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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