Moon of Alabama Brecht quote
January 14, 2009

Rice vs. Olmert

As documented in an earlier post Olmert said on Monday about Sec. State Rice:

"She was left shamed. A resolution that she prepared and arranged, and in the end she did not vote in favour," Olmert said in a speech in the southern town of Ashkelon.
...
"I said 'get me President Bush on the phone'. They said he was in the middle of giving a speech in Philadelphia. I said I didn't care. 'I need to talk to him now'. He got off the podium and spoke to me.

"I told him the United States could not vote in favour. It cannot vote in favour of such a resolution. He immediately called the secretary of state and told her not to vote in favour."

The essence of that account is likely true.

On Tuesday the U.S. State Department spokesperson responded:

QUESTION: Yeah. Given Prime Minister Olmert’s comments yesterday, why should – why should anyone still – or why should anyone not believe that Israel is controlling U.S. foreign policy as it relates to the Middle East?

MR. MCCORMACK: ... What I can tell you is that the quotes as reported are wholly inaccurate as to describing the situation – just 100 percent, totally, completely not true. ...

The White House response is noticeable softer:

Q Tony, President -- Prime Minister Olmert says that it was a phone call from him to President Bush that forced President Bush to ask Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice to change the U.S. position on the resolution working its way through -- on Gaza at the U.N. Security Council. Is that --

MR. FRATTO: Look, I think I've seen some of the reporting on this. I want to say that some of what we've seen is not accurate. I'm not going to get into discussing -- I know the State Department has done that and Secretary Rice was asked about it last night. And I don't really have more to add to it. But there is --

Q When you say reporting on this, I mean, these are actually Olmert's words. I mean, he actually said this.

MR. FRATTO: Yes, there are inaccuracies.

Q In what Olmert said?

MR. FRATTO: Yes.

Today Olmert keeps pushing:

Ehud Olmert's bureau maintained on Wednesday that the outgoing prime minister had correctly described diplomatic moves that led to last week's United Nations resolution on a truce in Gaza, despite a United States rejection of his account.

Such public dispute between the dog and the dog handler (you decide who fits what role) is extremely rare in the diplomatic realm.

What happened behind the scene? What did Rice do to deserve such a public dress down by Olmert? Why is the White House not responding stronger? And why is Olmert keeping the hassle alive?

I do not see how Olmert or Israel could win anything through this. People in the old and new administration will take note how support for Israel, which Rice has given in abundance, is thanked.

What do I miss?

Posted by b on January 14, 2009 at 05:29 AM | Permalink

Comments

You miss nothing, b, these people know that the plug has been pulled and the dirty water is not going down the drain as they thought, but is being sprayed all over the place.

Perhaps the WH is ticked that Olmert was so blatant about his role and Olmert is so overtly and desperately looking for something to paper over his tattered reputation even in Israel, which, I understand is in worse shape than that of our beloved Codpiece.

Other than that, it's kinna wierd seeing Rice as, well, not the good guy, but on the positive side of good-cop, bad-cop.

Or, maybe they just all took too much of whatever dope they take to dull that little thing we used to call a conscience...

Posted by: Chuck Cliff | Jan 14, 2009 5:50:46 AM | 1

What are you missing?

I guess that Israel, like neo-cons everywhere, are rushing to join the Democrats. Israel now breaks with the old power in DC and looks to side with Democrats who may well be the new power for a long time to come.

The Israelis play American politics better that anyone.

Posted by: Buckaroo | Jan 14, 2009 6:00:32 AM | 2

I recall a prior comment from Uncle $cam suggesting that Israel was in a position to blackmail Bush and co over 9/11. With Obama keeping most of slick Willies hangers on some of them are likely also in a similar, uncomfortable position. I think Olmert is just reminding them of his power.

Posted by: Fred | Jan 14, 2009 6:25:04 AM | 3

Olmert is an insane fool.
Even if it were true, as a Jew, and particularly as the most important Israeli figure at this time, you just don't go to the media and claim the USA, the biggest military of the world, takes your marching orders from you.
I mean, the usually antisemitic claims of Jews controlling the world for their own nefarious purposes was already bad enough, but with that kind of stupid claim, you're just hanging yourself.
Considering the massive ammo this will give to anyone who thinks Jewish people have too much influence and power in this world, it would already be a suicidal move if it were true. It would be even worse if Olmert just made shit up.
Damned retards; I can only conclude that they have no self-preservation left in them, to be that openly idiotic.

Posted by: CluelessJoe | Jan 14, 2009 6:55:38 AM | 4

I mean it's ( and was) obvious to everyone what power Israel has on USA but my question is why? And why Olmert feels free to fuck up like this USA reputation as super power?
All tho a lot more was clear to me after I saw that list of companies to boycott...

Posted by: vbo | Jan 14, 2009 7:55:15 AM | 5

It might be related to a sort of revenge for last weeks story about how we denied help to Israel for a bombing attack on Iran. That story cannot be taken at face value. Maybe none of it is true. That story did not do Israel any favors. Everyone knows because they are not shy about hinting that they just might bomb Iran but that is a bit different than saying you had a plan which was partly nixed by Bush.

We can't know because motives are impossible to know. We do know that being called a virtual slave of Israel has no negative impact on US politicians at all. Many are proud to be. We can guess Olmert hates Condi.

Her entire peace push of the last 18 months has been a humiliating joke. well if it was possible to humiliate her. I don't think it's possible. Her performnce at the 9/11 hearing and the naming of the briefing document was one of the bigest displays of either self delusion, incompetence or lying didn't seem to shame her one bit. She is a total mystery.

I think it's possible she knew the cease fire agreement was going to get nixed but she went on with it as a bit of theater because that is just what she does.

Posted by: rapier | Jan 14, 2009 8:15:33 AM | 6

Who knows?

Maybe the Israeli message to Rice as to what her status really is, i.e. House Negro?

Racist sods sometimes cannot resist the urges.

And I cannot fully understand this "chosen people" thingy.

Let me see, for a few thousand years, a 10,000 here, a 100,000 there and finally a grand industrial scale action of millions of people/humans specifically because of their ethnicity or as they say in India, caste get their tickets punched, they still believe they're the chosen ones?

Whatever kool aid they're drinking, I hope no one drinks it.

Posted by: shanks | Jan 14, 2009 8:28:09 AM | 7

As I commented earlier, in the wag the dog thread, In the end, does it really matter whom is leading whom, Israel and America remind me of two bullies turned criminal that I knew in my youth, each one would egg the other on further and further pushing the boundaries of despicable and dehumanizing behavior until one day they both had crossed the line of deviancy and wound up raping and murdering someone. It started as fun and games, humiliations and grew beyond their abilities to control; a friend of a friend, later told me after a talk with one of these dinks that he admitted they became addicted to the adrenaline, power, and attention and couldn't stop themselves.

Further, what was really bizarre about this duo of villains is they in the end didn't even really like each other, wound up squealing on one another in the proverbial prisoners dilemma but came together only to bully extort and out do one another while many thought they were life long friends they only ran together out of some kind of, again, bizarre power energy exchange comradery. They both had things on each other and co existed only out of mutual booty, and encompassing all it's nuances.

Posted by: Uncle $cam | Jan 14, 2009 8:57:39 AM | 8

Again, as with the parable of the cave, we are reduced to seeing mere reflections and trying to deduce reality. Or, as I said yesterday, how is our own government not more opaque in its processes than the Soviet Union ever was?

I tend to agree with #3 & 4.

I really am not sure how this crisis will shake out, but I am increasingly sure that Israel's public display of brutality and hubris to the world cannot help it in the long run. The mask is off, and the likelihood of Achmedinajad's accurately translated prediction becomes more possible every day.

I am also sure that Brand Obama was installed to restore America's "exceptional" image to the world: A kinder, gentler form of Imperialism ala Clinton, when few even noticed the US killing almost 1M Iraqis. Unless this is part of some amazingly scripted drama, whereby Obama steps up to the plate and publicly chastizes Israel in an attempt to resusitate its image also, with its new government (highly unlikely) -- then I am increasingly sure that Israeli intransigence must be raising the concerns of US planners, such as Bzezinski. That is to say, whatever is really happening, we have a real conflict here playing out on the public stage. Most unusual.

Also operative, is the magician's ruse. When one thing catches your attention, maybe the real action is happening beyond our current scope of vision.


Totally aside from politics, I do know as an animal trainer, that when the dog and the dog handler have a tussle, the end result is that the dog trainer gets peed and shit upon.

Posted by: Malooga | Jan 14, 2009 9:04:32 AM | 9

PS: An uneven article on Global Research "The Target is Iran: Israel's Latest Gamble May Backfire," makes the argument that Israel and the Bushies have been making one last attempt to draw in Iran and Hezbollah into a huge regional conflagration before the last dance is up. And that neither has fallen for it, noting Hezbollah's call for worldwide Muslim protest, but not for regime change of governments. Thus, the plan has backfired. Very possible.

Posted by: Malooga | Jan 14, 2009 9:12:25 AM | 10

Unless a nation wants its citizens to conduct hate crimes against its religious minorities, no nation on Earth wants the majority of its citizens to be religious extremists filled with nothing but hate! Here's a piece from Frontline about several gangs of Jewish extremists in Israel who are hellbent on removing all Palestinians from Israel and its occupied territories. I don't know about anyone else here, but these folks scare the bejesus out of me...:~(

http://www.pbs.org/wgbh/pages/frontline/shows/israel/view/

Posted by: Cynthia | Jan 14, 2009 9:13:27 AM | 11

it is because that resolution was supposed to be in Israel's interest and now Olmert has a different opinion.

Posted by: outsider | Jan 14, 2009 9:14:50 AM | 12

Another thing that scares the bejesus out of me is that back in 2006 30% of Israelis favored pardoning Yigal Amir for assassinating Yitzhak Rabin. And now that right-wing candidates, who favor war over peace as a solution to the Israeli-Palestinian conflict, are leading in the polls, it's very likely that an even greater percentage of Israelis today want to see this cold-blooded killer set free!

http://www.ynetnews.com/articles/0,7340,L-3320266,00.html

Posted by: Cynthia | Jan 14, 2009 9:22:31 AM | 13

The generals want to stop the war: Israel's defense officials back immediate Gaza truce

Senior defense establishment officials believe that Israel should strive to reach an immediate cease-fire with Hamas, and not expand its offensive against the Palestinian Islamist group in Gaza.

During meetings of the Israel Defense Forces General Staff and of the heads of the state's other security branches, officials have said that Israel achieved several days ago all that it possibly could in Gaza.

The officials expressed reservations about launching the third phase of Operation Cast Lead, preferring for it to remain a threat at this stage.
...
Some of the officials said that Israel can withdraw from Gaza even before Egypt deals with the issue of arms smuggling into Gaza from underground tunnels, as long as Israel threatens to respond swiftly and harshly to any Hamas truce violations.

In contrast to similar discussions from last week, there is a significant decrease in support among top defense brass for an expansion of the operation.

Among the minority who support broadening the Gaza operation are members of GOC Southern Command, who feel it should take place on the condition it be limited to several months' time, and the Shin Bet security service, which thinks a continuation would further weaken Hamas and bring Israel more favorable truce conditions.


Posted by: b | Jan 14, 2009 9:27:35 AM | 14

officials have said that Israel achieved several days ago all that it possibly could in Gaza.

Or as Rumsfeld once put it, there are no targets left there.


Perhaps they are running out of ammunition, and we have the Greeks to thank.

"325 standard 20-foot containers of what is listed as "ammunition" ... 3,000-odd tons of ammunition in one go is a lot," one broker said, on condition of anonymity." Reuters

Yep, a lot of lead.

They will never let us know if this is the real reason because then people might think that they have the power to stop war, which they do.

Let me repeat for emphasis: They will never let us know if this is the real reason because then people might think that they have the power to stop war, which they do.


Three cheers for Greece!

They understand that power comes when you are ready and committed enough to lay down your bodies and sieze it.

Where would those weapons be by now if they had decided to form a committee to draft a petition to circulate to their friends to bring to the politicians to negotiate over endlessly.........Where would that lead be? In the bodies of Palestinan children right now, embedded in fragments of bones and blood.

Three cheers for our Greek comrades! That's what I have to say today.

Posted by: Malooga | Jan 14, 2009 10:36:52 AM | 15

Of course the Israeli military wants a truce now. Other than carpet bombing, the only other way the war can progress is to go into the refugee camps and urban areas door-to-door, at which point Hamas, while not necessarily having the advantage, is certainly on a more equal footing. The result will be lots of casualties, but this time the Israelis will start to pay a price, too. That won't look good in the upcoming elections.

Posted by: Ensley | Jan 14, 2009 10:41:55 AM | 16

Remember, Olmert's focused on the Israeli elections. I suspect his message is entirely internal: "Kadima get's shit done in Washington, and gets it done fast." The further subtext is "do you think that kook Netanyahu is going to be able to yank Obama's chain like this? Vote Kadima or lose all your influence."

Israeli politicians are willing to kill by the thousands to win elections. You seriously think they wouldn't sacrifice Rice's ego (and possibly Israel's position in Washington)?

Posted by: Bill | Jan 14, 2009 10:53:52 AM | 17

That war has really hit the economy. Headline on Ynetnews: Merrill Lynch cuts Israel '09 GDP estimate to zero

A GDP of zero is quite an achievement ...

Posted by: b | Jan 14, 2009 11:18:05 AM | 18

Yeah, the US is helping Israel blow up other things as well. Like their economy. From Bloomberg:


Israel is the latest country to suffer from the collapse of the U.S. subprime mortgage market, which led to an economic crisis in Iceland, currency devaluations in Russia and street protests in Greece and Kuwait. There may be more fallout as the economies of the U.S., Japan and the countries of the European Union contract in 2009.

Posted by: DharmaBum | Jan 14, 2009 11:55:38 AM | 19

A GDP of zero is quite an achievement ... for every single species but the human. Here's one area where we can follow Israel's lead.

In any event, as I'm sure we have discussed before, "GDP" is perhaps the most pernicious of statistics, bearing no relationship to quality or sustainability of life, only to the voraciousness of corporate resource consumption, the effects of which we see all around the US: the rusting foundries and factories that once pumped soot and sparks into the silent night.

War Is the Health of the State Randolph Bourne

Posted by: Malooga | Jan 14, 2009 12:10:16 PM | 20

From Malooga@9–Totally aside from politics, I do know as an animal trainer, that when the dog and the dog handler have a tussle, the end result is that the dog trainer gets peed and shit upon.

Malooga as a former dog musher, I think that maybe your excrement problem is that you're scaring the dog. I know that the only times I got into tussles with dogs I got bit. But only because I was breaking up two dogs fighting. None of which has much to do with this thread...

Or maybe it does because it appears, publicly at least, that Miss Condi was bit while trying to break-up the dogfight.

From Cluelessjoe@4
Even if it were true, as a Jew, and particularly as the most important Israeli figure at this time, you just don't go to the media and claim the USA, the biggest military of the world, takes your marching orders from you.
I mean, the usually antisemitic claims of Jews controlling the world for their own nefarious purposes was already bad enough, but with that kind of stupid claim, you're just hanging yourself.

CJ, maybe Olmert is turning up the heat on jews in america (and the rest of the world) to make them "pick a side" and he's just trying to tip the scales in his favor.

The Gaza conflict works for him in several ways. First; it sends a message to the world how deep into depravity israel is willing to sink to achieve its goals with no shame, no remorse.

Second; it creates a huge conflict amongst jews who have cultural ties to their history, but who certainly don't support the heinous and numerous crimes committed by israel. But this situation is what will force these moderates though a sifter to separate which side of the jewish state they support. And once someone has turned their back on peace because they buy into the whole sad farce, they will support it with the same mindlessness of the naked emperor feeling cool in his lightweight new threads.

Third; any opposition that rears its head immediately can then be identified and a strategy developed to counter it. And Olmert knows that with every swastika painted on a temple, every poorly worded criticism that is published, it helps his cause and doesn't hurt it. Do you think a statement like his would have been published if it wasn't part of israel's plan.

Gaza is about choosing sides. From the way the mainstream media paints it you're either with israel's peaceful bombing and killing or you support those horrible terrorist woman and children who are starving themselves and getting killed only to make jews look bad. Bad women and children.

Posted by: David | Jan 14, 2009 12:23:59 PM | 21

Now if Bush is a born-again type who's a sucker for Hagee-style Christian Zionism, then he may indeed have been sucked into believing that Jews as a people are the closest thing on Earth to God Almighty. So Bush may truly be living in fear that if he doesn't do whatever Olmert and his people tell him to do, then God will unleash his power by sending an electric shock down from the heavens, causing Bush to go into cardiac arrest in a very irreversible way!

Posted by: Cynthia | Jan 14, 2009 12:44:43 PM | 22

@ vbo #5 - Where is the list for boycott?

I've been looking and can't find it here. Thanks.

Posted by: beq | Jan 14, 2009 1:18:26 PM | 23

When Bush lost an election in Texas to a christer, mid seventies, he swore he'd never be outjesused again.

You can take Bush's born again conversion with a large dose of political salt. For a more likely explanation, see here,

http://tinyurl.com/rs2gy

around the 26th - 27th paragraph or so.

Posted by: Thrasyboulos | Jan 14, 2009 1:20:16 PM | 24

Israel is a 'blood a soil' fanatic state with nuclear weapons, but hey, there always is another holocaust movie, another phony hate crime, another politician to finance/blackmail or manipulate. It never ends.

Posted by: anon | Jan 14, 2009 1:20:32 PM | 25

beq, here's the list of companies

Posted by: rudolf | Jan 14, 2009 2:17:10 PM | 26

"What do I miss?"

This is diplomatic oneupmanship. Israel probably believed that Rice or the Foggy Bottom leaked the story about WH denying the Israel request about Iran. Olmert took that as a snub, so Olmert puts her down.

The Iran story probably had a negative effect in Israel and Olmert tried to restore the position by showing his influence over the US President. Which is never in doubt but a public display just reaffirms Israel's preeminent position in the US foreign and domestic politics.

Rice in the larger scheme of things is just nobody!

Posted by: Hoss | Jan 14, 2009 2:20:02 PM | 27

Rice or the Foggy Bottom leaked the story about WH denying the Israel request about Iran.

But that story had nothing really new in it. It was a writeup of already publicly known stuff (from Hersh and others). The timing of launching it was suspicious though.

Posted by: b | Jan 14, 2009 2:37:52 PM | 28

it is all so bizarre, the prime minister of a dinky little country with undefined borders brags about calling the president of the most powerful nation on earth out of a meeting to give him instructions on how to vote on a non binding resolution in the UN.....and no one is even upset about it.

the president of the US has two shoes thrown at him and the reaction is a grin and a knowing nod from the west and outright jubilation everywhere else.

I remember when people were happy to meet "americans" and I have had many very pleasant encounters around the world over the last 35 years or so, still do but it is different. Now it is much better not to call attention to the fact you are a US citizen. (there is nothing I can do to hide the fact, I speak Italian fluently and German well enough to get basic needs but even though I dress in european styles and visit places frequented by europeans only I get spotted right away. don't know if it is the walk or the talk or just the lack of sophistication but I never fool anyone.) What I notice now is a polite response and reserved discussion, before it seemed that people really were thrilled to meet an actual american and wanted to know all about where I was from and stuff like that. no more.

perhaps it sounds as if I am nostalgic for the empire of old. maybe so, it was much more pleasant and made doubly so because I harbored no guilt, no shame for having destroyed civilizations and cultures which came later when I started thinking about what we had done in Vietnam.

why are these two announcements concerning Israel, the first being the US calling off a strike on Iran from Israel and the second with Olmert telling bush to vote no on the resolution and Rice merely abstaining so incredibly weird. Is it really two guys arguing about who has the bigger dick? Does Olmert need to prove to his people that he is relevant and does bush need to let everyone know that he still calls the shots. are we to start a new field of study similar to kremlinology where we can analyze these press releases? I read many suggestions in this thread and others but none have yet jumped out at me. Maybe we will find out later, when more information is leaked for the elites.

Posted by: dan of steele | Jan 14, 2009 3:10:52 PM | 29

I believe that a time will come when what used to be trans-Jordan will become little more than a glowing pile of slag or a pest hole where nothing survives. There is clearly so much hate festering in that corner of the world that life cannot long survive.


Posted by: Obelix | Jan 14, 2009 5:13:45 PM | 30

Thanks rudolph!

Posted by: beq | Jan 14, 2009 6:04:06 PM | 31

dan of steele - I remember the first time I went overseas in '69. I was afraid to speak.

-Vietnam-

Posted by: beq | Jan 14, 2009 6:16:26 PM | 32

bragging... pride... arrogance. Rice is disposable trash to Olmert. As will be say, Hagee and his christian zionists, when the time is right, for a cleansing. Pawns are used and then knocked out of the game. This is what you are seeing. IS RA EL is saying very clearly, we are in charge. The US just moved weapon stockpiles to IS RA EL on 12/10/08. They are willing and compliant and we do not rule in our own best interest, but in the best interest of that little criminal country, known as IS RA EL.

Posted by: concerned | Jan 14, 2009 10:15:38 PM | 33

Re: Malooga's #15 and Greece:

I didn't know what he was talking about, evidently it's this

Posted by: Cloud | Jan 14, 2009 10:41:17 PM | 34

My reading is that the NYT piece and this pieces of deliberate staged animosity are one at the same thing: An attempt to put distance between Bush and Israel in advance of something that Israel is about to do.... an attempt that is pure kabuki theatre, since they both are in agreement that this next step is in order....

Such a public braggadocio about manipulating the leader of the free world is probably unprecedented -- it cannot be happenstance and it must have a hidden purpose.

That's my .02. Reading also that Olmert is gung ho to continue the war, I take away that Olmert is in on the conspiracy to the next phase whereas perhaps the other Israeli military who are pushing to end Gaza are not? Or have I been hanging around Uncle $cam too much? LOL. I feel that a much broader war is planned and in the offing. I just read a report that Israeli troops are massing along the South Lebanese border now and Hebullah are on red alert. I dearly hope it is all wrong. But how convenient it would be for ISrael, to unleash a massive chaos, then open the long-shut gates of GazaHell and engineer a massive total exodus... every Zionist's wet dream.

Posted by: bea | Jan 14, 2009 11:31:32 PM | 35

Beq and Rudolf,

It's a sight for sore eyes to see that a fairly broad cross-section of Corporate America is doing the right thing for a change. Now if only we can get the world as a whole to impose a financial and military embargo against Israel, then we can finally set sail on a voyage to justice!

Posted by: Cynthia | Jan 15, 2009 9:16:40 AM | 36

@Cynthia:

Corporations aren't doing anything.

It is up to us, as consumers, the one power we are freely given, to boycott those corporations.

Posted by: Malooga | Jan 15, 2009 10:11:04 AM | 37

In the original post there is mention of Israel controlling US policy. How exactly does that work?

Isn't it a whole lot more likely that the USA controls Israel, and gives the appearance that Israel calls the shots -- which makes the USA less directly culpable?

Isn't Israel in existence mainly because of $$$ given by the UK and USA? If so, how then would the tail be wagging the dog? I'd like to know the mechanisms.

Israel serves many purposes for the USA. I think it ridiculous to say Israel runs the USA, and not vice versa.

Posted by: micah pyre | Jan 15, 2009 11:01:26 AM | 38

Malooga,

Boycotting corporations is a useless act of guilt suasion.

Dismantling the corporations, that's the way it should go. Not boycotting them. As we have just seen, a "failing" (due to boycotts or anything else) corporation will just get an infusion of money from the US Treasury.

I just don't see how boycotts actually work. Sure, they serve to get people mobilized behind something, but it seems to me more a charade than an act of purpose and long-term utility.

Posted by: micah pyre | Jan 15, 2009 11:04:04 AM | 39

Malooga,

How stupid of me to read the post all backwards! Thanks for correcting me, though... I knew my dyslexia was pretty bad, but I had no idea it is this bad! Plus it doesn't help that I'm also engaging in way too much wishful thinking right now.:~(

Posted by: Cynthia | Jan 15, 2009 11:23:13 AM | 40

@micah pyre:

Certainly I believe that corporations MUST be dismantled, or the entire Earth will eventually be destroyed. It is impossible to watch the movie "The Corporation" and not come away with that conclusion.

But that does not prevent us from pursuing multiple goals, using multiple tactics, simultaneously.

Corporation's most valuable possesion is their brand image; they absolutely do not want to see it sullied. César Chávez theorized that a drop of 15% in sales is enough to render the average corporation unprofitable. Of course, future profits are dependent upon image too.

(Unfortunately, these days we see government has fashioned a response: Just GIVE corporations money -- but INSIST that they lower workers' wages and benefits. This is the deliberate imposition of neo-liberal shock therapy, as done in the Soviet Union, upon the US working class.)

In many ways, I am initially inclined to agree that boycotting corporations is a minor tactic. But history shows us that it is a very effective first step.

Here are the reasons:

1) In a world with an overwhelming amount of injustice, it gives people one single focus.
2) It gives people who feel helpless a concrete step to take.
3) It empowers people to take larger steps.
4) It generates its own publicity, both in the media and around the watercooler.
5) By taking a first step, it generates momentum for future steps.
6) Having taken a first step, people look for more steps. Broad-based education is the natural next step, thereby rapidly expanding the movement.
7) Money does make the world go 'round. Small boycotts lead to larger steps, like major institutional divestments.
8) There is a proven track record for this. South Africa, of course, is the obvious comparison. But before that, there was César Chávez and the UFW strikes. More recently, along the same lines is the successful action taken by the Immokalee Farm Workers.

People are controlled by their rulers in many ways. In so-called "democratic" societies, emotional states like alienation, powerlessness, ignorance, and fear are intentionally fostered to control people. Organized state power -- violence -- is secondary, and only used when the state feels particularly threatened.

It is easy to see how boycotts address these disabling emotional states on may levels, thereby confronting authority more directly than one might initially suspect.

So, of course, boycotts are not a magic bullet. The target is always moving. Govermental power is always learning how to respond, and activists must keep learning, too. It is a game of strategy -- in real life -- and so, infinitely more meaningful and gratifying than the board games we spend so much of our life on.

Anyway, to my mind, this is how boycotts work. I hope this was helpful.

Posted by: Malooga | Jan 15, 2009 11:59:41 AM | 41

Malooga,

That is helpful. I just don't agree with your conclusions, mainly because what "history" shows isn't helpful to me, because we keep repeating ourselves and those who would face a boycott are better prepared.

Pray tell, what actually is the result of a boycott? A boycott's success depends on a consumerist society where demand is the cause of supply.

We are in a stage where supply precedes demand, and creates demand. How does a boycott affect that? How can a boycott trump the highly manipulative and subtle psychological warfare of modern advertisement?

Posted by: micah pyre | Jan 15, 2009 12:06:53 PM | 42

Micah@42-We are in a stage where supply precedes demand, and creates demand. How does a boycott affect that? How can a boycott trump the highly manipulative and subtle psychological warfare of modern advertisement?

We are no longer in place where supply precedes demand. The economy is screwed, and there are warehoused full of products without buyers. This is the perfect time for an economic boycott.

The very act of participating in a boycott is one of standing-up to the madmen of marketing and manipulation who are trying to force your capitulation. Don't buy, and like a drunk that doesn't take that first sip, you suddenly you realize you have the power. And during an economic downturn it is certainly easier to convince people they don't need to buy stuff.

Imagine if the majority of americans decided not to pay taxes. This, opposed to voting, would bring about change and quick. The power structure can't "massage" dollars out of thin air the way they seem to do with votes.

This would be a boycott and not useless at all.

Posted by: David | Jan 15, 2009 1:01:38 PM | 43

We are in a stage where supply precedes demand, and creates demand. How does a boycott affect that?
micah, I think you’ve answered your own question. The current economic climate means that many producers sit on excess goods, unable to find a market as it is. Should now a growing number within the still existing customer base follow a boycott call and reduce the corporation’s turnover even further, the losses would spike to the size of their stockpiles. Before long, CEOs and board members will have their feet held to the fire, and they know it. The last thing any corporation is keen on is being the target of a popular and well publicised consumer boycott, and hence a campaign to that effect is a good pressure point for us to start with. Maintaining a positive corporate image is in the job description of any CEO, and a prolonged boycott doesn’t help one bit in that regard.

Our governments answer less to us, the people, than they do to listen to the big end of town. So let’s aim for the big end of town. A boycott allows everybody to participate in direct action, requires little effort and is absolutely legal, free market at its best. Beat them at their own game, on their turf. Jesus, the irony.

How can a boycott trump the highly manipulative and subtle psychological warfare of modern advertisement?
A boycott doesn’t cost money, advertising does. A consumer boycott can be sustained for extended periods, expensive advertising can’t, especially not with shrinking or non-existing profits. As any marketing man will tell you, it costs multiple times the money to win a lost customer back than what it costs to get a new one.

As influential and hypnotic as today’s perma-advertising is, it is not all powerful. Although Japanese firms are pretty sharp when it comes to marketing their products, I doubt they could create a winning ad campaign for whale meat here in Australia. The example might sound silly, but my point is that even the best advertising geeks can’t overcome a well established and dearly held consumer sentiment. And that’s a boycott’s angle, influencing the picture people associate with targeted brands and products, to become immune to their advertising.

The MIC and their bought politicians must be fought on all levels simultaneously. As Malooga wrote, a boycott of corporations connected to Israel’s Zionist regime is certainly not the magic bullet, but if seen as part of a multi-pronged approach it makes good sense.

Posted by: Juan Moment | Jan 15, 2009 1:53:04 PM | 44

Perhaps the reason that Olmert would boast so brazenly about embarrasing condi is intended to create outrage in some, within the new administration, and thus encourage the 'weak supporters of Israel' to show themselves. The AIPAC machine would then identify them, and politically dismember them limb by limb, so that they are reduced to the compliant slaves APAIC desires.

Posted by: juno junoveldt | Jan 15, 2009 4:34:50 PM | 45

A boycott of consumer products is a necessary prelude to institutional disinvestment, which can easily mount into the billions of dollars. Incidentally, a number of academics and activists recommend this path, among them James Petras and Jeffery Blankfort.

In the original post there is mention of Israel controlling US policy. How exactly does that work?

I have prepared a detailed answer to this question which I hope b will post.

But the short answer is this: A highly influential group of political action committees (AIPAC foremost) act as the head of an octopuss-like network. First, they work to steer money towards pro-Zionist candidates and away from anti-Zionist ones. They coordinate with corporate media, which is predominately under pro-Zionist control to sway candidates, and to create public consent. They send politicians, students, and influential members of society on propaganda junkets to Israel. They spy on and bribe troublesome politicians. An extensive network of Zionist billionaires and millionaires support this activity as well as policy institutes and think tanks which churn out pro-Zionist policy papers, actually write pro-Zionist legislation. There is an academic wing which conducts witch hunts against anti-Zionist scholars, and leads student movements. There is a wing which coordinates with Christian evangelical and dispensationalist groups. There is a foreign wing which works with other countries. Hollywood produces pro-Zionist films (what have we had, eight in the past six months). Holocaust museums are opened. The issue is always framed around Jewish victimhood, as if they were the only ones who have so suffered.

Posted by: Malooga | Jan 15, 2009 4:49:39 PM | 46

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