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Sun

17

Apr

2011

Why the “Obama Doctrine” won’t help the Shia majority in Bahrain
by Franklin Lamb Ph.D.

Columbia University Professor Rashid Khalidi passed through Beirut a couple of weeks ago and gave a terrific lecture at the American University of Beirut entitled "Preliminary Historical Observations on the Arab Revolutions of 2011."

In response to a student's question, Khalidi disputed that there wasn't any "Obama Doctrine" worthy of that label and he predicted the White House would be much more tolerant of human rights abuses in Bahrain than say, in Libya and some other countries whose despotism indexes are no worse than the 200 year ossified Al Khalifa dynasty's war against its majority Shia population.

After his talk, I reminded Rashid in our brief encounter that we had not crossed paths since that fateful summer of 1982 in West Beirut where we and our mutual friend, American journalist Janet Stevens, who had introduced us, all shared a similar experience of trying to do research amidst the Israeli bombing and intermittent electricity and water cuts.

In those, now sometimes romanticized "summer of '82 days" Khalidi was an intense hard working young man and his 1982 research was published in his 1983 volume: "Under Siege: P.L.O. Decision making During the 1982 War."

It was during this period that Janet (Rashid was in no way involved!) and I committed at least four felonies (I was just following orders!) and broke into the abandoned AUB cafeteria & AUB storage rooms and liberated maybe 500 cases of AUB bottled water and perhaps 50 large cartons filled with that nasty orange powdered drink stuff.
Janet put me in charge of about 100 Fatah fighters who, wisely assuming the Israeli's would think twice before bombing AUB, had set up a base under the Bayan trees on campus and we all used to share the AUB beach and swim together. The PLO fighters were under orders from their Commander Abu al-Walid, who was one of those in charge of the defense of West Beirut not to damage the AUB campus or enter AUB buildings. So the fighters demurred to the breaking and entering part of our operation and waited outside.

It was only after the 20 year Statute of Limitations ran and I was living in Kerr Hall on campus that my conscience got the better of me and I finally blurted out my crimes to the AUB President. He laughed with delight and on behalf of AUB excused our egregious war time sociopathy. That being said, I heard not long ago that the US Embassy is looking into trying to open a case against me since USAID paid for the AUB water and the nasty orange powder juice and the Embassy is still insisting on accountability.

What Khalidi remains critical of, like many observers, is what he sees as the Obama administration's claimed "American values imperative" being made a mockery of whenever American "interests" are brought up to justify cherry picking which brutal despots get the 'moderate' or 'reformer' label while others are no-fly zoned and targeted for elimination for being "genocidal."

The Obama administration hypocrisy toward the unarmed civilians being killed in Bahrain is flagrant and runs deeply counter to American values.
 

Sun

17

Apr

2011

James Petras Ph.D. - Washington’s Long War Against Africa
by James Petras Ph.D.

The US bombing of Libya in support of rebel clients in the spring of 2011 is part and parcel of a sustained policy of military intervention in Africa since at least the mid 1950’s. According to a US Congressional Research Service Study published in November 2010, Washington has dispatched anywhere between hundreds and several thousand combat troops, dozens of fighter planes and warships to buttress client dictatorships or to unseat adversarial regimes in dozens of countries, almost on a yearly bases.

The record shows the US armed forces intervened 46 times prior to the current Libyan wars . The countries suffering one or more US military intervention include the Congo, Zaine, Libya, Chad, Sierra Leone, Somalia, Ruanda, Liberia, Central African Republic, Gabon, Guinea-Bissau, Kenya, Tanzania, Sudan, Ivory Coast, Ethiopia, Djibouti and Eritrea. The only progressive intervention was in Egypt under Eisenhower who forced the Israeli-French-English forces to withdraw from the Suez in 1956. Between the mid 1950’s to the end of the 1970’s, only 4 overt military operations were recorded, though large scale proxy and clandestine military operations were pervasive. Under Reagan-Bush Sr. (1980-1991) military intervention accelerated, rising to 8, not counting the large scale clandestine ‘special forces’ and proxy wars in Southern Africa.

Under the Clinton regime, US militarized imperialism in Africa took off. Between 1992 and 2000, 17 armed incursions took place, including a large scale invasion of Somalia and military backing for the Ruanda genocidal regime. Clinton intervened in Liberia, Gabon, Congo and Sierra Leone to prop up a long standing stooge regime. He bombed the Sudan and dispatched military personnel to Kenya and Ethiopia to back proxy clients assaulting Somalia. Under Bush Jr. 15 US military interventions took place, mainly in Central and East Africa. The Obama regime’s invasion and bombing of Libya is a continuation of a longstanding imperial practice designed to enhance US power via the installation of client regimes, the establishment of military bases and the training and indoctrination of African mercenary forces dubbed “collaborative partners”. There is no question that there is a rising tide of imperial militarism in the US over the past several decades.

Most of the US’ African empire is disproportionally built on military links to client military chiefs. The Pentagon has military ties with 53 African countries (including Libya prior to the current attack). Washington’s efforts to militarize Africa and turn its armies into proxy mercenaries in putting down anti-imperial revolts and regimes were accelerated after 9/11. The Bush Administration announced in 2002 that Africa was a “strategic priority in fighting terrorism”. Henceforth, US imperial strategists, with the backing of liberal and neoconservative congress people, moved to centralize and coordinate a military policy on a continent wide basis forming the African Command (AFRICOM). The latter organizes African armies, euphemistically called “co-operative partnerships,” to conduct neo-colonial wars based on bilateral agreements (Uganda, Burundi, etc.) as well as ‘multi-lateral’ links with the Organization of African Unity.

AFRICOM despite its assigned role as a vehicle for spreading imperial influence, has been more successful in destroying countries rather than in gaining resources and power bases. The war against Somalia, displacing and killing millions and costing hundreds of millions of dollars, enters its twentieth year, with no victory in sight. Apart from the longest standing US neo-colony, Liberia,there is no country willing to allow AFRICOM to set up headquarters. Most significantly AFRICOM was unprepared for the overthrow of key client regimes in Tunisia and Egypt – important “partners” in patrolling the North African Mediterranean, the Arabian coast and the Red Sea. Despite Libya’s collaboration with AFRICOM, especially in “anti-terrorist” intelligence operations, Washington mistakenly believed that an easy victory by its “rebel” clients might lead to a more docile regime, offering more in the way of a military base, headquarters and a cheap source of oil. Today the US depends as much on African petroleum as its suppliers in the Middle East.
 

Sun

17

Apr

2011

Inflation Hits Money and Lies

by Joel S. Hirschhorn

 

How do the powerful keep the US population dumb and distracted?  A key tactic has been using methodologies that produce totally misleading underestimates of key economic factors.  First we learned that official unemployment figures are too low by a factor of two.  Now, understand that the official rate of inflation hitting consumers is even more inaccurate.  You will hear about a low inflation rate of less than 3 percent.  In reality, it is closer to 10 percent, according to the highly regarded analysis by John Williams.

 

It is difficult for any one of us to have first hand evidence that unemployment nationally is really much higher than what the government says, even though most of us know people who are out of work or taking part time work out of sheer necessity.  But when it comes to rising prices hitting our pockets, credit cards and checkbooks we have a much clearer sense of what is really happening.  Gasoline prices have jumped more than 10 percent in recent weeks and for most of us is about a dollar more a gallon than a year ago or so.  Some experts are predicting that $4 gas will soon hit most of the nation and, even worse, that $5 gas may hit us this summer.

 

Food prices are also jumping like a frog on crack cocaine.  Many of them are masked by smaller weight packaging.  Health care costs, especially insurance premiums and drugs, have also hit many Americans substantially and painfully.  High inflation especially hits hard those people who have seen their incomes decline.  Those on Social Security receiving no cost-of-living increase have every right to be angry.

 

The federal government is manipulating statistics to intentionally get a low number for inflation as well as unemployment in order to mask just how awful and unfair the economy really is.  Political leaders in both major parties use this propaganda strategy, as if there are simply too few intelligent Americans to see through the lies.  Sadly, they seem to be correct.  And the mass media push the propaganda strategy by continually hyping and spreading the intentionally false data.

 

“We have inflation now.  If you go to the shop, whether it’s groceries, or education or insurance or health care, prices are going up for everything.  The government lies about it in the US,” said Jim Rogers back in June, 2010.  It has only gotten worse.


At this time John Williams has correctly described economic reality: “Near-term circumstances generally have continued to deteriorate.  Though not yet commonly recognized, there is both an intensifying double-dip recession and a rapidly escalating inflation problem.”  Wow!  How does that compare to all the glib recovery talk by President Obama and just about everyone else in government?
 

Sun

17

Apr

2011

Where Did The Towers Go? - Evidence Of Directed Free-Energy Technology On 9/11 – Book Review by Eric Larsen Ph.D.
by Eric Larsen Ph.D.

What a complete, unmitigated disaster 9/11 and the ten awful years following it have been—ten years of murder, crime, lawlessness, deceit, stupidity, and blindness that are only now meliorated, at long last, by the publication of Dr. Judy Wood’s unique, revelatory, and unequivocally welcome book, Where Did the Towers Go? The Evidence of Directed Free-Energy Technology on 9/11.

Allow me to make full disclosure now, so that those (and, believe me, there are many) who will choose not to read further can quit right away and save time.

I, me, Eric Larsen, wrote the Foreword to Dr. Wood’s book. I wrote it partly because I have known for many years about Dr. Wood’s research; partly because I have followed the website that Dr. Wood has maintained (http://www.drjudywood.com/); and partly because I was lucky enough to be given the opportunity to write that Foreword.

It wasn’t just an opportunity but a high honor. To give an idea of how great an honor it was, here is the first line of what I wrote:

The book you now hold in your hands is the most important book of the twenty-first century.

Let me go further and quote the two sentences also , since the same obligation pertains now as did when I wrote themthe obligation for me to explain why I said so unqualified a thing and what I meant by it. Here’s what I meant, and still do:

Where Did the Towers Go? is a work, assuming that its content and message are properly and fairly heeded, that offers a starting point from which those who genuinely want to do it can begin, first, to rein in and then, perhaps, even end the wanton criminality and destructiveness of a set of American policies that took as their justification and starting point the horrific events of September 11, 2001.

As everyone knows, 9/11 has been “the justification and starting point” for all manner of destruction, loss, crime, and horror. Without 9/11, there would have been no “Patriot Act,” no abuse of FISA and stripping away of privacy rights, no Military Commissions Act of 2006 with its setting aside of Habeas Corpus, no implementation of Northcom and deployment of our own military forces on domestic American soil (for use against who, you might ask?), and no trashing of Bill of Rights and Constitutional guarantees, no programmatic and precedent-setting weakening and eliminating of right and guarantees so that the very concepts of “citizenship” and “freedom” have been emptied out to the point where setting up concentration camps inside the U.S. is now legal and not a one of us would have any recourse whatsoever if it were decided that we should be thrown into a cell in one of them and forgotten forever.[1]

Without 9/11, there would never have been any fake and opportunistic “Global War on Terror,” would never have been Guantanamo as we know it now, never have been official programs of torture or fake demonizing of Islam in order to justify wars in Afghanistan, Pakistan, and Somalia, or to justify overt plans for the murder of U.S. citizens living in places like, say, Yemen.

There’s more, much more. The complete list of atrocities, crimes, and inhumanities triggered by or justified by 9/11 could fill whole chapters, even books. By using 9/11 as propaganda—by using it as trigger, excuse, justification, or catalyst—the U.S. has betrayed itself, its principles, and its people, and has made itself the world’s most dangerous enemy of all mankind and also of Earth herself.

How can it conceivably be, given these facts, that we, a nation of people who presumably have minds of our own—how can it be that we have done nothing to stop this hideous parade of monstrosities and horrors? In the Foreword to Dr. Wood’s book, I wrote:

It is now almost a decade since 9/11 took place, and in all that time no unassailable, permanent, or, in pragmatic terms, politically influential progress has been made in determining exactly and irrefutably what took place on that day—or what did not take place.

We—that is, we the potential resistance or opposition to U.S. criminal policy—have been spinning our wheels for a complete decade. There are a lot of reasons for this wheel-spinning, including various programs of very skillful and extraordinarily devious cover-up after cover-up after cover-up of the central question of what did happen on 9/11. For, as long as that central question remains unanswered, or for as long as that question can be caused to remain obfuscated, blurred, muddled-up, in doubt—as long as that situation continues, the wheels will continue to spin and people won’t quite know what to do. Dr. Wood is very well aware of this fact. Her own way of putting it is that before accusing someone of a crime, you’ve got to know what crime they committed. In her Author’s Preface, she writes:

You cannot convict someone of a crime if you don’t even know what crime to charge them with. If you accuse someone of murder using a gun, you’d better be sure the body has a bullet hole in it.

 
 

Sun

06

Mar

2011

George Katsiaficas: U.S. Human Rights Policy is Self-serving and Duplicitous
by Kourosh Ziabari in Iran
 
George Katsiaficas is a renowned university professor, sociologist, author and activist. He is a visiting American Professor of Humanities and Sociology at Chonnam National University, Gwangju, South Korea where he teaches and does research on the 1980s and 1990s East Asian uprisings.

Katsiaficas has a Ph.D. of sociology from the University of California, San Diego. Since 1990, he has taught sociology at the Wentworth Institute of Technology's Department of Humanities and Social Sciences. During the period between 2006 and 2008, he was an Associate in Research at the Harvard University and Korea Institute.

He specializes in social movements, Asian politics, the U.S. foreign policy, comparative and historical studies and has written numerous books in these fields.

In 2003, he won the American Political Science Association's Special Award for Outstanding Service and in 2008, received the Fulbright Senior Scholar Research Fellowship.

Among his major books are "The Battle of Seattle" by the New York's Soft Skull Press, "Liberation, Imagination and the Black Panther Party" by New York's Routledge Press and "South Korean Democracy: Legacy of the Gwangju Uprising" by London's Routledge Press.

What follows is the complete text of interview with Dr. George Katsiaficas on the recent uprising in the Arab world, its impacts on the international developments and its implications for the United States and its European allies.

Kourosh Ziabari: After Tunisia and Egypt in which the revolutionary forces and people on the ground succeeded in ousting the U.S.-backed puppets, several other Arab nations joined them and staged massive street demonstrations to call for civil liberties, improved living conditions, freedom and democratic governments. Now the whole Arab world is in a state of turmoil and unrest and the U.S.-backed dictators are facing the bitter reality that their autocracies are about to fail and collapse. What factors led to the extension of anti-government protests to the whole Arab world? Can we interpret this collective uprising a result of the explosion of strong pan-Arabist sentiments?

George Katsiaficas: No one could have predicted that the suicide of a vegetable vendor in rural Tunisia would unleash long pent-up frustrations on such a scale. If we take a long historical view, the Arab world went into a steep decline after Europeans discovered how to round Africa and established direct trade with the East. While oil has provided a huge stimulus for recovery in the 20th century, its effects have been drastically mitigated by elite corruption. The Arab people are finally awakening from a long slumber. The masses of ordinary Arabs today know in their hearts that they are more intelligent than their rulers. They know that they could all live better lives if they could get rid of the corrupt and often stupid elites trampling on their freedoms and hogging the money that rightfully belongs to everybody.
 

Thu

03

Mar

2011

The Enduring Mystique of the Marshall Plan
by William Blum

Amidst all the stirring political upheavals in North Africa and the Middle East the name "Marshall Plan" keeps being repeated by political figures and media around the world as the key to rebuilding the economies of those societies to complement the political advances, which hopefully will be somewhat progressive. But caveat emptor. Let the buyer beware.

During my years of writing and speaking about the harm and injustice inflicted upon the world by unending United States interventions, I've often been met with resentment from those who accuse me of chronicling only the negative side of US foreign policy and ignoring the many positive sides. When I ask the person to give me some examples of what s/he thinks show the virtuous face of America's dealings with the world in modern times, one of the things mentioned — almost without exception — is The Marshall Plan. This is usually described along the lines of: "After World War II, the United States unselfishly built up Europe economically, including our wartime enemies, and allowed them to compete with us." Even those today who are very cynical about US foreign policy, who are quick to question the White House's motives in Afghanistan, Iraq and elsewhere, have little problem in accepting this picture of an altruistic America of the period 1948-1952. But let's have a look at the Marshall Plan outside the official and popular versions.

After World War II, the United States, triumphant abroad and undamaged at home, saw a door wide open for world supremacy. Only the thing called "communism" stood in the way, politically, militarily, and ideologically. The entire US foreign policy establishment was mobilized to confront this "enemy", and the Marshall Plan was an integral part of this campaign. How could it be otherwise? Anti-communism had been the principal pillar of US foreign policy from the Russian Revolution up to World War II, pausing for the war until the closing months of the Pacific campaign, when Washington put challenging communism ahead of fighting the Japanese. This return to anti-communism included the dropping of the atom bomb on Japan as a warning to the Soviets. 1
 

Tue

01

Mar

2011

Indonesia – The Worst Example For Revolutions In Arab World
by Andre Vltchek

As several revolts shook recently big part of Arab world, as Hosni Mubarak stepped down and the leaders of Bahrain and Libya could not think about anything better than to order bloody crack down against their own people, the world (read Western governments, media and academia) were watching with increasing doze of discomfort.

Protests seem to be engulfing almost all countries in the region from Morocco and Tunis to Jordan, Yemen and Saudi Arabia.   

Staunch ally of the West – Saudis – feel suddenly 'vulnerable', even 'encircled'. No wonder – millions of the poor from all over the region are now marching and fighting for social justice or for justice in general. And there is hardly a place in the world with more striking inequalities than in this kingdom based on Wahabi conservative Islam, historically close ally of British imperialism. As is well known, Saudi Arabia is bathing in oil – that dark liquid which is both blessing and curse - enriching elites while helping to maintain apartheid between the natives and exploited migrant workers.

For decades, Saudi Arabia, Bahrain, Qatar, Egypt (or more precisely their rulers and 'elites') – all of them served Western interests with zeal and efficiency. Now they are expecting helping hand, support in this complex and 'dangerous times'.

While the White House was sending conflicting reports to its allies, well-disciplined mass media and academia rose immediately to the challenge and invented 'the best role model for the Arab world' – Indonesia.

After all, Indonesia is home to more Muslims than any other nation on earth. It is rich in natural resources and after 1998 it holds multi-party elections. Its economy is growing at more than 6% a year and there seem to be no popular uprisings or calls for revolution. Both President Obama and Foreign Secretary Clinton sang praises to Indonesian model during their visits to Jakarta.

Indonesia is a staunch ally of the West: 'a bumper zone against rising China', good god-fearing country where the Communist Party and atheism are banned and business and the Almighty appear to be working in unison for the benefit of the few. It performed extremely effective surgery on behalf of the West in 1965/66 – murdering millions of Communists, progressive leaders, teachers, intellectuals and members of Chinese minority. It can be, therefore, trusted.

Writing for CNN, Ann Marie Murphy - an associate professor at the John C. Whitehead School of Diplomacy and International Relations, Seton Hall University, and an associate fellow at the Asia Society - argued:

 "Since Egyptian president Hosni Mubarak resigned in the face of widespread demonstrations, attention has shifted to what comes next. Fears have been raised that Egypt's transition may follow the Iranian path, where the Shah's overthrow led to a repressive Islamic regime that turned away from the West and became a source of regional instability. Indonesia provides a better analogy for Egypt than Iran. Over the past decade Indonesia, home of the world's largest community of Muslims, has made a successful transition to democracy that clearly refutes the proposition that Islam and democracy are incompatible…"

 
 

Sat

26

Feb

2011

Robert Jensen: Consciousness rising, world fading
by Robert Jensen Ph.D.  

Our stories of awakenings -- whether moral, intellectual, religious, artistic, or sexual -- are tricky. Honest self-reflection doesn't come easy, and self-satisfied accounts are the norm; we love to be the heroes of our own epics.

That's true of accounts of political awakening as well, especially for those of us born into unearned privilege as a result of systems of illegitimate authority. Not only do we love to tell stories in which we come out looking good, but we know how to decorate the narrative with the trappings of humility to avoid seeming arrogant.  We use our failures to set up the story of our transformation; even when we speak of our limitations we are highlighting our wisdom in seeing those limitations.

So, when I got a request from a researcher to tell my story about how my political consciousness was raised, I was hesitant. I don't like feeling like a fraud, and something always feels a bit fraudulent about my account, even when I am being as honest as I can. But, like most people, I feel driven to tell my story, mostly to try to explain myself to myself. So, here I go again:

As a teenager coming of age in the 1970s in mainstream culture in the upper Midwest, I missed the United States' radicalizing movements by a decade and several hundred miles. I developed conventional liberal politics in reaction to the conventional conservative politics of my father and his generation. But in a more basic sense, I grew up depoliticized -- like most contemporary Americans, I was never taught to analyze systems and structures of power, and so my banal liberal positions seemed like cutting edge critique to me. After college I worked as a journalist at mainstream newspapers, which further retarded my ability to think critically about power; reporters who don't have a political consciousness coming into the field are unlikely to develop one in an industry that claims neutrality but is fanatically devoted to the conventional wisdom.

The raising of my consciousness began when I started a journalism/mass communication doctoral program in 1988, a time when U.S. universities were somewhat more intellectually and politically open than today. After years of the daily grind in newsrooms, I felt liberated by the freedom to read, think, and talk to others about all the new ideas I was encountering. My study of the First Amendment led me to the feminist critique of pornography, which at the time was an important focus for debate about the meaning of freedom of expression. My first graduate courses were taught by liberal defenders of pornography, who were the norm in the academy then and now. But I also began talking with activists in a local group that was fighting the sexual-exploitation industries (pornography, prostitution, stripping), and I realized there was a rich, complex, and exciting feminist critique, which required me to rethink what I thought I knew about freedom, choice, and liberation.

As a result of those first conversations, I started reading feminist work and taking feminist classes, and I kept talking with folks from the community group, which led me to get involved in their educational activities. I didn't make those choices with any sense that I was constructing a radical philosophical and political framework. I was just following the ideas that seemed the most compelling intellectually and the people who seemed the most decent personally. Those ad hoc decisions changed my life, in two ways.

First, they opened up to me an alternative to the suffocating conventional wisdom, in which liberals and conservatives argue within narrow ideological boundaries. This exposure to feminist thinking, especially those people and ideas most commonly described as radical feminist, allowed me to step outside those boundaries and ask two simple questions: Where does real power lie and how does it operate, in both formal institutions and informal arrangements?

Second, they helped me realize the importance of always having a political life outside the university. Instead of putting all my energy into my teaching and research, I was anchored in a community project and connected to people who weren't preoccupied with publishing marginally relevant research in marginally relevant academic journals. Although I had to publish scholarly articles for my first six years as an assistant professor, once I got tenure and job security I immediately returned to community organizing and ignored the pseudo-intellectual pretensions that dominate in most of the so-called scholarly world in the social sciences and humanities. I had developed respect for rigorous and relevant scholarship but had come to realize how little of it there was in my fields in the contemporary academy.
 

Sat

26

Feb

2011

Till September: The PA’s Meaningless Deadlines
by Ramzy Baroud
 

Palestinian Authority President Mahmoud Abbas and his supporters in the Fatah party want us to believe that dramatic changes are underway in the occupied Palestinian territories.

This is part of a strategy intended to offset any public dissatisfaction with the self-designated Palestinian leadership in the West Bank. The PA hopes the ‘news’ will create enough distraction to help it survive the current climate of major public-regime showdowns engulfing the Middle East.

Anticipating a potential popular uprising in the occupied territories - which could result in a major revamping of the current power, to the disadvantage of Abbas - the PA is now taking preventive measures.

First, there was the resignation of the chief Palestinian negotiator, Saeb Ereka on February 12. Erekat was clearly implicated in negotiating, if not squandering, Palestinian rights in successive meetings with Israeli and American officials. This was revealed through nearly 1,600 leaked documents, which Aljazeera and the Guardian termed the ‘Palestine Papers’.

Erekat was hardly representing himself, as he readily gave away much territory, including most of Jerusalem. He also agreed to a symbolic return of Palestinian refugees to their land, now part of today’s Israel. By keeping his post, the entire PA ‘peace process’ apparatus would have remained ineffective at best, and at worst entirely self-seeking, showing no regard whatsoever for Palestinian rights.

With Erekat’s exit, the PA hopes to retain a margin of credibility among Palestinians.

Erekat, who made his entrance to the world of ‘peace process’ at the Madrid peace conference in 1991, opted out in a way that conceded no guilt. He claimed to have left merely because the leak happened through his office. The PA expects us to believe that, unlike other Arab governments, it functions in a transparent and self-correcting manner. Erekat wants to be seen as an “example of accountability”, according to the Washington Post (February 16). He claimed: “I'm making myself pay the price for the mistake I committed, my negligence. These are the ethics and the standards. Palestinian officials need to start putting them in their minds.”
 

Sat

26

Feb

2011

Silvia Cattori: An Interview With Gilad Atzmon-To Call A Spade A Spade
Gilad Atzmon is an outstandingly charming man. He is often described by music critics as one of the finest contemporary jazz saxophonists. But Atzmon is more than just a musician: for those who follow events in the Middle East, he is considered to be one of the most credible voices amongst Israeli opponents. In the last decade he has relentlessly exposed and denounced barbarian Israeli policies. Just before his departure on a European Spring Tour, “The Tide Has Changed “, with his band the Orient House Ensemble, he spoke to Silvia Cattori.

Silvia Cattori: As a jazz musician, what brought you to use your pen as a weapon against the country where you were born and against your people?

  Gilad Atzmon: For many years my music and writings were not integrated at all. I became a musician when I was seventeen and I took it up as a profession when I was twenty four. Though I was not involved with, or interested in politics when I lived in Israel, I was very much against Israel’s imperial wars. I identified somehow with the left, but later, when I started to grasp what the Israeli left was all about, I could not find myself in agreement with anything it claimed to believe in, and that is when I realised the crime that was taking place in Palestine.

For me the Oslo Accord was the end of it because I realised that Israel was not aiming towards reconciliation, or even integration in the region, and that it completely dismissed the Palestinian cause. I understood then that I had to leave Israel. It wasn’t even a political decision — I just didn’t want to be part of the Israeli crime anymore. In 1994 I moved to the UK and I studied philosophy.

In 2001, at the time of the second Intifada, I began to understand that Israel was the ultimate aggressor and was also the biggest threat to world peace. I realised the extent of the involvement and the role of world Jewry as I analysed the relationships between Israel and the Jewish State, between Israel and the Jewish people around the world, and between Jews and Jewishness.

I then realised that the Jewish “left” was not very different at all from the Israeli “left”. I should make it clear here that I differentiate between “Left ideology”— a concept that is inspired by universal ethics and a genuine vision of equality – and the “Jewish Left”, a tendency or grouping that is there solely to maintain tribal interests that have very little, if anything, to do with universalism, tolerance and equality.
 

Tue

22

Feb

2011

Gaddafi aborted Venezuela flight after UK spies discovered escape plans
by Roy S. Carson (vheadline.com)

VHeadline can exclusively reveal that diplomatic sources claim Libya's President Muammar Gaddafi aborted plans to flee to Venezuela when British MI6 intelligence agents monitoring communications out of Iran were told that Iranian officials were acting as intermediaries with Venezuela's President Hugo Chavez Frias to facilitate Gaddafi's escape from Tripoli.

Whether or not Caracas would have acceded to the Libyan leader's asylum request remains a matter of conjecture but plans had been sufficiently advanced by Sunday afternoon (local time Caracas) that the official Iranian Press/TV news agency jumped the gun to issue a News Flash at just after 10pm Central European time saying that Gaddafi had already left the country (Libya) headed either for Venezuela or Brazil.

British Foreign Minister William Hague, speaking at a Foreign Affairs conference in Brussels, Monday, had already been briefed by British security services to the extent that he said he had seen reports that Gaddafi was on his way to Venezuela although he was unable to substantiate the information at an official level.

It is understood that Gaddafi was in the final stages of his departure from Tripoli when a diplomatically embarrassed Venezuela denied his asylum request by which time he had also had second thoughts about the flight, fearing that the Americans would use the opportunity to cause an "accident" to happen to his plane en route to Caracas.
 

Sat

19

Feb

2011

From the Gulf to the Ocean: The Middle East is Changing
by Ramzy Baroud

Now that the Egyptian people have finally wrestled their freedom from the hands of a very stubborn regime, accolades to the revolution are pouring in from all directions. Even those who initially sided with Hosni Mubarak’s regime, or favored a neutral position, have now changed their tune.

“Arabs celebrate from the Gulf to the Ocean,” proclaimed a headline on Al Jazeera TV. The phrase “from the Gulf to the Ocean” is not a haphazard geographical reference, but very much a geopolitical one. Ever since former Egyptian president Anwar Sadat defied the will of the Arab collective and chose a self-serving (and according to popular Arab opinion, disgraceful) exit for his country from what was until then the ‘Arab-Israeli conflict’, the above phrase functioned only as an empty slogan. Saddat’s signing of the Camp David treaty in 1979 had effectively marginalized the most committed Arab country from a conflict that was previously defined by Egypt’s involvement. It thus left Israel’s weaker Arab foes as easy targets for uneven wars, and in a perpetual state of defeat and humiliation.

Mubarak’s importance to Israel and the US stemmed from the fact that he guarded Israeli gains for the pitiful price of $1.8 billion a year. Most of this went to fulfill military contracts, upgrade military hardware and subsidize US military expertise aimed at ‘modernizing’ the Egyptian army. Israel, of course, was given almost double that amount and was promised, through a separate agreement with the US, a military edge against its foes, Egypt included.

But Mubarak gained much more than hard cash. His greatest gains were related to US foreign policy in the region. While the US violated the sovereignty of various Arab countries, Mubarak’s regime was left largely unscathed. Free from any effective resistance at home, and any serious criticism from abroad, members of Egypt’s ruling National Democratic Party used the lack of accountability to accumulate unprecedented wealth, at the expense of 40 percent of Egypt’s 84 million people who lived below the poverty line. The ruling party had indeed become a club for millionaires. The barely existing middle class shrunk even further, the working class lived with the dream of finding employment elsewhere, and the underclass – millions of whom lived in ‘random’ neighborhoods, and often large graveyards – subsisted in a most humiliating existence.

All this mattered little to Washington, whose policies have only verified Lord Palmerston’s assertion that “there are no permanent allies…only permanent interests”. Henry Kissinger eventually took Egypt out of the whole Middle East equation, and others followed in his lead, ensuring that Egypt could never act in a way that disturbed Israeli interests. Ironically, it was also Washington that jumped on the opportunity to chase Mubarak - but not his regime - out of power. Soon after Mubarak’s newly appointed vice president read the short statement of Mubarak’s departure, Obama elatedly read his own statement. When he announced that the Egyptian people would settle for nothing less than ‘genuine democracy’, he sounded like one of the guys in the Tahrir square in Cairo, not the leader of the very country that had defended Mubarak’s reign and defined the former president as a ‘moderate’ and a good friend. “No permanent allies,” indeed.
 

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2011

Tawtin or Return: Divergent views from Lebanon, but one common goal
by Franklin Lamb Ph.D. at Shatila Refugee Camp, Beirut

Lebanese opponents of civil rights for Palestinian Refugees often use less objective and more crude wording to define "tawtin" ("settlement") than is normally employed in civil society discussions. During last summer's debate in parliament, which failed to enact laws that would allow the world's oldest and largest refugee community the basic civil right to work and to own a home, the "tawtin or return" discussion took on strident and dark meanings, which were largely effective in frightening much of the Lebanese public from supporting even these modest humanitarian measures. Right-wing opponents of Palestinian refugees in Lebanon often define tawtin during public discussions as "implantation" (as in inserting a foreign malignant object or virus into Lebanon's body politic), or "grafting," "insertion," "impalement," "forced integration," "embedding" "impregnation", or "patriation".

The concept's varied meanings among a largely uninformed Lebanese public have by and large prevented a balanced consideration of the provision in the 2002 Arab Peace Initiative that includes "a just solution to the Palestinian refugee problem to be agreed upon in accordance with UNGAR 194."

The discussion in Lebanon has centered on presumed Palestinian desires to stay in Lebanon at all costs, as opposed to returning to their country Palestine. The large anti-Palestinian political community has kept the discussion focused on the API's language: "the rejection of all forms of Palestinian patriation [tawtin] which conflict with the special circumstances of the Arab host countries."

The concept, indeed the very word “ tawtin” , was used in the summer of 2010 as an emotional bludgeon or cudgel embodying all manner of dire social predictions from the political parties representing the Phalange, Liberal Party, Lebanese Forces, and Free Patriotic Movement's leader General Michel Aoun.

Virtually all opponents of Palestinian civil rights frequently claimed that tawtin would ruin Lebanon. This was arguably the main reason that there was a broad-based consensus in support of the parliamentary decision of August 17, 2011 to do essentially nothing to enact relief for Lebanon's quarter million Palestinian refugees.
 

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2011

Sexual Assault Coverage by Media Shows Double Standard, Paternalism, and Sexism
by Walter Brasch Ph.D.

Lara Logan, CBS News chief foreign affairs correspondent, was beaten and sexually assaulted, Feb. 11, while on assignment in Cairo to report on the revolution that concluded that day with Hosni Mubarak resigning as president.

Logan, according to an official CBS announcement, was attacked by a group of about 200 Egyptians and "suffered a brutal and sustained sexual assault and beating before being saved by a group of women and an estimated 20 Egyptian soldiers." The mob, probably pro-Mubarak supporters, but never identified by CBS—had separated Logan from her camera crew.

About a week earlier, Mubarak's army detained, handcuffed, blindfolded, interrogated, and then released Logan and some of her crew after several hours. The government ordered her expelled from the country, probably for her on-air comments about the government intimidating and harassing foreign journalists. Logan returned to Cairo shortly before Mubarak resigned. She returned to the United States the day after the assault, and spent the next four days recovering in a hospital.

The Mubarak administration at the beginning of the protests had expelled the al-Jazeera news network, and began a random campaign against all journalists, the result of the government believing that the media inflamed the call for revolution and the overthrow of Mubarak. There were about 140 cases of assault and harassment of journalists during the 18-day protest, according to the Committee to Protect Journalists (CPJ). Ahmad Mohamad Mahmoud, an Egyptian journalist, was killed by sniper fire, probably by pro-Mubarak supporters. Among American reporters physically assaulted were CNN's Anderson Cooper and photojournalist Dana Smillie, who was seriously wounded by what appeared to be a dozen BB-size pellets. Journalists displayed "admirable levels of courage as they—initially as individuals and small groups, and eventually in droves—made statements and took actions that exposed them to immense personal and professional risk," according to the CPJ.
 

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2011

Persian Gulf's name is an eternal reality: Prof. Pirouz Mojtahedzadeh - Interview by Kourosh Ziabari
by Kourosh Ziabari

Prof. Pirouz Mojtahedzadeh is a prominent Iranologist, geopolitics researcher, historian and political scientist. He teaches geopolitics at the Tarbiat Modares University of Tehran. He has been the advisor of the United Nations University and the founder and manager of the London-based Urosevic foundation. Mojtahedzadeh has published more than 20 books in Persian, English and Arabic on the geopolitics of Persian Gulf region and modern discourses in international relations. Since 2004, he has been a member of the Academy of Persian Language and Literature. Moreover, he has been a member of the British Institute of Iranian Studies since 1993. Prof. Mojtahedzadeh earned a Ph.D. in Political Geography from the University of London in 1993 and also obtained a Ph.D. in Political Geography from the University of Oxford in 1979.
He has been a member of the board of the Society for contemporary Iranian Studies at the University of London and also a senior research associate at the Geopolitics & International Boundaries Research Centre.

Prof. Mojtahedzadeh has published scores of articles regarding the historicity and veracity of Persian Gulf name and the legality of Iran's ownership over the three Persian Gulf islands of Lesser Tunb, Greater Tunb and Abu Musa. He has delivered several international speeches in which he has scientifically repudiated the territorial claims of the United Arab Emirates government over the three Iranian islands and also confronted the psychological operation of the U.S.-backed Arab monarchies in the Middle East in distorting the historical name of the Persian Gulf.

What follows is the complete text of my exclusive interview with Prof. Mojtahedzadeh in which we discussed the scientific, historical authenticity of Persian Gulf's name, the legality of Iran's ownership of the three Persian Gulf islands of Lesser Tunb, Greater Tunb and Abu Musa and the futility of UAE and Bahrain's claims over these islands.

Kourosh Ziabari: United Arab Emirates is at the forefront of cultural battle with Iran. It's among the few nations in the world which use the forged term of "Arabian Gulf" to refer to Persian Gulf. It also cites territorial claims over the three Iranian Islands of Abu Musa, Greater Tunb and Lesser Tunb frequently. Some scholars believe that the people and youth in the UAE suffer from an identity crisis and that's why the rulers of this tiny country have decided to bring back honor and dignity to their people by staging a cultural propaganda against Iran and stealing the cultural heritage of Iran. Some others believe that UAE is being backed by the United States in its battle with Iran. What's your viewpoint in this regard?

Pirouz Mojtahed-Zadeh: The United Arab Emirates has in deed been at the forefront of a cultural battle with Iran, which basically stems from their problem of lack of a genuine national identity and has been brought to the open in connection with their claims of sovereignty on three islands of Greater Tunb, Lesser Tunb, and Abu Musa, regardless of the fact that these islands formed parts of Iranian dominion in the Persian Gulf undisputedly up until the beginning of 19th century, when British colonial presence began to grow in the southern shores of the Persian Gulf, whereupon the first germs of the creation of the emirates of those shores were sawn in what was Iranian dependant tribal entities. Soon these emirates, as a result of the 19th century British strategy of de-Persianization of the Persian Gulf, emerge as Arab entities of British protection. British support for their territorial expansion encouraged their territorial claims in a political space that was Iranian to a large extent at the time, and further encouraged them in post-1971 independence to try and assume an identity which was not in any way associated with Iran or being Persian. Hence, they make more efforts than all others, to change the name of the Persian Gulf as well as laying claim to the said three islands. There are scores of documents proving that the entire region of the Persian Gulf belonged to Iran since time immemorial. Nevertheless, the British occupied these three islands in 1903 in the name of British protectorate Qawasim tribes of Sharjah, then covering the entire dominion of what is now known as UAE.



 
 

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2011

Lundberg: Subtle Genocide Is Revisiting Cerro Rico, Bolivia
by Jan Lundberg

The scene of several million deaths at the hands of Spaniard invaders, Cerro Rico ("rich hill") is just above the city of Potosí in Bolivia. In May 2010, I noted significant amounts of plastic debris all over the mountainside, but I couldn't guess the source. The answer, from my local driver, is that the miners working in the mountain constantly use plastic bags for their daily coca supplies. Chewing the leaves provides stamina and curbs hunger.

It is ironic that the seemingly harmless but unsightly plastic serves as a relatively new source of devastation to the health of the community and the ecosystem. For anyone to dismiss this concern as irrelevant compared to the poor miners' work conditions of yesterday and today is to let off the petroleum corporations and everyone down the line participating in a long-term tragedy affecting future generations.

Image
Art courtesty Gratisescaro.wordpress.com
Learning about Cerro Rico, the conical, sinister looking mountain above the highest city in the world (at 13,500 feet) was made possible by my hiring a taxi driver at random. First I needed to get out to the fancy new bus station to buy a ticket to my next city, Cochabamba, for a night departure. No more "cama" (sleeper) buses were available, so I got "el normal" to sit up all night. After that errand we drove up to Cerro Rico for a tour. My driver, Celso Cruzamos, had worked in the mines for four years. He looked older than his 27 years. Toward the end of our three hours together -- a strain on my poor Spanish but otherwise a good experience -- Celso was asking me more questions than I was asking him. He was curious about costs in the U.S. and how I lived.
 
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