Published: Tuesday 11 December 2012
“As intelligence agencies go, the CIA and its like are fairly good at collecting information, analyzing it, and rendering reasoned judgments as to its meaning.”

 

Part I - Magdulien Abaida and the Real Libya

 

 

On 3 December 2012, BBC News reported on the plight of Libyan activist Magdulien Abaida.  When the Libyan revolution broke out in Benghazi back in February 2011, she played an important part in developing a positive image of the revolt among European audiences and helped arrange material aid for the rebel forces.  She did this against the backdrop of Western governments describing the rebellion as one that sought “democratic rights” for the Libyan people.  Upon the collapse of the Qaddafi regime, the U.S. State Department issued a statement (2 November 2012) applauding the rebel victory as a “milestone” in the country’s “democratic transition."  This matched Ms Abaida’s expectations.  Unfortunately, her subsequent experience belied the optimism.

 

 

With the rebel victory in October 2011, Abaida  returned to Libya to help with the “democratic transition” and promote her particular cause of women’s rights.  However, what she found in her homeland was chaos.  The tribalism that underlies social organization in Libya had come to the fore.   According to Amnesty International, that tribalism is reflected in the activities of  “armed militias...acting completely out of control....There are hundreds of them across the country, arresting people without warrant, detaining them incommunicado, and torturing them....This is all happening while the government is unwilling or ...

Published: Tuesday 11 December 2012
“As intelligence agencies go, the CIA and its like are fairly good at collecting information, analyzing it, and rendering reasoned judgments as to its meaning.”

 

Part I - Magdulien Abaida and the Real Libya

 

 

On 3 December 2012, BBC News reported on the plight of Libyan activist Magdulien Abaida.  When the Libyan revolution broke out in Benghazi back in February 2011, she played an important part in developing a positive image of the revolt among European audiences and helped arrange material aid for the rebel forces.  She did this against the backdrop of Western governments describing the rebellion as one that sought “democratic rights” for the Libyan people.  Upon the collapse of the Qaddafi regime, the U.S. State Department issued a statement (2 November 2012) applauding the rebel victory as a “milestone” in the country’s “democratic transition."  This matched Ms Abaida’s expectations.  Unfortunately, her subsequent experience belied the optimism.

 

 

With the rebel victory in October 2011, Abaida  returned to Libya to help with the “democratic transition” and promote her particular cause of women’s rights.  However, what she found in her homeland was chaos.  The tribalism that underlies social organization in Libya had come to the fore.   According to Amnesty International, that tribalism is reflected in the activities of  “armed militias...acting completely out of control....There are hundreds of them across the country, arresting people without warrant, detaining them incommunicado, and torturing them....This is all happening while the government is unwilling or ...

Published: Sunday 18 November 2012
“The turmoil surrounding Ms. Rice is totally trumped up and the media, once again, is acting like a parade of willing propaganda puppets.”

 

Once again, the Republicans have raised a false alarm with the aim of embarrassing Obama and  obstructing the policy process.  This time, it's foreign policy and the object of Republican bile is UN Ambassador Susan Rice, rumored to be at the top of Obama's short list to succeed Hillary Clinton as Secretary of State.  The turmoil surrounding Ms Rice is totally trumped up and the media, once again, is acting like a parade of willing propaganda puppets.

 

The "controversy" involves the tragic attack in Benghazi, Libya last September.  The incident resulted in the death of four US citizens, including US Ambassador J. Christopher Stevens.  When the attack occurred, Ms Rice was given the unenviable task of explaining what happened on morning talk shows.  Her account, based on talking points supplied by intelligence agencies, portrayed the Benghazi siege as a spontaneous protest exploited by extremists.  For whatever reason, she failed to say it was a premeditated terrorist attack.  "Within days," writes New York Times reporter Mark Landler, "Republicans in Congress were calling for her head."

 

Why?  A cover up, what else?  A conspiracy to bamboozle the American people into believing that President Obama, an African-American whose Kenyan father was raised in a Muslim family, was trying to hide his complicity in the attack.  And who else would he pick to be his accomplice but Susan Rice, another African-American?  NOW do you see the perfidy in this evil plot?  WELL, DO YOU?

 

A word about Susan Rice.  She's a Rhodes scholar, earned degrees ...

Published: Thursday 15 November 2012
Published: Thursday 15 November 2012
The truth will soon be known, as Petraeus will now in fact be testifying under oath before the House Intelligence Committee’s closed-door hearings on Friday.

Rep. Louie Gohmert (R-TX) thinks that the FBI may have been gathering information on former CIA Director David Petraeus to blackmail him so that he would testify favorably to the Obama administration’s position on the attack on Benghazi in September. “Hypothetically, of course,” as Gohmert put it.

 

Appearing on WMAL radio this morning, the outspoken Texas Congressman, known for his Tea Party-leanings, made clear that he wasn’t actually accusing the Obama White House of directing the FBI to investigate Petraeus for political reasons relating to his upcoming Benghazi testimony. Nor was he actually saying that the FBI was engaging in activities reminiscent of original FBI Director J. Edgar Hoover to “blackmail” other government officials.

Instead, as Gohmert repeatedly made clear, he was only hypothetically spinning a story 

Published: Friday 2 November 2012
This campaign season teaches us how little has changed since the early Cold War days when Republican stalwarts screamed, “Who lost China?”

 


Who lost Libya? Indeed, who lost the entire Middle East? Those are the questions lurking behind the endless stream of headlines about “Benghazi-gate.” Here’s the question we should really ask, though: How did a tragic but isolated incident at a U.S. consulate, in a place few Americans had ever heard of, get blown up into a pivotal issue in a too-close-to-call presidential contest?

My short answer: the enduring power of a foreign policy myth that will not die, the decades-old idea that America has an inalienable right to “own” the world and control every place in it. I mean, you can’t lose what you never had.

This campaign season teaches us how little has changed since the early Cold War days when Republican stalwarts screamed, “Who lost China?” More than six decades later, it’s still surprisingly easy to fill the political air with anxiety by charging that we’ve “lost” a country or, worse yet, a whole region that we were somehow supposed to “have.”

The “Who lost...?” formula is something like a magic trick.  There’s no way to grasp how it works until you take your eyes away from those who are shouting alarms and look at what’s going on behind the scenes.

Who’s in Charge Here?

The curious case of the incident in Benghazi was full of surprises from the beginning. It was the rare pundit who didn’t assure us that voters wouldn’t care a whit about foreign affairs this year. It was all going to be “the economy, stupid,” ...

Published: Wednesday 24 October 2012
Neither candidate responded directly to the question as Gov. Romney mentioned Libya as well as Syria, Egypt, Mali and Iran, while President Obama said in passing, “your strategy previously has been one that has been all over the map….”

 

Critics have called the Romney-Obama debates as narrow as they were shallow, but few have done more to try to broaden and deeper the national discussion

than Amy Goodman and the Democracy NOW!  team, who have produced their “Expanding the Debate” series with third party candidates added to the pair anointed by the two parties’ debate commission. 

 

For the final debate October 22, Democracy NOW! went on the air in front of a live audience at the Osher Marin Jewish Community Center in San Rafael, California, pausing the debate in progress to allow comments by two third-party presidential candidates who were excluded from the official debate: Dr. Jill Stein of the Green Party and Rocky Anderson of the Justice Party.   

 

Libertarian candidate Gary Johnson was invited, but he declined. 

 

The first question at the Florida debate purported to be about “Libya,” but was really about the September 11 events in Benghazi and their aftermath, as Bob Schieffer asked it: “What happened? What caused it? Was it spontaneous? Was it an intelligence failure? Was it a policy failure?”  Neither candidate responded directly to the question as Gov. Romney mentioned Libya as well as Syria, Egypt, Mali and Iran, while President Obama said in passing, “your strategy previously has been one that has been all over the ...

Published: Monday 22 October 2012
“Both positions could favor Romney and the Republicans who, since last month’s killing of the U.S. ambassador to Libya and three of his staff in Benghazi, have argued that Obama’s policy toward the Arab world is unraveling.”

 

On the eve of Monday’s foreign policy debate between President Barack Obama and Republican challenger Mitt Romney, the electorate appears increasingly disillusioned with the so-called Arab Spring, according to a new survey released by the Pew Research Center here.

A majority (57 percent) of the more than 1,500 respondents said they do not believe that recent changes in the political leadership of Arab countries will “lead to lasting improvements” for the region, while only 14 percent – down from 24 percent 18 months ago – said they believe the changes will be “good for the United States”.

Nearly three out of four voters said the changes will either be “bad” for Washington (36 percent) or won’t have much of an effect either way (38 percent).

Both positions could favor Romney and the Republicans who, since last month’s killing of the U.S. ambassador to Libya and three of his staff in Benghazi, have argued that Obama’s policy toward the Arab world is unraveling.

Friday’s killing in Beirut of Lebanon’s top intelligence officer and at least seven other people could add to that perception, as Col. Wissam al-Hassan was aligned with the “March 14” coalition, a Sunni-led faction with close ties to Washington and strongly opposed to the Al-Assad regime in Syria.

The poll, which was conducted Oct. 4-7, also found a somewhat tougher position toward both Iran’s nuclear program and on China’s trade policies.

Monday’s debate, the third and last in a series between the two candidates before the Nov. 6 election, is not expected to draw the huge television audiences – over 65 million people – of the last two, due to the relative lack of interest in foreign policy compared to domestic issues, especially the economy.

Published: Thursday 18 October 2012
“The debate left me relieved — the President’s performance will almost certainly stop Romney’s momentum, and may turn the tide — but also left me perplexed.”

 

He’s back. 

Tonight our president was articulate and forceful — in sharp contrast to his performance in the first presidential debate. He stated his beliefs. He defended his record. He told America where he wanted to take the nation in his second term. 

And he explained where Romney wanted to take us. 

For example: “Romney says he’s got a five-point plan. Governor Romney doesn’t have a five-point plan; he has a one-point plan. And that plan is to make sure that folks at the top play by a different set of rules. That’s been his philosophy in the private sector; that’s been his philosophy as governor; that’s been his philosophy as a presidential candidate. You can make a lot of money and pay lower tax rates than somebody who makes a lot less. You can ship jobs overseas and get tax breaks for it. You can invest in a company, bankrupt it, lay off the workers, strip away their pensions, and you ...

Published: Wednesday 17 October 2012
Published: Monday 15 October 2012
“Although the ‘town meeting’ style debate in which you’ll be answering audience questions isn’t conducive to sharp give-and-take with Romney, look for every opportunity to nail him.”

 

To: POTUS

From: Robert Reich

RE: Upcoming debate

Your passive performance in the last debate was damaging because it reenforced the Republican claim that you’ve been too passive in getting jobs back and in responding to terrorism abroad.

That doesn’t mean you have to “come out swinging” this time. You need to be yourself, and one of your qualities that the public finds reassuring is your steadiness and authenticity, by contrast to Romney’s unsteady flip-flopping and apparent willingness to say and be anything. But you will need to be more energetic and passionate.

And although the “town meeting” style debate in which you’ll be answering audience questions isn’t conducive to sharp give-and-take with Romney, look for every opportunity to nail him. Indignance doesn’t come naturally to you, but you have every reason to be indignant on behalf of the American people. 

Emphasize these five points:

1. Not only is the economy is improving, but there’s no reason to trust Romney’s claim he would improve it more quickly. He’s given no specifics about how he’d pay for his massive tax cut for the wealthy, or what he’d replace ObamaCare with, or how he’d regulate Wall Street if he repeals Dodd-Frank. His record to date has flip-flopped on every major issue. Why should Americans trust his assertions?

 

2. Our problems require we pull together, but Romney and his party want to pull us apart. Romney has praised Arizona’s draconian anti-immigration law profiling Hispanics, and has called for “voluntary deportation” by making life intolerable for undocumented workers. He is against equal marriage rights. He wants to ban abortions, and his party and running mate want to ban them even in the case of rape or incest. He’s determined to ...

Published: Tuesday 9 October 2012
“On specific policy recommendations, however, Romney failed to substantially distinguish his own from Obama’s.”

 

In what was billed as a major foreign policy address, Republican presidential candidate Mitt Romney Monday assailed Barack Obama for “passivity” in the conduct of U.S. foreign policy, arguing that it was “time to change course” in the Middle East, in particular.

Dispensing with some of the neo-conservative rhetoric he has used in the past, he nonetheless argued that the “risk of conflict in the region is higher now than when (Obama) took office” and that Washington should tie itself ever more closely to Israel.

“I will re-affirm our historic ties to Israel and our abiding commitment to its security – the world must never see any daylight between our two nations,” he told cadets at the Virginia Military Institute, adding that Washington must “also make clear to Iran through actions – not just words – that their (sic) nuclear pursuit will not be tolerated.”

As he has in the past, he also called for building up the U.S. Navy, pressing Washington’s NATO allies to increase their military budgets in the face of a Vladimir Putin-led Russia, and ensuring that Syrian rebels “who ...

Published: Friday 21 September 2012
“Fox hosts accuse Obama Administration of ‘widespread cover-up’ to protect terrorists and ‘murderers.’”

Fox News hosts accused President Obama and his administration of perpetuating a "cover-up" of the attack on the U.S. consulate in Benghazi. But the Obama administration is conducting an investigation into the attack, the State Department is setting up an independent panel to investigate it, and the director of the National Counterterrorism Center has testified about the attacks to a congressional committee.

Fox Hosts Accuse Obama Admin. Of "Widespread Cover-Up" To Protect Terrorists And "Murderers"

Hannity: "We Are Witnessing A Widespread Cover-Up Based On Flat-Out Lies." Hannity began his September 20 Fox News show by airing a montage of White House officials speaking about the attacks on the U.S. embassy and consulate. He then said:

HANNITY: All right now, how this event can evolve from an impromptu riot about a YouTube video to a premeditated terrorist attack in the span of a week -- well, that can be explained one of three ways. Number one, this administration is stupid, simple as that. Number two, this administration is on the receiving end of some of the worst intelligence in American history. Or number three, we are witnessing a widespread cover-up based on flat-out lies, all aimed to protect a president who happens to be running for re-election. I'm going with number three, and in a moment, I'm going to show you the evidence to back it up. [Fox News,Hannity, 9/20/12]

Hannity Accuses Obama Admin. Of Lying To Protect "The Perpetrators Of Terror, The Murderers Of Americans," And Possibly Al Qaeda. Later during his show, while discussing the attacks with Fox ...

Published: Thursday 20 September 2012
Food prices, more than some lousy video, are to blame for the violence sweeping the Middle East.

Within hours of the killings this week of four Americans diplomats, including U.S. Ambassador J. Christopher Stevens, in Libya, more than a dozen blog posts popped up around the internet asking, “Who is Sam Bacile?” It was a natural question to pose: “Bacile” is the pseudonym of the filmmaker behind The Innocence of Muslims, an American-made video whose insulting depiction of the prophet Mohammed appears, at this point, to have incited anti-U.S. riots in Benghazi, Cairo, Tehran, and Sana’a, Yemen. It now appears, however, that the attack on the diplomatic mission in Libya was a planned assault by religious extremists, who used the protests as cover to murder the four Americans. As truly awful as his film is, “Sam Bacile” appears to be at least something of a patsy. Moreover, there’s another important way in which the American media and political classes, in their focus on The Innocence of Muslims, have missed the forest for the trees.  READ FULL POST 3 COMMENTS

Published: Tuesday 18 September 2012
Even the Nour party – the Brotherhood’s right-wing Islamist rival which some analysts blamed for the original attack – condemned the violence, as well as the video that sparked it, and called for future demonstration to take place away from the embassy.

 

While Tuesday’s killing of the U.S. ambassador to Libya and three other U.S. officials in Benghazi dominated the headlines here last week, the larger concern for most foreign policy experts here was focused on neighbouring Egypt and specifically how the government of President Mohamed Morsi was dealing with anti-U.S. protests.

Five days after demonstrators breached the walls of Washington’s Cairo embassy and replaced the U.S. flag with a black banner that some media here identified with Al-Qaeda, it appears that the bilateral relationship has survived the crisis.

As relative calm returned to the Egyptian capital this weekend after three days of protests against a privately produced video that defamed the Prophet Muhammad, U.S. officials voiced measured satisfaction with Morsi’s reaction, however belated.

Tuesday’s attack on the embassy, which may have sparked the fatal assault on the Benghazi consulate, provoked angry calls by some right-wing commentators and lawmakers to immediately cut U.S. aid to Cairo – ...

Published: Friday 14 September 2012
Published: Thursday 13 September 2012
Published: Thursday 13 September 2012
President Barack Obama publically mourned the death of the US Ambassador, the first to die in over two decades, and denounced the violent protesters.

The US ambassador to Libya, J. Christopher Stevens, and three of his staffers, were killed on Tuesday evening when an enraged mob assailed the American Consulate in Benghazi in response to a short American film that mocked the founding prophet of Islam.

The film in question portrayed the Prophet Mohammed as a prurient buffoon and a charlatan. In a short clip posted on YouTube, the venerable prophet is shown preforming a lewd sex with an unidentified woman. The film, released in 2011, was recently translated to Arabic and promoted by Terry Jones, the American pastor made notorious for publically burning a Quran.

Egyptian media publicized the film, entitled the “Innocence of Islam,” and news of it quickly spread throughout the region. Within hours, a mob of protesters in Libya had mobilized and, armed with automatic rifles and rocket launchers, attacked the American Consulate and set it afire.

A group of Libyans not associated with the protesters discovered Stevens body within the burned down building, and carried him to a nearby hospital. He was pronounced dead by doctors an hour and half after arriving. The doctor tasked with treating him said that the cause of death was asphyxiation.

In addition, three other security guards were killed. Among them was Sean Smith, an information management officer who had been in the Foreign Service for 10 years. The State Department pledged not identify the other two until their relatives are notified.

READ FULL POST 3 COMMENTS

Published: Monday 10 September 2012
“The culture of violence, he believes, has to be replaced with the culture of peace – even as military conflicts and insurgencies have destroyed human lives and caused devastation in Sudan, Syria, Cote d’Ivoire, Somalia, Colombia, Mali, Libya, Afghanistan, Iraq and Palestine.”

 

When U.N. Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon addresses the High-Level Forum on Culture of Peace later this week, he will transmit a message that underlines his political philosophy: all disputes need to be resolved by peaceful means, not through military might.

And time and again, he has warned that the militarization by both parties of the 17-month political crisis in Syria, which has claimed over 18,000 lives, would never result in a peaceful settlement.

The culture of violence, he believes, has to be replaced with the culture of peace – even as military conflicts and insurgencies have destroyed human lives and caused devastation in Sudan, Syria, Cote d’Ivoire, Somalia, Colombia, Mali, Libya, Afghanistan, Iraq and Palestine.

In his address, Ban is expected to reiterate the urgent need to comply with the basic principles of the U.N. Declaration and Program of Action on the Culture of Peace adopted by consensus by the General Assembly back in September 1999.

“Unfortunately,” said a Third World diplomat, speaking on condition of anonymity, “violence seems to be a cultural thing worldwide, judging by the recent shootings in South Africa, the ruthless suppression of demonstrators in Bahrain and Syria and the suicide bombings in Iraq, Pakistan and Afghanistan.”

As the Declaration points out, he said, the United Nations should strengthen its ongoing efforts to promote a culture of peace and effectively implement the Program of Action (POA).

Article 1 of that Declaration calls on all U.N. member states to commit to peaceful settlement of conflicts.

And Article 3 says the fuller development of a culture of peace is integrally linked to promoting peaceful settlement of conflicts, mutual respect and understanding, and international ...

Published: Saturday 9 June 2012
The idea of a “responsibility to protect” (R2P) was adopted unanimously at the UN’s World Summit in 2005, but subsequent events showed that not all member states interpreted the resolution the same way.

 

When should states intervene militarily to stop atrocities in other countries? The question is an old and well-traveled one. Indeed, it is now visiting Syria.In 1904, US President Theodore Roosevelt argued that, “there are occasional crimes committed on so vast a scale and of such peculiar horror” that we should intervene by force of arms. A century earlier, in 1821, as Europeans and Americans debated whether to intervene in Greece’s struggle for independence, President John Quincy Adams warned his fellow Americans about “going abroad in search of monsters to destroy.”

 

More recently, after a genocide that cost nearly 800,000 lives in Rwanda in 1994, and the slaughter of Bosnian men and boys at Srebrenica in 1995, many people vowed that such atrocities should never again be allowed to occur. When Slobodan Milošević engaged in large-scale ethnic cleansing in Kosovo in 1999, the United Nations Security Council adopted a resolution recognizing the humanitarian catastrophe, but could not agree on a second resolution to intervene, given the threat of a Russian veto. Instead, NATO countries bombed Serbia in an effort that many observers regarded as legitimate but not legal.

 

In the aftermath, then-UN Secretary-General Kofi Annan created an international commission to recommend ways that humanitarian intervention could be reconciled with Article 2.7 of the UN Charter, which upholds member states’ domestic jurisdiction. The commission concluded that states have a responsibility to protect their citizens, and should be helped to do so by peaceful means, but that if a state disregarded that responsibility by attacking its own citizens, the international community could consider armed intervention.

The idea of a “responsibility to protect” (R2P) was adopted unanimously at the UN’s World Summit in ...

Published: Saturday 2 June 2012
Unlike the MQ-1 Predator and the MQ-9 Reaper, the MQ-1000 is capable of completely autonomous action, right down to targeting and combat.

 

U.S. military documents tell the story vividly.  In the Gulf of Guinea, off the coast of West Africa, an unmanned mini-submarine deployed from the USS Freedom detects an “anomaly”: another small remotely-operated sub with welding capabilities tampering with a major undersea oil pipeline.  The American submarine’s “smart software” classifies the action as a possible threat and transmits the information to an unmanned drone flying overhead.  The robot plane begins collecting intelligence data and is soon circling over a nearby vessel, a possible mother ship, suspected of being involved with the “remote welder.”

At a hush-hush “joint maritime operations center” onshore, analysts pour over digital images captured by the unmanned sub and, according to a Pentagon report, recognize the welding robot “as one recently stolen and acquired by rebel antigovernment forces.”  An elite quick-reaction force is assembled at a nearby airfield and dispatched to the scene, while a second unmanned drone is deployed to provide persistent surveillance of the area of operations.

And with that, the drone war is on.

At the joint maritime operations center, signals intelligence analysts detect the mother ship launching a Russian Tipchak -- a medium-altitude, long-endurance, unmanned aircraft with “U.S.-derived systems and avionics” and outfitted with air-to-air as well as air-to-surface missiles.  It’s decision time for U.S. commanders. Special Operations Forces are already en route and, with an armed enemy drone in the skies ahead of them, possibly in peril.

But the Americans have an ace up their sleeve: an advanced Air Force MQ-1000.  Unlike the MQ-1 Predator and the MQ-9 Reaper, the MQ-1000 is capable of completely autonomous action, right down to targeting and combat.

Pre-programmed with the requirements and ...

Published: Saturday 12 May 2012
“Stress of overcapacity in hospitals might explain several recent cases of patients’ distraught family members assaulting medical staff.”

"Hospitals have stopped admitting Libyan patients, with the exception of emergency cases and those who can pay cash up front. It’s a very difficult situation for patients, especially those undergoing cancer or in vitro fertilization (IVF) treatments," Awni Bashir, former minister of social development and head of the Chmeisani hospital and the Jordanian Association of Private Hospitals, told IPS. 

 

In the last six months alone about 52,000 Libyan patients sought treatment in Jordan; today, about 15,000 remain. 


Stress of overcapacity in hospitals might explain several recent cases of patients’ distraught family members assaulting medical staff. "The number of attacks is still minimal with about 10 to 12 cases recorded this year," said Bashir. 


But another crisis might be looming on Jordan’s horizon, which is home to about 100,000 Syrian refugees. 


"Syrian patients are starting to trickle in and we worry that we might face a similar situation in the next few months," Bashir said. 


Strain on limited resources


The popular uprising in Libya last year ended the 40-year dictatorship of Muammar Gaddafi but not before it claimed thousands of lives and left countless Libyans injured. 


While driving from Ajdabiya to Benghazi during the Libyan revolution, rebel fighter Faraj Fakhri’s motorcade came under heavy fire. His car crashed and his body was riddled with bullets. Fakhri now sits in Amman’s Chmeisani hospital. He has been operated on twice and is waiting to undergo three more operations. 


"Thank God almighty I can now move my leg. I came to Jordan to be operated on, as my country does not have the same medical facilities, especially in the current situation," he said, looking down at his torn up leg. 


Sharing Fakhri’s ...

Published: Friday 27 April 2012
That war, with US soldiers, Latinos, blacks and working class Americans, plus hundreds upon hundreds of war planes that dropped tens of thousands of bombs, sorties they called them, killed over 2 million Vietnamese people and injured that many more, men, women and children and like recent US bombing of Iraq, also demolished the country.

The US-Viet Nam war was a war of aggression against a people who never, not once, set foot on US soil to kill or bomb this country. It was not a war for freedom, as the apologists of the empire like to say.  That war, with US soldiers, Latinos, blacks and working class Americans, plus hundreds upon hundreds of war planes that dropped tens of thousands of bombs, sorties they called them, killed over 2 million Vietnamese people and injured that many more, men, women and children and like recent US bombing of Iraq, also demolished the country.

Of course the war generals also implemented the popular slogan "destroy the village in order to save it" which in practical terms ravaged the countryside with special killing platoons, assassinating and massacring villagers, such as the infamous attack on My Lai. Additionally and indiscriminately, they also used napalm, the war’s freedom chemical of choice, on those people. The napalm automatically affected thousands of soldiers, including Latino combatants.

That war was no different than the occupation of Iraq, Afghanistan, Libya, the war against that other colonial power, Spain, the recent coup de tat against President Manuel Celaya and the democratically elected government in Honduras, and this one in particular hits the veins, the war on Mexico, where we lost over half of the territory. Indisputably history says, they have all been fabricated. No exceptions. The United States of America, with manifest destiny as its guiding moral civilizing light, has perpetually, engaged in wars of expansion, pillage and the stealing of conquered lands and their natural resources, that is oil and natural gas amongst many others.

Essentially, that's how the foundation of this country was laid. It started with the stealing of the land from the native indigenous people of America -the ones who gave us thanksgiving- then slaughtering them, and the remainder placed in reservations. Some like the ...

Published: Monday 9 April 2012
“I was on the spot to see it all happen, leading two Provincial Reconstruction Teams (PRTs) in rural Iraq while taking part up close and personal in what the U.S. government was doing to, not for, Iraqis.”

People ask the question in various ways, sometimes hesitantly, often via a long digression, but my answer is always the same: no regrets.

In some 24 years of government service, I experienced my share of dissonance when it came to what was said in public and what the government did behind the public’s back. In most cases, the gap was filled with scared little men and women, and what was left unsaid just hid the mistakes and flaws of those anonymous functionaries.

What I saw while serving the State Department at a forward operating base in Iraq was, however, different. There, the space between what we were doing (the eye-watering waste and mismanagement), and what we were saying (the endless of success and progress), was filled with numb soldiers and devastated Iraqis, not scaredy-cat bureaucrats.

That was too much for even a well-seasoned cubicle warrior like me to ignore and so I wrote a book about it, We Meant Well: How I Helped Lose the War for the Hearts and Minds of the Iraqi People. I was on the spot to see it all happen, leading two Provincial Reconstruction Teams (PRTs) in rural Iraq while taking part up close and personal in what the U.S. government was doing to, not for, Iraqis. Originally, I imagined that my book’s subtitle would be “Lessons for Afghanistan,” since I was hoping the same mistakes would not be endlessly repeated there. Sometimes being right doesn’t solve a damn thing.

By the time I arrived in Iraq in 2009, I hardly expected to be welcomed as a liberator or greeted -- as the officials who launched the invasion of that country expected back in 2003 -- with a parade and flowers. But I never imagined Iraq for quite the American disaster it was either. Nor did I expect to be welcomed back by my employer, the State Department, as a hero in return for my book of loony stories and poignant ...

Published: Sunday 19 February 2012
“The United States is now in the business of using missile-armed drones and special operations forces to eliminate anyone (not excluding U.S. citizens) the president of the United States decides has become an intolerable annoyance.”

With the United States now well into the second decade of what the Pentagon has styled an “era of persistent conflict,” the war formerly known as the global war on terrorism (unofficial acronym WFKATGWOT) appears increasingly fragmented and diffuse.  Without achieving victory, yet unwilling to acknowledge failure, the United States military has withdrawn from Iraq.  It is trying to leave Afghanistan, where events seem equally unlikely to yield a happy outcome. 

Elsewhere -- in Pakistan, Libya, Yemen, and Somalia, for example -- U.S. forces are busily opening up new fronts.  Published reports that the United States is establishing “a constellation of secret drone bases” in or near the Horn of Africa and the Arabian Peninsula suggest that the scope of operations will only widen further.  In a front-page story, the New York Times described plans for “thickening” the global presence of U.S. special operations forces.  Rushed Navy plans to convert an aging amphibious landing ship into an “afloat forward staging base” -- a mobile launch platform for either commando raids or 

Published: Saturday 11 February 2012
“Landis believes that Washington will eventually arm the opposition, noting that Qatar and others in the Gulf have begun to supply weapons, albeit not yet of the kind and quantity that could seriously threaten the regime.”

What with rumors from Israel of war on Iran, a major showdown with the Egyptian military over the indictments of government- funded U.S. activists in Cairo, and continuing political paralysis in Iraq, you would think President Barack Obama has enough Middle East crises to deal with.

But in the aftermath of last weekend's Russian and Chinese vetoes at the U.N. Security Council of an Arab League-sponsored resolution calling for Syrian President Bashar al-Assad to step down as part of a transition leading to elections, calls for Washington to take stronger action, including arming rebel forces, have grown much louder here.

So far, the administration has resisted the pressure, focusing instead on convening a "Friends of Syria" contact group of anti-Assad Western and Arab states to ensure that whatever support may be provided to the chronically fractious opposition is coordinated to the greatest possible extent.

Washington is particularly eager to coordinate policy with Turkey whose foreign minister, Ahmet Davutoglu, arrived here Thursday.

Citing the precedent of last year's U.S. intervention in Libya, three of the Senate's most hawkish members said Wednesday sanctions and the creation of the contact group were not enough.

"In Libya, the threat of imminent atrocities in Benghazi mobilized the world to act," Sens. John McCain, Lindsay Graham, and Joe Lieberman, said in a joint statement. "Such atrocities are now a reality in Homs and other cities all across Syria. More than 6,000 lives have been lost, and there is no end in sight."

"We must consider, among other actions, providing opposition groups inside Syria, both political and military, with better means to organize their activities …, to defend themselves, and to fight back against Assad's forces," urged the three senators.

Their remarks echoed those of neo-conservatives and other hawks who have been ...

Published: Wednesday 1 February 2012
Clinton rejected comparisons to Libya, calling Syria a unique situation, and said a transition from Assad’s rule could occur without “dismantling the state.”

Secretary of State Hillary Clinton led a high-wattage diplomatic push Tuesday to persuade the U.N. Security Council to endorse an Arab plan for Syrian President Bashar Assad to step down, but she couldn't break the steadfast objections of Russia and China.

As fighting between government and opposition forces continued on the outskirts of the Syrian capital, Damascus, Clinton said that a failure by the Security Council to respond would mean being "complicit in the continuing violence," which was approaching a civil war.

Clinton, the foreign ministers of Britain and France, and Arab allies appeared at the United Nations to back a draft resolution that calls for Assad to resign within two months, a halt to the violence and beginning a process of political transition. The draft also calls for the release of detainees and for Syria to allow outside observers into the country, including journalists.

"The alternative — spurning the Arab League, abandoning the Syrian people, emboldening the dictator — would compound this tragedy and would mark a failure of our shared responsibility and shake the credibility of the United Nations Security Council," Clinton said.

The Obama administration and its allies are pushing for the Security Council to approve the resolution swiftly, and ...

Published: Wednesday 18 January 2012
The three men are Nizar Sassi, now 31, Mourad Benchellali, now 30, and Khaled Ben Mustapha, now 40.

A French judge is seeking U.S. permission to visit the prison camps here to investigate claims by former French inmates that they were tortured, the Associated Press reported from Paris on Tuesday.

The AP reported that it saw a formal international request from investigating judge Sophie Clement to U.S. authorities to see the prison here that Tuesday held 171 captives, none of them French citizens. Clement also seeks copies of all documents relating to the arrest and transfer of three Frenchmen who were held there.

The three men are Nizar Sassi, now 31, Mourad Benchellali, now 30, and Khaled Ben Mustapha, now 40. They were arrested on the Afghanistan-Pakistan border in late 2001 and transferred to Guantánamo. They were sent back to France in 2004 and 2005, held for a time for trial there, but then released.

The men told the judge during questioning in France that they were subject to violence including torture and rape during their detention.

At Guantánamo, a Pentagon spokesman, Army Lt. Col. Todd Breasseale said it was not immediately known whether U.S. officials had received the request.

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Published: Sunday 8 January 2012
“Palestinians are prototypical unpeople, as we see regularly.”

On June 15, three months after the NATO bombing of Libya began, the African Union presented to the U.N. Security Council the African position on the attack – in reality, bombing by their traditional imperial aggressors: France and Britain, joined by the U.S., which initially coordinated the assault, and marginally some other nations.

It should be recalled that there were two interventions. The first, under U.N. Security Council Resolution 1973, adopted on March 17, called for a no-fly zone, a cease-fire and measures to protect civilians. After a few moments, that intervention was cast aside as the imperial triumvirate joined the rebel army, serving as its air force.

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Published: Friday 6 January 2012
“In surveys, 84% of Egyptians and 66% of Lebanese regarded democracy and economic prosperity as the Arab Spring’s goal.”

The self-immolation a year ago of Tunisian street vendor Mohammed Bouazizi triggered a wave of popular protests that spread across the Arab world, forcing out dictators in Egypt, Libya, and Yemen. Now, Syrian President Bashar al-Assad, too, seems near the end of his rule.

Together, these movements for change have come to be known as the Arab Spring. But what values are driving these movements, and what kind of change do their adherents want? A series of surveys in the Arab world last summer highlights some significant shifts in public opinion.

In surveys, 84% of Egyptians and 66% of Lebanese regarded democracy and economic prosperity as the Arab Spring’s goal. In both countries, only about 9% believed that these movements aimed to establish an Islamic government.

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For Egypt, Iraq, and Saudi Arabia, where trend data are available, the Arab Spring reflected a significant shift in people’s values concerning national identity. In 2001, only 8% of Egyptians defined themselves as Egyptians above all, while 81% defined themselves as Muslims. In 2007, the results were roughly the same.

In the wake of the Arab Spring, however, these numbers changed dramatically: those defining themselves as Egyptians rose to 50%, 2% more than those who defined themselves as Muslims.  Among Iraqis, primary self-identification in national terms jumped from 23% of respondents in 2004 to 57% in 2011. Among Saudis, the figure jumped from 17% in 2003 to 46% in 2011, while the share of those claiming a primary Muslim identity dropped from 75% to 44%.

There has also been a shift toward secular politics ...

Published: Tuesday 3 January 2012
“The two top stories for the three networks during the year included the NATO-backed uprising in Libya and the killing of its long-time leader Col. Moammar Gaddafi, and the ouster of Egyptian President Hosni Mubarak and its aftermath.”

The so-called "Arab Spring" led U.S. network television evening news coverage during 2011, comprising a total of about 10 percent of all the news coverage provided by the three major commercial networks during 2011, according to the latest annual review by the authoritative Tyndall Report.

Indeed, the two top stories - of both foreign and domestic news - for the three networks during the year included the NATO-backed uprising in Libya and the killing of its long-time leader Col. Moammar Gaddafi, and the ouster of Egyptian President Hosni Mubarak and its aftermath.

The Libya story garnered a combined total of nearly 700 minutes of network coverage - or roughly five percent of total coverage - on the evening news programs of ABC, CBS and NBC, while events in Egypt received nearly 500 minutes.

Much less time, however, was devoted to the uprisings in Syria (143 minutes), Bahrain (34 minutes), and Yemen (29 minutes), as well as to general overviews of what some experts have called the "Arab Awakening" (42 minutes) that has been roiling the countries of North Africa and the Middle East since last winter.

"Normally, the networks rev up foreign coverage only when the U.S. is embroiled in military action abroad," noted the report's founder and editor, Andrew Tyndall. "But this year, they provided more international news in which the U.S. troops were not directly involved on the ground than in any other since 1991."

While U.S. airpower was used as part of the NATO campaign to oust Gaddafi, no U.S. ground troops were deployed to Libya.

"Simply put, the type of foreign policy that attracts the most attention is war – the use of military force. Diplomacy is much less newsworthy and leaves room for more of the international angle in covering global hotspots," he told IPS in an email exchange.

The two ...

Published: Tuesday 20 December 2011
In its place, the new normality looks to be a global reign of terror: Any perceived misconduct will be met with destruction of the offender’s capital, ending in capital punishment.

 

The Iraq War may well never be over since its objective of regime change continues to dictate U.S. foreign policy and spawn endless conflicts. Nine years after the second intervention against Baghdad, it is abundantly clear that Saddam Hussein’s prophetic boast about “the mother of all wars” was correct, though not as the fallen dictator had intended.

Iraq fundamentally changed U.S. foreign policy from engagement with adversaries to one of threats and outright intervention aimed at forced exile or assassination of enemy leaders. The roster of dead, or soon-to-be terminated, includes: Saddam Hussein executed by hanging, Libya’s Muammar Gaddafi, and Afghanistan’s unofficial emir Osama bin Laden shot at point-blank range, Slobodan Milosevic dying in prison while awaiting a verdict, and Egypt’s deposed chief Hosni Mubarak now on his death-bed. The coercion-prompted heart failure of Vanuatu’s president in Washington went uncelebrated.

Given the track record, it can be assumed the secret White House hit list includes Iran’s boss Mahmoud Ahmadinejed, Syria’s Bashar Assad, Sudan’s Omar Bashir (also under indictment by the international war-crimes court) and North Korean Kim Jong-Il, who died over the weekend from a heart attack. With one misstep, many other impertinent leaders could easily qualify for an assassin’s bullet or a Predator strike: Venezuela’s Hugo Chavez, Robert Mugabe in Zimbabwe, Russian Vladimir Putin and even reluctant allies like Pakistan’s Asif Ali Zardari, Afghan’s Hamid Karzai and business partner Hu Jintao in China, just to name a few. Under the new rules instituted by George W. Bush and implemented by Barack Obama, nobody is safe.

The official end of the Iraq War, and soon the Afghan intervention, brings to a close the “war on terrorism.” In its place, the new normality looks to be a global reign of terror. Any ...

Published: Saturday 10 December 2011
“Governments that can finance themselves simply by retaining physical control over oil or mineral deposits often fail in the long run to develop institutions that are conducive to economic development.”

Libyans have a new lease on life, a feeling that, at long last, they are the masters of their own fate. Perhaps Iraqis, after a decade of warfare, feel the same way. Both countries are oil producers, and there is widespread expectation among their citizens that that wealth will be a big advantage in rebuilding their societies.

Meanwhile, in Africa, Ghana has begun pumping oil for the first time, and Uganda is about to do so as well. Indeed, from West Africa to Mongolia, countries are experiencing windfalls from new discoveries of oil and mineral wealth. Heightening the euphoria are the historic levels that oil and mineral prices have reached on world markets over the last four years.

Many countries have been in this position before, exhilarated by natural-resource bonanzas, only to see the boom end in disappointment and the opportunity squandered, with little payoff in terms of a better quality of life for their people. But, whether in Libya or Ghana, political leaders today have an advantage: most are well aware of history, and want to know ...

Published: Sunday 4 December 2011
“This has not come, in most cases, from a moral or spiritual commitment to nonviolence per se, but simply because it works.”

While sitting in a Cairo café just a couple blocks from Tahrir Square a couple months ago, I couldn't help but notice the television in the corner broadcasting the evening news. Traditionally, TV news in Egypt and other Arab countries has consisted of the president (or king) giving a speech, greeting a foreign visitor, visiting a factory, or engaging in some other official function. This evening, however, the news was about a labor strike in Alexandria, relatives of those killed during the February revolution protesting outside the Interior Ministry, and ongoing developments in the pro-democracy struggles in Yemen and Syria.

Nothing could better illustrate the profound change in the Arab world over the past year: It is no longer simply the leaders who were the newsmakers. It is Arab peoples themselves.

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Published: Wednesday 23 November 2011
“Practical change requires revision of the 1973 War Powers Resolution, which grants presidents unfettered rights to commit American forces for 60 days.”

The failure of the US Congressional Joint Committee on Deficit Reduction to reach agreement on budget cuts now sets the stage for $1.2 trillion in automatic reductions to begin in January 2013. Should these cuts go into effect, the US Defense Department, which already must implement $450 billion in reductions over ten years, will take half the hit. But pushback has already begun, with Secretary of Defense Leon Panetta arguing that further reductions will impose “substantial risk” to America’s national security.

But, if history is a guide, global events, not deficit hawks or military promoters, will have the ultimate say over how far defense reductions go. As the Cold War ended, who would have thought that the US would become entangled in Somalia, the Balkans, and Kuwait – or, when the new century began, that the US would spend hundreds of billions of dollars per year on wars in Southwest Asia.

While America must, of course, bear any cost to fight a war of survival, throughout history, America’s economic power gave it a broad cushion to pursue wars of choice. In today’s world, one would think that US economic distress would cure that compulsion. But that did not happen in Libya, and events will likely tempt future presidents to behave in the same way, despite the risks. And Congress is unlikely to use its authority to play a more assertive role if legislators wed themselves to the recent past.

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America’s fiscal challenges ought to prompt a re-evaluation. Practical change requires revision of the 1973 War Powers Resolution, which grants presidents unfettered ...

Published: Saturday 12 November 2011
Published: Sunday 30 October 2011
“With Muammar Qaddafi now dead in Libya and NATO tentatively winding down its mission there by the end of the month, the Obama administration has claimed another foreign policy victory”

With Muammar Qaddafi now dead in Libya and NATO tentatively winding down its mission there by the end of the month, the Obama administration has claimed another foreign policy victory, touting the fact that “we achieved our objectives” without putting ground troops in Libya.

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Published: Wednesday 26 October 2011
According to anthropologist John Borneman, “The public renunciation of the son’s claim to inherit the father’s power definitively ends the specific Arab model of succession that has been incorporated into state dictatorships among tribal authorities.”

The October 19 death of Col. Muammar el-Qaddafi allows us to see more clearly an underlying force at work in the Arab Awakening. From Tunisia to Egypt, Libya, Syria, and Yemen, movements have sought to end the presumption of father-son inheritance of rule. The passing on of power from father to son has been a characteristic of patriarchal tribal societies, in the Arab world and elsewhere. In Europe, the feudal system worked the same way. Yet democracies demand that power be passed on merit and popular acclaim, and not as an hereditary right.

One of the most remarkable features of the popular revolts of 2011 is a dialectic between archaic patrilineal dynasties that call themselves democracies and popular civil resistance movements that display their commitment to genuine democracy by remaining essentially leaderless—making all of those who take part in some sense a leader. The course of the violent rebellion in Libya has followed this pattern in some respects, but not in others.

In Tunisia, early in the 23-year politically repressive regime of president Zine El Abidine Ben Ali, political activists and scholars were aware of the extent of the clan’s corruption, and as the family took over national enterprises in 1995–2005 privatization schemes, knowledge of it became commonplace. Mohamed Bouazizi, 26, an unemployed fruit and vegetable seller set himself on fire in the central Tunisian town of Sidi Bouzid on December 17, 2010, sparking the “jasmine revolution.” Workers initially kindled the uprising, and the largest cities lit up in turn after a successful general strike in Sfax on January 12. Professionals, traders, merchants, and financiers soon joined as well, many of whom had been allied with the Bourguiba regime and with Ben Ali in his early years. The upheaval expanded to the upper crust as, on January 8, a delegation of business executives from Sousse, Ben Ali’s base, called the presidential palace in ...

Published: Tuesday 25 October 2011
“Just as George W. Bush and Dick Cheney were focused on securing Iraq’s oil for their Big Oil cronies, U.S. and NATO forces attacked Libya to take out Muammar Gaddafi, who preferred to sell his oil to Russia and China.”

The U.N. Security Council’s mandate, which authorized NATO’s military operations to “protect civilians” in Libya, was just as specious as the one that allowed the Bush administration to invade Iraq to destroy stockpiles of nonexistent weapons of mass destruction. Just as George W. Bush and Dick Cheney were focused on securing Iraq’s oil for their Big Oil cronies, U.S. and NATO forces attacked Libya to take out Muammar Gaddafi, who preferred to sell his oil to Russia and China.
 

In the wake of Saddam Hussein’s killing, Baghdad was left defenseless to be viciously looted, save for a well-protected oil ministry. In the immediate aftermath of Gaddafi’s fall, amid all of the chaos, the only clear move was made by Tripoli to favor NATO allies as the new customers for Libyan oil.
 

Today, NATO gloats of “no collateral damage” in its Libyan operations. Yet, an estimated 10,000 mostly civilians it meant to protect are dead, while entire cities lie in ruin.
 

After nine years of U.S. occupation, Iraq’s economy remains in shambles amid rampant official corruption, with every sign of greater instability when the last of the U.S. troops are gone. Libya will likely remain a near-failed state for the foreseeable future as competing political and tribal forces fight for ascendancy.


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Published: Monday 24 October 2011
“After Muammar Gadhafi’s demise, the future of Libya’s relationship with the United States remains uncertain.”

After Muammar Gadhafi's demise, the future of Libya's relationship with the United States remains uncertain.

Libya ousted its longtime leader in essentially a civil war in which the U.S. and NATO backed one side. This is a stark contrast with the independent and largely nonviolent revolutionary processes that led to the ouster of dictators in Egypt and Tunisia, and are still underway in much of the Arab world.

But Washington wasn't the NATO intervention's original instigator. That role lay in Europe, starting with France, whose president was still smarting from political attacks for his too-little-too-late response to the Tunisian uprising. It set the stage for Europe to exert special influence in Libya's new government, which will probably also give Europe privileged access to Libya's oil.

Ironically, Europe and the United States didn't really need a war to create good relations with Libya — they already had them. After the 9/11 terrorist attacks, when the Bush administration was eager to round up new recruits for its "global war on terror," it sent emissaries to make nice with the long-excoriated Libyan leader.

Soon, Gadhafi was brought in from the cold. He agreed to dismantle Libya's nascent nuclear program and offered compensation to families of the Lockerbie bombing. He even resumed normal diplomatic relations with the United States and Western Europe, his once-and-future enemies. Within a few years, U.S. and European oil companies were inking contracts. By 2007, photos of Gadhafi arm-in-arm with French President Nicolas Sarkozy, British Prime Minister Tony Blair, Italian Prime Minister Silvio Berlusconi — as well as George W. Bush, Barack Obama, and, famously, Condoleezza Rice — were commonplace.

For the United States in 2011, the strategic interest in turning on Gadhafi, despite these newfound chummy relations, was primarily rooted in the fear of losing control. ...

Published: Friday 21 October 2011
A doctor who was part of the medical team that accompanied Gadhafi’s body in an ambulance and examined it told the Associated Press that Gadhafi had died from two bullet wounds, to the head and chest.

In one, a khaki-clad man identified as Gadhafi appears wounded, splayed out on the hood of a truck. He’s wounded, his shirt bloody. Revolutionary fighters haul him to a standing position, then surround him, pushing him away from the camera before he turns and seems to gesture.

“We want him alive,” one man can be heard saying.

Another clip, obviously shot later, shows a man who appears to be the now dead deposed leader lying in the street, stripped half-naked and splattered with blood. Bystanders chanting, “God is great!” can be seen kicking him.

In yet another video, Gadhafi’s battered face, his eyes partially closed in death, is held up to the camera for a close-up before the camera operator pans away to show about a dozen revolutionary fighters shouting and flashing victory signs as they jostled for positions in the picture.

The short videos instantly became iconic images for the Arab Spring protests: a despotic Middle Eastern ruler forced out of power and killed by his people in a popular uprising that turned into an armed rebellion. The image of Gadhafi’s bloody face is sure to send chills among other embattled Middle Eastern leaders such as Syria’s Bashar Assad and Yemen’s Ali Abdullah Saleh.

“This is the end of the war and the emancipation proclamation of Libya,” said Fatima Ben Massoud, 30, a schoolteacher in Tripoli.

There was no definitive version of Gadhafi’s last day, however. Instead, bits and pieces emerged from eyewitness accounts and video footage that gave a sense of what took place, but with many questions still to be answered.

A doctor who was part of the medical team that accompanied Gadhafi’s body in an ambulance and examined it told the Associated Press that Gadhafi had died from two bullet wounds, to the head and chest.

Al Arabiya reported that the fatal shots were fired by an 18-year-old revolutionary fighter ...

Published: Friday 7 October 2011
This year’s winners were the first women since Kenya’s late Wangari Maathai was named in 2004.

The Nobel Peace Prize was awarded Friday to three women activists, two from Liberia and one from Yemen, in recognition of their nonviolent campaigns toward peace and women’s rights in conflict zones.

The 2011 laureates are: Africa’s first democratically elected female president, Ellen Johnson Sirleaf, of Liberia; Leymah Gwobee, also of Liberia; and Tawakkul Karman, a Yemeni civil society campaigner who’s played a vocal role in her nation’s months-old uprising against the government.

“We cannot achieve democracy and lasting peace in the world unless women obtain the same opportunities as men to influence developments at all levels of society,” said the citation read to reporters by Thorbjorn Jagland, a former Norwegian prime minister who heads the Oslo-based Nobel committee.

This year’s winners were the first women since Kenya’s late Wangari Maathai was named in 2004.

While analysts praised the Nobel panel for acknowledging the courage of women activists, some in the Arab world were disappointed that the prize wasn’t awarded to participants in the so-called Arab Spring revolts that have challenged authoritarian governments throughout the Middle East.

“This might be interpreted as a slight to the Arab world,” Shadi Hamid of the Brookings Institution’s Doha branch, told al Jazeera English. He called the decision “surprising and disappointing.”

It would have been difficult, however, for Arab protesters to fulfill the Nobel panel’s requirement that the prize go to an individual or organization. The uprisings, which first erupted in Tunisia and have now spread in some form to most of the Middle East and North Africa, involved millions of protesters and countless activist groups.

Also, even though the Arab protests began peacefully, some of them spiraled into armed rebellions when government forces used lethal force to crush ...

Published: Friday 9 September 2011
On Mar. 8, François Gouyette told a select group of deputies at a closed session of the French parliamentary commission of foreign affairs that the rebellion, especially in the east of the country, comprised mostly ‘radical Muslims’.

The official euphoria with which the U.S. and European governments celebrated the fall of the regime of Muammar Gaddafi in Libya has given way to growing concern that many among the new Libyan leadership are radical Muslims with links to al-Qaeda. Revelations are surfacing also of a close collaboration of Western governments with the deposed dictator.
 

The overwhelming presence of radical Muslims among the rebel Libyan leadership has been known in Paris at least since early March. But the dangers from this are now beginning to be discussed openly in Western capitals. 
 

On Mar. 8, François Gouyette, ambassador to Tripoli until late February, told a select group of deputies at a closed session of the French parliamentary commission of foreign affairs that the rebellion, especially in the east of the country, comprised mostly "radical Muslims". 
 

"In the east of the country, especially in the city of Derna, which was taken very easily by the insurrection, there is without question a high concentration of radical Muslims," Gouyette told the deputies. "Hundreds of Libyan combatants taking part in the international jihad in Afghanistan and in Iraq originate from this region. 
 

"Many of these combatants are back in Libya," Gouyette warned. IPS has the minutes of the meeting. 
 

Gouyette recalled that some 800 members of the Libyan Islamic Fighting Group (LIFG) banned by the United Nations after the terror attacks of Sep. 11, 2001, and who were recently released after being incarcerated by the Gaddafi regime for many years, "have joined the liberated areas of the country. They can represent a problem in the future." 
 

Gouyette recalled that Gaddafi’s regime had "closely cooperated" with "all Western intelligence services in the fight against (Muslim) terrorism represented by ...

Published: Thursday 8 September 2011
“I believe the American people have the capacity to ‘undergo a mental and spiritual change’ that Dr. King spoke about. People are about that work in their own private lives everyday. The question is does our government and those who lead it have that capacity.”

Good evening.

Tonight I wish to speak to this Congress and to my fellow Americans about international policy and its relation to the domestic economy. I will advocate a new direction America must take in the world so that we can meet the needs of our people here at home.

For the past decade we have relied on the force of our arms to make America secure while our economy has rotted from within. America has lost its focus. America has spent more time concentrating on reshaping the world than on reshaping our economy.

We have created hundreds of thousands of jobs for military contractors all over the world, while we just learned that we created zero jobs here in the United States in the month of August as unemployment continues to stay above 9%.

Come home America. We must begin to focus on things here at home and stop roaming the world looking for dragons to slay. We have a right and an obligation to defend our nation. That includes working for peace abroad and seeking peaceful resolution of conflict, a capacity that, at our peril, we have not fully developed: I call it strength through peace. It involves the pursuit of what President Franklin Roosevelt called the “Science of Human Relations,” actually engaging those with whom we disagree most to attempt to find a way to co-exist peacefully. As Dr. Martin Luther King said at a commencement address at Oberlin College in 1965:

      We must find some alternative to war and bloodshed... I do not wish to minimize the complexity of the problems to be faced in achieving disarmament and peace. But we shall not have the courage, the insight, to deal with such matters unless we are prepared to undergo a mental and spiritual change. It is not enough to say we must not wage war. We ...

Published: Wednesday 7 September 2011
“Though an Obama administration task force recommended that greater accountability measures be imposed on countries that suspects are rendered to, the extent to which the recommendations have been implemented is unclear, and public statements by officials have been vague.”

New documents in recent days have surfaced several new details about the shadowy practice of snatching terrorism suspects from one country and rendering them into the custody of another. As we noted last week, several documents on rendition emerged as part of an obscure court case in the state of New York. Others were discovered by Human Rights Watch in Libya.

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Published: Monday 5 September 2011
Stopping Gaddafi forces from entering Benghazi six months ago, which I supported, was one thing. Embroiling ourselves in a civil war was another. And to do it Obama blithely shredded the Constitution and bypassed Congress in violation of the War Powers Resolution.

Here we go again. The cheering crowds. The deposed dictator. The encomiums to freedom and liberty. The American military as savior. You would think we would have learned in Afghanistan or Iraq. But I guess not. I am waiting for a trucked-in crowd to rejoice as a Gaddafi statue is toppled and Barack Obama lands on an aircraft carrier in a flight suit to announce “Mission Accomplished.” War, as long as you view it through the distorted lens of the corporate media, is not only entertaining, but allows us to confuse state power with personal power. It permits us to wallow in unchecked self-exaltation. We are a nation that loves to love itself.

I know enough of Libya, a country I covered for many years as the Middle East bureau chief for The New York Times, to assure you that the chaos and bloodletting have only begun. Moammar Gaddafi, during one of my lengthy interviews with him under a green Bedouin tent in the sprawling Bab al-Aziziya army barracks in Tripoli, once proposed marrying one of his sons to Chelsea Clinton as a way of mending fences with the United States. He is as insane as he appears and as dangerous. But we should never have become the air force, trainers, suppliers, special forces and enablers of rival tribal factions, goons under the old regime and Islamists that are divided among themselves by deep animosities and a long history of violent conflict.

Stopping Gaddafi forces from entering Benghazi six months ago, which I supported, was one thing. Embroiling ourselves in a civil war was another. And to do it Obama blithely shredded the Constitution and bypassed Congress in violation of the War Powers Resolution. Not that the rule of law matters much in Washington. The dark reasoning of George W. Bush’s administration was that the threat of terrorism and national security gave the executive branch the right to ignore all legal restraints. The Obama ...

Published: Monday 5 September 2011
Even if the White House withdraws troops according to its proposed schedule, by 2012 the number of U.S. troops still fighting that war will be higher than when Obama took office

The 10th anniversary of the 9/11 attacks is sure to bring televised images of somber reflection. Looking back is, in some ways, easier for commentators and pundits than wrestling with the current state of Washington's so-called "war on terror."

The United States is mired in two major wars in Iraq and Afghanistan, along with undeclared drone bombing campaigns in Pakistan, Yemen, and Somalia. Launching these wars was fairly easy for the White House, with or without congressional approval. How any of them ends, though, remains unclear. Even the NATO war in Libya, which by many accounts has "ended," could become more chaotic and bloodier in the very near future.

The shift from Washington's time-limited military adventures that followed the Vietnam War — the relatively brief conflicts in Grenada, Panama, Somalia, and Kosovo, for example — to today's seemingly interminable and endlessly multiplying military commitments is one of the most notable, yet little noted, features of the post-9/11 landscape. Regrettably, too many mainstream journalists seem all too willing to encourage Washington's new "permanent war" footing.

The Iraq War, we've been led to believe, is the one that's ending, if it's not already over. Last summer's withdrawal of combat troops was treated in the press as the conclusion of a very long war. But this summer the news tells a different story: Obama administration officials are lobbying the Iraqi government to hammer out an agreement that would allow U.S. troops to stay beyond the end of the year.

One newspaper called this a "vexing problem" for President Barack Obama, since he'll have to explain why he's extending a war he vowed to end. And recent upticks in bombings in Iraq inevitably trigger worry about how dangerous it will be for U.S. troops to leave. This is a strange conclusion, given that this violence is happening while ...

Published: Thursday 1 September 2011

"Why are you attacking us? Why are you killing our children? Why are you destroying our infrastructure?"

– Television address by Libyan Leader Muammar Gaddafi, April 30, 2011

A few hours later NATO hit a target in Tripoli, killing Gaddafi's 29-year-old son Saif al-Arab, three of Gaddafi's grandchildren, all under twelve years of age, and several friends and neighbors.

In his TV address, Gaddafi had appealed to the NATO nations for a cease-fire and negotiations after six weeks of bombings and cruise missile attacks against his country.

Well, let's see if we can derive some understanding of the complex Libyan turmoil.

The Holy Triumvirate — The United States, NATO and the European Union — recognizes no higher power and believes, literally, that it can do whatever it wants in the world, to whomever it wants, for as long as it wants, and call it whatever it wants, like "humanitarian".

If The Holy Triumvirate decides that it doesn't want to overthrow the government in Syria or in Egypt or Tunisia or Bahrain or Saudi Arabia or Yemen or Jordan, no matter how cruel, oppressive, or religiously intolerant those governments are with their people, no matter how much they impoverish and torture their people, no matter how ...

Published: Thursday 1 September 2011
One of the problems of armed revolutionary struggle compared to unarmed revolutionary struggle is the dependence upon foreign supporters, which can then be leveraged after victory.

The downfall of Muammar Gaddafi's regime is very good news, particularly for the people of Libya. However, it is critically important that the world not learn the wrong lessons from the dictator's overthrow.

It is certainly true that NATO played a critical role in disrupting the heavy weapons capability of the repressive Libyan regime and blocking its fuel and ammunition supplies through massive airstrikes and by providing armaments and logistical support for the rebels. However, both the militaristic triumphalism of the pro-intervention hawks and the more cynical conspiracy mongering of some on the left ignore that this was indeed a popular revolution, which may have been able to succeed without NATO, particularly if the opposition had not focused primarily on the military strategy. Engaging in an armed struggle against the heavily armed despot essentially took on gaddafi where he was strongest rather than taking greater advantage of where he was weakest - his lack of popular support.

There has been little attention paid to the fact that the reason the anti-Gaddafi rebels were able to unexpectedly march into Tripoli last weekend with so little resistance appears to have been a result of a massive and largely unarmed civil insurrection which had erupted in neighborhoods throughout the city. Indeed, much of the capital had already been liberated by the time the rebel columns entered and began mopping up the remaining pockets of pro-regime forces.

As Juan Cole noted in an August 22 interview on ...

Published: Wednesday 31 August 2011
“U.S. policymakers now grappling with the question of America’s role in the world ought to look to the past as well as the future.”

In 1933, Franklin D. Roosevelt named an obscure history professor, William E. Dodd, as ambassador to Germany. Dodd was a principled but prosaic man, whose gift to popular history was not his academic writings but the scandalous behavior of his attractive daughter. In Berlin, she slept with the enemy — neither for God nor country but for the sheer fun of it.

It took the older Dodd just a brief time and Martha Dodd, his 25-year-old daughter, much longer to figure out that they were dealing not with the sort of country club anti-Semites they knew back in the States but with killers intent on wiping out a whole people. “We sort of don’t like the Jews anyway,” Martha told a friend. Lucky for her she was in the right country.

The story of the Dodd family’s time in Germany is grippingly told by Erik Larson in his “In the Garden of the Beasts.” His is a novelistic approach to a rigorously nonfiction account of what the unfolding Nazi regime looked like to a dowdy historian and his family. The Dodds were plopped into one of history’s great maelstroms, with Hitler consolidating power swiftly and events moving fast but incrementally so. No one announced the Holocaust. It began the random day a Nazi goon knocked a Jew off the sidewalk.

Dodd’s tenure in Berlin was marked by repeated entreaties to his bosses back at the State Department to allow him to make one sort of protest or another. Invariably, this was denied. The State Department back then was a redoubt of snooty anti-Semites who thought, within reason of course, that Hitler had a point about the Jews. State also recognized that Washington had little leverage and, anyway, what Hitler was doing to his Jews and others was his own damned business. America had no vital national interest at stake.

I emphasize those words because they have great currency at the moment. I heard them used last week by Jon Huntsman, who explained to journalists ...

Published: Monday 29 August 2011
“President Obama is not President Bush, and I don't think that for a moment that Obama is seeking excuses to bomb and invade Middle East countries, as Bush was.”

Muammar Gaddafi is (pretty much) gone, and right on cue there’s increasing talk about applying the Libya “model” to Syria. Meanwhile, I’m more worried that eventually they’ll get around to applying that “model” to Iran.

 
The New York Times carries a piece titled: “U.S. Tactics in Libya May Be a Model for Other Efforts.” By model, of course, they mean the mobilization of lethal force, including coordinated bombing attacks and precision missile strikes, tied closely to rebel military tactics, jointly run by the United States and NATO. In it, President Obama’s advisers – including Ben Rhodes, the humanitarian interventionist hawk who supported the U.S. war in Libya – suggest that the Libyan action might easily be applied elsewhere. “How much we translate to Syria remains to be seen,” says one adviser, anonymously. And the Times notes:

 
“The very fact that the administration has joined with the same allies that it banded with on Libya to call for Mr. Assad to go and to impose penalties on his regime could take the United States one step closer to applying the Libya model toward Syria.”


Meanwhile, the Washington Post 

Published: Saturday 27 August 2011
Published: Thursday 25 August 2011
Published: Thursday 25 August 2011
“Two words capture every important dimension of the Arab Awakening: ‘humiliation’ and ‘legitimacy.’”

When Mohamed Bouazizi set himself on fire in rural Tunisia on December 17, 2010, he set in motion a dynamic that goes far beyond the overthrow of individual dictators. We are witnessing nothing less than the awakening, throughout the Arab world, of several phenomena that are critical for stable statehood: the citizen, the citizenry, legitimacy of authority, a commitment to social justice, genuine politics, national self-determination and, ultimately, true sovereignty. It took hundreds of years for the United States and Western Europe to develop governance and civil society systems that affirmed those principles, even if incompletely or erratically, so we should be realistic in our expectations of how long it will take Arab societies to do so.

The countries where citizens are more actively agitating or fighting for their rights—Libya, Tunisia, Egypt, Syria, Bahrain and Yemen are the most advanced to date—have very different local conditions and forms of governance, with ruling elites displaying a wide range of legitimacy in the eyes of their people. Governments have responded to the challenge in a variety of ways, from the flight of the Tunisian and Egyptian leaderships to violent military repression in Syria, Libya and Bahrain, to the attempt to negotiate limited constitutional transformations in Jordan, Morocco and Oman. A few countries that have not experienced major demonstrations—Algeria and Sudan are the most significant—are likely to experience domestic effervescence in due course. Only the handful of wealthy oil producers (like Saudi Arabia, Kuwait, Qatar and the United Arab Emirates) seem largely exempt, for now, from this wave of citizen demands.

Two words capture every important dimension of the Arab ...

Published: Thursday 25 August 2011
“The eccentric Libyan dictator, whose whereabouts were unknown after Western-backed rebels had captured most of Tripoli, used his North African nation's oil wealth to leverage influence across the continent.”

The fall of Moammar Gadhafi, lauded as an anti-colonial visionary and lampooned as a buffoon, creates not just a political vacuum in Libya, the country he ruled for 42 years, but leaves behind in Africa a gaping hole once filled by the self-crowned King of King's bulging purse and oversized persona.

The eccentric Libyan dictator, whose whereabouts were unknown after Western-backed rebels had captured most of Tripoli, used his North African nation's oil wealth to leverage influence across the continent.

He largely bankrolled the African Union, the continent's regional organization, and often was the only leader willing to embrace a continental role. Whether others will now step to the fore is an open question, analysts of the region's politics said.

"For better or ill, Gadhafi did provide some of that leadership," said Thomas Cargill, assistant head of the Africa program at Chatham House, a global policy think tank in London.

The post-colonial Africa in which Gadhafi seized power was defined by its unimaginable poverty and endless conflicts, and at that time a little oil money went a long way. Gadhafi promoted a United States of Africa — with him at its head, of course. He lavished funds on friendly governments. He endeared himself to some Africans for his anti-Western rhetoric.

But he enraged other leaders with his impulsive behavior, about-faces and eagerness to meddle in other's affairs, often violently. His pan-Africanism only arose after he grew disillusioned with the Arab world. If given enough years, he often backed both sides of a conflict at different times before the conflict ran its course.

And his colorful presence on the international scene became an awkward headache for a continent seeking to change its global image. His longwinded rants before the United Nations General Assembly became an annual sideshow, as did the massive Bedouin tent he set up wherever he went, ...

Published: Thursday 25 August 2011
“The United States has no troops in Libya, which means our men and women in uniform do not find themselves at the center of — or responsible for — what will inevitably be a messy and possibly dangerous aftermath.”

You have to ask: If unemployment were at 6 percent, would President Obama be getting pummeled for not having us back to full employment already?

The question comes to mind in the wake of the Libyan rebels’ successes against Moammar Gaddafi. It’s remarkable how reluctant Obama’s opponents are to acknowledge that despite all the predictions that his policy of limited engagement could never work, it actually did.

 
 

Let it be said upfront that the rout of Gaddafi was engineered not by foreign powers but by a brave rebellion organized in Libya by its people. But that is the point. The United States has no troops in Libya, which means our men and women in uniform do not find themselves at the center of — or responsible for — what will inevitably be a messy and possibly dangerous aftermath. Our forces did not suffer a single casualty. The military action by the West that was crucial to the rebels was a genuine coalition effort led by Britain and France. This was not a made-by-America revolution, and both we and the Middle East are better for that.

What NATO and its allies did do, as Karen DeYoung and Greg Miller reported in The Post, was to help the rebels “mount an aggressive ...

Published: Wednesday 24 August 2011
“Conservative outlets took it upon themselves to finesse the fact that Barack Obama just helped overthrow a terrorism-sponsoring tyrant into their preconceived notions about foreign policy.”

The success of the Libyan revolution and toppling of Muammar Qaddafi has put conservative commentators in an awfully tough position. President Reagan had unsuccessfully bombed Libya in order to kill Qaddaffi, and had failed at exacting any revenge for Libya’s murder of hundreds of American civilians on Pan Am flight 103. President Bush had worked to normalize relations with Libya and claimed Qaddafi’s willingness to give up weapons programs as evidence of the Iraq invasion’s success at scaring the bad guys straight.

 

But Qaddafi remained a dictator and a routine violator of human rights. Conservatives say the United States has an obligation to intervene militarily to depose hostile regimes such as Qaddafi’s. But it’s awfully embarrassing for them when it turns out that it is a Democrat who does so, and at considerably lower cost than we paid in Iraq. So how did the conservative media respond on Monday?

One approach is to avoid the subject. Visitors to Townhall.com this afternoon were treated to sizable headlines about Vice President Biden’s comments on China’s one-child policy and Representative Maxine Waters’s distaste for the Tea Party, but could be forgiven for not realizing anything had happened at Libya at all. An Associated Press story relegated to a small side box was the extent of their Libya coverage.

READ FULL POST DISCUSS

Published: Tuesday 23 August 2011
Maintaining the cooperation of the dominant tribes in each region will be essential to building a stable post-Gaddafi Libya

The endgame in the Libyan conflict has at last arrived. Much of Libya’s capital is now in insurgent hands, with the rebel army itself entering from all directions.

The military impotence of forces loyal to Colonel Muammar Gaddafi – visible for a week -- had been matched by the regime’s growing political disarray. Senior Gaddafi cronies were defecting – most recently Deputy Interior Minister Nasser al-Mabrouk Abdullah, who fled to Cairo with nine family members, followed a few days later by Libya’s oil chief, Omran Abukraa. Now a number of Gaddafi’s sons, including Seif al-Islam, his putative heir, have been taken by the rebels. Like Saddam Hussein in 2003, Gaddafi appears to have gone into hiding.

So what, now, will become of post-Gaddafi Libya? Former US Secretary of State Colin Powell famously admonished President George W. Bush before the Iraq War that, “if you break it, you own it.” Bush, however, shrugged off Powell’s warning, and it was not long before the world watched in horror as it became clear that there was no detailed plan to govern or rebuild post-Saddam Iraq. Instead, the country endured a hideous war of all against all that left uncounted thousands dead.

Are the NATO countries that undertook military intervention in Libya better prepared to restore a broken Libya? Fortunately, one building block that was not available to Bush – a legitimate government to assume authority – is available for Libya.

The National Transitional Council, established in February by a rebel coalition forged in Benghazi, is led by Mustafa Abdel-Jalil, who resigned from his position as Gaddafi’s justice minister on February 26 in response to the regime’s violent crackdown on peaceful protests. Will it be able to exercise authority and ensure security for ordinary Libyans, thereby preventing a recurrence of the blood vendettas that shattered Iraq after Saddam’s ...

Published: Monday 22 August 2011
“The $1bn for an intervention that Americans were told would last "days not weeks" could only be explained by looking at the war as an investment, and at control over Libya's wealth as an opportunity to make a return on that investment.”

In March of this year, the US, France, Britain and their North Atlantic Treaty Organisation (Nato) allies launched military operations in Libya under the guise of a "humanitarian intervention". US diplomats and world leaders carelessly voiced unsubstantiated claims of an impending massacre in Benghazi. You hear no such appeals to humanity while Nato, in the name of the rebels (whoever they are), prepares to lay siege to Tripoli, a city of nearly 2 million people.

Libyan rebels are now advancing on the capital city of Tripoli with the aid of Nato strikes; this is sure to result in a real bloodbath, as opposed to the one that was conjured in Benghazi this past winter. Nato is assisting rebels who are blocking food, water and medical supplies from coming into the capital city, and is stopping those who need advanced medical care from travelling to Tunisia to access it. Nato is bombing power stations, creating blackouts, and using Apache helicopters to attack Libyan police checkpoints to clear roads for rebels to advance.

Regardless of whether Muammar Gaddafi is ousted in coming days, the war against Libya has seen countless violations of United Nations security council resolutions (UNSCRs) by Nato and UN member states. The funnelling of weapons (now being air-dropped) to Libyan rebels was, from the beginning of the conflict, in clear violation of UNSCR 1970. The use of military force on behalf of the rebels, in an attempt to impose ...

Published: Thursday 18 August 2011
For all of their wealth and planning, the Saudis remain vulnerable to the turmoil surrounding them.

Saudi Arabia is widely perceived as leading the counter-revolution against the Arab Spring uprisings. In reality, the Kingdom’s response is centered, as its foreign and domestic policy has long been, on “stability.” The Saudis don’t want anti-Saudi forces, including such enemies as Iran and Al Qaeda, to increase their influence in the Middle East.

Some of the older Saudi leaders have seen this movie before. The nationalist revolutions of the 1950’s and 1960’s, inspired and galvanized by Gamel Nasser’s Egypt, nearly toppled the House of Saud. Nonetheless, today’s Saudi princes appear to recognize that something has genuinely changed in the Middle East: The younger generation of Arabs is no longer prepared to accept unaccountable, corrupt, and brutal governments.

"Follow Project Syndicate on Facebook or Twitter. For more from Bernard Haykel, click here."

Saudi ...

Published: Thursday 18 August 2011
"The United States has spent more than $65 billion on developing the F-22s, which have never been used in combat."

The most expensive fighter jet ever built, the U.S.’s F-22, has not only sat on the sidelines in Iraq, Afghanistan and Libya—the entire fleet has been grounded indefinitely since early May due to a problem that’s caused some mysterious symptoms for pilots.

Wired notes that if this doesn’t change in the next few months, the Air Force’s F-22 pilots 

Published: Sunday 14 August 2011
Published: Tuesday 9 August 2011
Published: Saturday 6 August 2011
Published: Friday 5 August 2011
Published: Tuesday 2 August 2011
Published: Tuesday 2 August 2011
Published: Tuesday 2 August 2011
One American world, one Washington, is devouring the other. Think of this as the half-hidden psychodrama of this American moment.

By now, it seems as if everybody and his brother has joined the debt-ceiling imbroglio in Washington, perhaps the strangest homespun drama of our time.  It’s as if Washington’s leading political players, aided and abetted by the media’s love of the horserace, had eaten LSD-laced brownies, then gone on stage before an audience of millions to enact a psychotic spectacle of American decline.

And yet, among the dramatis personae we’ve been watching, there are clearly missing actors.  They happen to be out of town, part of a traveling roadshow.  When it comes to their production, however, there has, of late, been little publicity, few reviewers, and only the most modest media attention.  Moreover, unlike the scenery-chewing divas in Washington, these actors have simply been going about their business as if nothing out of the ordinary were happening.

On July 25th, for instance, while John Boehner raced around the Capitol desperately pressing Republican House members for votes on a debt-ceiling bill that Harry Reid was calling dead-on-arrival in the Senate, America’s new ambassador to Afghanistan, Ryan Crocker, took his oath of office in distant Kabul.  

Published: Tuesday 2 August 2011
"The people of Syria should not be forced to pay the price by those concerned that the Security Council overstepped on Libya," Peggy Hicks noted.

The U.N. Security Council has continued to remain politically paralysed on the indiscriminate killings of civilians in Syria, and that paralysis, according to U.N. diplomats, has been triggered ironically by the ongoing turmoil in another Arab nation - Libya.

The devastation caused by Western military forces in Libya - justified under the guise of protecting civilian lives - is deterring at least two veto-wielding permanent members of the Council, namely Russia and China, from supporting any strong action against Syria.

The Chinese and the Russians believe, one U.N. diplomat told IPS, that "Western countries are likely to misinterpret any resolution against Syria and then unleash military attacks on Damascus - as they did with Libya."

Peggy Hicks, global advocacy director at Human Rights Watch, told IPS the reluctance by some member states, particularly the global south leaders, seems motivated by concern over Libya.

But it is high time for those issues to be overcome by the urgent need for the Security Council to speak out about Syria, she added.

"The people of Syria should not be forced to pay the price by those concerned that the Security Council overstepped on Libya," Hicks noted.

The resolution on Libya, adopted last May by a vote of 10:0, authorised member states to "take all necessary measures" - a code word for military intervention - to protect civilians and civilian- populated areas under threat of attack from Gaddafi's forces.

The result: continued bombing of Libya by military forces from the North Atlantic Treaty Organisation (NATO) on the pretext of "protecting civilians".

But five countries in the 15-member Security Council decided to abstain on that resolution: China, Russia, India, Brazil and Germany.

At least four of those five countries are now resisting any condemnation of Syria.

Phyllis Bennis, director of the New Internationalism ...

Published: Monday 1 August 2011
"Democrats are empty of political innovation. The tea party is not."

I suffer from tea party envy. There is little about the actual party I like and there are some members I abhor, but I am jealous of its sense of purpose, its determination and its bracing conviction that it is absolutely right. In its own way, it waves a crimson battle flag while President Obama’s is a sickly taupe -- the limp banner of an ideological muddle.

Obama would be a good White House chief of staff, but as a president he lacks political savvy. He never knew how to get ahead of the tea party wave. He never knew how to marshal -- or create -- his own constituency. Republican invective notwithstanding, he lacks demagogic tools. He tries to solve problems instead of, for the Republicans, creating them. Barack Obama does not do pain.

Still, Obama came to the White House at a tough time for a Democrat. Washington has gone topsy-turvy. The liberal party, the Democrats, has turned conservative. Its lawmakers want to conserve Social Security and conserve Medicare and conserve a myriad of other programs that have turned into patronage plums for important constituencies.

The Republicans of the tea party, on the other hand, say they are conservatives, but they are really radicals -- maybe even nihilists. They would destroy rather than compromise. They are drunk on bromides about Big Government and Small Business and the virtues of a balanced budget, no matter what damage all that does to an already sick economy. In another era, folks with this mentality would be yelling “Power to the people” or some such thing because a good slogan is more persuasive than careful analysis any day. You can, ...

Published: Sunday 31 July 2011
Published: Wednesday 27 July 2011
Published: Tuesday 26 July 2011
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