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Andrew Bacevich, When Wars Converge

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As I was following the nightmare in Gaza and preparing today’s piece by TomDispatch regular Andrew Bacevich, author of On Shedding an Obsolete Past: Bidding Farewell to the American Century, I couldn’t help wishing that another author I edited and published for years, Chalmers Johnson, was still with us. His classic book Blowback: The Costs and Consequences of American Empire appeared before the 9/11 attacks and put the word “blowback” into our everyday language. Of it, he wrote, “Officials of the Central Intelligence Agency first invented [blowback] for their own internal use… [It] refers to the unintended consequences of policies that were kept secret from the American people.” Of course, on September 11, 2001, he got a helping hand from Mr. Blowback himself, Osama bin Laden, someone he had warned about in that very book and whose attack on this country turned it into an instant bestseller.

Anyway, as I was reading Bacevich’s piece, I had the sudden urge to show it to Chal (as his friends knew him). In the nightmarish context Bacevich so strikingly sets up, I wanted to ask him what kind of blowback he thought this country’s present actions in the Middle East, including its almost blind support for Israel, might produce. After all, as Bacevich makes clear today, the way seems painfully open to extending Washington’s never-ending war on terror (itself launched in the wake of 9/11) into the Middle East in a new and potentially calamitous fashion, one that might even lend a hand to Donald Trump’s reelection campaign.

Of course, I’m no miracle worker and so have no way of bringing Chal back for his thoughts on Washington’s present nightmarish Middle Eastern policy-making, but I suspect that he would have found Bacevich’s on the subject of genuine interest. And yes, in this present blowback moment of ours, how apt that, at 100, Henry Kissinger, Mr. Blowback himself and a man responsible for so desperately many deaths, has finally left our world in anything but peace. Tom

America’s War for the Greater Middle East (Continued)

Here We Go Again?

One way of understanding the ongoing bloodbath pitting Israel against Hamas is to see it as just the latest chapter in an existential struggle dating back to the founding of the Jewish state in 1948. While the appalling scope, destructiveness, and duration of the fighting in Gaza may outstrip previous episodes, this latest go-around serves chiefly to reaffirm the remarkable intractability of the underlying Arab-Israeli conflict. 

Although the shape of that war has changed over time, certain constants remain. Neither side, for instance, seems capable of achieving its ultimate political goals through violence. And each side adamantly refuses to concede to the core demands of its adversary. In truth, while the actual fighting may ebb and flow, pause and resume, the Holy Land has become the site of what is effectively permanent conflict.

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Clarence Lusane, Don’t Say You Weren’t Warned

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It should be hard to imagine, but sadly it isn’t. In the next year, almost anything — all too literally — could happen. Donald Trump, that other old man in the room, could indeed go down, thanks to all those McDonald’s and Wendy’s burgers he’s consumed. Or he could be convicted of one or more felonies and lose Republicans unwilling to vote for someone officially labeled a “criminal” (or so some polls tell us might be possible anyway). Unlikely as it might seem right now, he could even lose the Republican nomination to Nikki Haley (though I wouldn’t hold my breath on that one). And of course, he could be beaten next November by Joe Biden or, in turn, Biden could go down in some unexpected (or do I mean expectable?) way, leaving the aging Trump to face a vigorous younger Democrat in 2024. (And in case you’ve noticed all the parentheses in this paragraph, they only emphasize how dauntingly unknown that future of ours remains.)

But regrettably, The Donald could also do just what too many polls of this moment are suggesting and win the presidency for the second time. While ensconced once again in the Oval Office, he would, of course, still find himself embroiled in court cases and wouldn’t be able to pardon himself when it comes to the state charges. If he were convicted, watch out! We already know that, behind (but not so very far behind) the scenes, right-wing think tanks are working at top capacity to create a next-time-around Trumpian government that would be ever more divorced from the democracy we’ve known and ever more autocratic. Its power would, of course, be centered on — yes, Donald Trump! And if so, revenge would be the theme of the day, week, and year.

With that in mind, let TomDispatch regular Clarence Lusane lay out for you just what it would mean for the Trumpublican Party’s slogan to change from Make America Great Again (MAGA!) to Make America Fascist Again (MAFA!) and just how certain aspects of the history of this country would help make such a transformation all too possible. Tom

Make America Fascist Again (MAFA!)

The Future If Donald Trump Returns to the Oval Office

On February 19, 1942, two months after the Japanese attack on Pearl Harbor, President Franklin Roosevelt issued Executive Order 9066. It initiated a Department of Defense program that resulted in the rounding up and incarceration of about 122,000 individuals of Japanese descent. They were to be placed in federal “relocation centers” that would popularly become known as “internment camps.” As it happened, they were neither. They were prisons set up to house and so violate the civil and human rights of a despised and racially different group defined as "the enemy."

Although that executive order did not, in fact, mention a specific ethnic or racial group, it was clearly understood that the prisons were not being established for citizens or residents of German or Italian descent, the other two nations then at war with the United States. While not a single person of Japanese ancestry was found to have spied on this country or to have committed acts of sabotage against it, pro-Mussolini and pro-Hitler demonstrations, rallies, and propaganda had been commonplace. Before the war, fascist groups had been allowed to organize and spread propaganda from coast to coast. Some even had influence over and alliances with members of Congress, mainstream journalists, and well-known scholars.

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Priti Gulati Cox and Stan Cox, Three Nations Under God(s)

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At some level, it’s not complicated. Making civilians, including children, responsible for the acts of a guerrilla group should obviously be considered a crime. And that crime is functionally being supported by my country. In early November, after denouncing the acts of Hamas on October 7th as the crimes that they were, Volker Türk, the U.N. High Commissioner for Human Rights, added that “the collective punishment by Israel of Palestinian civilians amounts also to a war crime, as does the unlawful forcible evacuation of civilians.” Unfortunately, the U.N. remains a remarkably powerless organization.

And no less sadly, despite the recent ceasefire in Gaza, ending (however briefly) the killing of civilians at historic rates in our time, little has changed there. Yes, during those ceasefire days, increased amounts of food, fuel, and water were delivered to Gaza to remedy the Israeli decision to cut off more than two million people (almost half of them children) from such essentials, whether they had anything to do with October 7th or not. Still, it remains a horror that what’s largely been delivered to Gazans, including those hundreds of thousands of children, has been disease, starvation, and water that’s unsafe to drink.

People there are now all too literally starving to death. Pregnant women, in particular, find themselves in a hell on earth without functional hospitals or much else, including housing, significant parts of which have been destroyed by Israeli bombing. Meanwhile, the response of President Biden and crew to all of this has essentially been to ignore it and offer ever more support to Israel.

Today, with Israel having resumed its bombardment of Gaza after a week-long truce ended, TomDispatch regulars Priti Gulati Cox and Stan Cox put this nightmare in a larger international context — of not just the United States but India as well, while reminding us of how key countries have aided and abetted a nightmare of the first order. Tom

The Israel-India-U.S. Triangle

Its Human Toll Will Be Incalculable

In 1981, India’s post office issued a stamp showing the flags of India and occupied Palestine flying side by side above the phrase “Solidarity with the Palestinian people.” That now seems like ancient history. Today, Hindu nationalists are flying the flags of India and Israel side by side as a demonstration of their support for that country's catastrophic war on Gaza.

It’s a match made in heaven (or do we mean hell?), because the two nations have similar “problems” they’re trying to “solve.” Israel has long been engaged in the violent suppression of Palestinians whose lands they occupy (including the current devastation of Gaza, an assault that 34 U.N. experts have labeled a “genocide in the making”). Meanwhile, India’s Hindu nationalist government continues the harsh oppression of its non-Hindu minorities: Muslims, Christians, Dalits, and indigenous people.

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