Wednesday, April 8, 2015

The Ongoing Adventures of Tempestuous Tom (Cotton)

In June, 2006, while serving as a 2nd Lieutenant in Iraq, Tom Cotton wrote an open letter to the New York Times criticizing the fact that the paper had published an article detailing a secret Bush administration program monitoring terrorist’s finances. Cotton demanded that three journalists—including NYT editor Bill Keller—be imprisoned for espionage. His letter inevitably gained wide circulation, but after several days Cotton had begun to worry about losing his position—or potentially facing court martial. Not only had his letter angered his immediate superiors, it had reached the desk of Gen. Peter Schoomaker, Chief of Staff of the U.S. Army, who had forwarded it via email to all his generals—sarcastically prefacing it by stating “attached for your information are words of wisdom from one of our great lieutenants in Iraq…” Cotton was subsequently reprimanded for his lack of discipline, lack of adherence to protocol, and refusal to respect his chain of command.
Recent events have made it painfully clear that while Cotton is allegedly “book smart” (a B.A. and law degree from Harvard), he’s completely lacking in common sense and self-restraint. It’s clear that the world must function as Tom Cotton sees fit, or there’s bound to be hell to pay. In fact, over time his impetuous actions only appear to have escalated in . In 2006 his targets were three NY Times reporters; in 2015 his target is the duly elected President of the United States—and Commander-in-Chief of its armed forces. Since Cotton doesn’t approve of the negotiations with Iran undertaken by France, Germany, Russia, China, Great Britain and the United States, he has taken the outrageous step of attempting to undermine and subvert the President’s bargaining position by means of a petulant and threatening letter allegedly aimed at the government of Iran, but one can more accurately assume it’s directed at the President of the United States. One might also reasonably question Cotton’s loyalties (and those of his fellow 46 signatories) at this point. After all, these negotiations have not been deeply controversial in France, Germany, Russia, China or Great Britain. What’s really at the root of the “mad dog” Republican reaction?
Meanwhile, Tom Cotton has gone merrily on his way, content to ignore the furor he’s ignited though oddly choosing to briefly address the “the gays of America”—noting that “at least you’re not living in Iran”. He’s left a lot of people shaking their heads. Thanks, Arkansas. It wasn’t enough that Texas foisted Ted Cruz onto the national stage, you had to counter with Tom Cotton?

Netanyahu's Darkness Can't Last Forever

A number of dark days have already passed since Benjamin Netanyahu was re-elected in Israel.

Fall-out from his pre-election rally in Washington D.C., which was underwritten and choreographed by John Boehner and the Republican congress, continues to this day. Like hyper-excited teen-age cheerleaders, McConnell, Graham, Cotton, Cruz, etc. frantically cheered themselves silly over every pronouncement from the thug-turned-prime-minister-turned-thug.

Netanyahu attempted to derail delicate nuclear negotiations and inserted himself—the Israeli Prime Minister—into the advise and consent role of the American congress. Talk about foreign interference!
Netanyahu returned home from this rather obvious campaign stop and promptly declared there will never be a Palestinian state as long as he is prime minister; directly contradicting his 2009 commitment to that very two-state solution.

Unfortunately, we shouldn’t have been surprised. In fact, Israel under Netanyahu is actively practicing apartheid—a system of unjust laws enforced by military power to restrict the human rights of one specific group, Palestinians, with the aim of keeping political power in the hands of another demographic group—Israeli Jews. They have imposed restrictions on residency, denied repatriation to refugees, demolished homes, illegally seized land and property, imposed restrictions on movement, and practiced discrimination in the allocation of natural resources.
Hopefully, Netanyahu’s “new” extremist coalition government will face renewed demands for peace and justice on several fronts. Since Netanyahu has repeatedly demonstrated his willingness to resort to scorched earth tactics, this allows us to dispense with any notions of violence.

The boycott, divestment and sanctions movement (BDS) was started by Palestinian political parties, trade unions and political movements in 2005. Signatories have included refugees, Palestinians in the occupied territories, and Palestinian citizens of Israel. Although the wheel turns slowly, perhaps this is one avenue well worth re-investigating.
Another, more immediate path, should present itself in Palestine’s membership in the International Criminal Court, which takes effect on April 1st. In spite of the Israeli government’s illegal and ill-advised attempt to intimidate the Palestinian Authority from joining this body by withholding over $120 million in collected tax revenues, the Palestinians are now in a position to refer the status of Israel’s occupied territories to the court for investigation.

In the meantime, the Palestinian people need a symbol in their struggle for statehood. Much as Gandhi utilized protest against the Salt tax to rally the Indian people in their fight for freedom from the colonial British Empire, the Palestinians need something with the same unifying power. I would argue they need look no further than the time-honored olive tree. More than “just trees”, these represent a part of Palestinians culture, heritage and livelihood. For reasons known only to them, Israeli authorities have recently seen fit to destroy over 2000 olive trees in the occupied West Bank.
One perfect solution to Netanyahu’s grim and repressive rule: replant Palestine, with thousands and thousands of olive trees. Life in contrast to death, light in contrast to darkness. Not even Netanyahu can delay change for long.