Category: Foreign Policy

VP Biden Accidentally Suggests U.S.-Asia Influence Waning

Posted by – December 27, 2013

December 5th, 2013, Vice President of the U.S. (VOTUS) Joseph R. Biden, speaking to a conference room-full of PRC diplomats and dignitaries after meeting with Chinese President Xi Jinping in Beijing, made an accidentally revealing comment:

The United States has a profound stake in what happens here, because we needwe are, and will remain—a Pacific power, diplomatically, economically, and military [sic].”

Judge for yourself, but this comment, calculated to reassure allies and make the top echelons of the Beijing regime think twice about aggressive moves in the region, kind of rang hollow or, at least rang… awkward.

To me, the “we need, we are, and will remain a Pacific power” had the ring of uneasiness, the sound of an aging boxer trying to talk tough and he can hardly convince himself.
Let me know if you think differently, but I thought it revealed something akin to the male peacock who is strutting to impress but no longer pulling it off (the female peacocks are rolling their eyes) or the schoolyard bully power-posing in front of the doors to get kids’ lunch money, but it’s more pathetic than intimidating, because the bully has repeatedly shown himself unable to back it up, even a little girl on crutches backed him down.
During Biden’s visit to East Asia, he repeated various versions of the “we really are a resident Pacific power” message, and it did more to confirm we really aren’t than anything.
Someone who is actually powerful doesn’t have to keep trying to convince people.

VP Biden went on an emergency tour of East Asia to address the recent controversy over the PRC imposing an “Air Defense Identification Zone” (ADIZ) over a huge swath of airspace of the East China Sea, including, most provocatively, the Japanese-administered Senkaku Islands (referred to as the “Diaoyu Islands” in mainland China).  To set up such an expansive ADIZ over disputed territory, nearly half of it overlapping the pre-existing Japanese ADIZ, particularly claiming the airspace of islands controlled by your primary rival country, has, as Biden said, “caused significant apprehension in the region.”  ADIZs have been around since the post-WWII years, so they’re not new, but they never have overlapped like this before over others’ territory.

No one else wrote about how odd Biden sounded in Beijing, so I did… unearthing the unexpected and unnoticed, that’s a big part of what blogging is for, I think.

Nick

Did You Know? Imperialist Aggression and Exploitation: The History of U.S. – Latin American Relations

Posted by – July 11, 2011

With love and thanks to everyone who has made my current, first semester back to college (online) possible…

The History of U.S. – Latin American Relations: An Overview
Nicholas F. Dupree

The history of U.S.-Latin American relations is a long and bloody one checkered by imperialist aggression and exploitation. The United States had a head start building its democratic institutions because it spawned from Britain, a constitutional monarchy whose fledgling parliamentary democracy was far ahead of most of the world at the time, and the U.S. built on that with a constitution and a government based on a revolutionary ideology. American revolutionaries, like the French revolutionaries that followed, were driven to spread their pro-freedom, anti-monarchist ideology, but unlike France’s First Republic, America’s first republic was not only more moderate, it could quickly stabilize amid its isolation and relative lack of competitors for the continent. Surprisingly rapidly, the United States was moving aggressively west and south to spread their revolutionary state and colonize land held by loosely organized indigenous tribes and a Spanish Empire spread thin and in relative decline.

Early on, America’s founding generation had their eyes (and territorial ambitions) pointed South. Presidents Jefferson and John Adams saw Cuba and Puerto Rico as “natural appendages” of North America that should break away from Spanish influence and join the United States. John Quincy Adams thought Cuba an “apple” fallen from the North American tree and that it should end its “unnatural connection” with Spain and rejoin its source, America. (Smith, 2007, p. 25) Thomas Jefferson had an impressive collection of Iberian writers in his library at Monticello, and actively promoted learning of the Spanish language.

“Spanish,” he wrote in a note accompanying a Spanish-language dictionary that he gifted to Peter Carr in 1787; “Bestow great attention on this, & endeavor to acquire an accurate knowledge of it. Our future connections with Spain & Spanish America will render that language a valuable acquisition. The antient [sic] history of a great part of America, too, is written in that language” (Works V: 322).1

But alongside the founding generation’s interest in Latin America, loomed skepticism. The prevailing views of the time included deep doubts about the ability of newly independent Latino populations to adopt republican values and effectively govern themselves, given racial and cultural differences and the dark legacy of oppression and violence from Spanish colonization. “I fear the degrading ignorance into which their priests and kings have sunk them, has disqualified them from the maintenance or even knowledge of their rights, and that much blood may be shed for little improvement in their condition. Should their new rulers honestly lay their shoulders to remove the great obstacles of ignorance, and press the remedies of education and information, they will still be in jeopardy until another generation comes into place, and what may happen in the interval cannot be predicted, nor shall you or I live to see it,” Thomas Jefferson wrote (Smith, p. 46) in an 1811 letter to Dupont de Nemours.2

John Quincy Adams echoed Jefferson’s views (p. 46), and as the United States became a power on the world stage competing for land and resources, it sought to seize them without seizing the diverse populations that lived there. “By the late 1830s, the idea of manifest destiny signified a racist nationalism that preferred to incorporate into the Union ‘unsettled’ and ‘empty’ lands—such as those taken from Native American peoples and, soon thereafter, Mexico.” (Loveman, 2010, p. 57) After the “Mexican Cession” of 1848, in which Mexico “ceded” 55% of its territory to the United States, the limits of Manifest Destiny were undecided, and the question of further annexation was fiercely debated among the varying factions in Congress, especially in the Senate. Seizing “Mexico proper,” including the entirety of the Yucatan peninsula, and Cuba, were both the subject of heated debates, but ultimately they were just too different for Congress and the public to support annexing. Cuba was too black (Smith, p. 26) and Mexico was too Indian: as the New York World wrote, “Mexicans are Indian, aboriginal Indian, and they must share in the destiny of the Indian.” (p. 49) Neither Mexico nor Cuba were incorporated into the United States, despite an unprecedented surge in U.S. imperialism in the 1890s and early 20th century that brought U.S. borders to their greatest territorial extent after Puerto Rico, the Philippines, Guam, Hawaii and more were brought under U.S. control. American militarism and expansion were led by William McKinley and Theodore Roosevelt at the helm of a newly modernized and powerful army and navy, and like-minded Republicans like Albert Beveridge and Orville H. Platt at the helm in the Congress. These American imperialists believed, in the words of Senator Beveridge, that “God has not been preparing the English-speaking and Teutonic peoples for a thousand years for nothing but vain and idle self-contemplation. No. …He has made us adept at government that we may administer government among savage and senile peoples.” (p. 51) This view would have driven even more aggressive expansion had their not been deep anxieties among the people and their Congress over “inferior peoples” becoming U.S. citizens. “Racism cut at least three ways. It inspired and justified American territorial expansion, but it also limited its reach due precisely to the indisposition of many Americans to incorporate into the Union “inferior peoples” as equals and citizens. It also underlay the slave/free divide in American domestic politics.” (Loveman, 2010, p. 57)

Once the United States had emerged as a 20th century world power after McKinley and Roosevelt’s wars of expansion, it was ready to put the Monroe Doctrine’s shaky record keeping European powers out of the Hemisphere throughout the 19th century behind it and enforce a U.S. sphere of influence in the Americas in earnest. The U.S. positioned itself to defend its gains in the new global race for land, resources, arms, military bases, trading-posts and colonies, called the “Great Game” in Britain, and the Roosevelt Corollary to the Monroe Doctrine was designed do just that: no opportunistic Europeans would bring their game into the U.S.’ backyard. Roosevelt’s Corollary insisted that the United States could intervene in any Latin American republic where instability reigned; the U.S. would send troops anywhere in the Americas where European powers could possibly see an opening due to unpaid debt or revolutionary turmoil. And send troops they did: TR sent troops to seize the “Isthmian Canal” in Panama and took over the customs collections of the Dominican Republic until debt to the U.S. and other great powers (Netherlands and France) were paid in full. (Smith, pp. 56-57) A similar scheme of occupation and repayment was imposed in Haiti with much less success. (p. 60) The customs repayment scheme actually led to war in Nicaragua, where the Americans’ fears of the “Bolshevist” revolutionary government of Mexico establishing its own “sphere of influence” and “primacy” over Central America (p. 67) collided with the Nicaraguan people’s anger and aspirations to be free from the yoke of crushing debt, and a guerrilla insurgency erupted (p. 59). President Coolidge only withdrew the Marines from Nicaragua in 1924 after imposing a fraudulent election that ousted disobedient liberals in favor of pliant “conservatives” led by Adolfo Diaz, who would focus on debt repayment. The Marines came back five months later amid rumblings of possible rebellion against Diaz and further unrest. U.S. efforts to “break kneecaps” in Central American and Caribbean states for payment due didn’t end until the Great Depression and looming threat of World War II necessitated it.

The last Marines withdrew from Nicaragua in 1933, and the Marines’ nineteen-year occupation of Haiti ended in 1934. The Great Depression made such foreign entanglements financially untenable, and Americans looked to the prospects of increased inter-hemispheric trade to aid recovery (p. 74) Soon, the U.S. would concern itself with an even more dire task, countering Axis attempts for world domination; with German and Italian fascists competing to influence fledgling republics in Latin America, Washington could ill-afford its previous “Big Stick” foreign policy. Brazilian trade with Germany was at an all time high, and the Ação Integralista Brasileira (AIB) “formed in 1932 as a deliberate imitation of the Fascist parties of Benito Mussolini in Italy and Salazar in Portugal,” (Leonard, 2007, p. 145) had taken over Brazil’s government, given themselves unlimited “emergency powers,” and decreed the Estado Novo, “the new state,” along the lines of Portugal’s integralist Estado Novo. Brazil was obviously part of Hitler’s empire-building strategy; in Congress, a young Fiorello LaGuardia ranted against Brazilian collaboration with Nazi Germany (Smith, p. 76). Chile remained neutral at this time, having strong ties with the German military and an active German-Chilean minority, and still embittered over the Americans’ siding against them in the 1879-83 War of the Pacific and the U.S. adoption of the Smoot-Hawley tariff, which had hurt Chile economically. (Leonard, p. 162-165) And Argentina, despite being a “closet ally” who supplied the Allies with crucial food during the war, (p. 184) was bogged down in a power struggle with its Nazi-sympathizing military, who were devoted to ultra-conservative, virulently anti-Semitic Argentine Catholicism (p. 188). Ultimately, Argentina didn’t end diplomatic ties with Germany until January 1944 (pp. 162-163).

But Mexico, so important to U.S. national security for its bountiful oil reserves and immediate proximity along the U.S. border with the American Southwest, was Washington’s most pressing concern in the lead-up to World War II. The Cårdenas administration (1934-1940) was just stabilizing and consolidating control over a Mexican polity that for decades had been in revolutionary flux (p. 17). Mexicans were beginning to interpret the European battle between the communists and fascists, especially the Spanish Civil War, through their unique revolutionary lens, and whether Mexico would side with the United States was unclear during Lázaro Cárdenas’ rule as he remained neutral. “Capitalists, businessmen, Catholics, and middle-class Mexicans who opposed many of the reforms implemented by the revolutionary government sided with the Spanish Falange” (p. 18) i.e., the fascist movement, and Nazi propagandist Arthur Dietrich and his team of agents in Mexico successfully manipulated editorials and coverage of Europe by paying hefty subsidies to Mexican newspapers, including the widely-read dailies Excelsior and El Universal (pp. 18-19).

The situation became even more worrisome for the Allies when the major oil companies boycotted Mexican oil following Lázaro Cárdenas’ nationalization of the oil industry and expropriation of all corporate oil properties in 1938, (p. 19) which severed Mexico’s access to its traditional markets and led Mexico to sell its oil to Germany and Italy (Smith, p. 79). In Mexico and throughout Latin America, Franklin Roosevelt’s “Good Neighbor Policy” was necessary at such a delicate time, and in the case of the Mexicans, ultimately led to the Douglas-Weichers Agreement in June 1941 that secured Mexican oil only for the United States, (Leonard, p. 21) and the Global Settlement in November 1941, a rare example of the U.S. putting national security concerns over fairness for American oil companies (p. 22-23).

But such “Good Neighbor” agreements and “soft power” influence were self-interested in the end, accomplishing the abrupt end of German Fifth Column activities in Mexico, and after the attack on Pearl Harbor, all nine Central American and Caribbean republics declared war on the Axis nearly in unison in a show of seldom-seen Hemispheric solidarity (Smith, p. 86). Unfortunately for Latin America, the United States’ inter-American strategy would drastically shift as soon as their interests did.

The post-war world, with Russia and the United States locked in a Cold War that threatened to involve, if not destroy, every state on the planet, was not kind to the republics of the Americas. Washington soon divided Latin America simplistically along “with us or against us” red lines, and fear of communist infiltration, both real and used as a political football, was rampant. During the 1952 U.S. Presidential Election, Republican nominee Dwight D. Eisenhower accused the incumbent Democratic party of pushing Latin Americans into the arms of wily Communist agents waiting to exploit local misery and capitalize on any opening to communize the Americas (Smith, p. 127). From that point on, the “Big Stick” foreign policy came back to Latin America in various forms and guises until the ’90s, with the U.S. consistently backing the same type of elite-led fascist regimes they were trying to undercut during WWII.

Up to the time of Reagan and the Iran-Contra scandal that embarrassed the United States on the world stage, U.S. foreign policy supporting fascist local elites as long as they were suitably pliant and reliably anti-communist was commonplace. One would hope that the current non-interventionist tack toward Latin America under the Obama administration is due to assessment of tough historic lessons learned and not mere economic constraints. Future repeats of the George W. Bush approach to the Americas, with “second acts” for several notorious Iran-Contra figures (see Observers Warn of U.S. Manipulation in Nicaragua) and the CIA’s Venezuelan Coup Attempt of 2002, is certainly cause for concern. The future of U.S.-Latin American relations I’d like to see, is one where Simon Bolivar’s famous statement “the United States seems destined by Providence to bring misery to the Americas in the name of liberty”4 seems something solely relevant for historical background, instead of something that’s directly related to current events and threatens to crop up again in U.S. Foreign policy at any moment.

Works Cited

Leonard, T. M., Bratzel, J. F., Rankin, M., Smith, J. & Scheinin, D. (2007). Latin america during world war ii. Lanham, Maryland: Rowman & Littlefield.

Loveman, B. (2010). No higher law: american foreign policy and the western hemisphere since 1776. Chapel Hill, NC, USA: The University of North Carolina Press.

Smith, P. H. (2007). Talons of the eagle: dynamics of u.s. – latin american relations (RFB&D Daisy Audiobook),

Footnotes:

1: Bauer, Ralph. (2009). Thomas Jefferson, the hispanic enlightenment, and the birth of hemispheric american studies Dieciocho: Hispanic Enlightenment, 32(1), Retrieved from http://goliath.ecnext.com/coms2/gi_0199-11917558/Thomas-Jefferson-the-Hispanic-enlightenment.html

2: Ibid.

3: Garcia-Navarro, L. (2006, November 2). Observers warn of u.s. manipulation in nicaragua. NPR, Retrieved from http://www.npr.org/templates/story/story.php?storyId=6423982

4: LaRosa, M., & Mora, F. O. (2009). Neighborly adversaries: readings in u.s.-latin american relations [2nd Edition]. (RFB&D Daisy Audiobook),

U.S. Expat Professor From Benghazi Talks To Jon Stewart (a pro-intervention viewpoint)

Posted by – April 4, 2011

Everyone interested in understanding the current crisis in the Middle East should watch Jon Stewart’s conversation with Mansour O. El-Kikhia, a Benghazi-born professor who chairs the political science department at UT San Antonio. This is an important pro-intervention viewpoint to think about, though I differ in pivotal areas and OPPOSE American intervention in a third concurrent war in the Islamic world.

Dr. El-Kikhia tells Jon Stewart that he had to leave Libya in 1980 after yet another crackdown on Benghazi. He says he was trying to drive to work one day when the police choked off traffic, directing the traffic flow so that all incoming cars had to go past a series of hanging corpses–a message to the people of Benghazi about what will happen to dissidents.

The interview doesn’t have time for details, but one should note that Benghazi and its province Cyrenaica have long hated its rival in the west, Tripoli. I know at one point, Benghazi forced Qaddafi’s troops out and have built a 4-star hotel where the barracks was.

It became the capital city of Emirate of Cyrenaica (1949-1951) under Idris Senussi I. In 1951, Cyrenaica was merged with Tripolitania and Fezzan to form the independent Kingdom of Libya, of which both Benghazi and Tripoli were capital cities. Benghazi lost its capital status when the Free Officers under the leadership of Muammar Gaddafi staged a coup d’état in 1969, whereafter all government institutions were concentrated in Tripoli. Even though king Idris was forced into exile and the monarchy abolished, support for the Senussi dynasty remained strong in Cyrenaica.

Benghazi – Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia

Dr. El-Kikhia said he was very supportive of the U.S. air strikes that saved Benghazi, including his family, from being killed by pro-Qaddafi forces. He made a point of saying “President Obama thank you!”

When Jon Stewart asked El-Kikhia the question that is on the lips of many of us, what do we do when not only civilians in Benghazi but also civilians in Syria, Yemen, Bahrain are under threat and we can’t bomb everywhere, he surprised me… answering that while Obama can’t bomb more, he has an opportunity to re-imagine the world order and address the root problem, the nation-state as run since the Westphalian system began in 1648; the old, severely outdated 1648 conception of the nation-state doesn’t make sense anymore given the communications and technology of the New Millennium.

My opinion: The nation-state hasn’t EVER made sense for the Middle East or Africa and has caused horrible violence. Libya will likely break into at least two, warring (possibly genociding each other) nations without some serious devolution of powers allowing the partisans on all sides of this old regional feud a divorce and autonomous states…like the UAE is a federation of separate, powerful emirates (Dubai, Abu Dhabi, etc.) BUT El-Kikhia never went into detail about this or what Obama can do specifically. I think Obama will miss the historic opportunity to insert new ideas about the nation-state into the process and won’t even be ready for Libyans to return to separate emirates of Cyrenaica and Tripolitania, so paranoid is America about “disunion” since our own U.S. Civil War.

El-Kikhia said he’d hate to see a world run by America’s rival, China. He believes in U.S. global leadership, I suppose because Benghazi could have been wiped out without it.

Jon Stewart asked if the Libyan rebels will turn into the Taliban once armed by the U.S., and Dr. El-Kikhia reassured him that the resistance movement wants a democracy, and Libyans have never had a theocracy, that isn’t what anyone is advocating. He said the Libyan people are grateful to the United States, and celebrating with American flags. I don’t necessarily buy what he’s saying about the rebels unquestioningly, because you really can’t predict what the rebels could BECOME once the war is over.

At the end, El-Kikhia said that before Qaddafi’s tyrannical rule ruined everything, Tripoli was a wonderful city, with golf courses and sailing clubs in the warmest, most beautiful part of the Mediterranean Sea! I think it’s important to remember that the Islamic world doesn’t have to be all about brutal, repressive, fanatical fundamentalist hellholes. Libya’s beaches were a tourist destination, Beirut was the “Paris of the East,” Baghdad was a rising cultural center, with beautiful women in ’60s cocktail dresses sipping Courvoisier in open-air bistros along the Tigris, and Iran looked like this. The young people of the region want the lives in their parents’ old photographs, and if the U.S. would be smarter, it could really happen.

Video Blog: Islamic Center on Park Place: Guy in Neighborhood Responds

Posted by – September 1, 2010

I’m that guy in the neighborhood. Believe it or not, we live in an apartment only 6-8 blocks or so north of the disputed Park51 site, so this is about MY NEIGHBORHOOD and I feel I’m a direct stakeholder in this controversy, so I should weigh in.

Knowledge of the neighborhood, and of the culture and dynamics of New York City itself, is badly missing from this “debate.” Most of the opposition never frequents these parts of Lower Manhattan; they come from other places, often hundreds of miles away or farther, to protest.

I know that New Yorkers do view the 16 acre (65,000 m2) superblock where the World Trade Center buildings stood as hallowed ground. New Yorkers have been very offended by the petty squabbles between The Port Authority, WTC lease-holder Larry Silverstein and various insurers that delayed any work on rebuilding until April 27, 2006. The planned permanent memorial and visitor center isn’t completed despite promises it would be. The September 11 Families’ Association has often decried the crass commercial activity surrounding the site, with illegal vendors yelling to sell tourists tacky Chinese-made 9/11 memorabilia like Twin Towers snowglobes and bad commemorative booklets with inaccurate Engrish text and pirated photographs, for absurdly high prices. See Hawking History and Cutting Corners for details about the situation.
The fact that the site has shameless vendors hawking tasteless souvenirs but not the promised memorial is a festering wound for a lot of New Yorkers. THAT offends us living in Lower Manhattan, not an Islamic YMCA that might be built two full blocks north (conservatives respond: you’re not offended by this in your neighborhood! we’ll be offended x1000 FOR YOU!)
Insensitive out-of-towners asking everybody on the bus “how do I get to Ground Zero?!” like it’s just another tourist attraction and go to buy those tacky knickknacks is pretty offensive though, and many of us connect those clueless tourists with the clueless out-of-towners (who often take after the willful ignorance satirized here in The Onion) pouring into the city to protest in a neighborhood they’ve never frequented and don’t remotely understand. A recent Marist poll confirms what I’m saying, only 31% of Manhattan residents say the Cordoba House offends them, whereas opposition goes up the further away from the area they poll (53% against if you count all five boroughs, 68% if you ask people in all 50 states). Misunderstanding the situation and hating this is “roughly proportional to distance” from it (from a great Hendrik Hertzberg op-ed).

Yes, the actual World Trade Center site (can we stop calling it Ground Zero, a misused term from douchebag news anchors, please???) is hallowed ground, but the surrounding area? Those surrounding blocks are no different than the rest of this Lower Manhattan neighborhood. It’s a place constantly changing, lots of run down buildings waiting for redevelopment beside gleaming corporate towers, Wall Street titans, tons of office space, churches, mosques, old stores, tacky souvenirs, “adult entertainment,” and more, as market forces (self-interest, competition and supply and demand: AKA the invisible hand of the market) continually puts businesses and other facilities in the city, and because it’s NYC, everything is right next to everything (placed to serve the concentrated demand in such a tight, concentrated space of real estate). That’s right, the blocks surrounding the WTC have STRIP CLUBS, Burger Kings, everything–NOT “hallowed ground.”

from The Village Voice

What is already here

Topless dancers catering to rich Wall Street guys

This is closer to the World Trade Center site than the Park51 project

Shady gambling place also on Park Place

Very much non-hallowed ground, an Off-Track Betting joint also on Park Place, even closer to the World Trade Center site than the Park51 project


Photo credit: History Eraser Button blog, Tumblr editorial director TopherChris and the Village Voice. I recommend everybody read the Village Voice’s take on this, which I think represents the feelings of most of us in Lower Manhattan pretty well: we’re tired of the lies and manufactured outrage and want to be LEFT ALONE.

I heard a host on NPR asking an outspoken opponent of Park51 what about the (actually a mosque) mosques also near the WTC, and he said “well, that preexisted 9/11 so they’re grandfathered in” but there should be no FURTHER mosques constructed in the area. When told that the Park51 project is modeled after the 92nd St Y, and is, by no definition (in Islam nor in the dictionary) “a mosque,” this guy brushed it off, disbelieving. What would he have said if told of the strippers, gambling and other low-brow establishments even closer to the WTC site? “How dare you say strip clubs aren’t sacred ground!!!”?? It’s like the opponents of this REALLY BELIEVE that this project (construction not slated to begin until 2015 or later) will be some huge domed mosque with minarets towering over “Ground Zero” and the muezzin’s call to prayer echoing off rubble and skeleton fragments as Taliban wield rifle butts to corral women in burqas. Nothing but fiction!!! It seems NOTHING can penetrate this fictitious narrative that the Right clings to, NOTHING. The machine (political/media machines) must have an enemy. The beast must be fed red meat to survive. The age-old bread and circus to distract the masses. The machine is all that matters–founding principles, the Constitution, even the physical safety of a religious minority BE DAMNED!

And it’s primarily fueled by lies and distortions ginned up by the shameless, ratings whores in cable news.

Fox News

Is this crap driven by the media? Yes, yes! A thousand times yes!

Violence is escalating now. A Bangladeshi cab driver was asked if he was Muslim and then brutally stabbed in midtown. Five teens were arrested in Waterport, upstate NY for firing at a mosque and disrupting a religious service. This has grown and grown beyond just a media distraction to threaten the peace and stability of our country, as well as our Constitutional principles and national soul.

Is religious freedom and the right of private property trumped by angry mobs ginned up by hate and fear? Are we at war with Islam itself and reject anything related to Islam on U.S. soil? (anti-Islam forces are battling Muslims trying to build on their own private property in Staten Island, Brooklyn, Tennessee, Kentucky, Florida, California…and arsonists attacked the construction in Tennessee.) Are we already at war with 1.5 BILLION believers? if so, time for a draft. What are we at war with? How can we win over Iraq and Afghanistan, which hinges on “hearts and minds,” if we paint all Muslims as terrorists hell-bent on destruction? IT’S DECISION TIME!

Amid all this turmoil, the mainstream media wall-to-wall hate speech, countrymen set against each other, friends de-friending each other on facebook, what should those of us who want a teaching moment about religious liberty, private property and anti-violence DO?

I made the video blog below, my response to the right-wing talking heads on your TVs and internets about this project, really a Y to be built in a disused Burlington Coat Factory IN MY NEIGHBORHOOD! SuperAleja edited in captions for the Nick impaired.

My main points: the Burlington Coat Factory isn’t hallowed ground. Park51 is not a mosque and it is not at “Ground Zero,” and Islam is not evil.

Warning: the clips of right-wing talking heads spewing hate speech I use may be offensive and difficult to watch. Dick Morris paints all Muslims as radical enemies and says “all the other (mosques)” are “command centers for terrorism,” Newt Gingrich calls the people behind the Park51 project “radical Islamists” and compares the building to “a Nazi sign in front of the Holocaust museum” and self-described Christian conservatives are shown burning the Koran. I cringe seeing these clips, but we must recognize the bigotry in this country in order to squelch it and lower the heat of this issue.

Transcript of the video blog:

Hello, this is Nick Dupree for nickscrusade.org. And because I live only 4 or 5 blocks from this proposed Islamic community Center that has consumed all of American politics, I thought I should comment.

[O'Reilly clip]

All the arguments against this thing rely on the idea that Islam is somehow related to 9/11. And it would be like putting a statue of Hitler next to a Holocaust memorial; it would be like building a Robert Oppenheim school of nuclear science at Hiroshima. All these arguments are pure crap. Islam has nothing to do with 9/11, any more than Christianity has to do with the KKK. By the same logic, we couldn’t build a church near Atlanta’s Millennium Park because of the Christian extremists who bombed it. Or they say, it’s “hallowed ground”.

Oh no, you must not build on this hallowed ground! Okay, come on. It’s two blocks, two full city blocks, away from the World Trade Center. City blocks in New York City are huge, and there’s an entire culture in each city block different from the other ones. The city blocks around the World Trade Center already have everything–there’s already mosques, there are churches, there are strip clubs, there’s adult bookstores, there’s everything already in the surrounding blocks. And the place that they want to put this thing, is in a disused Burlington Coat Factory, for pete’s sake.

[Burlington Coat Factory commercial]
[NYC landmark commission unanimously ruling that there's no reason to make the old Burlington Coat Factory an untouchable city landmark]

Come on! Stop telling me that the Burlington freaking Coat Factory is hallowed ground! It’s not on the site of the World Trade Center, and, it’s not a mosque, it’s an old Burlington Coat Factory. It’s going to be a community center like a YMCA, you know, with a gym, and a swimming pool, a culinary school, a food court, classrooms….. only a tiny part of it is going to be for prayer. And what’s so wrong about prayer? Don’t we have freedom of prayer, freedom of religion, and our very Constitution?

It’s not a mosque, there’s no minarets towering over the city. There’s no muezzin calling for prayer. It’s a crap argument. It shouldn’t even be a story, it’s a YMCA, for all intents and purposes. And they have the freedom to build what they want on their own property. It’s property rights, and a municipal land-use issue. It should be decided by those in the neighborhood, like myself.
Not the worst bigots in the country from a crazy church that wants to burn the Koran. [local Jacksonville news clip about this church's "Burn A Koran" day]
Pat Robertson [clip of Robertson talking about "Cordoba mosque" (sic) on the 700 Club]
Dick Morris, [clip of O'Reilly interviewing Morris]
Newt Gingrich, [clip of Gingrich spewing hate speech on the Fox News morning show]
should these bigots decide what goes in my neighborhood, or should I decide it? Really it’s a no-brainer. Angry bigots, thousands of miles away, should not be deciding this. I, and the rest of the neighborhood, should decide it. There’s nothing dangerous, there’s nothing sinister, about the people that are behind this project, who are moderates. And they’re being painted, along with the entire religion of Islam, as evil. If we’re going to paint an entire religion of a billion and a half people with the same brush, then why would they make peace with us, why would anything change? So, the hate that we’re hearing all over the media… friends de-friending each other on Facebook over this, it really needs to stop. It’s a YMCA. Please, let the neighborhood decide this.

Please spread this blog post and video. Truth, justice and the American way will only exist to the extent we make it exist.

Nick

PS
This is the 1337th post on nickscrusade.org. 1337!!!

In-Depth Nick Analysis: Who Are The Basij? The Group That Stopped A New Iranian Revolution

Posted by – July 17, 2009

If you’re like me, you’ve been closely following reports of the attempts at “soft overthrow” by “Green Revolution” protesters clogging the streets in Iran (properly pronounced E-ron, though I admit even I mangle it frequently). Twitter, bloggers (Nico Pitney blogging at HuffPo, Andrew Sullivan at The Atlantic) and various print news web sites (TIME, Reuters) have provided much more coverage of these historic events than the perennially shameful television news media, who only bring us vapid “infotainment.” As the first street revolution in the Islamic world since the Cedar Revolution (Lebanon) and the Tulip Revolution (Kyrgyzstan) in spring of ’05, both of which forced their regime to resign, it should’ve garnered much more TV time than it did. As keepbreathing said on the Respiratory Therapy 101: Just Keep Breathing blog “If only the Iranian police had killed Michael Jackson, maybe the world would pay more attention to the travesties going on in that formerly great nation.”

Just as in Kyrgyzstan’s revolution, in Iran, mostly young people, tired of decades of authoritarian rule, took to the streets en masse to overturn a fraudulent election that had ratified the rule of a dictator. In Kyrgyzstan, the protests were so loud, the people so united, that old Soviet boss Askar Akayev saw his power base erode to the point that continuing in office was too risky and untenable; protesters seized the presidential offices, and he ended up escaping to Russia. In Iran, this didn’t happen; the regime didn’t budge. Why? Because the entrenched support base loyal to the regime, especially the Sepah (Revolutionary Guards) and the Basij, wouldn’t allow it.

A photo of Basij volunteers drilling in their drill uniforms.  (Credit: Vahid Salemi / AP)

A photo of Basij volunteers drilling in their drill uniforms. (Credit: Vahid Salemi / AP)

Who are the Basijis? The best way for an American to understand them is as a combination of the Boy Scouts, the revolutionary Minutemen, the Taliban and the legend of the Persian Hashshashins (Assassins) who would take themselves out with their foes. The Basijis are a volunteer militia operated as an auxiliary of the Sepah, and take orders directly from Sepah commanders and the Supreme Leader, not the president. The Basijis are mostly religious youth, and they are charged with protecting the regime, along with Shia Islam and its people’s “virtues.” To show their Islamic virtue they may work in mosques, help elderly people cross the street, give gasoline to people stranded in their cars on the side of the road, or, on the other side of the coin, intimidate and assault Iranians dressed in “immoral” attire, and haul suspected dissidents into the nearest police station. The Basij responds to threats to the regime within and without; they played a key role in the Iran-Iraq war, with mass “human wave” martyr attacks by teenage Basijis to clear minefields and terrify Saddam’s troops, and they have often crushed Iranians citizens’ demonstrations, most notably during the uprising that followed the June 12 rigged election of this year, and the student protests of July ’99.

The founder of the Islamic Revolution, Ayatollah Khomeini founded the Basij (pronounced BAH-siege) when he became leader of the new Islamic Republic of Iran in 1979. It was a shrewd move. Khomeini knew that he would always have a lot of enthusiastic extreme-fundamentalist young men on his hands, and it’s smarter to protect your Right flank, honor them and harness their energy to protect the regime, than it is to let them fester ignored until they become something that could overthrow him. In Persian, the Basij (literally, “Mobilization”) are also called Basij-e Mostaz’afin, “Mobilization of the Oppressed,” and there is a clear “class warfare” element to them. The Basijis are mostly poor, young, and fundamentalist, and they are often pitted against the mostly secular, modernizing upper class. President Ahmadinejad was a Basij, with the Basij culture and chip on the shoulder, and he framed the rich elite as decadent, corrupt, and “oppressing” the hard-working, pious, rural poor.

Ahmadinejad and fellow Basij veterans, in ceremonial uniform

Ahmadinejad and fellow Basij veterans, in ceremonial uniform

For Iran’s rulers, this has them sitting pretty: in addition to having the judiciary, military and local officials firmly behind them, they can rally a religious proletariat to the defense of Islamic government whenever needed, with angry young Basijis as the head of the spear. Despite dissent from other Ayatollahs (Grand Ayatollah Montazeri, Ayatollah Mohajerani, Ayatollah Rafsanjani), the government’s lessened legitimacy and growing feeling in Iran’s cities that the current regime’s enforcers (Sepah, Basij, local police) are no better than the Shah’s brutal secret police (the SAVAK) that they united against in 1979, this regime is deeply entrenched, and the Persian people* will likely be watched over by Ayatollah Khomeini’s evil glare everywhere for years to come.

For more information on the Basij:
The New Yorker: Jon Lee Anderson: Understanding The Basij

Basij Violence In The News:
LA Times: Tehran’s streets erupt after a key cleric speaks

From The Miami Herald, a cartoon showing New Boss, Same As The Old Boss, the Islamic Republic attacking their own people just as the Shah did

From The Miami Herald, a cartoon showing "New Boss, Same As The Old Boss," the Islamic Republic attacking their own people just as the Shah did

Contrasting brave Iranians willing to protest despite very real risk to life and limb with couch potato Americans doing little for their freedom, I feel like I’m in a nation of proles. Like Iranians, we Americans used to be a proud and revolutionary people. I hope that isn’t completely dead.

Nick

*For the uninitiated, Iranians are sometimes still referred to as “Persians,” and their country was called “Persia” by outsiders from the 5th century BC up until 1935, when Reza Shah Pahlavi issued a decree requesting everyone use Iran, meaning “the land of Aryans,” which Iranians had been calling their country since about 1000 BC. For more information, see Iran Naming Convention. Iranians are an Aryan/Indo-European people, and in physical appearance, look little different from the related Caucasians in the nearby Caucasus region. They are white people. Too many Americans lump Iraq and Iran together and say “bomb all them A-rabs,” which couldn’t be more wrong. Iranians are not Arabs, have a proud history and culture totally distinct from Arabs, speak a language (with grammar similar to many contemporary European languages) unintelligible to those who only understand Arabic, and Iranians’ bitter rivalry and wars with the proto-Arab and Arab peoples of the Fertile Crescent span back to the first written records of the region recorded by Sumerians. Saddam Hussein was infamous for his hate of Persians.

How Will Gender Imbalance Affect China’s Future?

Posted by – May 31, 2009

This topic occurred to me after reading Larry Kramer’s long rant in the Huffington Post claiming that because men outnumbered women 6 to 1 in the original Jamestown colony in 17th century America, that lots of gay sex had to be going on, and that historians are erasing gays from history out of homophobic bigotry.   I don’t dismiss the issue of whitewashing history; that IS a real problem.   But I think Kramer is angry, verging on hysteria at times, more activist than historian, and he is often reaching–asserting conclusions without enough evidence to back it up. And is his crass language really necessary?

My history professor friend Bridgett and I discussed this on her blog post about Kramer, “Same-sex sexuality in 17th century British North America,” and she explains that real historians can’t “out” people from the past as gay without definitive, absolute proof, or they’ll be filleted by critics, discredited and risk their careers.   Not a problem for Kramer, as he has no historian cred to risk.

To me, his biggest fallacy is that simply because no wives were available for many Jamestown colonists, they would “turn to each other.” It’s not something you can CHOOSE like that, and he of all people should know that. I could no more choose attraction to males amid a girl-shortage than Kramer could choose attraction to women.

Does anyone really believe that whenever there’s a scarcity of women in a society, large amounts of men will “turn to each other?” This made me turn my thoughts to China. Recently, a gay family member told me because of the lack of females in China and the fact that, mathematically, tens of millions of men will never be able to find women to marry (true) that millions will turn to gay sex. I don’t think that’s what will happen — it’s not A CHOICE!

Numerous articles about the gender imbalance in China (caused by abortions of potential girls and infanticide after birth) have been written. I recommend:

In this Washington Post op-ed, Valerie M. Hudson and Andrea M. Den Boer, the authors of “Bare Branches: The Security Implications of Asia’s Surplus Male Population,” wrote:

The old saying goes, “When you pick up one end of a stick, you also pick up the other.” When a society prefers sons to daughters to the extent found in parts of contemporary Asia, it not only will have fewer daughters, but it also will create a subclass of young men who are apt to have difficulty finding wives and beginning their own families. Because son preference has been a significant phenomenon in Asia for centuries, the Chinese actually have a term for such young men. They are called guang gun-er or “bare branches,” because they are branches of the family tree that will never bear fruit. The girls who should have grown up to be their wives were disposed of instead.

We have already seen in China the resurrection of evils such as the kidnapping and selling of women to provide brides for those who can pay the fee. Scarcity of women leads to a situation in which men with advantages — money, skills, education — will marry, but men without such advantages — poor, unskilled, illiterate — will not. A permanent subclass of bare branches from the lowest socioeconomic classes is created. In China and India, for example, by the year 2020 bare branches will make up 12 to 15 percent of the young adult male population.

Should the leaders of these nations be worried? The answer is yes. Throughout history, bare branches in East and South Asia have played a role in aggravating societal instability, violent crime and gang formation.

Though the existence of sizable numbers of bare branches is not a necessary condition for instability — the sex ratios of Rwanda in 1994 were normal, for example — it plays a significant role in the amplification of levels of instability and threat.

Consider the fact that in the mid-1800s, a predominantly bare-branch rebel group in the north of China called the Nien, in combination with rebel groups farther south, openly attacked imperial troops and forts, taking control of territory inhabited by 6 million Chinese citizens before it was quashed by the government years later.

More recently, Indian scholars have noted a very strong relationship between sex ratios and violent crime rates in Indian states, which persists even after controlling for a variety of other possible variables. And worldwide, more violent crime is committed by unmarried young adult men than by married young adult men.

According to sociologists, young adult men with no stake in society — of the lowest socioeconomic classes and with little chance of forming families of their own — are much more prone to attempt to improve their situation through violent and criminal behavior in a strategy of coalitional aggression with other bare branches.

Historically, governments facing a growing population of bare branches find themselves caught in a dilemma. They must decrease the threat to society posed by these young men but at the same time may find the cost of doing so is heavy. Increased authoritarianism in an effort to crack down on crime, gangs, smuggling and so forth can be one result.

At some point, governments consider how they can export their problem, either by encouraging emigration of young adult men or harnessing their energies in martial adventures abroad. There are very few good options for governments that find that their greatest threat emanates not from an external source but from an internal one.

Years ago I saw Hudson and Den Boer’s book discussed on CNN, and in that segment, they argued that the explosive growth of Islamic conquests

This map shows the expansion of the Islamic Caliphate.  In dark red, is territory conquered by Mohammed himself (from 622-632 he consolidated all of the Arabian Peninsula), in pink are the territories conquered in 632-661 by the Patriarchal Caliphate (all of the Levant, Egypt, present-day Libya, Iraq, Iran and present-day Georgia in the South Caucasus) and, in beige, the lands taken during the Umayyad Caliphate (661-750; much of Central Asia, including Samerkand, present-day Afghanistan, Pakistan, and all of the Maqreb of West Africa and Spain).

This map shows the expansion of the Islamic Caliphate. In dark red, is territory conquered by Mohammed himself (from 622-632 he consolidated all of the Arabian Peninsula), in pink are the territories conquered in 632-661 by the "Patriarchal Caliphate" (all of the Levant, Egypt, present-day Libya, Iraq, Iran and present-day Georgia in the South Caucasus) and, in beige, the lands taken during the Umayyad Caliphate (661-750; much of Central Asia, including Samerkand, present-day Afghanistan, Pakistan, and all of the Maqreb of West Africa and Spain).

…in the 7th and 8th centuries wasn’t just “to spread the faith by the sword,” but, because the prevalence of polygamy on the Arabian Peninsula made it impossible for large numbers of angry young fundamentalist males with swords to ever find wives. Large groups of them invaded Egypt, Persia, etc., where the population of widowed women had just grown considerably from the war. Hudson and Den Boer suggested a similar phenomenon may happen in China.

We are already seeing the consequences of gender imbalance in China that Hudson and Den Boer’s research predicts: increased sex trafficking, prostitution becoming more widespread and more lucrative. Will we see China invading neighboring countries as well?

What do you think? Please comment below.

Nick

A Worthy Cause: Helping LGBT Iraqis Who Are Being Chased Down And Executed

Posted by – May 15, 2009

As I posted before, Iraq is now killing homosexuals at a startling rate, and since many can’t blend in, are forced into hiding.  And three safe houses have now closed for want of funding.

PaulCanning forwards an urgent request from IRAQI LGBT:

IRAQI LGBT started to establish a network of safe houses inside Iraq in March 2006.

As of today, we have only one safe house, we had to consider closing down three of them in the last couple of months, because we are unable to keep paying the rent and other expenses.

The members of our group inside Iraq urgently need funds to open at least five safe houses. These funds will allow us to keep the five safe houses running, and provide safety, shelter, food and many other needs for our LGBT friends inside Iraq. Any funds we receive that go beyond what we need for these five safe houses could be used to open more safe houses in the near future. We desperately need to add more because we have so many urgent cases in other cities. We receive requests for shelter every day, but we are not able to help yet.

Source: http://paulcanning.blogspot.com/2009/05/support-safe-houses-project-for-lgbt.html

In recent months, Iraq’s mullahs have directed a vicious purge of gay Iraqis. Evidently, the Sadrist movement (who have plenty of supporters within the current regime) and the Iraqi government reached an agreement, and if gays aren’t simply shot by militiamen, they are jailed, executed, or tortured to death by the authorities. Many have died via extrajudicial execution, while others were officially imprisoned and executed by hanging. Still others (about 200 in Baghdad) are on death row awaiting hanging.

Activists will protest for the human rights of LGBT Iraqis Sunday outside President Obama’s home in Chicago, and implore him to act.

This year in Chicago, the Gay Liberation Network (GLN) is organizing the city’s IDAHO event as a protest against the Obama administration’s continuing silence about rampant anti-gay violence in U.S.-occupied Iraq. The protest will take place at 2 PM, Sunday, May 17th outside of the Obamas’ Chicago residence at the corner of Hyde Park Boulevard (5100 S.) and Greenwood (1100 E.).

Over the past month, several news outlets have reported an escalating, officially sanctioned campaign to torture and execute gays in Iraq, promoted both by Shi’ite clerics and by the Shi’ite-dominated government which is closely allied with the United States.

As the New York Times reported April 7, “In the past two months, the bodies of as many as 25 boys and men suspected of being gay have turned up in the huge [Baghdad] Shiite enclave of Sadr City, the police and friends of the dead say. Most have been shot, some multiple times. Several have been found with the word ‘pervert’ in Arabic on notes attached to their bodies, the police said.” And as the Huffington Post reported May 3rd, “According to Iraqis and human rights workers interviewed for this post, some sort of understanding was reached between the Iraqi government and the Mahdi Army to ‘cleanse’ Iraq of homosexuals.”

Tortures committed reportedly include gluing the anuses of gay men shut, and then force-feeding them diarrhea-inducing medications which cause agonizing pain followed by death.

Back in 2005, the country’s leading Shi’ite cleric said that gays and lesbians should be “punished, in fact, killed” and that “the people should be killed in the worst, most severe way of killing.” After some protests this language was removed from the cleric’s website, and the anti-gay campaign appeared to subside.

However, over the past month, the campaign in Iraq to murder gays has ramped up again as “Sadr City’s Muslim clerics have reportedly urged the faithful to destroy homosexuality in Iraqi society and police have undertaken an effort to arrest and jail gay men,” said United Press International.

Source: LGBT asylum news: Chicago protest about anti-gay pogram in Iraq

Nick’s Crusade, strongly believing that disability rights activists shouldn’t be stuck in their traditional “silos,” but should be supporting the inalienable human rights of all people, endorses this protest Sunday. Obama should take heed, and, if he can’t pull strings in Baghdad, at the very least he could grant asylum in the U.S. to those who are now hiding in fear.

I don’t have any money (I know; I’m a charitable case myself) but if I did, helping LGBT Iraqis who’re running for their lives is a very worthy cause.    For more information, see the IRAQI LGBT blog.

Regardless of your opinions on the gay issue, if you have friends and family that are gay (I do) and wouldn’t want them killed, you should pay attention to the persecution of gays around the world, and raise awareness.

Nick

Understanding Pashtuns Critical To Avoiding Afghanistan Quagmire

Posted by – April 19, 2009

Cartoon by R.J. Matson

Cartoon by R.J. Matson

How is Obama’s Afghanistan plan supposed to work, when similar plans were EPIC FAIL for the Soviets, British, Alexander the Great and others?

Former CIA Mideast operative Robert Baer (played by George Clooney in Syriana) writes in TIME Magazine:

The Pashtun are a big, sprawling, insulated tribal people. There are some 40 million of them, but no one knows for sure because the central governments in Kabul and Islamabad have never felt safe enough to take a proper census. The Taliban are overwhelmingly Pashtun. The Pashtun have never had their own country, but they share a common language and identity.

And most importantly, they’re willing to shed their blood for each other. The Pashtun have a long history of uniting to face a common, external threat. They held up Alexander the Great for years — if for no other reason than pure belligerence. Something like that seems to be happening today. In February, the Taliban organizations in Pakistan and Afghanistan agreed to put aside their differences, and combine forces to fight NATO in Afghanistan. What incited the alliance was the Obama Administration’s plans to send an additional 17,000 troops.

Baer believes the only way that we can glean a modicum of success from this nearly eight-year, open-ended war, is if we focus on the foreign al-Qaida elements, root them out, come to an accommodation with the Taliban/Pashtun tribes, and exit the region as soon as possible.

The British learned the hard way, after three unsuccessful wars in “Pashtunistan” (one campaign was chronicled in great detail by a young Winston Churchill), that accommodation with the Pashtun tribes (also called Pathans or Pukhtoons by the Brits) is the only option. The British eventually cut a deal with the Pashtuns to leave them alone, and, in exchange, the tribes would protect British India from northern invaders. Even after the western provinces of British India became Pakistan in 1947, the Pakistanis continued the arrangement to leave the Pashtuns their autonomy.

I feel the president, as well as the voting public, are woefully uninformed about the enemies we’re facing. Alexander the Great couldn’t conquer Afghanistan. The British, much more adept imperialists than we are (they make the neo-con attempts at empire look positively milquetoast) could never pacify the region, even given extraordinary brutality. The Soviets, who had the might of modern military technology (tanks, an air force, helicopters, missiles, etc.) on their side, and often resorted to “scorched earth” tactics, nonetheless suffered a complete defeat in Afghanistan. The Russians are chuckling at us now as we follow in their footsteps and sink into the quagmire.

No nation-state has ever controlled the Pashtun tribes. The Pashtun are the largest tribal society still intact today, and will follow their traditional network of clan leaders, local headmen and tribal elders, not a parliament or president. For rural Pashtuns, decrees from leaders hundreds of miles away aren’t relevant compared to the decisions of the local jirga. And nothing will trump Pashtunwali, the ancient code of honor Pashtuns live by; the reason they’ve never given up bin Laden is that they can’t break the rule to protect guests seeking asylum (just as Lot protected visiting angels from a mob), no matter the rewards offered to do so. Another part of Pashtunwali: balad, or revenge. Pashtuns must exact revenge for any insult for 1000 years, on the offender or his nearest male relative, until a resolution is reached.

Too many Americans JUST DON’T GET what we’re up against. The chances that the U.S. will fare better than the British did are slim and none. We need education, education, education. Unless the West gets wise about other peoples and their histories, we’ll continue to fail.

Vizzinis wisdom: never get involved in a land war in Asia!

Vizzini's wisdom: "never get involved in a land war in Asia!"

“NEVER GET INVOLVED IN A LAND WAR IN ASIA!”

Arab League Embraces Sudan’s Genocidal Dictator

Posted by – March 30, 2009

Sudanese President Omar al-Bashir is one the worst war criminals in recent history. His Janjaweed thugs have killed 300,000 people in Darfur, raped untold numbers, and caused over 2.5 million Darfuris to flee to perilous existences as refugees. Bashir makes Slobodan Milosovic (with an estimated 10,000 killed) look like small potatoes.

Most recently, in response to an International Criminal Court (ICC) warrant for his arrest on war crimes charges, Bashir ejected all the aid workers from Sudan so that the remaining refugees are left without food or water and will die.

This weekend, the Arab League rewarded Bashir with the red carpet treatment at their summit in Qatar and a public hug and kiss session. They also drafted a resolution rejecting the ICC warrant for his arrest and continue to protect this wanted criminal.

Sudanese President Bashir Laughing It Up At The Arab League Summit

Sudanese President Bashir Laughing It Up At The Arab League Summit

Bashir Laughing It Up At The Arab League Summit

It’s unbelievable that a war criminal of this magnitude would be so embraced by his Arab neighbors, and allowed to happily jet outside his country unfettered. Ugh! Arab League, you have forever lost credibility in my eyes.

Nick

U.S. Prepares to Jettison Al-Maliki

Posted by – August 29, 2007

I saw this story the other day:

By QASSIM ABDUL-ZAHRA, Associated Press Writer
Wed Aug 22, 8:58 AM ET

DAMASCUS, Syria – Iraq’s prime minister lashed out Wednesday at U.S. criticism, saying no one has the right to impose timetables on his elected government and that his country “can find friends elsewhere.”

Prime Minister Nouri al-Maliki blamed the U.S. presidential campaign for the recent tough words about his government, from President Bush and from other U.S. politicians.

Bush on Tuesday said he was frustrated with Iraqi leaders’ inability to bridge political divisions. But he added that only the Iraqi people can decide whether to sideline al-Maliki.

“Clearly, the Iraqi government’s got to do more,” Bush said. “I think there’s a certain level of frustration with the leadership in general, inability to work — come together to get, for example, an oil revenue law passed or provincial elections.”

Full article: AP: Iraqi PM lashes out at U.S. critics

Then the next day I saw this story:

CRAWFORD, Texas (CNN) — A powerhouse Republican lobbying firm with close ties to the White House has begun a public campaign to undermine the government of Iraqi Prime Minister Nuri al-Maliki, CNN has confirmed.

This comes as President Bush is publicly taking great pains to reiterate his support for the embattled Iraqi leader.

Al-Maliki’s government has come under sharp criticism and scrutiny from Washington lawmakers and officials, as reflected in Thursday’s National Intelligence Estimate.

A senior Bush administration official told CNN the White House is aware of the lobbying campaign by Barbour Griffith & Rogers because the firm is “blasting e-mails all over town” criticizing al-Maliki and promoting the firm’s client, former interim Iraqi Prime Minister Ayad Allawi, as an alternative to al-Maliki.

But the senior administration official insisted that White House officials have “absolutely no involvement” in the campaign to remove al-Maliki, nor have they given it their blessing.

“There’s just no connection whatsoever,” the official said. “There’s absolutely no involvement.”

When asked whether the White House will ask the prominent Republican lobbying firm to stop lashing out at al-Maliki, the official said, “I don’t rule it out.”

Pressed on why allies of the White House would be contradicting the president publicly, the senior administration official said of the lobbyists, “They’re making a lot of money.”

Full article: CNN: Powerhouse GOP firm working to undermine Iraqi PM

So basically, al-Maliki got a little rebellious under all the withering criticism, and also he won’t hand over the oil.

The next day, a major GOP firm is handed a fat contract to agitate against al-Maliki.

Coincidence? I think not.

And where would exiled former PM Allawi get that kind of money?
*cough* CIA *cough*

The lobbyists have even parked the domain name AllawiForIraq.com.

Hillary Clinton also said we should throw al-Maliki under the bus. As usual, she is on the same page with the neo-cons.

I would HATE to be al-Maliki. Worst job EVAR.
He’s surrounded by a zillion impossible catch 22s and is simply stalling.
Poor bastard.

I hope he flees before a bullet makes the decision for him.

Nick

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