Yet military law, specifically extensive resort to court martial, has long been an important part of US military discipline. According to Robert J. The most tragic [of these excessive sentences], of course, are the death sentences not commuted, about which it is so difficult to obtain information. During a period of high incidence of rape, there might simply be too many cases to process. Postwar, the laws governing rape by the military during WWII remained in effect. Factors specific to occupation may have made rape more common.
Soldiers, fresh from battle may have lusted for revenge, and in the absence of military action, rape was one easy outlet. Some soldiers may have blurred the distinction between prostitution and rape. Immediately after the Japanese surrendered in , the Japanese Ministry of the Interior made plans to protect Japanese women in its middle and upper classes from American troops. Burritt Sabin of the Japan Times reported in that just days before the R. US troops comported themselves like conquerors, especially in the early weeks and months of occupation. Misbehavior ranged from black-marketeering, petty theft, reckless driving and disorderly conduct to vandalism, assault arson, murder and rape.
In Yokohama, Chiba and elsewhere, soldiers and sailors broke the law with impunity, and incidents of robbery, rape and occasionally murder were widely reported in the press. Two weeks into the occupation, the Japanese press began to report on rapes and looting. Monica Braw, whose research revealed that even mention of the atomic bombing of Hiroshima and Nagasaki, and particularly the effects of the bomb on civilians, were censored, maintains that pervasive censorship continued throughout the occupation years.
It did not specify subjects prohibited, did not state punishment for violations, although it was clear that there were such punishments, and prohibited all discussion even about the existence of the censorship itself. Censorship was not limited to the Japanese press. Even internal military reports were censored. Five months after the occupation began, one in four American soldiers had contracted VD. On April 11, forty U.
State.gov Website Modernization
If these incidents are in any sense indicative, how are we to understand the fact that reports in U. Uyemura, to Mrs. Recorded courts-martial for rape during the occupation are few. When US paratroopers landed in Sapporo, an orgy of looting, sexual violence and drunken brawling ensued. Gang rapes and other sexual atrocities were not infrequent. Victims of such attacks, shunned as outcasts, sometimes turned in desperation to prostitution; others took their life rather than bring shame to their families.
Military courts arrested relatively few soldiers for these offenses and convicted even fewer, and restitution for the victims were rare. Japanese attempts at self-defense were punished severely. In the sole instance of self-help that General Eichelberger records in his memoirs, when local residents formed a vigilante group and retaliated against off-duty GIs, Eighth Army ordered armoured vehicles in battle array into the streets and arrested the ringleaders, who received lengthy prison terms. My uncle, Don Svoboda, unwittingly introduced me to this subject. In trying to discover whether an execution he had witnessed decades earlier had anything to do with his suicide, I interviewed many veterans who had served in the stockade.
If courts-martial for rape went underreported, perhaps so too did trials, prison sentences and executions for rape. Did MacArthur order executions to send a message to the troops in order to bring rape under control but conceal it from the public and the press? The MPs assumed the execution s were approved.
Did MacArthur sign the execution papers and then have them destroyed? Robert Lilly, who has written extensively on executions of black soldiers during WWII, discovered that questioning the families of dead soldiers did not necessarily determine whether a soldier had been executed because sometimes the military reported deaths due to other causes. No soldiers were buried in Japan, and those executed are not distinguished from those who died accidentally or from natural causes. Many of the occupation files in the National Archives are filed either with WWII or Korean War papers—but sometimes at the beginning of administrative files marked , which makes them difficult to locate.
According to my uncle, most of the serious offenders in the 8th Army stockade were black. Alice Kaplan writes in The Interpreter , a book that discusses the discrepancies in sentencing between black and white servicemen convicted of rape in the European theater, that black troops who made up 8. Official figures about rape and executions for rape should be made available to scholars. John Dower among others has stated that "In the case of Japan, there was not a single incident of terrorism against U.
The US government, with Japanese collaboration, has suppressed important information about crime and punishment during the occupation: it has concealed the numbers of rapes and the identity of the perpetrators; it has concealed the prosecutions, arrests and executions for rape and other crimes. There is reason to believe that the information is not only politically charged in terms of the US-Japan relationship, but that it is racially charged. Specifically, the extreme punishment of blacks charged with rape—in several cases including execution—is a reminder of the Jim Crow justice of an earlier era.
Recommended Citation: Terese Svoboda, "U. August 26, Retrieved He was arrested as a civilian. Hampshire: Palgrave, The lack of documentation from any of the lesser courts was noted by Frederick L. House of Representatives Committee on Military Affairs. Comfort Women. Columbia University Press, Takamae Ejii. Inside GHQ. By the end of , 90 percent of the RAA comfort women had reportedly contracted venereal disease. Also Manchester, William. American Caesar: Douglas MacArthur Boston: Little, Brown, Routledge, Boulder, Colorado: Westerview Press, p.
There are 47 prefectures in Japan. Paris: University of Paris, Revised 2 September Lund Studies in International History 23 See also Takamae Ejii. Inside GHQ, p. Japan's Comfort Women, p. Embracing Defeat, p. General Correspondence Files ca. Also see Roehner. See also MacArthur, Douglas. Letter to All Unit Commanders. Entry A-1 ; File Far East Command. Eighth Army. Provost Marshal Section. This is after receiving another letter from the Commanding General reporting misconduct of occupation troops against Japanese Nationals for the month of September, See also p.
Tokyo, Japan. Reel 9. I am indebted to Roehner for this information. Office of the JAG. Holdings, Opinions, and Reviews: v. GPO, — and — See also Holdings, opinions, and reviews. Washington: Office of JAG, Washington, D. Telephone interviews. Also M. Email to author. See also McMillen, Joanne. The Adjutant General's Office. Robert and Thomson, J. Chase College of Law. See also Kaplan, Alice. The Interpreter. Schoech Missionary to War Criminals. Vol 57, No. Also Mahar, William. Accessed Lilly, J. Northern Kentucky University. Salmon P. Chapter 5.
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Dower: Occupation Preoccupation. See also Roehner, p. Czech translation available here. What happens on the immense battlefield for the control of Eurasia will provide the ultimate plot line in the tumultuous rush towards a new, polycentric world order, also known as the New Great Game. Our good ol' friend the nonsensical "Global War on Terror," which the Pentagon has slyly rebranded "the Long War," sports a far more important, if half-hidden, twin -- a global energy war.
I like to think of it as the Liquid War, because its bloodstream is the pipelines that crisscross the potential imperial battlefields of the planet. Put another way, if its crucial embattled frontier these days is the Caspian Basin, the whole of Eurasia is its chessboard. Think of it, geographically, as Pipelineistan. All geopolitical junkies need a fix. Since the second half of the s, I've been hooked on pipelines. Oh, by the way, the map of Pipelineistan is chicken-scratched with acronyms, so get used to them!
Map showing Central Asian completed and projected pipelines. I used to avidly follow the adventures of that once-but-not-future Sun-King of Central Asia, the now deceased Turkmenbashi or "leader of the Turkmen," Saparmurat Niyazov, head of the immensely gas-rich Republic of Turkmenistan, as if he were a Conradian hero. In Almaty, the former capital of Kazakhstan before it was moved to Astana, in the middle of the middle of nowhere the locals were puzzled when I expressed an overwhelming urge to drive to that country's oil boomtown Aktau.
There's nothing there. And never reading the words "Afghanistan" and "oil" in the same sentence is still a source of endless amusement for me. Last year, oil cost a king's ransom. This year, it's relatively cheap. But don't be fooled. Price isn't the point here. Like it or not, energy is still what everyone who's anyone wants to get their hands on. So consider this dispatch just the first installment in a long, long tale of some of the moves that have been, or will be, made in the maddeningly complex New Great Game, which goes on unceasingly, no matter what else muscles into the headlines this week.
Forget the mainstream media's obsession with al-Qaeda, Osama "dead or alive" bin Laden, the Taliban -- neo, light or classic -- or that "war on terror," whatever name it goes by. These are diversions compared to the high-stakes, hardcore geopolitical game that follows what flows along the pipelines of the planet. In his magnum opus The Grand Chessboard, Zbigniew Brzezinski -- realpolitik practitioner extraordinaire and former national security advisor to Jimmy Carter, the president who launched the U.
For Dr. Zbig, who, like me, gets his fix from Eurasia -- from, that is, thinking big -- it all boils down to fostering the emergence of just the right set of "strategically compatible partners" for Washington in places where energy flows are strongest. This, as he so politely put it back then, should be done to shape "a more cooperative trans-Eurasian security system.
By now, Dr. Zbig -- among whose fans is evidently President Barack Obama -- must have noticed that the Eurasian train which was to deliver the energy goods has been slightly derailed. The Asian part of Eurasia, it seems, begs to differ. Global financial crisis or not, oil and natural gas are the long-term keys to an inexorable transfer of economic power from the West to Asia. Those who control Pipelineistan -- and despite all the dreaming and planning that's gone on there, it's unlikely to be Washington -- will have the upper hand in whatever's to come, and there's not a terrorist in the world, or even a long war, that can change that.
Energy expert Michael Klare has been instrumental in identifying the key vectors in the wild, ongoing global scramble for power over Pipelineistan. These range from the increasing scarcity and difficulty of reaching primary energy supplies to "the painfully slow development of energy alternatives. In these early skirmishes of the twenty-first century, China reacted swiftly indeed. To be specific, in June , its leaders joined with Russia's to form the Shanghai Cooperation Organization. It's known as the SCO and that's an acronym you should memorize.
It's going to be around for a while. Back then, the SCO's junior members were, tellingly enough, the Stans, the energy-rich former SSRs of the Soviet Union -- Kyrgyzstan, Uzbekistan, Kazakhstan, and Tajikistan -- which the Clinton administration and then the new Bush administration, run by those former energy men, had been eyeing covetously. The organization was to be a multi-layered economic and military regional cooperation society that, as both the Chinese and the Russians saw it, would function as a kind of security blanket around the upper rim of Afghanistan.
Iran is, of course, a crucial energy node of West Asia and that country's leaders, too, would prove no slouches when it came to the New Great Game. No wonder Iran soon became a target in Washington. No wonder an air assault on that country remains the ultimate wet dream of assorted Likudniks as well as Dick "Angler" Cheney and his neocon chamberlains and comrades-in-arms.
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Meanwhile, as the Obama administration tries to sort out its Iranian, Afghan, and Central Asian policies, Beijing continues to dream of a secure, fast-flowing, energy version of the old Silk Road, extending from the Caspian Basin the energy-rich Stans plus Iran and Russia to Xinjiang Province, its Far West. The SCO has expanded its aims and scope since Today, Iran, India, and Pakistan enjoy "observer status" in an organization that increasingly aims to control and protect not just regional energy supplies, but Pipelineistan in every direction.
Given that Russia and China expect the SCO to play a similar role across Asia, clashes of various sorts are inevitable. Ask any relevant expert at the Chinese Academy of Social Sciences in Beijing and he will tell you that the SCO should be understood as a historically unique alliance of five non-Western civilizations -- Russian, Chinese, Muslim, Hindu, and Buddhist -- and, because of that, capable of evolving into the basis for a collective security system in Eurasia.
That's a thought sure to discomfort classic inside-the-Beltway global strategists like Dr. Zbig and President George H. Bush's national security advisor Brent Scowcroft. According to the view from Beijing, the rising world order of the twenty-first century will be significantly determined by a quadrangle of BRIC countries -- for those of you by now collecting Great Game acronyms, that stands for Brazil, Russia, India, and China -- plus the future Islamic triangle of Iran, Saudi Arabia, and Turkey. On the drawing boards, at least, it's a high octane dream.
Already in , watching NATO and the United States aggressively expand into the distant Balkans, Beijing identified this new game for what it was: a developing energy war. And at stake were the oil and natural gas reserves of what Americans would soon be calling the "arc of instability," a vast span of lands extending from North Africa to the Chinese border. No less important would be the routes pipelines would take in bringing the energy buried in those lands to the West.
Where they would be built, the countries they would cross, would determine much in the world to come. And this was where the empire of U. It will bring Caspian oil to the West without taking it through either Russia or Iran. Behind the idea of that "grid" lay a go-for-broke militarization of an energy corridor that would stretch from the Caspian Sea in Central Asia through a series of now independent former SSRs of the Soviet Union to Turkey, and from there into the Balkans thence on to Europe. It was meant to sabotage the larger energy plans of both Russia and Iran.
AMBO itself would bring oil from the Caspian basin to a terminal in the former SSR of Georgia in the Caucasus, and then transport it by tanker through the Black Sea to the Bulgarian port of Burgas, where another pipeline would connect to Macedonia and then to the Albanian port of Vlora. As for Camp Bondsteel, it was the "enduring" military base that Washington gained from the wars for the remains of Yugoslavia. It would be the largest overseas base the U.
Think of it as a user-friendly, five-star version of Guantanamo with perks for those stationed there that included Thai massage and loads of junk food. Bondsteel is the Balkan equivalent of a giant immobile aircraft carrier, capable of exercising surveillance not only over the Balkans but also over Turkey and the Black Sea region considered in the neocon-speak of the Bush years "the new interface" between the "Euro-Atlantic community" and the "Greater Middle East".
How could Russia, China, and Iran not interpret the war in Kosovo, then the invasion of Afghanistan where Washington had previously tried to pair with the Taliban and encourage the building of another of those avoid-Iran, avoid-Russia pipelines , followed by the invasion of Iraq that country of vast oil reserves , and finally the recent clash in Georgia that crucial energy transportation junction as straightforward wars for Pipelineistan? Though seldom imagined this way in our mainstream media, the Russian and Chinese leaderships saw a stark "continuity" of policy stretching from Bill Clinton's humanitarian imperialism to Bush's Global War on Terror.
Blowback, as then Russian President Vladimir Putin himself warned publicly, was inevitable -- but that's another magic-carpet story, another cave to enter another time. If you want to understand Washington's version of Pipelineistan, you have to start with Mafia-ridden Georgia. Though its army was crushed in its recent war with Russia, Georgia remains crucial to Washington's energy policy in what, by now, has become a genuine arc of instability -- in part because of a continuing obsession with cutting Iran out of the energy flow. Zbig Brzezinski himself flew into Baku in as an "energy consultant," less than four years after Azerbaijan became independent, and sold the idea to the Azerbaijani elite.
Now operational, that 1,kilometer-long, meter-wide steel serpent straddles no less than six war zones, ongoing or potential: Nagorno-Karabakh an Armenian enclave in Azerbaijan , Chechnya and Dagestan both embattled regions of Russia , South Ossetia and Abkhazia on which the Russia-Georgia war pivoted , and Turkish Kurdistan. From a purely economic point of view, the BTC made no sense. A "BTK" pipeline, running from Baku through Tehran to Iran's Kharg Island, could have been built for, relatively speaking, next to nothing -- and it would have had the added advantage of bypassing both mafia-corroded Georgia and wobbly Kurdish-populated Eastern Anatolia.
That would have been the really cheap way to bring Caspian oil and gas to Europe. The New Great Game ensured that that was not to be, and much followed from that decision. Even though Moscow never planned to occupy Georgia long-term in its war, or take over the BTC pipeline that now runs through its territory, Alfa Bank oil and gas analyst Konstantin Batunin pointed out the obvious: by briefly cutting off the BTC oil flow, Russian troops made it all too clear to global investors that Georgia wasn't a reliable energy transit country.
In other words, the Russians made a mockery of Zbig's world. For its part, Azerbaijan was, until recently, the real success story in the U. Now, however, with the message of the Russia-Georgia War sinking in, Baku is again allowing itself to be seduced by Russia. That's hardly surprising. Russia's energy seduction blitzkrieg is focused like a laser on Central Asia as well. We'll talk about it more in the next Pipelineistan installment.
It revolves around offering to buy Kazakh, Uzbek, and Turkmen gas at European prices instead of previous, much lower Russian prices. The Russians, in fact, have offered the same deal to the Azeris: so now, Baku is negotiating a deal involving more capacity for the Baku-Novorossiysk pipeline, which makes its way to the Russian borders of the Black Sea, while considering pumping less oil for the BTC. President Obama needs to understand the dire implications of this. Less Azeri oil on the BTC -- its full capacity is 1 million barrels a day, mostly shipped to Europe -- means the pipeline may go broke, which is exactly what Russia wants.
In Central Asia, some of the biggest stakes revolve around the monster Kashagan oil field in "snow leopard" Kazakhstan, the absolute jewel in the Caspian crown with reserves of as many as 9 billion barrels. As usual in Pipelineistan, it all comes down to which routes will deliver Kashagan's oil to the world after production starts in This spells, of course, Liquid War.
In this case, the Kazakhs hold all the cards. How oil will flow from Kashagan will decide whether the BTC -- once hyped by Washington as the ultimate Western escape route from dependence on Persian Gulf oil -- lives or dies. Welcome, then, to Pipelineistan! Whether we like it or not, in good times and bad, it's a reasonable bet that we're all going to be Pipeline tourists. So, go with the flow. Learn the crucial acronyms, keep an eye out for what happens to all those U. And, while you're at it, consider this just the first postcard sent off from our tour of Pipelineistan.
We'll be back to slightly adapt a quote from the Terminator. Think of this as a door opening onto a future in which what flows where and to whom may turn out to be the most important question on the planet. This article draws from his new book, Obama Does Globalistan. He may be reached at pepeasia yahoo. This article originally appeared at TomDispatch on March 24, The UN General Assembly almost immediately called on Israel to comply with the ICJ advisory opinion and end its illegal wall building, whose real aim was the defense of settlements, not Israel itself. But Israel refused.
Its High Court jurists in the case of the villagers of Beit Sourik essentially supported the policy of their government rather than the ruling of the ICJ. Thus Israeli military commanders could continue violating the rights, taking the land, and destroying the property of local Palestinians in the interest of Israeli occupiers in illegal settlements.
Jump ahead four years to late December In the roughly eleven and a half month period preceding the Gaza war, the IDF killed Gazan Palestinians, including many civilians, whereas a Gaza-launched missile killed one Israeli. Only courageous journalists, academics, and peace activists on the tiny Israeli left dared discuss the slaughter in the light of the Fourth Geneva Convention, which Israel trampled on. As the de facto occupying power in conquered Gaza, Israel failed to protect the safety of the indigenous population.
For reasons unrelated to either military necessity or self-defense, it wantonly killed and destroyed the private property of individuals, their governing authority, and their political and social organizations. But even to say that Israel acted in breach of many Geneva articles is to grossly understate its war crimes and crimes against humanity. All of these acts constitute war crimes. In , the newly born Israeli state inflicted a massive catastrophe on several hundred thousand Arabs of Palestine whom Israeli soldiers expelled from their land and property without compensation or right to return.
Thereafter, driven by the dominant racist strain of Zionist political ideology and drawing on the repressive police practices established by British soldiers and police in the last decade of their Palestine Mandate, Israeli leaders disfranchised the Palestinians and subjected them to a regime of extremely harsh political repression, personal humiliation, and relentless economic exploitation—all supported by American tax dollars and defended by most of the organized American Jewish community.
Palestinians living in crowded refugee camps and scattered throughout the Middle East responded in myriad ways, formed organizations of nationalist resistance, and tried to alert the world to their oppression. Some hijacked airliners and committed criminal acts of terrorism. Most simply endured. Twice, in and , they rose up in sustained but ultimately unsuccessful attempts to end Israeli rule.
The Gaza rampage earlier this year continued the pattern of uncritical U. Why does Israel suffer no consequences for being the only state in the Middle East region outside the Nuclear Non-Proliferation Treaty known to possess nuclear weapons, while Iran and Syria are harangued and threatened over their entirely legal civilian nuclear programs under the non-proliferation treaty? On December 27, , Israel attacked the densely populated, square mile, Gaza Strip population 1. In the second week of their assault, around mid-January , the cabinet decided to unilaterally wind down hostilities without a truce agreement.
Egypt quickly denounced this high-handed agreement while President Obama quickly endorsed it. Hamas leads the Palestinian national liberation movement in the Strip and, to a limited extent, in the West Bank, where its members and supporters are often arrested by Fatah police and military forces who are being trained by an American general, working in tandem with Israeli troops and Shin Bet intelligence agents. They chose instead to wage a campaign of armed aggression with the aim of devastating the urban-dwelling Palestinian refugees who support Hamas.
Their intention was to prove to Palestinians living in all parts of Israeli and divided, occupied Palestine that armed resistance is futile. As it turned out, the Gaza war strengthened the Palestinian will to survive and continue the struggle, but had no discernible effect on Palestinian perceptions of IDF deterrent power. According to figures released by a Hamas spokesman, in the first few days of the Israeli attack fighters from its small military wing, the Al Qassam Brigades, lost their lives, as did Hamas policeman.
Unverifiable estimates of Hamas overall fatalities published in the New York Times and other Western sources vary greatly from to That was impossible for the non-combatant population, especially those living in areas thought to be harboring Hamas leaders and fighters. Israeli soldiers trapped Palestinian civilians in their homes and apartments and murdered them when they attempted to leave bearing white flags. When we suspect that a Palestinian fighter is hiding in a house, we shoot it with a missile and then with two tank shells, and then a bulldozer hits the wall.
It causes damage but it prevents the loss of life among soldiers. The tactic of endangering civilians by putting them in harms way is a war crime under the Geneva Conventions. Army rabbis, given access to the battlefield, also encouraged the soldiers to act in violation of international law by not distinguishing between combatants and civilians.
Under instruction from chief army rabbi, Brig. General Avichai Rontzki, they disseminated messages of hate and cruelty toward all Palestinians, whom they dismissed as gentiles. Water-wells and water treatment systems were destroyed. The Palestinian parliament, main ministries, central prison and nearly all police stations were systematically destroyed. Reduced to rubble were 21 medical facilities, about factories, many workshops, a dairy, a health products store, and a university building. And, as the IDF does regularly in the West Bank, they used tanks and bulldozers to destroy agricultural land and olive orchards, so as to insure that the damage to Palestinian health would continue long after the war.
In the history of colonial-settler regimes one finds countless instances of vindictive targeting to suppress the resistance of an indigenous population, but also cases where strong imperialist powers, in return for services, underwrite the aggressive wars of their regional clients. In the planning, preparation, and execution of the Gaza war the U. White phosphorus burned the flesh of Palestinians beyond the fourth degree, poisoned their bodies, and made breathing difficult.
It remained within structures where it would reignite if disturbed. Cases have been reported of white phosphorus munitions and conventional bombs dropped by US-NATO forces on densely-populated Afghan villages, the most recent one Garani village, Farah province, May 4, killed an estimated or more Afghani civilians, mostly children and teenagers, and left many others horribly burned.
Specifically, the IDF used white phosphorus to burn down numerous structures, including apartment buildings, government offices, the UN school in Beit Lahiya in the northern Gaza Strip, the main compound of the UN Relief and Works Agency in Gaza City, and warehouses holding humanitarian food aid.
Its very use was considered by many nations to be an illegal form of indiscriminate attack on civilians. Israeli forces attacked Gazans mainly with high-tech American weapons: F fighters, M tanks, and heavy artillery. Nor does American complicity stop with diplomatic support and military aid. Yet this did not prevent State Department officials from recognizing the usefulness of having a white European state strategically situated near the oil-rich Arab countries; nor did it prevent Pentagon generals from highly rating Israeli military skills.
In different periods, Israel has indeed functioned as a military asset, an intelligence outpost, a platform from which to conduct destabilizing operations against out-of-favor regimes, and through which to route armaments to endangered U. The foundation for the U. As Noam Chomsky has shown, the main service Israel performed that year for the U.
That act of destruction consolidated the relationship. In return for this double achievement, the U. A few years later in September Palestinian nationalists threatened the Jordanian monarchy of King Hussein, another U. It remained a typical client state of the unsinkable-aircraft-carrier-type, like Britain, providing help for U. And in elements of the IDF participated in the failed U.
It is mainly American domestic politics and the highly visible role the organized American Jewish community plays in support of Israel that makes Israel seem different. Nevertheless, AIPAC is not the only powerful lobby anchored in an ethnic community that undermines the common world good and distorted U. They helped the Bush regime, in one of its last actions before leaving office, to secure congressional passage of the Indo-U. Middle East policy. Too many groups play that role, especially the congressional representatives of the corporate military-industrial complex, the lobbyists for the oil and other big business interests, and key elements of the intellectual community.
When the UN Security Council, on January 7, , passed a ceasefire resolution that failed to specify a time for hostilities to end, the U. After passage of the UN resolution, the Olmert cabinet continued to press the offensive. The Gaza war wound down without ever ending. In the West Bank it continued its aggressive blockade; in Palestinian East Jerusalem it increased its building of settlements, demolition of homes, and eviction of residents; and in southern Israel it placed the Bedouin Palestinians under increased repression. Israeli peace activists and human rights organizations collected evidence of IDF war crimes and crimes against humanity.
The Arab League sent a fact-finding mission of judges and legal experts to Gaza through the Rafah crossing to gather evidence of Israeli war crimes. Through February and March Egyptian officials continued to mediate negotiations leading to a cease-fire agreement that would re-open Gaza, and negotiations aimed at reconciling Hamas and Fatah.
Meanwhile the Israeli siege of Gaza continued though its second year. The Egyptian-mediated talks stalled. No prisoners were exchanged; all issues in the Israel-Palestinian conflict remained unresolved. Of course, Israel seldom honors commitments made with the Palestinians. Nor does it accept in good faith a two-state solution. The Bush-Obama conditions are absurd on their face, moreover, for no government would or should abstain from retaliation in self-defense, let alone a colonized people who have a legal right to use violence within limits against their belligerent occupiers.
Above all, why should Palestinian refugees and their descendants be forced to recognize in advance of negotiations the very state that leaves un-redressed the injustices it has been inflicting on them and every claim arising from expulsion from their homeland? The result has been an erosion of sympathy and support for Israel in Europe and even the U. A second result was that Israel was able to intimidate Iran and Syria, the backers of Islamist Hamas and Hezbollah, from militarily aiding the Palestinians.
Iran, locked in U. When Teheran tried to send Red Crescent humanitarian goods by ship, Egypt denied the ship access to Gaza. In Lebanon, Hezbollah dared not open a second front in support of the Gazans, though it did send limited amounts of secret military aid. Third, the conditions that led Israel to escalate its aggression continued.
The Al Qassam brigades that extol armed struggle curbed their rocket fire from Gaza while other armed groups did not. The homemade missiles were militarily useless but they served to communicate an important message: recognize our humanity, lift your illegal siege, and change your practices towards us. For your security will forever be conditioned by our right to live in dignity in our own nation-state.
Regimes that had previously favored Israel, however, such as Jordan and Turkey, with which Israel has a strategic relationship, continue to feel the strain of maintaining official ties. The Egyptian dictatorship actively sided with Israel against both Hamas and Hezbollah.
The local government 's duties are commonly split between county and municipal governments. In almost all cases, executive and legislative officials are elected by a plurality vote of citizens by district.
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The United States has an established structure of foreign relations. Almost all countries have embassies in Washington, D. Likewise, nearly all nations host American diplomatic missions. By contrast, private overseas giving by Americans is relatively generous. Policymakers in both countries consider Plan Colombia to be a foreign policy success for the United States. These are Pacific island nations, once part of the U. Taxes in the United States are levied at the federal, state, and local government levels. These include taxes on income, payroll, property, sales, imports, estates and gifts, as well as various fees.
Taxation in the United States is based on citizenship, not residency. It is the only country in the world, other than Eritrea , to do so. In taxes collected by federal, state and municipal governments amounted to The president holds the title of commander-in-chief of the nation's armed forces and appoints its leaders, the Secretary of Defense and the Joint Chiefs of Staff. In , the armed forces had 1. The Reserves and National Guard brought the total number of troops to 2. The Department of Defense also employed about , civilians, not including contractors.
Military service is voluntary, though conscription may occur in wartime through the Selective Service System. The military operates bases and facilities abroad,  and maintains deployments greater than active duty personnel in 25 foreign countries. Law enforcement in the United States is primarily the responsibility of local police departments and sheriff 's offices, with state police providing broader services. Marshals Service have specialized duties, including protecting civil rights , national security and enforcing U.
State courts conduct most criminal trials; federal courts handle certain designated crimes as well as certain appeals from the state criminal courts. Plea bargaining is very common; the vast majority of criminal cases in the country are settled by plea bargain rather than jury trial. In , there were 15, murders which was 1, more than in , a In , the US murder rate of 5. In , there were 17, murders and the murder rate was 5. Of those arrested for serious violent crimes in , Ethnically, Non-gun murders reached a peak in of 8, and declined in most years until the early s with 4, in Blacks committed Capital punishment is sanctioned in the United States for certain federal and military crimes, and also at the state level in 30 states.
Supreme Court ruling striking down arbitrary imposition of the death penalty. In the Court ruled that, under appropriate circumstances, capital punishment may constitutionally be imposed. Since the decision there have been more than 1, executions, a majority of these taking place in three states: Texas, Virginia, and Oklahoma. In , the country had the fifth-highest number of executions in the world, following China, Iran , Pakistan and Saudi Arabia. The United States has the highest documented incarceration rate and largest prison population in the world.
About 1 in every 35 adult residents in the United States was under some form of correctional supervision in December , the lowest rate observed since Virgin Islands per , people and the lowest was in Puerto Rico per , people. The United States has a capitalist mixed economy [ citation needed ] which is fueled by abundant natural resources and high productivity. The nominal GDP of the U. The United States is the largest importer of goods and second-largest exporter , though exports per capita are relatively low.
In , the total U. In , the private sector was estimated to constitute Coca-Cola is the most recognized soft drink company in the world. Chemical products are the leading manufacturing field. The National Mining Association provides data pertaining to coal and minerals that include beryllium , copper , lead , magnesium , zinc , titanium and others. The country is the primary developer and grower of genetically modified food , representing half of the world's biotech crops. With The largest private employment sector is health care and social assistance, with It has a smaller welfare state and redistributes less income through government action than European nations tend to.
The United States is the only advanced economy that does not guarantee its workers paid vacation  and is one of just a few countries in the world without paid family leave as a legal right, with the others being Papua New Guinea , Suriname and Liberia. It was fourth in productivity per hour, behind those two countries and the Netherlands.
The — global recession significantly affected the United States, with output still below potential according to the Congressional Budget Office. The United States has been a leader in technological innovation since the late 19th century and scientific research since the midth century. Methods for producing interchangeable parts were developed by the U. War Department by the Federal Armories during the first half of the 19th century.
Larry Winter Roeder
This technology, along with the establishment of a machine tool industry, enabled the U. Factory electrification in the early 20th century and introduction of the assembly line and other labor-saving techniques created the system called mass production. In , Alexander Graham Bell was awarded the first U. Thomas Edison 's research laboratory , one of the first of its kind, developed the phonograph , the first long-lasting light bulb , and the first viable movie camera.
In the early 20th century, the automobile companies of Ransom E. Olds and Henry Ford popularized the assembly line. The Wright brothers , in , made the first sustained and controlled heavier-than-air powered flight. The invention of the transistor in the s, a key active component in practically all modern electronics , led to many technological developments and a significant expansion of the U. These advancements then lead to greater personalization of technology for individual use.
In the 21st century, approximately two-thirds of research and development funding comes from the private sector. Accounting for 4. After years of stagnant growth, in , according to the Census, median household income reached a record high after two consecutive years of record growth, although income inequality remains at record highs with top fifth of earners taking home more than half of all overall income.
This is largely because at-risk workers get almost no government support and are further set back by a very weak collective bargaining system. Assets owned by Americans lost about a quarter of their value. There were about , sheltered and unsheltered homeless persons in the U. In , the region with the lowest poverty rate was New Hampshire 7. The civil airline industry is entirely privately owned and has been largely deregulated since , while most major airports are publicly owned. The United States energy market is about 29, terawatt hours per year.
The remainder was supplied by nuclear power and renewable energy sources. For decades, nuclear power has played a limited role relative to many other developed countries, in part because of public perception following the Three Mile Island accident in In , several applications for new nuclear plants were filed. Since , the total greenhouse gas emissions by the United States are the second highest by country, exceeded only by China. Issues that affect water supply in the United States include droughts in the West, water scarcity , pollution , a backlog of investment, concerns about the affordability of water for the poorest, and a rapidly retiring workforce.
Increased variability and intensity of rainfall as a result of climate change is expected to produce both more severe droughts and flooding, with potentially serious consequences for water supply and for pollution from combined sewer overflows. The United States is home to many cultures and a wide variety of ethnic groups, traditions, and values.
Core American culture was established by Protestant British colonists and shaped by the frontier settlement process, with the traits derived passed down to descendants and transmitted to immigrants through assimilation. Americans have traditionally been characterized by a strong work ethic , competitiveness, and individualism,  as well as a unifying belief in an "American creed " emphasizing liberty, equality, private property, democracy, rule of law, and a preference for limited government. According to a British study, Americans gave 1. The American Dream , or the perception that Americans enjoy high social mobility , plays a key role in attracting immigrants.
Mainstream American cuisine is similar to that in other Western countries. Wheat is the primary cereal grain with about three-quarters of grain products made of wheat flour  and many dishes use indigenous ingredients, such as turkey, venison, potatoes, sweet potatoes, corn, squash, and maple syrup which were consumed by Native Americans and early European settlers.
Characteristic dishes such as apple pie, fried chicken, pizza, hamburgers, and hot dogs derive from the recipes of various immigrants. French fries, Mexican dishes such as burritos and tacos, and pasta dishes freely adapted from Italian sources are widely consumed. American eating habits owe a great deal to that of their British culinary roots with some variations.
Although American lands could grow newer vegetables that Britain could not, most colonists would not eat these new foods until accepted by Europeans. Hess stated in "Our founding fathers were as far superior to our present political leaders in the quality of their food as they were in the quality of their prose and intelligence". The American fast food industry, the world's largest,  pioneered the drive-through format in the s.
In the 18th and early 19th centuries, American art and literature took most of its cues from Europe. Mark Twain and poet Walt Whitman were major figures in the century's second half; Emily Dickinson , virtually unknown during her lifetime, is now recognized as an essential American poet. Twelve U. William Faulkner , Ernest Hemingway and John Steinbeck are often named among the most influential writers of the 20th century. The transcendentalists , led by Thoreau and Ralph Waldo Emerson , established the first major American philosophical movement.
In the 20th century, the work of W. Quine and Richard Rorty , and later Noam Chomsky , brought analytic philosophy to the fore of American philosophical academia. John Rawls and Robert Nozick led a revival of political philosophy , and Martha Nussbaum is its most important figure today. Cornel West and Judith Butler have led a continental tradition in American philosophical academia. Chicago school economists like Milton Friedman , James M. Buchanan , and Thomas Sowell have affected various fields in social and political philosophy. In the visual arts, the Hudson River School was a midth-century movement in the tradition of European naturalism.
The realist paintings of Thomas Eakins are now widely celebrated. Major artistic movements such as the abstract expressionism of Jackson Pollock and Willem de Kooning and the pop art of Andy Warhol and Roy Lichtenstein developed largely in the United States. One of the first major promoters of American theater was impresario P. Barnum , who began operating a lower Manhattan entertainment complex in The team of Harrigan and Hart produced a series of popular musical comedies in New York starting in the late s.
In the 20th century, the modern musical form emerged on Broadway ; the songs of musical theater composers such as Irving Berlin , Cole Porter , and Stephen Sondheim have become pop standards. Choreographers Isadora Duncan and Martha Graham helped create modern dance , while George Balanchine and Jerome Robbins were leaders in 20th-century ballet. Although little known at the time, Charles Ives 's work of the s established him as the first major U.
Aaron Copland and George Gershwin developed a new synthesis of popular and classical music. The rhythmic and lyrical styles of African-American music have deeply influenced American music at large, distinguishing it from European and African traditions. Elements from folk idioms such as the blues and what is now known as old-time music were adopted and transformed into popular genres with global audiences. Jazz was developed by innovators such as Louis Armstrong and Duke Ellington early in the 20th century.
Country music developed in the s, and rhythm and blues in the s. Elvis Presley and Chuck Berry were among the mids pioneers of rock and roll. Rock bands such as Metallica , the Eagles , and Aerosmith are among the highest grossing in worldwide sales. More recent American creations include hip hop and house music. Hollywood , a northern district of Los Angeles , California, is one of the leaders in motion picture production. Since the early 20th century, the U. Director D.
The industry enjoyed its golden years, in what is commonly referred to as the " Golden Age of Hollywood ", from the early sound period until the early s,  with screen actors such as John Wayne and Marilyn Monroe becoming iconic figures. After graduating from the University of Berkley, he sets out to lose his virginity, since at age 38 and in his condition he feels he might not have much time left to do so.
Fortunately, he finds the sensitive and still beautiful Cheryl Cohen Greene, a kindhearted and devoted sex therapist. She is upfront about the differences between her position and a common prostitute, as surrogates limit their visits, designed not only to help the client achieve sexual satisfaction but also develop their emotional behavior as well, instead of pure instant gratification and seeking return business; hence, her self-proclaimed title sex therapist.
As the sessions continue she finds it increasingly difficult to remain emotionally detached, as anyone who has begun a sexual relationship with another can attest to. Despite the conflicting morality, the priest claims God will give him a free pass on this one. William H. Macy is perfect for the role as the droll character. His scenes are cleverly intercut with the sex scenes to optimize comedic effect, though without becoming overtly derisive of the church. The film is a showcase for John Hawkes and Helen Hunt. Hawkes does more with simple head movements and facial expressions than most actors can do with entire body languages.
This and other flaws keep the character from becoming too perfect. Also, his interactions with all those around him feel natural and healthy in that no one seems to like him out of pity; they all genuinely care about him. It is a tremendous performance likely to garner major awards attention. Similarly, Hunt gives one of her best performances in years as Cheryl the sex therapist.
Overall, the film is a feel-good crowd-pleaser that strikes many emotional chords throughout. It is not only an entertaining, oftentimes hilarious dramedy but also a story rich with moral questions. Indeed, it is a pitch-perfect blend of comedy and drama. He has done it again in the sweat-soaked noir of The Paperboy. An exceptional cast led by Nicole Kidman, Matthew McConaughey, Zac Efron and John Cusack gives these tawdry miscreants a scuzzy, sexy, sad reality that is as unerring as it is unnerving. Daniels is never one to shy away from the cruelty of humans, hatred that rises up like bile, unimaginable violence and depravity.
Any joy, love or laughter that elbow their way into his work comes as more of an afterthought. There is such unflinching passion in the piece that The Paperboy deserves to be seen even though it can feel almost as flawed as its characters. A man with a mean streak and plenty of blood on his hands, no one mourned his death. The Moat County D. By the time the film picks up the story in earnest, Hillary has been on death row long enough for the sassy Charlotte Bless, a tarted-up, down-market Kidman, to fall in love with him.
Jansen Scott Glenn owns the local paper. His youngest son, Jack Efron , a college dropout, now delivers it. Jack is enlisted as their driver. Charlotte shows up to help with her letters and files. There are any number of stories running on parallel tracks and they are inclined to bump into one another as they intersect and overlap. Characters have been expanded and altered to hit harder on issues of race and homophobia; journalistic integrity so central to the book has been let to slide. Walken, his line readings a thing of bizarro beauty, is reason enough to sign up.
Harrelson is hilarious, especially going goo-goo over Bonny. And Walken and Rockwell have mad skills at, well, everything. Their byplay gets mired by a subplot involving Marty Colin Farrell , a boozy Irish screenwriter stuck in Hollywood and blocked on his new script. To help, Billy puts out an all-points alert for scum of the earth. Not a bad idea when the great Tom Waits, playing a serial killer, becomes a contender. Blood splatters, heads explode, and McDonagh takes sassy, self-mocking shots at the very notion of being literary in Hollywood.
Jason Micallef was in the middle of a summer road trip, and he and his friends had decided to stop off at the Iowa State Fair. It was a typical muggy Midwestern summer day, the only building on the fairgrounds that was air-conditioned was the one that housed the butter sculpting competition.
Like, Elvis in butter. The people who made them are really talented. He had been looking for a subject to use as a metaphor — something utterly silly on the surface, but of the utmost seriousness to the people involved. The resulting film, Butter, opens nationally this weekend, with Jennifer Garner in the lead role as a ruthlessly ambitious butter sculpting champion whose reign is suddenly challenged by a talented newcomer.
In addition to Garner in the lead, the film features Hugh Jackman, Olivia Wilde, Rob Corddry and Yara Shahidi as the young upstart who challenges the butter sculpting royalty. Micallef says that from the start he envisioned Butter as a satire of what he has witnessed in recent American elections. He hopes that will make it feel even more timely during this election season, and he notes that in test screenings it has fared equally well with conservative and liberal viewers. Yet the story that then unfolds, mostly in flashback, could hardly be more vital and engaging. For this tale, which is based on a Satrapi family legend yet has wider implications, the duo largely forgoes the graphic approach in favor of live action.
The narrative, which nests stories within stories, does incorporate a few hand-drawn or CGI-generated episodes. In appearance, the movie recalls Amelie or Hugo, but with a shadowy, sepia-toned palette. Its storytelling style is playful and self-conscious, with magically unrealist touches. A former concert violinist, protagonist Nasser Ali chooses to perish early in the movie, which then circles back to explain his despair. Not even the title dish, his favorite meal, can lure him from his self-made appointment with the angel of death.
In fact, the story is narrated by that very figure: horned and black-shrouded Azrael Edward Baer. At first, it seems that the only cause of his anguish is the loss of a long-beloved violin, which was recently broken. Even a Stradivarius, acquired after an arduous journey that includes an opium trip, fails to satisfy Nasser Ali. Without his original instrument, it seems, the musician can never again perform to his own expectations.
So he resolves to waste away. As Nasser Ali waits a week for oblivion, flashbacks and asides deepen our understanding of the man, embodied by Mathieu Amalric with his usual flair for playing neurotics who are roughly as likable as they are irritating. The movie has it in for the kids as well, lampooning them in flash-forwards to their adult lives. Eventually, we learn that the neglected Faranguiss has done something unforgivable. But as we get to know her, we also come to see that she means well and is far more than simply the nagging, bourgeois wife that Nasser Ali resolves to escape by dying.
Both Nasser Ali and Faranguiss are tormented, in different ways, by the specter of Irane Golshifteh Farahani , the woman the violinist once desperately wanted to marry. The obsessiveness of his passion is underscored with a clip from the film Phantom of the Opera. Thus Chicken with Plums is as much about culture as about love and family. To be true artists, the film muses, perhaps violinists — and graphic novelists — need the national equivalent of a room of their own.
Its writer-director, of course, is the all-out visionary Paul Thomas Anderson, an all-in filmmaker whose previous work like Boogie Nights and There Will Be Blood explored strong and compelling personal conflicts. But none are stronger than the one here between a man completely sure of himself and another who is completely not.
The parallels between Dodd and his movement, known as The Cause, and the real-life presences of L. Ron Hubbard and Scientology are plentiful enough to have attracted considerable attention, but those looking to The Master to be some kind of muckraking expose are going to be disappointed. For another, The Master is not in the expose business. Rather it is a moody, disturbing film about personality, obsession and delusion, about the will to power, the parallel need to be mastered, and what happens when those wires get irredeemably crossed. We meet him on Guam in the closing days of World War II, a sailor getting so hellaciously drunk that simulating sex with a woman constructed out of sand seems like a hell of a good idea.
Phoenix, known for immersing himself in Oscar-nominated roles in Gladiator and Walk the Line, makes Quell frighteningly believable. The way the man walks, the way he talks, the savage bursts of violence he is prone to, mark him as a traumatized individual, likely suffering from post-traumatic stress disorder before it had a name, someone who is perennially fighting his demons for control and losing more often than not. Then, one night in , completely drunk, Quell wanders onto a yacht docked in the San Francisco Bay, passes out, and wakes up in a world he never imagined.
What Dodd sees in Quell is murkier and less straightforward. If his theories and practices can work on Quell, Dodd is perhaps thinking, they can work on anyone. When he and his assistant Magalie Audrey Fleurot interview potential caregivers, the applicants are bland functionaries. Philippe needs constant care to stave off atrophy and the myriad other maladies that can impact a paralyzed man, but he is put off by the morose men looking for work. Then a tough Senegalese immigrant named Driss Sy shows up, looking to just have his application rejected so he can collect unemployment.
Driss is unrehearsed and not eager to impress, ready to get his paper stamped and go away. Instead, Philippe offers him the job, partly as a challenge to the young and directionless man from the Parisian projects, but also as a challenge to his own regimented life. The Intouchables carries all the warning signs of being a Driving Miss Daisy update, a cloying oversimplification of race relations that provides easy but trite solutions to societal divides. But this is all about execution and chemistry — Cluzet and Sy each deliver magnetic, sympathetic performances using entirely different skill sets.
The Intouchables was a huge sleeper hit, mainly because it offers a satisfying emotional arc without force-feeding those emotions. There is an inescapable joy in seeing actors hit a rhythm, and Cluzet and Sy deserve great credit for taking what could have been stock characters and giving them unexpected life.