Archive for August, 2013

Syria: U.S. War Making at the Expense of Democracy

August 31, 2013


Professor Richard Falk, August 31, 2013

The U.S. Government rains drone missiles on civilian human targets anywhere in the world, continues to operate Guantanamo in the face of universal condemnation, whitewashed Abu Ghraib, Bagram, and the torture memos, committed aggression against Iraq and Afghanistan, and invests billions to sustain its unlawful global surveillance capabilities. Still, it has the audacity to lecture the world about ‘norm enforcement’  in the wake of the chemical weapons attack in the Ghouta suburb of Damascus. Someone should remind President Barack Obama and Secretary of State John Kerry that credibility with respect to international law begins at home and ends at the United Nations. Sadly, the American government loses out at both ends of this normative spectrum, and the days of Washington being able to deliver pious messages on the importance of international law are over. No one is listening, and that’s a relief, although it does provide material for those teams of writers working up material for the likes of Jon Stewart, Stephen Colbert, and the many standups at Comedy Central. Yet, of course, this geopolitical TV series is no laughing matter for the long ordeal of the Syrian people.

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Prince and Kazerooni: No To U.S. Led Attack On Syria…Obama Playing With Fire (Part 1)

August 29, 2013

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Editor’s remarks: The  two articles by  Rob Prince and Dr Ibrahim Kazerooni provide some good information and a clear perspective on the situation in Syria. The real objectives of President Obama if he chooses to use cruise missile attacks on Syria are not the same which he declares openly. His administration has far more sinister aims in sight to pacify the American War Mafia, Israeli leaders and Arab reactionary regimes such as Saudi Arabia. Now another big danger the world faces in case of such military aggression lies in the shape of unforeseen consequences for the region and possibly the world.

In fact, the pre-war scenario of the 1914 is in place and very easily American imperialism can ignite the flames of world war. We see a real danger of this because of the reckless militarism of American ruling class. The first thing any warmonger has to do is to prepare the domestic and world public opinion, a task not difficult to perform given the enormous propaganda it uses with the help of the hawkish media to support its efforts to resolve the conflict in Syria by all means. We who stand for peace should use all  our resources to counter American war plans and its deceptive propaganda.

Nasir Khan, Editor

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by Rob Prince and Ibrahim Kazerooni

US plan for Syria

“Now we sit and wait while the Washington regime makes its next lethal move. Let us lift our voices in unison to prevent it. “

“Before another rush to judgment and “punishment” based on a presumption of guilt, as in Iraq, this time, let the UN inspectors do their job: We still don’t know who used chemical weapons in Syria — regime or rebels. Without UN Security Council’s approval, any military action by US and its NATO or even Arab allies will itself be illegal, an international war crime itself. Such an attack will not protect innocent civilians, but hurt them. US attacks will backfire, trigger a retaliatory response, escalate the civil war into region or world war.”

– the comments of friends on Facebook – 

This is the second time in six months that the United States has accused the Syrian government of using chemical weapons. The first time, Washington was forced to eat its words as international organizations, including Human Rights Watch, claimed that it was the rebels and not the government forces which had employed them.

Despite calls from all over the world, not to proceed, it appears that the Obama Administration is heading towards a major air attack on Syria. France, UK and Israel will be involved in some measure, either in preparing targets or in the actual bombing. Syria has both insisted that it was not the Assad government which used nerve gas in a Damascus suburb that might have killed as many as 1300 people but U.S. and Saudi backed Islamic militants who have hijacked the opposition movement, much in the same way similar elements did likewise in both Libya and Mali.

The claim that it was the Syrian government that gassed its own people is wearing thin. Although the Obama Administration continues to again accuse the Assad regime of using serin gas on its opponents, to date there is no evidence – none whatsoever – that the Assad government has used chemical weapons. The Obama Administration appears to be racing against time. The more time the attack is delayed the more its justification is undermined by both the facts and worldwide opposition to it.

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Part  2:  http://imamkazerooniblog.wordpress.com/2013/08/28/no-to-u-s-led-attack-on-syriaobama-playing-with-fire-part-2/

Chomsky: The U.S. behaves nothing like a democracy

August 18, 2013

The MIT professor lays out how the majority of U.S. policies are opposed to what wide swaths of the public want

Chomsky: The U.S. behaves nothing like a democracyNoam Chomsky (Credit: AP/Nader Daoud)
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The following is a transcript of a recent speech delivered Noam Chomsky in Bonn, Germany, at DW Global Media Forum, Bonn, Germany. It was previously published at Alternet.

I’d like to comment on topics that I think should regularly be on the front pages but are not — and in many crucial cases are scarcely mentioned at all or are presented in ways that seem to me deceptive because they’re framed almost reflexively in terms of doctrines of the powerful.

In these comments I’ll focus primarily on the United States for several reasons: One, it’s the most important country in terms of its power and influence. Second, it’s the most advanced – not in its inherent character, but in the sense that because of its power, other societies tend to move in that direction. The third reason is just that I know it better. But I think what I say generalizes much more widely – at least to my knowledge, obviously there are some variations. So I’ll be concerned then with tendencies in American society and what they portend for the world, given American power.

American power is diminishing, as it has been in fact since its peak in 1945, but it’s still incomparable. And it’s dangerous. Obama’s remarkable global terror campaign and the limited, pathetic reaction to it in the West is one shocking example. And it is a campaign of international terrorism – by far the most extreme in the world. Those who harbor any doubts on that should read the report issued by Stanford University and New York University, and actually I’ll return to even more serious examples than international terrorism.

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Combating Orientalist Attitudes and Viewpoints

August 17, 2013
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Nasir Khan,  August 17, 2013
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I would like to add a short note to Mary Scully’s excellent piece on Orientalism, which evinces a general perspective on western attitudes in academia and western people towards the ‘Orient’. The very use of such terms transports us into a mythical East, romanticised and mystified when seen by the western academics and scholars. We may not be happy with such terms and their usage in the contemporary world; they nonetheless reveal much about the history of colonial supremacy and white superiority. During the growing power and expansion of colonialists, especially in the East including the Middle East and North Africa, they were able to resort to dehumanise the conquered ‘natives’ by focusing on their being the ‘Other’. That cleared the conscience of the colonial administrators from any moral inhibitions they might have had about the way they treated the colonised or enslaved people or races. A stark picture of that reality is the African people who were denuded of any humanity to start with, caught as if they were animals and transported to the new world of Americas. The way the British treated the people of India after the 1857 uprising against the foreign rulers was also another major reflection of the colonial attitudes towards the ‘Other’. What was lacking was any basic human impulse to look at the colonised people as full human beings. But to do so would have changed the right to rule and control.
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The expanding colonial powers assumed they were civilising the uncivilised, who in Kipling’s words were ‘half devil and half child’. Many pressure groups, the press, literary figures and religious establishment contributed to the imperial control. Even a socialist thinker like Eduard Bernstein (1850-1932) gave a guarded support to imperial expansion because he saw in it some material benefits for the colonised people when he said: ‘A certain tutelage of the civilised people over the uncivilised is a necessity.’ Thus the White races were doing God’s work for the dark and brown races!
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Mary Scully on Orientalism,
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The book “Orientalism,” by Edward Said (1978) is the first volley of postcolonial theoretics against the writings of Marx & Engels about colonialism in “the Orient,” particularly the Middle East. Although Said claimed it was a caricatured misunderstanding of his book, the term Orientalism has become an epithet & insult signifying western superiority, Eurocentrism, & a colonial mindset in commentary by westerners (including Marx & Engels) on Middle Eastern culture & politics. In interviews, Said acknowledged his strongest influence was Sub-Alternative historical studies in India & rued a similar lack of influence among Arab & Islamic scholars.
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There is no question western scholarship on Middle Eastern countries is up to its eyeballs in racist caricature & misrepresentation (often camouflaged with incense & romanticism). That is just as true of US scholarship on Black & Native American history in the US. Scholars are remunerated handsomely for promulgating racist horse manure in place of scholarship & obsequious social climbers in academia dutifully sing for their suppers. It wasn’t until the Civil Rights Movement of the 1960s that racist US scholarship on slavery, Reconstruction, civil rights was challenged by the new generation of Black scholars & Black studies departments. The Arab uprisings are likely to have a similar profound affect on Middle East scholarship by westerners.
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The problem with Said’s postcolonial perspectives is that they muzzle & undercut international solidarity. They make people timid about speaking out about things like the attacks on the Muslim Brotherhood in Egypt lest we betray a sense of western superiority over Arabs–as if we’re lecturing them on how to conduct their political affairs or attempting to speak for them. The problem with Said’s theoretics is that they treat Middle Easterners as an alien species from westerners & ignore the human & political universalities that bind us together as the human race.
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Democracy (circumscribed in only its parliamentary form) is usually defined as western culture & barbaric violence inculcated by the Quran defined as Middle Eastern. These kinds of views are not merely Orientalist; they are arrant racism & stupidity & no part of the thinking of Marx & Engels on colonialism in the Middle East. Solidarity with the colonized was the sine qua non of their theoretics–no matter how many things they may have gotten wrong. That solidarity means not keeping your trap shut when unarmed civilians are being gunned down. Expressing international outrage isn’t exposing some insidious power inequality or patronizing Egyptians with a homiletic rendition of Kumbaya or the Internationale. It is reaching out in the spirit of fraternity & sorority to express an active solidarity, a solidarity which demands of the US (which is bankrolling the bloodbath) “Hands off the Muslim Brotherhood,” “Hands off Egypt,” “No US aid to the Egyptian military regime,” “An injury to one is an injury to all.”

Colours in the Cloud Burst

August 16, 2013

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                Badri Raina

These are the days of cloud bursts;

The smarter that the prowess

Of push pin gets, the angrier

The elements snarl, like wounded

Leviathans at the end of tether.

As nation after nation firms her resolve

To  corner the earth, the mighty Boson

Screams for retribution. Where human

Agents fail to rein in globalised greed,

Tremors from below earth and ocean

Enhance their visitations to punish

Our   self-destructive  deed, fuelled

 By this or that unquestionable creed.

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Monster banks of clouds change  

Their hue from grey and white  

To war-like saffron and dauntless green;

As they clash, hot head to hot head,

I see the firmament pour in torrents

Of   blameless, innocent  red—

An  alchemy of colours piteously seen

When  we awoke to life and freedom.

And among us I do not see the old man

In the loin cloth, stepping among

The  gnashing teeth and blazing machetties;

Dousing in miraculous embrace the very

One who set Calcutta on flames;

I only see the heinous games

That  petty satraps play  to fuel unease.

Perhaps some end is in sight; perhaps

The blood will wash the  strident blight.

Steve Weismann: Rethinking the Military-Industrial Complex

August 15, 2013

Ike's warning about the military industrial complex was a two edged sword. (photo: wikicommon)
Ike’s warning about the military industrial complex was a two edged sword. (photo: wikicommon)

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By Steve Weissman, Reader Supported News, 15 August 2013

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hen President Dwight D. Eisenhower warned his fellow Americans about the dangers of the military-industrial complex, he did both good and bad. As a widely respected military leader, he made it possible for ordinary citizens to challenge the Pentagon’s growing power in so many aspects of our economy and foreign policy. But, by focusing on the military, Ike misdirected our attention away from other, often more important segments of Big Money’s collaboration with Big Government.

No question, the military chiefs, the manufacturers who supply and then often hire them, and the members of Congress who take political contributions from the armaments industry or look to lucrative careers as lobbyists for them all work together as a standing lobby for incredibly wasteful Pentagon budgets. The same groups also support the endless fear-mongering, whether of the old Soviet Union and Red China, the newly capitalist Russians and Chinese, al Qaeda terrorists, or whatever other threat appears to justify massive spending and – as we now see – massive surveillance.

But let’s get real. Most of us could make a good case that Big Oil exercises far more influence on our imperial foreign policy than do the Big Brass and their merchants of death. Major oil companies are top Pentagon suppliers, I know, but selling fuel to the military is not why they try to control the lion’s share of the world’s oil and natural gas. Nor do most people have the oil companies in mind when they talk of the military-industrial complex.

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No Reckoning over Agent Orange

August 10, 2013
Consortium News, August 10, 2013

Official Washington often lectures other countries on the need for accountability, especially when governments have engaged in war crimes. Yet, one of the clearest cases of a U.S. war crime – the mass spraying of Vietnam with Agent Orange – has escaped any reckoning, note Marjorie Cohn and Jeanne Mirer.

By Marjorie Cohn and Jeanne Mirer

Aug. 10 marks the 52nd anniversary of the start of the chemical warfare program in Vietnam, a long time with little or no remedial action by the U.S. government. One of the most shameful legacies of the American War against Vietnam, Agent Orange continues to poison Vietnam and the people exposed to the chemicals, as well as their offspring.

For over 10 years, from 1961 to 1975, in order to deny food and protection to those deemed to be “the enemy,” the United States defoliated the land and forests of Vietnam with the chemicals known as Agent Orange. These chemicals contained the impurity of dioxin – the most toxic chemical known to science.

A U.S. military helicopter spraying the defoliant Agent Orange over Vietnam during the Vietnam War. (U.S. Army photo)

Millions of people were exposed to Agent Orange and today it is estimated that three million Vietnamese still suffer the effects of these chemical defoliants. In addition to the millions of Vietnamese still affected by this deadly poison, tens of thousands of U.S. soldiers are also afffected.

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Eid Mubarak a thousand times

August 9, 2013

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by Badri Raina, Aug 2013

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Finally, our actions must make

Our wishes  horses,  so we ride

To embrace every one’s human need;

Let that be the gift of this year’s  Eid.
Let  illiterate doctrine  stay above,

And angry  law yield to love.

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Let the grand Mufti drink copiously

Of the  incandescent  wisdom of  Chisti.

Let Kabir, Nanak, Bulla, Farid

Illuminate the meaning of Eid.

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Let not the husband beat the wife,

Or the man of god misuse the knife.

Let no one ever again be the “other,”

But  friend, sister, comrade,brother

Across all faiths and denominations,

Lands, rivers, borders, stations.

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Let the Allama bow to Ghalib and Mir,

And the music of the Sufi uplift and bear

Our basest  self-righteousness beyond

The hate-filled, scared, sectarian pond.

Let god be found upon the earth,

Dancing to the innocence of mirth.

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Eid Mubarak a thousand times,

Ring the bells, unleash the chimes.

Eid greetings to all

August 7, 2013

Nasir Khan, Aug 7, 2013

As a humanist, I extend my Eid greetings to Muslims and all other people with any religious or non-religious orientation. Let’s hope all people of goodwill will strive to uphold human values and struggle against  anti-human forces of religious extremists and fanatics who kill fellow human beings in the name of their brand of religion or sect in Pakistan and Iraq. They also terrorise other religious minorities.

We are human beings first and last. Religions and religious consciousness can also be used to advance human values and human happiness. Luckily some religious  people work for social welfare of  the people and  we can be proud of their work.  But a  tiny minority of  misguided and brainwashed goons is perpetrating random killings.

However, it is unrealistic to think that any  government can cope with these rogues if  the people  are not motivated to  cope with them. Again, it is the  people who can uproot this menace by their constructive and educational work among the masses.

Marxist dialectics is not deterministic

August 3, 2013

Nasir Khan,  August 3, 2013

In a Facebook comment Rahul Banerjee offered his views on Marxist dialectics that I thought needed my brief reply.

Nasir Khan: Mr Banerjee, as a casual reader of Marx and Marxian concept of dialectics, I find your views on dialectics interesting on a number of points. But if I understand you correctly, then your notion of dialectics seems to me mechanistic and deterministic; it has little in common with what Marxist dialectics stands for. No wonder the question of thesis and a ‘matching antithesis’ in ‘natural or social developments’ you have summed up falls in that category! I don’t know how you have arrived at the view that for Marx the process of thesis and antithesis inevitably is ‘progressive’. I have not found anything like that in my reading of Marx’s texts. What you say does not represent Marxist concept of dialectics. No, Sir; Marx did not expound such a view. Another puzzling thing is that you name quantum physics and molecular biology to elaborate on the social development of society. In my view any advances in physical sciences do not lead to the negation of dialectics, which essentially is a model to analyse social change.

Rahul Banerjee: what marx took from hegel was his version of dialectics. now this form of dialectics too is shabby stuff that is not borne out by reality at all times. there is not always a thesis and matching antithesis in natural or social development and the synthesis that results even if there was such a pair may not always be of a progressive kind!! instead the process of change in the real world is of a very chancy kind and not deterministic and linear as envisaged in the dialectical method. now that we have a better understanding of this chanciness due to advances in quantum physics and molecular biology and the unpredictable development of society, we need to move on from what Hegel and Marx could surmise in their day.