Empire Abroad, Surveillance At Home

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The cover of McCoy's book is deep red, dark blue, and a sepia white. The photo is of a several ranks of Philippine military troups. The man in front salutes, while an American flag flies overhead.I have an obsessive interest in the history of empires, but a lot of the information in this fascinating lecture by Alfred McCoy was still new to me. I hope you find it as useful as I did. (via Against the Grain)

As the nineteenth century drew to a close, the US engineered its conquest of the Philippines. According to Alfred McCoy, the security and surveillance methods introduced and refined by the US in the Philippines were brought home to these shores, for use in domestic policing, intelligence, and other repressive techniques and systems that had profound consequences for civil liberties.

Alfred McCoy, Policing America’s Empire: The United States, the Philippines, and the Rise of the Surveillance State U. of Wisconsin Press, 2009

Deck London’s Walls III

Below are some final shots from William Parry, UK-based photojournalist who, with the help of projection artist Beverley Carpenter, has spent the last several days projecting images of Israel’s apartheid wall onto buildings and monuments in London. The projected images were taken by Parry in Bethlehem, where children from the Aida refugee camp stenciled a Christmas message to the world onto their section of the wall. The goal of the project: to raise awareness of the Israeli-induced suffering that continues in Bethlehem, exploiting the city’s relevance to the current holiday, and in Palestine as a whole. (For more background and the first two sets of Parry’s photographs from Bethlehem and London, click here and here.)

Writes Parry in an email to PULSE:

It was a magnificent project to have been part of. Working with the kids from Aida camp on cutting out the stencils and then watching them put their message up on the wall was huge fun and it was great to see them enjoying themselves. But then coming to London and actually seeing the photos of these kids and their simple message on London’s walls — and some of the city’s prime wall spaces — was absolutely brilliant, really moving. Then to have the public’s interaction here with that message and with the images from Bethlehem, that just added to the fulfillment. Bev did a great job as our ‘guerrilla’ projection artist.

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The Axis of Islamophobia

Max Blumenthal discusses his must read article The Great Islamophobic Crusade. Here’s an excerpt:

Little of recent American Islamophobia (with a strong emphasis on the “phobia”) is sheer happenstance. Years before Tea Party shock troops massed for angry protests outside the proposed site of an Islamic community center in lower Manhattan, representatives of the Israel lobby and the Jewish-American establishment launched a campaign against pro-Palestinian campus activism that would prove a seedbed for everything to come. That campaign quickly — and perhaps predictably — morphed into a series of crusades against mosques and Islamic schools which, in turn, attracted an assortment of shady but exceptionally energetic militants into the network’s ranks.

Besides providing the initial energy for the Islamophobic crusade, conservative elements from within the pro-Israel lobby bankrolled the network’s apparatus, enabling it to influence the national debate. One philanthropist in particular has provided the beneficence to propel the campaign ahead. He is a little-known Los Angeles-area software security entrepreneur named Aubrey Chernick, who operates out of a security consulting firm blandly named the National Center for Crisis and Continuity Coordination. A former trustee of the Washington Institute for Near East Policy, which has served as a think tank for the American Israeli Public Affairs Committee (AIPAC), a frontline lobbying group for Israel, Chernick is said to be worth $750 million.

You can read the rest of this excellent article at Max’s website.

The Crisis of Islamic Civilization

Ali Allawi on his book The Crisis of Islamic Civilization. (see Robin’s review)

The Carnegie Council is the world’s leading voice promoting ethical leadership on issues of war, peace and global social justice. Its mission is to be the voice for ethics in international policy.


Thank you very much, Joanne, and good morning, ladies and gentlemen. I had really two choices. One was to try to summarize Islamic civilization in half an hour, or to discuss this more in a personal way and a personal capacity which I thought might be interesting at such an early hour. I’ve called my talk, “In Search of Islam’s Civilization.”

I was born into a mildly observant Muslim family in Iraq. The 1950s in the Middle East and the broader Islamic world were a time when the secular elements of society, the ruling political class, and cultural and intellectual feats had moved far from an overt identification with Islam. It appeared then to be only a matter of time before Islam would lose whatever hold it may have still had on the peoples and societies of the Muslim world.

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The Awakening According to Antonius

Damascus after French Bombardment, 1925.

Originally published at the Muslim Institute.

I never managed to finish T.E. Lawrence’s vastly overrated “Seven Pillars of Wisdom”. It’s a poorly written, narrowly partial and self-dramatising account of the Arab Revolt against Turkish rule during World War One, as poor a rendering of history as one would expect from Lawrence, with his poor Arabic, poor knowledge of the Arab nationalist movement, and his strange belief that he could pass as an Arab, despite his blond hair and stumbling speech. I got as far as his description of the Syrians as “an ape-like race.”

A far, far better book on early Arab nationalism is George Antonius’s “The Arab Awakening,” which covers the period from Muhammad Ali’s brief unification of Egypt and Syria in the 1830s to the struggle for Palestine in the 1930s.

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