Guest post by Azizonomics.
While the missiles, planes and rockets fly over Gaza and Israel, both Hamas and theIsraeli government have been engaged in a battle of social media. It is a battle to shape the perceptions of the rest of the world.
The IDF appears so far to have the upper hand in terms of social media, having notched up 143,000 followers on Twitter, although Hamas’ al-Qassam Brigades are in swift pursuit having just climbed above 20,000 followers.
Yet to view this as a simple conflict between Hamas and Israel is too superficial. It ignores the history and the context. This is a much bigger and broader tapestry.
Israel‘s escalating air attacks on Gaza follow the depressingly familiar pattern that shapes this conflict. Overwhelming Israeli force slaughters innocent Palestinians, including children, which is preceded (and followed) by far more limited rocket attacks into Israel which kill a much smaller number, rocket attacks which are triggered by various forms of Israeli provocations — all of which, most crucially, takes place in the context of Israel’s 45-year-old brutal occupation of the Palestinians (and, despite a “withdrawal” of troops, that includes Gaza, over which Israel continues to exercise extensive dominion). The debates over these episodes then follow an equally familiar pattern, strictly adhering to a decades-old script that, by design at this point, goes nowhere.
And Michael Chussudovsky writes:
On November 14, Hamas military commander Ahmed Jabari was murdered in a Israeli missile attack. In a bitter irony, barely a few hours before the attack, Hamas received the draft proposal of a permanent truce agreement with Israel.
“Hours before Hamas strongman Ahmed Jabari was assassinated, he received the draft of a permanent truce agreement with Israel, which included mechanisms for maintaining the cease-fire in the case of a flare-up between Israel and the factions in the Gaza Strip.”(Haaretz, November 15, 2012)
F-16 fighter planes, Apache helicopters and unmanned drones were deployed. Israeli naval forces deployed along the Gaza shoreline were involved in extensive shelling of civilian targets.
Guest post by Azizonomics.
Here in the West, we have lived through a striking period of peace, prosperity and growth. Since the end of the Second World War, the major powers of the world have lived in relative peace.While there have been wars and conflicts — Vietnam, Afghanistan (twice), Iraq (twice), the Congo, Rwanda, Israel and Palestine, the Iran-Iraq war, the Mexican and Colombian drug wars, the Lebanese civil war — these have been localised and at a much smaller scale than the violence that ripped the world apart during the Second World War.
The recent downward trend is clear:
Many thinkers believe that this trend of pacification is unstoppable. Steven Pinker, for example, claims:
Violence has been in decline for thousands of years, and today we may be living in the most peaceable era in the existence of our species.
The decline, to be sure, has not been smooth. It has not brought violence down to zero, and it is not guaranteed to continue. But it is a persistent historical development, visible on scales from millennia to years, from the waging of wars to the spanking of children.
While the relative decline of violence and the growth of global commerce is a cause for celebration, those who want to proclaim that the dawn of the 21st Century is the dawn of a new long-lasting era of global peace may be overly optimistic. It is possible that we are on the edge of a precipice and that this era of relative peace is merely a calm before a new global storm. Militarism and the military-industrial complex never really went away — the military of the United States is deployed in more than 150 countries around the world. Weapons contractors are still gorging on multi-trillion dollar military spending.
Let’s consider another Great Moderation — the moderation of the financial system previous to the bursting of the bubble in 2008.
One of the most striking features of the economic landscape over the past twenty years or so has been a substantial decline in macroeconomic volatility.
Ben Bernanke (2004)
Guest post by Azizonomics.
Iranian officials are once again firing off belligerent rhetoric.
Hojjat al-Eslam Ali Shirazi, the representative of Iran’s Supreme Leader Ayatollah Ali Khamenei to the Islamic Republic’s Qods Force, said this week that Iran needed just “24 hours and an excuse” to destroy Israel.
In his first public interview in a year, reported in the Persian-language Jahan News, which is close to the regime, Shirazi said if Israel attacked Iran, the Islamic Republic would be able to turn the conflict into a war of attrition that would lead to Israel’s destruction.
“If such a war does happen, it would not be a long war, and it would benefit the entire Islamic umma the global community of Muslims. We have expertise in fighting wars of attrition and Israel cannot fight a war of attrition,” Shirazi said, referring to Iran’s eight-year war of attrition against Iraq.
Such claims are — more or less — inconsequential rubbish. The fact remains that Israel has nuclear weapons and a nuclear second strike, and Iran has no such thing, and the fact remains that the Iranian leadership knows this and are extremely unlikely to start a war where Iran (as Shimon Peres put it) will be the one wiped off the face of the Earth by Israeli plutonium. Yet the facts of military science will do little to stop the hawks of the West sounding off that Iran is irrational and that Iran is cooking up a plan to destroy Israel, and so must face regime change.
Guest post by Azizonomics.
According to a recent CNN poll, 60% of Americans want go to war with Iran to prevent them from getting nuclear weapons.
This in spite of the fact that the US intelligence community is fairy unanimous that Iran is not even currently pursuing nuclear weapons. According to Micah Zenko:
First, as Director of National Intelligence James Clapper has repeatedly reaffirmed since late January, “we don’t believe they’ve actually made the decision to go ahead with a nuclear weapon.” Just yesterday, James Risen reported in the New York Times that the IC continues to believe (based on an assessment first made in November 2007) that Iranian Supreme Leader Ayatollah Ali Khamenei halted his country’s nuclear weapons activities in 2003.
This might be hard for many to grasp, since polling has found the American people disagree with the collective judgment of the 210,000 civilian and military employees and 30,000 private contractors comprising the IC. A recent poll found that 84 percent of Americans think Iran is developing nuclear weapons, while another from February 2010 concluded that 71 percent of Americans believe that Iran currently has nuclear weapons.
Guest post by Azizonomics.
Netanyahu wants a red line on nuclear proliferation in the Middle East:
Where exactly should we draw it?
As Justin Raimondo notes:
Here is a nation which refuses to even admit it acquired nukes long ago, and which disdains the Nonproliferation Treaty, making the case for war against a neighbor that has indeed signed the NPT and is abiding by its requirements.
That treaty gives Tehran the right to develop nuclear power. Furthermore, there is zero evidence Iran is embarked on a nuclear weapons program: our own intelligence community tells us they gave that up in 2003 and show no signs of resuming it. Their own religious and political leaders have denounced the possession of nuclear weapons as sinful: the Israelis, on the other hand, haven’t bothered reassuring us they would never use the nuke they won’t admit they have.
In a rational world, Israel would be in the dock, answering for its unwillingness to come out of the nuclear closet and admit what the whole world knows by now.
The West has sent out a message that the only way for unpopular regimes to avoid invasion is to obtain nuclear weapons. North Korea sought and obtained nuclear weapons and their vicious and economically-failed regime has stayed in power. Qaddafi gave up his nuclear ambitions, and was soon deposed by British, French and American airpower. If Iran is seeking a nuclear weapon — and the CIA and Mossad, as well as the IAEA agree they that they are not currently doing so — perhaps the fact that nuclear-armed Israel and the nuclear-armed United States keep threatening non-nuclear Iran with attack has something to do with it?
The Greek people are frustrated and rather angry with the treatment of their ”friends” in the Eurozone. What if Greece tells the Troika & Co to stuff it, and turn to “new” friends in the East. Maybe it would be the entrance via the backdoor for the wise guys in East. From Golem.
For whom might it make sense to help Greece, as impasse with Germany hardens and Greece approaches default? And what sort of offer of help would make sense for Greece?
Europe and in particular the Germans have painted themselves into a Teutonic corner. It will make no more nor less sense for Germany to blink in two or three weeks time than now. Of course as the reality nears, of their own banks and those in France having to come clean before their own populace about the bad loans they made to Greece, they may lose their nerve. I strongly recommend Mr Tsipras reiterate his determination to set up a Debt Commission. The prospect of Europe’s and America’s banks having all their grubby and quite possibly fraudulent dealings with Greece’s oligarch families when they were in government, paraded in public will leave many powerful people wondering if an unfortunate helicopter accident couldn’t be arranged by some friendly…. no, no no. What am I saying! Or perhaps a fire inside a sealed room? Only joking.
The market has been on a steady rise, volatility has collapsed, and we are getting all those new “smart” longs. Geopolitical risk is certainly not priced in the equity space. Oil, on the other hand (apart from the QE factor) is factoring in a possible geopolitical heat up in the Middle East. What if Israel provoked a war between the US and Iran? Meanwhile, the oil price continues the rise. Bloomberg video below.
While oil is taking new highs for the year, some thoughts by Taibbi on the “gentlemans code” developed in the US. Welcome to group think.
I’m not defending Ahmadinejad, I think he’s nuts and a monstrous dick and I definitely don’t think he should be allowed to have nuclear weapons, but to me this issue has little to do with Iran at all. What’s more troubling to me is that we’ve internalized this “gentleman’s code” to the point where its basic premises are no longer even debated.
But now the public openly embraces circular thinking like, “Any country that squawks when we threaten to bomb it is a threat that needs to be wiped out.” Maybe I’m mistaken, but I have to believe that there was a time when ideas like that sounded weird to the American ear. Now they seem to make sense to almost everyone here at home, and that to me is just as a scary as Ahmadinejad. (Full article here.)
With markets fading some during today’s session, the bulls will soon be looking to take some profit. Markets have run up on very light volume, and people feel somewhat uneasy with the markets trading at these levels, while no mess is fixed. We have not really had any bad news lately, and the question is, how would the market react to some not expected bad news. The Geopolitical space has been very calm, but that could change abruptly. Iran could resurface as the main geopolitical risk sooner than many think. We learnt about the Strait of Hormuz some days ago, but there is more. From Bllomberg;
One of the arguments often made in favor of bombing Iran to cripple its nuclear program is this: The mullahs in Tehran are madmen who believe it is their consecrated duty to destroy the perfidious Zionist entity (which is to say, Israel) and so are building nuclear weapons to launch at Tel Aviv at the first favorable moment.
It’s beyond a doubt that the Iranian regime would like to bring about the destruction of Israel. However, the mullahs are also cynics and men determined, more than anything, to maintain their hold on absolute power.