In our ongoing coverage of the conflict between Israel and the Palestinians, we invite retired U.S. Army Colonel and senior advisor to the Quincy Institute for Responsible Statecraft, Lawrence Wilkerson, to offer his experienced and unsparing perspective. Then our resident constitutional scholar, Bruce Fein, weighs in on how in this conflict the United States violates a number of international laws.
Lawrence Wilkerson is a retired U.S. Army colonel. Over his 31 years of service, Colonel Wilkerson served as Secretary of State Colin Powell's Chief of Staff from 2002 to 2005, and Special Assistant to General Powell when he was Chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff from 1989 to 1993. Colonel Wilkerson also served as Deputy Director and Director of the U.S. Marine Corps War College at Quantico, Virginia, and for fifteen years he was the Distinguished Visiting Professor of Government and Public Policy at the College of William and Mary. He is currently a Senior Fellow at the Eisenhower Media Network, senior advisor to the Quincy Institute for Responsible Statecraft, and co-founder of the All-Volunteer Force Forum.
Here is former director in the State Department’s Bureau of Political-Military Affairs Josh Paul’s op-ed in the Washington Post: “Opinion: This is not the State Department I know. That’s why I left my job.”
Bibi [Netanyahu] is very strategically allied with Hamas. Hamas does not believe in a two-state solution. They are adamantly opposed to a two-state solution. They want a Palestinian state and Israel gone. But Bibi sympathizes with that because he wants an Israeli state and the Palestinians gone. So he's very much willing to work with Hamas— not explicitly, but certainly tacitly and implicitly.
Colonel Lawrence Wilkerson
Netanyahu's goal here is to stay out of jail.
Colonel Lawrence Wilkerson
Biden doesn't seem to distinguish between the subjugators and the subjugated… Factually, it's pretty clear that the difference in military superpower on the side of the Israelis and the U.S., compared to the feeble weaponry of the Palestinians (if they're even able to acquire them) it's probably the greatest gap in modern history between the occupier and the occupied. Why doesn't Biden recognize that? He's supposed to be a foreign policy expert… Why doesn't he recognize those basic facts?
Bruce Fein is a Constitutional scholar and an expert on international law. Mr. Fein was Associate Deputy Attorney General under Ronald Reagan and he is the author of Constitutional Peril: The Life and Death Struggle for Our Constitution and Democracy, and American Empire: Before the Fall.
Here is Ralph Nader and Bruce Fein’s October 24, 2023 letter to President Joe Biden on the subject of the Biden Administration’s public response to the ongoing Israel-Hamas war.
You put all [the facts] together and it really is almost laughable to have the President of the United States stand up there and proclaim the fundamental principle of U.S. international foreign policy is making a rule-based international order. As he's violating the order himself.
In Case You Haven’t Heard with Francesco DeSantis
1. High ranking State Department official Josh Paul has resigned from the agency, citing the Biden administration’s hard line on support for Israel’s attacks on Gaza, per the Huffington Post. Paul, who oversaw top-level arms sales at the State Department, said “When I came to this bureau ... I knew it was not without its moral complexity and moral compromises, and I made myself a promise that I would stay for as long as I felt … the harm I might do could be outweighed by the good I could do…I am leaving today because I believe that in our current course with regards to the continued – indeed, expanded and expedited – provision of lethal arms to Israel – I have reached the end of that bargain.” In a later interview with PBS NewsHour, Paul stated that human rights abuses by the IDF are tracked, but routinely ignored by the State Department’s senior leadership.
2. Adding to this staff revolt, the Intercept reports sixteen former campaign staffers for Senator John Fetterman of Pennsylvania sent a letter calling on the Senator to back a ceasefire between Israel and Hamas, writing “it is not too late to change your stance and stand on the righteous side of history.” Fetterman has thus far been a hawkish supporter of Israel in this war. This letter follows a similar letter to Senator Elizabeth Warren, wherein 260 of her former presidential campaign staff urged her to call for a ceasefire as well, per POLITICO. The Messenger also reports Representative Ro Khanna’s political director has resigned in protest of Khanna’s opposition to a ceasefire resolution.
2. The United Nations reports that on October 18th, the United States vetoed a Security Council resolution calling for a ceasefire in Gaza. The resolution, authored by Brazil’s UN delegation, won the support of 12 of the council’s 15 members, but the sole veto of the United States was enough to kill to the measure. The American UN ambassador, Linda Thomas-Greenfield, justified the veto by saying “this resolution did not mention Israel’s right of self-defence.” No other delegation voted against the resolution, though the United Kingdom and Russia abstained from voting.
4. USA Today reports that Starbucks and the Starbucks workers union have filed “dueling lawsuits over [a] pro-Palestine social media post.” Starbucks claims the post – which read simply "Solidarity with Palestine!" – “damaged the company's reputation,” with executive vice president Sara Kelly claiming this implies the union’s “support for violence perpetrated by Hamas” On the other hand, the union alleges that this is nothing more than another tactic in Starbucks’ “illegal anti-union campaign” with the company “falsely attacking the union’s reputation with workers and the public.” Since 2021, over 330 unfair labor practice charges have been filed against Starbucks with the National Labor Relations Board.
5. As the United Auto Workers strike continues, the union has already achieved major concessions from the auto companies. These include General Motors, Ford, Stellantis offering a 23% wage increase, Ford agreeing to reduce the progression period to reach peak wages from 8 years to 3 – with Stellantis agreeing to 4 years – and Ford agreeing to reinstate cost of living adjustments, per the Detroit Free Press. Union president Shawn Fain continues to press the companies however, noting forcefully that even as Ford claims to be financially strained, they announced a $600 million dividend to shareholders just this week.
6. The Hill reports that the Senators are “zero[ing] in” on national standards for name, image, and likeness rights for college athletes. Senator Blumenthal of Connecticut said in a recent hearing on the issue “The system of college athletics is in need of reform. The system all too long has been exploitative and abusive, emotionally [and] physically.” Witnesses at the hearing testified that national standards would help avoid major disparities in compensation across state lines, and would ensure protections for student athletes in sports besides football and basketball. The senators assembled largely agreed that national standards are necessary, though some – like Senator Hawley of Missouri – fretted about the possibility of student athletes unionizing.
7. Axios reports that DC lawmakers have proposed an innovative bill that would “allocate $11 million annually to…Residents [who] could use those vouchers to support any local news outlet of their choice.” This proposal was pioneered by the Democracy Policy Network or DPN, co-founded by Pete Davis. DPN volunteer Mark Histed is said of the bill “We believe that markets are not sufficient to provide the level of journalism that we need in a democracy.” If the DC council passes the bill, the district would join New Mexico, California, and New Jersey in providing state funds for local journalism.
8. 33 states have filed a lawsuit against Facebook and Instagram parent company Meta, alleging that the tech titan “routinely collects data on children under 13 without their parents’ consent, in violation of federal law,” per AP. In addition, nine state attorneys general are filing lawsuits in their states, meaning nearly every single state in the nation – and Washington D.C. – are taking action. New York Attorney General Letitia James said in a statement, “Meta has profited from children’s pain by intentionally designing its platforms with manipulative features that make children addicted…while lowering their self-esteem.”
9. On October 24th, the California Department of Motor Vehicles issued a statement declaring the immediate suspension of permits issued to the company Cruise, which had allowed them to test and deploy driverless taxicabs in the state. The California DMV wrote “When there is an unreasonable risk to public safety, the DMV can immediately suspend or revoke permits,” further noting that there is no set time limit for a suspension, and that the suspension is effective immediately.
10. Finally, the Minnesota Reformer is out with a story on how the Minneapolis police department and local government conspired to run a protection racket targeting small, minority-owned businesses in the city. Put simply, “Some businesses…are required by the city to have security, which until 2020, sometimes had to be off-duty Minneapolis police officers…The city doesn’t keep track of how much officers are working or how much they’re paid, or even have access to the contracts…Some officers are still paid in cash, increasing the risk of tax evasion. And, several business owners and Minneapolis officials said some small business owners — particularly those owned by immigrants — have been led to believe they must hire MPD officers, or risk getting ghosted by police.” One of the officers involved in this racket was none other than Derek Chauvin, later convicted of murdering George Floyd and setting off riots in the city that, in an ironic twist, led to the destruction of one of the businesses he had been been involved in “protecting.”
This has been Francesco DeSantis, with In Case You Haven’t Heard