The Middle East Focus
By Jimmy Carter
During the past 16 months I have visited the Middle East four times and met with leaders in Israel, Egypt, Lebanon, Saudi Arabia, Jordan, Syria, the West Bank and Gaza. I was in Damascus when President Obama made his historic speech in Cairo, which raised high hopes among the more-optimistic Israelis and Palestinians, who recognize that his insistence on a total freeze of settlement expansion is the key to any acceptable peace agreement or any positive responses toward Israel from Arab nations.
Late last month I traveled to the region with a group of "Elders," including Archbishop Desmond Tutu, former presidents Fernando Henrique Cardoso of Brazil and Mary Robinson of Ireland, former prime minister Gro Brundtland of Norway and women's activist Ela Bhatt of India. Three of us had previously visited Gaza, which is now a walled-in ghetto inhabited by 1.6 million Palestinians, 1.1 million of whom are refugees from Israel and the West Bank and receive basic humanitarian assistance from the United Nations Relief and Works Agency. Israel prevents any cement, lumber, seeds, fertilizer and hundreds of other needed materials from entering through Gaza's gates. Some additional goods from Egypt reach Gaza through underground tunnels. Gazans cannot produce their own food nor repair schools, hospitals, business establishments or the 50,000 homes that were destroyed or heavily damaged by Israel's assault last January.
We found a growing sense of concern and despair among those who observe, as we did, that settlement expansion is continuing apace, rapidly encroaching into Palestinian villages, hilltops, grazing lands, farming areas and olive groves. There are more than 200 of these settlements in the West Bank.
An even more disturbing expansion is taking place in Palestinian East Jerusalem. Three months ago I visited a family who had lived for four generations in their small, recently condemned home. They were laboring to destroy it themselves to avoid much higher costs if Israeli contractors carried out the demolition order. On Aug. 27, we Elders took a gift of food to 18 members of the Hanoun family, recently evicted from their home of 65 years. The Hanouns, including six children, are living on the street, while Israeli settlers have moved into their confiscated dwelling.
Daily, headlines in Jerusalem newspapers say that certain areas and types of construction would be excluded from the settlement freeze and that it would, at best, have a limited duration. Increasingly desperate Palestinians see little prospect of their plight being alleviated; political, business and academic leaders are making contingency plans should President Obama's efforts fail.
We saw considerable interest in a call by Javier Solana, secretary general of the Council of the European Union, for the United Nations to endorse the two-state solution, which already has the firm commitment of the U.S. government and the other members of the "Quartet" (Russia and the United Nations). Solana proposes that the United Nations recognize the pre-1967 border between Israel and Palestine, and deal with the fate of Palestinian refugees and how Jerusalem would be shared. Palestine would become a full U.N. member and enjoy diplomatic relations with other nations, many of which would be eager to respond. Palestinian Prime Minister Salam Fayyad described to us his unilateral plan for Palestine to become an independent state.
A more likely alternative to the present debacle is one state, which is obviously the goal of Israeli leaders who insist on colonizing the West Bank and East Jerusalem. A majority of the Palestinian leaders with whom we met are seriously considering acceptance of one state, between the Jordan River and the Mediterranean Sea. By renouncing the dream of an independent Palestine, they would become fellow citizens with their Jewish neighbors and then demand equal rights within a democracy. In this nonviolent civil rights struggle, their examples would be Mahatma Gandhi, Martin Luther King Jr. and Nelson Mandela.
They are aware of demographic trends. Non-Jews are already a slight majority of total citizens in this area, and within a few years Arabs will constitute a clear majority.
A two-state solution is clearly preferable and has been embraced at the grass roots.
Just south of Jerusalem, the Palestinian residents of Wadi Fukin and the nearby Israeli villagers of Tzur Hadassah are working together closely to protect their small shared valley from the ravages of rock spill, sewage and further loss of land from a huge settlement on the cliff above, where 26,000 Israelis are rapidly expanding their confiscated area. It was heartwarming to see the international harmony with which the villagers face common challenges and opportunities.
There are 25 similar cross-border partnerships between Israelis and their Palestinian neighbors. The best alternative for the future is a negotiated peace agreement, so that the example of Wadi Fukin and Tzur Hadassah can prevail along a peaceful border between two sovereign nations.
The writer was the 39th president. He founded The Carter Center, a nongovernmental organization focused on global peace and health issues.
Shocking figures from Gaza war Tue, 08 Sep 2009
A human rights group
says the deadly Israeli offensive on the Gaza Strip
killed at least 773 Palestinians who had not taken part
in any military activities.
The occupation has wrought one massive transformation in Afghanistan, a development so huge that it has increased Afghan GDP by 66 per cent and constitutes 40 per cent of the entire economy. That is a startling achievement, by any standards. Yet we are not trumpeting it. Why not?
The answer is this. The
achievement is the highest harvests of opium the world
has ever seen.According to the United Nations, 2006 was
the biggest opium harvest in history, smashing the
previous record by 60 per cent. This year will be even
bigger.Economic achievement in Afghanistan goes well
beyond the simple production of raw opium. In fact
Afghanistan no longer exports much raw opium at all. It
has succeeded in what our international aid efforts urge
every developing country to do. Afghanistan has gone into
manufacturing and 'value-added' operations.It now exports
not opium, but heroin. Opium is converted into heroin on
an industrial scale, not in kitchens but in factories.
My knowledge of all this comes from my
time as British Ambassador in neighbouring Uzbekistan
from 2002 until 2004. I stood at the Friendship Bridge at
Termez in 2003 and watched the Jeeps with blacked-out
windows bringing the heroin through from Afghanistan, en
route to Europe.I watched the tankers of chemicals
roaring into Afghanistan.Afghan policy is still victim to
Tony Blair's simplistic world view and his childish
division of all conflicts into 'good guys' and 'bad guys'.
The truth is that there are seldom any good guys among
those vying for power.
The Taliban had reduced
the opium crop to precisely nil.
SPIEGEL Interview with Former Army Doctor in Afghanistan
'I Didn't Want to Be Part of This Insane Mission'
German army doctors provide medical treatment to a boy with serious burn injures in the emergency room of their army camp near Kabul, Afghanistan.
SPIEGEL: Dr. Groos, you've said that, during your first deployment to Afghanistan, in 2002, it felt like you were at a Boy Scout camp. When did things start getting a bit less carefree?
Heike Groos: The first death destroyed the atmosphere for me. It happened during my second deployment to Kabul. I'd been expecting everything to be like it had been the first time -- lots of sun, beautiful landscapes, nice colleagues and a friendly local population. Then one of our all-terrain vehicles ran over a mine and was blown up, killing a young soldier instantly. He was brought into the camp and handed over to us for a medical examination. It was when I was alone in the armored field ambulance with this dead boy -- a kid who reminded me of my oldest son -- that I realized where I was and what I was going to have to deal with.
SPIEGEL: The longer you were there, the more doubts you had about the logic behind the mission. How did they arise?
Groos: We underwent a significant change after experiencing the first terrorist attack aimed directly at us. A suicide bomber blew up one of our buses, killing four of our soldiers and seriously wounding many more. After that, we were more careful, more nervous, more wary. Later, when new soldiers arrived from Germany, it seemed like they had been trained somewhat differently for their assignment. The first thing they said when they got off the plane was: "Where are the Taliban? We want to fight them!"
SPIEGEL: How has the experience changed you?
Groos: Heightened danger made me more thin-skinned -- but also tougher. Today, if someone attacked my kids, I could shoot that person dead and have no trouble sleeping at night. I don't know whether I should find that disturbing or not.
SPIEGEL: What was your worst experience in Afghanistan?
Groos: That would be the suicide attack on our bus in June 2003. There was absolute chaos, and it was way too much for our assistants to handle. I assigned numbers to the wounded, noted their injuries, and saw to it that they got the medical attention they needed so that they could be transported elsewhere. After they had all been taken away, it was eerily quiet. Another doctor, myself, and the dead were the only ones left. At that point, we didn't know what to do next. Normally, as an emergency physician, you express your condolences to the dead person's family and then you leave. But in this case we'd somehow slipped into the role of the bereaved.
SPIEGEL: Were you haunted by memories of the attack's aftermath?
Groos: For a while, yes. There were specific things that would trigger flashbacks, like the smell of roasted chicken. The soldiers had all been burned.
SPIEGEL: You managed to stick it out until 2007. Why did you ultimately decide to leave the army?
Groos: I didn't want to continue being part of this insane mission. I didn't want to go on seeing young men die senselessly. Lots of other doctors felt the same way and left as well. Modern warfare like this has made doctors like us superfluous. Soldiers are blown up and killed instantly. We can't put them back together again. I think one of the reasons why so many doctors have left the military is their feeling of helplessness. Another reason is that the current shortage of doctors means that many of them are sent to Afghanistan against their will.
SPIEGEL: Is there any way to get out of being deployed to Afghanistan?
Groos: About the only way to do that involves going to a psychiatrist. We doctors aren't dumb; we know exactly what we have to say to make a psychiatrist disqualify us for deployment abroad. And some doctors do just that: They say they wouldn't be able to cope with the situation, that they are already prone to depression, that they have trouble sleeping and that they have suicidal tendencies. But, of course, saying these things will also ruin their careers.
SPIEGEL: After your last deployment, you moved to New Zealand. And, shortly after that, you suffered a nervous breakdown.
Groos: I had thought I was doing just fine. But, in actual fact, I had bottled up lots of stuff inside. It was like a dam suddenly broke and released huge masses of water that washed away everything that had kept me stable. I just sat there in my chair and had no idea what was wrong with me.
SPIEGEL: You've written that you're happy that you didn't have your breakdown in Germany. Why's that?
Groos: I've witnessed the inhumane treatment of traumatized veterans in Germany. They are sent to military psychiatrists who are quick to recommend hospitalization. An acquaintance of mine was told he would need to be hospitalized for his headaches. It was only after he was in the hospital that it became clear to him that he was going to be locked up in the psychiatric ward. How was that supposed to help him? That's like getting thrown in prison for a trivial offense.
Interview conducted by Samiha Shafy
LETTER TO THE HANDSTAND
Michael McDonnell <firstname.lastname@example.org> Date: 07.10.2009 11:49 AM
Wiki-Whatever cannot grasp that resurrected China is at war with no one, that the Chinese actually love their country and that love of nation vis-a-vis the foreign is expressed as a function of implicit self respect. For our part we have, since Waterloo, been the blinded pawns of globalist anti-humanity seeking world mastery via the British Empire and US military assault on peoples everywhere. But the Chinese, dimly remembering their smashed civilisation as the objective and unchanging definition of social order, assume a moral commitment which precedes or actually forms what we think of as nationalism. Goy-hating Wiki and "the West" cannot conceive of life without enmity. They assume the Chinese are at de facto war because the Talmudists are at war with China for crushing Zhao zi yang's globalist traitors in the "Tiananmen Square Massacre" that never happened. To zero effect our media super criminals can blab that Stern Hu is an Australian, for the Chinese know he is a Chinaman who ratted on his own country. Maybe criminal but definitely immoral. Of course "Chinese intelligence" utilises its nationals routinely assuming they are all on their own country's side. Despising our own traitorous governments, we cannot grasp this.
350 ppm CO2 needed to avert
irreversible catastrophic effects
Rajendra Pachauri, United Nations top climate scientist and head of the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC), took everyone by surprise when he said that the target to aim for is 350 parts per million (ppm) CO2 in the atmosphere, bearing in mind that we now have 385 ppm.
The IPCC produces an authoritative assessment of climate science every five years. Its last report in 2007 helped set the target of 450 ppm that many environmental groups and national governments have adopted as their goal for the Copenhagen negotiation this December.
But 450 ppm is out of date. When Jim Hansen from NASA Goddard Institute for Space Studies, New York, in the US and other scientists looked at phenomena such as how rapidly polar ice has been melting in summer , they produced a convincing demonstrating that 350 ppm is the bottom line.
But it's been hard to get that news out to the powers that be. So today it comes as enormous and welcome news that Pachauri, from his New Delhi office, said that 350 was the number,  wrote Bill McKibben, prominent author and environmentalist.
A magazine with no claim to my
originality other than my choice of page illustration,
for which I searched out some, even many, pearls of
wisdom and fact to throw to all ; and may we exterminate
the swine flu' and the suspicions from where it came...?
Let me standby a relative, a printer in London who ran the Unicorn press and printed a translation of a French monk's book refuting the Old Testament -
For is not knowledge always evasive
when personal interests are held above all other
interests, so watch out what talents you actually pursue....
What is one to do?
Breathe in and drink some expensive water, in one of the
few countries in the world never short of that commodity
falling from the beautiful Westerly winds of the Atlantic
-( that could of course change to pure poison from
polution as has the Pacific sea.) and enjoy the hope that
the artist's pure word will never dry up.