Monday, May 15, 2017

HUNGER STRIKE IN PALESTINE


THE ABSURD TIMES











Illustration: Latuff on the Hunger in Palestine

Jerry Brown Sells Out
By
Dr. Czar Donic

Jerry Brown used to be a good guy.  Here he is signing some legislation that forbids any attempts at Boycott, Sanctions, and divestment against Israel.  Our story below is about the hunger strike of Marwan Barghouti and others around the world against the treatment of Palestinians.  Nelsen Mandella and Jimmie Carter support Barghouti, as do many others.  Brown the Sell Out, followed by more illustrations and then an interview:



And another of Nitwityahoo's bitches:

 



Here is Barghoutti's son:

It has been almost a month since over 1,500 Palestinian prisoners have been on hunger strike inside Israeli jails. The strike, which began on April 17, was called by Marwan Barghouti to protest poor living conditions in prison and the administrative detention law, which allows Palestinians to be held without charge. Barghouti is the most high-profile Palestinian in Israeli detention. Some have described him as the "Palestinian Nelson Mandela." In a New York Times op-ed announcing the strike last month, Barghouti wrote, "Having spent the last 15 years in an Israeli prison, I have been both a witness to and a victim of Israel's illegal system of mass arbitrary arrests and ill-treatment of Palestinian prisoners. After exhausting all other options, I decided there was no choice but to resist these abuses by going on a hunger strike." We speak to his son Arab Barghouthi. He recently launched the "saltwater challenge," asking supporters to express their solidarity with the hunger strikers by posting videos online drinking saltwater.


TRANSCRIPT
This is a rush transcript. Copy may not be in its final form.
AMY GOODMAN: I'm here in San Francisco, will be speaking in Santa Cruz and in Palo Alto, and then we're on to San Diego and Los Angeles.
But right now we're going to talk with a guest here in San Francisco. It's been almost a month since over 1,500 Palestinian prisoners have been on hunger strike inside Israeli jails. The strike, which began April 17th, was called by Marwan Barghouti to protest poor living conditions in prison and the administrative detention law, which allows Palestinians to be held without charge. Barghouti is the most high-profile Palestinian in Israeli detention. In a New York Times op-ed announcing the strike last month, Marwan Barghouti wrote, quote, "Having spent the last 15 years in an Israeli prison, I have been both a witness to and a victim of Israel's illegal system of mass arbitrary arrests and ill-treatment of Palestinian prisoners. After exhausting all other options, I decided there was no choice but to resist these abuses by going on a hunger strike."
Well, to talk more about the hunger strike and Marwan Barghouti, who has been described [by] many as the "Palestinian Nelson Mandela," we're joined now by his son. Arab Barghouthi recently launched the "saltwater challenge," asking supporters to express their solidarity with the hunger strikers by posting videos online drinking saltwater.
Welcome to Democracy Now!, Arab Barghouthi. Why drink saltwater?
ARAB BARGHOUTHI: Well, thank you, first of all, for having me. Salt and water is the only thing that these prisoners are living on. They haven't taken anything other than the salt and water. And it's a symbolic act. And we just wanted to be creative, outside of the box, to raise the awareness and let everyone know what is going on. It's been going well, and it went viral in the Arab world. And here, it's growing more and more.
AMY GOODMAN: Arab, tell us about your father, Marwan Barghouti.
ARAB BARGHOUTHI: Well, my father is a political leader that has been struggling and fighting for his freedom and his people's freedom for more than four decades. He spent more than 21 years of his life in Israeli jails, was kicked out of Palestine for seven years. He was elected twice as a member of the Palestinian Parliament. And he is a member of the Central Committee of Fatah, which is the highest committee of Fatah party. My father is very well supported nationally and internationally. He's supported by icons like Nelson Mandela himself, who met with my mother and showed his support to my father's campaign, international campaign for his release. The former U.S. President Jimmy Carter happens to be one of the biggest supporters of my father and sent us a video asking for the release of Marwan Barghouti personally. My father is nominated for the Nobel Peace Prize by seven nominations, seven times. Two of the Nobel Prize laureates just did the saltwater challenge and happen to be one of the main supporters of my father.
AMY GOODMAN: So talk about why your father, Marwan Barghouti, started this hunger strike.
ARAB BARGHOUTHI: Because, as he said, he exhausted all the ways to negotiate with the Israeli prison authorities on their very basic human rights. And this is exactly why the hunger strike is called Freedom and Dignity. My father was visited by my sister for the first time in one year, one month before the hunger strike. And she told him, "Dad, we can't do this anymore, because your health is the only thing that keeps us going." And he looked at her. He told her, "I haven't seen your brothers in years. I haven't been there for your wedding, for your brothers' weddings. And I don't know your daughters." Her daughter is 4 years old. And he told her, "This is exactly why I'm going for a hunger strike. The injustice that has been practiced against me and against my fellow prisoners is nothing—is something that we have to raise our voice for."
AMY GOODMAN: Arab, when did you last see your father? How often can you and your brother and sister see your dad, as well as your mother?
ARAB BARGHOUTHI: I was 11 years old when he was arrested. I used to see him twice a month until I turned 16. After 16, I would see him maybe once every two years. I haven't seen my father in two years.
AMY GOODMAN: Why?
ARAB BARGHOUTHI: They just don't give me permission to go. And this happens also to my 1-year-older brother. My oldest brother, Qassam, has seen him only three times. And Qassam himself was imprisoned for three-and-a-half years for basically no reason, for being guilty of being the son of Marwan Barghouti. My mother would see him once a month, but sometimes they just don't give her permission for three and four months.
AMY GOODMAN: Earlier this month, the Israel Prison Service released footage of Marwan Barghouti purportedly eating in his cell. Barghouti's supporters have said the video was fabricated in an attempt to discredit the hunger strike. Barghouti's wife, Fadwa Barghouti, spoke out against the footage and warned that Israel intends to defeat the hunger strike by all means.
FADWA BARGHOUTI: [translated] The level the occupation has reached, in my opinion, is a deterioration. Instead of focusing on this video, the world should blame and punish Israel for this ethical deterioration, where they are fabricating a film. We were not surprised, because during my last visit to him, I heard from him that they will launch a serious battle against this strike, using all tools and methods to defeat it.
AMY GOODMAN: So, can you comment on this, Arab? Today is your mom's birthday?
ARAB BARGHOUTHI: Yeah, it's her birthday, and I send her my love and energy. And I—
AMY GOODMAN: Where is she?
ARAB BARGHOUTHI: She's in Ramallah. She's the one who holded my father's message and took it everywhere, and she's the reason why he's recognized internationally. And hopefully, next year, I will celebrate her birthday with my father.
Regarding the video, let me tell you that I'm his son, and I can't tell it's him in the video. That's first. Even if it's him, my father spent more than three years in the solitary confinement, so it would—it can be taken anytime. But on the other side, this shows you the amount of desperation the Israeli government got to, to put such a cheap and low-quality video. And here, I just want to say that they like posted the video. They put him in the solitary confinement to punish him for the op-ed New York Times article. They did torture him. And the only thing that they didn't do is just to meet demands. This shows you, yeah.
AMY GOODMAN: I have 15 seconds. The conditions in the prison?
ARAB BARGHOUTHI: It's really bad. And we have sick prisoners. We have the administrative detention, which is holding prisoners for years without even visiting the trial court, with not visiting the families. I haven't touched my father in 15 years. This tells you all what the hunger strike is all about.
AMY GOODMAN: Arab Barghouthi, I want to thank you so much for being with us, the son of the Palestinian political leader now on hunger strike, Marwan Barghouti. He's been in prison for more than 15 years. Arab has recently launched the "saltwater challenge," asking supporters to express their solidarity with the hunger strikers by posting videos online drinking saltwater.
That does it for our show. I'll be speaking in Palo Alto, in Santa Cruz, in San Diego and Los Angeles. Check our website.
The original content of this program is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-Noncommercial-No Derivative Works 3.0 United States License. Please attribute legal copies of this work to democracynow.org. Some of the work(s) that this program incorporates, however, may be separately licensed. For further information or additional permissions, contact us.

Tuesday, May 09, 2017

The Trump Pawns


THE ABSURD TIMES



Illustration: For a long time, I had nothing but contempt for LBJ, what with his forcing hundreds of thousands of people into the military combat in an illegal, vile, and disgusting war.  Now, he looks like a prophet.  He passed Medicare, the Civil Rights Act, the law that forbids discrimination on basis of NATIONAL ORIGIN, and so on.  At the same time, he was John Kennedy's vice President and the Republican opponent, Barry Goldwater, advocating "bombing Hanoi into the stone age," and the John Birch Society  (a fascistic organization backed by the Koch brothers' father – yes the ones who were behind the Tea Party). Not 

to be partisan, Nixon wanted a National Healthcare System.


If what he had so say above is not clear, perhaps you have heard of Bob Dylan:




So what has happened? Well, France just proved they had more brains than the American Public, but to be fair, her opponent was not very well-known, and he was certainly not the product of a fixed system as was Hillary.



On to Trump, starting with international affairs.  Brexit made Trump possible.  Trump made Le Pen impossible.  This will continue.  When we heard about the hack, if there was one, and heard that there was no election discussion possible, we posted this: http://absurdtimes.blogspot.com/2017/05/dear-france-juste-une-note-pour-vous.html



Fortunately, France got the idea and the warning was not needed.  Putin would like the European Union to fall apart, but that is unlikely now.



The attacks on Hispanics and especially Mexicans here have made our servant in Mexico very unpopular.  This will lead to the election of Obrador as the next President of Mexico.  We will do our best to prevent this, and the CIA knows it will come.  Will they follow orders and kill him first?  Even the previous right-wing President, Fox, said "We will not pay for your fucking wall!" [Direct quote] 



Speaking of Putin: he does not want NATO expanding eastward.  Russia has always been surrounded by enemies and of course he hates Hillary.  She helped the coup to overthrow a friendly leader (to Russia) with a fascist oriented one.  What is to be expected.



Let's move internally: Hillary announced that she is part of the resistance!  Who does she think she is fooling?  She is part of what many here resisted.  Many who voted for Trump originally voted for Obama – because he seemed to want to change things for the better.  This time around, Bernie Sanders attracted many of those who wanted such changes, but that was buried.



The typical Trump voter did not know much about policy, but most of them are furious at the healthcare dismantling the Republicans are carrying out.  Right now, they want to cut 840 Billion dollars from Medicaid.  Why? It's a part of "Tax Reform".  In this case, it means giving that money to the upper 1% of the population.  Of the 217 representatives who voted for this atrocity, only 17 were brave enough to have a town hall this time.  None of them were well-received.



Forget about net neutrality.  Forget about FCC regulation.  Right wing forces are taking over the media.  For example, Sinclair is taking over the Tribune – a right-wing newspaper at best, but at least a newspaper.  Get used to slower speeds.  However, in order to comment to the FCC, you can go to GOFCCYOURSELF.COM .  See, they made it incredibly complicated this time to comment, so this site was set up in order to make it easier. 



If we want to discuss regulation, the best sign so far in the many demonstrations is: DEREGULATE MY UTERUS!  I know, it's a women's thing, but they have no impute as to this health care bill.   All the senators working on the Senate version are white males of middle age (mainly). 




Saturday, May 06, 2017

Dear France -- Juste une note pour vous faire savoir quelle catastrophe Trump a été ici et que Le Pen est votre version de lui.

Just a note to let you know what a disaster Trump has been here and that Le Pen is your version of him.

Juste une note pour vous faire savoir quelle catastrophe Trump a été ici et que Le Pen est votre version de lui.


Thursday, May 04, 2017

Day of Prayer


THE ABSURD TIMES











Illustration: one of the many by Latuff on the "Day of Disaster" in Palestine, the day Israel was imposed of the people of the land.  Many left still holding the keys to their houses and the legal deeds to their land.  Many still have them, and that is part of what the "Right to Return" is all about.


NATIONAL DAY OF PRAYER

BY

ARTHUR SCHOPENHAUER



We are supposed to celebrate a national day of prayer.  Thrilling.



The President made a speech saying that the right of free speech also exists on the steps of a church or synagogue.  Not a word about Mosques, Temples, and the right NOT TO PRAY. 



The remaining illustrations are more examples of vile greed carried out in the name of God:








Let us all bow our heads in prayer.

Wednesday, April 26, 2017

Palestine, Korea, Facts -- Anyone Care?


THE ABSURD TIMES


Most of this is about Palestine, but some on Korea as well. The guy on the left has realistic fears for his country. The other is not real.  Also, a tale of two leaders.

PALESTINE – ANYBODY CARE?

By

KARL PICKENS



Much has been going on in Palestine lately, but this is baseball season so our media isn't covering it.  Also, too much free entertainment provided live by announcements by Sean Spicer and worthless executive order signings.  In addition, clips of Donald's true love Ivanka getting booed for supporting her father as an advocate of women's rights. ""Oh Daddy, Daddy, so good."



We have a few drawings by the great Latuff on Palestine.  Once some Zionist organization in the U.S. ranked him as the third most anti-Semitic person in the world.  For this we congratulated him, for only two beat him out as the leader, while in fourth place were European Football (Soccer) Fans.  That one category includes millions, so his achievement cannot be overlooked.



After that, we have an interview with Barghouti on Palestine, followed by one with Noam Chomsky that reminds us of WHY Norther Korea is so concerned about us.







(Not Latuff)
And some info:



And now for Barghouti, after Israel arrested him for trying to come here, but finally got here to accept his award:

As more than 1,000 Palestinian prisoners have entered their ninth day on a massive hunger strike inside Israeli jails, we are joined by the Palestinian activist Omar Barghouti, who has come to the United States to receive the 2017 Gandhi Peace Award for his work as co-founder of the Boycott, Divestment and Sanctions, or BDS, movement. At the award ceremony, Barghouti dedicated the prize to Palestinians on hunger strike. He was almost prevented from attending after Israeli police arrested him, seizing his passport and forbidding him from leaving the country. An Israeli court eventually temporarily lifted the travel ban.



TRANSCRIPT

This is a rush transcript. Copy may not be in its final form.

AMY GOODMAN: This is Democracy Now!, democracynow.org, The War and Peace Report. I'm Amy Goodman in Boston. Juan González is in New York.

JUAN GONZÁLEZ: Well, more than 1,000 Palestinian prisoners have entered their ninth day on a massive hunger strike inside Israeli jails. In an op-ed published in The New York Times, strike leader Marwan Barghouti wrote, quote, "Israel has established a dual [legal] regime, a form of judicial apartheid, that provides virtual impunity for Israelis who commit crimes against Palestinians, while criminalizing Palestinian presence and resistance. Israel's courts are a charade of justice, clearly instruments of colonial, military occupation." Marwan Barghouti has since been moved to solitary confinement.

To talk more about the hunger strike and the other issues, we'll be joined in a moment by the Palestinian activist Omar Barghouti, who has come to the United States, where he just received the 2017 Gandhi Peace Award for his work as co-founder of the Boycott, Divestment and Sanctions, or BDS, movement. At the Gandhi Peace Award ceremony, Barghouti dedicated the prize to Palestinians on hunger strike.


OMAR BARGHOUTI: As I humbly accept the Gandhi Peace Award for 2017, I dedicate it to the heroic Palestinian political prisoners on hunger strike in Israel's apartheid dungeons and to every Palestinian refugee yearning to return home to Palestine to reunite with the land and the homeland.

AMY GOODMAN: That's Omar Barghouti, speaking at Yale University on Sunday. Barghouti almost did not make it to the award ceremony. Last month, Israeli police arrested him over alleged tax evasion, seizing his passport and forbidding him from leaving the country. An Israeli court eventually temporarily lifted the travel ban because of tremendous outcry, or at least people thought it was because of that. Well, Omar Barghouti joins us now in what could be his last trip to the United States.

Welcome to Democracy Now! Can you explain, Omar, what has happened to you, why you had so much trouble coming back into the United States? You're both an Israeli citizen and an American citizen, a U.S. citizen?

OMAR BARGHOUTI: Good morning, Amy. No, I'm not, actually. I'm neither a U.S. citizen nor an Israeli citizen. As a Palestinian, as a refugee, a son of refugees, I have permanent residence in Israel, and I'm a citizen of Jordan.

I cannot talk about the latest phase of Israel's repression against me, because I'm under a gag order, so I'll have to skip the details on that. But we have to put it in context. About a year ago, Israel established a so-called tarnishing unit, established by the minister of strategic affairs, which openly aimed at tarnishing the reputation of Palestinian, international, Israeli human rights defenders who are involved in the struggle for Palestinian rights through the BDS, of Boycott, Divestment and Sanctions, movement. So this latest phase of repression comes in that context and in the context of a McCarthyite war launched by Israel, for more than three years now, against the BDS movement worldwide.

JUAN GONZÁLEZ: Now, you were one of the founders of the movement and also a member of the National Committee, the BNC, which is probably the largest—

OMAR BARGHOUTI: Coalition.

JUAN GONZÁLEZ: —coalition in the Palestinian territories. Could you talk about the importance of the BNC and its role right now?

OMAR BARGHOUTI: Sure, yes. The Palestinian Boycott, Divestment, Sanctions National Committee, or the BNC, is the largest coalition in Palestinian society, and it's leading the global BDS movement. So it sets the overall strategies, the objectives of the movement. But this is a decentralized movement, obviously. So the BNC represents Palestinian political parties, trade unions, women's unions, refugee networks and so on and so forth.

It agrees on the three basic demands in the BDS call that came out in 2005: ending Israel's occupation; ending the system of racial discrimination, which meets the United Nations' definition of "apartheid"; and the right of Palestinian refugees to return. As such, it does not take any position on the political outcome—one state, two states. We stick to the human rights agenda, rather than the political outcome that the Palestinians might determine as part of exercising self-determination.

JUAN GONZÁLEZ: And could you share for us, for our listeners and viewers, some of your own experiences that have sort of sealed for you your commitment to this cause?

OMAR BARGHOUTI: Well, I think we saw that, especially after the 2004 decision by the International Court of Justice against Israel's wall built in the Occupied Territories as illegal, that the world failed to move to bring Israel to account on just this one crime, let alone its denial of refugee rights, its apartheid system, its occupation. So, my colleagues and I thought that we cannot live forever just waiting for the "international community," under U.S. hegemony, to act to bring Israel to account for its obligations under international law. We had to take the South African path, so to speak, to bring Israel to account by citizens around the world, institutions around the world, civil society, getting together and taking measures that would isolate Israel academically, culturally, economically, and eventually impose sanctions on it, as was done against South Africa. So I was moved with a lot of personal experiences of repression under Israel's regime of occupation and apartheid.

AMY GOODMAN: Omar Barghouti, can you talk about the major hunger strike that's involving hundreds of Palestinian prisoners right now? Where is it taking place? And its significance?

OMAR BARGHOUTI: Yes. The hunger strike by Palestinian prisoners, most of whom are political prisoners, suffering from very inhumane conditions in what I call Israel's apartheid dungeons, or prisons and detention centers, are asking for their basic rights under international law as prisoners. And they're being denied those rights. They're being punished twice, not just with very long prison terms, with the lack of due process, the lack of any semblance of justice in Israel's apartheid prison system and court system. They're also denied some basic rights, like visitation rights. Their parents, when they come to visit them, are being humiliated. Many prisoners are tortured and suffer from very inhumane conditions. So, torture is very prevalent in Israeli prisons, in the detention system, in particular including against hundreds of Palestinian children. So, prisoners are striking, going on this very difficult, very extreme form of resistance, in order to show the world that they are lacking those basic rights, and they demand those basic rights. They refuse to live in such conditions.

JUAN GONZÁLEZ: I'm wondering your views, now that President Trump is here in the White House and Benjamin Netanyahu still is the prime minister of Israel, what your expectations are of the new American administration. And I understand President Trump will be meeting on May 3rd with the Palestinian Authority President Mahmoud Abbas. What you expect from that meeting?

OMAR BARGHOUTI: I think if we consider the Israeli government, that came into power in 2015 as the most racist in Israel's history, dropping the mask that once covered Israel's regime of occupation, settler colonialism and apartheid, the Trump administration has also dropped the mask of the U.S. administration, which was always in bed with Israel's system of occupation and apartheid, and now it's in your face. So, the repression that we're seeing increasingly in the United States and the repression and denial of rights we're seeing by the Israeli government are coming together and showing ways to connect our struggles. So we're facing very difficult times, facing an Israeli impunity on steroids, because of the Trump administration. And at the same time, Israel's right-wing government is being used by the Trump administration as a model for ethnic profiling, for walls, like the wall with Mexico, and for various sorts of racial policies. Israel is now a model for the U.S. administration. And that's dangerous for everyone.

AMY GOODMAN: Omar Barghouti, you were honored at Yale University along with Ralph Nader with the Gandhi prize. You also spoke last night at Columbia University.

OMAR BARGHOUTI: Correct.

AMY GOODMAN: Was there any trouble there?

OMAR BARGHOUTI: Well, we had sort of Israel's McCarthyism reaching the Columbia University and Barnard College. At the very last minute, less than 24 hours before the event last night, the Columbia and Barnard administrations denied the students the right to open the event to the public. So it was restricted to the Columbia University community in a very strange move. And the reasons were even stranger. They cited an article in some far-right-wing rag saying that this is a controversial speaker, and it might cause a lot of controversy on campus, as if there's any speaker who has anything to say is not controversial. So, clearly, the establishment, including the academic establishment in this country, are falling under pressure by the Israel lobby, that are really trying to sell their McCarthyism and their repression in various institutions to prevent Palestinian voices from speaking out and to prevent many Americans from joining the struggle for justice in Palestine, as well as connecting it to domestic struggles for racial rights, economic rights and other forms of justice.

JUAN GONZÁLEZ: I wanted to ask you about the—again, about the BDS movement, Israel's response to the BDS movement. What are they doing in terms of fighting back against it? And also, they're building a database of Israeli citizens who are supportive of the movement?

OMAR BARGHOUTI: Sure. Since 2014, Israel decided that its former policy, former strategy for fighting BDS, the propaganda or "Brand Israel" strategy, was failing, so they adopted a new strategy that is based on using their intelligence services to spy on BDS activists and try to tarnish our reputations; based on legal warfare, trying to pass anti-BDS legislation, as is happening in many state legislatures in this country, as well as in the U.S. Congress and in countries like France, Britain and so on. So they've gone from a propaganda war to a full-fledged legal and intelligence war on the movement.

What you mentioned is absolutely important. Recently, Israel passed an anti-BDS ban. It wouldn't allow any supporter of BDS or even supporters of partial boycotts against Israel's illegal settlements in the Occupied Territories from entering the country. They are establishing, indeed, a blacklist of Israelis who support any form of boycott against Israeli institutions to bring about justice and to bring about Palestinian rights. So this McCarthyism is no longer just a metaphor. It's really, truly happening, as Israel descends into the abyss and as people in the mainstream, as Ehud Barak, for example, are warning that there are signs of fascism taking over in Israel.

AMY GOODMAN: Do you think, Omar Barghouti—what would you like to see come out of this meeting next week on May 3rd between Mahmoud Abbas and President Trump that Juan was just referring to?

OMAR BARGHOUTI: I think I'm not alone among Palestinians who have very little hope that anything can come out of this. First, the Palestinian officials who are currently leading do not have a democratic mandate to lead. They do not have a democratic mandate to compromise on any Palestinian rights as they're doing. So they're not upholding Palestinian rights under international law. They're not upholding the right of Palestinian refugees to return, the right to live without apartheid or occupation. They're asking for a very small subset of Palestinian rights. And they're heeding the dictates coming from the Israeli and U.S. administrations. So I have very little hope. This is a very weak leadership, without any democratic mandate. And we do not expect much coming out of it. We rely more on society, on civil society, popular resistance, and international solidarity with it.

AMY GOODMAN: Well, Omar Barghouti, we want to thank you so much for being with us, Palestinian human rights defender, co-founder of the Boycott, Divestment and Sanctions National Committee, or BNC. Israel placed a travel ban on Omar Barghouti as part of its crackdown on BDS. But after he won a temporary suspension of the ban, Barghouti came to the United States to receive the Gandhi Peace Award.

That does it for our show. We're on a nationwide speaking tour. I'll be speaking this morning at 11:00 at Harvard Science Center, at Yale at 3:30 at the Yale Law School Auditorium, Mount Holyoke in Massachusetts at 7:30 p.m. On Wednesday, we'll be covering Vermont. It's Middlebury at noon and then Montpelier in the evening on Wednesday. Bennington and Burlington in the evening, that's on Thursday. Then we move on to Washington, D.C., where Democracy Now! will be doing a 5-hour broadcast covering the People's Climate March on April 29th. We'll be speaking on Saturday night in "Washington":People's Climate March, and Sunday, and then on to Raleigh/Durham and to Atlanta and to Tampa and places beyond, right through to California. Check our website at democracynow.org.

You can see our details about our paid internships in our Spanish, archives, social media and education departments. Check democracynow.org.

The original content of this program is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-Noncommercial-No Derivative Works 3.0 United States License. Please attribute legal copies of this work to democracynow.org. Some of the work(s) that this program incorporates, however, may be separately licensed. For further information or additional permissions, contact us.

Now, this is getting long, but let's get it all out at once.  Finally, some facts (yes, I know they are not allowed these days, or at least are officially frowned upon) about Korea:



Over the last month, the Trump administration has escalated tensions between both North Korea and Iran. Vice President Mike Pence has warned North Korea, saying all options are on the table—including preemptive military strikes. Will either of these conflicts escalate to outright war? For more, Democracy Now!'s Amy Goodman asked world-renowned linguist, professor and political dissident Noam Chomsky, during a wide-ranging interview Monday night at the First Parish Church in Cambridge, Massachusetts.



TRANSCRIPT

This is a rush transcript. Copy may not be in its final form.


AMY GOODMAN: At this point, as President Trump nears his 100th day, North Korea and Iran have been a major focus. Are you concerned that with the president at the lowest popularity rating, I think, in any president's history at this point, that he will focus abroad, as he has in the last few weeks, dropping the MOAB, the "Mother of All Bombs," in Afghanistan, bombing the Syrian government, and yet focusing specifically on North Korea and Iran—in North Korea, McMaster, General McMaster, the national security adviser, saying tensions with North Korea are coming to a head. Do you think there is a possibility that the U.S. would attack North Korea?

NOAM CHOMSKY: I mean, this administration is extremely unpredictable. Trump probably has no idea what he's going to do five minutes from now, so you can't—literally—so you can't really make predictions with much confidence. But I doubt it very much. The reason is very simple: An attack on North Korea would unleash—no matter what attack it is, even a nuclear attack, would unleash massive artillery bombardment of Seoul, which is the biggest city in South Korea, right near the border, which would wipe it out, including plenty of American troops. That doesn't—I mean, I'm no technical expert, but as far as I can—as I read and can see, there's no defense against that. Furthermore, North Korea could retaliate against American bases in the region, where there's plenty of American soldiers and so on, also in Japan. They'd be devastated. North Korea would be finished. You know, so would much of the region. But if attacked, presumably, they would respond, very likely. In fact, the responses might be automatic. McMaster, at least, and Mattis understand this. How much influence they have, we don't know. So I think an attack is unlikely.

But the real question is: Is there a way of dealing with the problem? There are a lot of proposals: sanctions; a big new missile defense system, which is a major threat to China, it'll increase tensions there; military threats of various kinds; sending an aircraft carrier, the Vinson, to North Korea, except by accident—it happened to be going in the opposite direction, but we'll forget that. But these are—those are the proposals, that kind of proposals, as to how to solve.

Actually, there's one proposal that's ignored. I mean, you see a mention of it now and then. It's a pretty simple proposal. Remember, the goal is to get North Korea to freeze its weapons systems, weapons and missile systems. So one proposal is to accept their offer to do that. Sounds simple. They've made a proposal. China and North Korea proposed to freeze the North Korean missile and nuclear weapons systems. And the U.S. instantly rejected it. And you can't blame that on Trump. Obama did the same thing a couple of years ago. Same offer was presented. I think it was 2015. The Obama administration instantly rejected it.

And the reason is that it calls for a quid pro quo. It says, in return, the United States should put an end to threatening military maneuvers on North Korea's borders, which happen to include, under Trump, sending of nuclear-capable B-52s flying right near the border. Now, maybe Americans don't remember very well, but North Koreans have a memory of not too long ago, when North Korea was absolutely flattened, literally, by American bombing. There was—there was literally no targets left. And I really urge people who haven't done it to read the official American military histories, the Air Quarterly Review, the military histories describing this. They describe it very vividly and accurately. They say, "There just weren't any targets left. So what could we do?" Well, we decided to attack the dams, the huge dams. That's a major war crime. People were hanged for it at Nuremberg. But put that aside. And then comes an ecstatic, gleeful description of the bombing of the dams and the huge flow of water, which was wiping out valleys and destroying the rice crop, on which Asians depend for survival—lots of racist comment, but all with exaltation and glee. You really have to read it to appreciate it. The North Koreans don't have to bother reading it. They lived it. So when nuclear-capable B-52s are flying on their border, along with other threatening military maneuvers, they're kind of upset about it. Strange people. And they continue to develop what they see as a potential deterrent that might protect the regime from—and the country, in fact—from destruction. This has nothing at all to do with what you think about the government. So maybe it's the worst government in human history. OK. But these are still the facts that exist.

So, why is the United States unwilling to accept an agreement which would end the immediate threats of destruction against North Korea and, in return, freeze the weapons and missile systems? Well, I leave that to you. And remember, that's bipartisan in this case. Could negotiations go—the usual argument is "Well, you can't trust them," and so on and so forth. But there is a history. And I—there's no time to run through the history. It's quite interesting. Begins in 1993, when Clinton—under Clinton, the North Koreans made a deal with Israel to terminate North Korean missile shipments to the Middle East, which is a great, serious threat to Israel and the world, and, in return, Israel would recognize North Korea. Now, the Clinton administration wouldn't accept that. They pressured Israel, which has to do what they're told, to withdraw from it. And North Korea responded by sending—by firing their first intermediate-range missiles. I won't go on with the rest. It's a very interesting story.

There was actually an agreement in 2005 that North Korea would completely dismantle its nuclear weapons and missile systems, end them, finish, dismantle them, in return for a nonaggression pact from the United States, an end to threats, provision by the West—that means by the United States—of a light-water reactor, which can't produce nuclear weapons but could produce—be used for peaceful purposes, research, medical, other purposes. That was basically the agreement, 2005. Didn't last very long. The Bush administration instantly undermined it. It dismantled the consortium that was supposed to provide the reactor. And it immediately imposed—pressured—and when the U.S. pressures, it means it happens—banks to block North Korean financial transactions, including perfectly legitimate trade. So the crazy North Koreans started producing missiles and nuclear weapons again. And that's been the kind of record all the way through.

So, yeah, maybe the most horrible regime in human history, but the fact of the matter is the regime does want to survive, and it even wants to carry out economic development—there's pretty general agreement about this—which it cannot do in any significant way when it's pouring resources, very scarce resources, into weapons and missile production. So they have considerable incentive, including survival, to perhaps continue this process of reacting in a kind of tit-for-tat fashion to U.S. actions. When the U.S. lowers tensions, they do. When we raise tensions, they go on with these plans. How about that as a possibility? I mean, it is—if you look at the press, it's occasionally mentioned. In fact, there was not a bad article in The Washington Post about it recently by a U.S. professor who teaches in South Korea. So, occasionally, it's this strange possibility of letting the North Koreans do exactly what we want them to do. Sometimes this is mentioned, but it's pretty much dismissed. We can't do that sort of thing.

There are similar questions to raise about Iran. So, Iran is, you know, the—again, the adults in the room, like Mattis and so on, say it's the greatest threat to peace, you know, the greatest sponsor of terrorism, on and on. How is it a sponsor of terrorism? Well, could go through that. So, for example, in Yemen, it's claimed that they are providing some aid to rebel tribesmen, Houthi tribesmen, in Yemen. OK, maybe they are. What is the United States doing in Yemen? It's providing a huge flood of arms to its Saudi Arabian ally, who are destroying the country, who have created a huge humanitarian crisis, huge numbers of people killed, massive starvation. They're threatening now to bomb a port, which is the only source of aid for surviving people. But Iran is the major source of terrorism.

And if you look around the world, there's many questions like this. I don't want to go on too long. But, very strikingly—and this—there's one lesson that you discover when you carefully look at the historical record. What I just described about North Korea is pretty typical. Over and over again, there are possibilities of diplomacy and negotiation, which might not succeed—you can't be sure if you don't try them—but which look pretty promising, which are abandoned, dismissed, literally without comment, in favor of increased force and violence. In fact, that's also the background for the 1953 moment, when the clock moved to two minutes to midnight and the U.S. faced the first serious threat to its security, that, in fact—you know, since probably the War of 1812—could have been avoided. There's pretty good evidence that it could have been avoided. But it was—the possibility was literally not even considered. And case after case is like this. It's worth looking at the historical record from that perspective, to ask whether that general comment has some validity. I think, if you do, you'll find that it has considerable merit.

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