attack- on-Gaza-As- Usual–by- Greg-Mitchell- 081230-602. html

In the usual process, the U.S. government, media here — and many of the leading liberal bloggers — are silent or playing down questions about whether Israel overreacted in its massive air strikes on Gaza, while the foreign press, and even Haaretz in Israel, carries more balanced accounts.

Anyone who cares should consult the respected Haaretz site often, if for no other reason than to learn that criticism of Israeli military actions are usually more heated inside that country than in the USA. The New York Times, for example, as of today (Monday), has not yet editorialized on the air assault. You may recall the lockstep support in the U.S. for Israeli’s invasion of southern Lebanon, which included the use of U.S.-made cluster bombs. That invasion turned out to be a genuine fiasco.

One Sunday analysis at Haaretz: “A million and a half human beings, most of them downcast and desperate refugees, live in the conditions of a giant jail, fertile ground for another round of bloodletting. The fact that Hamas may have gone too far with its rockets is not the justification of the Israeli policy for the past few decades, for which it justly merits an Iraqi shoe to the face.”

Another opinion piece in Haaretz — titled, “Neighborhood Bully Strikes Again” — by Gideon Levy: “Israel embarked yesterday on yet another unnecessary, ill-fated war. On July 16, 2006, four days after the start of the Second Lebanon War, I wrote: ‘Every neighborhood has one, a loud-mouthed bully who shouldn’t be provoked into anger… Not that the bully’s not right – someone did harm him. But the reaction, what a reaction!’ Two and a half years later, these words repeat themselves, to our horror, with chilling precision. Within the span of a few hours on a Saturday afternoon, the IDF sowed death and destruction on a scale that the Qassam rockets never approached in all their years, and Operation ‘Cast Lead’ is only in its infancy.”

Also from Haaretz, Zvi Barel writes: “Six months ago Israel asked and received a cease-fire from Hamas. It unilaterally violated it when it blew up a tunnel, while still asking Egypt to get the Islamic group to hold its fire.” Yet the U.S. media refers that only Hamas violated the ceasefire.

Another columnist there, Yossi Sarid, writes: “I can only hope that this time, for a change, we will know when to stop. This war must be described from the get-go as a war ‘to be on the safe side,’ rather than of necessity, and it is still unclear whether the last missile fired will be fired by us or by them.”

Amira Hass, the paper’s correspondent in Gaza, reports: “There are many corpses and wounded, every moment another casualty is added to the list of the dead, and there is no more room in the morgue. Relatives search among the bodies and the wounded in order to bring the dead quickly to burial. A mother whose three school-age children were killed, and are piled one on top of the other in the morgue, screams and then cries, screams again and then is silent.”

From the lead Haaretz editorial: “[T]he inherent desire for retribution does not necessarily have to blind us to the view from the day after….Israel’ s violation of the lull in November expedited the deterioration that gave birth to the war of yesterday. But even if this continues for many days and even weeks, it will end in an agreement, or at least an understanding similar to that reached last June.”

UPDATE: A McClatchy dispatch quotes Daniel Levy, a political analyst in Israel who once served as an adviser to Ehud Barak, who is leading the military campaign against Hamas: “I don’t see how this ends well, even if, in two weeks time, it looks like it ends well.”

Haaretz has just posted this from another columnist, Tom Segev: “[T]he assault on Gaza does not first and foremost demand moral condemnation – it demands a few historical reminders. Both the justification given for it and the chosen targets are a replay of the same basic assumptions that have proven wrong time after time. Yet Israel still pulls them out of its hat again and again, in one war after another.”

And this from another columnist, Akiva Eldar: “The tremendous population density in the Gaza Strip does not allow a “surgical operation” over an extended period that would minimize damage to civilian populations. The difficult images from the Strip will soon replace those of the damage inflicted by Qassam rockets in the western Negev. The scale of losses, which works in ‘favor’ of the Palestinians, will return Israel to the role of Goliath.”

The Monday editorial from the paper declares: “The current Israel Defense Forces operation in Gaza began with air strikes. In its first two days, there have been no reports of ground troops entering the Strip. But appetite is liable to overcome common sense and this tendency must be fought. Israel must adhere to the outline of Operation Cast Lead thus far, eschewing any major invasion that will end in occupation, a military administration and months (if not years) of fighting the local forces who will inevitably oppose the occupiers.”

The New York Times late Sunday reported, “At Shifa Hospital in Gaza City, women wailed as they searched for relatives among bodies that lay strewn on the hospital floor. One doctor said that given the dearth of facilities, not much could be done for the seriously wounded, and that it was ‘better to be brought in dead.'”

The Washington Post’s update: “By late Sunday night, the toll had reached 290 dead and as many as 1,300 wounded, Moawia Hassanain, a senior Palestinian Health Ministry official, said in an interview. The fatalities included 22 children younger than 16; more than 235 children were wounded, he said.”

———— ——— ——–

Featured
Barack Obama: “America’s First Jewish President”

By James Petras. Axis of Logic
Dec 13, 2008, 08:52
http://axisoflogic. com/artman/ publish/article_ 29031.shtml

“Obama asks Shimon Peres: “What can I do for Israel?”
– Haaretz November 17, 2008

“The UN Special Rappateur on Human Rights in the Palestinian Territories (Richard Falk) has said Israel’s policies there amount to a crime against humanity…He said the UN must act to protect the Palestinian population suffering what he called ‘collective punishment’…He said the International Criminal Court should also investigate whether the Israeli civilian leaders and military commanders for the Gaza siege should be indicted and prosecuted for violations of international criminal law”

– BBC News  December 10, 2008

“We need to ratchet up tough but direct diplomacy with Iran, making very clear to them that their development of nuclear weapons would be unacceptable, that their funding of terrorist organizations like Hamas and Hizbullah, their threats against Israel are contrary to everything we believe in…We may have to tighten up those sanctions…and give them a clear choice…whether they want to do this the hard way or the easy way.”

President-Elect Obama on
NBC Meet the Press
December 7, 2008

Introduction

According to a nationally prominent Zionist spokesperson, former Congressman, Federal Judge, White House Counsel to President Bill Clinton and early backer of Obama, Abner Mikvner, “Barack Obama is the first Jewish President”.  Mikvner’s affirmation reflects both

Obama’s one-sided and longstanding commitment to the State of Israel and

loyalty to the Zionist Power Configuration (ZPC) in the United States, as well as

the long-term and successful effort of a network of financially and politically powerful Jewish Zionists to ‘embed’ Obama to their ‘Israel First’ political apparatus.

What is striking about the latter is the demeaning and arrogant claims made by some leading Jewish Zionist about their ‘central roles’ in the making of Obama’s professional and political careers – in effect denying the President-Elect any credit for his own academic or professional success.  (Historically this has been mirrored in the continuous claims of some American Jews to have fought and won the battle of Civil Rights in the 60’s on behalf of African Americans – essentially denying black Americans any independent political role in their own struggle.)  Even their personal flattery about his ‘wisdom’, ‘brilliance’ and ‘intellectual acuity’ is always linked with his unconditional support of the State of Israel.  One can envision how quickly his Zionist colleagues would replace their plaudits with crude insults regarding his intelligence if he suggested Israel end its starvation blockade of Gaza…  Needless to say the
Zionists know their man, as they confidently proclaim, he is a cautious and prudent politician, who measures power before he speaks, especially as he has filled the White House, economic councils and security apparatus with Zionist zealots.

The Making and Re-Making of Obama

The Chicago Jewish News, a nationally prominent Israel-First propaganda organ, published a lengthy article on ‘Obama and the Jews’ by Pauline Dubkin (October 24, 2008), which quotes approvingly a ‘long-time Jewish observer of the political scene’, who declared that, “Jews made him (Obama). Wherever you look there is a Jewish presence.”

This is not merely the usual arrogant self-aggrandizing boasts of a Zionist power broker, with which we are constantly bombarded on so many political topics, this reflects an important part of what Obama has become, especially in advancing his latter day political ambitions.  The Zionist self-promoters (ZSP), ever ready to take credit for any success (no matter how notorious and immoral) –

Wall Street speculators,

Ivy League professors,

Pentagon militarists,

cultural gurus, and

even the key patrons of art
forms like jazz and constantly rewrite history (or biography in the case of Obama) to maximize their self-importance in all aspects of American life.

The ZSP conveniently fail to mention in their articles that Obama’s white Gentile grandmother gave him the intellectual nurturing and encouragement and diligently petitioned for scholarships for him to attend elite private schools, which formed the basis for his intellectual skills to write, speak and reason as an educated man.  The ZSP exclude from their ‘revisionist and Judaized’ biography of Obama, the central importance of Reverend Jeremiah Wright who transformed Obama from an elite Ivy university graduate into an effective social activist.  Obama was able to participate and get involved in community organizing in Chicago’s African-American neighborhoods because of Wright’s endorsement and broad credibility.  If it were not for Rev. Wright, Obama would never have had a social base or organizational experience to engage in Chicago politics.  It is only after Obama had gained these skills and popular appeal that the Zionist politicos
noticed him and went to work on his ego and ambitions, recruiting him to their pro-Israel agenda and financing his political career.

The Zionist re-write of his biography has gone curiously unchallenged by Obama.  To suit his new mentors, the Israel-First ideologues and financial backers, he has willfully discarded and insulted his former mentors, as well as any current policy advisers and political colleagues who doesn’t adhere to the Zionist line of unconditional support for Israel.  Two cases come immediately to mind.  When leading Zionist ideologues objected to the presence of Zbigniew Brzezinski and Robert Malley, among Obama’s foreign policy advisors, the Zionists in Obama’s inner circle immediately marginalized them with his approval.  When the notorious torture-promoting Zionofascist Harvard Law Professor, Alan Dershowitz raised a howl about former US President Jimmy Carter (a principled critic of Israel’s apartheid policies) speaking at the Democratic Party Convention (following a century-long political tradition of honoring former presidents) the Zionist
operatives blatantly humiliated the elderly Carter by denying him even a five-minute speech – with Obama’s approval.  ‘Professor’ Dershowitz publicly crowed about his success and power over the Democratic nominee Obama in censoring the former President.

The conversion and promotion of Obama as an Israel-Firster is an excellent case study of the methods the ZPC has used to build a near invincible power base in the US political system.  The construction of the ZPC is not the result of a cabal with a preplanned centrally controlled operation.  Obama’s conversion began through

an ideologically diverse,

individual, family and community-based effort.

As Obama rose from local to national political office, Zionist promotion evolved from local into a nationally organized and concerted effort including campaign funding, business career appointments and paid propaganda and indoctrination junkets to Israel.

The ZPC offers positive inducements for the ‘recruitable’ and threats of retaliation and intimidation via media slanders and systematic public pillory through most Jewish communal organizations for the public political critics of Israel who remain recalcitrant and refuse to toe the Israel-First line.

Turning Obama into an Israel-Firster, according to the Chicago Jewish News article, began during his studies at Harvard Law School where he was ‘spotted’ by a Zionist professor, Martha Minow, as “smart, promising, and politically ambitious” and a likely recruit.  The professor proudly recounts how she contacted family members, including her father, a major Democratic powerbroker, and fellow Zionists who ran a law firm in Chicago and recommended they hire the Obama.  In brief, the first step in Zionist recruitment was using a prestigious academic post for initial contact, followed by a promise of career advancement through a professional network.

The next step was to introduce Obama to an association of ‘friends and neighbors’ in the Jewish Community including prominent Zionist financial supporters.  Obama’s early promoters played a key role in convincing him that his political future depended on Zionist allies and that support depended on his total commitment to an Israel-First agenda.  As Obama’s ties with his Zionist-liberal backers in the Democratic Party thickened, his links to black community organizing and his pastor and former mentor, the progressive African-American minister, Reverend Jeremiah Wright weakened.

By the end of the 1990’s, Obama was firmly embedded in the liberal Zionist Democratic Party network and through it he teamed up with two key Zionist figures who were crucial to his presidential campaign:  David Axelrod, Obama’s chief political strategist since 2002 and the chief architect and tactician of his presidential campaign in 2008 and Bettylu Salzman, daughter of Phillip Klutznick, a billionaire real estate developer, slumlord and zealous Israel-Firster.  Salzman/Klutznick admits she never would have bankrolled and promoted Obama simply because of ‘his smarts’ or liberal politics if he hadn’t pledged his commitment to Israel’s interests.  She states,
“Obviously I’m not going to support someone who is opposed to Israel and what it stands for.  He’s right on all the issues when it comes to Israel.  He is in exactly the same place (Hillary) Clinton is, maybe stronger.  He’s a clearer thinker.” (Chicago Jewish News, October 24, 2008)

While Obama served in the Illinois Senate, he shared an office with an Orthodox Jew and fanatical Israel-Firster, Ira Silverstein, who boasts of his role in ‘educating’ Obama about Jewish Orthodoxy and more important “shared pro-Israel feelings” to the point that … “When Silverstein sponsored numerous resolutions condemning PLO bombings Obama eagerly signed on as a co-sponsor.” (ibid)

Fully embedded in the Zionist Power Configuration of Chicago, Obama was advised by the Axelrods, Klutznicks and other key strategists to make the obligatory ritual pilgrimage to Israel and pay obeisance to its leaders in the course of his Senate campaign.  During his trip to Israel, two years later in 2006, Obama was accompanied and guided by the executive vice-president of the Jewish Federation of Metropolitan Chicago. Under Zionist guidance, Obama ‘connected’ with the Israeli state, totally ignoring the plight of the Palestinians who were being savagely repressed by the Israel Army and assaulted on a daily basis by Zion-Fascist settlers.  Obama returned a thoroughly committed Zionist African-American politician.

With the Israeli-ZPC certificate of approval, Obama’s financial base of support widened to include some of the wealthiest pro-Israel Jewish Americans in the Midwest including Lester Crown, whose son, James Crown headed Obama’s financial campaign in Illanois.  According to Crown (pater),
“From the time I met him, the times we talked about Israel and we talked about it several times, he has been an ardent backer of Israel’s defense position (sic), Israel’s security position.” (Ibid)

To those Zionfascists who demand that Israel annex all of Palestine and expel ‘the Arabs’ and were disturbed by Obama’s passing reference to a two-state solution, Crown assured them that Obama’s proposal was couched in such outrageously impossible demands for concessions from the Palestinians that it was a dead letter.

Not all Jews accept this view of a Zionist-embedded Obama: Some racists reject him as an untrustworthy and unqualified ‘Schvartze’ because of his ‘very close intimate relationship’ with Reverent Jeremiah Wright.  The Zionist-influenced mass media took their cue from the far-right and orchestrated a hate campaign against Reverend Wright and his links to Obama. The ‘liberal Zionists’, who strategized and ran Obama’s presidential campaign, easily convinced Obama to publicly dissociate himself from his former minister and mentor of the 1980’s.  Obama complied.  However, the alliance of the Republican Right and Zionfascists demanded Obama make a public denunciation of the Minister. The liberal Zionists prepared the script, which Obama recited, issuing a vicious condemnation of Rev. Wright and specifically listed Wright’s defense of the sovereignty and self-determination of the Palestinians as one of his ‘crimes’.

Obama had crossed the River Jordan. His capitulation to the Zionofascists was the inevitable consequence of his intimate and longstanding ties to his liberal-Zionist backers.

The public purging and scourging of a renowned African-American Christian theologian of the oppressed was only the beginning of the Zionist makeover of Obama as the first Jewish (or better Zionist) President of the United States.  It was followed by further purges of any ‘centrist’ or ‘realist’ establishment adviser, who might at any time in the past have issued the mildest criticism of Israel’s policies or even praised or associated with any other critic of Israel or the Jewish Lobby in the US.  It was ‘guilt by association’.

The Zionofascists soon pressed their campaign to force Obama’s liberal-Zionists to purge Zbigniew Brzezinski, the Cold Warrior National Security Adviser to former President Jimmy Carter, Samantha Power, author and lecturer at the Kennedy School of Government at Harvard University and Robert Malley, a former Clinton adviser for their perceived crimes against Zionism.

Brzezinski was accused of advocating what he called “an even-handed Middle East policy”, something clearly ‘anti-Semitic’ in the eyes of the unconditional supporters of Israel who dominate the Presidents of the Major American Jewish Organizations (PMAJO). Worse still he praised the Walt-Mearsheimer book critical of the Israel Lobby, a capital offense in the eyes of most of the Jewish political spectrum.  Power and Malley also transgressed the Israel-First line.  Although Brzezinski later recanted his praise of Professors Walt and Mearsheimers’ study, he and the other members of the ‘objectionable three’ foreign policy specialists were marginalized and excluded from having any input on policy issues related to Middle East.

Control of Obama’s Middle East policy was taken over by Dennis Ross, a virulent Zionist advocate of Israel’s ultra-militaristic policies, including an armed preemptive attack on Iranian nuclear and military installations.  Ross is an unconditional supporter of the Israeli starvation siege of the 1.5 million residents of the Gaza Strip and fully backed Israel’s savage air attacks against civilian targets in Lebanon.  Obama’s appointment of Ross is the clearest guarantee to all Zionists, liberal, orthodox or fascist, that US policy in the Middle East will continue to be subordinated to the interests of the Israeli State and its military.

Obama’s purge of any and all moderate voices on Middle East policy, his placement of fanatical Israel-Firsters in most key positions in his campaign and new Administration reflects his long-term, deep immersion into the Zionist Power Configuration.  The result is a “Jewish President” – in the sense that most key White House, economic and security appointments reflect pre-election Zionist power in the making, indoctrination and scripting of the Obama candidacy.

The Configuration of the ‘Jewish President’

One of Obama’s longest supporters, Rabbi Arnold Jacob Wolf, provides a clue to Obama’s affinity for Zionist appointments.  According to Rabbi Wolf,  “Obama is embedded in the Jewish world.”  While the Rabbi is presumptuous to assume that all Jews subscribe to his own Israel-First views, he is absolutely correct if he is referring to the Jewish-Zionist world.

Nothing better explains Obama’s selection of demonstrably failed economists and security officials than his long-term, large-scale links to the ZPC.

Obama started with the appointments of dual US-Israeli citizen, Illinois Congressman Rahm Emmanuel and Zionist David Axelrod to top White House posts, as well as Lawrence Summers (long-time Harvard ally of the Judeo-fascist, torture advocate Alan Dershowitz) as chief White House economic adviser.  Summers is a life-time Israel-Firster, who used his presidency at Harvard University as a bully pulpit to attack a student-faculty group critical of Israeli policies in the Occupied Terrtories.  As the former Treasury Secretary under the Clinton regime he was a key architect of the speculator-dominate d financial system, which is currently in total collapse.  In line with the ‘Jewish Presidency’, Obama named one of the foremost, unconditional Israel-Firsters to be his key Middle East policymaker – Dennis Ross, a leading Zionist ideologue and co-author of a presidential position paper advocating pre-emptive war with Iran.  Ross is the pivotal Zionist
figure in Obama’s entourage and his appointment is the guarantee for the 52 Presidents of the Major American Jewish Organizations (PMAJO) that the Obama regime will follow and support with American guns and American tax-payer money every Israeli war crime, assault or invasion on its Arab and Parsi-speaking regional neighbors.

Ross, Axelrod, Summers, Emmanuel and their craven followers in Congress together with the AIPAC and the entire Zionist community-based network will ensure that Obama is inextricably ‘embedded’ in their agenda.  They will not allow the publication or support of any intelligence investigation, judicial inquiry or United Nations report, which challenges Israel’s occupation of Palestine and promotion of pre-emptive war with Iran based on the fabrication of data about its so-called nuclear threat.  Each and every recently appointed Zionists has condemned the United Nations and International Atomic Agency reports refuting Israel’s phony claims of an Iranian nuclear weapons program.   They will make sure that newly appointed National Security Adviser, General James Jones will never bring up or make public his highly critical internal report based his on-site investigation of Israel’s crimes against the civilian Palestinian population in the
Occupied Territories.

Secretary of State Hillary Clinton, President Obama and Defense Secretary Gates are so deeply ‘embedded’ in the Zionist network and so deeply infused with the Israel-First ideology that ZPC ‘pressure’ will not be necessary.  The three are, in effect, Zionized Zombies, eager to fawn and truckle, even to grotesque excesses, at every wink and gesture, signaling military handouts, UN vetoes and repeated provocative acts of war against Iran.  They have even exceeded President Bush in their eagerness to please their Zionist mentors by recognizing Jerusalem as the ‘undivided’ capital of the Jews – effectively denying the rights of the Palestinian residents.

Nothing speaks to the dominance of the ZPC over US political life – domestic and foreign – than the election of their meticulously groomed first ‘Jewish President’ – and the subsequent takeover of strategic economic and security posts in his administration.

Conclusion

The ascent of a minority of ambitious power-driven political operatives acting first and
foremost for a militarist colonial power in a strategic region of the world economy represents the biggest threat to world peace and to US democratic values in recent history.

Think about it: Not only do the Zionists and their embedded clones rule the White House, they also have the political apparatus (left, liberal, center and right) to silence, insult, witch hunt and isolate any critic of their agenda, their organizations and of the State of Israel.  When confronted by a critic the entire apparatus brays in unison about ‘anti-Semitism’ and follows up with severe civil sanctions.  As Obama’s career under his Zionist handlers illustrates, they are capable of hurling repulsive denunciations against his former African-American mentor and spiritual councilor, Reverend Wright; capable of publicly humiliating and pushing aside a former President and Obama supporter, Jimmy Carter; capable of isolating and ‘sanitizing’ former top foreign policymakers from earlier Democratic Administration like Brzezinski, simply for pointing out Israeli crimes against humanity (although such observations are made daily in the European
press and political circles).

The apparatus combines the carrot (embedding and promoting Obama) and the stick (stigmatizing Carter):  It all depends on whether an individual, politician, academic, writer or journalist is ‘useful’ (i.e. an unconditional supporter) or ‘harmful’ (i.e. critical) to the State of Israel.

The Obama experience illustrates how a small, close knit, well-organized and well financed minority operating through prestigious professional posts and powerful economic enterprises can penetrate major political institutions, capture upwardly mobile politicians and ‘turn’ them into willing accomplices in promoting wars on behalf of a foreign colonial militarist power.  If in the past we have experienced Zionist thuggery mugging our freedom of speech in civil society, think of what we can expect when these thugs have complete control of the White House.  The ‘First Jewish President’ of the United States indeed!  Where does that leave the American people, their rights, their interests and their country’s independent foreign policy?

Epilogue

In early December 2008, Israel’s right wing party, Likud, under the leadership of ‘Bibi’ Netanyahu, met and nominated its slate of candidates for the upcoming national elections (February 12, 2009).  The majority of candidates nominated represent what most Israeli journalists call the ‘hard right’ or what might be accurately described as Zionfascism.  The Likud Party majority favors

the expulsion of all Palestinians (i.e. non-Jews) from Greater Israel,

the military seizure of Gaza,

the end of any pretense of peace negotiations and

the immediate bombing of Iran.

Currently Likud and its fascists have the support of a plurality of Israeli Jews.  If they win, it is a virtual certainty they will receive the automatic support of all the principal, respectable pro-Israel Jewish organizations in the US, who follow the line that: “It is not ours to question whom the Israelis vote for office.  It is our duty to back the State of Israel.”

The election of an Israeli-fascist regime will up the ante in Washington. Does Obama’s embedding in the Zionist apparatus include support for Jewish fascism, the total ethnic cleansing of Palestine and their unilateral decision to ‘nuke’ Iran?  Three weeks into his presidency Obama will face his biggest Middle East challenge, which will define the nature of US policy in the region.

Obama has recently suggested that Washington would nuke Iran to protect Israel –which has never yet signed a treaty with the US – to which the Bush Administration replied contemptuously that it would be very hard to convince American parents in Kansas that their sons should risk nuclear incineration for the sake of a small country in the Middle East.  Clearly Obama is a greater war monger on issues involving Israel then even Bush:  It comes with being a “Jewish President”.

Professor Kishore Mahbubani about Indonesia

Kamis, 31 Juli 2008

Lecture By Professor Kishore Mahbubani

Presidential Lecture, in State Palace

LECTURE BY PROFESSOR KISHORE MAHBUBANI,
DEAN OF THE LEE KUAN YEW SCHOOL OF PUBLIC POLICY
AT THE NATIONAL UNIVERSITY OF SINGAPORE

AT THE PRESIDENTIAL PALACE,
JAKARTA. 31st JULY 2OO8

Mr President
Distinguished Ministers
Excellencies
Ladies & Gentlemen

I am truly humbled by this request to address such a distinguished
audience. lt is an especially great honor because I come from one of the
smallest states in the world, Singapore. I didn’t realize how small
Singapore was unti lmy wife and I went on holiday on the island Samosir
in Indonesia. It is located in side a lake on the top of a volcanic
mountain, called Lake Toba. But this small island is about the size of
Singapore.

However, growing up in Singapore as a member of a minority group, I came
to realize that I had a special advantage in connecting with all corners
of Asia. My family were Hindu Sindhis. As a young child, I learn to
write Sindhi whichh as the same script as the Arabic script. I also soon
discovered that my name `Mahbubani`came from the Arabic word, Mehboob,
which means beloved. Hence, when I travelt o West Asia, I feel at home.
Similarly, when I traveli n Southh Asia, both in India and Pakistan, I f
eel at home as I can understand Hindi and Urdu. Indeed, I do all my
writing only by listening to the famous Hindi movie singer, Mohamad
Rafi. Equally significantly, through my Chinese friends in Singapore, I
have also developed a sensitivity to East Asia. My Indian origins also
enable me to connect with the Buddhist strains of the Chinese, Japanese
and Korean societies. As an ethnic Indian, I also remember what Presiden
Sukarno said: “ln the veins of every one of my people flows the blood of
Indian ancestors and the culture that we possess is steeped through with
Indian influences.” And of course, I grew up in South East Asia and
learnt Bahasa Melayu as a child.

It is this background whichh as emboldened me to write about the biggest
story we are going to see unfolding in the world: the relurn of Asia.
From the year 1 to the year 1820, the two largest economies were China
and India. Many other parts of Asia, including the legendary Sri Vijaya
and Majapahit empires, thrived together with China
and India. The last 200 years of Western domination of world history
have been a historical aberration, an aberation which is coming to an
end. Hence, Goldman Sachs predicts that by 2050, the four largest
economies will be China, India, USA and Japan. Indonesia will also rank
among the world’s largest economies then. The recent World Bank Growth
Commission Repot reported that 13 economies had grown by an average of
7% over 25 years. This list of super-performers also included Indonesia.

I have no doubts that Indonesia will be part of this great
transformation of Asia. Indeed, Indonesia has already played a heroic
role in the transformation of Asia. lt has successfully made one of the
most difficult transitions any society has to make: the transition to
full democracy. This is a remarkable story which has not been fully
understood by the world.

To describe how remarkable this transformation is, let me tell you what
I actually said when I spoke at a forum organized by Asia Society in San
Francisco on 2l February 2008. One of my fellow panelists was Larry
Diamond, the world-famous expert on democracy. This is what I told them.
The world’s beacon of freedom and democracy
is the United States of America. But in the last seven years, America
has been walking backwards in this area. If someone had told me ten
years a go that the first modern developed society to reintroduce
torture would be America. I would have said “Impossible” . But the
impossible has happen. Ms Irene Khan, the Head of Amnesty International,
has described Guantanamos as “a Gulag of our times”. She is right. In
addition, in a story that has not been fully told, America, the bastion
of civil liberties, has also been quietly retreating in this area. Many
of my American friends are also shocked but they say to me “Kishore, you
must understand, We were massively attacked on 9/11″. It is true that
America was attacked. But the fact that the beacon of freedom and
democracy could retreat in many areas of human rights after one attack
showed how fragile America’s commitment is to some key human rights
principles.

By contrast, the second country to be attacked after 9/1 1was Indonesia.
lt took place one year later on 12 October 2002 in Bali. Despite this,
Indonesia did not retreat. Indeed, even though Indonesia had gone
through a wrenching financial crisis in 1998 and 1999 which caused the
economy to shrink significaitly, and even though it had experienced a
lot of social and political turmoil as a result of this financial
crisis, Indonesia went steadily a head in its advance toward democracy.
Remarkably, less than 10 years after this huge financial crisis, Freedom
House declared in a global survey entitled ‘Freedom In the World” in
2005 that Indonesia’s status has moved from “partly free” to “free”
during President SBY`s term of office. President SBY deserves alot of
credit for this remarkable success. This is why two eminents cholars,
Andrew MacItyre and Douglas Ramage, have said that President SBY “is the
most capable, focused and internalionalist of the post-Soeharto
presidents” and that “his record of leadership is unlikely to be beaten
over the next decade or so”. America may also move forward again
together with Indonesia when it elects a president whose father was also
an lndonesian.

By the way, when I finished describing how A merica had gone backwards
and Indonesia had gone forward in freedom and democracy, I expected
Larry Diamond to disagree with me. Instead, he agreed with me.

To fully understand how remarkable Indonesia’s transformation has been,
imagine the members of the Chinese politburo having a discussion on how
China should make the eventual transition to democracy. I have no doubt
that they are aware that they will have to make this transition. They
also know how difficult this will be and that
even though China’s percapita GDP is higher than Indonesia’s. China is
not yet ready to make this leap into democracy. The Chinese leaders must
be amazed that lndonesia made this successful leap in a period of great
economic snd political uncertainty.

The big tragedy here is that Indonesia`s remarkable story has not fully
spread to the world. This is because the international media`s dominated
by the Western media, which cannot imagine that Asia can do better than
the West in many areas. This is why I chose to write my book on “The New
Asian Hemispherea” at this point in time: to provide a non-Western
perspective on the great transformation of Asia. Something remarkable is
happening in Asia, but the world does not really understand what is
happening. Indeed, many Asians are also not aware of how remarkable the
great Asian story is.

The best way to understand how remarkable Asia’s story is, is to compare
it with the story of Latin America. We all know that the first continent
to modernize was Europe. The second continent to modernize was North
America. The third continent that was supposed to modernize was Latin
America.

Why Latin America? At the beginning of the 20’century, Latin America was
seen as the land of promise for many reasons. Firstly, most of the Latin
American elites had come from Europe. They spoke European languages.
Hence, they were fully expected to replicate Europe’s success in Latin
America. Indeed, an American writer, David Gallagher (reviewing a book
by Michae Reid), described Latin America in that period as follows:

/Between 1850 and 1930, many Latin America countries had a very
successful run. Their economies were relatively open, exports thrived,
and in some countries, democracies looked like consolidating
successfully. By 1910, a century after independence, Argentina was, on
a per-capita income basis, one of the half dozen richest countries in the
world. Immigrants flocked there from all over Europe. Chile was also
thriving. German immigrant had colonized large tracts of the south and
Valparaiso was one of the world’s most prosperous ports”./

We know that the Germans, Spanish and ltalians have created very
successful economies in Europe. So why did these immigrants fail in
Latin America?

The failure of Latin America to develope despite these massive advantage
as hundred years ago is one big story. But there is another even more
amazing story of Latin A merica’s economic failure in the last 25 years.
The reason why this story is amazing is that many Latin American
economies adopted the right and not the wrong economic policies in this
period. Despite this, they failed. Please let me quote a few
distinguished authors who make this point.

Mark Weisbrot and David Rosnick, two American economists, wrote: ” Among
policy-makers and economists in the United States it has been widely
assume that the economic policy changes which began to be implemented in
Latin Americain the early 1980s would eventually bear fruit, and lead to
strong economic growth. A quarter century later, this has not yet
happened. lndeed, these two authors wrote that from the period 1980 to
1999, when Latin America implemented the right economic policies, the
result was that “this is the worst 20-year growth performancfe or more
than a century, even including the years of the Great Depression”.

Let me add that Latin America’s record of economic failure despite
Implementing the correct economic policies is also documented by Danny
Leipziger, a senior World Bank official, and Ricardo Hausmann, a Harvard
Professor. Their papers are cited in footnotes in my text
.
Now, let me come to the remarkable part of the Asian story. One major
Asian country also began to implement the correct economic policies
around the same time as Latin America. And it did so under very
unpromising circumstances. It had experienced 30 years of failed
centrally-planned communist economics. l.t also had a disastrous
experience with both the Great Leap Forward (1958-1960) and the Cultural
Revolution (1966-1976). Any observer watching both Latin America and
China implementing the right economic policies in the 1980s would have
confidently predicted that Latin America would succeed and that China
would fail.

Instead the exact opposite happened. China took off in an explosive way.
Ricardo Hausmann said “whichever way you measure it the events in China
are really remarkable. Chinese out put per worker grew annually at 7.8%
and is 2.8% faster than the second country”. In the same period, the per
capita growth in Latin America grew by 0.5% annually from 1980 to 1999
and actuallyf ell to 0.2% in the five years from1 999 to 2004.

What is the big lesson we should learn from this dramatic contrast
between the experiences of Latin America and China despite the fact that
both implemented the right economic policies? The big lesson is that
economic development is not a result of economic policies a lone. This
is indeed the biggest mistake made b y the Washington consensus: in
leading people to believe that only economic policies lead to economic
growth. Social and political policies play an equally important role.
However, when economic development fails, economists are reluctant to
speculate or assess which social and political policies may have
contributed to economic failures.

The big difference between China and Latin America is the nature of the
Social contract between the governing elites and the population they
governed. When Deng Xiaoping took over the leadership of China, his only
goal was to strengthen China. He knew that the only way to do that was
to unleash the energies of the Chinese. hina’s big advantage was that it
had removed the feudal classes and the feudal mentality with the
communist revolution. Hence, Deng Xiaoping carried out his policies with
the goal of helping all the people of china, and not just a small elite
or feudal group.

By contrast, the main disadvantage of many Latin American societies is
that they continue to have either feudal elites or a feudal mentality.
The ruling classes are more interested in preserving their special
privileges, not in helping the masses of the population. By focusing on
the interests of the ruling elites, not the interests of the population
as whole, the Latin American societies have not been able t o succeed.

In my book, I speak of the seven pillars of Western wisdom that several
Asian societies have begun to implement. These seven pillars explain the
success of Asian societies. One of them is ‘meritocracy’ . The simplest
way of understanding the virtues of meritocracy is to ask this question:
why is Brazil a soccer superpower and an economic middle power? The
answer is that when it looks for soccer talent, it searches for it in
all sectors of the population, from the upper classes to the slums. A
boy from the slums is not discriminated against if he has soccer talent.
But in the economic field, Brazil looks for talent in a far smaller base
of the population, primarily the upper and middle classes.

Asia always had the world’s largest pool of brain power. But it also had
the world’s largest pool of unused brain power. The s imple reason why
Asia is taking off now is that the unused brain power is finally being
used. In my book, I look at the case of India, whichh as had the caste
system for thousands of years. For thousands of years, birth was
destiny. lf you were born untouchable (people below the lowest caste),
you lived untouchable and you died untouchable. To day, as a result of
several reform movements, India is changing. I describe the case of a
young man who was born untouchable, went to school as an untouchable and
sat separately in class and at mealtimes. However he did well in school,
got scholarships, went to Columbia University in New York to get a PhD
in economics. Today, he is the Chief Economist of the Reserve Bank of
lndia. His namei s Narendra J dhav.

China and India a resucceeding and taking off because they are finally
finding the right means of igniting the hundreds of millions of brains
that they always had. After China and India, the third largest pool of
brain poweirs in the ASEAN region, where w e have over 5 00 million
people. The success of ASEAN will be determined by whether we follow
China and India’s pattern and unleash the brain power of the masses or
whether we follow the Latin American path of nurturing the interests of
the elite classes.

Which way will the ASEAN countries go? The honest answer is that the
answeris not clear. One of the most telling comparisons I often take is
between South Korea and the Philippines. In the 1950s, the Philippines
was perceived to be one of the most promising economies in the world. It
had everything going for it: an educated elite, the strong support of
America. By contrast, South Korea was seen to be a basket case,
especially after it had suffered the ravages of the Korean War from
1950-1953. One important fact that I only recentlyl earned is how much
of South Korea was ravaged. Indeed, it almost lost the war. The South
Korean capital, Seoul, had fallen within days and within weeks, the
defending UN forces had been driven to the Southern tip of the Korean
peninsula.

Hence, in 1960, the GDP of the Philippine was US $6.9 billion while that
of South Korea was US$1.5 b illion. The GDP of Philippine was almost
five times larger.

By 2007, the respective figures were 144 billion US dollar and
969.billion US dollar. The South Korean GDP had become almost seven
times larger. What happened? Why did the Philippines fail to keep pace
with the growth of South Korea? The politically in correct answer is
that Philippines society has retained most of the feudal mentality that
continue to bedevil Latin American societies. By contrast, South Korea
managed to remove most trac es of its feudal mentality.

To understand the South Korean story, I would like to strongly
recommened to you a book by the distinguished Harvard Professor,
Professo Erzra Vogel, entitled /The Four Little Dragons: The Spread of
Industrializatiton East Asia. / He did a study to find oout why the
success oh Japan (which he also wrote about in his famous book “Japan is
Number One”), the next few Asian societies succeed were the four Asian
tigers: South Korea, Taiwan, Hongkong, and Singapore. Since these four
societies were very different, the wanted to find out whether there were
any common elements that explained their success.

One common element he found was the following: “concern for the overall
social order led officials to be sensitive to problems of inequality
early in the process of industrialization and to make efforts to spread
income opportunities to all parts of society”. What is remarkable here
is that, even though none of these four societies were Socialist and
even thought he governments of South Korea under Park Chung Hee, Taiwan
under Jiang Jing Guo, Hong Kong under British coionil rule were seen as
right-wing and not left-wing, all these governments focused on making
sure that the fruits and opportunities of development were shared
between all classes, from the top to the bottom, unlike the Latin
American societies, where the bottom never experienced the fruits of
economic growth. In 2007, the Gini coefficient for Brazil was close to
0.6 while that of South Korea and Taiwan w as barely over 0.3.

It is vital to emphasize here that Japan, China, India and the four
tigers did not invent the principle of meritocracy (which I describe as
the principle of looking for talent in all sectors of society).
Essentially, these Asian societies copied the best practices of the
Western developed societies, especially America, which remains the most
meritocratic society in the world. Two of the beste xamples of the
fruits of American meritocracy are the two speakers who preceded me in
this Presidential Lecture series: Shaukat Aziz and Bill Gates. Shaukat
Aziz arrived in America with no educationin any Western university. He
was educated entirely in Pakistani educational institutions. But through
sheer merit he rose to the highest levels of Citibank, part of the group
of seven that ran the bank. Bill Gates went to Harvard but dropped out.
Despite that he ended up as the richest man in the world by creating a
completely new industry.

In my lecture to day, I have only emphasized the virtues of meritocracy,
which is only one of the seven pillars of Western wisdom that I discuss
in my book. Let me briefly mention the other six but as I do so you will
find that they are all linked to the virtue of meritocracy.

The first pillar is free market economics. Free market economics does
not just enhance economic productivity through incentives for good
performance. Free market economic as l so leads to the continuous
creation of new elites and removal of old elites. Indeed one little
known fact is that the best description of the virtues of capitalism is
provided by Karl Marx. His essays explain well how capitalism destroys
feudal elites. The f eudal Latin American elites failed in their
economic reforms because they refuse to give up the “rent” income that
they could extract from their privileged positions. “Rent” income
distorts free markets. One quick way to promote economic growth is to
destroy “rent” income.

The second pillar is science and technology. An enormous shift is taking
place in Asia. The late Nobel Laureate in Chemistry, Richard Smalley has
predicted that by 2OlO, 9% of all PhD holding scientists and engineers
will be living in Asia. The third pillar is meritocracy, which I have
spoken about. The fourth pillar is pragmatism. The best definition of
pragmatism is given by Deng Xiaoping when he said it did not matter
whether a cat is black or white; if it catches mice, it is a good cat.
He used this simple saying to explain to the Chinese people why China
had to switch from centrally planned economics to free market economics.

But Deng Xiaoping was not the first pragmatist in Asia. T he first
pragmatist were the Meiji reformers. After watching the total
colonization of India by the British in1 850s and the humiliation of
China in the Opium War of 1839-1842, the Japanese knew that they too
would be colonized or humiliated if they did not change. So the Japanese
Meiji reformers went out and copied the best practices of the West.

The big untold story of Asia is how so many Asians have successfully
copied this Japanese practice of adapting from the best. Earlier I had
praised the South Korean success in development. One little known secret
about the South Korean success is that South Koreans initiated their
success by copying the Japanese. The reason why this secret is so little
known is because the South Koreans get very angry if you suggest that
they had copied from the Japanese. I discovered this when I wrote an
essay in lime magazine mentioning this fact. The response was a flood of
angry emails from South Koreans denouncing me. Given this strong
Korean-Japanese rivalry, I thought it was a brilliant decision by Dr.
Mahathir to award the contract to build one tower each of the Petronas
Towers to rival Korean and Japanese teams. The result was spectacularly
successful.

The fifth pillar is the culture of peace. The remarkable thing about
East A sia is that even though the biggest wars since World War ll were
fought in East Asia (the Korean War, the Vietnam War and the
Sino-Vietnames War), the guns have been largely silent in our region
since 1980. The sixth pillar is the rule of law. No modern economyc an
function without an impartial and fair rule of law. Foreign investors
need this. So does international trade. This is why China is now
producing more new well traine djudges than any other country. But
China’s case also illustrates the enofmous difficulty of fully
implementing rule of law. Traditionally, most Asian societies have had
rule by law, but not rule of law. Hence, the emperor issues edicts but
is not bound by his edicts. China has a modern society but while in
theory the CCP members are subject to the same rule of law as ordinary
members, in practice they are often not. This is unlike America where
even the President and Senators can be indicted or impeached.

Fortunately, many Chinese CCP members are honest. lf they are not,
China’s economy could not have grown so fast. However, in the long run,
neither China nor any other Asian society can just rely on honesty. We
need to adopt the Western system of rule of law, not rule by law, if we
are to succeed. Andrew Mclntyre and Douglas Ramage have also said that
President SBY “has taken more of a leadership role than his predecessors
in the counter-corruption drive. His official approval and encouragement
have created something of a virtuous circle of reinforcement and
political probity.” This is one of the reasons why the rule of law is
needed: to prevent and eradicate corruption.

The seventh and final pillar is education but it is in some ways the
most important one. Without education -and I mean primary, secondary and
tertiary education- no society can succeed. One reason why China and
India are among the most successful Asian societies is that they have
the largest number of students studying in American universities. In
2006-2007, China had 68,000 students studying in the US and lndia had
83,000 students.

In conclusion, please let me summarize the implications of what I have
said for the future of ASEAN societies, including Indonesia and
Singapore. I would like to conclude with three specific prescriptions to
promote national development:

(l) The first prescription is to develop a win-win /social contract/
between the governing elites and the masses. This is why Japan, China,
India and the four tigers succeeded. Th e absence of such a social
contract is also why the Latin American societies are not succeeding. In
many Latin American societies, the elites want to cling on to their
“rent’ income to ensure that their privileged positions are not
challenged. Hence, no Shaukat Aziz or Bill Gates can emerge or succeed
in such a feudal setting.

The main point to emphasize here is that it is in the interest of the
ruling elites to also introduce meritocracy in the new social contract.
When hundreds of millions of new brains enter the market place, the
economy becomes bigger and the society more socially and politically
stable. When people at the bottom believe that their societies offer
opportunities for them to progress, you also get less crime. When I was
in Latin America, I was explicitly warned that I should stay far away
from the slums. But when I was in Mumbai, India earlier this month, my
youngest son and l wen on a guided tour through the biggest slum in the
city, the Dahravi slum. lt felt safe. People were busy working. The
children were studying in schools. And if the social contract works, the
people will be out of the slums in one lifetime.

(ll) The second prescription is to develop the belief that we can
succeed. As a child, I grew up in Singapore when it was under British
colonial rule. One of the most pernicious effects of colonial rule was
that our minds were colonized.

Hence we were led to believe that the Europeans were naturally superior
to the Asians. This mental belief in the supremacy of the Europeans
carried on long after political independence.

Today, we have a remarkable reversal. The most optimistic young people
in the world are young Indians. While many of them are still poor, they
are confident that their tomorrow will be better than their today. By
contrast, when I travel to Europe, many of the young people are not
confident that their tomorrow will be better than their today.

About a year ago, the International Herald Tribune correspondent in
Mumbai, Mr Anand Giridharadas, called me. He asked me whether there was
too much hype in India. I said that it was always better to have hype
than no hype. Just imagine how differently we would view the future of
Latin America and Africa, if we could generate the same hype in Latin
America and Africa as we have in India today. Hype is a sign of hope.

We should develop the same kind of hype in ASEAN. To do this, we have to
believe that we can succeed.

(III) The third prescription is to focus on the youth. Let me explain
why. There is an Arab proverb which says that he who speaks about the
future lies, even when he tells the truth. The proverb is right. We
cannot predict the future. But there is at least one respect in which we
can make confident predictions about the future: if we can measure the
amount of snow that has fallen in the Himalayas in any winter, we can
predict the future flood levels in the river Ganges because the snow
that has fallen will determine the future flood levels in six months.

In Asia, we see the demographic snow on the ground in the form of our
youth in our countries. If we can educate our youth and prepare them for
a very different world of tomorrow, we have good prospects of creating a
good future. But if we fail to educate our youth, we are guaranteeing
that there will be no improvement in our standard of living. Hence, if
we want a great future, we have to invest in our youth: education,
education, education. Here, Indonesia already has some success stories
worth mentioning. While only 76% of children complete primary school in
India, 91% complete it in Indonesia, even though India spends 7.2% of
its GNP on primary education, while Indonesia spends only 3.2%. In
short, Indonesia has laid some good foundations in this area.

Therefore, in conclusion, the three prescriptions are Social Contract,
Belief and Youth. Please remember these three prescriptions through the
acronym, SBY.

Thank you.

———— ——— ——— ——— ——-
/* Professor Kishore Mahbubani is Dean of the Lee Kuan Yew School of
Public Policy at the National University of Singapore. He has recently
published/ The New Asian Hemisphere: the Irresistible Shift of Power to
the East.