Chuck Schumer On Gaza: 'Strangle' Them Economically
Huffington Post: 6-11-10
This past Wednesday, Sen. Chuck Schumer (D-NY) delivered a wide-ranging
speech at an Orthodox Union event in Washington, D.C. The senator's lecture
touched on areas such as Iran's nuclear program, the Israel-Palestinian
conflict, and several domestic policy issues.
During one point of his speech, Schumer turned his attention to the
situation in Gaza. He told the audience that the "Palestinian people still
don't believe in the Jewish state, in a two-state solution," and also that
"they don't believe in the Torah, in David." He went on to say "you have to
force them to say Israel is here to stay."
New York's senior senator explained that the current Israeli blockade of the
Gaza Strip -- which is causing a humanitarian crisis there -- is not only
justified because it keeps weapons out of the Palestinian territory, but
also because it shows the Palestinians living there that "when there's some
moderation and cooperation, they can have an economic advancement." Summing
up his feelings, Schumer emphasized the need to "to strangle them
economically until they see that's not the way to go, makes sense"
A Bad Week for the Monroe Doctrine
By Conn Hallinan,
Foreign Policy in Focus: June 14, 2010
It is hard to find words that quite describe U.S. Secretary of State Hillary
Clinton's performance at the June 7 meeting of the Organization of American
States (OAS) in Lima, Peru. Cluelessness certainly comes to mind, but
leavened with a goodly dash of arrogance and historical amnesia.
Clinton leaned on the 35-member grouping "to move forward and welcome
Honduras back into the inter-American community," urged the OAS to step up
the fight against drug trafficking, and scolded the organization for a
"proliferation of priorities and mandates that dilute its efforts, drain its
budget, and diminish its capacity." She added that the OAS should "refocus"
on such tasks as monitoring elections.
Where does one begin? Well, Honduras and elections for starters.
While Clinton characterized the election that followed the coup against
Manuel Zelaya "free and fair," it was boycotted by 51 percent of the
population. The U.S. has been silent about the fact that the new president,
Porfirio Lobo, has overseen a reign of terror that, since the June 28, 2009
coup, has seen the assassination of some 130 anti-government activists,
including seven journalists. The murders bear a close resemblance to death
squad assassinations carried out under military dictator Policarpo Paz
Garcia in the late '70s and early '80s. Reporters Without Borders recently
designated Honduras "the world's deadliest country for the media."
"We are living in a state of terror," says human rights activist Dr. Juan
Almendares, a former director of research projects at Harvard and the
University of Pennsylvania. Almendares currently runs a free clinic in
Tegucigalpa, the Honduran capital.
Ecuador's Foreign Minister Ricardo Patino told the OAS meeting that the
Honduras coup has put the "inter-American order at risk," and that "My
government cannot recognize the new government in Honduras while there are
violations against human rights."
In the old days, the U.S. would have steamrolled any opposition, but
now-a-days supporting the Colossus of the North can be a lonely business.
Only a handful of countries, including Canada, Columbia, the Dominican
Republic, Panama, Peru, and Guatemala backed re-instating Honduras to the
Tone deaf was all you could call Clinton's call for stepping up the war on
drugs. A few months ago the 17-member Latin American Commission on Drugs and
Democracy, chaired by three former heads of state, concluded "The U.S.-style
anti-drug strategy was putting the region's fragile democratic institutions
at risk, and corrupting the judiciary system, government, the political
system, and especially the police force." Former Brazilian president and
Commission member Fernando Cardoso said, "The war on drugs is a failed war.
We have to move from this approach to another."
Several Latin American countries, including Brazil, Mexico, Argentina,
Colombia, and Uruguay have moved to legalize personal drug possession, and
other countries in the region are considering how to move from punishment to
And what did Clinton mean by that phrase "proliferation of priorities"?
There was no question as to how OAS members read it: "Keep your nose out of
the Middle East," not an instruction likely to be followed. Brazil and
Turkey's effort to resolve the Iranian nuclear issue peacefully has drawn
widespread applause throughout the continent, and a number of Latin American
countries have become increasingly critical of Israel over its treatment of
the Palestinians. Argentina, El Salvador, Panama, Nicaragua, Peru,
Venezuela, Bolivia, Paraguay, Uruguay, Mexico, Chile, and Brazil were
sharply critical of the Israeli attack on the recent Gaza flotilla, and many
called for lifting the blockade of Gaza.
Clinton's efforts to lobby Latin American nations to support sanctions
against Iran fell flat.
What Clinton did not mention was why the Obama administration has not ended
the blockade of Cuba, failed to tackle the immigration issue, and remained
silent on a plan by Britain to drill for gas and oil in waters north of the
Malvinas (Falkland Islands).
Back in February the newly minted Rio Group-which excludes the U.S. and
Canada- held a Unity Summit in Cancun and endorsed an Argentinean document
accusing Britain of violating international law by allowing the British oil
company, Desire Petroleum, to drill near the islands. Geologists estimate
that the area could hold up to 60 billion barrels of oil, not much smaller
than Brazil's vast offshore Salto Deposits.
"Our attitude is one of solidarity with Argentina," said Brazilian President
Luiz "Lula" da Silva, speaking for the 32-member group. "What is the
geographical, political, and economic explanation for England to be in the
Malvinas? Is it possible that Argentina is not the owner while England is,
despite being 14,000 kilometers away?"
It increasingly looks as if the Rio Group-rumor is that its new name will be
the "Latin American and Caribbean Community"-will eventually replace the
OAS, which partly explains Clinton's plea for the organization to "refocus."
The OAS is "refocusing," but that means members no longer has to curtsy to
the United States, that countries in the region should determine diplomatic
priorities, and that Brasilia has as much right to become a player in the
Middle East as Washington.
Just to show you how the world has turned upside down, the June 6 Financial
Times told its readers that "the safest place to be" in a risky world was
In her address to the delegates, Clinton complained that the OAS "has not
always lived up to its founding ideals." Now it is, and Washington is less
than happy. All in all, a bad week for the Monroe Doctrine, and a very good
week for Latin America.