Showing posts with label Reality. Show all posts
Showing posts with label Reality. Show all posts

Friday, August 12, 2016

Fact, The Arab World



This is a before and after photo of Aleppo, not Hiroshima, courtesy of "Regime Change" foreign policy.

After the whelming response to part one, Art asked my to deal with part to to further explain what is meant by the end of fact.  Above is a photo revealing fact.  What we are told, and most people believe, is that it was done in the cause of Democracy.  That is not fact.

How can we explain further why fact no longer exists?  Let us try television.  There are numerous "Reality Shows," and Donald Trump was the star of one of them.  It seems he still is.  At least he gives every indication of thinking his actions and words are real. 

One so-called reality show is "naked and afraid".  I watched a part of one edition, assuming the rest were the same (and I'm assured the genre is consistent) but found difficult to believe that such activity was a part of reality, that it depicted reality.  We are to assume, I assume, that people regularly take off all their clothing and walk amongst alligators and snakes, on purpose.  Happens every day. 

Well, perhaps Facebook is a better example of what reality is.  I had always thought that one is very fortunate to find a handful of friends in real life (if there is such a thing).  The last I heard, there is a limit of 5,000 "friends" one can have on that platform.  Obviously, "Friends" must mean something else.  I am not prepared to hazard a guess as to what.

Obama is the founder of ISIS.  "I was being sarcastic," says the reality star.  So, what has he said that is NOT sarcastic? 

"You will never find out," he replies.

I really can not continue this.  Sorry Art.

This Sunday, the New Your Times Magazine will feature an entire edition about the "Arab World," whatever that really is.  Here is an introduction:


·                                 Iraq
·                                 Syria
·                                 Middle East
·                                 Libya
·                                 Islamic State
·                                 Yemen
·                                 War on Terror


contributing writer for The New York Times Magazine, author of The New York Times Magazine feature piece, "Fractured Lands: How the Arab World Came Apart."


·                                 "Fractured Lands: How the Arab World Came Apart" (NYT Magazine)
This is viewer supported news
As conflicts from Iraq to Syria have forced a record 60 million people around the world to flee their homes and become refugees, we speak with Scott Anderson about his in-depth new report, "Fractured Lands: How the Arab World Came Apart." Occupying the entire print edition of this week's New York Times Magazine, it examines what has happened in the region in the past 13 years since the the U.S. invaded Iraq through the eyes of six characters in Egypt, Libya, Syria, Iraq and Iraqi Kurdistan. Anderson is also author of the book, "Lawrence in Arabia: War, Deceit, Imperial Folly and the Making of the Modern Middle East."


This is a rush transcript. Copy may not be in its final form.
AMY GOODMAN: We're talking with Scott Anderson. The New York Times did something very unusual this weekend, coming up. The entire issue of The New York Times Magazine is devoted to one article, well, which is divided into a number of parts. It's called "Fractured Lands: How the Arab World Came Apart." Scott Anderson's most recent book is called Lawrence in Arabia: War, Deceit, Imperial Folly and the Making of the Modern Middle East. Juan?
JUAN GONZÁLEZ: Well, I wanted to ask you, one of the people you profiled, Wakaz Hassan, a former ISIS fighter in Iraq—you also interviewed about 20 other formerISIS fighters.
JUAN GONZÁLEZ: What did you—what did you learn from those interviews and from his story?
SCOTT ANDERSON: There was an amazing pattern. As you say, I interviewed probably just around 20 ISIS fighters, all in prison either in Iraq or in Kurdistan now. The one pattern I found over and over again was that these were—they were all young men, kind of with very bleak futures, either unemployed or underemployed, from working-class families, and not religious at all. None of these—according to them, they were not from religious families. They did not know the Qur'an very well. In a couple of cases, I knew the Qur'an better than they did. They were not recruited in mosques. They joined because their buddies joined, I mean, you know, because they saw stuff on social media. They've all—you know, everybody has mobile phones in that part of the world. And they've all—they had all seen the ISIS videos. And I think it was this kind of decision that young men make, that better to live large for a couple of years, and, you know, the power and the so-called glamour of—but the power that comes of carrying a gun, and then, you know, worry about what happens in the future two or three years down the road. So, I felt it was—certainly, in my experience, of these kind of foot soldiers, the grunts—they were primarily the ISISmembers I've talked with—they had more akin to why somebody might join like an inner-city gang or why in Mexico they might join a narco gang. It's this kind of despair at seeing any sort of future. But it's not political, it's not religious. It's just this impulse to—you know, to have some sort of—I mean, it's awful to say, in terms ofISIS, but adventure.
JUAN GONZÁLEZ: But that's a quite different perspective from what we get here—
JUAN GONZÁLEZ: —that these are religious zealots who are willing to die for Islam.
SCOTT ANDERSON: That's right. No, it's very different. And like a lot of cults, what ISIS—you mentioned like the character, the subject of the article, Wakaz Hassan. He joined up—he was brought in by his older brother. Wakaz at that time was 19, his brother was 26. Part of his basic training was to execute six different prisoners ofISIS on six different occasions. So, it was this kind of brutalizing process where they brought him out of the barracks and he was told he had to shoot somebody in the back of the head, on six different times. And he was—at this point, he's in. It's like being in a cult, and now you're there. And at least in his view, there was no way to get out once he had signed up.
AMY GOODMAN: You have an amazing part of the end of part one of your article. It's in October 2002. This was right around the time the U.S. Congress voted to authorize war. Hillary Clinton voted to authorize the invasion of Iraq. You interviewed Muammar Gaddafi, and you asked him who would benefit if the Iraq invasion actually occurred. You write, "The Libyan dictator had a habit of theatrically pondering before answering my questions, but his reply to that one was instantaneous. 'Bin Laden,' he said. 'There is no doubt about that. And Iraq could end up becoming the staging ground for Al Qaeda, because if the Saddam government collapses, it will be anarchy in Iraq. If that happens, actions against Americans will be considered jihad.'"
AMY GOODMAN: These are the words of the Libyan leader, who ruled for what? Like 42 years.
SCOTT ANDERSON: Forty-two years, yeah.
AMY GOODMAN: You interviewed him.
AMY GOODMAN: Talk about that.
SCOTT ANDERSON: Yeah, he was—he was absolutely prescient of what was going to happen in Iraq. I had been trying to get an interview with Muammar Gaddafi for almost three years. And I finally got it, I'm convinced, because, by October, by the autumn of 2002, the drumbeat for war in Iraq was really building. I mean, it seemed pretty clear that the antiwar demonstrations were not going to have an effect: We were going in. And Gaddafi was worried that he was going to be next, that after the Bush administration overthrew Saddam Hussein, that they were going to come after him. And the Bush administration had already been floating that out. They had a hit list. And, you know, Gaddafi was on there. Then Assad was somewhere down the list, because he—you know, in Syria, they weren't the full-fledged axis of evil, but they were rising up. So, yes, so I went and spent three weeks in Libya and interviewed Gaddafi. And he was absolutely right. Everything he predicted came true to the tee.
AMY GOODMAN: Did he talk about what would happen to him?
SCOTT ANDERSON: No, no. And the interesting thing—a very interesting thing is—one of the most memorable things in the interview is I—it was almost my last question to him, and it was kind of a platitude in this question. I said, "How would you like to be remembered?" And he was so comfortable in the interview and so kind of arrogant about his position in Libya. He started off giving this kind of very, very platitudinous answer. It was like, "Well, you know, I would hope to be remembered as selfless, you know, that I gave to my people, that"—you know, just these kind of throwaway answers. And then he kind of paused for a second, and he chuckled, and he leaned towards me, and he said, "And I hope this is actually really true." You know, in other words, maybe it's always just been all about me, anyway. So, no, he had no—I don't think he had any clue that—what was coming. Nor did—you know, I think, over and over again, I don't think Hosni Mubarak, right up 'til the day he had to resign, he ever thought he was going to go. I think it's part of the nature of these kind of personality cults these dictators build around themselves, that they're so inoculated that they've just really lost touch with reality.
JUAN GONZÁLEZ: I wanted to ask you the bigger question that you try to tackle here: What went wrong with the Arab Spring? Because we're in a situation right now where, both in Europe and in the United States, people are faced with this enormous, one, refugee problem—
JUAN GONZÁLEZ: —out of the Middle East and, two, these failed states, including Yemen, which we haven't talked about at all.
SCOTT ANDERSON: Right. Yeah, that's right. Yeah.
JUAN GONZÁLEZ: And yet, there's no connection made between growing intervention from Europe and the United States is leading to more destabilization rather than less—
JUAN GONZÁLEZ: —and how you get out of that situation.
SCOTT ANDERSON: Yeah, it's very hard. If there's any consolation in the current situation, I think we're kind of near the—we're near the bottom of how bad it can get. It's hard to see how places get much worse, although Libya is going to get worse next year, because, along with the kind of division between different militias, you're also headed for an economic crash that's coming in Libya next year. They're going to run—they're just running out of money. It's hard to see how Syria gets worse. It's hard to see really how Iraq gets worse.
But I think that—so, it's very hard to see what an intervention actually looks like. You know, I've often thought, well, you know, what is the Obama administration's foreign policy in the region? And I don't think it really has one. I think it's utterly reactive at this point. But then it's hard to imagine what a proactive policy in the region would actually look like. I mean, what do you do in a place like Syria? I mean, at least in Iraq, you've—there now seems to be kind of an operating coalition against ISIS. But I think the problem—and I personally feel that, militarily, ISIS is going to be pretty much destroyed in the near future. But ISIS is not just a military—it's not a guerrilla group anymore. It's an idea. And as I was talking about these young men, you know, you have millions and millions of young men throughout the Middle East with no economic futures, who are not necessarily religious or even political in any way, but also what you have throughout the region is a kind of a built-in resentment against the West. So, that whole breeding ground is just going to continue on, and I don't see how you deactivate that.
AMY GOODMAN: Well, we want to thank you very much for being with us.
SCOTT ANDERSON: Thank you, Amy.
AMY GOODMAN: Any word to the wise on how to read this entire issue, which also has a virtual reality tour of the retaking of Fallujah with Iraqi soldiers?
SCOTT ANDERSON: Right, right. You know, I don't know. It's hard for me to say how to—because it's been my baby for a year and a half now, I don't know how really to suggest how to treat it. You know, I think, like any—it's the story of—you know, the six stories are kind of interwoven. And I think maybe to find the stories that—I think different stories will resonate with different people. I'm going to stay with that.
AMY GOODMAN: Well, I want to thank you, Scott Anderson, who has written this remarkable total issue of The New York Times Magazine called "Fractured Lands: How the Arab World Came Apart." In print, it occupies the whole issue.
That does it for our broadcast. A very special congratulations to Dave Enders and his wife Monica. Their new baby, Sophie Grace, welcome to the world.
Democracy Now! has some job openings, including senior news video producer. Go to

The original content of this program is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-Noncommercial-No Derivative Works 3.0 United States License. Please attribute legal copies of this work to Some of the work(s) that this program incorporates, however, may be separately licensed. For further information or additional permissions, contact us.

Saturday, June 23, 2012



          Our media was unusually accurate with the Arab Spring in Egypt before the corporate ‘thinkers’ got involved.  Why, they even had “Sandman”, the Twitter Toast, on CNN.  Now, however, they can’t even get that right.
          We can see what moves the military has already made, but do not be fooled by that.  Egypt has finally achieved the same sort of ‘democracy’ we have here.  That is to say, no matter who they vote for, there will be no difference.
          I had thought that it was possible for a clear-headed politician to be elected, but several of them ran and were thus eliminated, canceling out one another’s votes.  It is sort of like the Democratic Primaries here when Dennis Kucinich theoretically could have been elected.
          Now, this is not to disparage the Brotherhood.  They have actually done a great deal for the people of Egypt.  One even left the party to run and then the brotherhood was allowed to run a politician and he is sort of like an Obama here.  They other guy is left over from the Mubarak regime and is sort of like a Bush here.
          Now, what is wrong with the Brotherhood’s candidate?  Well, it may surprise you to learn (although not as much as the Egyptian people, it seems) that he worked for NASA.  In most cases, anybody who works for NASA must be an American citizen.  Hillary has made nice with him.  What else do you want?
          The results will be announced on Sunday (we are told), but don’t hold your breath.  Also, the military has already made sure that he will not be able to do anything.  The military also runs the tourism industry and other things.  Dow that sound like the Military-Industrial complex to you?  Hrm.
          Even “Liberals” here wonder if aid will be cut off and other blather.  Believe  me, the U.S. and the Egyptian military have already made sure that this election is meaningless.
          An interview:

Wednesday, June 20, 2012

A Coup in Cairo: As Muslim Brotherhood Claims Election Victory, Military Strips President of Power

Sharif Abdel Kouddous reports from Egypt on the country’s growing political crisis. Former President Hosni Mubarak is on life support, both candidates claim to have won last weekend’s election, and the ruling military council has seized greater power. Official presidential election results are not expected to be announced until Thursday. Tens of thousands of Egyptians protested Tuesday night in Cairo’s Tahrir Square in a rally called by the Muslim Brotherhood, expressing outrage over the army’s decree late Sunday that it would seize all legislative powers. "Right now the country has no constitution, no parliament, and an incoming president that will have scant power," Kouddous says. "So, really, the military council is controlling the key branches of state. ... [It’s] perhaps a fitting end to this nonsensical transition that we’ve seen over the last 16 months." [includes rush transcript]
Filed under  Egypt
Sharif Abdel Kouddous, Democracy Now! correspondent reporting from Cairo



Rush Transcript
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NERMEEN SHAIKH: We begin today’s show on the political crisis in Egypt. Former President Hosni Mubarak has been moved from prison to an army hospital in Cairo where he is reportedly unconscious and on life support. The military strongman ruled the country for 30 years until he was toppled from power during last year’s uprising. Earlier this month, he was sentenced to life in prison for his role in the deaths of protesters. Senior officers have given various accounts of the 84-year-old Mubarak’s condition, but they denied reports he was, quote, "clinically dead," as briefly reported by the state news agency.
The news comes amid high tension over the results from last weekend’s presidential vote that pitted Mubarak’s former prime minister, Ahmed Shafik, against Mohamed Morsi of the Muslim Brotherhood. Official results are not expected to be announced until Thursday, but both sides have already claimed victory.
Meanwhile, Egyptians showed little sympathy to news about Mubarak’s deteriorating health.
ADEL MORAD: [translated] We do not need anything from him or his family. We want them to leave us alone, because we’ve gotten tired of them. We are looking forward for good people to rule us. We do not need anything from his family. We want to live. We need security. We need a decent life. We need freedom. And we need to retrieve our dignity.
AMY GOODMAN: Tens of thousands of Egyptians protested Tuesday night in Cairo’s Tahrir Square in a rally called by the Muslim Brotherhood. Others protested outside Egypt’s parliament. They expressed outrage over the army’s decree late Sunday that it would seize all legislative powers. Some have described the move as a "military coup." This is Egyptian parliament member, Mhamed Uof.
MHAMED UOF: [translated] We should stream into the streets. I’m calling on all free people from the army, police, all of the state associations, and all of Egyptians who are brave and free people, to come to Tahrir Square to protest. Hosni Mubarak stepped down after only 18 days. But the military council will leave power only during nine days. We will hinder traffic, close streets. We will do whatever it takes to achieve our demands. It is going to be a civil, peaceful disobedience.
AMY GOODMAN: For more on the situation in Egypt, we go to Cairo, where we’re joined by Democracy Now! correspondent Sharif Abdel Kouddous.
Sharif, can you tell us what’s happening, from what’s happening to Mubarak right now, reported—reportedly in a coma, to what’s happening in the streets, the reports of a military coup?
SHARIF ABDEL KOUDDOUS: Well, this news of Mubarak’s health came in late last night, the state news agency, as you reported, saying that he was clinically dead. This caused, of course, a huge flurry in the media. But quickly, those reports were denied by his lawyer, senior members of the military council, who said he wasn’t clinically dead, that he had suffered a stroke or he had suffered some kind of a heart attack, his heart had stopped. There’s varying reports. What we do know is that he was transferred out of the prison where he’s been held since he received his life sentence earlier this month. He’s now in a military hospital. The news has been, honestly, treated with some skepticism amongst the Egyptian public here. I mean, Mubarak’s health and reports of his death have been swirling in the media since the beginning of this revolution, especially since he was taken into custody last year. We keep hearing rumors that he died. And also, especially when he was moved to prison earlier this month, immediately there were rumors that he had collapsed, that he was having trouble breathing. But now he’s moved out of the Tora prison. Some think that this was all just to get him out of the prison and back into a hospital. So, that’s where—that’s where that stands right now.
But it comes at a very, very sensitive time. Tomorrow we’re going to learn who the winner of Egypt’s first competitive—arguably competitive—presidential election will be. Both sides have claimed victory in the poll. The Muslim Brotherhood’s Mohamed Morsi has said that they won with 52 percent of the vote to 48 percent of Ahmed Shafik. They’ve backed this up with very detailed documents from each polling station around the country, which are stamped. And their tally seems to coincide with most independent reports and from most local media outlets. The Shafik campaign has denied that he lost, saying instead that their candidate won. But we’ll find out for sure tomorrow.
Over and above that is that what exactly—what powers will this president have, and that really this handover of power that was scheduled for June 30th has really been rendered meaningless by a sweeping set of amendments to the constitutional declaration that has been governing the country since March of 2011. These amendments were issued unilaterally by the Supreme Council of the Armed Forces and made public minutes after polls closed on Sunday evening. And really, they entrench the military’s power, and they strip the incoming president of any significant authority. And, of course, we have to remember that these amendments come just three days after the country’s top court, the Supreme Constitutional Court, dissolved the popularly elected parliament and also after a decree by the Ministry of Justice that really returns elements of martial law to Egypt and allows the military widespread powers of arrest and detention of civilians.
So, most prominently, perhaps, of these constitutional amendments is that it removes the president’s role as commander-in-chief of the armed forces. It gives that to the head of the Supreme Council, who is Field Marshal Hussein Tantawi, and effectively gives the military complete control over its own affairs. So what this does, really, is creates the Supreme Council of the Armed Forces as a fourth branch of state that’s constitutionally separate from the presidency, the parliament and the judiciary. It also—the amendments also shield the military from any kind of public oversight whatsoever, any kind of civilian oversight.
They also—the amendments also allow the military to act as parliament. In the absence of a sitting parliament, they’re allowed to issue laws by decree. They also tighten their grip on the writing of the country’s constitution. So they have an effective veto over any clause that they might disapprove of, and they can also actually go further and dissolve the current assembly, that was formed by parliament just two days before it was dissolved, and on very vague grounds, if it encounters what’s called an obstacle, they’re allowed to dissolve that body and handpick their own hundred-member body that will draft this country’s permanent constitution. And the military has made clear throughout the transitional period—we only need to look back to last fall to something called the Selmi Document to know exactly what they’re looking for, what kind of protections they’re looking for in the constitution, and that’s really to enshrine their political and economic privileges in the constitution. So, and also, to add insult to injury, they recently—the head of the advisory council to the military council, a man named Sameh Ashour, said that the incoming president may only serve for an interim period, until a new constitution is written.
Further above that, the Tantawi—the military council announced a national defense council that will be formed, of 17 members, which will be headed by the incoming president. But of those 17 members, 11 of them are senior military commanders, and decisions will be made by a simple majority vote. So, really, all of these sweeping steps have really stripped the incoming president of any significant authority, in a last-minute power grab, and really is perhaps a fitting end to this nonsensical transition that we’ve seen over the last 16 months. Right now the country has no constitution, no parliament, and a president without—an incoming president that will have scant power. So, really, the military council is controlling the key branches of state.
NERMEEN SHAIKH: Sharif, the powers you describe are, as you said, quite sweeping. Is there any way in which the incoming president can either—in any sense, either alter or overturn some of these amendments, these constitutional amendments?
SHARIF ABDEL KOUDDOUS: Well, the Muslim Brotherhood, who is widely expected to win the presidency tomorrow, has soundly rejected these amendments. They have also rejected the Supreme Court’s ruling to dissolve parliament. The army deployed troops around the parliament building to prevent MPs from entering the building over the weekend. We saw a massive protest yesterday that was called primarily by the Muslim Brotherhood but also other forces, also political forces, but including revolutionary forces like the April 6 Youth Movement. The Revolutionary Socialists were there, as well. But really, the square was packed by members of the Muslim Brotherhood who rejected these amendments. And I think it was also a show of force to act as a warning, in case Ahmed Shafik is named as president, that they might return to street protests.
From a legal perspective, whether these amendments can be overturned, it’s anybody’s guess. I mean, the Supreme Council has been changing the rules as it goes along and has issued laws by decree. There’s no—there’s no rules to the game right now. So, I’m sure negotiations are probably underway, but right now the military council is acting with a lot of hubris and really—and also in what appears to be desperation, which may be encouraging in a way, that they fear that their power may be slipping. But right now, they hold all the cards in terms of the levers of power of the state.
AMY GOODMAN: Sharif, what role does the United States play in all of this?
SHARIF ABDEL KOUDDOUS: Well, the State Department and the Pentagon voiced concern over these amendments. We heard State Department spokesperson Victoria Nuland expressing concern, as did the Pentagon. But as with so much in U.S. policy, especially towards Egypt, words rarely match the actions. And so, U.S. policy towards Egypt has changed very little since before the revolution.
Washington, of course, backed the Mubarak regime with annual military aid of $1.3 billion for decades. We’ve seen that aid continue. Congress last year, in the wake of the revolution, added a provision to the aid that had this—the State Department had to certify that the military, the ruling military council, was doing a transition to civilian democracy. The Obama administration issued a national security waiver that overrode that provision to continue the aid to Egypt, despite widespread human rights abuses by the army and security forces. It came in the wake of the NGO crisis, where U.S.-funded NGOs were raided and closed down, and the son of the transportation minister, Sam LaHood, was not allowed to travel or leave the country.
So, we’ve seen this continuation of U.S. policy where issues regarding regional concerns with Israel and so forth have trumped human rights concerns. But many people here on the ground are asking for the U.S. to finally take a stand and perhaps have its actual policy match its words and have a significant cutoff of aid, given what’s happened with this—what many are calling a constitutional coup by the military council.
AMY GOODMAN: Also, the number of people who came out to vote in this election this past weekend, can you talk about the boycott movement? I mean, the Egyptian elections are looking a little like the U.S. elections in how few people came out to vote.
SHARIF ABDEL KOUDDOUS: Amy, you know, Egyptians have gone to the polls three times in this transition, and each time they go, their vote has been rendered meaningless. They went in March 2011, voted on nine amendments to the constitution, and that was supplanted by a constitutional declaration issued unilaterally by the military council just a few days later that altered over 60 articles to the constitution. Then they went to the polls last fall, and they voted with a much lower turnout, and they voted for parliament. That parliament has now been dissolved, and so those elections were rendered worthless. And now they’ve gone to the polls again, and with again a lower turnout—or we’re actually not sure what the turnout is, to be clear, in this round, but it’s close to about 50 percent, some have predicted. And we’ve again seen that their vote has been rendered somewhat meaningless, because the person that they voted for has been stripped of all power.
So, there has been a growing movement to boycotts, a growing movement to spoil ballots, to say that there’s a third choice, we don’t have to pick between the two candidates that were represented. And I don’t know. I mean, if Egyptians find that there’s—that their vote means nothing, then perhaps they’ll seek other avenues of change. But, you know, the runoff election that we saw—really, the enthusiasm of the streets—I traveled around Cairo and went to the Delta, as well, to different polling stations, was—the enthusiasm was very low. You didn’t see the ubiquitous, you know, person holding up their ink-stained finger and proudly showing that they voted, because of this—a lot of confusion and apathy that has been fostered by this very nonsensical transition, as well as the candidates themselves—on one side, Ahmed Shafik, who’s really a stalwart of the Mubarak regime and represents the authoritarianism of that state, and on the other, the Muslim Brotherhood, a conservative Islamist group that, in many ways, has been seen as abandoning the revolution in pursuit of its own interests. So it was really a kind of a low-energy turnout.
We’ll have to wait for the numbers tomorrow. But everyone is going to be glued tomorrow to this announcement by the Presidential Elections Commission. It’s a very close vote, regardless, by all counts, somewhere between 52 to 48 or 51 to 49. And the Presidential Election Commission’s decision are unappealable. So, if they—so everyone will be tuned in tomorrow to find out who the incoming president is, even though his powers have been severely curtailed.
AMY GOODMAN: Sharif Abdel Kouddous, I want to thank you very much for being with us. Sharif is joining us from overlooking Tahrir Square in Cairo, in Egypt, Democracy Now! senior correspondent.
This is Democracy Now!,, The War and Peace Report. When we come back, Julian Assange has taken refuge in the Ecuadoran embassy in London. He is seeking political asylum. The British police have issued an arrest warrant for him. We’ll speak with Assange’s lawyer, Michael Ratner. Stay with us.

Creative Commons LicenseThe original content of this program is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-Noncommercial-No Derivative Works 3.0 United States License. Please attribute legal copies of this work to Some of the work(s) that this program incorporates, however, may be separately licensed. For further information or additional permissions, contact us.

Saturday, March 26, 2011

#Libya v. Reality

Reality is not all it's cracked up to be.  That's one of the reasons the American public is willing to accept the distortions placed on it by our corporate media.  Why go to all the trouble, when you have enough trouble yourself, to straighten things out when they present you with a nice, neat, package each night and you can move on to watch basketball or screw?  At least you can not predict the outcome of most basketball games.  And isn't baseball season coming soon?

It would have been so much easier to believe that Nixon had nothing to do with Watergate.

So, we really can't blame our public.  In addition, they are taught from an early age to believe in and accept all sorts of historical nonsense spewed by teachers who actually know better but need to tell the lies because of the PTA. 

So now Libya, with reasons identical to those against Saddam, surrounded and attacked.  The fact that Libya attacked no one and threatened no one is irrelevant.  What is relevant is the information contained in the articles below.

So much has happened in the 20th century, trust-busting, the progressive movement, Roosevelt, Social Security, Medicare, equal rights, voting rights, unemployment insurance, all things that saved Capitalism.  Well, it seems that now is the time to repeal the 20th century.  Of course we can keep the military stuff, but all this social stuff has got to go.  Unions, especially, cause problems.

I found it curious indeed that those missiles used against Libya were listed as only costing 750 K each.  Back in the days of Iraq we were told they cost 2 million each.  Of course, those were the "smart" ones, not "dumb" like the American public.  Since they often missed, they started using "very smart" bombs at a cost of 4 million each.  Maybe we are getting a volume discount?

So why is our President, your President, waiting until Monday to make his speech?  Here's why:

When the House Comes Back, You're Gonna Get in Trouble

March 25, 2011

By Robert Naiman
Source: Huffington Post

Robert Naiman's ZSpace Page

Here is some unsolicited advice for the Obama administration: you essentially have four days to put US involvement in the Libya war on a path that doesn't look like open-ended quagmire.
Otherwise, when the House comes back next week, you're going to get in trouble.
Many people have difficulty imagining the possibility that Congress could give the Obama Administration difficulty over the Libya war. Since 2001, many people think, Congress has rolled over for both the Bush and Obama Administrations on questions of war and peace. Why should now be any different?
The view that Congress has only rolled over misses important history. For example, the legislative fight over a timetable for withdrawal from Iraq was a significant contributor to the fact that we have such a timetable for withdrawal today, even though such a timetable was never enacted legislatively. Congress lost the issue legislatively, but eventually won the issue politically.
But the more important point here that many people aren't thinking about yet is that the political dynamics of the coming debate over the Libya war could be very different from the debates over Iraq and Afghanistan. If the Libya war is going full-bore next week with heavy US involvement, there could be significant opposition in Congress, especially in the House, from both Democrats and Republicans.
One key difference from the Iraq and Afghanistan wars is that regardless of what many regard as the "true" motivations of those conducting the Libya war - control of energy resources, maintaining U.S. domination over the Middle East, etc., which would be broadly consistent with what many have believed to be the true motivations of the Iraq and Afghanistan wars - the public presentation of the Libya war has been fundamentally different than for those wars. At the heart of the public justifications of the Iraq and Afghanistan wars there were national security stories: weapons of mass destruction and terrorism. Of course, in both cases there were also humanitarian intervention stories overlaid on the national security stories. But the absence of a public national security story - a threat to Americans - for the Libya war makes it fundamentally more vulnerable politically.
A critic of the Libya war can't easily be accused of being soft on terrorism, or unconcerned about defending the United States. Indeed, Pentagon officials, including Defense Secretary Gates, made sharp public criticisms of calls for U.S. military intervention in Libya, and everyone knows it. So it will be extremely difficult to bully critics of the war by portraying them as soft on defense.
A second key difference from the Iraq and Afghanistan wars is that regardless of whatever else may be true about them, they were authorized by Congress. By taking the US to war without Congressional authorization, the Obama Administration has opened itself to criticism of usurping Congressional authority. This is always a good way to make Congress angry, regardless of the issue at hand, and doing so gives Congress a political opening to pass legislation to limit the Administration's actions.
A third factor is that half of the House Democratic Caucus is already livid over the Obama Administration's repeated escalations of the Afghanistan quagmire. In just the last month, half of the House Democratic caucus has voted to essentially eliminate funding for the war in Afghanistan; half of the House Democratic Caucus has voted to require that US forces be withdrawn from Afghanistan by the end of the year. Numerically, these votes were drowned out by the fact that the overwhelming majority of House Republicans have continued to vote for the war; but on the Libya war, House Republicans aren't tied down to a previous position, and have much more room for maneuver because there is no public national security justification. Meanwhile, The Hill notes, the Libya war is burning through the cuts that House Republicans won to reduce the deficit.
Of course, if a significant number of Congressional Republicans turn against the Libya war, then we can expect a major effort to bully Democrats to "support the President," regardless of what they think about the merits of the war, or the fact that the Administration did not seek Congressional authorization. But it may be hard to bully some Democrats to "support the President" on the Libya war while the President is burning them on Afghanistan; indeed, many Democrats, not just the most liberal ones, have already spoken out against the Libya war and the Administration's decision to launch it without Congressional authorization.
Moreover, many Democrats understand that a dangerous precedent will be set if President Obama is allowed to bomb Libya without Congressional authorization; if Obama can bomb Libya without Congress' approval, a future President Palin could bomb Iran without Congress' approval.
If Congress decides to take action, it can do many things.
One thing Congress could easily do is expressly prohibit the introduction of US ground troops to Libya. Such action would be hard for the Administration to oppose politically, because it is an overwhelmingly popular position politically, and because President Obama has promised not to introduce US ground troops into Libya. So Congress would simply be nailing President Obama's promise to the wall.
A second thing Congress could do is prohibit US manned aircraft from flying over Libyan airspace. This would ensure that no US pilots are shot down over Libya, or crash in Libya for any other reason, as happened this week. Thus, no US pilots could be killed or injured or become hostages.
A third thing Congress could do is establish a timetable for the withdrawal of US military forces from the conflict.
A fourth thing Congress could do is establish a ceiling - for example, a billion dollars - of what the Administration can spend on the Libya war without further authorization.
Of course, Congress could do many other things if it so chooses, including shutting down US participation in the war immediately.
Making such proposals the subject of legislative debate is an intrinsic good, regardless of whether they are enacted into law; they are a form of pressure that will limit the ability of the Administration to escalate the war.
There are important historical precedents.
As a 2004 CRS report on the history of the War Powers Resolution notes, in 1990-1 the first Bush Administration tried to argue that it did not need explicit Congressional authorization to attack Iraq. Then, as now, the President argued, among other things, that he was implementing a UN Security Council resolution and that he did not need additional Congressional authority. But Members of Congress disputed this claim; 45 Democrats sought a judicial order enjoining the President from offensive military operations unless he consulted with and obtained an authorization from Congress. The request for injunction was denied, but on grounds that did not address the underlying legal claim. In the event, Congressional leaders announced that they were going to debate the issue and there was a Congressional authorization of force.
In October 1995, the House, by a vote of 315-103, passed a resolution asserting that "no United States Armed forces should be deployed on the ground in the territory of the Republic of Bosnia and Herzegovina to enforce a peace agreement until the Congress has approved such a deployment." In December 1995, the House narrowly defeated H.R. 2770, which would have prohibited the use of Federal funds for the deployment "on the ground" of U.S. Armed Forces in Bosnia-Herzegovina "as part of any peacekeeping operation, or as part of any implementation force," by a vote of 210-218. The House then approved H.Res. 302 reiterating "serious concerns and opposition" to the deployment of U.S. ground troops to Bosnia.
On April 28, 1999, the House of Representatives passed H.R. 1569, by a vote of 249-180, prohibiting the use of funds appropriated to the Defense Department from being used for the deployment of "ground elements" of the U.S. Armed Forces in the Federal Republic of Yugoslavia unless that deployment were specifically authorized by law.
The same day the House defeated, in a dramatic 213-213 tie vote, S.Con.Res. 21, the Senate resolution passed on March 23, 1999, that supported military air operations and missile strikes against Yugoslavia.
Two days later, the ACLU sent a letter to Senate Majority Leader Trent Lott:
We are writing to urge that you insist on strict compliance with the Constitution in connection with the commitment of U.S. troops in Kosovo, Yugoslavia and surrounding areas. The possible commitment of U.S. ground troops requires prior congressional authorization under the U.S. Constitution and the War Powers Resolution. In fact, such authorization is also required for any air and missile strikes by U.S. forces in connection with any air war in Yugoslavia. Mere consultation with members of Congress, while a step in the right direction, does not meet the constitutional requirement that congressional authorization precede U.S. military intervention.
The air war was never authorized. That didn't stop it; a legal effort to block the air war on this basis was ultimately dismissed in the courts on the grounds that 1) Congressional action had sent contradictory messages, and if it had wanted to explicitly prohibit the air war from continuing, Congress could have done so and 2) the Members of Congress who sued did not have standing since they did not represent the majority of Congress.
Nonetheless, the failure of the House to pass the resolution in support of the air war had a salutary political effect on the Clinton Administration: it made the Administration less intransigent in international diplomacy to resolve the crisis. After the vote, President Clinton suggested that there could be a "pause" in NATO's bombing of Yugoslavia to allow space for diplomacy. There was a peace accord a month later, in which the Clinton Administration accepted terms it likely could have achieved without the bombing.
So far, there has been no serious diplomatic effort backed by the West to resolve the crisis in Libya without the escalation of violence; efforts by others to achieve a diplomatic resolution have been dismissed. It seems likely that the only way to convince the US, France and Britain to give negotiations a chance is to put some obstructions in the current path towards military escalation. Therefore, the best thing Congress can do to help save lives in Libya right now is to construct some political obstacles to further military escalation.

Moreover, as we all know from bitter experience, there is an intrinsic tendency of wars to escalate and expand. Those who support the current military operations, but do not want them to expand and escalate, should support efforts to prevent their expansion.

From: Z Net - The Spirit Of Resistance Lives


Libya Intervention Threatens The Arab Spring

Despite its official UN-granted legality, the credibility of Western military action in Libya is rapidly dwindling.
March 24, 2011

By Phyllis Bennis
Source: Al Jazeera

Phyllis Bennis's ZSpace Page

Western air and naval strikes against Libya are threatening the Arab Spring.

Ironically, one of the reasons many people supported the call for a no-fly zone was the fear that if Gaddafi managed to crush the Libyan people's uprising and remain in power, it would send a devastating message to other Arab dictators: Use enough military force and you will keep your job.
Instead, it turns out that just the opposite may be the result: It was after the UN passed its no-fly zone and use-of-force resolution, and just as US, British, French and other warplanes and warships launched their attacks against Libya, that other Arab regimes escalated their crack-down on their own democratic movements.

In Yemen, 52 unarmed protesters were killed and more than 200 wounded on Friday by forces of the US-backed and US-armed government of Ali Abdullah Saleh. It was the bloodiest day of the month-long Yemeni uprising. President Obama "strongly condemned" the attacks and called on Saleh to "allow demonstrations to take place peacefully".
But while a number of Saleh's government officials resigned in protest, there was no talk from Saleh's US backers of real accountability, of a travel ban or asset freeze, not even of slowing the financial and military aid flowing into Yemen in the name of fighting terrorism.
Similarly in US-allied Bahrain, home of the US Navy's Fifth Fleet, at least 13 civilians have been killed by government forces. Since the March 15 arrival of 1,500 foreign troops from Saudi Arabia and the UAE, brought in to protect the absolute power of the king of Bahrain, 63 people have been reported missing.
Hillary Clinton, the US secretary of state, said: "We have made clear that security alone cannot resolve the challenges facing Bahrain. Violence is not the answer, a political process is."

But she never demanded that foreign troops leave Bahrain, let alone threatened a no-fly zone or targeted air strikes to stop their attacks. 

Legality vs. legitimacy
Despite its official UN-granted legality, the credibility and legitimacy of Western military action is dwindling rapidly, even in key diplomatic circles. For the Western alliance, and most especially for the Obama administration, support from the Arab League was a critical prerequisite to approving the military intervention in Libya.
The League's actual resolution, passed just a couple of days before the UN Security Council vote, approved a far narrower military option - essentially only a no-fly zone, with a number of stated cautions against any direct foreign intervention.
Of course, a no-fly zone is foreign intervention, whether one wants to acknowledge it or not, but it is not surprising that the Arab League's approval was hesitant - it is, after all, composed of the exact same leaders who are facing inchoate or massive challenges to their ruling power at home. Supporting the attack on a fellow dictator - oops, sorry, a fellow Arab ruler - was never going to be easy.
And as soon as the air strikes began in Libya, Arab League chief Amr Moussa immediately criticised the Western military assault. Some commentators noted the likelihood that Arab governments were pressuring Moussa out of fear of Libyan terror attacks in their country; I believe it is more likely that Arab leaders fear popular opposition, already challenging their rule, will escalate as Libyan deaths rise.
Overlooking the African Union

Early on, the US had also identified support from the African Union (AU) as a critical component. But as it became clear that the AU would not sign on to the kind of attack on Libya contemplated in the UN resolution, the need for that support (indeed the AU itself) disappeared from Western discourse on the issue.

Shortly after the bombing began, the five-member AU committee on the Libya crisis called for an "immediate stop" to all the attacks and "restraint" from the international community.
It went further, calling for the protection of foreign workers with a particular reference to African expatriates in Libya (responding to reports of attacks on African workers by opposition forces), as well as "necessary political reforms to eliminate the cause of the present crisis".
So within 48 hours of the bombing campaign's opening salvos, the US and its allies have lost the support of the Arab and African institutions the Obama administration had identified as crucial for going ahead.

Other countries turned against the attacks as well; the Indian government, which had abstained on the Security Council vote, toughened its stance, saying that it "regrets the air strikes that are taking place" and that implementation of the UN resolution "should mitigate and not exacerbate an already difficult situation for the people of Libya".
The question remains, what is the end game? The UN resolution says force may only be used to protect Libyan civilians, but top US, British and French officials have stated repeatedly that "Gaddafi must go" and that he has "lost legitimacy to rule". They clearly want regime change.
The military commanders insist that regime change is not on their military agenda, that Gaddafi is not "on a target list," but there is a wink-and-a-nod at ''what if'' questions about a possible bombing "if he is inspecting a surface-to-air missile site, and we do not have any idea if he is there or not".

What you ask for ain't always what you get
There is no question Libya's opposition, like most of the democratic movements shaping this year's Arab Spring, wants an end to the dictatorial regime in their country.
Unlike the democratic movements in neighbouring countries, the Libyan movement is fighting an armed military battle, something approaching a civil war, against the regime's forces.

That movement, facing a ruthless military assault, has paid a far higher price in lost and broken lives than the non-violent activists in the other democratic uprisings, and even with components of the military joining them, they were out-gunned and desperate. So it is not surprising that they pleaded for international support from the powerful countries and institutions most able to provide immediate military aid, even if that aid ultimately threatened their own independence.

But, what they got was probably way more than even the Libyan opposition itself anticipated. And despite the exultation over the first downed tanks, questions loom.
What if some kind of stalemate leaves Libya divided and military attacks continuing? What if the opposition realises that negotiations (perhaps under the auspices of newly democratising Egypt and Tunisia) are urgently needed, but cannot be convened because the US and French presidents have announced that the Libyan leader has no legitimacy and cannot be trusted? 
And what if, as earlier US-imposed no-fly zones (both unilateral and UN-endorsed) have experienced, the attack leads to rising numbers of civilian casualties, killed by Western coalition bombs and an escalating, rather than diminishing, civil war? What then?

The UN resolution clearly is looking ahead to just such an eventuality. It calls on the secretary-general to inform the UN Security Council of all military actions, instructing him to "report to the Council within seven days and every month thereafter".
The UN, at least, seems to be preparing for another long war - that could last far longer than this year's Arab spring.
Phyllis Bennis is a Fellow of the Institute for Policy Studies and the Transnational Institute in Amsterdam. Her books include Calling the Shots: How Washington Dominates Today's UN.

From: Z Net - The Spirit Of Resistance Lives