October 30, 2011 § Leave a Comment
A 1992 documentary by the brilliant Adam Curtis about the rise of Monetarism during Britain’s economis crisis in the 1970s. As countries accross Europe bow to the seemingly inexorable logic of austerity and the European Union attempts to lock in a neoliberal model of economic governance, it has lost none of its relevance.
October 30, 2011 § Leave a Comment
The great Libyan poet Khaled Mattawa reads ‘After 42 Years’ – his reflection on the fall of the tyrant.
October 30, 2011 § 8 Comments
Some very silly ‘information sheets’ have been doing the rounds on Facebook and elsewhere. They purport to show how wonderful Libya was under dictatorship, how generous Qaddafi was in building a limited welfare state. The people who produce such propaganda are infantile leftists (that wonderfully apt phrase was first used by Lenin) – that’s why they don’t produce similar propaganda on behalf of the royal dictators in the Gulf, although the Gulf dictatorships have also built welfare states, much better ones, in fact, than Qaddafi’s. Libya is a vast lake of high quality oil. Libyans should be as rich as Emiratis or Kuwaitis. The reality is that much of Libya is poor, and that if a Libyan needed a major operation he had to travel to Tunisia, a much poorer country. And the oil wealth is a gift of God or nature, not of Qaddafi. The only thing Qaddafi gifted to the Libyan people was death.
It’s wise to be suspicious of Britain, France and Qatar and to resist the ‘humanitarian intervention’ propaganda. Every state acts according to perceived interests, not according to moral principles. But there’s nothing wise or intelligent in opposing a revolution and insulting a revolutionary people because they choose to accept help from outside rather than die. The more repulsive armchair revolutionaries (almost all of them Western) are calling the heroic Libyan people ‘quislings’ and ‘traitors’ and imagining an alternative reality in which the revolution was begun by Western agents provocateurs. The film below is a timely reminder of how the revolution started in Benghazi – with the blood of martyrs. (I wish the Iran regime-controlled Press TV was also capable of broadcasting sensible documentaries on Syria).
October 29, 2011 § Leave a Comment
I am going through a period of (relatively) silent reflection on Syria. Of course, in Syria history continues to move at a rapid pace. At least 44 people were murdered by the regime yesterday. Today there is news of 17 soldiers killed by army deserters in Homs, a city which now appears to be in the early stages of a civil war. Syria’s criminal regime has brought this catastrophe on the country.
I’m remaining quiet for a while, but here are some highly recommended sites and articles. First, Walls is rapidly becoming the successor blog to Syria Comment, a space for intelligent discussion of the situation. Syria Comment was perceived by many (including me) to have lost its bearings. It always had a pro-regime and somewhat anti-Sunni slant; as the regime proved its stupidity and it became clear that the country would come closer to disintegration so long as the regime retained power, SC only reinforced its loyalty. Its reporting of events in Syria was highly selective, it gave a false view of the protestors, their motivations and leaders, it sometimes repeated absurd regime propaganda verbatim, and it even stooped to repeating false regime slanders of opposition figures. Now that Joshua Landis has taken a back seat the site is in less academic, even more blatantly partial hands. So it’s really good to see the Walls blog attracting SC’s best commentors and building such a big audience.
October 28, 2011 § 1 Comment
The following is an excerpt from my latest article for Al Jazeera in which I discuss how the Israel lobby has taken over Republican front-runner Mitt Romney’s Middle East policy through its man with a shady past:
[Walid Phares] is a one-time member of the notorious Lebanese Forces – the sectarian Christian militia which played a leading role in the 1982 Sabra and Shatila massacre (though there is no evidence that he personally played a part). It is an experience he now wisely leaves out of his resume. Nor does he include his association with Etienne Saqr, the head of the Guardians of the Cedars, an outfit the Congressional Research Service described as “[a]n extremist Maronite militia and terrorist organisation”. Saqr played a prominent role in Phares’ World Lebanese Organisation long after he was exiled to Israeli-occupied south Lebanon for his crimes against the Lebanese and Palestinian people.
But it is not this association with the Lebanese Forces and Etienne Saqr that grants Phares his expert’s cache. He is an Arab with bona fide academic credentials who validates proponents of military intervention in the Middle East the same way that Ahmed Chalabi once did. Indeed, both once shared the same publicist, Benador Associates, a neoconservative favourite. Phares can make the aspirations of the Arabs and Iranians sound remarkably consonant with the interests of Tel Aviv. For someone who wrote papers for Israeli think tanks urging continued occupation of Southern Lebanon (“the only place in the world where Christian and Jewish blood is shed together for the defence of two Judeo-Christian nations”) this might not be too big an imaginative leap. But his capacity to divine the real yearnings of the Middle East’s Muslims is perhaps less certain.
October 27, 2011 § Leave a Comment
Al Jazeera’s People and Power investigates the tycoon duo’s ununderground campaign to swing the balance of US power for Republicans.
October 26, 2011 § Leave a Comment
Boyce and Ndikumana, authors of ‘Africa’s Odious Debts’, argue that under international law, debts incurred by dictators should not be enforceable.
October 26, 2011 § 1 Comment
Jadaliyya recently interviewed PULSE co-editor Belén Fernández about her book The Imperial Messenger: Thomas Friedman at Work, to be released by Verso Nov. 7. The interview appears in Jadaliyya’s New Texts Out Now (NEWTON) section and includes an excerpt from the book. The following is the start of the interview:
Jadaliyya: Why did you write this book?
Belén Fernández: I asked myself this question several thousand times, particularly during my third rereading of every Friedman column published since 1995.
The idea for the book came about in a far less climactic fashion than Friedman’s ideas tend to occur—i.e. it did not involve “Quarter-Pounder[ing] my way around the world,” being struck by a “bolt out of the blue that must have hit somewhere between the McDonald’s in Tiananmen Square in Beijing, the McDonald’s in Tahrir Square in Cairo and the McDonald’s off Zion Square in Jerusalem,” and unfurling the Golden Arches Theory of Conflict Prevention, according to which American fast food is the key to world peace.
Rather, in May of 2009, following a four-month hitchhiking trip through Colombia, Ecuador, and Venezuela, I returned to Buenos Aires, where my parents were living at the time. Though up to that point I had been blessedly sheltered from the phenomenon that is Thomas Friedman and had only read a smattering of his dispatches over the years, he happened to publish a spate of articles that summer which caught my attention.
Topics ranged from how Iraqis should appreciate the US military legacy of “a million acts of kindness and a profound example of how much people of different backgrounds can accomplish when they work together” in their country, to how Barack Obama had defeated Mahmoud Ahmadinejad in the Lebanese elections, which somehow indicated a triumph of Lebanese sovereignty. Also reported by Friedman that summer was the encouraging fact that the more than 50,000 Facebook fans of Iranian opposition leader Mir Hossein Mousavi far exceeded the capacity of a mosque, thus reiterating the positive role technology can play in the hands of proper Muslims, as opposed to those concerned with conducting “J.O.L.” (Jihad Online).