Monday, February 28, 2011

The Shaheed Game

The Stolen Child - Away with us he's going, The solemn eyed: He'll hear no more the lowing Of the calves on the warm hillside Or the kettle on the hob Sing peace into his breast, Or see the brown mice bob Round and round the oatmeal-chest.

Sunday, February 27, 2011

The Leavings Of Yesterday's Men: "Souvenirs Of Pure Social And Political Reaction."

I recall the lifeless cadences of their sentences for, with nothing positive to say about their people, they simply regurgitate the tired American formulas: we lack democracy; we haven't challenged Islam enough, we need to drive away the spectre of Arab nationalism.

- Edward Said, on Egypt's revolutionary democrats, 2003.

"You can search Said's articles in vain for the words now on the lips of young people across the region: democracy, freedom, women's rights. Instead, like earlier colonialist bromides they are souvenirs of pure social and political reaction. What seems obvious about the young Libyans in the streets of Tobruk, Benghazi and Tripoli - like young Iranians and Egyptians, and quite possibly many Syrians and Saudis too - is that they no longer want any truck with those miserable self-serving fantasies of Arab victimhood and Zionist sorcery. Instead, they merely want to live - as Said was lucky enough to do - in a 'normal' country, where their persons will be treated with dignity and their views with respect." - David Burchell, Libyans Failed by Left Orientalism.

Along with the now lifeless Edward Said there are also the undead. Consider Robert Spencer, whose biography reads a little like Edward Said's, in its way. Like Said was, Spencer is a scholar, a widely published author, and an American of Middle Eastern Christan extraction with legions of fans. Like Said, Spencer is widely regarded in his circles, as was Edward Said in his own, as an authority on the imaginary frontiers that cleave the world between "west" and "east." The Czar Gaddafi insists that the Libyan protests are the result of Al Qaida putting hallucinogens in everybody's Nescafe. Not to be outdone:

They may be pro-democracy insofar as they want the will of the people to be heard, but given their worldview, their frame of reference, and their core assumptions about the world, if that popular will is heard, it will likely result in huge victories for the Muslim Brotherhood and similar pro-Sharia groups.

- Robert Spencer, on Libya's revolutionary democrats, 2011.

In light of everything we are witnessing from Casablanca to Isfahan, the miserable and allegedly "progressive" viewpoint taken by Edward Said's followers is matched by and coupled with Spencer's lurid "conservative" cynicism in a symbiotic death grip, each parasitic upon the other, both offering nothing but the ravings of demented Americans. Everything is being swept away - it is 1989, it is 1917, it is 1848, as you like. As it is with Edward Said's followers, Spencer's fan base now betrays itself as an assortment of specimens from the Upper Cretaceous period of the Mesozoic era. They are yesterday's men. They are zombies.

It is not just to the price of oil that the rebellions are proving so terribly inconvenient. All the evidence, from Tunisia, Libya, Bahrain, Egypt and Iran, shows that democracy, freedom, work, wages and a "normal" life are exactly what the people are demanding. The people are not clamouring for the immolation of the Jews anymore than they are hollering for the appointment of Norman Finkelstein as the defence minister.

In Egypt, the April 6 Movement that started it all is root and branch a movement of trade unionists, secularists, and young intellectuals, all committed democrats. The Muslim Brotherhood was completely marginalized by it. The Ikhwan failed utterly in its attempts to hijack the uprising and now Finkelstein's chums among the aging Brethren sit in their solitary chairs with the rest of the Egyptian establishment, studying ways to mollify the revolt.

In Libya, the February 17 movement has been consistent in its intentions for a secular democracy. The Libyans who have been pleading for our help have heard only cynical incoherence and self-gratifying expressions of outrage, but even so, even the Libyan imams have pleaded for the February 17 demands and continue to assert their faithfulness to the same secular cause.

In Tunisia last week, 15,000 demonstrators gathered to condemn the Islamists who mobbed a synagogue and murdered a Polish Catholic priest in an obscene attempt to hijack the Tunisian uprising. The pro-democracy banners in Tunis read: "Nous sommes tous Musalmans, nous sommes tous Chretiens, nous sommes tous Juifs." On it goes like this, in Morocco, across Iran, and in little Bahrain.

"The Arab revolution is consigning skip-loads of articles, books and speeches about the Middle East to the dustbin of history," writes Nick Cohen in the Guardian. Nick is a comrade of mine so I would say this, but I will anyway point out that Cohen is one of only a few journalists in the Anglosphere to have been consistently accurate in his charting of the modern-day terrain at the frontiers between freedom and contemporary slavery, between democracy and the contemporary iterations of fascism. "Far from being a cause of the revolution, antagonism to Israel everywhere served the interests of oppressors. Europeans have no right to be surprised. Of all people, we ought to know from our experience of Nazism that antisemitism is a conspiracy theory about power, rather than a standard racist hatred of poor immigrants. Fascistic regimes reached for it when they sought to deny their own people liberty."

Iranians had that one figured out long ago. The Khomeinst-ordered rallies where people were admonished year after year to chant Marg Bar Israel have been supplanted since 2009 by the masses in their throngs chanting Marg Bar Diktator. By two weeks ago the protestors were chanting: "Not Gaza or Lebanon! Tunisia, Egypt, and Iran! Whether Cairo or Tehran, Death to Tyrants!"

The world order is at last on the brink. The handsome American president whose nervous statements about the Arab urprisings are all composed of sentences strangely formed in the passive tense; the world jeering and laughing at the UN Security Council (not long ago chaired by Libya) and at the UN Human Rights Council (Libya, a chair of its precedessor, still a member in good standing); the antique notion of America as the leader of the free world; the decrepit notion of Israel as the oppressor of the Arabs. . . from these ruins, something new is arising. Libya is its fulcrum.

"There is no middle ground here, no splitting of the difference," writes Fouad Ajami. "It is a fight to the finish in a tormented country. It is a reckoning as well, the purest yet, with the pathologies of the culture of tyranny that has nearly destroyed the world of the Arabs." Keeping his good humour about him, Rex Murphy still concludes: "The UN does not help the world any longer. As the Libya case manifests, it is an impediment." Irwin Cotler, Canada's former justice minister, lays out a perfectly sound, uncomplicated and unimpeachably sensible nine-point forward strategy that would at least begin to turn all that around. Might as well raise the flag to see if anyone still knows how to salute it, I guess, and good for Irwin for taking the trouble.

It is too late to recover any "American prestige" from this. That's fine. It is too early to know where it is all going. That will have to do for the moment. But it's not going to stop, and for now, the rich world will mostly care about what these inconveniences mean for oil's barrel price. Americans will continue to eat their oil. They will continue to look to the "Arab world" to buy oil to eat. Soon enough there will be none left, but for now, the tumult is like wind inside a letterbox and the "American world" carries on, oblivious, confused, irrelevant. Nothing's going to change that world, not for a long, long time.

Earthquakes in Japan, famines in China, revolutions in Mexico? Don't worry, the milk will be on the doorstep tomorrow morning, the New Statesman will come out on Friday. . .

- George Orwell, Homage to Catalonia.

Saturday, February 26, 2011

"The Apotheosis Of International Hypocrisy."

Aurel Braun in the Toronto Star:

With the world no longer able to avert its eyes from the mass bloodshed in Libya, and as Moammar Gadhafi’s deadly degradation of his people reaches a new peak, there is more than enough blame to go around.

Primary responsibility certainly goes to Gadhafi and his regime, but the international community that for four decades legitimized and propped up one of the worst abusers of human rights cannot evade responsibility. At the apotheosis of international hypocrisy in supporting Gadhafi stands the United Nations Human Rights Council (with the Office of the High Commissioner for Human Rights as its official secretariat). . .

Aurel points out that Libya, a member of the UN Human Rights Council, once served as chair of its predecessor, the disgraced UN Human Rights Commission. An amusing detail: Not long ago, Libya chaired the UN Security Council, if you please.

Ah, memory lane. Remember how the "Zionist" Canadian government got into such trouble for boycotting the UNHRC's "Durban II" conference? Remember how NDP leader Jack Layton originally mumbled support for Ottawa's decision but then reversed himself after NDP MPs openly revolted? Remember how Layton justified the about-face by saying he was confident Durban II would not turn into an antisemitic gong show? Remember how dozens of UN delegates stormed out of Durban II in protest while the holocaust-denying Iranian gasbag Mahmoud Ahmadinejad turned Durban II into an antisemitic gong show?

You might not remember that Iranians were told by their censored press that Ahmadinejad "received an ovation" that day in Geneva. You might not remember that a similarly Pravda-worthy account was ubiquitous at the time in Canada's pseudo-left press. More importantly, you may be unaware that all along, Libya was running the UN Human Rights Council 's Durban II planning committee, and served as chair of the main Durban II conference committee. Here is the charming Libyan chair Najjat Al-Hajjaji, confronted in the UNHRC planning committee by the Palestinian doctor Ashraf El Hagog, one of several foreign doctors and nurses sentenced to death and held in a Libyan prison for nine years for revealing the extent of HIV infection among Libya infants:

Out Of The Night, The Arab Revolt: America Disgraces Itself, But Canada Is No Better.

"If President Obama wanted to bury Iranian president Mahmoud Ahmadinejad’s dream of being the hero of the Arab world, he’d immediately order U.S. fighter aircraft into the skies of Libya to destroy all airplanes, helicopters, and armored columns attacking the citizenry." But America dithered and pipsqueaked. This will be remembered for generations.

Canada has nothing like the guns-and-money heft of the United States (and it's not much heft of that sort that is required at the moment anyway). Canada is nonetheless uniquely situated to play a robust, constructive and supportive role in the democratic uprising sweeping so much of the world at the moment. We have not been useful, and we are being too little, too late, even now. Despite all the fashionable tropes that would have you believe the contrary, Canada is uniquely advantaged as a rich, trusted democracy with no "imperialist" blood on its hands and no history of propping up despotisms in far-away places (although lately in Libya, Canada has been coming damn close to doing just that). But Canadians have been enfeebled by those same tropes, and we remain perhaps uniquely burdened by the fashionable vanities that caused the "west" to be blind to the vitality of a pro-democratic Arab mobilization that had been underway for years.

An unseemly and hysterical preoccupation with the transgressions of Israel, a democratic island in a sea of Arab police states, has been necessary to sustain that blind vanity. The same pathological ideational package that required you to be deaf to the raised voices that foreshadowed the anti-totalitarian mobilization shaking the world at the moment has also condemned the indigenous, anti-Taliban, pro-democracy struggle in Afghanistan to wage its struggle in the dark, for years on end (see A Choice of Comrades .pdf, Democratiya/Dissent).

Last year, the Canada-Afghanistan Solidarity Committee concluded an exhausting series of inquiries and consultations in Afghanistan. A key recommendation of our Keeping Our Promises report calls for action on the 2007 Standing Committee on Foreign Affairs and International Development proposal titled “Advancing Canada’s Role in International Support for Democratic Development.” In November, 2009, a Committee advisory panel co-authored by Thomas Axworthy, Senator Pamela Wallin, Leslie Campbell and Éric Duhaime called on Prime Minister Stephen Harper to hurry up, go global and get on with it (and establish a field office in Kabul right lively now).

What happened? It was only after the Egyptian uprising was well underway that Canadians noticed: Dream of Canadian Democracy Centre Melts as Arab World Boils. "Despite Prime Minister Stephen Harper's oft-repeated support for freedom, human rights and the rule of law abroad, his Conservative cabinet rejected a proposal in the fall to create a Canadian centre for promoting democracy." Further, and again from the fine reporter Jennifer Ditchburn: "The Canadian government might be wringing its hands from the sidelines of the roiling Arab world, but individual Canadians are playing a central role in promoting democracy in the region."

Notice the Canadian names? Leslie Campbell, co-author the 2009 advisory panel report, had to shuffle off to America's USAID-constrained National Democratic Institute. Peter Van Praagh, who was working for Canada's pro-democracy defence minister, Peter MacKay, settled in with the U.S. German Marshall Fund. Former Canadian Conservative staffer Jamie Tronnes is now deputy director of the Africa division for the U.S. International Republican Institute. On and on it goes.

And so, Canada's broken and dysfunctional Rights and Democracy agency trundles along, on life support, usefully serving as a punching bag for reactionary and decrepit Canadian pundits who persist in the same discredited, antiquated and sollopsistic obsessions with Israel. Despite the paridgm-smashing upheavals underway all around the world, the comfortable punditti have the temerity to posit that it is Harper's preoccupation with Israel - another convenient fiction - that justifies their own sordid delusions, if you don't mind.

A new world is being born. As it was in 1848, 1917, 1956, 1968 and 1989, so it is now. No one can claim clairvoyance, but one thing is certain: Freedom will find a way. It always has. Democracy and liberty will advance, three steps forward, two steps back, if needs be. The only question that matters now, from a narrow "national security" analysis to an internationalist, progressive-interventionist standpoint, is which side we are on. That is the only question that will matter in the years to come, too. In struggles as epochal as these, history does not allow the disgraceful, isolationist narcissism of conscientious objection. There is no place for that but history's dustbin.

We are living in moments that will be remembered through the generations. Allons-y. Allons-y.

UPDATE 1: Hats off to Hugh Segal and Romeo Dallaire for taking the time and effort to articulate a robust, real-world strategy that Canada could lead to defend and support the Libyan people, right now and well after the Gaddafis are gone. Excellent work, lads.

UPDATE 2: In an completely bizarre twist, the NDP's Paul Dewar (and you thought the NDP was Canada's smart "left-wing" party?) shoved his own foot straight down his own throat in front of a rally of 250 people on Parliament Hill: “We call on the Harper government to immediately refer Gadhafi and his cronies to the International Criminal Court to be held accountable for crimes against humanity.” If Dewar had read his own home-town newspaper he would have known that the day before, Prime Minister Harper had already called on the Security Council to refer the Gaddafis to the Hague. If Dewar knew the first thing about what he was talking about, he would also have known that Canada cannot simply "refer Gadhafi and his cronies" to the ICC, because Libya never signed the Rome treaty.

UPDATE 3: It gets even crazier. Haroon Siddiqui, one of the most decrepit, far-right (but so fashionable!) pundits inflicted on Canadians in these matters (to see what progressive Canadian Muslims think of Siddiqui you must watch this clip), bends himself into pretzels on his comfy chair at the Toronto Star slagging off his adversaries to the purpose of presenting a plan to leave the Gaddafis happy in Tripoli. "When I was in Libya two years ago. . . (I wonder what that was about?) I didn’t see the current rebellion coming," he writes. I bet he didn't.

Friday, February 25, 2011

From The Libyan Front: Their Pleas For Help Ignored,The Rebels Fight On, Alone.

The latest from the Libyan Front: Unarmed demonstrators are being mowed down in the streets of Tripoli. The Gaddafi regime positioned gunmen on rooftops and at ground level to fire automatic weapons and even an anti-aircraft gun into crowds assembled for the first major anti-government march in the city in several days. Witnesses are reporting multiple deaths. "In the first wave of fire, seven people within 10 meters of me were killed. Many people were shot in the head," said one man who marching from Tripoli's eastern Tajoura district. Moammar Gaddafi, from the ramparts of the Red Castle exhorted his followers: "Retaliate against them, retaliate against them." Wearing a fur cap, he shook his fist in the air: "Prepare to defend Libya, to defend the oil, dignity and independence."Elsewhere, Gaddafi's tanks dispatched against local residents and rebel soldiers have retaken the Misrata Airport.

Leon Wieseltier: Even if we intervene, we will not have democratized Libya. Libya will have democratized Libya. And it is both our moral duty and our strategic responsibility to align ourselves with this emerging and emancipated Libya. The idea that assistance does not compromise the autonomy of the assisted is in fact one of the central beliefs of liberalism. We invoke it in our social policies all the time. We help people to help themselves. And that is all that is being asked of us by these liberalizing revolutions; no less, but no more. We disappointed Tehran. We disappointed Cairo. Now we are disappointing Tripoli. It is so foolish, and so sad, and so indecent.

Christopher Hitchens: The United States, with or without allies, has unchallengeable power in the air and on the adjacent waters. It can produce great air lifts and sea lifts of humanitarian and medical aid, which will soon be needed anyway along the Egyptian and Tunisian borders, and which would purchase undreamed-of goodwill. It has the chance to make up for its pointless, discredited tardiness with respect to events in Cairo and Tunis. It also has a president who has shown at least the capacity to deliver great speeches on grand themes. Instead, and in the crucial and formative days in which revolutions are decided, we have had to endure the futile squawkings of a cuckoo clock.

Thursday, February 24, 2011

Marg Bar Diktator: Marg Bar Ahmadinejad, Marg Bar Gaddafi, Marg Bar Mugabe.

Wednesday, February 23, 2011

It's Just An Issue Between The Libyan People And Their Leader.

In September, 2005, when the United States of America pleaded for Canada's help in the aftermath of Hurricane Katrina, we did not respond this way: "Again, you know, this ultimately and fundamentally an issue between, you know, the American government, its leader, and the American people." Instead, within days, three Canadian warships and a Coast Guard vessel, loaded with relief supplies and carrying 1,000 Canadian Forces members, set sail for New Orleans.

From the beginning, Libyans have been pleading for help. All they've heard from President Obama, apart from one or two of the usual mutterings of shock and dismay, is silence. And this, yesterday, from State Department spokesman P.J. Crowley: "Again, you know, this ultimately and fundamentally an issue between, you know, the Libyan government, its leader, and the Libyan people."

After nervously waiting and watching to see what other heads of state might say (by the way, thank you President Alan Garcia of Peru, you are now the leader of the free world), the American president has at last mustered the courage to add his timid voice to what is now an ever-louder chorus for some kind of intervention. The aircraft carrier USS Enterprise is only days away from the Libyan coast. Its fighter jets are only minutes away. We'll see.

But we musn't be mean to the nice people in the White House. After all, this has to be a multilateral thing. It has to go through the UN Security Council and the UN Human Rights Council. Good luck with that.

Meanwhile, I see Sarah Leah Whitson of Human Rights Watch has a kind of "Well I'll be dashed, I appear to have been quite wrong about that charming Saif Gaddafi" exculpation in today's LA Times. She might have at least said sorry for the Springtime for Hitler bouquet she presented to the Gaddafis a couple of years back, but these days, one takes whatever cold comfort comes along. Props for Sarah.

Do keep an eye on the February 17 movement. For a glimpse of the way the UN Human Rights Council machine covers up the Gaddafis' crimes (Libya is a UNHRC member in good standing) while Big Mo and the boys rob the Libyan people blind and trample their human rights into the sand, it works like this:

The Slaughter Of The Libyans: Criminal Negligence Causing Death.

There is a thing that knows no east and no west, an ancient moral principle to be found in the English common law, in Sha'ria, in Judaism and Christianity and in the most elementary of tribal codes. It pays attention to the crime of conscious disregard for human suffering. At the moment I'm thinking of the UN, the US and the UK in the matter of the slaughter of the Libyans.

You see a woman being savagely beaten in the street, you have the means to stop it and you do nothing, and the woman's blood is on your hands just as surely as if it were you who administered the beating. It is foundational to civilization itself. It is not particularly complicated, although its application in international law is, to put it delicately, a bit underdeveloped at the moment. No matter.

I would have thought that the moral culpability of such criminal negligence as we are now witnessing in the matter of Libya is compounded by the retreat into self-flattering proclamations of how shocked and appalled one is and resort to pharasaic handwringing, codicil-study and sanctimony in place of action - I find it so upsetting, I must issue a press release! -but then I'm not a lawyer. I am however dimly aware that liberty allows for defence, harsh restraint and punishment outside the law, should the law itself avail no remedy. We can put that last bit aside for the moment, although just for the moment, because it will come up, sooner or later (and the sooner the better).

People remember these kinds of events. What is happening today will be remembered. For the moment I'm thinking about the UN, the US and the UK only because there are no ambiguities involved with respect to capacity, means, prior culpability, foreknowledge, and democratic duty to act in the matter of coming to the aid of the Libyan people. The list of the guilty is obviously and properly longer. Canada should be on it, probably.

The UN is on the list only because the people of the world tend to place their trust in the UN (I know, we are all so foolish) to control the savage behaviour of its member states. The US and the UK stand out only because of their unambiguous guilt in providing the Gaddafis with the weapons and the blood-for-oil receipts necessary to carry out the slaughters being visited upon the Libyan people, right now.

It is difficult to find much comfort to be taken at the moment, but there is some cold comfort to be found, and not just in the "Arab world." A decrepit and disgraceful paradigm is crashing down all around us. "The revolts are helping remake much of the vocabulary and thought patterns through which Western commentators and policy makers relate to that world. They have exposed the hypocrisy underlying much discussion of democracy in the West," writes the brilliant author, journalist and democrat Kenan Malik. "For decades the talk from Western politicians has been about the importance of democracy. Now that Arab people want democracy – and want it now – many in West are telling them to take it slowly, that it may take years, even generations, to create the conditions and institutions of ‘deep democracy’."

Of course it is true that it takes years, even generations, for democracy to flourish. All the more reason to get on with it, to fight back against the forces that counsel putting it off to some later time.

The paradigm that is collapsing is the current that those of us committed to the cause of Afghan democracy have been swimming against since 2006, so I should confess to a sensation of some tiny and cold vindication. You could say that there is comfort to be had in the knowledge that everything we have been saying is being confirmed in spades. The paradigm that has required that we all be deaf to the voices of the vast majority of Afghans is also what has made almost everyone deaf to the voices of young Egyptians, Iranians, Tunisians, and Bahrainis. That is the paradigm that is collapsing. While everyone was tricked out in their kaffiyehs shouting "We are all Hezbollah now," the true Arab revolutionaries were organizing, slowly and methodically, and it looks very much like a new world is being born. So there's that.

It is also Mansour Osanloo's birthday today. Mansour is celebrating his 51st birthday, alone, in a Khomeinist dungeon in Tehran's Evin Prison. He has been in jail for four years now, for the crime of being the elected president of Tehran's independent bus drivers' union. It may be cold comfort to him, but he must know that he hasn't been completely forgotten.

So happy birthday, Mansour. One day, freedom will come.

Tuesday, February 22, 2011

Why Isn't His House On Fire?

Guest post: Joe Mufferaw, Buenaventura Durruti Rod & Gun Club, Fort Chipewyan.

The English have somehow restrained themselves from burning it down, I suppose. It's Saif "Sword of Islam" Gaddafi's house in posh Hampstead, North London. It's an eight-bedroom mansion with a swimming pool, sauna & jacuzzi and a suede-lined cinema room where the dirty little scrounger can watch his daddy's airplanes drop bombs on impudent Libyan demonstrators.

It is said to have been worth £10 million when Saif bought it a couple of years back with money he stole from the Libyan people. The house must have retained its value at the least, what with the cachet it has lately derived from its famous owner. So, ever mindful of the burden upon London ratepayers, my calculations suggest that for the currency-conversion equivalent of US $16 million that this crackerjack palace should fetch in its fortuitously still fine condition, here's what the English could buy for themselves:

That little darling is what is called a General Atomics M-Q 9 Reaper Drone - and we'd still have $6 million left over. So, and again at no cost to the British treasury, with the remaining loot we should be able to buy quite a few JDAM (Joint Direct Attack Munition) smart bomb sets, each set coming with an Mk 84, BLU-109, Mk 83, and Mk 82 party crasher.

Ordinance specs and details are way above my pay grade but by the looks of them I'm thinking the even the baby one of those bastards should be capable of piercing the velour and naugahyde that Big Daddy Moammar uses to make that fancy tent of his. The Yanks are useless. The UN won't do anything except engage in what ordinary people mean when they use the term "moral depravity," and delivering any one of these nosegays would be way cheaper than a conventional ground-troops invasion, it seems fair to guess. The geezer calls himself king of kings, says he wants to "die a martyr," the least we could do is oblige him. Plus, since the whole point is to protect the Libyan people, we'd have few of those firecracker packs left over in case any of Big Mo's sons or his generals needed to be given the old short, sharp shock. Still, it's always possible that my calculations are not quite right (apparently it's 'buy low, sell high' - who knew?) and there may be shipping costs or other out-of-pocket expenses I haven't taken into account. So, for leeway, and to be extra certain this won't cost a penny to the overburdened ratepayers, here's the next slide in my powerpoint presentation:

That's our very own Saif "Sword of Islam" Gaddafi posing not long ago with the now-dead Austrian fascist leader Jörg Haider, the Muslim-hating Freedom Party gasbag whose politics were so odious that Austria found itself quarantined by Europe while Haider was part of Vienna's ruling coalition. It would appear that Saif's daddy contributed as much as €45 million to Haider's cocaine parties and political campaigns, and the Task Force of the Financial Integrity and Economic Development Consortium is apparently closing in. They should be good for a few Euros.

I have no reason to believe Saif gave any money to Human Rights Watch for its services, but Saif did contribute £1.5 million to the highbrow London School of Economics around the same time he managed to obtain a degree from that august institution. The regents appear to now advise that Saif pipsqueaked on all but £300,000 of his pledge. Maybe he wasn't happy with the grades he got. Our pal Ben is an LSE alumnus and he tells the story at Huffpo, I see. The fine young people at Student Rights are proposing that LSE donate its ill-gotten £300-large to a charity to help victims of the Gaddafi despotism. This is a very good idea. Maybe the trustees could be convinced to go halfers on a single JDAM pack so as to be extra certain that Mo and his boys make no more victims, ever, ever again.

Like I say, this is all above my pay grade. I'm mainly familiar with moose guns, as you know. Just trying to be helpful is all.

I remain,

Joe Mufferaw.

Just one little drone.

I'm not asking for much. Just one.

Go Shimon!: Peres says he's "full of hope" about Arab rising, that "the moderate, the young, those who want democracy will win, and not the tyrants, the dictators, nor the corrupt." Meanwhile, Daniel Ortega, the decrepit child-molesting Sandinista veteran now back on the comfy cushion in Managua, says he has telephoned Gaddafi to express his solidarity with the embattled leader. Back in the day we'd have called this "sharpening the contradictions."

The Egyptian Uprising: Its Origin, Who Built It, And How It Was Done.

The Egyptian uprising began in the nucleus of the April 6 Youth Movement of 2008. Its leadership carried that rebellion onwards to Tahrir Square in January. Democratic, determined and disciplined, and forged in the 2008 textile workers' strikes in El-Mahalla El-Kubra, the movement was and remains secular and non-violent. The Muslim Brotherhood had nothing to do with it. This was a movement of trade union leaders, pro-democracy activists, internet-savvy young intellectuals, socialists and left-wing lawyers - a "new organic opposition," the U.S. State Department observed in 2008, "defying current political labels."

This is how it was done:

Monday, February 21, 2011

The Responsibility to Protect The People of Libya.

An international coalition of 24 human rights groups is calling on the United States, the European Union and UN Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon to convene the UN Security Council and the Human Rights Council to take every appropriate measure to defend the Libyan people from the ongoing atrocities of the Gaddafi regime.

"Because the Libyan national authorities are manifestly failing to protect their population from crimes against humanity, should peaceful means be inadequate, member states are obliged to take collective action, in a timely and decisive manner, through the Security Council, in accordance with the UN Charter, including Chapter VII," the letter reads. "Member states and high officials of the United Nations have a responsibility to protect the people of Libya from what are preventable crimes."

The "responsibility to protect" doctrine was a Canadian innovation. The human rights coalition waging the campaign to force the UN to invoke the doctrine is led by Canadian Hillel Neuer, executive director of UN Watch in Geneva. So what is the Canadian government doing? Mewling and cringing like everyone else.

It's long past time for "peaceful means." Gaddafi's goons are now firing live rounds into crowds of demonstrators in Tripoli's main square.

If you're curious to know what the hell the UN Human Rights Council has been up to all this time, it should tell you something that Libya is a member of the UN Human Rights Council. What a freak show that place is. A circus.

More tyrants trembling in their fear: In Robert Mugabe's Zimbabwe, dozens of students, trade unionists and political activists have been arrested for getting together to watch Al Jazeera and BBC News coverage of the uprisings in the Maghreb. One of Mugabe's harness bulls confirms that 46 people are in custody for attending "an illegal political meeting" to watch the news, which was apprehended as "a way of motivating them to subvert a constitutionally elected government.”

One cannot pick up a newspaper these days without reading reports of the popular uprisings in Arab dictatorships that refer to the surprise of it all, how unthinkable these events were to everyone in the free world. Why are we surprised? Because the very international bodies and agencies that we have trusted to force into the public conscience the grievances that gave rise to these revolts have studiously shirked that responsibility. Go ahead and call me a Zionist stooge and a warmonger if you must, but first read this prophetic condemnation, written in 2009, the founder of Human Rights Watch, Robert Bernstein:

"Israel, with a population of 7.4 million, is home to at least 80 human rights organizations, a vibrant free press, a democratically elected government, a judiciary that frequently rules against the government, a politically active academia, multiple political parties and, judging by the amount of news coverage, probably more journalists per capita than any other country in the world — many of whom are there expressly to cover the Israeli-Palestinian conflict. Meanwhile, the Arab and Iranian regimes rule over some 350 million people, and most remain brutal, closed and autocratic, permitting little or no internal dissent. The plight of their citizens who would most benefit from the kind of attention a large and well-financed international human rights organization can provide is being ignored as Human Rights Watch’s Middle East division prepares report after report on Israel."

Not long before Bernstein wrote that, Sarah Leah Whitson, HRW's North Africa director, spent just enough time admiring that dashing young Saif Gaddafi to write this Human Rights Watch report about conditions in Libya: Springtime for Hitler! And that's just Human Rights Watch. Don't get me started about Amnesty International.

The White House is no better. In Bahrain, we are supposed to be shocked that the people are so upset, what with that lovely King Hamad and everything: “The problem has been that we have been doing everything we can to cuddle up to the Khalifas and have been consciously ignoring at best the situation of Bahraini Shiites,” said Gwenyth Todd, a former political adviser to the Navy in Bahrain from 2004 to 2007 who was also an adviser on Middle Eastern and North African affairs at the Pentagon and the White House. “We could find ourselves in a very bad situation if the regime has to make major concessions to the Shia, unless we change our tone.”

As for the way the free world talks to the Gaddafis, the time has indeed come to change our tone.

UPDATE: Is this life imitating art, or art imitating life?

State Department Offers Support to 'Whoever Winds Up Winning': “To dictators who think they can get away with oppressing their people, let me say this,” President Obama continued. “The United States of America is standing by, thousands of miles away, to see how this mess turns out.”

Kudos to the Globe and Mail: Canada in Afghanistan Post-2011

Excellent work.

Front page editorial: "Ottawa should heed the advice of CARE Canada, which has called on the government to measure its post-conflict engagement in Afghanistan through the lens of improved human rights. Specifically, Canada could help tackle the barriers girls face in attending primary and secondary school; help train Afghan police in human rights; protect female leaders; ensure women are included in public-policy debate and peace-building; and focus on maternal and child health. . .

(Afghanistan's women's rights leaders say the same, although with a stronger emphasis on strengthening Afghanistan's embryonic democracy and strengthening access to quality education for both boys and girls. See the Canada-Afghanistan Solidarity Committee's Keeping Our Promises report.)

Susan Sachs: In broken justice system, women in Kabul find their legal voice.

Good work, Globe.

Afghanistan Canada
Life expectancy 43 (44 for men) 86 (83 for men)
Literacy 18% (36% for men) 99% (99% for men)
Membership in main legislative bodies 27% 25%
Lifetime risk of maternal death 1 in 8 1 in 11,000
Fertility rate 6.6 births per woman 1.6 births per woman
Primary school enrolment percentage, compared to boys 60 100
Secondary school enrolment percentage, compared to boys 33 100

Sunday, February 20, 2011

The Libyan Slave Revolt.

One of the most vile and decrepit slave states on earth is teetering. As I write this, thousands of Libyans are joining the uprising against the Gaddafi regime. They are now pouring into the streets of Tripoli. The people have seized Benghazi and several other eastern towns. The regime continues to slaughter civilians, using mercenaries and helicopter gunships. Libyan diplomats are jumping ship. The tyrant's annointed heirs are vowing to fight to the last bullet. The free world stands by and watches.

The Libyan people have had to put up with more than 40 years of Pyongyang-On-The-Mediterranean, and yet it was only three days ago that the British government ordered UK gun firms to stop providing the Libyan regime with "security equipment" - the delicate English euphemism for massacre gear. Equally useless and just as delicate: Human Rights Watch.

Since the advent of digital technologies (i.e. Facebook, Twitter, email and even cell phones for mercy's sake) the Human Rights Watch role in these kinds of tumults has been reduced to providing body-count services that are no more reliable than what Reuters provides. Not two years ago, Sarah Leah Whitson, the Human Rights Watch director for North Africa, was gushing and bubbling about the Libyan regime: What a lovely and liberal despotism the Gaddafis are making! Now, HRW is cluttering up the newswire traffic about Libya with finger-wagging and sanctimonious hectoring of the world's democracies.

What would Human Rights Watch have the free world do? Why, join with teetering and decrepit police-states to wag its fingers and hector the Gaddafis - no, je m'excuse, merely urge them - to "stop the unlawful killing of protesters." Is there some "lawful" kind of citizen-butchering that Human Rights Watch would prefer?

The democracies dutifully comply, and so we all remain equally useless in our sanctimony. We are doing absolutely nothing to ease the sufferings of the Libyan people or to give them the slightest hope in their hour of greatest and most desperate need. In a typical example, here's Canada's foreign minister, Lawrence Cannon, wagging his big finger: “We call on the Libyan government to respect the rights of freedom of expression and assembly and to engage in peaceful dialogue with its people to address legitimate concerns.”

Atta boy, Larry, that'll learn 'em. The Gaddafi tyranny, hearing exactly what it had hoped to hear, helpfully complies, offering "peaceful dialogue" while wagging its own finger at the Libyan masses struggling under the Gaddafis' jackboots. Saif Gaddafi, heir to Moammar's vast Libyan estate, is now hectoring his own people to lie still and take their beatings like the slaves they are. After all, Libya is "not Tunisia or Egypt," as though Libyans need a geography lesson about their own country. Why should they lie still? Because their impudence is risking the Gaddafis' massive and steady income stream from oil: this time, indeed it is all about oil.

Like Human Rights Watch, Bloomberg is equally useless in all this because you can read for yourself what the crackpot Saif Gaddafi had to say for himself, word for word, thanks to Tweetdeck. Of course he wants "dialogue." What does he have to offer? Read it yourself. "We will have a new Libya, new flag, new anthem!" Behave yourself, he tells Libyans, or "you will wait in line for months for a visa." A visa? What's that?

Saif's "statement" is the gibberish-vomit of a paranoid lunatic. After 40 years of state terror and savagery, why should Libyans want to hear any words from him that are not spoken as his last, from the gallows?

I'm not being naiive here. I fully appreciate the concern for "stability," but the lesson of history is loud and clear: If we leave Mr. Turner to fight this on his own, Southampton County will respond with lynch mobs and savagery, and many will die, slave and free. After four decades of the lash to their backs, the slaves of Libya have at last turned to face their master. Those of us who are free are expected to be satisfied with the comfort that our own ministers and diplomats may join with human rights agencies and tyrants to stand around and wag their fingers at one another.

I know of no argument or evidence of any kind that would support the proposition that free people should be content with this. So I am stuck with simple questions. Here's one:

Are there no drones?

"The king and his cronies don't speak for us."

1 Esfand/ Feburary 20: "BBC Persian is reporting that the scale of today's protests in Shiraz was larger than 25 Bahman. According to their account, older protesters were helping free younger ones who were arrested. One elderly protester walked to a van where detained protesters were being held and opened its doors to let them out. . ." Tehran Bureau has a blow-by-blow of today's events in Iran. With the weight and ferocity of the Khomeinist repression it's getting as hard to know what's happening in Iran as it is to know what's happening in Libya.

Like Iran, the Libyan democratic resistance will likely not be able to shift the tyranny on its own. Today, the slaughter in the besieged city of Benghazi continues. The dictator Gaddafi's thugs reportedly opened fire on mourners at a funeral for anti-government protesters in Benghazi today. An eyewitness - a man shot in the leg - said marchers were bearing coffins to a cemetery when they passed a military compound; security forces first fired into the air and then opened fire on the crowd. Witnesses told The Associated Press a mix of special commandos, foreign mercenaries and Gadhafi loyalists have attacked demonstrators with knives, assault rifles and heavy weapons.

Meanwhile in Afghanistan, the reactionary defenders of the Pakistani-Talibanist status quo are busy out-competing Gadaffi's thugs: The death toll from Saturday's suicide-bomb attack in Jalalabad has risen to 38.

Still, what began in the Maghreb appears to be sending shudders ("We want food, we want work, we want housing, we want fairness") as far as Shanghai: China Tries to Stamp Out Jasmine Revolution. And in Bahrain, the pro-democracy demonstrators are cheerful, expressing confidence that they'll yet shift the ruling dynasty there: "Today we took [Pearl Square] back, tomorrow we take our country back!” said Ahmed Suwayha, saluting the victory the protesters won by after Bahraini troops pulled out. The Shiite-majority opposition wants reforms and more jobs for Shiites. The kids want more: regime change.

In Morocco today, protest rallies drew perhaps 2,000 people into the streets of the capital Rabat, 4,000 in Casablanca, unknown numbers in Marrakesh and Tangier. They chanted: "Freedom, dignity, justice," and the demonstrations were not met with the kind of vicious repression we've seen elsewhere. A good sign.

In Shanghai (h/t HP), cops haul a protester away from People's Square:

Saturday, February 19, 2011

"Do not kill your brothers and sisters. Stop the massacre now."

Today, Robin Yassin-Kassab, author of The Road from Damascus, reports this call from a friend in the besieged Libyan city of Benghazi: "We are hungry, no food supplies for us; people are dying more and more everyday, women and children are amongst the dead in the horrific Benghazi massacre, we are isolated from the media coverage."

Robin's friend further reports that yesterday three tanks were abandoned by their crews and "citizens burned them." Last night the hospitals announced 40 dead, including a 13-year-old child, and this morning another 15 martyrs. "The hospitals are running out of medical supplies & are calling for urgent need of medical aid; gun shots barely stop, and helicopters are firing and throwing bombs on protestors."

The news media has been completely shut out of Libya. Al-Jazeera has been jammed. One of the last reliable reports before the shortcircuiting was that the house of Mohamed Zuwae, general secretary of the ruling People’s Congress, was set ablaze in Tripoli. Libyans are afraid to post anything on Facebook, even to click 'like' on postings for fear of being arrested by the Libyan intelligence bureau.

Still, word is getting out. Robin reports heavy gunfire in the Fashloom district of Tripoli, where citizens are fighting with security forces, and dying. Libyan exiles report that the death toll has reached 120 in Benghazi alone. Residents of Zawiya City have come out in demonstrations of solidarity with Benghazi and are burning posters of dictator Moammar Gaddafi.

The Egyptian blogger Zeinobia reports that the Libyan rebels are arming themselves (she's posted a convincing video on her website) and that sections of the Libyan military are in mutiny. "Qaddafi will be killed," she writes, "mark my words, he will be killed, he will not leave Libya alive after what he has done."

In one heartening development, the repression has prompted roughly 50 Libyan religious leaders, intellectuals and tribal leaders to issue this appeal through the Reuters news agency: "This is an urgent appeal from religious scholars (faqihs and Sufi sheikhs), intellectuals, and clan elders from Tripoli, Bani Walid, Zintan, Jadu, Msalata, Misrata, Zawiah, and other towns and villages of the western area. We appeal to every Muslim, within the regime or assisting it in any way, to recognize that the killing of innocent human beings is forbidden by our Creator and by His beloved Prophet of Compassion (peace be upon him). . . Do NOT kill your brothers and sisters. STOP the massacre NOW!"

The Independent on Sunday: "Dozens were killed. We are in the midst of a massacre here," one eyewitness in Benghazi reported. Clashes were also reported in the town of al-Bayda - dozens of civilians are said to have been killed there, and police stations in the town came under attack. In all, the death toll was reported to have reached 120. Doctors from Aj Jala hospital in Benghazi alone confirmed 1,000 people had been injured.

In Iran, on the eve of country-wide demonstrations planned for tomorrow, security forces have begun sealing the entrance of the home of opposition leaders Mir Hosein Mousavi and his wife Zahra Rahnavard with an iron gate. The opposition leadership has been cut off from outside contact for three days and under "house arrest." While the Khomeinist cliques that control Iran are arguing with one another about whether to subject the opposition to show trials or just execute their leaders outright, the Mousavi-Rahnavard daughters say they don't even know of their parents are even in their home anymore. Iranians in the diaspora are planning solidarity demonstrations tomorrow in cities all over the world.

The most encouraging news today: A 15,000-strong anti-Islamist protest in Tunis. Tunisia’s 2,000-year-old Jewish community has been given a terrible scare from antisemitic "protests" and violence in the chaos following the collapse of the Zine El Abidine's government. One sign carried by the anti-Islamist protesters: Musulmans, Chretiens, Juifs: Nous sommes tous Tunisiens. Related: Israel's former head of military intelligence, Maj.-Gen. Amos Yadlin, says that Israelis need to relax a bit about events in Egypt. The Khomeinist despotism in Iran is far and away the greater threat to Israeli security [and to its own citizens], Yadlin points out.

Stay strong, comrades of the Maghreb, the Levant, and Persia. Tiocfaidh do lá.

Day of Reckoning In Iran?

I'd like to think this is a crack opening up in Iran's Khomeinist armour: Several senior officers in the detested Iranian Revolutionary Guard Corps in Tehran, Qom, Isfahan and Tabriz have signed a stern warning letter to IRGC Uber-Gruppenführer Mohammad Ali Jafari. The dissident officers are urging Maj. Gen. Jafari to order the IRGC and the hated Basiji militias to "leave their truncheons at home" for Sunday's day of action against the regime. For their part, the officers declare: "We promise our people that we will not shoot nor beat our brothers who are seeking to express legitimate protest against the policies and conduct of their leader."

This must be terribly upsetting to the Toronto Stop The War Coalition's Zafar Bangash and his "anti-war" friends. Bangash and the pro-Khomeinist Canadian Peace Alliance had scored some successes in duping guileless Canadians with Tehran's failed propaganda attempt to spin the Egyptian and Tunisian uprisings in their favour. It didn't work in Iran, where the people are wiser.

While the Khomeinist regime becomes ever more isolated (Iranian FM Calls For All-Out Ties With Zimbabwe!) here in Canada, only last week Bangash and several "anti-war" luminaries, including the U.S. Green Party's lunatic Cynthia McKinney and the useful Yankee idiot Phil Wilayto, got together for a little singalong in Toronto to celebrate the bloody Khomeinist counter-revolution of 1979. It was the very same day that the Khomeinist regime shortcircuited BBC Persian in a desperate and failed attempt to hide the facts of the Arab uprisings from the Iranian people - facts that completely contradict the Khomeinist propaganda line. Poor Zafar. Only a few months ago he was so optimistic: "If you can suppress the news, then you can make a lot of noise all around."

If anyone wants to use this as an opportunity to slag off the Canadian government, by all means, do. Here's some ammo. Why does Canada allow IGRC agents to come and go as they please in Canada while at the same time we criminalize the Mujahideen-e-Khalq? Answer: Because the Americans do. The Europeans don't. In the Yanks' favour, the Muj may soon be struck from the American terrorist list. You don't have to support the Muj to notice that whatever their past, they can now be reasonably described as "a moderate, secular and democratic political organization."

Here's to hoping things go well in Iran tomorrow. Here's to hoping that the Basiji and the Guards back off. Here are some brave young comrades from the other day with what's left of some Iranian harness-bull who didn't back off - a boot, a flackjacket and a truncheon:

UPDATE: As many as 15,000 Tunisians rallied Saturday against the country's Islamist movement and for religious tolerance, following the assassination of a Polish priest and Islamist intimidation of Tunisian Jews. See photo below: "Muslims, Christians, Jews - we are all Tunisians."

Friday, February 18, 2011

Black Day In Bahrain; The Uprising Spreads.

BAHRAIN - People carrying men, women and children - some bleeding from bullet wounds, others overcome by tear gas - crowded into Salmaniya Medical Center, where the frantic, overwhelmed staff struggled to cope. Thousands of demonstrators demanding a proper democracy in place of Bahrain's U.S.-backed al Khalifa dynasty then converged on the hospital. That prompted security forces to surround it until some police officers began taking off their uniforms and joining the protesters, to an eruption of cheers.

"We are peaceful. We don't even have a rock," Mohammad, a 26-year-old laborer who was to afraid to give his full name, cried as the throng shouted, "The victory is from Allah, and it will be with us," "Down, down, Khalifa" and "The people want the regime to fall.”

Nicholas Kristof reports that in fact the bloodshed in Bahrain has been much worse: "As a reporter, you sometimes become numbed to sadness. But it is heartbreaking to be in modern, moderate Bahrain right now and watch as a critical American ally uses tanks, troops, guns and clubs to crush a peaceful democracy movement and then lie about it. . . When a king opens fire on his people, he no longer deserves to be ruler."

The Fifth Fleet is docked in Bahrain. The Yanks have no excuse this time. Aim the ships' guns on the presidential palace and send a note to King Hamad: Good morning. Look out your window. Have we made ourselves clear? Instead, the only thing Bahrainis are hearing from Washington is mewling and more mewling about the diplomatic and geostrategic importance of a "key ally" in the Khalifa dynasty.

Make the Bahraini people your ally, you thick Yanks. You'll not want to outstay your welcome there. Ha'aretz reports that two Iranian warships are making their way through the Suez canal, bound for Syria, and Iran may be on the verge of a civil war. Iran's opposition called for a nationwide day of protest on Sunday and Kurdish workers are calling for a general strike in the Kurdish provinces to coincide with it. "The Islamic Republic has already collapsed," Opposition leader Mehdi Karroubi declared today. Karroubi and his fellow Green Movement leader Hossein Mousavi are now openly calling for a struggle against the country's "religious dictatorship."

It's their clearest statement yet that the movement must dedicate itself to the Khomeinist tyranny's overthrow, taking up the demands of tens of thousands of pro-democracy protesters who took to the streets on Monday to demand "regime change." That's the term used nowadays for what used to be called "revolution."

The fire has spread in ways unthinkable only last week.

In Djibouti, a Friday demonstration that was said to have brought as many as 2,000 people into the streets was in fact much larger than that, says Mohamed Daoud Chehem of the opposition Djibouti Party for Development. The demonstrators in Djibouti will follow the lead of the Egyptians, Chehem said: "We have come to stay here. This freedom place. Like Egypt. We want to stay here." In Kuwait, more than 1,000 stateless bedouins staged a protest demonstration on Friday to demand citizenship. There were dozens of arrests. In Libya, it's hard to say what's happening. Social media sites like Facebook and other means of reporting and organizing by the internet have been shut down, but Agence France Presse reports that at least 41 Libyans have died in the violence over the past three days. Looks like 84 dead now.

In Damascus, responding to the call from opposition groups to rise up against the oppressive regime of Syrian President Bashar al Assad, hundreds of Syrians protested police violence Thursday after traffic cops beat a young man. The crowd chanted: "The Syrian people will not be humiliated" and "Thieves, thieves." The protesters blocked traffic for three hours, forcing the minister to come to the spot and talk to the victim's family.

Yes, even Syria, the dictatorship run by Bashar al Assad, "the last Arab ruler," as the pro-fascist 'anti-war' movement hero George Galloway called him not long ago, and Syria, "the last Arab country." Galloway is the Khomeinist tyranny's loudest propaganda agent in the English-speaking world, and he fairly boasted about it during the 2009 Iranian revolt, which he happily predicited would soon "fizzle out." Galloway calls the Syrian dictatorship "the fortress of the remaining dignity of the Arabs.” It is at last possible to imagine that Galloway may be proved right in ways he wouldn't want, sooner than it was only recently impossible to imagine. Even Galloway's Syrian role model may fall. Even the Khomenists may fall. Where would Galloway and the Canadian Peace Alliance draw their sustenance from then? Belarus, probably.

This is Syria today:

Thursday, February 17, 2011

It's Always All About Nir: I'm The Hurt One! You Should All Be Apologizing To Me!

He's Fatty Arbuckle now.

This is no longer just a Superbowl wardrobe malfunction. It's not just some surreptitiously-taped Berlusconi bunga-bunga session. The execrable Nir Rosen has now turned his vulgar and self-incriminating Twitter outburst about the sexual assault suffered by CBS reporter Lara Logan in Cairo into a front-page, above-the-fold corpse-strewn train wreck of himself. Nir Rosen is Mel Gibson, Pee Wee Herman and Kanye West caught at a Michael Jackson boy-party. He's a bald and baby-dropping Britney Spears found at a Boy George heroin binge. His self-aggrandizing auto-paparazzo in place of an apology at Salon may very well contain the most spectacular series of own-goals in a row I have ever read, anywhere. Remember: This is supposed to be his apology.

Nir the Résumé-Padding Braggart: "I am a staunch supporter of women's rights, gay rights and the rights of the weak anywhere in the world." Nir the Brazen Revisionist: "I have been challenged many times on my support of resistance movements. . ." Nir the Poor, Persecuted Victim: "I have been frustrated by the ideological opportunists who have used this ordeal for their personal gain." Nir the Hysterical Slanderer: "People whose words have helped create and justify war and genocide. . ." Nir the Reality-Inverting Magician: ". . .use the disgusting situation of Logan's assault as a lever against a longtime rival." Nir the Excuse-Making Subject-Changer: "I've seen Arabs, Muslims and Egyptians called animals and pigs. . ."

Nir Rosen is a freak of evolution. He lacks the entire genetic sequence for embarassment. He persists in assaulting Lara Logan's professional integrity while in the same stroke he airbrushes his own services to the Taliban as a public-relations agent: "I felt she was a terrible journalist who supported wars that I had covered." Caught red-handed, he doesn't even blush: "I point it out now only to explain my thinking."

The evidence he submits in his own defence: Exhibit A. At least you can't accuse me of saying bad things about Julian Assange. Exhibit B. I'm probably not as stupid as Anne Coulter. Exhibit C: I was only joking, "and an entire mob turns on me."

Objection: Actually, the mob turned on Lara Logan. You weren't even there.

Oh, right. Nevermind. Anyway, D: Israel is Bad. That should score me some points, right? E: What about "our scorched-earth policies in Kandahar"?

Objection, m'lud. Do refer to the transcipt from Mr. Rosen's "warmonger" General Stanley McChrystal, particularly McChrystal's COIN Guidance to ISAF: "Embrace the people. . . seek out the underprivileged, the disenfranchised, the disaffected. . . work with the children and students. . . shield the people from harm. . . improve daily."

Objection sustained.

Okay, so sue me. Exhibit F. It's Society's Fault: "What do they expect to read?" G. It's Twitter's fault: "It's a bizarre, voyeuristic Internet culture." H. I wouldn't even be in trouble "if I were not a leftist opponent of American wars."

Here's the real thing I did wrong: "I didn't really damage the culture I was targeting." I'm the one who deserves the sympathy, I mean, really, just look all the collateral damage I've caused to "my allies, my friends and the causes I struggle for"! Now even my fellow douchebags are avoiding me. Okay, there was another mistake I made: I should have known this would happen. "I only wish this had been apparent to me before I hit enter."

Forgive me, you warmongers!

UPDATE: "Rather than apologize and walk away, Rosen used Salon as a platform to attack his enemies, unfold a right-wing conspiracy theory, and pontificate on his new victim status."

Myths About Unwinnable Afghanistan

Gayle Tzemach Lemmon: "Afghanistan today is not simply the product of a population that can't keep its hands out of the cookie jar; instead, it is a man-made disaster created by the international community's short-sighted policies that focused on standing up long-discredited strongmen mistrusted by their own people. . . ."

Gayle will now be denounced as a "warmonger" in five seconds, four seconds, three, two. . .

Comrade Lauryn Oates blazed this trail with her Afghanistan myth-busting series: one, two, three, four (a Melissa Roddy pinch-hit) and five, that last instalment being an especially necessary antidote to the lurid racism that informs so much of the "anti-war" polemics abroad these days. For her trouble, Lauryn earned not only a red "warmonger" star but also a "white supremacist" medal. By the way: Did I mention it isn't all about oil? Sorry, kids. No Santa Claus, no oil either.

But I've got these sisters beat. I can boast having been not only celebrated by stoppists as a "warmonger" and a "racist," but promoted to a full blown Left-Gatekeeper to the Ziocon Hegemony. My chest is so heavy with medals I can barely stand up for the weight of them.

Wednesday, February 16, 2011

'No more deluded by reaction, on tyrants only we'll make war.'

The Road Not Taken

"Across the Middle East today, millions of citizens are voicing their aspirations for liberty and for democracy. These men and women are expanding boundaries in ways many thought impossible just one year ago. . . These impatient patriots can be found in Baghdad and Beirut, in Riyadh and in Ramallah, in Amman and in Tehran and right here in Cairo. . .The day is coming when the promise of a fully free and democratic world, once thought impossible, will also seem inevitable. The people of Egypt should be at the forefront of this great journey, just as you have led this region through the great journeys of the past. A hopeful future is within the reach of every Egyptian citizen -- and every man and woman in the Middle East. The choice is yours to make. But you are not alone. . ."

- Condoleezza Rice, U.S. Secretary of State, 2005.

The Road Obama Nervously Avoids Taking; Studies, Prevaricates

President Obama ordered his advisers last August to produce a secret report on unrest in the Arab world, which concluded that without sweeping political changes, countries from Bahrain to Yemen were ripe for popular revolt, administration officials said Wednesday. Mr. Obama’s order, known as a Presidential Study Directive, identified likely flashpoints, most notably Egypt, and solicited proposals for how the administration could push for political change in countries with autocratic rulers who are also valuable allies of the United States, these officials said. The 18-page classified report, they said, grapples with a problem that has bedeviled the White House’s approach toward Egypt and other countries in recent days: how to balance American strategic interests and the desire to avert broader instability against the democratic demands of the protesters.

Khomeinist Tyranny Calls For Day OF Hatred Against Pro-Democracy Protesters

Iranian authorities have called for a mass rally tomorrow to express "hatred" against the "evil" opposition that rattled the government on Monday by staging its first street protests for a year. Defiantly, the opposition Green movement's two main leaders, MirHossein Mousavi and Mehdi Karrubi, yesterday issued fresh verbal onslaughts against the government, despite demands from hardliners they be hanged. The regime's call for an orchestrated show of popular muscle came as clashes erupted at the funeral of one of two students killed in Monday's anti-government protests.

There is another Tahrir Square. It is in Sana.

SANA, YEMEN - Thousands of people continued to protest across Yemen on Wednesday, with hundreds of people taking to the streets of Sana, Taiz and other cities, in a bid to force the resignation of President Ali Abdullah Saleh. In the southern town of Taiz, demonstrators protesting for a sixth successive day said they were determined to keep on until the government was ousted. In Sana, at least 800 protesters marched through the streets near Sana University, Reuters reported, despite police efforts to break up the demonstration. Supporters of the ruling party, meanwhile, have set up camp in Tahrir Square, building large tents and occupying the area day and night to keep out anti-government protesters.

Pearl Square, Bahrain: Police swarm in through clouds of tear gas.

MANAMA—Riot police stormed a square occupied by anti-government protesters Thursday, driving them out with tear gas and rubber bullets and destroying a makeshift encampment that had become the demonstrators' rallying point. At least two people were killed in the pre-dawn assault on Pearl Square, the main opposition group Al Wefaq said. There was no official word on deaths or injuries. After riot police regained control of the plaza, they chased protesters through sidestreets just as the dawn call for prayers rang out. “They attacked our tents, beating us with batons,” Jafar Jafar, 17, told Associated Press. “The police were lined up at the bridge overhead. They were shooting tear gas from the bridge."

"The puppets of Zionism are falling." - Moammar Gaddafi

LIBYA - Anti-government activists have been using social networking sites to rally support for protests on what they are describing as a "day of anger". There were reports of clashes in two cities late on Wednesday, with two people reported dead in the eastern city of Beyida.Dozens of people were injured in violent demonstrations on Tuesday night in the eastern city of Benghazi. The unrest there followed the detention of an outspoken government critic. Pro-democracy protests have recently swept through several Arab nations, with the presidents of Tunisia and Egypt forced to resign amid growing unrest. But this week's demonstrations were the first display of defiance in Libya, where dissent is rarely tolerated.

"Come on London, you can shout louder than that!"

"The power and allure of Palestine in Western radical circles is extraordinary. Palestine is the only issue they get excited about. But there is nothing progressive in their pro-Palestine fervour. It is not driven by future-oriented demands for economic development in a Palestinian homeland in the West Bank or Gaza. Instead it is driven by a view of Palestinians as the ultimate victims, the hapless and pathetic children of the new world order, who need kindly, wizened Westerners to protect them from Big Bad Israel.Today's pro-Palestine leftism is more anthropological than political. It treats Palestinians less as a people who ought to have certain democratic rights and more as an intriguing tribe to be prodded and preserved."

- Brendan O'Neill, not my favourite guy, but an astute observer this time.

And if those cannibals keep trying To sacrifice us to their pride They soon shall hear the bullets flying We'll shoot the generals on our own side.

In Tahrir Square: Nir Rosen, Lara Logan, Mao, McChrystal, The Weak and The Strong

In The Propagandist: "There will be no further comment from CBS News. . ."

The leftish pseudo-journalist Nir Rosen has again disgraced himself, this time by taking the opportunity of a vicious sexual assault upon a real journalist, Lara Logan, to laugh at her, insinuate that she made up the story, and call her a "warmonger." Logan is recovering in hospital. Rosen is claiming to have apologized, but he has done no such thing. What's Rosen's problem with Logan? This is how General Stanley McChrystal and Mao come into to it, in ways that betray Rosen as a lizard and the milieu from which he emerges as a swamp where the strong are called "weak" and given leave to butchery. If you have the audacity to even notice this you will be called a "warmonger":

. . .General McChrystal's Counterinsurgency Guidance to the 42-nation ISAF alliance in Afghanistan declared its radical departure from the American standard in its very title: "Protecting the People is the Mission." It did not speak the language of the America-Firsters in Obama's closest circles. It spoke in a foreign language: "Embrace the people. . . earn their trust. . . seek out the underprivileged, the disenfranchised, the disaffected. . . work with the children and students. . . shield the people from harm. . . live and train together. . . plan and operate together. . . be a positive force in the community. . . confront corrupt officials. . . listen and learn from our Afghan colleagues. . . improve daily."

McChrystal's counterinsurgency guidance articulated a war of the weak against the strong. It is written in the language of Mao Tse Tung, from the standard version of Mao's early instructions adopted as the rules of discipline by the Peoples Liberation Army in 1947: "Obey orders in all your actions. Do not take a single needle or piece of thread from the masses. Turn in everything captured. Speak politely. Pay fairly for what you buy. Return everything you borrow. Pay for anything you damage. Do not hit or swear at people. Do not damage crops. Do not take liberties with women. Do not ill-treat captives."

In a war of the weak against the strong, that is how you win. "We need to understand the people and see things through their eyes," McChrystal wrote to the troops. "This means that we must change the way that we think, act and operate." The victory of an Afghan people's war would not come in a flourish of brass with a handsome president on a television-studio bandstand and American flags fluttering all around from wind machines. It takes time. it takes patience. Victory is contingent, ever moving on the far horizon. Advance is stealthy. Retreat is unthinkable. "Exit strategy" are just two words from some foreign language. More words from it are 'Not in my name' and 'Stop the war.'

You get the picture. Try to imagine the 30 million most generous, hardcore and well-heeled contributors among Obama's fan base suddenly being obliged to abandon their familiar argots and turn their worlds upside down from an American counterinsurgency (FMLN, got it; Sandinistas, check; Tupamaros, yes, I dimly recall) to an American-backed insurgency. Next thing you know poltergeists are flinging dog-eared Chomsky volumes all over everybody's living rooms and Cousin Henry's writhing on the floor in the paroxyms of acid flashbacks. So McChrystal had to go. And that's not even half of the way the thing I'm calling "Rolling Stone" comes into it. . .

UPDATE: The indispensable Michael Totten reports that Nir Rosen has been fired:

I'm not sure why it took so long for his career to crash. Not only did he link approvingly to Taliban propaganda on last year's anniversary of the 9/11 attacks, he once used his American identification to sneak Taliban commanders past a checkpoint in Afghanistan. Even though he's an Israeli citizen, he somehow he managed to embed with Hezbollah when its fighters invaded and shot up my old West Beirut neighborhood in 2008. He told a Lebanese journalist friend of mine to his face that Hezbollah's coup was "necessary." He has said that he hopes for a Third Intifada, that he wants to see Tel Aviv bombed, and openly pines for the destruction of Israel.