You (and I) got Darfur Wrong

May 31, 2009 § 4 Comments


 Mahmood Mamdani

Mahmood Mamdani

From Open Source with Chris Lydon:

Who can imagine that a Save Darfur coalition vocally including Al Sharpton (”we know when America comes together, we can stop anything in the world”), Mia Farrow, the US Conference of Catholic Bishops, Elie Wiesel (”Darfur today is the world’s capital of human suffering”), Nat Hentoff, Bob Geldof, George Clooney, Angelina Jolie, Harold Pinter, Oprah Winfrey, the gold-medal speed skater Joey Cheek, Tony Blair and Dario Fo might be profoundly shallow in its reading of the brutal warfare in Sudan five years ago… and just as wrong-headed in its drum beat for an American intervention?

Mahmood Mamdani can. We are talking here about his book Saviors and Survivors and his argument that the Darfur rescue campaign, which became a sacred cause of our civil religion, was not so much the moral alternative to Iraq, the Bush “war on terror,” and Cheney-think as it was a variation and extension of the same toolkit. I begin with a sort of confession that I may be a sample of Mamdani’s problem — having drenched myself in Nicholas Kristof’s New York Times columns and largely absorbed the common framework that Darfur was about Arabs slaughtering Africans, and that somebody had to something about it.

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In Pakistan, an exodus that is beyond biblical

May 31, 2009 § 1 Comment

Saima is one of 37 refugees now sharing the house of a stranger. Their host, Rizwan Ali, 59, says: 'It would be easier to die than to ask displaced people to leave for the camps'

Saima is one of 37 refugees now sharing the house of a stranger. Their host, Rizwan Ali, 59, says: 'It would be easier to die than to ask displaced people to leave for the camps'

‘Locals sell all they have to help millions displaced by battles with the Taliban’, Andrew Buncombe reports. This is in stark contrast to how Punjab and Sindh reacted. Both have restricted entry of refugees into their territory. In the latter MQM organized two strikes, the first one with the support of the ruling PPP, and Pakhtun property was destroyed, two people burnt alive. It is already generating resentment in the NWFP with more and more coming to see this as a war on the Pukhtuns, as Rustum Shah Mohmand argues here. The response of the non-Pakhtun provinces to the refugee crises has done little to disabuse them. Meanwhile this displaced mass of humanity survives on the generosity of the type described in the caption above. I avoid indulging in any type of group chauvinism but for once, I’m proud of my people.

The language was already biblical; now the scale of what is happening matches it. The exodus of people forced from their homes in Pakistan’s Swat Valley and elsewhere in the country’s north-west may be as high as 2.4 million, aid officials say. Around the world, only a handful of war-spoiled countries – Sudan, Iraq, Colombia – have larger numbers of internal refugees. The speed of the displacement at its height – up to 85,000 people a day – was matched only during the 1994 genocide in Rwanda. This is now one of the biggest sudden refugee crises the world has ever seen.

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Kenyan victims of British brutality

May 30, 2009 § 1 Comment

Johann Hari writes that We owe it to do right by the Kenyan victims of British brutality.

In a few weeks, a group of quiet, dignified elderly men and women will arrive in London to explain how the forces of the British state crushed their testicles or breasts with pliers. It was part of a deliberate policy of breaking a civilian population who we regarded as “baboons”, “barbarians” and “terrorists”.

They will come bearing the story of how Britain invaded a country, stole its land, and imprisoned an entire civilian population in detention camps – and they ask only for justice, after all this time.

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Jim Lobe on Antiwar Radio

May 30, 2009 § Leave a comment

jim_lobeJim Lobe interviewed by Scott Horton on Antiwar Radio. His analysis in this particular interview is rather unimpressive. While Lobe’s reporting over the years has been indispensable, he is too optimistic in his analysis. Since at least the autumn of 2003 he has been announcing the demise of the neocons. Here as well his reading of the Obama-Netanyahu summit is overly positive. For a reality check see this interview with Jeff Blankfort.


Jim Lobe on Antiwar Radio (26:11): MP3

Jim Lobe, Washington Bureau Chief for Inter Press Service, discusses Hillary Clinton’s emphatic rejection of any kind of Israeli settlement growth, the Obama administration’s (first in a generation) hard-line on Israel, the low probability of a Palestine/Israel 2-state solution even with a settlement freeze and allegations that Netanyahu sees Iran as Amalek – eternal biblical persecutor of Jews.

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Jeff Blankfort on AIPAC and Jinsa

May 30, 2009 § 1 Comment

jeffreyBlankfortJeff Blankfort on Flashpoints Radio examining the recent letter to Obama that exposed the hand of AIPAC, and the neocon Jewish Institute for National Security Affairs (JINSA) essay calling for US military attacks on ‘partisan’ media.


Jeff Blankfort – Flashpoints Radio (18:25): MP3

Mirrors: Eduardo Galeano speaks

May 30, 2009 § 1 Comment

Mirrors by Eduardo Galeano

The great Uruguayan writer Eduardo Galeano joins Democracy Now for an hour to discuss literature, politics and much more. (The rest of the videos are below)

Fresh Off Worldwide Attention for Joining Obama’s Book Collection, Uruguayan Author Eduardo Galeano Returns with “Mirrors: Stories of Almost Everyone”

We spend the hour with one of Latin America’s most acclaimed writers, Eduardo Galeano. The Uruguayan novelist and journalist recently made headlines around the world when Venezuelan President Hugo Chavez gave President Obama a copy of Galeano’s classic work, The Open Veins of Latin America. Eduardo Galeano’s latest book is Mirrors: Stories of Almost Everyone. We speak to Galeano about his reaction to the Chavez-Obama book exchange, media and politics in Latin America, his assessment of Obama, and more.

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Prussia on the Mediterranean?

May 30, 2009 § 3 Comments

Israeli forces invade the al-Aqsa mosque

Israeli forces invade the al-Aqsa mosque

Roane Carey, editor of the excellent collection of essays The New Intifada, unravels the myth of the ‘only democracy in the Middle East’.

It is an assumption almost universally acknowledged among the liberal American intelligentsia that while the Israeli occupation is repressive and abhorrent, Israel itself is an open, fully democratic state with a lively, argumentative and very free press.

Perish the thought. After spending three months in Israel on a fellowship, I can say that nearly every member of the liberal Israeli intelligentsia I’ve talked to says something quite different: that their country’s media are seriously diseased, failing to provide the minimal level of fair reporting and serious critical inquiry that are crucial pillars of an open society.

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France: ‘Defying Rules on Arms Sales to Israel’

May 30, 2009 § Leave a comment

http://www.ejpress.org/ImageGallery/8788e68b-82f7-44f5-9e0a-06ce0cc7b6c5.jpg

Sarkozy and Olmert

IPS’ David Cronin reports on French arms sales to Israel, which are “in total contradiction” to European Union rules on the defence industry according to a new study.

Between 2003 and 2007 France issued licences worth more than 446 million euros (623 million dollars) for arms exports to Israel. This made France by far the largest supplier of weapons to Israel in the EU.

Patrice Bouveret from the French Centre for Research on Peace and Conflicts (CRDPC) in Lyon says that these sales are at variance with the Union’s decade-old code of conduct on weapons exports. Formally declared legally binding by EU governments last year, the code forbids weapons sales in cases where they may exacerbate regional tensions or where there is a strong likelihood they will be used in violation of human rights.

Speaking at the launch Thursday of his new report on Israel’s involvement in the arms trade, titled ‘Who Arms Israel and Hamas?’, Bouveret dismissed repeated assurances from the French government that the exports in question are generally only components of military goods rather than complete weapons systems. “Even if they are only components, they are used directly by the Israeli army,” he added.

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Busted, Pentagon

May 29, 2009 § Leave a comment

Abu Ghraib (Fernando Botero)

Abu Ghraib (Fernando Botero)

Why The Photos Probably Do Show Detainees Sodomized and Raped. Naomi Wolf explains:

(MIA: I am not quite sure why this is being treated as new information when Seymour Hersh had reported on the videos of Iraqi children being sodomized soldiers five years back, and again three years later in his profile on Gen. Antony Taguba Hersh revealed that there were cases of rape, and that Taguba had seen ‘a video of a male American soldier in uniform sodomizing a female detainee’. It was likewise revealed in an earlier investigation that an investigator from the mercenary firm Titan Corp., named Adil Nakhla was charged with sodomizing an Iraqi boy).

The Telegraph of London broke the news – because the US press is in a drugged stupor — that the photos Obama is refusing to release of detainee abuse depict, among other sexual tortures, an American soldier raping a female detainee and a male translator raping a male prisoner. The paper claims the photos also show anal rape of prisoners with foreign objects such as wires and lightsticks. Major General Antonio Taguba calls the images `horrific’ and `indecent’ (but absurdly agrees that Obama should not release them – proving once again that the definition of hypocrisy is the assertion that the truth is in poor taste).

Predictably, a few hours later the Pentagon issues a formal denial.

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Mr. Abbas Goes to Washington

May 29, 2009 § 1 Comment

Obama signalling that things are in control

Obama signalling that things are in control

Ali Abunimah in The Nation on Barack Obama’s ill-conceived and lackluster intervention in the Israel-Palestine conflict.

If the Oval Office guest list is an indicator, President Obama is making good on his commitment to try to revive the long-dead Arab-Israeli peace process. On May 18 President Obama received Israel’s new prime minister, Benjamin Netanyahu; today he met with Mahmoud Abbas, leader of the Palestinian Authority in Ramallah.

As this process gets under way, the United States–Israel’s main arms supplier, financier and international apologist–faces huge hurdles. It is deeply mistrusted by Palestinians and Arabs generally, and the new administration has not done much to rebuild trust. Obama has, like President Bush, expressed support for Palestinian statehood, but he has made no criticisms of Israel’s bombardment of the Gaza Strip–which killed more than 1,400 people last winter, mostly civilians–despite evidence from Amnesty International, Human Rights Watch and UN investigators of egregious Israeli war crimes. Nor has he pressured Israel to lift the blockade of Gaza, where 1.5 million Palestinians, the vast majority of whom are refugees, are effectively imprisoned and deprived of basic necessities.

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