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Saturday, 21 January 2017

When Was America Great?

Donald Trump ran for President on the slogan “Make America Great Again,” implying that America had been great once, but no longer is.
True to form, Hillary Clinton’s rejoinder was clueless.  America is great now, she would insist every chance she got — indispensably great, “exceptional” even.
Could there be a more empty-headed exchange of views!
After all, Trump was neither asserting nor implying anything; he was pitching a line to a demographic that he, advertising himself, wanted to target.  Therefore, no rebuttal was called for; least of all, one as inane as Clinton’s.
But, of course, she was pitching a line too.
A cottage industry has lately sprung up analyzing the pathologies of Donald Trump’s personality.  His public persona is inscrutable, however; it defies analysis for the simple reason that there is no there there.
Trump is a con man for whom reasons and evidence matter only insofar as they serve his purposes.   He is whatever he needs to be at the moment.
Meanwhile, Clinton took her lead from the Ronald Reagan, “morning in America” playbook.  The Gipper sold his snake oil by projecting a shallow, but infectious, optimism.  However, for that to work, a sunny disposition is required.  Hillary isn’t a good enough actor to pull it off.
All she could do was scare a lot of voters – a majority of them, it turned out — with the specter of the orange haired monster.  As for promoting herself, she was hopeless.
Moreover, her take on the morning in America meme only fed the hostility of her detractors.   How could it not?  In their minds, she represented the “elites” behind the losses they felt.
They were right about that.
Meanwhile, Trump knew exactly how to play his marks by making them think that he could restore a past that they look back upon with nostalgia.
In reality, though, Trump cannot do anything of the sort, and wouldn’t if he could.
This is why, before long, “Make America Great Again” will stick in the craw of Trump voters in much the way that Obama’s “hope and change thingee,” as Sarah Palin called it, still plagues disillusioned Obamaphiles.
Obama was vague about what he wanted people to hope for, and what changes he saw coming.  Trump is vague as well.
But it is obvious enough what he wants people to hear when he speaks of making America great — again.
Since Trump’s target audience was comprised mainly of people who are at least middle aged, it would be fair to say that his goal was to get them to think of post-War America as their personal Paradise lost.
This is nonsense, of course; but, by now, the span of time between the late forties and early sixties is remote enough to be looked back upon in ways that Trump could and did successfully exploit.
The man is anything but subtle.
He wanted his marks to yearn for a Golden Age in which hard working white men could make a decent living doing honest, productive labor in jobs that were not about to go away; and in which everybody else knew his or her place: blacks in the back of the bus, women standing by their men, gays in the closet, Hispanics in Mexico or Central America.
The pundits tell us that “Make America Great Again” is a dog whistle slogan – meaning that its meaning is audible to Trump’s target audience and no one else.   Like so much else that liberal pundits tell us, this is nonsense.  What Trump wanted people to hear was audible to everybody.
It is a noxious message, and a false one: even white men didn’t have it so good back in the day.
Nevertheless, as with much else that Trump says, there is something to it – just not what he intended.
For one thing, the political scene really was better in the Truman, Eisenhower and Kennedy years.  Republicans were pernicious, of course, but no worse than Democrats are today.  And the New Deal spirit still survived in sectors of the Democratic Party.
Democrats now, especially since Election Day, are many times worse than they used to be.  Cold War Democrats had at least some measure of common sense and proportionality; Democrats today, for no plausible reason whatsoever, are hell-bent on taking the world to the brink of destruction, or beyond.
Hillary lost, but, within the ranks of the party she led, her Russophobic, neoconservative warmongering has taken on a life of its own.   Can any sane person not be nostalgic for a time when Democrats were better than that?
It is all well and good to question the “legitimacy” of Trump’s presidency.   There are so many questions that could be raised about that: voter suppression topping the list.
But Democrats cannot find it in themselves to do anything more edifying than blame those damn Ruskies.
This is not only preposterous; it is criminally reckless because all it does is prepare the public for war.
On this, “progressive” Democrats are as bad as the others; as bad even as Republicans like that perennial miscreant John McCain and his sidekick, Lindsey Graham.
Shame especially on “civil rights icon” and Clinton stooge John Lewis.  The guardians of the status quo now find it useful to place him on a pedestal, just as they find it useful to de-radicalize and then venerate Martin Luther King.
In exchange for the honor, he does them yeoman service – as when he conflated still unanswered questions about Russian hackers with the legitimacy of Donald Trump’s election.
Civil rights icon indeed; the man belongs in a museum.  Along with most of the rest of the Congressional Black Caucus, and nearly the entire membership of the incongruously named Progressive Caucus, he should just get out of the way.
Cold War Democrats were anything but “great,” but at least they didn’t make starting World War III their life’s work.
Trump obviously has no interest in transforming the Democratic Party for the better, and neither did voters who thought that a Trump presidency would make America great again.
Nevertheless, along with all the really bad stuff that Trump, and many of his fans, actually did have in mind, the nostalgia for the fifties and early sixties that he churned up does suggest a thought that is well worth taking on board — that neither Republicans nor Democrats need be quite as awful as they actually are.
Ironically too, Trump’s implicit appeal to post-War American values and norms helps sustain (small-r) republican ways of thinking about politics that are generally progressive and diametrically opposed to all things Trumpian.
From the sixteenth century on, there have been political thinkers in Western countries for whom ancient Sparta and the Roman republic served as political models.  What they esteemed was their egalitarianism (applicable, however, only to free male citizens) and their ideal of civic virtue, according to which the public good takes precedence over individuals’ private interests.
In the ideal world envisioned by republicans, small, mainly rural, largely self-sufficient households prosper together – with no one rich, no one poor, and everyone happy.
America’s founders were influenced by republican thought – Thomas Jefferson, most famously – and, early on, strains of republican thinking found a welcome home in the collective consciousness of the American people.
The fortunes of republican thinking have waxed and waned in the years that ensued, as has the appeal of republican values – in part because republicanism’s fortunes and capitalism’s are thoroughly intertwined.
(Small-r) republican societies may not be full-fledged capitalist societies, according to one or another account of what capitalism involves, but they are relevantly like mature capitalist societies in supposing private ownership of major means of production and market relations.  They therefore give rise to concentrations of wealth that undo the conditions for their possibility.
In this sense, their vision of ideal political-economic arrangements is utopian, unrealizable in real world conditions.  Full-fledged capitalism, on the other hand, is astonishingly resilient; and, as everyone nowadays understands, it is capable of sustaining enormous levels of inequality.
In the years that people in Trump’s target audience look back upon yearningly, the inegalitarian tendencies inherent in the logic of capitalist development were effectively held in bounds by circumstances that cannot now be reproduced, and by the sustained efforts of a political class for whom memories of the Great Depression of the 1930s remained vivid.  Those days are long gone.
Moreover, for nearly the entire post-War period, rampant, corporate and state sponsored consumerism has been militating against republican notions of civic virtue.
Even so, vestigial republican attitudes survive in the deepest recesses of the American psyche.   In recent years, there has even been a revival of republican political philosophy in respectable academic precincts.
Therefore, one plausible understanding of “Make America Great Again” would be to see it as a call for America to recover its republican roots – by building a politics around the notions of freedom, equality, and virtue associated with the republican tradition.
Needless to say, this is not what Trump was promising.   He stands for everything republicanism rejects.
Trump voters are obviously capable of believing almost anything, but it would strain even their credulity to see Trump’s “Make America Great Again” slogan as a call for equality, virtue, and the simplicity of manners and morals inherent in the republican ideal.
Perhaps this is why, to hear Trump and his defenders tell it, what has been lost that is worth restoring is not exactly the ways that American society accorded a semblance of homage to what republicans care about but something more pedestrian associated with it: the economic security that existed when manufacturing jobs abounded. That is what he claims he can restore.
But, of course, he cannot – not with what he is peddling.  He can only do what mountebanks generally do: sell crap to the gullible and the desperate, counting on the power of suggestion to keep them on board long enough for him not to be run out of town.
This is all he can do for much the same reason that social democrats, these days, cannot hold back the neoliberal tide: because capitalism cannot be transformed or even tamed by government fiat alone.
Marxists were spot on right when they maintained that far-reaching changes of the kind that are desperately needed nowadays can only come about through class struggle.  This is why, in the absence of a collective agent, able and determined to transform the underlying structure of capitalism itself, the broad contours of the status quo are regretfully secure.
Because neoliberal economic realities, and neoliberal state policies, have effectively reduced the labor movement to a shadow of its former self, leaving no functional equivalent in its place, this is indeed the situation we now find ourselves in.
Therefore, even if Trump wasn’t just blowing air – even if he really did want to restore manufacturing jobs — he would be unable to do anything of the kind.
Being both an opportunist and a showman, he will likely collude with a few of his fellow capitalists for a while — making them offers, at the taxpayer’s expense, that they cannot refuse.  But without a counter-systemic social movement leading the way, he cannot defy the inherent logic of the system.   No one can.
At this point in its development, that system has two major requirements, both of which militate against restoring anything like the conditions that, decades ago, created a large and secure middle class.  It requires consumers able and willing to spend enough to keep aggregate demand at acceptable levels; and it requires a domestic work force that that is insecure and poorly paid, and therefore quiescent.   These exigencies are at odds; precarious work situations and depressed wages depress consumption.
Neoliberals square the circle by transferring manufacturing jobs to low wage countries and then flooding the domestic market with goods that are so cheap that most Americans can still afford them.
Obviously, this “solution” doesn’t address any of the fundamental contradictions of neoliberal capitalism.  If anything, it exacerbates them.
Trump owes his election, in part, to the discontents it generates.  If those discontents continue, or intensify, he will have hell to pay.
Barring a radical change of course, the day of reckoning is sure to come; the only question is when.
If, in a vain effort to keep his supporters on board for as long as he can, Trump ratchets up more of the same – and what else could he do with the cabinet of dunces he has appointed, and without being a traitor to his class and to his own venality? – it could well come on his watch.
This will be wondrous to behold.
Had the Democratic Party not rigged the nomination process against Bernie Sanders, he would probably now be President, and he would find his efforts to restore the gains of the New Deal – Great Society era, and then to move beyond them, thwarted not just by the obstacles that (big-R) Republicans and rightwing Democrats (is there any other kind?) would put in his way, but by the same fatal contradiction.
The problem with Sanders’ “political revolution” was not just that it wasn’t radical enough or that it was too empire friendly; it was that, after the neoliberal assault on what little (small-d) democracy we had, there can be no fundamental changes at the political level without taking on capitalism itself.
But since Sanders was denied the nomination, that is a problem for another day.  Trump is the problem now.
Surely, at some level, many, maybe most, Trump voters have known all along that there is nothing he could do that would restore the economic security they crave.  They voted for him anyway, however.  That is how desperate they were.
And so, he won; and, as surely as the sun will rise tomorrow, the shit will hit the fan.
Notwithstanding the willful blindness that is so rampant in liberal quarters, the problem now, had Hillary not flubbed so badly, would be to keep her and her fellow Russophobic neocons and “humanitarian” imperialists from vaporizing the world.
But because he is such a loose cannon, and in so far over his head, what lies ahead with Trump seems even scarier than that – even on matters of war and peace.  If he does derail the War Party, then more power to him.  But he is no more to be trusted to use the American juggernaut, nukes and all, wisely than any normally immature adolescent boy chosen at random.
Expect turbulence ahead!  The time when it is still possible to postpone the inevitable choice between socialism – not the social democratic – Sanders version, but the real deal — or barbarism is fading fast.  Thank Trump for that.
ANDREW LEVINE is a Senior Scholar at the Institute for Policy Studies, the author most recently of THE AMERICAN IDEOLOGY (Routledge) and POLITICAL KEY WORDS (Blackwell) as well as of many other books and articles in political philosophy. His most recent book is In Bad Faith: What’s Wrong With the Opium of the People. He was a Professor (philosophy) at the University of Wisconsin-Madison and a Research Professor (philosophy) at the University of Maryland-College Park.  He is a contributor to Hopeless: Barack Obama and the Politics of Illusion (AK Press).
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River to Sea Uprooted Palestinian   
The views expressed in this article are the sole responsibility of the author and do not necessarily reflect those of the Blog!

مَن يفهم أوباما عشية الرحيل مثل ميشال سليمان؟

ناصر قنديل

– لا يتعلق الشعور بالحسرة في الليلة الأخيرة في المقر الرئاسي بحجم البلد ولا بمكانة الرئيس وبصمته وباما وحجم تأثيرها، فهو مجرد شعور إنساني  يحصد معه الشخص الذي صار رئيساً في بلد ما، كبيراً أو صغيراً، ثمرة رهاناته وما كان يظنه صواباً، ويجد مع حصاد الفشل والخسائر تفسيراً بجحود الغير أو بضعف العقلانية التي يرغب بتمييز مواقفه بها.

– يتميز باراك أوباما بسياسة النأي عن الحروب التي تشبه لبنانياً معادلة الرئيس ميشال سليمان بالنأي بالنفس، وقد تسببت فلسفة النأي عن الحروب لأوباما بتحقيق أبرز إنجازاته لدى فريق كان يخشى تورط الإدارة الأميركية بحروب تشعل العالم، كما لاقى النأي بالنفس الذي ارتبط باسم الرئيس سليمان تشجيع فريق كان يخشى أن ينتصر سليمان لعلاقته بسورية وحزب الله، فيختل ميزان القوى اللبناني لصالحهما. لكن أوباما الذي لقي ترحيب روسيا التي تقف على الضفة المقابلة عالمياً، بابتعاده عن الحروب أنهى ولايته بأسوا ما يمكن لرئيس أميركي فعله في العلاقة مع موسكو بطرده خمسة وثلاثين دبلوماسياً روسياً من واشنطن، بينما أنهى الرئيس سليمان الذي بدأ عهده مرشحاً مقرباً ومدعوماً من المقاومة بأسوأ ما ستتذكره المقاومة عن موقف رئاسي بحقها مع وصف سليمان لثلاثية الجيش والشعب والمقاومة التي يصفها المقاومون بالمعادلة الذهبية بمعادلة خشبية ولّى زمانها.

– ينظر الرئيس اوباما لعدم وفاء الأميركيين وجحودهم بحسرة، وهو يرى الرئيس القادم إلى البيت الأبيض خلفه دونالد ترامب، بلغته الحادة وخطابه الحديدي، وتقربه من روسيا، وتمسكه بـ«إسرائيل»، وهما الجهتان الأهم اللتان حرص أوباما على عدم إغضابهما، فسحب مبادرته الرئاسية لحل القضية الفلسطينية وفقاً لرؤية حل الدولتين عام 2010 ودعم حروب «إسرائيل» في غزة، وذهب للتفاوض مع روسيا ومحاولة إنضاج تفاهمات معها كان أهمها التفاهم على الملف النووي الإيراني والحل السياسي للسلاح الكيميائي السوري، لكنه كما انتهى بحصاد أعلى منسوب غضب روسي على رئيس أميركي انتهى بحصاد أعلى نسبة غضب «إسرائيلي» بقرار عدم استخدام الفيتو لمنع صدور قرار يدين الاستيطان عن مجلس الأمن الدولي، بينما لم يحصد الرئيس سليمان من إفساد علاقته مع سورية وحزب الله وفلسفة النأي بالنفس والمعادلة الخشبية إلا حسرة رؤية العماد ميشال عون في قصر بعبدا، بترشيح ودعم وابتسامة عريضة من كل الذين لأجلهم خاصم سليمان سورية وحزب الله، وهو يشعر بجحود السياسة والساسة في لبنان، بعدما كان ينتظر خلفاً يشبه هيلاري كلينتون في قصر بعبدا لا دونالد ترامب.

– الهبة السعودية للجيش اللبناني التي حملت اسم الرئيس سليمان ولم يزعجه إلغاؤها احتجاجاً على مواقف خصومه اللبنانيين من السعودية، تبدو عائدة على طبق من ذهب لبناء جسور علاقة سعودية مع العماد ميشال عون وقد صار رئيسا، فيما يطوي النسيان علاقة الرئيس سليمان بالهبة، كما سيطوي النسيان قانون التأمين الصحي الذي حمل اسم باراك أوباما وسيقتلعه دونالد ترامب بتعديلات تمنحه اسماً جديداً ربما يكون ترامب كير، بمثل ما ستحمل الهبة بدلاً من اسم سليمان اسم عون.

– لا يفيد أوباما لتعزية نفسه بالفشل وهو يخرج بلا أصدقاء، أن يتخذ مظلومية الفلاسفة الذين لا تقدر قيمتهم الشعوب ولا تستحقهم الإنسانية، كما لم يفد سليمان التغني بتمثيل الاعتدال، لأن هذا سيجعله يصف كل من كان يسميهم بحلف الاعتدال بالمتطرفين محلياً وعربياً، وماذا سيقول غدا عن وصول فرانسوا فيون للرئاسة الفرنسية وصورته التذكارية المقبلة مع الرئيس السوري بشار الأسد، ممثلاً حزب شارل ديغول والاعتدال الحضاري الأوروبي؟

– هي ليست السياسة الـ»بلا قيم» والـ»بلا وفاء»، بل حصاد الذين يمضون أيامهم بالتردد في الحسابات بحجة التعقل وحسن التصرف وينتهون، كما يقول المثل الشائع، والسوري بالمناسبة، «لا بدُمّر عيّدنا ولا بالشام لحقنا العيد».

River to Sea Uprooted Palestinian   
The views expressed in this article are the sole responsibility of the author and do not necessarily reflect those of the Blog!

Syrian Army to liberate Al-Bab: report

BEIRUT, LEBANON (10:45 P.M.) – The Turkish Army will pull back its forces attacking the Islamic State (ISIS) stronghold of Al-Bab in order to allow the Syrian Arab Army (SAA) to liberate the city, Lebanese journalist Hussein Murtada reported on Friday.
The Syrian Arab Army launched an offensive in the eastern countryside of Aleppo recently, targeting the Al-Bab Plateau’s southern flank.
This offensive has been relatively successful for the Syrian Arab Army, as they have liberated at least 5 villages and several sites from the Islamic State terrorists positioned in the Al-Bab Plateau.
Turkish soldiers have not shared the same success as the Syrian Army in east Aleppo, despite launching several attacks against the Islamic State terrorists at Al-Bab’s eastern and western flanks of the city.
On Friday, the Turkish Army suffered another setback eastern Al-Bab after failing to seize the key town of Al-Sulfaniyah from the Islamic State.

River to Sea Uprooted Palestinian   
The views expressed in this article are the sole responsibility of the author and do not necessarily reflect those of the Blog!

Iraq and the dialogue of after the victory العراق وحوار ما بعد الانتصار

Written by Nasser Kandil,
In a pre-emptive smart initiative, the institute of the Iraqi Dialogue headed by the Sheikh Humam Hamoudi, the member in the body of the Head of Representatives in cooperation with the University of Baghdad, the Iraqi Parliament and, and with a remarkable participation from each of the President of the Republic, the Speaker of the Parliament, the Prime Minister, and the heads and the representatives of the main political components has called for a conference under the title of Iraq and the Dialogue after the victory, and in conjunction with a permanent search in the corridors of the Iraqi politics about the settlement’s  items that affect issues that were a matter of suspicion and fear to debate among the Iraqis for a decade ago. Iraq is a Levantine Arab citadel through its population, area, wealth, minds, and status according to active present history and geography.
Iraq will enter the year 2018, after it has freed from three successive burdens, a regime among it the Iraqis have divided till it fell, knowing that some of them felt of cold after it had fallen, and some of them on the early days of the US occupation felt of some kind of warmth comparing with the frost of the former regime. Despite the fact that the continuation of the division around the occupation did not last, but it led to a division around the new regime that is no less than the former regime, even if the opportunities of expression and the frameworks of change were more and available. But after Iraq and the Iraqis have been liberated relatively from the burden of the occupation, they got a heavier burden that re-imposes some of the occupation and some of the former regime along with some of the divisions around them, in addition to the burden of ISIS. But most importantly is that the majority of the Iraqis have agreed to wage the war of confrontation, salvation, and the search for a dialogue that renews the social coherence among the Iraqis on the basis that the first power of Iraq comes from the degree of the cohesion of its interior not the degree of the cohesion of some of its interior with some of its exterior against some of the other part of its interior with some of the other part of its exterior.
This time, the Iraqi Dialogue is a test of the experience before it is a national test that does not lack any of the Iraqis even if they were different in employing its keys and in determining its taboos, only the experience prevents them from turning the different judgments into new division. The experience here is the ability to get the message; first a unified Iraq where the dispute is ravaging in it is better for the components of Iraq than a secession that leads to the rule of the one vote in more than Iraq. Second, the concessions which allay the concerns and extinguish the fears of the partners are the reaping of tomorrow, while scoring the points of the winning on the partner is a revenge for the past. Third, who is the strongest is the one who is demanded to give but he gives up, the one who abandons a force leads, and the one who sticks to the force rules. The competitive Iraqis on tomorrow and their roles in it have to choose between either to run as candidates to lead Iraq or to rule it, remembering always that whenever one has the opportunity to rule, it will not be as it was at the era of the former regime and the occupation.
Iraq approaches from its victory while the world and region change, but the most change that occurs is that the important players are no longer as they were, and that the thoughts which prevailed and dominated during a quarter of a century ago since the fall of Berlin Wall and the rule of the philosophy of the end of the history, and the savage uni-globalization, which the occupation of Iraq was one of its vocabularies are retreating paving the way for everything national. Now America as a symbol of the era which has passed is preparing for the coming era through its nationalism no matter how crude and exaggerated to the extent of racism it is, and in the time of sticking to the special identities and nationalism it has the sovereignty and the legitimacy as two vocabularies that approached from the level of passing and falling in the past quarter – century. By the force of the legitimacy and the sovereignty the Iraqis will discover the points of strength that they did not consider before. As the geography and the history show present elements in the present-industry by drawing the results of the wars and the options of peace, and away from the partisanships, emotions, the warmth of emotions of the biases which were inherited in the time of division, and with the replacement of all of that with the reflection in the history and geography the Iraqis will be able to draw the road map of their future.
The most important conclusion is that the unified Iraq is a power for the Iraqis, at their forefronts those who imagine that the secession is the way of independence, but the weak independence is a dependency, and in order to turn the unity into power there must be a recognition of the joy of the privacies not a call for their abolition. Iraq and Syria are Levantine Arab and Islamic base for making politics, culture, and the economy for their region, through their separation the Levant falls and the Arabs and the Muslims enter the time of rivalry and non-politics. Together they form their roles as a bridge for a dialogue between all the components of the Arab and the Muslim neighborhood and the bases of alliances for its force as well as a rehabilitation of the concept of the national security which the Kurdish Saladin Al Ayoubi has formulated for the Arabs and the Muslims and which its compass is Jerusalem.
Translated by Lina Shehadeh,

العراق وحوار ما بعد الانتصار

ناصر قنديل

– في خطوة استباقية ذكية يدعو معهد الحوار العراقي الذي يرأسه سماحة الشيخ همام حمودي عضو هيئة رئاسة مجلس النواب بالتعاون مع جامعة بغداد ومجلس النواب العراقي، وبمشاركة لافتة لكل من رئيس الجمهورية ورئيس المجلس النيابي ورئيس الحكومة ورؤساء وممثلي المكوّنات السياسية الرئيسية، لعقد مؤتمر تحت عنوان «العراق وحوار ما بعد الانتصار»، بالتزامن مع بحث مستديم في أروقة السياسة العراقية حول بنود تسوية تطال قضايا كان يُنظر إليها بالريبة والخشية من المفاتحة والنقاش بين العراقيين لعقد مضى. والعراق قلعة عربية مشرقية بحجم سكانها ومساحتها وثرواتها وعقولها ومكانتها في كل من نابضَيْ البشرية اللذين لا يتوقفان عن الفعل والحضور، التاريخ والجغرافيا.

– يدخل العراق العام 2018 وقد تخفّف من ثلاثة أعباء متلاحقة، نظام حكم انقسم حوله العراقيون حتى الثمالة، فضاق ثوبه عليهم حتى تشقق وسقط، لكن بعضهم شعر بالوجود في العراء بعده، وبعضهم شعر في الأيام الأولى للاحتلال الأميركي ببعض الدفء بالقياس لصقيع النظام السابق، ورغم عدم دوام الانقسام حول الاحتلال، فقد أورث الاحتلال انقساماً حول النظام الجديد، لا يقل عن الانقسام في ظل النظام السابق، ولو كانت فرص التعبير أوفر وأطر التغيير أكثر، ومع تخفّف العراق والعراقيين نسبياً من عبء الاحتلال، فاجأهم عبء أثقل أعاد بعض الاحتلال وبعض النظام السابق وبعض الانقسامات حولهما، مع عبء داعش، لكنّ الأهم أن النسبة الأغلب من العراقيين بصورة عابرة للعرب والأكراد والطوائف تماسكت في خوض حرب المواجهة والخلاص والبحث عن حوار يجدّد العقد الاجتماعي بين العراقيين على قاعدة اليقين بأن قوة العراق الأولى تأتي من درجة تماسُك داخله لا بدرجة تمسُّك بعض داخله ببعض خارجه بوجه بعض آخر من الداخل متمسّك ببعض آخر من الخارج.

– الحوار العراقي هذه المرة امتحان خبرة قبل أن يكون امتحان وطنية لا تنقص أحداً من العراقيين، ولو تفاوتوا في الاجتهاد في توصيف مفاتيحها واختلفوا في تحديد محرّماتها. والخبرة وحدها هي التي تعصمهم عن تحويل الاجتهادات المختلفة إلى انقسام جديد، يحملون سلاسله الثقيلة تجرجرها أقدامهم ببطء يحول دون انطلاق مسيرتهم. والخبرة هنا هي في القدرة على استخلاص العبرة، وأولها أن عراقاً موحداً يعصف فيه الخلاف أفضل لكل مكونات العراق من انفصال يؤسس لحكم الصوت الواحد في أكثر من عراق. وثانيها أن التنازلات التي تهدئ الهواجس وتطفئ المخاوف لدى الشركاء هي استثمار في الغد، بينما تسجيل نقاط الربح على الشريك هو انتقام للماضي. وثالثها أن الأقوى هو المطالَب بأن يعطيَ ويتنازل، ومَن يتنازل عن قوة يقود، ومن يتمسك بالقوة يحكم، وأمام العراقيين المتنافسين على الغد وأدوارهم فيه أن يختاروا بين أن يترشّحوا لقيادة العراق أم لحكمه، متذكّرين دائماً أنه مهما تيسرت لأحدهم فرصة الحكم، فلن تتيسّر، كما كانت للنظام السابق وللاحتلال، وما دامت.

– يدخل العراق زمن نصره، والعالم والمنطقة يتغيّران، وأهمّ ما يتغيّر هو أنّ اللاعبين الكبار، لم يعودوا كما كانوا، وأن الأفكار التي توسّع انتشارها وطغت خلال ربع قرن مضى منذ سقوط جدار برلين وسيادة فلسفة نهاية التاريخ والعولمة الأحادية المتوحشة، التي كان احتلال العراق أحد مفرداتها، تتراجع مخلية المكان لعودة كل ما هو وطني. وهذه هي أميركا كدولة رمز للحقبة التي مضت تستعدّ للحقبة المقبلة بوطنيتها مهما بدت فجة ومبالغاً بها حدّ العنصرية. وفي زمن التمسك بالهويات الخاصة والوطنيات تمتلك السيادة والشرعية، كمفردتين قاربتا حد الزوال والسقوط في ربع القرن الماضي، بريقاً وجاذبية وفاعلية لم تمتلك مثلها في عصرها الذهبي، وبقوة الشرعية والسيادة سيكتشف العراقيون كثيراً نقاط قوة لم يقيموا لها حساباً مشابهاً من قبل، بمثل ما تظهر الجغرافيا والتاريخ عناصر حاضرة في صناعة الحاضر ورسم نتائج الحروب وخيارات السلم. وبالتجرد عن العصبيات والعواطف وحرارة انفعالات الانحيازات التي تمليها اصطفافات موروثة من زمن الانقسامات، واستبدال كل ذلك بالتمعن البارد في التاريخ والجغرافيا سيتمكن العراقيون من رسم خارطة طريقهم للمستقبل.

– أهمّ الخلاصات أنّ العراق الموحد قوة للعراقيين وأولهم مَن يتخيّلون الانفصال طريق استقلال. والاستقلال الضعيف تبعية. وأن الوحدة كي تصير قوة فهي جمع لا قهر ولا طرح ولا قسمة ولا ضرب بين مختلفين، بل اعتراف بفرح الخصوصيات لا دعوة لإلغائها. وأن العراق وسوريا قاعدة صناعة السياسة والحضارة والاقتصاد لمنطقتهم، مشرقية وعربية وإسلامية، بتفرقهما يسقط المشرق ويدخل العرب والمسملون زمن التناحر واللاسياسة، يصيغان معاً دورهما جسر حوار بين سائر مكونات الجوار العربي والإسلامي، وقواعد التحالفات لقواه، ورد الاعتبار لمفهوم للأمن القومي صاغه الكردي صلاح الدين الأيوبي للعرب والمسلمين بوصلته القدس.

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River to Sea Uprooted Palestinian   
The views expressed in this article are the sole responsibility of the author and do not necessarily reflect those of the Blog!

الفيتو «الميثاقي» معكوساً لفرض قانون الانتخابات!

ناصر قنديل

– في مرة سابقة عام 2013 وعندما شعر تيار المستقبل أن تخديم مشروعه بالتمديد للرئيس السابق ميشال سليمان يستدعي الإبقاء على  المجلس النيابي الحالي، لتسهيل مهمة التمديد الرئاسي على مجلس ممدِّد لنفسه أصلاً ولا يخجل من التمديد كفعل تحت شعار احترام المهل الدستورية، وكي يضمن التوازنات النيابية ذاتها لتسهيل المهمة، لم يرفّ جفن الرئيس فؤاد السنيورة مرة ثانية بعد عام 2007 ومشهد التظاهرات التي يبشّره بمثلها التيار الوطني الحر ورئيسه الوزير جبران باسيل ما لم يتمّ إقرار قانون جديد للانتخابات يحقق صحة التمثيل بديلاً من قانون الستين، وأعلن الرئيس سعد الحريري أنّه وتياره سيقاطعان أي انتخابات، وتكفّل الفيتو الميثاقي بإطاحة الانتخابات وإطاحة فرصة إنتاج قانون جديد، ولاحقاً إطاحة انتخاب رئيس، وبذريعة غياب الرئيس إطاحة البحث بقانون جديد باستفزاز مناخ مسيحي عنوانه لا أولوية تسبق انتخاب رئيس جديد للجمهورية.

– اليوم يُشهر النائب وليد جنبلاط باسمه وباسم تياره الفيتو على أيّ قانون يعتمد النسبية، كاملة أو نسبية أو مختلطة. ويراهن على هذا الفيتو لإطاحة فرصة استيلاد قانون جديد للانتخابات وجلب اللبنانيين إلى بيت الطاعة الانتخابي الذي يشكله قانون الستين. وهو يعلم أن إحباط فرصة قانون جديد يعتمد النسبية الكاملة تحديداً، بعيداً عن تشويه سمعة النسبية بالمختلط، هذه المرة حيث تتوافر كل الآمال والضغوط النفسية والمعنوية اللازمة لولادة هذا القانون، ستعني حكماً إحباطها إلى وقت طويل، إن لم يكن إلى الأبد، فالعهد الذي يبدأ بالانهزام أمام قانون الستين في بدايته، ورغم قوة الاندفاعة المرافقة لهذه البداية ومهابة الرئيس وثوابته، والظروف الأقرب للنصر التي وصل فيها إلى بعبدا على حصان أبيض، لن يكون بيده القول إنّ الدورة الانتخابية المقبلة بعد أربع سنوات ستكون فرصة ثانية لبلوغ القانون المنشود.

– تقف القوى المتطلعة إلى قانون جديد داخل المجلس النيابي وخارجه في موقف المحرج بكيفية التصرف، والبحث بالآليات التي تتيح فتح كوة أمل لإبقاء المشروع في التداول بزخم وأمل، لكن الأشدّ عرضة للاختبار والحرج هو التيار الوطني الحر، الذي وعد الطامحين للتغيير بلسان زعيمه الذي صار رئيساً أنّ وصوله لرئاسة الجمهورية مفتاح لبنان الجديد، وأن العزم على الإصلاح والتغيير لدى رئيس الجمهورية يشكلان ميزان قوى كافياً لفرض مسار جديد على الحياة السياسية. وبالتأكيد يبدو الرئيس مخلصاً لقوله من خطاب القسم إلى خطابه الشجاع في كلّ ما تناوله أمام السلك الدبلوماسي، وهذا مبرّر التفكير مع الرئيس ومن موقع الوقوف في خندقه حول كيفية التصرف بوجه الفيتو الميثاقي لمنع التغيير. وهو قد يتحوّل تحت شعار الميثاقية إلى استدرار تضامن كتل لا تريد الوقوف علناً مع قانون الستين، لكنها تشكل مع صاحب الفيتو نصاباً كافياً يمنع فوز أيّ قانون جديد بالتصويت اللازم لتمريره، إذا قرّر الرئيس الاحتكام للدستور، بعرض المشاريع في مجلس الوزراء أو مجلس النواب للتصويت.

– قدّمت الانتخابات الرئاسية وعدم الخوف من الفراغ كفزاعة نموذجاً لبديل ثالث غير التمديد والقبول بالأمر الواقع تحت شعار التوافق. وببساطة كان خيار العماد ميشال عون لرئاسة الجمهورية مشروعاً مستحيلاً، أكثر استحالة من قانون يعتمد النسبية الكاملة في لبنان دائرة واحدة، ومن خارج القيد الطائفي وتشكيل مجلس للشيوخ عملاً بالنص الدستوري الصريح والواضح. ولو خُيّرت القوى التي كانت تعارض وصول العماد عون بين قبوله رئيساً مع قانون الستين، أو قبول قانون انتخاب على أساس النسبية الكاملة مع رئيس توافقي لاختارت الثانية، ومثلما يشبه العماد عون النسبية، يشبه الرئيس التوافقي قانون الستين، ولو قبل حزب الله تحديداً في مقاربة الملف الرئاسي بثانية تستبعد الفراغ وتخشاه، وارتضى أن يخضع للابتزاز بين قبول التوافق أيّ الستين أو التمديد، لما وصل العماد عون للرئاسة اليوم.

– لا يمكن مطالبة حزب الله بتكرار الموقف اليوم، وقد حمل ما حمل لوضع البلد على السكة بعهدة رئيس للجمهورية يثق به ثقة كاملة، ويدرك تلاقيَهُ معه بمفاهيم التغيير كلها، وخصوصاً اولوية قانون الانتخاب الجديد والعصري والمعتمد على النسبية الكاملة، كما انّ المخاطر التي يشكلها موقع الرئاسة على الحزب تختلف عن قدرته على التعايش بوجود رئيس ثقة، مع نتاج قانون انتخاب بائد وعديم النفع وشديد الضرر. والمنطقي أنّ ما يستطيع التيار الوطني الحر التعايش معه يستطيع حزب الله التعايش معه أكثر في أيّ قانون للانتخاب، سواء لجهة ما ينتجه من أحجام أو توازنات أو ما يحبطه أو يحققه من آمال.

– القضية قضية كثيرين، لكن بقدر ما ينهض لملاقاتها التيار الوطني الحر باعتبارها قضيته، فلدى الجميع فرصة القول في حال الفشل إنّ الذي فشل هو الرئيس والتيار، وإنّ ثمة فرصة ثانية مع سواهما، بينما لا يملك الرئيس والتيار التحدث عن فرصة ثانية إذا سلّما واستسلما للفشل هذه المرة. والحديث عن ثورة وعصيان في مكانه بقدر ما يقصد به بلوغ لحظة الاختيار بين الستين والتمديد فيكون الجواب بـ«لا» كبيرة لكليهما. ولدى السؤال: هل ترضون الفراغ بديلاً يكون الجواب ولمَ لا، سيكون أفضل من كلّ منهما ومن كليهما، فليبقَ لبنان بلا مجلس نيابي، ولديه رئيس جمهورية وحكومة يتمثل فيها الجميع، يسيّران أمور الدولة حتى تنضج طبخة قانون جديد للانتخابات، تقرّه الحكومة وتدعو اللبنانيين لتشكيل مجلسهم الجديد على أساسه، وليعتبرها من يشاء دعوة لحلّ المجلس النيابي واعتبار الحكومة بمثابة مؤتمر تأسيسي، أليست هذه هي الثورة الشعبية وما عداها هو تمهيد للاستسلام للفيتو «الميثاقي»؟

River to Sea Uprooted Palestinian   
The views expressed in this article are the sole responsibility of the author and do not necessarily reflect those of the Blog!

Friday, 20 January 2017

The Trump Presidency and the Coming Conflict Between Europe and America

Global Research, January 20, 2017
World Socialist Web Site 19 January 2017
Donald Trump’s inauguration as president of the United States heralds an unprecedented deterioration in post-war relations between the US and Europe, above all between the US and Germany.
The January 20 ceremony was preceded by an interview with Trump in Britain’s Sunday Times and Germany’s Bild newspaper. His remarks were a broadside against the institutions that have constituted the basis of the post-World War II European order.
Trump praised Britain’s exit from the European Union, describing the EU as a vehicle for German domination and predicting that “others will leave.” He added, “Look, the EU was formed, partially, to beat the United States on trade, OK? So, I don’t really care whether it’s separate or together, to me it doesn’t matter.”
Trump threatened Germany’s auto industry with sanctions and attacked Chancellor Angela Merkel, blaming her refugee policy for destabilising Europe. He also opposed sanctions against Russia, while declaring that he believed the NATO alliance was “obsolete.”
Never before has a US president set as his explicit goal the breakup of the EU. Trump made clear in his interview that he was seeking to pit the UK against Germany and he solidarised himself with the UK Independence Party and other right-wing anti-EU parties.
The response from Europe’s political elite was uniformly hostile. In Germany, Merkel replied, “I think we Europeans hold our fate in our own hands.” Sigmar Gabriel of Merkel’s coalition partner, the Social Democratic Party, insisted, “We must not adopt a servile attitude now… In dealing with Trump, we need German self-confidence and a clear stance.”
French President Francois Hollande said that “transatlantic cooperation” will from now on be based on Europe’s own “interests and values.”
Europe’s think tanks and media predicted escalating militarism and an eruption of nationalist tensions. “EU member states will have to consider increasing strategic autonomy by reinforcing collective defence inside the EU,” said Felix Arteaga of the Elcano Royal Institute in Madrid.
Judy Dempsey of Carnegie Europe wrote that Trump “might rekindle old fears of German encirclement” by encouraging a “gang-up on Germany.” She added, “Since that is the new political outlook, Europe and Germany have to respond.”
In the Guardian, Natalie Nougayrède suggested, “Europe may witness a return to spheres of influence… with governments rushing to try to secure their own interests whatever the cost to neighbours and the continent’s future.”
Trump’s “America First” positions represent a seismic shift in US political relations with Europe. The Christian Science Monitor cited John Hulsman, a transatlantic affairs specialist, berating the “European elites” for having “grown accustomed to ‘Wilsonian’ American leaders who left unquestioned America’s leadership of the postwar internationalist system,” and not adjusting quickly enough to “a ‘Jacksonian’ and more nationalist US worldview promoted by Trump.”
Until now, however, such unilateralist tendencies were generally in abeyance. The American ruling class recognised that their unrestrained application would undermine its ability to exercise effective global hegemony. One of the issues animating hostility toward Trump within the US intelligence agencies in connection with his relations with Russian President Vladimir Putin is their belief that a Russian “bogeyman” is essential to preserve the framework through which the US has long exercised its dominance within Europe, via NATO and the EU.
The last time tensions emerged sharply between the US and Europe was in 2003, during the run-up to the Iraq War, when US Defence Secretary Donald Rumsfeld denounced France and Germany for failing to support the US in Iraq. Rumsfeld called the two countries “old Europe” and counterposed to them the states of Eastern Europe.
On January 26 that year, the World Socialist Web Site published a perspective comment by David North titled “How to deal with America? The European dilemma,” which addressed the historic significance of that conflict.
North explained that America’s postwar relationship with Europe between 1945 and 1991 “was determined fundamentally by its appraisal of its own essential economic and geopolitical interests within the specific context of the Cold War.” He continued: “America’s attitude toward Europe was determined by the overriding need to (1) enforce the isolation of the Soviet Union and minimize its influence in Western Europe (“containment”) and (2) prevent social revolution at a time when the European working class was extremely militant and highly politicized.
“The United States’ emphasis during that period on its alliance with Western Europe was, in fact, a departure from the historical norm. The more basic tendency of American capitalism, rooted in its somewhat belated emergence as a major imperialist power, had been to augment its world position at the expense of Europe.”
North then wrote:
“The collapse of the Soviet Union fundamentally altered the international framework upon which postwar diplomatic relations were based. There was no longer any need for the United States to prop up the Western European bourgeoisie as a line of defense against the Soviet Union. Moreover, the demise of the USSR created a vacuum of power that the United States was determined to exploit to its own advantage.”
In this context, he cited the prophetic warning made by Leon Trotsky in 1928:
In the period of crisis the hegemony of the United States will operate more completely, more openly, and more ruthlessly than in the period of boom. The United States will seek to overcome and extricate herself from her difficulties and maladies primarily at the expense of Europe, regardless of whether this occurs in Asia, Canada, South America, Australia, or Europe itself, or whether this takes place peacefully or through war.”
The dilemma anticipated in 2003 now assumes its full significance. Sections of the US bourgeoisie continue to be deeply opposed to Trump’s attacks on the EU and Germany, with outgoing Secretary of State John Kerry describing Merkel as “courageous” and Trump’s remarks as “inappropriate.” But regardless of such disagreements, the US is being objectively driven on a steep trajectory toward trade war and protectionism to counter the threat to its global hegemony due to economic decline, the challenge posed by the rise of China and other rival powers, and a series of military debacles suffered since 2003. This must inevitably provoke conflict with Europe.
No one can predict in detail the consequences of this geostrategic shift by the US—including what alliances Germany, France, the UK and Russia might eventually forge. To this must be added the precise role that may be played by China as a potential counterweight to America.
However, underlying all such developments will be an explosion of national antagonisms in which the corollary of Trump’s “America First” agenda will be demands to put “Germany First,” “Britain First” and “France First,” which can lead only to the fracturing of Europe into competing power blocs.
The project of European integration under capitalism is coming to an end, unleashing all of the political demons it was meant to have contained.
Nothing is left of the promise that closer political union and the Single Market would bring prosperity and peace. Instead, right-wing reaction and the growth of fascistic parties are taking place in every country. The European powers speak constantly of the need to militarise, even as NATO troops mass on Russia’s border, while austerity is the only issue on which they all agree.
The assault on the working class will worsen, as Berlin, Paris and London demand yet greater “national sacrifice” to compete against their rivals and pay the vast sums needed to rearm the continent.
The bourgeoisie has proved incapable of overcoming the fundamental contradiction between the integrated character of the global economy and the division of the world into antagonistic nation states based on private ownership of the means of production, which is once again driving them to a war for the redivision of the world.
The working class of Europe must proceed from an understanding that the post-war period, in which, since 1945, several generations have lived their lives, is over, and a new pre-war period has begun. It must assume responsibility for opposing the drive to austerity, militarism and war by all the imperialist powers.
Above all, it must seek the conscious unification of its struggles with those of workers in the United States and internationally. The explosion of working class opposition that Trump’s government of oligarchs and warmongers must inevitably provoke will provide the most powerful accelerant for the struggles of the European working class.

River to Sea Uprooted Palestinian   
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Syrian Army launches counter-attack to lift siege on Deir Ezzor Airport

BEIRUT, LEBANON (2:30 P.M.) – The Syrian Arab Army (SAA) launched a powerful counter-attack on Friday to lift the one week long siege of the Deir Ezzor Airport.
Led by the Qassem Group of the Republican Guard, the Syrian Arab Army stormed the Islamic State’s (ISIS) defenses at the cemetery, Harabish District, Al-Jafra, Jirayah, and Panorama area; this resulted in a fierce battle that is still ongoing at the moment.
According to a military source in Damascus, the Syrian Arab Army is attempting to recapture the area north of the Deir Ezzor Airport; if successful, they will have lifted the one week long siege of this strategic installation.
Backing the ground forces are Russian and Syrian jets, who have carried out a large number of airstrikes in order to weaken the Islamic State’s resolve around the military airport and Jabal Thardeh.
Some activists have reported the Syrian Arab Army has advanced south of the Deir Ezzor Airport; however, the Al-Masdar cannot confirm these claims.

Syrian Army liberates more territory from ISIS in East Aleppo

BEIRUT, LEBANON (3:10 P.M.) – The Syrian Arab Army (SAA) continued their rapid advance in the eastern countryside of Aleppo on Friday, liberating more territory inside the southern part of the Al-Bab Plateau.
Backed by Russian airstrikes, the Syrian Arab Army’s “Tiger Forces” overran the Islamic State’s (ISIS) defenses at the village of Shamer, killing and wounding a number of terrorist combatants en route to their advance north towards Al-Bab.
The Tiger Forces were able to liberate Shamer on Friday afternoon after advancing northeast from the recently captured village of Ta’anah in the Al-Bab countryside.
As a result of their recent gains, the Syrian Arab Army is now at the outskirts of Souran; this is one of the Islamic State’s last strongholds south of Al-Bab.

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River to Sea Uprooted Palestinian   
The views expressed in this article are the sole responsibility of the author and do not necessarily reflect those of the Blog!