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The announcement last week by the United States of the largest military aid package in its history – to Israel – was a win for both sides.

Israeli prime minister Benjamin Netanyahu could boast that his lobbying had boosted aid from $3.1 billion a year to $3.8bn – a 22 per cent increase – for a decade starting in 2019.

Mr Netanyahu has presented this as a rebuff to those who accuse him of jeopardising Israeli security interests with his government’s repeated affronts to the White House.

In the past weeks alone, defence minister Avigdor Lieberman has compared last year’s nuclear deal between Washington and Iran with the 1938 Munich pact, which bolstered Hitler; and Mr Netanyahu has implied that US opposition to settlement expansion is the same as support for the “ethnic cleansing” of Jews.

American president Barack Obama, meanwhile, hopes to stifle his own critics who insinuate that he is anti-Israel. The deal should serve as a fillip too for Hillary Clinton, the Democratic party’s candidate to succeed Mr Obama in November’s election.

In reality, however, the Obama administration has quietly punished Mr Netanyahu for his misbehaviour. Israeli expectations of a $4.5bn-a-year deal were whittled down after Mr Netanyahu stalled negotiations last year as he sought to recruit Congress to his battle against the Iran deal.

In fact, Israel already receives roughly $3.8bn – if Congress’s assistance on developing missile defence programmes is factored in. Notably, Israel has been forced to promise not to approach Congress for extra funds.

The deal takes into account neither inflation nor the dollar’s depreciation against the shekel.

A bigger blow still is the White House’s demand to phase out a special exemption that allowed Israel to spend nearly 40 per cent of aid locally on weapon and fuel purchases. Israel will soon have to buy all its armaments from the US, ending what amounted to a subsidy to its own arms industry.

Nonetheless, Washington’s renewed military largesse – in the face of almost continual insults – inevitably fuels claims that the Israeli tail is wagging the US dog. Even The New York Times has described the aid package as “too big”.

Since the 1973 war, Israel has received at least $100bn in military aid, with more assistance hidden from view. Back in the 1970s, Washington paid half of Israel’s military budget. Today it still foots a fifth of the bill, despite Israel’s economic success.

But the US expects a return on its massive investment. As the late Israeli politician-general Ariel Sharon once observed, ­Israel has been a US “aircraft carrier” in the Middle East, acting as the regional bully and carrying out operations that benefit Washington.

Almost no one blames the US for Israeli attacks that wiped out Iraq’s and Syria’s nuclear programmes. A nuclear-armed Iraq or Syria would have deterred later US-backed moves at regime overthrow, as well as countering the strategic advantage Israel derives from its own nuclear arsenal.

In addition, Israel’s US-sponsored military prowess is a triple boon to the US weapons industry, the country’s most powerful lobby. Public funds are siphoned off to let Israel buy goodies from American arms makers. That, in turn, serves as a shop window for other customers and spurs an endless and lucrative game of catch-up in the rest of the Middle East.

The first F-35 fighter jets to arrive in Israel in December – their various components produced in 46 US states – will increase the clamour for the cutting-edge warplane.

Israel is also a “front-line laboratory”, as former Israeli army negotiator Eival Gilady admitted at the weekend, that develops and field-tests new technology Washington can later use itself.

The US is planning to buy back the missile interception system Iron Dome – which neutralises battlefield threats of retaliation – it largely paid for. Israel works closely too with the US in developing cyber­warfare, such as the Stuxnet worm that damaged Iran’s civilian nuclear programme.

But the clearest message from Israel’s new aid package is one delivered to the Palestinians: Washington sees no pressing strategic interest in ending the occupation. It stood up to Mr Netanyahu over the Iran deal but will not risk a damaging clash over Palestinian statehood.

Some believe that Mr Obama signed the aid package to win the credibility necessary to overcome his domestic Israel lobby and pull a rabbit from the hat: an initiative, unveiled shortly before he leaves office, that corners Mr Netanyahu into making peace.

Hopes have been raised by an expected meeting at the United Nations in New York on Wednesday. But their first talks in 10 months are planned only to demonstrate unity to confound critics of the aid deal.

If Mr Obama really wanted to pressure Mr Netanyahu, he would have used the aid agreement as leverage. Now Mr Netanyahu need not fear US financial retaliation, even as he intensifies effective annexation of the West Bank.

Mr Netanyahu has drawn the right lesson from the aid deal – he can act against the Palestinians with continuing US impunity.

- See more at: http://www.jonathan-cook.net/2016-09-19/palestinians-lose-in-us-military-aid-deal-with-israel/#sthash.fL4Eq28N.dpuf

US Presidential Elections – the Meaning of a Farce

“We got the meaning, we lost the experience”, T.S. Eliot, Four Quartets

By Dimitris Konstantakopoulos

Human kind is facing the most formidable threats in all its history

– The planet is going rapidly towards an irreversible climatic disaster, facing simultaneously all sort of threats to its ecosystem

– We are facing again the specter of a possible major nuclear conflict

– The vast majority of the human population lives now in conditions which are, sometimes, even worse than those prevailing 500 years ago

Huge banks, state and “private” secret services are developing like cancer in our societies.

For the first time in human History the development of productive forces has attained the level required to satisfy all “reasonable” human needs and permit a life in dignity to all inhabitans of the planet, but, in the same time, inequality has beaten all historical records.

– Also for the first time in History, the extremely limited minorities, already controlling most of power, money and knowledge, are also in the process of acquiring the technological capacity to impose a totalitarian order which will make Hitler seem a poor boy, an alchemist compared to modern chemists.

But maybe more worrisome than all those, already very worrisome “objective” facts, is the level of discourse emitted by the two persons competing to become Presidents of the most powerful country of the world. They want to rule the superpower and the world. But you will hardly find in the insults they exchange any meaningful idea on what they will do with the formidable challenges in front of their country and the planet.

Words and ideas do matter, even if they are false or ridiculous. Karl Marx used to say that Ideas are in delay compared to the Being and this is quite true. But the opposite is also true. Ideas – or their absence – is also a clear indication where a society is heading, what it chooses to know and what to ignore, what truths it needs and what illusions it prefers.

Our century was announced as a “century of catastrophes” – traditional wars in the Middle East, less traditional in Europe, like the one that destroyed already Greece and it goes on pushing it into the abyss, nuclear disasters like in Fukushima (a clear result by the way of the submission of nuclear industry to the prerogatives of a sick society in general and of the Finance in particular, the consequences of which remain hidden to a great extent). We are living in an era of “end of hope”, of huge crisis or collapse of nearly all the modern projects promising to make Humans subjects of their History (Enlightment and Democracy, Socialism, Welfare Capitalism, blind belief into the automatic social benefits of Science, Psychanalysis etc.).

But humans cannot survive without hope and without meaning (project). The destruction of meaning in the political discourse of the most powerful states of the world, like the USA, is a more than clear sign for the accelerating decomposition of modern capitalism (if capitalism is still the right word for a system which is going into a kind of post-modern feudalism, opening the way to the end of Humans, the destruction of the Planet and a dictatorship of the Machines). The destruction of meaning may announce our own destruction.

It is only normal that people, feeling by instinct the terrible prospects ahead, go back to past identities, like nation or religion, or try to find new hopes (for. ex. the social movement crystallized around Sanders during the US election campaign). Still the “dark” forces seem, for the time being, to dominate the scene.

Coming back to the US elections what we see? One of the candidates seems to represent the end of Rationality, the other the end of Emotion, both the end of any kind of Ethics. But we know from the Ancient times that those three properties, when and only when they coexist, are the ones differentiating Humans from human-like monsters. (The situation in Europe, in particular in France, which is the “mother” of modern Europe, as far as politics and ideas is concerned, is not better. Probably it is even worse than in the American center of the world system).

The characters dominating the political class reflect the illness of the “system”. Maybe this process is old enough. But after the “end” of the Cold War (not ended by the way) and the collapse of the USSR, it has come to the fore nearly everywhere in “Western Democracies”, the United States of America included.

Read the following commentaries on the second Trump-Clinton debate published in the The Nation and the Counterpunch respectively [1 , 2]. (Or, if you prefer, you may also skip the news and just look again to the films of Stanley Kubrick, especially the last one. His genius will help you discern the nature of forces governing, to a large extent, our world and also their – unannounced – project).

As the great French genetician Albert Jacquard has put it, “the main obstacle to grasp reality consists of the limits of our imagination”.

Dimitri Konstantakopoulos is a journalist and writer. He served as special advisor to the Office of Greek PM Andreas Papandreou (1985-88), working on Arms Control and East-West relations. He has been chief correspondent of the Athens News Agency in Moscow (1989-1999). He has been the Secretary of the Movement of Independent Citizens (2011-12) and a member of the Secretariat and the Central Committee of SYRIZA (2012-13). He left this party in July 2015. A member of the editorial board of the international review of self-management “Utopie Critique”, he is actively involved in the Delphi international Initiative for Democracy. He is the author of three books on relations between CPSU and Greek CP, the Cyprus conflict and US policy in Eastern Mediterranean and on relations between Nation and the Left.




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