You are currently browsing the category archive for the ‘International Affairs’ category.
Who could ask for anything more. A great beach, a good discotheque and an opportunity for martyrdom for the win!
Over a million tourists from around the world visit Sousse, Tunisia every year. And, while the coastal city boasts pristine beaches and world class hotels, recently, hordes of local young men have been leaving fun and sun behind them in favor of joining ISIS in Syria.
In the crazy fun house world of imperial politics nationalist regimes are less preferable than radical religious ones. Noam Chomsky and Andre Vltchek discuss the motivations of empire in the Middle East in this selection from the book: On Western Terrorism – From Hiroshima to Drone Warfare.
“Anyhow, going back to the Middle East after World War II. The British role in Iran was reduced and the US began to take over. IN Iraq in 1958, there was a so-called independent government, but it was basically British-run, and it was overthrown in a military coup. A couple of years later the US was able to engineer a coup that overthrew the Nasser-type nationalist government, and that’s where Saddam Hussein comes in. The CIA handed the new Ba’athist government a long list of Communists, radicals, and teachers, and then they all got assassinated. Then you come to the present; the US expects to run Iraq. In Saudi Arabia, the British were the junior partner, Finally the British pulled out, and left it to the United States.”
Of course Saudi Arabia is a tremendously destabilizing force in the world and its influence spreads from Bahrain to Indonesia. In Bahrain there is the fear that the country may be annexed by Saudi Arabia, The Saudi Army is and out of Bahrain.
The Saudis are pouring money all over the place to sponsor the most extreme forms of radical Islam – Wahabbism – in Madrasas, in Pakistan, pouring money into Egypt to support the Salafis, all extreme Islamic elements. The United States is happy with that; it doesn’t try to prevent them.
The idea that the US is opposed to radical Islam is ludicrous. The most extreme fundamentalist Islamic state in the world is Saudi Arabia, which is the US’s favourite. Britain also has consistently supported radical Islam. The reason was to oppose secular nationalism. US relations with Israel reached their current close state in 1967 because Israel performed the huge service of smashing secular nationalism and defending radical Islam.
A British diplomatic historian, Mark Curtis, wrote a very good book a few years ago called Secret Affairs: British Collusion with Radical Islam (review here). Curtis went through the British records on Islam. It turns out the British had consistently supported radical Islamist elements, pretty much was the US has been doing. They may not have liked it, but they prefer them to the secular nationalists.
Secular nationalists threatened them – they threatened to take over the resources and use them for domestic development and that’s the worst sin; so we support radical Islamists.”
-Excerpt from “On Western Terrorism from Hiroshima to Drone Warfare p.115 – 116
It would seem that Geo-political decisions are quietly being adjudicated by the imperial powers of the world. It would also seem that they are quite separate from the political fodder being offered to their respective populations.
Fascinating reading about some of the circular nature of events that are playing out in the Middle East as of late. This excerpt from the Counterpunch article titled Once More, Into the Quagmire.
The Middle East Needs Our Military Might
One can hear, in the reverberating noise of mainstream justifications, a series of claims. Among them is the idea that the Middle East is united in opposition to ISIS. Indeed it is, if you confine your poll to the rotten monarchies of the Gulf, including Saudi Arabia, Qatar, the United Arab Emirates, and Bahrain. Adding Jordan to the mix, this fulsome collection of anti-democratic and largely puritanical theocrats is by some stretch of the imagination supposed to provide Arab and Muslim legitimacy to America’s war.
Fancy that, legitimacy conferred by five of the most authoritarian governments in the Middle East. Thus we are ostensibly defending the cause of freedom by assembling a coalition of five treacherous freedom deniers. One human rights violator is leading a coalition of human rights violators against a new human rights violator whose actions deeply offend it. We are appalled at the sight of beheadings and intend to destroy those who practice it, supported by the leading beheader on the Arabian Peninsula. We bomb ISIS oil depots, claiming they have been criminally seized. This barely a decade after we criminally seized major Iraqi oil contracts, while our troops “guarded” the oil ministry (from ‘insurgents’).
Then there’s the dutifully ignored footnote, a poll conducted by the Arab America Institute, which found that:
“Strong majorities in every country favor U.S. policies that support a negotiated solution to the conflict, coupled with more support for Syrian refugees. Majorities in all countries oppose any form of U.S. military engagement (i.e., “no-fly zone,” air strikes, or supplying advanced weapons to the opposition).”
And most Arabs found President Obama most effective in ending the U.S. presence in Iraq. Perhaps the true patriot could efface all of this were it not for the additional fact that our partners in extermination are the leading financial backers of extremists across the Arab world. Saudi Arabia and Qatar are nothing if not open-air markets for arms merchants, money launderers, and angry mullah mosque builders. You could be forgiven for wondering if half our coalition is helping attack ISIS and then immediately re-arming it when it emerges from the rubble, as it invariably will. This is what’s known in arch capitalist circles as “creative destruction.”
Harper wants Canada to go on airstrikes on Iraq. That’s right. Canada. The nice ones, the peace keepers, the polite people, the bastion of warm-gooey-joy-joy feelings, the “we’re awesome because we can solve problems without bombing people” great white north. He wants us conducting air strikes. We have to tell him ‘No.’
Elizabeth May of the Green Party spoke against the airstrikes (video below) and I think she did a good job. There’s a big part of me that wishes she didn’t tread so softly, that she went for the jugular and tore them a new one. That said, I recognize that her overly tactful and diplomatic manor probably has a much better chance of being considered than the enraged reaming I figure Harper needs. In any event, May has one seat while Harper has a majority government. We citizens need to help out on this one.
I have drafted a template letter anyone is free to copy, paste, edit, amend, and send to their MP. Please share it, send it in, or even write your own. Spread the word. Say ‘No’ to airstrikes.
Dear [your MP's name] ,
Gaza and the Threat of World War
“There is a taboo,” said the visionary Edward Said, “on telling the truth about Palestine and the great destructive force behind Israel. Only when this truth is out can any of us be free.”
For many people, the truth is out now. At last, they know. Those once intimidated into silence can’t look away now. Staring at them from their TV, laptop, phone, is proof of the barbarism of the Israeli state and the great destructive force of its mentor and provider, the United States, the cowardice of European governments, and the collusion of others, such as Canada and Australia, in this epic crime.
The attack on Gaza was an attack on all of us. The siege of Gaza is a siege of all of us. The denial of justice to Palestinians is a symptom of much of humanity under siege and a warning that the threat of a new world war is growing by the day.
When Nelson Mandela called the struggle of Palestine “the greatest moral issue of our time”, he spoke on behalf of true civilisation, not that which empires invent. In Latin America, the governments of Brazil, Chile, Venezuela, Bolivia, El Salvador, Peru and Ecuador have made their stand on Gaza. Each of these countries has known its own dark silence when immunity for mass murder was sponsored by the same godfather in Washington that answered the cries of children in Gaza with more ammunition to kill them.
Understanding the sophistry and power of liberal propaganda is key to understanding why Israel’s outrages endure; why the world looks on; why sanctions are never applied to Israel; and why nothing less than a total boycott of everything Israeli is now a measure of basic human decency.
The most incessant propaganda says Hamas is committed to the destruction of Israel. Khaled Hroub, the Cambridge University scholar considered a world leading authority on Hamas, says this phrase is “never used or adopted by Hamas, even in its most radical statements”. The oft-quoted “anti-Jewish” 1988 Charter was the work of “one individual and made public without appropriate Hamas consensus …. The author was one of the ‘old guard’ “; the document is regarded as an embarrassment and never cited.
Hamas has repeatedly offered a 10-year truce with Israel and has long settled for a two-state solution. When Medea Benjamin, the fearless Jewish American activist, was in Gaza, she carried a letter from Hamas leaders to President Obama that made clear the government of Gaza wanted peace with Israel. It was ignored. I personally know of many such letters carried in good faith, ignored or dismissed.
The unforgivable crime of Hamas is a distinction almost never reported: it is the only Arab government to have been freely and democratically elected by its people. Worse, it has now formed a government of unity with the Palestinian Authority. A single, resolute Palestinian voice – in the General Assembly, the Human Rights Council and the International Criminal Court – is the most feared threat.
Resistance is humanity at its bravest and most noble. The resistance in Gaza is rightly compared with the 1943 Jewish uprising in the Warsaw Ghetto – which also dug tunnels and deployed tactics of subterfuge and surprise against an overpowering military machine. The last surviving leader of the Warsaw uprising, Marek Edelman, wrote a letter of solidarity to the Palestinian resistance, comparing it with the ZOB, his ghetto fighters. The letter began: “Commanders of the Palestine military, paramilitary and partisan operations – and to all soldiers [of Palestine].”
Dr. Mads Gilbert is a Norwegian doctor renowned for his heroic work in Gaza. On 8 August, Dr. Gilbert returned to his hometown, Tronso in Norway which, as he pointed out, the Nazis had occupied for seven years. He said, “Imagine being back in 1945 and we in Norway did not win the liberation struggle, did not throw out the occupier. Imagine the occupier remaining in our country, taking it piece by piece, for decades upon decades, and banishing us to the leanest areas, and taking the fish in the sea and the water beneath us, then bombing our hospitals, our ambulance workers, our schools, our homes.
“Would we have given up and waved the white flag? No, we would not! And this is the situation in Gaza. This is not a battle between terrorism and democracy. Hamas is not the enemy Israel is fighting. Israel is waging a war against the Palestinian people’s will to resist. It is the Palestinian people’s dignity that they will not accept this.
“In 1938, the Nazis called the Jews Untermenschen – subhuman. Today, Palestinians are treated as a subhuman people who can be slaughtered without any in power reacting.
“So I have returned to Norway, a free country, and this country is free because we had a resistance movement, because occupied nations have the right to resist, even with weapons – it’s stated in international law. And the Palestinian people’s resistance in Gaza is admirable: a struggle for us all.”
The jargon is “controlling the narrative”. In his seminal Culture and Imperialism, Edward Said was more explicit: the western media machine was now capable of penetrating deep into the consciousness of much of humanity with a “wiring” as influential as that of the imperial navies of the 19th century. Gunboat journalism, in other words. Or war by media.
Yet, a critical public intelligence and resistance to propaganda does exist; and a second superpower is emerging – the power of public opinion, fuelled by the internet and social media.
The false reality created by false news delivered by media gatekeepers may prevent some of us knowing that this new superpower is stirring in country after country: from the Americas to Europe, Asia to Africa. It is a moral insurrection, exemplified by the whistleblowers Edward Snowden, Chelsea Manning and Julian Assange. The question begs: will we break our silence while there is time?
The chickens of western colonialism are coming home to roost.
Excerpt from “The Guns of August” – by Matthew Stevenson via Counterpunch
“Doubts about the sincerity of Americans in Iraq probably began when President Ronald Reagan dispatched his former national security advisor Robert C. “Bud” McFarlane to Tehran in 1986 with a cake and a Bible and proposed swapping arms for American hostages in Lebanon.
Until that moment, in the long war between Iran and Iraq, Saddam was our man, a bulwark against Shiite expansion in the Gulf, a non-fundamental (i.e., someone not adverse to girls or gin) Muslim willing to do the West’s bidding.
Bud’s cake and Bible alerted Saddam to the fickleness of Western support, and he repaid the favor in 1990 when he invaded Kuwait and let his troops drive all those looted Mercedes back to Baghdad.
The Iraqi occupation of Kuwait led to the first Gulf War and Saddam’s alleged death threat against President George H.W. Bush, cited in 2003 when his son, President George W. Bush, decided to overthrow Saddam’s regime.
Driving Saddam into a hole near Tikrit (where he was captured and later hanged) wasn’t the hard part of the blitzkrieg. The biggest challenge was deciding who should run Iraq once Saddam was swinging from the gallows.
Remembering the Mesopotamia, Churchill had faced the same conundrum in 1921, and at the Cairo Conference he went with an invented, cereal-box monarchy, an air campaign to subdue rebels, and a cadre of loyal Sunnis to keep the majority Shiite population on their knees.
In one form or another, that unholy coalition lasted until the 2003 American invasion, when the Bush administration decided to turn the country over to the Shiite majority.
Never mind that such a government would align Iraq more closely with Antichrists in Tehran.
* * *
By suppressing the Sunnis, the U.S. hoped to keep al-Qaida sympathizers in Iraq away from the oil fields. Under this partition, Shiites would get the government, the U.S. would get the oil, and Sunnis, especially those with Osama bin Laden posters on their kitchen walls, would get the shaft.
The problem with this division of Iraqi spoils is that it required the Bush administration to disband the Iraqi army and Saddam’s Baathist party infrastructure, two centers of power not solely identified with either Sunni or Shiite interests.
At the same time (mid-2000s) the U.S. army withdrew its forces into frontier stockades. Iraq fell into anarchy until Gen. David Petraeus took time out from his amorous counter-insurgencies and paid Sunni warlords, especially in western Iraq, some $300 million to fight on the American side.
The rent-an-army surge worked until the Obama administration stopped payment on the Petraeus incentive compensation and left it to the government of Prime Minister Nuri al-Maliki to explain to the opposition the fine print of the American victory, what in the Vietnam War President Nixon called “peace with honor.”
Speaking of peace with honour; the IS is bringing neither to the region as this Vice News clip illustrates.
The following article reproduced in its entirety from Altnet.org.
August 7, 2014 |
Amid all the horrors unfolding in the latest Israeli offensive in Gaza, Israel’s goal is simple: quiet-for-quiet, a return to the norm.
For the West Bank, the norm is that Israel continues its illegal construction of settlements and infrastructure so that it can integrate into Israel whatever might be of value, meanwhile consigning Palestinians to unviable cantons and subjecting them to repression and violence.
For Gaza, the norm is a miserable existence under a cruel and destructive siege that Israel administers to permit bare survival but nothing more.
The latest Israeli rampage was set off by the brutal murder of three Israeli boys from a settler community in the occupied West Bank. A month before, two Palestinian boys were shot dead in the West Bank city of Ramallah. That elicited little attention, which is understandable, since it is routine.
“The institutionalized disregard for Palestinian life in the West helps explain not only why Palestinians resort to violence,” Middle East analyst Mouin Rabbani reports, “but also Israel’s latest assault on the Gaza Strip.”
In an interview, human rights lawyer Raji Sourani, who has remained in Gaza through years of Israeli brutality and terror, said, “The most common sentence I heard when people began to talk about cease-fire: Everybody says it’s better for all of us to die and not go back to the situation we used to have before this war. We don’t want that again. We have no dignity, no pride; we are just soft targets, and we are very cheap. Either this situation really improves or it is better to just die. I am talking about intellectuals, academics, ordinary people: Everybody is saying that.”
In January 2006, Palestinians committed a major crime: They voted the wrong way in a carefully monitored free election, handing control of Parliament to Hamas.
The media constantly intone that Hamas is dedicated to the destruction of Israel. In reality, Hamas leaders have repeatedly made it clear that Hamas would accept a two-state settlement in accord with the international consensus that has been blocked by the U.S. and Israel for 40 years.
In contrast, Israel is dedicated to the destruction of Palestine, apart from some occasional meaningless words, and is implementing that commitment.
The crime of the Palestinians in January 2006 was punished at once. The U.S. and Israel, with Europe shamefully trailing behind, imposed harsh sanctions on the errant population and Israel stepped up its violence.
Read the rest of this entry »