On January 16 Islamic militants staged an audacious attack on a major natural gas complex in southeastern Algeria, 800 miles southeast from the capital. A jihadist group calling itself the Masked Brigade—led by Moktar Belmoktar, the fierce one-eyed veteran of the Afghan war and a senior commander of al-Qaeda in the Islamic Maghreb (AQIM)—claimed responsibility for the raid on the In Amenas gas facility near the Libyan border. Dozens of foreign hostages were taken, including at least seven Americans, as well as workers from Britain, Ireland, Norway, Japan, and other countries.
On January 17 government forces launched an operation to retake the facility. On January 18 the crisis was still continuing. Some hostages have been freed but an unknown number of others were reported killed, either by their captors or by the Algerian army fire. There has been some dismay in Western capitals over the speed and ferocity of the authorities’ response. The Algerian government strongly defended its action. “Those who think we will negotiate with terrorists are delusional,” said Mohamed Said Belaid, Algeria’s communications minister. “Those who think we will surrender to their blackmail are delusional.” The assessment seems right: allowing the attackers to escape to Libya with the hostages, or settling in for a long siege, was exactly what the Masked Brigade leaders would have hoped for.
The raid on In Amenas is the most significant military event in North Africa since the end of operations in Libya in October 2011. It was more sophisticated than the attack which killed Ambassador Christopher Stevens and three other Americans in Benghazi last September 11. Its implications are far more momentous than the escalating jihadist insurgency in the landlocked and dirt-poor Mali, bordering Algeria to the south.
Western media reports have taken scant notice of the proximity of the Libyan border to In Amenas, which is a significant omission. It now seems certain that the attackers came from a stronghold in Libya, across the unguarded desert. If this is confirmed, the attack would provide further evidence that the NATO-led war—in addition to plunging Libya into chaos—has given a boost to jihadist activity in the region. It has also enabled the militants to amass a substantial arsenal of modern weaponry: Belmokhtar’s faction is known to have commandeered vast quantities of weapons from Libyan military stockpiles at the end of the war. AQIM fighters are well poised to try destabilizing Algeria again, now that they have established a cross-border sanctuary which was denied them by Qaddafy.
AQIM was formed in 2007 by veterans of two Algerian groups that fought the government during the fierce civil war in the 1990’s, the Salafist Group for Preaching and Combat and the Armed Islamic Group. It is one of the jihadist network’s biggest, richest and most heavily armed subsidiaries. Its “Masked Brigade” is said to have carried out the attack in retaliation for Algeria’s agreement to let France use its air space to supply French forcesbattling Islamic militants in Mali, but the assumption is too optimistic. It would have been impossible to plan such a complex operation barely a week since the beginning of the French operation in Mali. The attack must have been planned well in advance of the French military involvement, with the air space issue providing a misleading pretext which the Western media have been all to willing to accept at face value.
The Algerian extremists have bigger fish to fry. Their wider objective is to reignite the Islamic insurgency in Algeria, which the secularist government successfully suppressed over a decade ago. The authorities officially lifted the 19-year-old state of emergency in February 2011, just before the “Arab Spring” spread to Libya.
The jihadists’ new strategy may be gleaned from the fact that the assault on In Amenas is their first major attack ever on an Algerian hydrocarbon installation. Algeria is the third-largest gas supplier to Europe and one of the world’s biggest producers of liquefied natural gas. Well aware of the importance of energy revenues the rebels refrained from attacking production facilities in the 1990’s, hoping to reap the benefits after an eventual regime change. Targeting such facilities now indicates that they are smarting for a new, long fight. They are initially aiming to destroy Algeria’s image as a safe location for foreign oil and gas companies to invest and operate. In the long run they are hoping to make Algeria the next domino.
The effects of the attack were felt immediately. Snam Rete, which operates the Italian gas network, announced on January 17 that volumes of gas pumped into Italy from Algeria through a vital trans-Mediterranean pipeline had fallen from over 70 million cubic meters a day (mcm/d) to just over 60 million—a drop of 15% at a time of peak consumption.
The implications of a renewed conflict in Algeria for European energy security are immense. If similar attacks spread to the scantily protected oil and gas fields in southwest Libya, which has no effective military force controlled by the government in Tripoli, the consequences would be potentially disastrous for the consumers in Italy, France, and points further north. Algeria is the third-largest supplier of gas into the European Union (after Russia and Norway), and In Amenas’ output alone covers two per cent of total European demand, accounting for 18 per cent of Algeria’s gas exports and earning $4 billion a year in export revenues.
Russia’s Gazprom may step in to make up the shortfall, as it did in 2011 when the war in Libya brought its gas exports to an abrupt halt, but an important consequence may be to draw Europe and the United States apart on the key issue of energy politics. An ever-greater reliance on Russia’s gas runs counter to the U.S. strategy of nudging Europeans to diversify their supplies by increasing deliveries from majority-Muslim countries. Most Europeans are lukewarm about the stalled Nabucco pipeline, which has been strongly favored by the U.S., and their misgivings are bound to be reinforced by the latest developments across the Mediterranean.
The latest crisis is the direct consequence of the ill-advised, unnecessary, and self-defeating NATO intervention in Libya. It is but another reminder that Western interventionism in the Muslim world is a form of psychosis which harms the interests of the intervening powers, brings nothing but misery to the targeted lands and peoples, and benefits only the darkest enemies of civilization in today’s world.
Everyone who voted for Barack Obama voted for the man because he and his party give away free stuff. Democrats push socialism at all costs. They love to take your money and give it to everyone else. The fact that the rest of us taxpaying citizens pay for all the free stuff didn’t seem to bother the majority of voters.
The fact that our country and all its citizens suffer a $16 trillion debt and headed toward $20 trillion didn’t dissuade the majority of voters to vote for Romney who proved his ability to balance budgets and create jobs. The majority voted to add another $4 trillion in debt to the US financial nightmare.
Why? Answer: more people in this country feel entitled to a lot of free stuff. Over 47.7 million Americans love their free food via food stamps. Millions more love their government jobs where they show up to sit all day doing virtually nothing that creates anything.
This lady, with 15 kids, loves to get free stuff. You may multiply her story times 10 to 20 million single mothers sporting endless children paid for by you. She pointed to all her kids in the video by saying, “Somebody needs to pay for them.”
Several million Americans love the fact that they can continue their two years of unemployment benefits so they can take long vacations on your taxpayer dollar backs.
Freebies such as medical care for 20 million illegal aliens attracted more illegal aliens who are about to become instant citizens. They will vote for another “Obama” in the next election because they expect free stuff.
Ronald Reagan himself could not win an election in today’s America.
Blog writer Pruzansky said, “The simplest reason why Romney lost was because it is impossible to compete against free stuff. Every businessman knows this; that is why the “loss leader” or the giveaway is such a powerful marketing tool. Obama’s America is one in which free stuff is given away: the adults among the 47,000,000 on food stamps clearly recognized for whom they should vote, and so they did, by the tens of millions; those who – courtesy of Obama – receive two full years of unemployment benefits (which, of course, both disincentivizes looking for work and also motivates people to work off the books while collecting their windfall) surely know for whom to vote; so too those who anticipate “free” health care, who expect the government to pay their mortgages, who look for the government to give them jobs. The lure of free stuff is irresistible.”
Most folks love to get free stuff. Free food, free gas, free housing, free rides, free living. The old America, based on European work, thrift, personal accountability, personal accountability and paying your bills—lost in the election.
As we import another 100 million third world people into this country within three decades, we will discover why they flee their own failed countries and come here to “get free stuff.”
Four hundred thousand pregnant illegal migrant women come here every year to deliver their “anchor babies” or what could be called “free stuff getters” : to get free food, housing, medical and other stuff.
Over 1.2 million legal immigrants without any skills come here annually: to get free food, housing, medical and stuff.
At some point, our financial systems collapse and no one gets free stuff. At some point, our communities suffer free fall from so many expecting free stuff. At some point, no one will get free stuff. It’s called a failed civilization.
Pity we voted for so much free stuff.
The mainstream media covered the inauguration of Barack Obama with breathless anticipation on Monday, but should we really be celebrating another four years of Obama? The truth is that the first four years of Obama were an absolute train wreck for the U.S. economy. Over the past four years, the percentage of working age Americans with a job has fallen, median household income has declined by more than $4000, poverty in the U.S. has absolutely exploded and our national debt has ballooned to ridiculous proportions. Of course all of the blame for the nightmarish performance of the economy should not go to Obama alone. Certainly much of what we are experiencing today is the direct result of decades of very foolish decisions by Congress and previous presidential administrations. And of course the Federal Reserve has more influence over the economy than anyone else does. But Barack Obama steadfastly refuses to criticize anything that the Federal Reserve has done and he even nominated Ben Bernanke for another term as Fed Chairman despite his horrific track record of failure, so at a minimum Barack Obama must be considered to be complicit in the Fed’s very foolish policies. Despite what the Obama administration tells us, the U.S. economy has been in decline for a very long time, and that decline has accelerated in many ways over the past four years. Just consider the statistics that I have compiled below. The following are 37 statistics which show how four years of Obama have wrecked the U.S. economy…
1. During Obama’s first term, the number of Americans on food stamps increased by an average of about 11,000 per day.
3. According to one calculation, the number of Americans on food stamps now exceeds the combined populations of “Alaska, Arkansas, Connecticut, Delaware, District of Columbia, Hawaii, Idaho, Iowa, Kansas, Maine, Mississippi, Montana, Nebraska, Nevada, New Hampshire, New Mexico, North Dakota, Oklahoma, Oregon, Rhode Island, South Dakota, Utah, Vermont, West Virginia, and Wyoming.”
4. The number of Americans receiving money directly from the federal government each month has grown from 94 million in the year 2000 tomore than 128 million today.
5. According to the U.S. Census Bureau, more than 146 million Americans are either “poor” or “low income” at this point.
6. The unemployment rate in the United States is exactly where it was (7.8 percent) when Barack Obama first entered the White House in January 2009.
8. During the first four years of Obama, the number of Americans “not in the labor force” soared by an astounding 8,332,000. That far exceeds any previous four year total.
9. During Obama’s first term, the number of Americans collecting federal disability insurance rose by more than 18 percent.
10. The Obama years have been absolutely devastating for small businesses in America. According to economist Tim Kane, the following is how the number of startup jobs per 1000 Americans breaks down by presidential administration…
Bush Sr.: 11.3
Bush Jr.: 10.8
11. Median household income in America has fallen for four consecutive years. Overall, it has declined by over $4000 during that time span.
12. The economy is not producing nearly enough jobs for the hordes of young people now entering the workforce. Approximately 53 percentof all U.S. college graduates under the age of 25 were either unemployed or underemployed in 2011.
13. According to a report from the National Employment Law Project, 58 percent of the jobs that have been created since the end of the recession have been low paying jobs.
14. Back in 2007, about 28 percent of all working families were considered to be among “the working poor”. Today, that number is up to 32 percent even though our politicians tell us that the economy is supposedly recovering.
15. According to the Center for Economic and Policy Research, only 24.6 percent of all of the jobs in the United States are “good jobs” at this point.
16. According to the U.S. Census Bureau, the middle class is taking home a smaller share of the overall income pie than has ever been recorded before.
17. According to the Economic Policy Institute, the United States is losinghalf a million jobs to China every single year.
18. The United States has fallen in the global economic competitiveness rankings compiled by the World Economic Forum for four years in a row.
19. According to the World Bank, U.S. GDP accounted for 31.8 percentof all global economic activity in 2001. That number declined steadily over the course of the next decade and was only at 21.6 percent in 2011.
20. The United States actually has plenty of oil and we should not have to import oil from the Middle East. We need to drill for more oil, but Obama has been very hesitant to do that. Under Bill Clinton, the number of drilling permits approved rose by 58 percent. Under George W. Bush, the number of drilling permits approved rose by 116 percent. Under Barack Obama, the number of drilling permits approved actuallydecreased by 36 percent.
21. When Barack Obama took office, the average price of a gallon of gasoline was $1.84. Today, the average price of a gallon of gasoline is$3.26.
22. Under Barack Obama, the United States has lost more than 300,000 education jobs.
24. Families that have a head of household under the age of 30 now have a poverty rate of 37 percent.
25. More than three times as many new homes were sold in the United States in 2005 as were sold in 2012.
26. Electricity bills in the United States have risen faster than the overall rate of inflation for five years in a row.
27. Health insurance costs have risen by 29 percent since Barack Obama became president.
28. Today, 77 percent of all Americans live paycheck to paycheck at least part of the time.
29. It is being projected that Obamacare will add 16 million more Americans to the Medicaid rolls.
30. The total amount of money that the federal government gives directly to the American people has grown by 32 percent since Barack Obama became president.
31. The Obama administration has been spending money on some of the most insane things imaginable. For example, in 2011 the Obama administration spent $592,527 on a study that sought to figure out once and for all why chimpanzees throw poop.
32. U.S. taxpayers spend more than 20 times as much on the Obamas as British taxpayers spend on the royal family.
33. The U.S. government has run a budget deficit of well over a trillion dollars every single year under Barack Obama.
35. During Obama’s first term, the federal government accumulated more debt than it did under the first 42 U.S presidents combined.
36. As I wrote about yesterday, when you break it down the amount of new debt accumulated by the U.S. government during Obama’s first term comes to approximately $50,521 for every single household in the United States. Are you ready to contribute your share?
37. If you started paying off just the new debt that the U.S. has accumulated during the Obama administration at the rate of one dollar per second, it would take more than 184,000 years to pay it off.
But despite all of these numbers, the mainstream media and the left just continue to shower Barack Obama with worship and praise. Newsweek recently heralded Obama’s second term as “The Second Coming“, and at Obama’s pre-inauguration church service Reverand Ronald Braxton openly compared Obama to Moses…
At Metropolitan African Methodist Episcopal Church, Braxton reportedly crafted his speech around Obama’s personal political slogan: “Forward!”
Obama, said Braxton, was just like Moses facing the Red Sea: “forward is the only option … The people couldn’t turn around. The only thing that they could do was to go forward.” Obama, said Braxton, would have to overcome all obstacles – like opposition from Republicans, presumably, or the bounds of the Constitution. Braxton continued, “Mr. President, stand on the rock,” citing to Moses standing on Mount Horeb as his people camped outside the land of Israel.
But it wasn’t enough to compare Obama with the founder of Judaism and the prophet of the Bible. Braxton added that Obama’s opponents were like the Biblical enemies of Moses, and that Obama would have to enter the battle because “sometimes enemies insist on doing it the hard way.”
So what do you think the next four years of Obama will bring?
Source: The Economic Collapse
Apparently, it’s a no-brainer. Mali holds 15.8 million people – with a per capita gross domestic product of only around US$1,000 a year and average life expectancy of only 51 years – in a territory twice the size of France (per capital GDP $35,000 and upwards). Now almost two-thirds of this territory is occupied by heavily weaponized Islamist outfits. What next? Bomb, baby, bomb.
So welcome to the latest African war; Chad-based French Mirages and Gazelle helicopters, plus a smatter of France-based
Rafales bombing evil Islamist jihadis in northern Mali. Business is good; French president Francois Hollande spent this past Tuesday in Abu Dhabi clinching the sale of up to 60 Rafales to that Gulf paragon of democracy, the United Arab Emirates (UAE).
The formerly wimpy Hollande – now enjoying his “resolute”, “determined”, tough guy image reconversion – has cleverly sold all this as incinerating Islamists in the savannah before they take a one-way Bamako-Paris flight to bomb the Eiffel Tower.
French Special Forces have been on the ground in Mali since early 2012.
The Tuareg-led NMLA (National Movement for the Liberation of Azawad), via one of its leaders, now says it’s “ready to help” the former colonial power, billing itself as more knowledgeable about the culture and the terrain than future intervening forces from the CEDEAO (the acronym in French for the Economic Community of Western African States).
Salafi-jihadis in Mali have got a huge problem: they chose the wrong battlefield. If this was Syria, they would have been showered by now with weapons, logistical bases, a London-based “observatory”, hours of YouTube videos and all-out diplomatic support by the usual suspects of US, Britain, Turkey, the Gulf petromonarchies and – oui, monsieur – France itself.
Instead, they were slammed by the UN Security Council – faster than a collection of Marvel heroes – duly authorizing a war against them. Their West African neighbors – part of the ECOWAS regional bloc – were given a deadline (late November) to come up with a war plan. This being Africa, nothing happened – and the Islamists kept advancing until a week ago Paris decided to apply some Hollandaise sauce.
Not even a football stadium filled with the best West African shamans can conjure a bunch of disparate – and impoverished – countries to organize an intervening army in short notice, even if the adventure will be fully paid by the West just like the Uganda-led army fighting al-Shabaab in Somalia.
To top it all, this is no cakewalk. The Salafi-jihadis are flush, courtesy of booming cocaine smuggling from South America to Europe via Mali, plus human trafficking. According to the UN Office of Drugs Control, 60% of Europe’s cocaine transits Mali. At Paris street prices, that is worth over $11 billion.
General Carter Ham, the commander of the Pentagon’s AFRICOM, has been warning about a major crisis for months. Talk about a self-fulfilling prophecy. But what’s really going on in what the New York Times quaintly describes as those “vast and turbulent stretches of the Sahara”?
It all started with a military coup in March 2012, only one month before Mali would hold a presidential election, ousting then president Amadou Toumani Toure. The coup plotters justified it as a response to the government’s incompetence in fighting the Tuareg.
The coup leader was one Captain Amadou Haya Sanogo, who happened to have been very cozy with the Pentagon; that included his four-month infantry officer basic training course in Fort Benning, Georgia, in 2010. Essentially, Sanogo was also groomed by AFRICOM, under a regional scheme mixing the State Department’s Trans Sahara Counter Terrorism Partnership program and the Pentagon’s Operation Enduring Freedom. It goes without saying that in all this “freedom” business Mali has been the proverbial “steady ally” – as in counterterrorism partner – fighting (at least in thesis) al-Qaeda in the Islamic Maghreb (AQIM).
Over the last few years, Washington’s game has elevated flip-flopping to high art. During the second George W Bush administration, Special Forces were very active side by side with the Tuaregs and the Algerians. During the first Obama administration, they started backing the Mali government against the Tuareg.
An unsuspecting public may pore over Rupert Murdoch’s papers – for instance, The Times of London – and its so-called defense correspondent will be pontificating at will on Mali without ever talking about blowback from the Libya war.
Muammar Gaddafi always supported the Tuaregs’ independence drive; since the 1960s the NMLA agenda has been to liberate Azawad (North Mali) from the central government in Bamako.
After the March 2012 coup, the NMLA seemed to be on top. They planted their own flag on quite a few government buildings, and on April 5 announced the creation of a new, independent Tuareg country. The “international community” spurned them, only for a few months later to have the NMLA for all practical purposes marginalized, even in their own region, by three other – Islamist – groups; Ansar ed-Dine (“Defenders of the Faith”); the Movement for Unity and Jihad in West Africa (MUJAO); and al-Qaeda in the Islamic Maghreb (AQIM).
Meet the players
The NMLA is a secular Tuareg movement, created in October 2011. It claims that the liberation of Azawad will allow better integration – and development – for all the peoples in the region. Its hardcore fighters are Tuaregs who were former members of Gaddafi’s army. But there are also rebels who had not laid down their arms after the 2007-2008 Tuareg rebellion, and some that defected from the Malian army. Those who came back to Mali after Gaddafi was executed by the NATO rebels in Libya carried plenty of weapons. Yet most heavy weapons actually ended up with the NATO rebels themselves, the Islamists supported by the West.
AQIM is the Northern African branch of al-Qaeda, pledging allegiance to “The Doctor”, Ayman al-Zawahiri. Its two crucial characters are Abu Zaid and Mokhtar Belmokhtar, former members of the ultra-hardcore Algerian Islamist outfit Salafist Group for Predication and Combat (SGPC). Belmokhtar was already a jihadi in 1980s Afghanistan.
Abu Zaid poses as a sort of North African “Geronimo”, aka Osama bin Laden, with the requisite black flag and a strategically positioned Kalashnikov featuring prominently in his videos. The historical leader, though, is Belmokhtar. The problem is that Belmokhtar, known by French intelligence as “The Uncatchable”, has recently joined MUJAO.
MUJAO fighters are all former AQIM. In June 2012, MUJAO expelled the NMLA and took over the city of Gao, when it immediately applied the worst aspects of Sharia law. It’s the MUJAO base that has been bombed by the French Rafales this week. One of its spokesmen has duly threatened, “in the name of Allah”, to respond by attacking “the heart of France”.
Finally, Ansar ed-Dine is an Islamist Tuareg outfit, set up last year and directed by Iyad ag Ghali, a former leader of the NMLA who exiled himself in Libya. He turned to Salafism because of – inevitably – Pakistani proselytizers let loose in Northern Africa, then engaged in valuable face time with plenty of AQIM emirs. It’s interesting to note in 2007 Mali President Toure appointed Ghali as consul in Jeddah, in Saudi Arabia. He was then duly expelled in 2010 because he got too close to radical Islamists.
Gimme ‘a little more terrorism’
No one in the West is asking why the Pentagon-friendly Sanogo’s military coup in the capital ended up with almost two-thirds of Mali in the hands of Islamists who imposed hardcore Sharia law in Azawad – especially in Gao, Timbuktu and Kidal, a gruesome catalogue of summary executions, amputations, stonings and the destruction of holy shrines in Timbuktu. How come the latest Tuareg rebellion ended up hijacked by a few hundred hardcore Islamists? It’s useless to ask the question to US drones.
The official “leading from behind” Obama 2.0 administration rhetoric is, in a sense, futuristic; the French bombing “could rally jihadis” around the world and lead to – what else – attacks on the West. Once again the good ol’ Global War on Terror (GWOT) remains the serpent biting its own tail.
There’s no way to understand Mali without examining what Algeria has been up to. The Algerian newspaper El Khabar only scratched the surface, noting that “from categorically refusing an intervention – saying to the people in the region it would be dangerous”, Algiers went to “open Algerian skies to the French Mirages”.
Secretary of State Hillary Clinton was in Algeria last October, trying to organize some semblance of an intervening West African army. Hollande was there in December. Oh yes, this gets juicier by the month.
So let’s turn to Professor Jeremy Keenan, from the School of Oriental and African Studies (SOAS) at London University, and author of The Dark Sahara (Pluto Press, 2009) and the upcomingThe Dying Sahara (Pluto Press, 2013).
Writing in the January edition of New African, Keenan stresses, “Libya was the catalyst of the Azawad rebellion, not its underlying cause. Rather, the catastrophe now being played out in Mali is the inevitable outcome of the way in which the ‘Global War on Terror’ has been inserted into the Sahara-Sahel by the US, in concert with Algerian intelligence operatives, since 2002.”
In a nutshell, Bush and the regime in Algiers both needed, as Keenan points out, “a little more terrorism” in the region. Algiers wanted it as the means to get more high-tech weapons. And Bush – or the neo-cons behind him – wanted it to launch the Saharan front of the GWOT, as in the militarization of Africa as the top strategy to control more energy resources, especially oil, thus wining the competition against massive Chinese investment. This is the underlying logic that led to the creation of AFRICOM in 2008.
Algerian intelligence, Washington and the Europeans duly used AQIM, infiltrating its leadership to extract that “little more terrorism”. Meanwhile, Algerian intelligence effectively configured the Tuaregs as “terrorists”; the perfect pretext for Bush’s Trans-Saharan Counter-Terrorism Initiative, as well as the Pentagon’s Operation Flintlock – a trans-Sahara military exercise.
The Tuaregs always scared the hell out of Algerians, who could not even imagine the success of a Tuareg nationalist movement in northern Mali. After all, Algeria always viewed the whole region as its own backyard.
The Tuaregs – the indigenous population of the central Sahara and the Sahel – number up to 3 million. Over 800,000 live in Mali, followed by Niger, with smaller concentrations in Algeria, Burkina Faso and Libya. There have been no less than five Tuareg rebellions in Mali since independence in 1960, plus three others in Niger, and a lot of turbulence in Algeria.
Keenan’s analysis is absolutely correct in identifying what happened all along 2012 as the Algerians meticulously destroying the credibility and the political drive of the NMLA. Follow the money: both Ansar ed-Dine’s Iyad ag Ghaly and MUJAO’s Sultan Ould Badi are very cozy with the DRS, the Algerian intelligence agency. Both groups in the beginning had only a few members.
Then came a tsunami of AQIM fighters. That’s the only explanation for why the NMLA was, after only a few months, neutralized both politically and militarily in their own backyard.
Round up the usual freedom fighters
Washington’s “leading from behind” position is illustrated by this State Department press conference. Essentially, the government in Bamako asked for the French to get down and dirty.
And that’s it.
Not really. Anyone who thinks “bomb al-Qaeda” is all there is to Mali must be living in Oz. To start with, using hardcore Islamists to suffocate an indigenous independence movement comes straight from the historic CIA/Pentagon playbook.
Moreover, Mali is crucial to AFRICOM and to the Pentagon’s overall MENA (Middle East-Northern Africa) outlook. Months before 9/11 I had the privilege to crisscross Mali on the road – and by the (Niger) river – and hang out, especially in Mopti and Timbuktu, with the awesome Tuaregs, who gave me a crash course in Northwest Africa. I saw Wahhabi and Pakistani preachers all over the place. I saw the Tuaregs progressively squeezed out. I saw an Afghanistan in the making. And it was not very hard to follow the money sipping tea in the Sahara. Mali borders Algeria, Mauritania, Burkina Faso, Senegal, the Ivory Coast and Guinea. The spectacular Inner Niger delta is in central Mali – just south of the Sahara. Mali overflows with gold, uranium, bauxite, iron, manganese, tin and copper. And – Pipelineistan beckons! – there’s plenty of unexplored oil in northern Mali.
As early as February 2008, Vice Admiral Robert T Moeller wassaying that AFRICOM’s mission was to protect “the free flow of natural resources from Africa to the global market”; yes, he did make the crucial connection to China, pronounced guilty of ” challenging US interests”.
AFRICOM’s spy planes have been “observing” Mali, Mauritania and the Sahara for months, in thesis looking for AQIM fighters; the whole thing is overseen by US Special Forces, part of the classified, code-named Creek Sand operation, based in next-door Burkina Faso. Forget about spotting any Americans; these are – what else – contractors who do not wear military uniforms.
Last month, at Brown University, General Carter Ham, AFRICOM’s commander, once more gave a big push to the “mission to advance US security interests across Africa”. Now it’s all about the – updated – US National Security Strategy in Africa, signed by Obama in June 2012. The (conveniently vague) objectives of this strategy are to “strengthen democratic institutions”; encourage “economic growth, trade and investment”; “advance peace and security”; and “promote opportunity and development.”
In practice, it’s Western militarization (with Washington “leading from behind”) versus the ongoing Chinese seduction/investment drive in Africa. In Mali, the ideal Washington scenario would be a Sudan remix; just like the recent partition of North and South Sudan, which created an extra logistical headache for Beijing, why not a partition of Mali to better exploit its natural wealth? By the way, Mali was known as Western Sudan until independence in 1960.
Already in early December a “multinational” war in Mali was on the Pentagon cards.
The beauty of it is that even with a Western-financed, Pentagon-supported, “multinational” proxy army about to get into the action, it’s the French who are pouring the lethal Hollandaise sauce (nothing like an ex-colony “in trouble” to whet the appetite of its former masters). The Pentagon can always keep using its discreet P-3 spy planes and Global Hawk drones based in Europe, and later on transport West African troops and give them aerial cover. But all secret, and very hush hush.
Mr Quagmire has already reared its ugly head in record time, even before the 1,400 (and counting) French boots on the ground went into offense.
A MUJAO commando team (and not AQIM, as it’s been reported), led by who else but the “uncatchable” Belmokhtar, hit a gas field in the middle of the Algerian Sahara desert, over 1,000 km south of Algiers but only 100 km from the Libyan border, where they captured a bunch of Western (and some Japanese) hostages; a rescue operation launched on Wednesday by Algerian Special Forces was, to put it mildly, a giant mess, with at least seven foreign hostages and 23 Algerians so far confirmed killed.
The gas field is being exploited by BP, Statoil and Sonatrach. MUJAO has denounced – what else – the new French “crusade” and the fact that French fighter jets now own Algerian airspace.
As blowback goes, this is just the hors d’oeuvres. And it won’t be confined to Mali. It will convulse Algeria and soon Niger, the source of over a third of the uranium in French nuclear power plants, and the whole Sahara-Sahel.
So this new, brewing mega-Afghanistan in Africa will be good for French neoloconial interests (even though Hollande insists this is all about “peace”); good for AFRICOM; a boost for those Jihadis Formerly Known as NATO Rebels; and certainly good for the never-ending Global War on Terror (GWOT), duly renamed “kinetic military operations”.
Django, unchained, would be totally at home. As for the Oscar for Best Song, it goes to the Bush-Obama continuum: There’s no business like terror business. With French subtitles, bien sur.
Pepe Escobar is the author of Globalistan: How the Globalized World is Dissolving into Liquid War (Nimble Books, 2007) and Red Zone Blues: a snapshot of Baghdad during the surge. His most recent book is Obama does Globalistan (Nimble Books, 2009). He may be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org
Source: Asia Times Online
Turkish Foreign Minister Ahmet Davutoglu, he of the former “zero problems with our neighbors” policy, commented that Assad only reads the reports of his secret services. C’mon, Ahmet; Bashar may be no Stephen Hawking, but he’s certainly getting his black holes right.
Assad, moreover, has a plan: a national dialogue leading to a national charter – to be submitted to a referendum – and then an enlarged government and a general amnesty. The problem is who is going to share all this bottled happiness because Assad totally dismisses the new Syria opposition coalition as well as the Free Syrian Army (FSA), describing them as foreign-recruited gangs taking orders from foreign powers to implement one supreme agenda: the partition of Syria.
Still, Assad’s got a plan. First stage: all foreign powers financing the “terrorists” – as in the North Atlantic Treaty Organization-Gulf Cooperation Council compound – must stop doing so. That’s already a major no-no. Only in a second stage would the Syrian Army cease all its operations, but still reserve the right to respond to any – inevitable – “provocation”.
Assad’s plan does not mention what happens to Assad himself. The only thing the multiple strands of the opposition agree on is that “the dictator must go” before any negotiations take place. Yet he wants to be a candidate to his own succession in 2014.
As if this was not a humongous “detail” torpedoing the whole construct of current UN mediator Lakhdar Brahimi, there’s still the crucial nagging point of Brahimi insisting on including the Muslim Brotherhood (MB) in a Syrian transitional government. Brahimi should know better. It’s as if the UN was praying for a Hail Mary pass – that is, Assad’s voluntary abdication.
This ain’t Tora Bora
If you want to know what’s really going in Syria, look no further than Hezbollah secretary-general Sheikh Nasrallah. He does tell it like it is.
Then there’s what Ammar al-Musawi, Hezbollah’s number 3 – as in their de facto foreign minister – told my Italian colleaguem Ugo Tramballi. The most probable post-Assad scenario, if there is one, will be “not a unitary state, but a series of emirates near the Turkish border, and somebody proclaiming an Islamic state”. Hezbollah’s intelligence – the best available on Syria – is adamant: “one third of the combatants in the opposition are religious extremists, and two-thirds of the weapons are under their control.” The bottom line – this is a Western proxy war, with the Gulf Cooperation Council (GCC) acting as a “vanguard” for the North Atlantic Treaty Organization.
Asia Times Online readers have already known this for eons, as much as they know about the tectonic-plates-on-the-move fallacy of GCC autocracies promoting “democracy” in Syria. While the geologically blessed House of Saud has bribed every grain of sand in sight to be immunized against any whiff of Arab Spring, at least in Kuwait the winds of change are forcing the Al-Sabah family to accept a prime minister who is not an emir’s puppet. Yes, petromonarchs; sooner or later you’re all going down.
As for those who ignore Musawi, they do it at their own peril; blowback is and will remain inevitable, “like in Afghanistan”. Musawi adds, “Syria is not Tora Bora; it’s on the Mediterranean coast, close to Europe”. Syria in the 2010s is the 1980s Afghan remix – with exponential inbuilt blowback.
And for those who blindly follow the blind in repeating that Hezbollah is a “terrorist” organization, Hezbollah is closely cooperating with the UN – on the ground with over 10,000 blue helmets, under the command of Italian General Paolo Serra – to keep southern Lebanon free from Syrian civil war contamination.
The dictator has fallen – again
Not surprisingly, that motley crew branded as the “Syrian opposition” rejected Assad en bloc. For the Muslim Brotherhood – the self-styled power in waiting – he is a “war criminal” who should go on trial. For Georges Sabra, the vice-president of that American-Qatari concoction, the National Coalition, Assad’s words were a “declaration of war against the Syrian people”.
Predictably, the US State Department – not yet under John Kerry – said Assad was “detached from reality”. London said it was all hypocrisy and immediately launched yet another “secret” two-day conference this week at Wilton Park in West Sussex mingling coalition members with the usual gaggle of “experts”, academics, GCC officials and “multilateral agencies”. The spectacularly pathetic UK Foreign Secretary William Hague twitted – for the umpteenth time – that “Assad’s departure from power is inevitable”.
Facts on the ground though spell that Assad is not going anywhere anytime soon.
As for British claims that “the international community can provide support to a future transitional authority”, that doesn’t cut much slack among war-weary informed Syrians – who know this civil war has been funded, supplied and amply coordinated by the West, as in the NATO component of the NATOGCC compound.
They smell a – Western – rat in the obsessive characterization of everything in Syria as a sectarian war, as they see how loads of influent Sunnis have remained loyal to the government.
They smell a – Western – rat when they look back and see this whole thing started just as the US$10 billion Iran-Iraq-Syria gas pipeline (crucially bypassing NATO member Turkey) had a chance to be implemented. This would represent a major economic boost to an independent Syria, an absolute no-no as far as Western interests are concerned.
The Obama 2.0 administration – and Israel – would be more than comfortable with the MB in power in Syria, following the Egyptianmodus operandi. The Brotherhood promotes the idea of a “civil state”; one just has to check the few “liberated areas” across Syria to detect rebel civility inbuilt in hardcore Sharia law and assorted beheadings.
Yet what the NATOGCC compound and Israel really want is a Yemeni model for Syria; a military dictatorship without the dictator. What they’re getting instead, for the foreseeable future, is Jihadi Paradise.
Off with their heads
Almost a year ago, al-Qaeda number one Ayman al-Zawahiri called on every Sunni hardcore faithful from Iraq and Jordan to Lebanon, Turkey and beyond to take a trip to Syria and merrily crush Assad.
So they’ve kept coming, including – just like in Afghanistan – Chechens and Uyghurs and Southeast Asians, joining everything from the FSA to Jabhat al-Nusra, the number one killing militia, now with over 5,000 jihadis.
A report published this week by the London-based counterterrorism outfit Quilliam Foundation confirms Al-Nusra’s role. The lead author of the report, Noman Benotman, happens to be a former Libyan jihadi very cosy with al-Zawahiri and the late “Geronimo”, aka Osama bin Laden.
Al-Nusra is in fact the Syrian branch of al-Qaeda in Iraq (AQI), the terrorist brand of late Abu Musab al-Zarqawi, also known as Islamic State of Iraq after Zarqawi was incinerated by a US missile in 2006. Even the State Department knows that AQI emir Abu Du’a runs both AQI and al-Nusra, whose own emir is Abu Muhammad al-Jawlani.
It’s AQI that facilitates the back-and-forth of Iraqi commanders – with plenty of fighting experience on the ground against the Americans – to sensitive areas in Syria, while the Syrians, Iraqis and Jordanians at al-Nusra also work the phones to extract funding from Gulf sources. Al-Nusra wants – what else – an Islamic State not only in Syria but all over the Levant. Favorite tactic: car and truck suicide bombings as well as remote-controlled car bombs. For the moment, they keep a tense collaboration/competition regime with the FSA.
What happens next? The new Syrian National Coalition is a joke. Those GCC bastions of democracy are now totally spooked by the jihadi tsunami. Russia drew the red line and NATO won’t dare to bomb; Russians and Americans are now discussing details. And sooner or later Ankara will see the writing on the wall – and revert to a policy of at least minimizing trouble with the neighbors.
Assad saw The Big Picture – clearly, thus his “confident” speech. It’s now Assad against the jihadis. Unless, or until, the new CIA under Terminator John Brennan drones itself into the (shadow war) picture with a vengeance.
Pepe Escobar is the author of Globalistan: How the Globalized World is Dissolving into Liquid War (Nimble Books, 2007) and Red Zone Blues: a snapshot of Baghdad during the surge. His most recent book is Obama does Globalistan (Nimble Books, 2009). He may be reached at email@example.com
Source: Asia Times Online
My friend RJ at http://www.topplebush.com/ just sent me a very interesting riddle: “Why are right-wingers always talking about cutting down on government spending and’red tape’ yet never ever try to cut down on military spending? Aren’t the armed forces part of the government too?” Ya got me stumped there.
Here’s another riddle I can’t seem to solve: How come us salt-of-the-earth American types who protest against all the banksters’ outrageous crimes get thrown in jail, while the criminals themselves are given ”get out of jail free” cards like it was Christmas? Except, of course, for Martha Stewart.
More riddles: “Why is it okay for Al Qaeda to be the good guys in Syria and Libya — but are the bad guys in Lower Manhattan?” I’m all confused.
Why is it okay to tax middle-income Americans for an arm and a leg but not okay to tax rich people? “I wonder.” https://www.youtube.com/watch?
How come everybody bitches and moans about the obesity epidemic and the cancer epidemic and the heart attack epidemic and the autism epidemic and the bi-polar epidemic but still live on junk food, never exercise and watch too much TV? And still have enough balls left to complain about single-payer healthcare? Can someone please explain this? http://www.indiegogo.com/
How come American taxpayers get to pay for the costs of demolishing Christian and Muslim homes in East Jerusalem yet can’t get any tax relief when our own homes are being demolished in Detroit and Cincinnati?
How come statistics (and election results and Fox News) show that Americans are definitely being dumbed down these days, but no one wants to spend any money on improving American kindergartens — let alone on upgrading our colleges. What ever happened to Sputnik?
Why do people fear climate change so much but still happily drive their gas-hogs around like there’s no tomorrow?
How come I can’t resist playing free-cell solitaire by the hour when I should be out doing the laundry and saving the world?
How can anybody in their right mind vote for any candidate that spends millions of dollars on getting elected? You would think that if a politician had that kind of money he (or she) might want to just retire to the Bahamas. Or give it to us.
“Why does America need to own approximately 800 military bases throughout the ’Free World’?” Hell, if the freaking world is all that free, surely it doesn’t need all those American soldiers to keep it in line? And why does all this so-called freedom always end up costing us taxpayers trillions of dollars as well?
And how come most of “our” jobs are now located in places like China, Haiti and Burma? Isn’t that a really long commute?
And please explain the riddle of how all the top American industrial jobs here at home are now mostly being performed by prison labor? While the 1% sucks down Oxycontin and Prozac legally and the rest of us all get busted for using medical marijuana — just to make sure they have a large enough prison labor supply in jails?
And why are American labor unions that help the working class being given such a bum rap, but when Wall Street and War Street form unions that destroy the fabric of America’s economy, it’s called “Capitalism” and “Showing Initiative” – not welfare for the rich?
And why are the RepubliDems always saying that the fiscal cliff is a bad thing? If it is spozed to be such a terrible disaster, then why in the freak did they create it in the first place?
And why does 2013 still feel so much like 2012?
Even before the historic 139 to 8 vote of the UN General Assembly on November 29 of this year which opened up a plethora of legal remedies for Palestinians, a “legal intifada” — to borrow a phrase from Francis Boyle, Professor of International Law and a longtime advocate of advancing resistance to the illegal occupation of Palestine through the rule of law — has been taking form in this region.
The reasons include nearly seven decades of countless Zionist crimes against Muslims and Christians in occupied Palestine and far beyond. As Professor Boyle has suggested, the opportunities presented to the PLO by the lopsided UN vote “…can mean numerous available legal remedies ranging from the securing of a fair share of the gas deposits off the shores of Gaza, control of Palestinian airspace and telecommunications and, crucially, bringing the Zionist regime to account at the International Criminal Court and the International Court of Justice.
Syria too, currently under enormous pressure from international interference into the internal affairs of the country and the subject of an intense regime change project led by the US and France, has international legal remedies immediately available to it stemming from the actions of the US, UK, France and others in imposing on Syria’s civilian population one of the most severe and clearly illegal layers of sanctions. Were Syria and others to file an Application for an Advisory Opinion with the ICJ few in the international legal community have much doubt that targeting civilians economically and attempting to destroy the Syrian economy — for no other purpose than to ignite rebellion — would be considered a violation of international law at the International Court of Justice.
Granted there are some potential jurisdictional problems given that Syria has not yet accepted the Article 36 Compulsory Jurisdiction of the World Court, as provided in the Statute of the Court, and the strong campaign at the UN that would certainly be waged by the Obama Administration to challenge ICJ jurisdiction to hear a case on behalf of Syria and its civilian population, but they can be overcome. As a general rule, an Advisory Opinion requires a simple majority affirmative vote by the UN General Assembly or an Application by one of the designated UN Specialized Agencies. This might be a tough job to secure the former but it is doable with the latter. Moreover, should Syria accept the compulsory jurisdiction of the ICJ it could likely quickly resolve the issue of sanctions by claiming a legal dispute with one or more states that also accept CJ and are supporters of sanctions. For example, the UK, France and their NATO and Gulf allies.
Aspects of a possible filing at the International Court of Justice on the legality of US-led sanctions are currently being researched by seasoned international lawyers and academics, at various Western and International law centers. Supporting efforts being worked on include drafting amicus curie briefs on the issue of the legality of the US-led sanctions to be submitted to the Court, plans for securing the widest possible political support for challenging the US-led sanctions from among Non-Aligned Movement countries, international peace groups, NGO’s, pro-peace websites, bloggers, social media and online activists as well as organizing a skilled media center to disseminate information about the case including quickly publishing, in paperback book form, one of the key Annexes to be submitted to the ICJ upon filing the Application. This volume will present Syrian government and International NGO prepared data on the inhumane effects of the US led sanctions in all their aspects, including by not limited to children, the elderly and the infirm, plus the effects of the US-led sanctions on the Syrian economy generally, i.e. consumer goods, medical delivery systems, financial institutions, currency values and related aspects of the lives of the civilian population of Syria.
Were Syria, and others, to take the illegal and immoral US-led sanctions case to the World Court and other available venues, they would shift their diplomatic position from a defensive status to taking the offense. Such a bold initiative would advance accountability under international law and, because the ICJ would likely grant a Petition for Interim Measures of Protection, the US-led sanctions could be suspended during the course of the judicial proceedings. Obviously this lifting/freezing of the sanctions would immediately and directly inure to the benefit of the Syrian civilian population, including the half million Palestinian refugees in Syria as well as thousands from Iraq.
This would work in concert with the “THREE B’s”, to borrow a phrase from Russia’s top middle east envoy, Deputy Foreign Minister Mikhail Boganov, referring to Mr. Brahimi, Mr. Bogdanov, and Undersecretary William Burns, a former ambassador to Moscow, who would be urged to intensify their focus on achieving a diplomatic resolution of the Syrian crisis based on modified June 2011 Geneva formulation of a transition period leading to the 2014 elections.
According to several International lawyers surveyed between October andDecember, 2012, Syria clearly has the facts of the US sanctions case in its favor and there are ample solid legal theories to argue to and convince the World Court. Under the ICJ Statute, the Court must decide cases solely in accordance with international law. Hence the ICJ must apply: (1) any international conventions and treaties; (2) international custom; (3) general principles recognized as law by civilized nations; and (4) judicial decisions and the teachings of highly qualified publicists of the various nations. From this body of international law the International Court of Justice would find ample basis to support Syria’s claims not only for the benefit of its civilian population but also to advance the rule of law in the global community.
The ICJ is made up of 15 jurists from different countries. No two judges at any given time may be from the same country. The court’s composition is static but generally includes jurists from a variety of cultures. Among the Principles, Standards and Rules of international law that Syria may well argue to the World Court, may include but not be limited to, the following:
The US led sanctions violate international humanitarian law due to the negative health effects of the sanctions on the civilian population of Syria. This renders the sanctions illegal under international customary law and the UN Charter for their disproportionate damage caused to Syria’s civilian population;
The US led severe sanctions regime constitutes an illegitimate form of collective punishment of the weakest and poorest members of society, the infants, the children, the chronically ill, and the elderly;
The US, France and the UK, as well as their allies, have violated the UN Charter by their imposition of severe economic sanctions and threats of military force. The United States, Israel, and some of their allies, regularly threaten Damascus with the “option” of a military strike. The ICJ has ruled previously that “A threat or use of force is contrary to Article 2, paragraph 4, of the UN Charter and fails to meet all the requirements of Article 51, is therefore unlawful”. It has further ruled that “A threat of use of force must be compatible with the requirements of the international law applicable in armed conflict, particularly those of the principles and rules of humanitarian law, as well as with specific obligations under treaties and other undertakings which expressly deal with threats to members of the United Nations.”
Moreover, unilateral US sanctions, without the imprimatur of the United Nations are blatantly illegal under International Law because they are in fact multilateral and impose penalties on any country which opposes the sanctions or does not choose to participate in them;
The US led sanctions amount to an Act of War given their effects including hardships on the general public and that Syria therefore has a legal right to Self-Defense.
The US led sanctions, given their design and intent, constitute acts of aggression against Syria in violation of Article 2 (4) of the UN charter.
The indisputable facts of the US led sanctions case warrant the imposition by the ICJ of Restraining Orders designed to prevent any type of blockade or no-fly zones in Syria and the immediate cessation of the imposition of further economic sanctions against Syria, and also their efforts of securing more sanctions against Syria at the United Nations Security Council. The Restraining Orders, under the umbrella of Interim Measures of Protection, would presumably also seek to prohibit the US and its allies from the Persian Gulf region and elsewhere, from advocating aggressive military actions against Syria, including supplying funding, weapons, and jihadists, as well as Western “Special Forces” currently pouring into Syria from its northern border with Turkey and to negotiate with the Syrian government in good faith to end the current crisis.
Syria can legitimately claim, and would presumably argue at the ICJ and other international forums that the bi-lateral or multilateral economic sanctions, led by the US and its Gulf allies, Qatar and Saudi Arabia, are illegal, indeed criminal due to their assault on international humanitarian law and required state practice.
Syria could successfully argue, according to a recent survey of international lawyers conducted in Brussels and The Hague, as well as within Syria’s Maison d’Avocats, that the US led sanctions violate the international law principle of Non-intervention in the internal affairs of UN member states and that the stewards of these sanctions could themselves be subject to international sanctions plus compensatory and punitive damages for the benefit of their victims.
In summary, as Germany’s Green Party, and increasingly, legal scholars and human rights organizations generally are insisting, sanctions against Syria’s civilian population fundamentally violate international law.
Should NATO sets up a no-fly zone and were to launch airstrikes against Damascus, it can and should immediately be sued at The Hague and if the situation deteriorates NATO can and should be held to account for targeting Alawites and Christians on the basis of the 1948 UN Convention on the Prevention and Punishment of the Crime of Genocide. All participating countries, 142 to date, are obliged to prevent and punish actions of genocide in war and in peacetime. Article 2 of the Convention defines genocide as any of the following acts committed with intent to destroy, in whole or in part, elements of a national, ethnic, racial, or religious group including killing members of the group, causing serious bodily or mental harm to members of the group, deliberately inflicting on the group conditions of life calculated to bring about its physical destruction in whole or in part.
Despite Syria’s strong case on both the facts and the law, and the diversity in structure and composition of the International Court of Justice, the International Tribunal has a few times over the years been criticized for favoring established powers. Under articles 3 and 9 of the ICJ Statute, the judges on the ICJ should represent “the main forms of civilization and principal legal systems of the world.” This definition suggests that the ICJ does not represent the interests of developing countries. Nevertheless, the World Courts record has been by and large exemplary in applying principles, standards and rules of international law both in contested cases and advisory opinions and Syria has an excellent opportunity to protect its citizens, thwart US and Israeli designs on the region, and advance international accountability — all to the inestimable benefit of all people and nations.
Syria, which the US and Israel and their allies are today working to keep off balance and on the defensive diplomatically, should consider immediately filing an application with the International Court of Justice, and use all other available international legal, political and humanitarian tribunals, to directly challenge and boldly confront the US led sanctions campaign against its people. The Syrian Arab Republic, by taking the offensive at the World Court and elsewhere, will help relieve the enormous pressures on its civilians and advance the principles, standards and rules of international law—for the benefit of all mankind.
What in the world is happening to America? I have written many articles about how society is crumbling right in front of our eyes, but now it is getting to the point where people are going to be afraid to go to school or go shopping at the mall. Just consider what has happened over the past week. Adam Lanza savagely murdered 20 children and 6 adults at Sandy Hook Elementary School in Newtown, Connecticut. 42-year-old Marcus Gurrola threatened to shoot innocent shoppers and fired off more than 50 rounds in the parking lot of Fashion Island Mall in Newport Beach, California. After police apprehended him, he told them that he “was unhappy with life”. Earlier in the week, a crazy man wearing a hockey mask and armed with a semi-automatic rifle opened fire on the second floor of a mall in Happy Valley, Oregon. He killed two people and injured a third. On Saturday morning, a lone gunman walked into a hospital in Alabama and opened fire. He killed one police officer and two hospital employees before being gunned down by another police officer. So have we now reached the point where every school, every mall and every hospital is going to need armed security? How will society function efficiently if everyone is constantly worried about mass murderers?
In response to the horrible tragedy in Connecticut, many in the mainstream media are suggesting that much stricter gun laws are the obvious solution.
After all, if we get rid of all the guns these crazy people won’t be able to commit these kinds of crimes, right?
Unfortunately, that is not how it works. The criminals don’t obey gun control laws. Banning guns will just take them out of the hands of law-abiding American citizens that just want to protect their own families.
Adam Lanza didn’t let the strict gun control laws up in Connecticut stop him from what he wanted to do. Connecticut already has some of the strictest gun laws in the nation, and Adam Lanza broke at least three of them.
However, if there had been some armed security officers or some armed teachers at that school, they may have had a chance to protect those dear little children from being brutally gunned down.
If gun control was really the solution to our problems, then cities that have implemented strict gun control laws should be some of the safest in the entire country.
But sadly, just the opposite is true.
For example, Chicago has very strict gun laws. But 10 people were shot in the city of Chicago on Friday alone. Chicago is now considered to be “the deadliest global city“, and the murder rate in Chicago is about 25 percenthigher than it was last year.
So has gun control turned Chicago into a utopia?
Of course not.
And it won’t solve our problems on a national level either.
You can find more statistics about the futility of gun control right here.
Well, how would things be if we did just the opposite and everyone had a gun?
Would gun crime go through the roof?
That is what liberals were warning of when the city of Kennesaw, Georgia passed a law requiring every home to have a gun. But instead of disaster, the results turned out to be very impressive…
In March 1982, 25 years ago, the small town of Kennesaw – responding to a handgun ban in Morton Grove, Ill. – unanimously passed an ordinance requiring each head of household to own and maintain a gun. Since then, despite dire predictions of “Wild West” showdowns and increased violence and accidents, not a single resident has been involved in a fatal shooting – as a victim, attacker or defender.
The crime rate initially plummeted for several years after the passage of the ordinance, with the 2005 per capita crime rate actually significantly lower than it was in 1981, the year before passage of the law.
Prior to enactment of the law, Kennesaw had a population of just 5,242 but a crime rate significantly higher (4,332 per 100,000) than the national average (3,899 per 100,000). The latest statistics available – for the year 2005 – show the rate at 2,027 per 100,000. Meanwhile, the population has skyrocketed to 28,189.
When criminals know that everyone has guns, they are much less likely to try something. And often armed citizens are able to prevent potential mass murderers from doing more damage. You can find several examples of this right here.
But of course most of our politicians are not interested in common sense. Instead, they are obsessed with the idea that gun control will make our country “safe” again.
Senator Diane Feinstein says that she is ready to introduce a strict gun control bill in January that will “ban the sale, the transfer, the importation and the possession” of many types of firearms.
Will such a law keep the criminals from getting guns?
No way. Just look at what is happening with the cartels down in Mexico. The criminals are always able to get guns.
If our “leaders” were really interested in stopping these mass murders, they would take a look at the role that mind-altering pharmaceutical drugs play in these incidents. If you look at the mass murders that have occurred over the past several decades, in the vast majority of them the murderer had been using mind-altering pharmaceutical drugs…
The Institute for Safe Medication Practices (ISMP) has raised concerns about severe acts of violence as side effects of anti-psychotic and antidepressant drugs not only on individuals but on society as well.
Just a month ago PRWeb described drug induced violence as ”medicine’s best kept secret.”
And the Citizens Commission on Human Rights International (CCHRI) is calling for a federal investigation on its web page which links no less than 14 mass killings to the use of psychiatric drugs such as Prozac and Paxil.
And guess what?
According to the Washington Post, one neighbor says that Adam Lanza was “on medication”.
But will our politicians ever consider a law against such drugs?
Of course not. The big corporations that produce those drugs give mountains of money to the campaign funds of our politicians.
So the focus of the debate will remain on guns.
And a lot of liberals would have us believe that our society could be transformed into some type of “utopia” if we could just get rid of all the guns.
Unfortunately, that is simply not true. Our society is in an advanced state of moral decay, and this moral decay is manifesting in our society in thousands of different ways. The corruption runs from the highest levels of society all the way down to the lowest.
For those that believe that gun control would somehow “fix America”, I have some questions for you…
Down in Texas, one set of parents kept their 10-year-old son locked in a bedroom and only fed him bread and water for months. Eventually he died of starvation and they dumped his body in a creek.
Would banning guns have kept that from happening?
A pastor in north Texas was recently assaulted by an enraged man who beat him to death with an electric guitar.
Would banning guns have kept that from happening?
Police up in New Jersey say that a man kept his girlfriend padlocked in a bedroom for most of the last 10 years.
Would banning guns have kept that from happening?
A 31-year-old man up in Canada was found guilty of raping an 8-year-old girl, breaking 16 of her bones and smashing her in the face with a hammer.
Would banning guns have kept that from happening?
According to the FBI, a New York City police officer is being accused of “planning the kidnap, rape, torture and cannibilization of a number of women”.
Would banning guns have kept that from happening?
A Secret Service officer that had been assigned to protect Joe Biden’s residence has been charged with sexually assaulting a 14-year-old girl.
Would banning guns have kept that from happening?
Over in Texas, a very sick 29-year-old man stabbed his girlfriend to death and then burned his one-year-old baby alive because she had gone to court and filed for child support.
Would banning guns have kept that from happening?
Over in Utah, a 21-year-old man is accused of stabbing his grandmother 111 times and then removing her organs with a knife.
Would banning guns have kept that from happening?
There are more than 3 million reports of child abuse in the United States every single year.
Would banning guns keep that from happening?
An average of five children die as a result of child abuse in the United States every single day.
Would banning guns keep that from happening?
The United States has the highest child abuse death rate on the entire globe.
Would banning guns keep that from happening?
It is estimated that 500,000 Americans that will be born this year will be sexually abused before they turn 18.
Would banning guns keep that from happening?
In the United States today, it is estimated that one out of every four girls is sexually abused before they become adults.
Would banning guns keep that from happening?
If there was a way to take all of the guns away from all of the criminals, I would be all in favor of it. Unfortunately, no government on the planet has been able to do that.
Instead, we have seen that criminals thrive whenever gun bans are instituted and the guns are taken away from law-abiding citizens.
But the bottom line is that our social decay will not be solved either by more guns or less guns.
Our social decay is the result of decades of bad decisions. We have pushed morality out of our schools, out of government and out of almost every aspect of public life. Now we are experiencing the bitter fruit of those decisions.
And this is not a problem that our government is going to be able to fix. Violent crime increased by 18 percent in 2011, and this is just the beginning.
As our economy gets even worse, the rot and decay that have been eating away the foundations of America are going to become even more evident. The number of Americans living in poverty grows with each passing day, and millions upon millions of people are becoming very desperate.
Desperate people do desperate things, and crime, rioting and looting are going to become commonplace in the United States in the years ahead.
So you can pretend that the government is going to be able to keep our society from crumbling all you want, but that is not going to help you when a gang of desperate criminals has invaded your home and is attacking your family.
We definitely should mourn for the victims in Connecticut. It was a horrible national tragedy.
But this is just the beginning. The fabric of our society is coming apart at the seams. The feeling of safety and security that we all used to take for granted has been shattered, and the streets of America are going to steadily become much more dangerous.
I hope that you are ready.
Source: The Economic Collapse
Syrian Students Condemn American Led Sanctions currently inflating Food Prices…
“Who does that obnoxious woman think she is?” demanded a staffer who works in the Russian Embassy media office inside the vast windowless soviet style massive high walled compound which belongs to his country, here in Damascus.
“Viktor” had been invited to our table, for lunch at the “Lady of Damascus” (“sitt a cham”) restaurant in the middle class neighborhood of Shalan, having been spotted by our charming host, a Sheik and MP in Syria’s Parliament. The well-spoken gentleman was furious, after putting down his mobile phone having apparently heard some rather upsetting news. What ignited Viktor were the recent statements of the US State Department spokesperson, Victoria Nuland and her seemingly anti-Russian statements lecturing and insulting Syria’s ally, which Victor considered a bald effort to misinterpret the recent statement of Russia’s Middle East envoy, Mikhail Bodganov. Badganov, on 12/13/12 had stated, in response to a question, “One must look the facts in the face… unfortunately, the victory of the Syrian opposition cannot be ruled out.” Bogdanov also noted that the Syrian government was “losing control of more and more territory.”
Viktor explained that what has galled the Russian and his embassy colleagues here about Nuland, known for her pro-Zionist, anti-Syrian, Russian, Arab and Muslim views, was her arrogant language: “We want to commend the Russian government for finally waking up to the reality and acknowledging that the regime’s days are numbered.”
According to Viktor, “Bodganov said nothing really new. And we will issue a clarification of this very soon.” He continued, “Everyone knows that theoretically the foreign-backed rebels could win. This is not new and is always a possibility during an uprising. But Mrs. Nuland surely knows that the Syrian government has purposely pulled back from some rural areas where there is mainly open space in order to concentrate its forces to protect population centers. This is very basic military strategy and has been employed throughout history. In the English language I think it’s called something like a “strategic retreat or tactical redeployment. It is reprehensible for western and Gulf media to use our Middle East envoys statement as a form of psychological warfare while deceiving the media.” He added, “Of course we have contingency plans for an evacuation of our citizens if necessary. This is quite normal and we and other countries have such plans for Afghanistan, Iraq, Lebanon, the Gulf countries and Palestine, among others. Russia has not lessened its support for Syria and to think otherwise is yet another in the series on many miscalculations from Washington.”
Sure enough, within hours, the Russian Foreign Ministry spokesman, Alexander Lukashevich, a friend of Viktor’s issued a statement: “We would like to remark that he (Bogdanov) has made no statements or special interviews with journalists in the last days. We once again confirm the principled Russian position about the lack of any alternative to a political solution in Syria.”
After venting on Nuland, Victor and others at our table were totally dismissive of the statement of the secretary general of NATO, Anders Fogh Rasmussen, who told reporters in Brussels after a meeting with the Dutch prime minister at NATO headquarters. “I think the regime in Damascus is approaching collapse,” he told reporters after a meeting with the Dutch prime minister at NATO headquarters. “I think now it is only a question of time.”
The Syrian MP explained that Rasmussen has no credibility at all after all the lies he spoke concerning NATO in Libya and how NATO’s more than 9,000 bombing missions “protected the civilian population” whereas in truth, everyone there at the time (including this observer) knew very well that the main threat to Libya’s population, starting in March 2011 and continuing until mid-October was from NATO. From Sorman to Sabna NATO forces rained indiscriminate death on the civilian population of Libya and according to Russian President, due to meet with Obama in February, has condemned the US and NATO for deceiving Russia and the international community regarding its true aims. Viktor told us that his country fears the same deception is afoot in Syria.
Damascenes are tense, sullen, but not panicked following the recent events and what many consider terrorist acts by so-called “rebels.”
According to students I very much enjoy meeting with from Universities and Colleges here, their President, Bashar Assad, still has the support of a majority of the population. Many, as does the Assad government, accept, in principal, the April 2012 Geneva Proposals. That initiative, proposes a transitional government resulting from dialogue leading up the 2014 election which would be open to all candidates. They favor letting the Syrian people choose at the ballot box the next president whoever that may be.
It is evident here in Damascus that the main worry of the population is the manifold effects of the generally viewed illegal and immoral US led sanctions. On a another subject, “Tamara, a university student explained that the target of students and intimidation by rebel backers of students and faculty plus the kidnappings, taking of houses and cars by these same elements are affecting education here although almost all the schools and universities are still functioning.
This observer had the help of a small group of Damascus University students in conducting a survey of the effects of the US led sanctions regime on the civilian population. Virtually every person who expressed a view on this subject told this observer that the only purpose of the American sanctions is regime change by way of trying to force the population to suffer to such an extent that the long lines for bread etc. turn violent and break the bond between the Bashar Assad government and the civilian population. People here commonly refer to the US led sanctions against Iran as also being about regime change and not because Washington believes it can force Iran to abandon its perfectly legal nuclear development program.
The results of a student led survey of grocery stores in Damascus, completed on 12/12/12, shows the following increases in food prices that citizens here must pay against the backdrop of current unemployment figures currently estimated by economists as being between 40-60 percent of the population.
Damascus Student survey: Price rises for food items between May 2011 and December 2012
(Official exchange rate is currently 80 Syrian pounds for one US dollar)
Lamb—500 Syrian pounds to this week’s price of 750 sp, Chicken—200 sp to 450 sp, Milk—per liter….from 40 to 95 sp, Rice—from 40 sp to 100 sp, Eggs—160-300 sp for a carton of 30 medium sized eggs, Cooking oil—30 per liter to 60, Sugar—40 sp per kilo to 85 sp, Bread—20 sp for 10 loaves of flat bread to 55 currently in Damascus but 220 s.p. in Aleppo where, as in Homs, Hama and the east, a massive humanitarian crises in rapidly spreading.
Russia has promised wheat for this basic staple in Syria. But time is of the essence. In many areas of Syria most in need, basic food stuff supplying NGO’s are absent.
Bottled cooking gas– 500 sp now up to 1000 sp, is also becoming more difficult to find in several Damascus neighborhoods.
Heating oil which was 100 sp per liter is now on average 250 sp but becoming quite scarce. Even some of the five star hotels here in Damascus, due to a severe shortage of “mazot” fuel oil, are cutting off the heat and hot water to rooms except for periods between 7 a.m. to 10 a.m. and 8-10 p.m. Russia has reportedly promised a tanker of fuel oil but it will be dangerous to transport it by road to the population centers here because, according to students working as volunteers with the Syrian Arab Republic Red Crescent Society and other humanitarian organizations, rebel forces are increasing stealing or destroying aid convoys and rampaging the countryside.
Students here in Damascus intend to publish a more detailed list of consumer goods every two weeks. Yesterday some picketed the empty American embassy in protest against US led sanctions. “The Syrian people will never forget or forgive the American campaign to starve us into submission”, one sign read.
It appears to this observer that, rather as is the case with Iran, the illegal and immoral US led sanctions, which urgently need to be challenged at The Hague, imposed on the civilian population of Syria is having the opposite effect of what their cynical architects intended. The piling on of sanctions is giving credibility to the Assad government which, while employing measures to curtail prices increases here, so far with modest success, is arguing that the price rises are the result of Syria’s American and Zionist enemies. This view is widely shared among students at Damascus University and the general public.
“Nuclear, ecological, chemical, economic — our arsenal of Death by Stupidity is impressive for a species as smart as Homo sapiens” 1
The hurricanes, the typhoons, the heat waves … the droughts, the heavy rains, the floods … ever more powerful, ever new records being set. Something must be done of course. Except if you don’t believe at all that it’s man-made. But if there’s even a small chance that the greenhouse effect is driving the changes, is it not plain that, at a minimum, we have to err on the side of caution? There’s too much at stake. Like civilization as we know it. Carbon dioxide emissions into the atmosphere must be greatly curtailed.
The three greatest problems facing the beleaguered, fragile inhabitants of this lonely planet are climate change, economic crisis, and the violence of war. It is my sad duty to report that the United States of America is the main culprit in each case. Is that not remarkable?
Why does Barack Obama not pursue the battle against climate change with the same intensity he pursues war? Why does he not seek to punish the American bankers and stockbrokers responsible for the financial calamity as much as he seeks to punish Julian Assange and Bradley Manning?
In both cases he’s putting the interests of the corporate world before anything else. No amount of fines or penalties will induce corporate leaders to modify their behavior. Only spending some hard time in a prison cellblock might cause the growth in them of their missing part, the part that’s shaped like a social conscience.
Only prosecuting George W. Bush, Dick Cheney, and their partners in bombing and torture will discourage future American war lovers from following in their bloody footsteps.
The recent election result can only embolden Obama. He likely took it as an affirmation of his policies, although only 29.3% of those eligible to vote actually voted for him. And an unknown, but certainly significant, number of those who did so held their nose while voting for the supposed lesser of two evils. Hardly indicative of impassioned support for his policies.
Last week the United Nations Climate Summit was held in Doha, Qatar. The comments which came from many of the activists (as opposed to various government officials) were doomsdayish … “Time is running out … time has already run out … the climate has already changed … Hurricane Sandy, rising sea levels, the worst is yet to come.” The Kyoto protocol is still the only international treaty stipulating cuts in greenhouse gas emissions. It’s a touchstone for many environmentalists. But the United States has never ratified it. At the previous conferences in Copenhagen and Durban, the US blocked important global action and failed to honor vital pledges.
At the Doha conference the US was acutely criticized for failing to take the lead on planet protection, especially in light of its standing as the largest historic contributor to the current levels of greenhouse gasses in the atmosphere. (“The most obdurate bully in the room”, declared the Indian environmentalist, Sunita Narain. 2)
What motivates the American representatives, now as before, as ever, is concern about corporate profits. Cutting back on greenhouse gas emissions can hurt the bottom line. A suitable epitaph for the earth’s tombstone. Shamus Cooke, writing on ZSpace, sums it up well: “Thus, if renewable energy is not as profitable as oil — and it isn’t — then the majority of capitalist investing will continue to go towards destroying the planet. It really is that simple. Even the best-intentioned capitalists do not throw their money away on non-growth investments.”
A brief history of Superpowers
From the Congress of Vienna of 1815 to the Congress of Berlin in 1878 to the “Allies” invasion of Russia in 1918 to the formation of what became the European Union in the 1950s, the great powers of Europe and the world have gotten together in grand meeting halls and on the field of battle to set the ground rules for imperialist exploitation of Latin America, Africa, Asia, and Australasia, to Christianize and ‘civilize’, to remake the maps, and to suppress revolutions and other threats to great-power hegemony. They have been deadly serious. In 1918, for example, some 13 nations, including France, Great Britain, Rumania, Italy, Serbia, Greece, Japan, and the United States, combined in a military invasion of Russia to “strangle at its birth” the nascent Bolshevik state, as Winston Churchill so charmingly put it.
And following World War 2, without any concern about who had fought and died to win that war, the Western powers, sans the Soviet Union, moved to create the North Atlantic Treaty Organization. NATO, along with the European Union, then joined the United States in carrying out the Cold War and preventing the Communists and their allies from coming to power legally through elections in France and Italy. That partnership continued after the formal end of the Cold War. The United States, the European Union, and NATO are each superpowers, with extensive military, as well as foreign policy integration — almost all EU members are also members of NATO; almost all NATO members in Europe are in the EU; almost all NATO members have had a military contingent serving under NATO and/or the US in Iraq, Afghanistan, the Balkans and elsewhere.
Together, this Holy Triumvirate has torn apart Yugoslavia, invaded and devastated Afghanistan and Iraq, crippled Iran, Cuba and others with sanctions, overthrown the Libyan government, and are on the verge now of the same in Syria. Much of what the Triumvirate has told the world to justify this wanton havoc has concerned Islamic terrorism, but it should be noted that prior to the interventions in Iraq, Libya and Syria all three countries were secular and modern. Will the people of those sad lands ever see that life again?
In suppressing the left in France and Italy, and later in destabilizing the governments of Libya and Syria, the Holy Triumvirate has closely aligned itself with terrorists and terrorist methods to a remarkable extent. 3 In Syria alone, it would be difficult to name any Middle East terrorist group associated with al Qaeda — employing their standard car bombings and suicide bombers — that is not taking part in the war against President Assad with the support of the Triumvirate. Is there anything — legally or morally — the Triumvirate regards as outside its purview? Any place not within its geographical mandate? Britain and France have now joined Turkey and Arabian Peninsula states in recognizing a newly formed opposition bloc as the sole representative of the Syrian people. “From the point of view of international law, this is absolutely unacceptable,” Russian Prime Minister Dmitry Medvedev declared. “A desire to change the political regime of another state by recognizing a political force as the sole carrier of sovereignty seems to me to be not completely civilised.” France was the first Western state to recognize the newly-formed Syrian National Coalition and was swiftly joined by Britain, Italy and the European Union. 4 The neck irons tighten.
The European Union in recent years has been facing a financial crisis, where its overriding concern has been to save the banks, not its citizens, inspiring calls from the citizenry of some member states to leave the Union. I think the dissolution of the European Union would benefit world peace by depriving the US/NATO mob of a guaranteed partner in crime by returning to the Union’s members their individual discretion in foreign policy.
And then we can turn to getting rid of NATO, an organization that not only has a questionable raison d’être in the present, but never had any good reason-to-be in the past other than serving as Washington’s hit man. 5
The United Nations vote on the Cuba embargo — 21 years in a row
For years American political leaders and media were fond of labeling Cuba an “international pariah”. We don’t hear that any more. Perhaps one reason is the annual vote in the United Nations General Assembly on the resolution which reads: “Necessity of ending the economic, commercial and financial embargo imposed by the United States of America against Cuba”. This is how the vote has gone (not including abstentions):
|Year||Votes (Yes-No)||No Votes|
|1993||88-4||US, Israel, Albania, Paraguay|
|1995||117-3||US, Israel, Uzbekistan|
|1996||138-3||US, Israel, Uzbekistan|
|1997||143-3||US, Israel, Uzbekistan|
|2000||167-3||US, Israel, Marshall Islands|
|2001||167-3||US, Israel, Marshall Islands|
|2002||173-3||US, Israel, Marshall Islands|
|2003||179-3||US, Israel, Marshall Islands|
|2004||179-4||US, Israel, Marshall Islands, Palau|
|2005||182-4||US, Israel, Marshall Islands, Palau|
|2006||183-4||US, Israel, Marshall Islands, Palau|
|2007||184-4||US, Israel, Marshall Islands, Palau|
|2008||185-3||US, Israel, Palau|
|2009||187-3||US, Israel, Palau|
|2012||188-3||US, Israel, Palau|
Each fall the UN vote is a welcome reminder that the world has not completely lost its senses and that the American empire does not completely control the opinion of other governments.
How it began: On April 6, 1960, Lester D. Mallory, US Deputy Assistant Secretary of State for Inter-American Affairs, wrote in an internal memorandum: “The majority of Cubans support Castro … The only foreseeable means of alienating internal support is through disenchantment and disaffection based on economic dissatisfaction and hardship. … every possible means should be undertaken promptly to weaken the economic life of Cuba.” Mallory proposed “a line of action which … makes the greatest inroads in denying money and supplies to Cuba, to decrease monetary and real wages, to bring about hunger, desperation and overthrow of government.” 6 Later that year, the Eisenhower administration instituted the suffocating embargo against its eternally-declared enemy.
Placing American presidents in their proper context
“Once upon a time there was a radical president who tried to remake American society through government action. In his first term he created a vast network of federal grants to state and local governments for social programs that cost billions. He set up an imposing agency to regulate air and water emissions, and another to regulate workers’ health and safety. Had Congress not stood in his way he would have gone much further. He tried to establish a guaranteed minimum income for all working families and, to top it off, proposed a national health plan that would have provided government insurance for low-income families, required employers to cover all their workers and set standards for private insurance. Thankfully for the country, his second term was cut short and his collectivist dreams were never realize.
His name was Richard Nixon.” 7
Films on US foreign policy
The Power Principle is a series of three films by Scott Noble. Part one, “Empire”, is the only one I’ve seen completely so far and I can say that it’s great stuff. The three parts, with their times, are:
Featured in the films are Noam Chomsky, Michael Parenti, John Stockwell, Christopher Simpson, Ralph McGehee, Philip Agee, Nafeez Ahmed, John Perkins, James Petras, John Stauber, Russ Baker, Howard Zinn, William Blum, Nancy Snow, William I. Robinson, Morris Berman, Peter Phillips, Michael Albert, and others of the usual suspects.
To comment about these films or others by Scott Noble, write to him at firstname.lastname@example.org.
Much more publicized is the new film and book by Oliver Stone and Peter Kuznick. Entitled The Untold History of the United States, it is a 10-part series appearing on Showtime. Only Stone’s name could get this dark side of US history and foreign policy on mainstream television. It will be interesting to observe what the mass media has to say about this challenge to some of America’s most cherished beliefs about itself.
- Jeanette Winterson, The New York Times, September 17, 2009 ↩
- Democracy Now!, December 7, 2012 ↩
- For France and Italy, see Operation Gladio Wikipedia; and Daniele Ganser, Operation Gladio: NATO’s Top Secret Stay-Behind Armies and Terrorism in Western Europe (2005) ↩
- Agence France Presse, November 26, 2012↩
- For the best coverage of the NATO monolith, sign up with StopNATO. To get on the mailing list write to Rick Rozoff at email@example.com. To see back issues at http://groups.yahoo.com/group/stopnato ↩
- Department of State, Foreign Relations of the United States, 1958-1960, Volume VI, Cuba (1991), p.885 ↩
- From the review of the book: I am the change: Barack Obama and the Crisis of Liberalism by Charles Kesler. Review by Mark Lilla, The New York Times Book Review, September 30, 2012, p.1 ↩
As chaos again envelopes Egypt, the revolution is evolving in new directions, along contradictory and confusing channels. It’s tempting to immediately support the “opposition” to the Muslim Brotherhood’s apparent “power grab,” but the situation in Egypt is more complex. The recent events in Egypt are not simply signs of a healthy revolution, they also include immediate dangers.
Making sense out of a constantly changing, frantic revolution involving millions of people involves unpeeling layers of outer turmoil until the inner motives of different interest groups are exposed. At bottom, the groups vying for power have economic interests at stake; asking “who benefits” is still the best way to navigate a revolution.
For example, in Egypt the freshly-formed “opposition” — to the democratically elected Muslim Brotherhood government — is a motley crew. After the President announced “emergency powers,” an opposition coalition formed, calling itself the “National Salvation Front,” consisting of different groups united with the ultimate aim to remove President Morsi from power (some members of the coalition revealed their actual motives when the President rescinded the emergency powers decree, but they retained their demand for him to immediately step down). Included in this coalition are sincere revolutionary youth, wealthy 1%’ers and western-backed bureaucrats, as well as “socialists”, unions, and even those with deep connections to the former Mubarak dictatorship like Amr Moussa, a former foreign minister under Mubarak.
The only thing that unites this group is their antagonism to the Muslim Brotherhood. But different groups within the opposition have different reasons for hating the Muslim Brotherhood. The revolutionary youth and socialists want a real democracy, both social and political, and correctly view a religious group in power as being inherently anti-democratic, since it automatically minimizes the rights of religious minorities, like the religious states of Saudi Arabia and Israel do.
However, others in the coalition are anti-Muslim Brotherhood for less virtuous reasons. Those who benefited from the former dictatorship simply want to be back in power where they controlled the government, using it as a giant money trough of parasitic corruption.
The other liberal and affluent groups in the opposition — those not connected to the former regime — aspire towards the same government money trough: they were excluded from state power by the Mubarak regime and now the Muslim Brotherhood dominates the state apparatus and all its perks. This exclusion from power is the real basis for many of these groups crying about democracy; they want a democracy with themselves in power.
In Egypt, the economic interests of different groups are consciously hidden behind religion and abstract notions of democracy. The very wealthy and corporations have no problem acting extra religious or especially democratic if it pushes their interests forward.
But to truly wield power during a revolution implies that you express the interests of the millions who crushed the Mubarak dictatorship. And although it’s true that the new opposition has led massive demonstrations in the streets, it’s also true that the Muslim Brotherhood has led much bigger demonstrations, a fact under-reported in the media.
Another ignored fact is that most people believe — including Egyptian opposition groups — that the Muslim Brotherhood will win the upcoming referendum vote, which is why the opposition is trying to prevent the referendum from happening by causing havoc in the streets, instead of waiting for a more democratic vote.
President Morsi has accused the organizers of these protests to be scheming towards a coup, and there’s likely more than a little truth in this (this was in part the reason he gave for granting himself emergency powers).
It’s certain that the former Mubarak officials in the opposition are thinking along these lines. Some have accused the military and police of provoking violence and intentionally not intervening in protests that killed several people and injured hundreds outside the presidential palace. Similar non-interventions during mob violence happened at a massacre at a soccer game where 75 died, and with attacks against Christian churches. The military are regulars at using such social crises to reclaim their powers via martial law and dictatorship. This threat is real and urgent in Egypt.
And although the Muslim Brotherhood has bent backwards trying to please the military, this can change quickly; the military has a weak allegiance to the Brotherhood and a long history of conflict. It would rather have military-associated politicians in power.
This isn’t to suggest that the Muslim Brotherhood is politically supportable. They’re not. They have been far too friendly to the military and other criminals associated with the former regime. Nor have they done anything to address the economic and social issues that were the real fuel of the revolution. Millions of people participated in the revolution because they wanted to improve their lives. This hasn’t happened. And things are about to get worse under the Muslim Brotherhood government.
For example, the Brotherhood government recently signed off on a loan from the U.S.-dominated International Monetary Fund (IMF), which, as history has repeatedly shown, proves disastrous for the working and poor people of the debtor country by forcing economic policies that favor rich investors at everyone else’s expense.
Moreover, the IMF usually demands privatization of public services that are directed toward helping the poor. One example of a common IMF attack on the public sector is the elimination of government fuel subsides, which lower the price of gasoline and oil used for cooking. This IMF policy has created mini-Arab springs in Jordan and Nigeria; and now Egypt’s IMF loan includes the same attached string. A report on Reuters explains:
“If the [Egyptian] government does begin cutting the [fuel] subsidy and publishes a timetable for its eventual removal — probably a minimum IMF demand — then we would expect
funds from the IMF and other donor organizations to provide Egypt with breathing space [to fund its government].”
At the same time, the IMF loan also helped insure that Egypt’s Mubarak-era miniscule taxes for the wealthy and corporations stay where they are, at 25 percent.
Thus, in one stroke of the pen — signing the IMF debt deal — the Muslim Brotherhood proved in practice that it will continue the economic policies of the wealthy-dominated Mubarak dictatorship.
This economic policy of free-market capitalism of the IMF is agreed to by all of the large anti-Brotherhood “opposition” groups, with the exception of the revolutionary youth and socialist organizations. This is more proof that for many of these groups, the battle for “democracy” is a shallow one, a thin shell of political democracy that doesn’t penetrate into the larger economic sphere. The best expression of this razor-thin democracy is the leader of the opposition coalition, Mohamed ElBaradei, who said that:
“The demands of the revolution were for social justice, freedom and dignity.”
Of course “social justice” is vague enough to be misinterpreted to not include jobs, good wages, adequate social services — the core economic demands of the revolution.
And although the economic voice of the majority of Egyptians is not currently being expressed by any of the main groups vying for power, the demands of working people will inevitably find their way into the larger struggle for power. Voices expressing these demands are already emerging in various parts of the country, where labor and community issues are coming to the forefront. For example, the Egyptian Federation of Trade Unions recently included in their demands:
- Re-form the Constituent Assembly with at least 50 percent of the members to be workers and peasants
- Guarantee trade union freedoms in the Constitution or the law
- Issue a new labor law guaranteeing workers’ rights
- Speed up the implementation of a law on minimum and maximum wages, and link these to rising prices
- Return of all workers to work who have lost their jobs
It has also been reported the important industrial city of Mahalla — known for its tradition of labor struggles — has declared itself “independent” from the government, and will be run by a “revolutionary council,” although details are still scarce.
Ultimately, the voice of the working Egyptians must be expressed if the revolution is to be pushed forward. However, an urgent question must still be answered immediately: Should the main demand of the opposition — for President Morsi to step down — be supported?
It seems that, at this time, the demand is premature, considering that there has been a recent election that overwhelmingly put the Muslim Brotherhood into power, and that even the opposition admits that the Brotherhood is likely to win its nationwide referendum vote (the large pro-government demonstrations seem to confirm this). The demand thus seems strangely at odds with the current political reality, and thus raises suspicions about some of those demanding it, especially the ex-Mubarak lackeys, who are likely using legitimate popular anger for the purpose of coup-making.
The opposition’s shallow version of democracy cannot be won by ignoring President Morsi’s recently won democratic election. The revolutionary youth in the anti-Brotherhood coalition should strive for an independent path for working people, far away from those associated with the last dictatorship and with those trying to tie Egypt’s economy to the short leash of the U.S. corporate-run IMF.
US President Barack Obama’s renewed warning against Syria this week, that any use of chemical weapons by Syrian government forces is a red line triggering direct military assault on the country, can be seen as the Western powers moving towards their endgame of “regime change.”
Washington first raised the specter of Syrian chemical weapons several months ago and warned then that it would be forced to act militarily in order to “secure” such alleged stockpiles.
Now the American president and his officials are rekindling fears of this contingency, with the added alleged development that the Syrian government of President Bashar Al Assad has become so desperate to survive that it is preparing to mobilize chemical warheads.
Speaking in Washington, Obama upbraided the Syria government that “the world is watching” and that there would be “consequences” for any such deployment.
US secretary of state Hillary Clinton echoed the warning and described the use of these weapons as “a red line.” Tellingly, she added that if there is “any evidence” that the Syrian military had begun to use chemical warheads then “we are certainly planning to take action.”
Various Western media reported that American officials have over the past week stepped up contact with counterparts in other Western states to formulate a military response. This is said to include limited air strikes and the dispatch of thousands of ground forces.
Previously, the US and other Western governments had declined to commit military forces to Syria, as they had done in Libya last year, preferring the covert option of proxy forces, including Persian Gulf Arab weapon suppliers and mercenary fighters. That calculus seems to be now changing.
The first point to note from above is that the allegations of Syria mobilizing chemical weapons are stemming from unnamed and unverifiable American military intelligence sources, who have been busily briefing, anonymously, the major news media organizations, including CNN and the New York Times. These “reports” are then amplified by other Western media outlets, such as the Washington Post, BBC, Financial Times and Britain’s Guardian newspaper.
This is the same process of disinformation that set Iraq up for an illegal nine-year war of aggression, beginning in 2003 – with over one million people killed – over that country’s non-existent weapons of mass destruction.
It is the same scurrilous, criminal process that has set up Iran up for crippling – and illegal – economic sanctions over unfounded allegations of nuclear weapons, which are in turn fuelling tensions towards a possible all-out war on the Islamic Republic.
That’s why Obama and Clinton’s latest warning words to Syria are ominous. “The world is watching… for any evidence of chemical weapons.” In other words, the world is being prepared for a “shocking revelation” by American and Western spy agencies and ventriloquist media, who are about as trustworthy as a nest of scorpions and rattlesnakes.
The second point to note is that the Syrian government has repeatedly denied possession of chemical weapons and that if it had such munitions it would not deploy them against its own citizens.
Apart from the CIA and other anonymous secret service agents doing their best through trusty media outlets to whip up hysteria about sarin, VX, mustard gas and other horrors, the other tactic by Western forces is to portray the Damascus government as increasingly panicky and therefore sufficiently under duress that it would resort to such weapons.
White House spokesman Jay Carney told media, “We believe that with the regime’s grip on power loosening, with its failure to put down the opposition through conventional means, we have an increased concern about the possibility of the regime taking the desperate act of using its [alleged] chemical weapons.”
Well, a big part of the reason unmentioned by the White House for why the Syrian military is failing to put down the opposition is because of the criminal, massive flow of weapons, funds, logistics, mercenaries and covert personnel that the American government and its Western allies and regional proxies have been funneling into Syria.
There is no doubting that after 21 months of unrelenting violence, the Western-backed insurgents and foreign mercenaries are taking a heavy toll on Syrian society and the Damascus government’s control.
Reports of recent significant military gains by the foreign-backed militants have indeed intensified efforts by the government to maintain its authority over the ravaged country.
In particular, American-made surface-to-air missiles, reportedly supplied by Qatar and also possibly Saudi Arabia, appear to have lately given the anti-government militants crucial extra firepower and important tactical and territorial advantages.
Western military sources are reportedly of the view that the Syrian national army and air force retain the upper-hand and are too strong to be seriously threatened with defeat.
Nevertheless, with the Western-fomented havoc wreaking Syria – up to 700,000 refugees, five million displaced, 30-50,000 dead out of a population of 20 million – it is all too easy to portray and perceive an atmosphere of doom and desperation, which is then cited by the White House and its anonymous media agents as a “tipping point” for the imminent deployment of alleged chemical weapons of mass destruction.
To this end, there seems to be a concerted effort in the past few days to convey the image of a country falling apart.
Turkish officials have disclosed that it was fears that Syria may use chemical weapons against opposition militants on its border areas that prompted Ankara to request the supply of Patriot anti-missile systems in the coming weeks.
Both the UN and the European Union are reported as closing down activities in Syria on grounds of “security concerns” and both organizations are said to be preparing for the imminent evacuation of all staff from the country.
Regional airlines, including Egypt Air and Dubai’s Emirates Airline, have this week cancelled regular services to Syria on the basis of “safety concerns”. Both countries, it should be noted, are firmly in the Western geopolitical camp of demanding Assad’s overthrow.
Last weekend, the Syrian population was cut off from telecommunications in a three-day blackout that was blamed on sabotage. That too is serving to heighten an atmosphere of duress that the Western powers can cite as “evidence” that the Syrian authorities are “preparing to use chemical weapons”.
After 21 months of international conspiracy, the American-led propaganda war on Syria seems to be moving towards the endgame of providing the political cover for direct Western military attack on that unfortunate country. This is, of course, outrageously criminal. But it is entirely predictable from the bigger picture strategic agenda of Washington and its allies: to roll over the anti-imperialist Syrian enemy, install a pliable pro-Western regime, and then pave the way for the next round of war in the region – against Iran.
Finian Cunningham (born 1963) is a prominent expert in international affairs. The author and media commentator was expelled from Bahrain in June 2011 for his critical journalism in which he highlighted human rights violations by the Western-backed regime. He is a Master’s graduate in Agricultural Chemistry and worked as a scientific editor for the Royal Society of Chemistry, Cambridge, England, before pursuing a career in journalism. He is also a musician and songwriter.
Source: Press TV
This past Tuesday night, I spoke to a large “Town Hall Meeting” audience in Cheyenne, Wyoming as to the greatest danger facing America in the 21st century: endless immigration overwhelming the United States by adding 100 million within 25 years. I informed the audience the audience that our U.S. Congress continues importing 100,000 legal immigrants every 30 days.
Most of the audience gasped at the numbers. One lady said, “Could you please repeat that figure.” When I did, she said, “I had no idea.”
Most Americans do not know nor do they comprehend the enormity of such massive numbers of human beings being imported into America without pause for the last 45 years. They cannot imagine that our country gallops toward adding 100 million more people in less than 25 years.
Few grasp the environmental, energy and resource issues that 100 million people present. Fewer still understand the quality of life and standard of living consequences. Less than that understand the sociological consequences of adding so many incompatible cultures and religions.
In his farewell speech, former Texas Congressman Ron Paul, probably the most reasonable man in Congress, spoke about the five dangers to our republic.
They are as follows:
1. The continuous attack on our civil liberties which threatens the rule of law and our ability to resist the onrush of tyranny.
That “onrush” of tyranny stems from our own ranks as we import endless poverty into this country. We import endless numbers of people that cannot be fed, housed, employed or assimilated. Those millions will create greater attacks on our civil liberties as well as our resources, freedoms and quality of life.
2. Violent anti-Americanism that has engulfed the world. Because the phenomenon of “blow-back” is not understood or denied, our foreign policy is destined to keep us involved in many wars that we have no business being in. National bankruptcy and a greater threat to our national security will result.
If you look in on our own country, such men as Pastor Jeremiah Wright, the former preacher for Barack Obama, cursed America. Over 7 million Muslims cannot and will not assimilate into Western thought and do not feel America is their home. They bow to Muhammed five times daily and follow the Koran and wish to implement Sharia law into America.
Writer Sam Francis said, “You cannot separate a culture and its attendant civilization from the genetic endowments of its founding people, nor can you expect to transfer it to another people, i.e. [immigrants.]”
It is not in the cultural DNA of incompatible ethnic tribes to mesh with American life, and it’s even easier to condemn us for our creating wars around the world at every decade. No one supports America’s wars in Vietnam, Cambodia, Iraq and Afghanistan. Why should they? Why would they?
3. The ease in which we go to war, without a declaration by Congress, but accepting international authority from the UN or NATO even for preemptive wars, otherwise known as aggression.
The fact remains that George Bush must be tried as a war criminal for his war on Iraq. He created enormous human misery and he lied to the American people about a non-existent threat of weapons of mass destruction, which were totally created out of thin air.
4. A financial political crisis as a consequence of excessive debt, unfunded liabilities, spending, bailouts, and gross discrepancy in wealth distribution going from the middle class to the rich. The danger of central economic planning, by the Federal Reserve must be understood.
As our third president, John Adams said, “There are two ways to conquer a country: by the sword and by debt.” We are well on our way to self destruction by our $16 trillion debt soon to be $20 trillion at the end of Obama’s last term.
5. World government taking over local and US sovereignty by getting involved in the issues of war, welfare, trade, banking, a world currency, taxes, property ownership, and private ownership of guns.
Such UN mandates like Agenda 21 force us out of our independence and into outside control by outside entities. World government will never work because all politics and all workable ideas for free people start at the local level and all problems must be solved at the local level. World government resembles Marxism and we know where that leads.
American citizens need to wake up to their own demise. We need to get rid of the entire Congress and vote new minds and fresh thoughts into Washington DC. Mark Twain said, “Suppose you were an idiot and suppose you were a member of Congress, ah, but I repeat myself.” Today, Americans stand like cows watching the rancher as he circles them and heads them toward the slaughter house.
When the Corporate Elite tells us we need to be afraid of something, they almost always expect to make some money off our fear.
From the same people who brought us the “Ground Zero Victory Mosque,” FEMA concentration camps, and every single George Soros conspiracy theory, comes a brand new hyper-paranoid threat-to-America’s-sovereignty that, they say, should scare the hell out of all of us.
It goes by the name of Agenda 21, which just so happens to be the title of Glenn Beck’s new dystopic novel.
Billed as, “more frightening than anything Orwell could have envisioned,” Beck’s Agenda 21 paints a disturbing picture of America following the implementation of the United Nation’s Agenda 21, which is actually a real life UN initiative, though not nearly as nefarious as Beck would have us all believe.
The book’s tagline reads: “This used to be called America. Now it is just ‘the Republic.’ There is no president. No congress. No freedom.”
Over at GlennBeck.com you can watch a movie trailer made specifically for the book featuring grizzled Americans lined up on the streets in a post-Soviet winter landscape reeking of desperation, waiting for tiny morsels of food to be parceled out by “the authorities.” Reminiscent of both Nazi concentration camps and the Book of Revelation, everyone’s foreheads are tattooed with identification numbers – and in homage to Sarah Palin’s “death panels,” one scene in the trailer depicts an emaciated, scraggly-haired old man loaded on to a conveyor belt and sent into a burning furnace.
Of course, this is all fiction. Whether you like him or not, Beck has made a fortune off sensationalism – and more recently televangelism – and this book will tap into a wellspring of paranoia on the fringe Right that will undoubtedly make a lot more money for multimillionaire Mr. Beck himself.
But whether Beck really believes in his depicted Agenda 21 future for America isn’t all that important. What’s important is that a lot of other powerful people do believe in it. To them, there’s nothing fictional at all when it comes to Agenda 21.
On October 11th this year, the Georgia state Capitol building hosted a four-hour briefing for Republican state senators on the issue of…Agenda 21. It was emceed by a man named Field Searcy who, according to MotherJones, is a local Conservative activist, whose Tea Party leadership was revoked after endorsing birther and truther conspiracy theories. But on that day, Searcy had the attention of his state’s most powerful lawmakers – including the Republican Party’s Senate Majority Leader, Chip Rogers – to warn them of President Obama’s wicked plot to use Agenda 21 to hand the United States off to the United Nations.
Searcy told the Georgia Republicans, and later spoke of it on the Thom Hartmann Radio Program, that President Obama is using a mind control procedure known as the “Delphi Technique” to slowly condition Americans to submit to the control of the United Nations’ Agenda 21, which will, according to Searcy, force mass migrations of Americans out of the countryside and into the cities, while handing over control of our rural lands to an international, one-world government.
The goal of the presentation was to influence Georgia lawmakers to follow in the footsteps of Tennessee and Kentucky Republican lawmakers who’ve already passed legislation to block Agenda 21 from being implemented in their states. In fact, earlier this year Republican Senate Majority Leader Chip Rogers introduced legislation in Georgia to do just that.
Also on the “Fear Agenda 21″ bandwagon is newly-elected Tea Party Senator from Texas, Ted Cruz. He devoted an entire section of his website, TedCruz.org, to Agenda 21 fearmongering. Under the title, “Stop Agenda 21: The Constitution should be our only ‘Agenda,” Cruz writes:
“The originator of this grand scheme is George Soros, who candidly supports socialism and believes that global development must progress through eliminating national sovereignty and private property… Agenda 21 attempts to abolish ‘unsustainable’ environments, including golf courses, grazing pastures, and paved roads. It hopes to leave mother earth’s surface unscratched by mankind. Everyone wants clean water and clean air, but Agenda 21 dehumanizes individuals by removing the very thing that has defined Americans since the beginning—our freedom.”
Oh no! Not the golf courses! Luckily for the golfing community, Ted Cruz is headed to the United States Senate to stop George Soros and the UN from confiscating Augusta National.
Though, hopefully, someone will notify Cruz, perhaps by removing his tinfoil hat, that the United Nations has no interest whatsoever in turning Augusta National into a sustainable bio-dome. Likewise, hopefully someone will tell Mr. Field Searcy that the UN has no interest in forcibly removing Americans from the country-side, either.
Concerns coming from the Right about American sovereignty in the face of the United Nations aren’t anything new.
It’s true that FDR pushed the idea after World War Two, and Democratic President Harry Truman signed us up for the UN in 1945, and it’s also true that in signing up for the United Nations, the United States surrendered a small amount of our sovereignty, inasmuch as we can no longer unilaterally declare war on another nation – unless they attack us first – without getting the approval of the UN. Of course, this is true of every other nation in the UN as well. The UN was created to promote world peace, an idea that doesn’t sit well with the neocons and chickenhawks.
But, here’s what Agenda 21 really is. Standing for “Agenda 21st Century,” it’s a completely non-binding UN agreement that aims to address climate change and inequality by calling on local and federal governments, NGOs, and businesses, to develop plans to create more sustainable environments in their respective nations. The UN believes that by working together, and giving financial assistance to developing nations to promote sustainable living, wealth disparities can be reduced, indigenous populations can be protected, and the deterioration of ecosystems around the globe can be reversed.
If you ask the environmentalists who are growing more and more concerned with a warming, crowded planet what they think of Agenda 21, they’ll say it doesn’t go nearly far enough. Especially after new reports by the UN about record levels of greenhouse gases and the atmosphere, and a report by the World Bank on the global economic impacts of a planet that’s 7-degrees warming by 2100 as a result of climate change.
But, as you’d expect from a plan to reduce poverty worldwide and use resources and land in more eco-friendly ways, wealthy oil barons and banksters are opposed to it. When people, governments, or organizations talk about things like sustainable energy, corporate responsibility, and educating the world’s children, billionaires like the Koch brothers get a little uneasy.
So, right-wingers have employed their best charlatans in America, people like Glenn Beck, to reinvent Agenda 21 as something completely different: a nefarious plot by communist globalists to force redistribution of wealth and confiscation of private property, and ultimate devour American sovereignty. Or, according to Glenn Beck, an Orwellian takeover to purge the nation of its sick and elderly.
And it just so happens that legislation passed in Tennessee and Kentucky to block Agenda 21 comes straight from model legislation produced by the notoriously loony, yet well-funded, John Birch Society. The Koch Brothers dad, Fred Koch, who had no problem with state-controlled economies when he made his fortune working with Joe Stalin in the Soviet Union, was one of the founding members of the Jon Birch Society back in 1958.
The UN has provided right-wing fear mongers a lot of grandstanding opportunities over the years, but the UN has never lived up to their warnings that it’s coming to destroy America. Most people think of it as a toothless international body that’s been hijacked by the United States to protect its own interests and the interests of its allies.
And while the Bircher billionaire class continues to fret over the UN, they stay silent over the actual threat to our nation’s sovereignty in the form of the World Trade Organization, which has enforced free trade agreements through international courts that have overturned laws passed by our elected Congress and signed by our elected President. For example, laws banning the importation into the United States of poisonous additives to gasoline, products made by child labor, and tuna caught at the expense of dolphins have all been overturned by the “one-world government” that is the WTO.
Yet, not a peep from the same wealthy elite who are warning us about Agenda 21. That’s because there’s a lot of money to be made in so-called Free Trade, and not so much to be made in promoting sustainable living.
The same is true of why Glenn Beck isn’t writing a book about the $67 trillion global shadow banking system, which is extremely dangerous to our sovereign economy – yet making billions of dollars for banksters.
The point is, this latest scheme by the Corporate Elite to scare the hell out of all of us with Agenda 21 is just like every other scare tactic by the Corporate Elite – it’s meant to distract us. It’s a sleight-of-hand technique to keep us focused on bogeymen, while their ranks of Texas oilmen, outsourcing CEOs, and Wall Street banksters carry out the true destruction of the United States of America: the pillaging of the Middle Class at home and the construction of a WTO-style one-world corporate government to promote unfettered capitalism and free trade everywhere on the planet.
And in the process, useful quacks like Glenn Beck and Field Searcy can make a lot of money feeding the paranoid, Fox News-watching masses their latest conspiracy theories.
Teaneck,N.J. — The damage incurred by Hurricane Sandy – the largest Atlantic super-storm on record — is second only to New Orleans’ Hurricane Katrina in terms of magnitude and cost. Occurring just before Halloween and dubbed “Frankenstorm,” Sandy demolished coastal communities in the Caribbean, Mid-Atlantic and Northeastern United States.
One hundred-mile winds and powerful high tide waters ripped into coastal barriers and the landscape, causing an estimated $60 billion dollars in damages 1. Flooding and power outages were commonplace, leaving hundreds of thousands homeless, and millions without electricity, heat and/or provisions. Others devastated by the storm included the sick, elderly, handicapped, and poor who could not get vital medicines by pharmacy or mail; those who lost life savings because the damage to their homes were not insured against certain eventualities; and those who lost their livelihoods through destruction. And although there was no gas shortage by cause of resource depletion, the lack of electricity prevented filling stations from dispensing fuel, resulting in long lines and rationing.
While the level of distress among storm casualties should not be underestimated, and many Good Samaritans rushed to the aid of the less fortunate and continue to selflessly volunteer right up until today, there were those in the Northeastern United States who were wholly unprepared to be inconvenienced by ensuing power outages. It is to “the inconvenienced” that this article is dedicated.
Following are bona fide statements made by some New Yorkers and New Jersey-ites during the aftermath of Hurricane Sandy.
- “I couldn’t take living in a cold house, so checked into a hotel.”
- “The storm has been devastating. No Internet and TV for two days.”
- “I’m dying to wash my hair, but it’s too much work to heat the water on my stove top.”
- “It was murder waiting in line for three hours this morning for gas.”
- “How am I supposed to survive without eggs?”
Now let’s compare these to comments made by authentic casualties of the super-storm:
- “Our house got washed out into theAtlantic, but we’re glad to be alive and will make a fresh start.”
- “A tree fell on our roof and other neighborhood homes, so we’ve gathered the downed limbs and hosted an outdoor bonfire to build morale.”
- “Winds were whipping through my windows when I heard screams for help. I saw my neighbor clutching a fence as water surged around her. If I didn’t open our door and drag her in, she would have been swept out to sea.”
- “I’ve stayed behind to chainsaw down a tree that fell on our house, but the worst hasn’t happened. The important thing is that my wife and children are out of harm’s way.”
- “Floods displaced almost everyone on the block, so we hosted a Hurricane Party to offer a safe place and serve the food that was going to spoil without refrigeration.”
The latter category of commentaries demonstrate that there are many who know the meaning of life-and-death circumstances, and can even uplift others in the wake of hardship.
While surely unintentional, this natural disaster has afforded those affected by it a small taste of how countless others around the rest of the world live – and many not just during a crisis, but on a regular basis. Perhaps the most ironic here is that a great number of the deprived in less fortunate lands have been disenfranchised or “bombed back into the Stone Age” as a result ofUSforeign policy.
According to a 2009 report in Scientific American magazine, more than one quarter of the world’s population does not have electricity 2. Obviously, since that estimate was recorded three years ago, it does not include the more recent destruction, sometimes of entire infrastructures, in Afghanistan, Egypt, Iraq, Lebanon, Libya, Syria, or Gaza. And a World Watch Institute report notes that the United States, with less than five percent of the global population, uses about a quarter of the world’s natural resources 3.
Perhaps Americans — especially younger generations who have not experienced war, shortages or poverty — are unaware of the above statistics and the privileged lifestyles that they themselves enjoy. More than 1.5 billion people around the world live in absolute poverty, with scarce access to food, shelter, water or sanitation 4. In many countries, people customarily wait on lines for the distribution of food and fuel. Kenyans, among many other nationals around the globe, boil untreated water for cooking and drinking. As Peace Corps volunteers will attest, firewood remains a primary everyday source of heat and method of cooking in many countries where reliable electricity and gas supplies are still not always available 5. Families in Armenia with the means to do so salt their meats, pickle their vegetables, and preserve their fruits to cope with the absence of refrigeration or food in winter. According to an Aleppo native who only wanted to be identified as “Takouhi,” and who, like her neighbors, roams for food while dodging indiscriminate shelling in Syria, “we eat what ever we can find at this point.” The above are where austerity lessons are to be learned.
If Hurricane Sandy has helped those inconvenienced by the storm begin to identify the however temporarily missing privileges they have taken for granted, the storm’s damage may provide a ‘teachable moment.’ But if a college-educated, foreign-born-but-local acquaintance of mine is any barometer (she was nonplussed that her grocery store stocked no bananas in the immediate aftermath of the Hurricane), let us not be surprised if cognitive dissonance persists among some who can’t or won’t gain insight from adversity. As such, I welcome the notion of a lawful requirement that every American perform volunteer humanitarian work, particularly abroad, to get a sense of how many others must live.
New York Governor Andrew Cuomo is among those who consider climate change “the new normal,” and calls for fresh approaches to protect the environment and public 6. As natural resources continue to deplete and pundits debate the reality of global warming and its effect on the planet, will Americans wake up to the realities and necessities of conservation? Are we prepared to survive amid hardship if and when we cannot simply retreat to the nearest hotel, restaurant or safe house? Do we know how to deal with scarcity, practice self-reliance, and band together? While municipalities are increasingly on the alert, it would be circumspect for individuals to also prepare for future environmental disasters, and interrupted or altogether eliminated conveniences down the line.
A woman slated to participate in the New York Marathon was interviewed on CBS News Radio, saying, “As soon as Mayor Bloomberg cancelled the Marathon in the face of Sandy, I donated my hotel room to someone displaced by the storm, and volunteered with relief workers to help those in need. 7” Once electrical power returned to her home in Queens, civic-minded Rocio Duque immediately joined with the “Occupy Sandy” volunteers to help the dispossessed in Staten Island 8. “We want to teach our children that while there may always be somebody more fortunate in life than they are, there will also be those who are less fortunate, too,” said Wendy Loszynski of Bergenfield, New Jersey, who, with her husband and three children, helped out at a hurricane relief center in Moonachie. “Volunteering this way can help our children better appreciate what they have in life, whether possessions or good health, instead of worrying about what they don’t have,” Loszynski continued.
Particularly as Thanksgiving approaches, may these and other examples of altruism, charity and solidarity in the face of adversity continue to emerge, inspire, and even guide us if and when disaster comes along.
Gilad Sharon, son of Ariel Sharon, wrote in the Jerusalem Post that Israel should “Flatten all of Gaza.”
“There should be no electricity in Gaza, no gasoline or moving vehicles, nothing. Then they’d really call for a ceasefire,” he wrote. “We need to flatten entire neighbourhoods in Gaza. Flatten all of Gaza. The Americans didn’t stop with Hiroshima – the Japanese weren’t surrendering fast enough, so they hit Nagasaki, too.”
Many Israelis and even some Zionists are ‘outraged’ but the truth must be told – Sharon’s views are fully consistent with Zionism, Israeli thinking and some aspect of Jewish culture.
For example, Sharon’s call is fully consistent with some devastating Old Testament’s passages:
‘You will chase your enemies, and they shall fall by the sword before you. Five of you shall chase a hundred, and a hundred of you shall put ten thousand to flight; your enemies shall fall by the sword before you.’ Leviticus, 26:7–8
‘When the Lord your God brings you into the land you are entering to possess and drives out before you many nations … you must destroy them totally. Make no treaty with them, and show them no mercy.’ Deuteronomy 7:1–2
‘Do not leave alive anything that breathes. Completely destroy them … as the Lord your God has commanded you …’Deuteronomy 20:16
So, both like his real father and his spiritual forefathers, the young Sharon wants to destroy the Gazans, he wants to reduce them and their civilization into dust – thoughts unfortunately embedded in the Old Testament. Though religious Jews following the Talmud rather than the Torah and may be critical of literal interpretations of the Holly book, Gilad Sharon, is a secular Israeli and yet he follows here the most banal and literal interpretation of the Biblical text.
Sharon is also in line with ultra-Zionist Vladimir Jabotinsky’s Iron Wallphilosophy. Jabotinsky believed that in the erection of an ‘iron wall’ “which the native (Arab) population cannot break through.” Some would argue that by 1948 Jabotinsky’s Iron wall, became the backbone of Israeli political pragmatism and though largely performed by his political enemies, the Nakba could be seen as the materialisation of Jabotinsky’s ideology.
Sharon’s views are also similar to those expressed this week by Israel’s deputy P.M., Eli Yishai, who contended “we must blow Gaza back to the Middle Ages destroying all the infrastructure including roads and water.”
The young Sharon is clearly a truth teller. He offers us a genuine glimpse into the murderous Israeli psychosis, and the message to be drawn is obvious. It is now time to admit that we cannot grasp the Israeli collective psychosis and fascination with violence and death without a deep understanding of Jewish culture, Jewish supremacy and Jewish tribalism.
For obvious reasons some Jews and even a few Palestinians do not want us to take this route and insist that we avoid any criticism of the Jewishness of the ‘Jewish State’. This bankrupted philosophy would be almost funny if it weren’t so tragic - Elaborating on the root cause of Zionist barbarism is now an elementary humanist obligation.
I guess that we have reached the point of no return. We must now critically examine Jewish politics, Jewish Lobbying, and Israeli crimes in the context of Jewish culture. Such an approach may save the world and hopefully, it might also save many Jews of the shackles of their own heritage.
I was actually amused to learn today that the notorious Zionist Jeffrey Goldberg, himself an ex IDF concentration camp guard, was amongst the first to denounce Gilad Sharon. Here is how he referred to Sharon’s article on Twitter:
“Gilad Sharon has called on Israel to bomb Gaza to oblivion. I’m semi-surprised the Jerusalem Post published such dreck.”
It is not at all clear at all whether Goldberg opposes Sharon’s views. However, it is obvious that Goldberg is tormented by the idea that Sharon’s view may leak out. ‘I’m semi-surprised the Jerusalem Post published such dreck’ he says. Goldberg believes that the murderous aspects so intrinsic to tribal supremacy are better kept within the ghetto walls. He doesn’t want the Goyim to know. So predictably Goldberg was amongst the first to attack my book, ‘The Wandering Who’, and pursued my endorsers for the exact same reasons. He was very concerned about what people read about Israel, Zionism, Jewish identity politics, and the ideology that motivates himself to serve in our midst as a Zionist agent.