Glenn Greenwald Interviews Norman Finkelstein: Israel Is a Lunatic State

Israel clearly wanted a war with Iran when the bombed the Iranian embassy in Damascus—a war that would solve all their problems and after which they could deal with the Palestinians even more brutally until (they hope) they can find a way to expel them. So far the Israel-Iran confrontation has been rather subdued, but only because of intense pressure from the West. As a result, they called off a much more intense attack on Iran. But this is far from over. Israel clearly wants to expand the war and set back the Iranian military for a very long time. They will keep pushing until the West caves on this issue, as they have on so many issues. But this time, as Finkelstein emphasizes, we may be talking about the Samson Option.


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  1. ps
    ps says:

    Russian girl: “I think, that if the Prussian king would see how Königsberg looks like today, he would be shocked.” That’s what I fear as well.


    Contemporary history: Historical ballast

    A secret document proves it: In the summer of 1990, a Soviet general sounded out whether Bonn was interested in East Prussia. Was this meant seriously or was it a trap?

    It is an unusual story in an unusual time, and it begins with a ticker message received by the press office of the German embassy in Moscow. In May 1990, 20 years ago, the Wall was already open and the four victorious powers of the Second World War were negotiating German unity with the Federal Republic and the GDR. The main point of contention is the NATO membership of a united Germany; the Western powers are in favor, the Soviets against.

    But now, according to a report in the latest edition of SPIEGEL, Soviet Major General Geli Batenin has stated that the “most preferable option” would be for the whole of Germany to join the Western alliance. Does this indicate a realignment in Moscow?

    Joachim von Arnim, head of the political department at the embassy, wants to meet the unknown general immediately. The 45-year-old lawyer knows his way around the Soviet system; he is already stationed in Moscow for the second time and knows that he cannot simply contact Batenin. He calls the Central Committee – the power center of the Kremlin empire – and makes his request.

    It takes a while, but a few weeks later the appointment is made, in the new Central Committee building not far from Red Square. Arnim is surprised by the athletic appearance of the almost 20-year-old general, who appears in plain clothes. Of course, the main topic on July 2, 1990 is the unresolved NATO issue.

    But at the end, Batenin changes the subject. Under the seal of secrecy, he talks to his visitor about northern East Prussia, the part of the German province that was occupied by the Soviet Union during the war and never recovered after 1945. Meadows are covered in steppes, villages are run down, the Pregel stinks of sewage.

    Batenin says that he has visited the region and that it is “a backward area in every respect, not only compared to its pre-war state, but also compared to the level of development in Russia”. Obviously just ballast.

    There is a “question of northern East Prussia”, says Batenin and continues: “This problem will arise for the Soviet Union and Germany sooner or later. You can see how the situation in the Baltic states is developing.”

    The Baltic Soviet republics were once annexed by Stalin and now want to break away from Moscow. Batenin’s words can only be interpreted in one way. He wants to initiate negotiations about northern East Prussia. This is also how Arnim understands him, who immediately rejects the request.

    Since Willy Brandt’s Ostpolitik, Bonn has always signaled that it has no claims to the former eastern territories. This was also the position in the two-plus-four negotiations between the two German states and the victorious powers. The West German position was “unambiguous”, Arnim informed his host, “unification is about the Federal Republic of Germany, the GDR and the whole of Berlin. If the Soviet Union had problems with the development of northern East Prussia, that was their business”.

    The diplomat added as a warning that “it was in both sides’ interests to avoid anything that could be misused by the Soviet conservatives to cast doubt on the credibility of the German position”.

    That evening, the embassy reported to Bonn. Just how seriously Arnim takes Batenin’s concerns can be seen from the fact that telex number 2585 is one of the few documents classified as “secret”.

    SPIEGEL has now discovered the document in the archives of the Federal Foreign Office. And it raises the question of whether Moscow was really considering negotiating over the northern part of East Prussia – or whether Gorbachev’s opponents wanted to use Batenin to initiate negotiations over East Prussia so that they could then accuse Gorbachev of betraying Russian interests.

    One of the skeptics is Frank Elbe, a confidant of Foreign Minister Hans-Dietrich Genscher and member of the Bonn delegation at the Two Plus Four negotiations. Today, Elbe assures us that East Prussia was “never part of the negotiations”. However, there were repeated interventions from the Central Committee, “which were intended to raise the profile of individual members or as a disruptive maneuver”. Elbe sees the Batenin initiative in this context.

    On the other hand, Batenin was not one of the diplomatic scene’s steamrollers. The nuclear weapons specialist entered the political stage in the 1980s, was spokesman for the Minister of Defense, military policy advisor to the Central Committee and disarmament expert to Gorbachev. He later worked for Boris Yeltsin, but then lost track of him.

    Even before the fall of the Berlin Wall, Batenin publicly declared that he was “categorically against using the military to solve internal problems”. He criticized disarmament opponents in his own ranks and signaled early on that he considered the collapse of the Warsaw Pact to be inevitable. No hardliner speaks like that.

    However, the Americans temporarily refused Batenin entry. In Washington, he was seen as a Soviet propagandist. Diplomat Arnim, on the other hand, gained a different impression. He wrote to Bonn that “Batenin’s appearance and statements indicate that he works for one of the Soviet services and has a relatively high rank there”.

    Today we know that the general was internally in favor of radical disarmament, even of his own troops. All of this gives the impression that the man’s main aim was to reduce the costs of Moscow’s great power policy. From this perspective, the separation of East Prussia was not completely absurd.

    Moreover, everything seemed to be in flux in 1990. Journalists from Poland and Lithuania reported a lively interest in the Russian enclave, which some people apparently thought was not viable. After all, once Lithuania was independent, which was already on the horizon, there was no longer any land connection between Russia and the Kaliningrad region.

    But whatever Batenin’s intentions were with his initiative, the borders of a united Germany had to be decided by all four world war victors. And the British, Americans and French would never have accepted a Soviet-German deal over East Prussia that would have put Poland in a pincer situation.

    Such a plan would have been the end of our support from the Western Allies, says diplomat Arnim today. That would have meant the loss of unity. And nobody wanted it to fail because of East Prussia.

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