What are we to make of the latest changes in Obama’s entourage, ponders Eric Walberg
Obama has just lost his close friend and chief of staff, Rahm Emanuel, who is making the unusual transition from national to municipal politics. He is also losing his closest adviser David Axelrod (pragmatist Emanuel described their difference as prose versus poetry) and his mentor and director of the National Economic Council Larry Summers.
Why are Obama’s three closest advisers — all Jewish — leaving? There is no pat answer. Axelrod is no friend of Summers, having suggested in an email the latter would be more comfortable in the “cafeteria at Goldman Sachs”. He claims he is homesick. Obama’s Keynesianism probably finally got to Summers, who prefers tax cuts. Emanuel, a former congressman, a talented ballet dancer, son of an Irgun terrorist, and an Israeli soldier during the first Gulf war against Iraq, leads us to the real answer.
As a very, very strong Zionist (dual citizen? sayan?), he is Israel’s canary in the White House. Israel boycotted Obama’s UN speech at the Millennium Goals Summit in September, and has subjected Obama to dose after dose of humiliating treatment, the latest when Netanyahu asked for the pardon of Israeli spy Jonathan Pollard (serving a life sentence) in exchange for a temporary halt in settlement expansion. Netanyahu defiantly visited Pollard in jail in 2002 and he is celebrated as a hero in yearly commemorations in Israel. There seems to be an eerie replay of 1991, the last time the White House seriously tried to stop the settlements. The Israel lobby abandoned Bush then and destroyed him in the 1992 elections.
The writing is on the wall: Obama is a one-term president. That is if he is even allowed to finish his first term. Obama was never popular in Israel. When he tried to add Israeli critic Chas Freeman to his team as chair of the National Intelligence Council in 2009 AIPAC blew a fuse. Now there are even threats against his life as a result of his stance on settlements and his reluctance to attack Iran. Loud protests in front of Netanyahu’s residence witness crowds burning effigies of Obama “the new Pharaoh”, “the descendant of slaves” who must be put in his place.
Obama, son of a Kenyan Muslim and American expat radical, is facing equally vicious bigotry by non-Jews. He is attacked at home by Americans of more traditional backgrounds who call him a communist and are incensed by his unusual origins and his unrepresentative entourage. Apocalyptic movements and rightwing “patriotic” militias, which grew under Clinton but abated under Bush junior, are increasing rapidly under Obama, and more staid but equally frustrated Americans conduct political “tea parties”, confused and desperate for both stability and real change.
For despite the radically different appearance of Obama’s “change” administration (including the colourful Emanuel), his policies have provided neither stability nor any real change. They are remarkably like those of his predecessor. The unwieldy and disappointing healthcare reform aside, the bankers and generals have been given just about whatever they ask for, Guantanamo stays open and torture continues. US troops stay in Iraq and Afghanistan. The economic morass Obama inherited from Bush merely deepens.
And what is Emanuel’s legacy? According to critics, he was responsible for scuttling the real public healthcare option, leaving it in the hands of private insurers. He was courted by a litany of Wall Street officials and business leaders from day one. Emanuel’s White House calendar was filled with the likes of Comcast VP David Cohen (who just happened to have mergers pending), Bank of America CEO Brian Moynihan, JPMorgan’s Jamie Dimon, and New York Daily News owner Mortimer Zuckerman, who showed up three times in two months.
With the Republicans poised to take control of one or both houses in November, Rahmbo, as he is affectionately known for his ruthless strong-arm tactics in the political ring, can safely jump ship just before it sinks. He is clearly betting that his friendship with Chicago’s darling, America’s first black president, will see him to victory in safely Democratic Chicago.
But, why the municipal ring? Yes, his “friend” Obama is toast. But is it possible Emanuel’s sudden interest in local politics is because he realises presidents, senators and the like have very little real power to make decisions anyway? That a mayor can at least leave a visible legacy — bike paths, community centres, parks? Or is he just bored, looking for a challenge where he can flex his muscles anew, flit gracefully across the political stage yet again as prince charming seducing the sleeping Miss America?
Whatever his motives, Rahmbo epitomises the shallowness, the effeteness of American politics today. The president of the most powerful nation on earth is powerless. A stuffed shirt. A photo op. A cultured Afro-American presiding over the most brutal empire the world has every known. Emanuel “made him” and has decided to leave him to his fate, to yet again play games with the US media and political circles, like a virtual performer orchestrating a grand reality game.
Pundits are mixed in assessing his chances. His strongest supporters are Chicago’s white moneyed class and the business community, who favour Emanuel’s run because of his history as a Washington power broker, says political analyst Charles Dunn. “His pockets are overflowing with IOUs” and he will be able to call in past favours, giving him a huge advantage over his many competitors.
But he has little appeal to the 35 per cent of Chicagoans who are black and the 28 per cent who are Hispanic. His challengers are predominantly minority candidates, including James Meeks, a state senator and Baptist minister, and Chicago City Clerk Miguel del Valle. Many minority leaders, including several aldermen, have already made statements saying they will not support Emanuel’s candidacy. The field is very much open. In fact the call among those unhappy with machine politics in the Chicago is “Abre” — “Anyone but Rahm Emanuel”, which translates into Spanish as “Open”.
As a Jew, Emanuel is very much a supporter of minority rights, but these real minorities understand that Jewish support for them from the likes of Rahmbo is only skin deep, so to speak. CNN’s Hispanic host Rick Sanchez shocked Americans last week for saying as much on air. Sanchez is constantly ridiculed by Jewish TV satirist Jon Stewart, and finally fought back, calling Stewart a “bigot” with “a white liberal establishment point-of-view”, saying CNN and the media are largely run by Jews and elitists. Of course, he was immediately fired, but no one can dispute the truth behind his outburst. Says analyst Peter Myers, “Other minorities are accorded status only on condition that the Jewish minority remains number one.”
Compounding Emanuel’s difficulties is the expected candidacy of Cook County Sheriff Tom Dart, who is white (but not Jewish), and well-liked among black and Latino voters because of his highly publicised refusal to evict renters of foreclosed buildings and his prosecution of the owners of a historic black cemetery who illegally exhumed 300 bodies for profit.
Is any of this of importance to the world at large? Do the departures of Emanuel, Axelrod and Summers portend a more even-handed policy on the Middle East — a defiance of Israel in the remaining two years of his one-term presidency? Will he suddenly cut Israel’s massive aid budget and insist it withdraw from occupied lands? Will (largely Jewish) bankers and other elite miscreants be subpoenaed and jailed for their many crimes, as happened to an earlier Chicagoan, Moses Annenberg, who was jailed for tax evasion in the 1930s under president Roosevelt?
The answer is of course “no”. I mention Annenberg, because he was a Jewish Chicago media magnate and underworld figure brought down by a president who still wielded some power. His son Walter Annenberg continued in his father’s less-than-pristine footsteps, but covered them with the Annenberg Foundation, lavishing money on “good causes”. He rightly realised he could use a liberal facade and his newspapers to make or break politicians, rather than be broken by them.
Like Obama and Emanuel, Annenberg’s story is the stuff of legend. His publishing empire grew and grew, he was Nixon’s ambassador to the UK and so charmed the Queen that she made him an honourary knight (Americans disdain such unseemly titles). All the time he was “conservative” Ronald Reagan’s “best friend” according to Nancy Reagan.
The “liberal” Barack Obama first gained political prominence as an activist with the Annenberg Foundation’s Education Challenge. Annenberg, who died in 2002, would be delighted to know his charitable works in Chicago helped elect the first black president, whose “Israel first!” chief of staff would go on to become the city’s first Jewish mayor, putting the real minorities in their place. Will Emanuel sail to victory on a pro-Israeli whirlwind, or can a plucky Dart prick the Zionist balloon and bring the circus to a halt?
Eric Walberg writes for Al-Ahram Weekly http://weekly.ahram.org.eg/ You can reach him at http://ericwalberg.com/
Well you never know he might make rather a good mayor. At least he won’t be shaping foreign policy anymore.
Arguably becoming a congressman after being mayor of Chicago would be a step down. Maybe he’ll run for Senator someday and after that who knows. It’s not as if a senator from Illinois has ever become president before…
@everybody: to be honest, I am totally baffled by these events. I mean, I use to speak of the “Emanuel Administration” and now the guy is leaving the White House?! And other influential Zio-boys are jumping ship too?! Something is definitely up, but I have no idea what.
I wonder who will inherit the “Zionist-on-deck” task now…
I would love to believe Emanuel has had a flaming row with Obama over not supporting Israel enough and this represents a defeat for the Zionists but this is most likely wishful thinking.
It does seem likely the Republicans will win control of Congress in November and the pressure on Obama to do Israel’s bidding on Iran will become even fiercer.
If Obama wins the 2012 elections against whatever nutcase the Republicans/Tea Party put up he won’t have to face another election and maybe he’ll find the will to get tough with Israel. Maybe there’ll even be another Clinton like attempt to make the two state solution happen, although I don’t think it can possibly succeed.
@anonymous2: @everybody: to be honest, I am totally baffled by these events. I mean, I use to speak of the “Emanuel Administration” and now the guy is leaving the White House?! And all the rest of the Zio-boys are jumping ship too?! Something is definitely up, but I have no idea what.
Papa-Bush also tried putting some pressure on Israel, and that cost him his reelection. No, I agree that no US President will dare putting any pressure on his real bosses, but the ironic and frankly hilarious thing is that these *STUPID* Israelis do not realize that a two state solution is the best option for their little racist dream of a ethnically pure “Jewish homeland”. By wanting it all, they will end up with nothing.
They should have given the West Bank back to Jordan and Gaza back to Egypt after the Six Day war although I suspect the whole point of the Six Day War was a land grab in the first place.
There’s still the Saudi offer of recognition of Israel by all the Arab states and normal relations in exchange for withdrawal to the 1967 borders. They’re not interested. Mind you they would have to evict half a million racist settlers and this would likely trigger a civil war back in Israel itself so I guess the bantustan plan is seen as the lesser evil by Israeli governments.
@Mind you they would have to evict half a million racist settlers and this would likely trigger a civil war back in Israel itself
Very very true. And God only know what kind of connections these settlers have inside the Israeli security and military establishments…
I believe that it is the “Likud lovers” and party members who are a P.I.T.A. Papa Emanuel is such a follower as well as his sons.
In addition, there are TOO many Zionists like Ross et al. who are too close to the Administration whether it is Republican or Democrat. Obama needs new advisers BUT the good ones can’t break that wall – look who are surrounding Gates at the Pentagon ( Cyber Tzarine dual citizen Kass), Obama ( Ross) and Hilary ( check her staff list).Petraeus takes his orders from the Zionists ( or he clears his decisions) not the Prez as was mentioned before.
Obama should have a clean slate of fresh advisers if he wants to make his mark BUT this can happen only after 2012, if ( a big IF) he gets re-elected with a new VP ( not Biden).
The alternative would be to have the settlers remain as citizens of the Palestinian state. I just don’t see this as workable. What happens if there’s a fight between the settlers and their Arab neighbours and an Arab is killed? The incident would have to be investigated by Palestinian police, the settler tried in a Palestinian court and sentenced to serve in a Palestinian prison. Either that or Palestine is not sovereign.
I fear the only way this mess can end is one binational state with equality between its citizens regardless of race or religion. In other words the ideology of Zionism must go. But the Zionists won’t let it go without a fight.
Apparently a group of Afrikaaners approached Nelson Mandela in the early Nineties and pleaded with him to allow them to have part of the country as a separate Orange Free State for whites. He replied he didn’t believe in white states or black states but only in democratic states.
Point being that since the two state solution would require either half a million settlers to be evicted or half a million Jews to live under Palestinian sovereignty the two state soluition is not, as its so often portrayed, the soft option or the only realistic solution. It would be ever bit as hard to make work as the one state. That being so there’s no point in advocating it especially since I don’t believe for a second the Zionists are serious about making the sacrifices needed for the two state idea to work. Be realistic demand the “impossible” one binational sate with Israeli Arabs and Jewish Palestinians living together in one country. That way the settlers needed be evicted at all nor would they be a small potentially endangered minority.
@everybody: I think that there is a large consensus among those who understand what is going on in the Middle-East that the Two State solution is dead; frankly, it is also immoral. Some, like Norman Finkelstein do still advocate it on the sole argument that pretty much the entire planet has already expressed support for it. I would not have too big a problem with his logic if, as you guys correctly pointed it out, the Two State solution was not impossible to achieve to begin with. Besides, its not “the world” which will decide what happens in Palestine, but the Palestinians themselves. I personally believe that the Shias (Hezbollah+Iran, in that order) will eventually militarily defeat Israel. Then,the One State solution will be *imposed* upon the Jews, many of which will come to realize that it is far better from THEM too.
I can’t see either Iran or Hizbollah inflicting military defeat on Israel nor any Arab army doing the same in the sense of invading the territory of Palestine and over throwing the Zionist state. Hizbollah managed to drive the Israalis out of Lebanon but it took years of guerrilla warfare. They weren’t able defeat the IDF in a major battle merely make the occupation of the south prohibitively expensive. I have every admiration for the heroism and brilliant military achievements of the Hizbollah but they won’t be able to invade Israel from the north. Invading another country and taking the offensive is very different from fighting defensively on your own territory that you know inside out.
The Pentagon will keep the IDF supplied with the latest equipment. Maybe in the second half of the century China or Russia might be able to supply the Arabs with equal or better kit. But it’s a long way off before America will be seriously challenged in the sphere of military hardware.
The other problem is that Israel is a nuclear state. I’ve heard it said that the Jews will fire nuclear weapons at their attackers and bring the temple down on their heads rather than allow themselves to lose a conventional war and be invaded. Masada will not fall again etc. The IDF may appear to be cowardly when confronted with Hizbollah in Lebanon but that doesn’t tell you anything about how they’d fight if the survival of their country was at stake.
As I’m sure you know Israel has Dolphin nuclear submarines so even if their land based missiles were destroyed they could still destroy their enemy from the sea.
No Iranian or Hizbollah politician is going to risk the destruction of Tehran or Beirut in a nuclear exchange.
So I don’t see how Israel can be defeated in a conventional war without the risk of catastrophe. There wont be a second Saladin riding into Jerusalem.
@Anonymous16:39: there is much in what you post which I will disagree with. Let’s take some of that:
in the sense of invading the territory of Palestine and over throwing the Zionist state
Actually, you conflate two very different things here. The ANC did not succeed in “invading” South Africa, yet it definintely overthrew the Apartheid state. Yes, no shot were firned when de Klerk let Mandela go, but BEFORE that plenty of shots had been fired.
They weren’t able defeat the IDF in a major battle
Actually, the war of 2006 was excatly that, one major battle, and Hezbollah comprehensively defeated the IDF.
Invading another country and taking the offensive is very different from fighting defensively on your own territory that you know inside out.
Here I completely agree, but I am not suggested that Hezbollah will invade Israel, only that it will be in a postition to force a solution, which is quite a different thing. Combine another war with Hezbollah with a serious Palestinian uprising in the West Bank AND ISRAEL PROPER, and you have a disaster in the making for the Israelis.
The Pentagon will keep the IDF supplied with the latest equipment.
Yes. That is also totally irrelevant. Hardware does not win wars, its that lesson which the USA still cannot learn.
The other problem is that Israel is a nuclear state.
Their nukes are only good as a deterrent. One they fail to deter, and Shias will NOT be deterred by nukes, they are useless and cannot be used in any scenario of war (well, except maybe against Syrian armor, but the Syrians are not a real threat anyway, much less so their armor).
The IDF may appear to be cowardly when confronted with Hizbollah in Lebanon but that doesn’t tell you anything about how they’d fight if the survival of their country was at stake.
I beg to disagree. Cowards are cowards. Period. Look at the super-dopper commandos the Isareli sent on the Mavi Marmara. Have you seen the photos of their terrified faces when they were disarmed by CIVILIANS? They were crapping their pants in panic. And that is the so-called “elite” of the Israeli Navy?
As I’m sure you know Israel has Dolphin nuclear submarines so even if their land based missiles were destroyed they could still destroy their enemy from the sea
As I said above, Israeli hardware is useless. All it shows is that the Israelis are investing a lot of ressources into fighting a kind of war which will never happen. Like the French after WWI.
There wont be a second Saladin riding into Jerusalem.
I betcha there will. In our lifetime. And he will be Shia.
Was is the continuation of politics by other means, always remember that. Its not just tanks and nukes and hardware. As they say in the USA, its the size of the fight in the dog, not the size of the dog in the fight which determines the outcome of a fight, and that is even more true for a very long conflict like the one in Palestine.
The Palestinians will use a COMBINATION of political and military tools to prevail, whereas Israel is rapidly loosing its political instruments and it has a useless military.
Ahmadinejad is right – the Zionist state is coming to an end.
No one would be more delighted than me if you were right Saker. I doubt it will happen in our lifetimes though. Still I suppose Apartheid South Africa looked invincible in the Sixties.
I reckon the Zionist are far more frightened of the South African analogy taking off on American campuses than they are of Hizbollah. That’s what the likes of Dershowitz are determined to stamp out. I hope and believe he can’t possibly succeed in the long run.
The best hope is that the anti apartheid movement is lead by liberal Jews just as the last one was.
Mearsheimer is now saying that the two state solution is effectively dead.
US declares Russia as the enemy.
As well as RT, Press TV and China’s CCTV.
Funny how he does not consider Qatari puppet regime and Al-Jazeera as enemy news sources who promote the myth of the boogeyman Bin Ladin and Al Qaeda and also host the largest US military fleet in the Gulf.
“The Chairman of the Broadcasting Board of Governors – the organization overseeing U.S. media directed at foreign audiences – says his organization needs to fight its enemies. And among those are Iran’s Press TV, China’s CCTV and RT. Political commentator Peter Lavelle says the chairman’s statement puts him beyond real journalism.”
@I reckon the Zionist are far more frightened of the South African analogy taking off on American campuses than they are of Hizbollah.
You might be right, though I still believe that Hezbollah is, if you allow me this expression, the “dialectical reaction to Zionism” and that it will defeat Israel, at least as a racist state.
The best hope is that the anti apartheid movement is lead by liberal Jews just as the last one was.
I think that they are crucial. David Rovics, Amy Goodman, Norman Finkenstein, the truly *heroic* Max Blumenthal (it takes cojones to make the reports he makes from Isarel), Philip Weiss, Glenn Greenwald, Roger Tucker, Tony Karon, Nir Rosen, Gilad Atzmon, Israel Shahak, Israel Shamir or Amy Goodman and so many others are the living proof that no ideology can suppress our common humanity. Fundamentally, all racisms must be opposed not only because they are not “nice”, but because they deny our common humanity, something which is one of the most important and, I believe, God-given moral rule that we all should live by.
While I do not believe that there really is such a thing as an “ethnical Jew” (Shlomo Sands conclusively killed that myth), there is a Jewish tribal culture and ideology out there. Therefore, there are “Jews”. But even though they might be brainwashed during their childhoods – human nature cannot be permanently suppressed, at least not in most of us.
I firmly believe that not only US Jews. but even ISRAELI Jews will, eventually, recognize that being part of mankind is so much more rewarding that being apart from it.
As Norman Finkelstein correctly points out, there is room for everyone at the rendez-vous of victory!
Can you elaborate on this:
“Their nukes are only good as a deterrent. One they fail to deter, and Shias will NOT be deterred by nukes, they are useless and cannot be used in any scenario of war.”
Why wouldn’t Israel use nukes? Because it would guarantee a nuclear counter-response in the future? Because they wouldn’t be effective against spread out missile launchers?
Also, I’d like to hear your thoughts on how a future war with Hizballah, Israel, Syria and Iran might play out? How could Hizballah get to a position in which it could “force a solution”?
I think we are still a few years away from this possibility. Israel will have to become an even worse apartheid state, triggering the collapse of the PA, a mass movement inside ’48 Palestine for a one state solution, and more international isolation that breaks the atlantic alliance and generates mass protests and boycotts in Europe and North America. Then, when the big war does break out, it will have to spread around the borders of Palestine, led and coordinated by Hizballah, which might be able to take territory in northern israel, in conjunction with an arab uprising in the galilee. With the west bank unified in protest, and with the north liberated, israel would be squeezed into a tiny sliver of territory on the coast, from ashdod to tel aviv and haifa. if the country is paralyzed by missile shots from lebanon, syria and possibly iran, a solution might then be forced, as you say.
is this how a regional war could play out?
thinking about this military scenario makes me wonder about the real nature of the settlements in the West Bank. perhaps they are supported as something more than stupid ideology. how do they fit into military strategy? and how do we think of the west bank occupation when we consider the military scenario outlined above? perhaps israeli leaders see the west bank as a vital means to spread the population to avoid the potential of being cornered on the sea during a war and having a one state solution imposed on them.
sorry for speculating on your blog. however, i am interested in hearing your thoughts, as someone with more background in military strategy.
@anonymous: i am on the road until Monday. i will gladly answer your question then. cheers! The Saker
@anonymous: you raise a really interesting topic here and, if you don’t mind, I will give you a one sentence answer here and write up a full post about that either later today or tomorrow, ok?
The short answer is this: there are no good targets for Israel’s nuclear weapons in the countries surrounding Israel. The case of Iran needs to be considered separately.
Stay tuned for the upcoming post on this topic.