ABUJA, Nigeria — Amid increasing evidence that the Nigerian government’s heavy-handed strategy for containing a radical Islamist sect has failed, some Western officials are urging a new and less militarized approach.
Repeated Nigerian military incursions against the group have yielded many civilian casualties but still not stopped Boko Haram. It merely went underground after a bloody operation against it in 2009, and now carries out regular attacks against the Nigerian government.
“I think we’d like to see Nigeria take a more holistic approach,” said the American ambassador here,[stop right there -- we need not hear another word from you] Terence P. McCulley, in an interview at the well-guarded and fortresslike United States Embassy here in the Nigerian capital.
“Clearly, the 2009 tactics may have contributed to the current direction,” he said, adding that the Nigerian security forces should not jeopardize civilians in their operations. He suggested that the government “address the grievances” of the northern population on economic and social matters.
Boko Haram continues to call for a strict application of Shariah law and the freeing of imprisoned members in northern Nigeria, where mass unemployment and poverty have fueled social discontent. Overall, some 50 million youths are underemployed, the World Bank says, in a country of 154 million. Despite abundant oil revenues, incomes have barely budged in 30 years, life expectancy is only 48 and the country remains one of the most economically unequal in the world, the United Nations says.
In the wake of Friday’s bombing, analysts and officials warn that those factors make repression a poor tactic for confronting Boko Haram.
“The chickens have come home to roost,” said another Western diplomat, who was not authorized to speak publicly. “Nigeria’s[Muslim -- the Christians, until just now, with Goodluck Jonathan, have never held power -- his initial ascension was an accident, then ratified by an election] political elite has been ruling irresponsibly for decades, shamelessly plundering the nation’s wealth with little or no regard for the country’s masses,” the diplomat said in an e-mail. “The rise of Boko Haram and its millions of tacit, quiet supporters is a challenge to this corrupt political class.” [nothing about how Muslim states or Muslim-dominated states naturally tend doward despotism, no hint of trying to figure out why that is]
A Nigerian government spokesman was not immediately available for comment.
Mr. McCulley, the American ambassador, called the United Nations bombing a “paradigm shift,” adding that “it suggests Boko Haram has upped its game, if you will. It seems to show it wishes to expand its scope beyond the domestic.” [pompous and empty]
The ambassador said that the attack on the United Nations was a “game changer,” and that American interests could also be in the group’s sights. “It would be foolish to consider that we are not a possible target as well,” he said.
Indeed, in a conference call after the attack, a man describing himself as a spokesman for Boko Haram said that the United States was culpable because it “has been collaborating with the Nigerian government to clamp down on our members nationwide.” Both he and another self-described spokesman warned of more attacks to come.
Mr. McCulley, while saying there was no “direct evidence” of links between Boko Haram and Al Qaeda, said the group’s attacks have “become more sophisticated, more Al Qaeda-like. They’ve adopted some of their tactics.”
Other Western and Nigerian officials and analysts say members of Boko Haram have met and trained with Qaeda affiliates outside the country. They also cite propaganda by Al Qaeda in the Islamic Maghreb in which the group boasts of assisting Boko Haram and pledges to help it avenge attacks on Muslims in Nigeria, including the killing of Boko Haram’s leader during the 2009 military assault.
Mr. McCulley said that current American training programs with Nigerian security services could be expanded. “I believe that going forward we’re going to have a more robust engagement with the army,” he said. F.B.I. agents arrived here to assist with the investigation soon after the bombing.
Even after the deadly United Nations bombing, which killed 11 United Nations staff members, including 10 Nigerians and one Norwegian woman, political violence attributed to Boko Haram continued in northern Nigeria over the weekend. A bomb was thrown into the home of the former police minister — no one was injured — and a local official was shot in his home by gunmen in Borno State, the center of the insurgency.
These attacks have become so routine in northern Nigeria that they now rate only a few paragraphs in the country’s newspapers. On Tuesday, Nigerian media reported that the national police chief, Hafiz Ringim, announced arrests in the United Nations bombing, but previous such arrests have not led to any decline in Boko Haram’s activities. Mr. Ringim had vowed earlier that Boko Haram’s days were “numbered,” and after his headquarters in Abuja was bombed in June, the police chief announced a crackdown.
“I don’t think the federal government knows who they are; that’s problem No. 1,” a Western official said in an interview here last month. The official, not authorized to speak publicly, said of the 2009 crackdown, “They didn’t really know what to do, so, ‘Let’s just send in a bunch of military and police, and wipe ’em all out.’ ”
Maya Angelou Criticizes The MLK Memorial But Misses The Main Point
Maya Angelou criticizes inscription at MLK Memorial
Poet and author says shortened version makes civil rights leader sound 'arrogant'
It reads: "I was a drum major for justice, peace and righteousness."
'It makes him seem an egotist'
The phrase is inscribed on a statue of King without quotation marks because it is paraphrased. It is not grouped with 14 quotations from King that are part of the memorial plaza.
The paraphrased version "minimizes the man," said the 83-year-old Angelou. "It makes him seem less than the humanitarian he was. ... It makes him seem an egotist."
King would have never said of himself that he was a drum major, Angelou said, but rather that others might say that of him.
"He had a humility that comes from deep inside," Angelou told the Post. "The 'if' clause that is left out is salient. Leaving it out changes the meaning completely."
Not enough room
Memorial planners said they were fond of the quotation but that it had to be shortened because of a change during the King statute's creation. They originally planned to use most of the "drum major" quote but changed its placement, and sculptor Lei Yixin told them there wasn't enough space.
"We sincerely felt passionate that the man's own eulogy should be expressed on the stone," said Ed Jackson Jr., executive architect of the memorial. "We said the least we could do was define who he was based on his perception of himself: 'I was a drum major for this, this and this.'"
Project planners outlined the problem and their proposed solution to the U.S. Commission of Fine Arts, which had to approve the memorial's design. The federal arts panel did not object, Jackson said.
Angelou was one of the memorial's Council of Historians tasked with selecting the inscriptions for the memorial. But she did not attend meetings about the inscriptions, Jackson said.
Two other memorial advisers were consulted, Jon Onye Lockard and James Chaffers of the University of Michigan. But Jackson said he ultimately had to make the decision.
Lockard told the Post he was fine with the shortened inscription.
"If there's any comment about anything, it's late," he said, noting others also have recently criticized pieces of the memorial. "I think it's rather small of folks to pick at things. ... This has been going on for 14 years, and all of them have had plenty of time to add their thoughts and ideas."
Physically, the statue of King is a monument of Communist Kitsch, produced by a sculptor in Communist China whose esthetic sense was formed by statues he saw, and no doubt also sculpted himself, to Chairman Mao.
Intellectually, the continued attirbution, now carved in stone, to Martin Luther King of words written by the famous abolitionist Theodore Parker, the man whom Lincoln said had a greater influence on him than any other, remiinds visitors that King never gave proper attributioin, and still worse, they will be reminded of other acts of plagiarism, especially that of his doctoral dissertation, where at least one-thrid of it was lifted, practically verbatim, from someone else, as an investigation conducted by professors at Boston University conclusively showed (it was from B.U.'s School of Theology that King received the degree that made him "Doctor" King).
Historico-politically, the whole farce of the statue and the Reminder of Plagiarism shows up many of those involved in the whole process, including those who, having become aware -- from an article in The Washington Post last year when the same misattribution to King of Parker's words, woven into the new Oval Office carpet, was disseminated far and wide -- about the plagiarized words did nothing to halt their being carved into stone.
And now those words, about the moral arc of the universe bending toward justice,will now forever mock the memory of the man those words were meant to memorialize.
Or is this this a working out of the Law Of Unintended Consequences, resulting in a kind of poetic justice toward which, some might insist -- having already let someone else do the heavy lifting -- our famous universe famously bends?
Boko Haram Can't Begin To Grasp That What Oppresses Muslims Is Not The U.N., But Islam
Nigerian bombers blame U.N. for 'oppression' of Muslims
By the CNN Wire Staff
August 31, 2011
A U.N. vehicle damaged from a blast that rocked the Nigerian U.N. headquaters is seen in Abuja on August 28.
(CNN) -- The Nigerian Islamic militant group Boko Haram says it bombed U.N. offices in Abuja last week because the world body is a partner "in the oppression of believers," a spokesman for the group said Wednesday.
Friday's car bombing killed 23 people and wounded more than 80. Boko Haram, which aims to impose a strict version of Islamic law in Nigeria, claimed responsibility for the attack.
In a brief telephone interview arranged by an intermediary, Boko Haram spokesman Abul Qaqa said a 27-year-old Nigerian named Mohammed Abul Barra drove the explosives-packed Honda Accord into the U.N. building.
"All over the world, the U.N. is a global partner in the oppression of believers," Qaqa said. "We are at war against infidels. In Nigeria, the federal government tries to perpetuate the agenda of the United Nations."
U.N. agencies operating in Nigeria include the World Health Organization, the U.N. Development Program, the children's organization UNICEF, the Office on Drugs and Crime, the Joint Program on HIV and AIDS and the U.N. Development Fund for Women. The building hit by the attack housed 26 U.N. humanitarian and development agencies, Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon said last week.
Nigerian authorities said Wednesday that the bombing was plotted by a man with ties to the al Qaeda terrorist network. The Nigerian State Security Service said Mamman Nur was a "notorious Boko Haram element" who recently returned from Somalia, where the Somali militant Al-Shabaab has been linked to al Qaeda.
Though a Nigerian engineer was among the dead, Qaqa said the group did not intend to kill the man. He added, however, "We have told everyone that the U.N. is the bastion of the global oppression of Muslims all over the world."
"As such, we have warned everyone to steer clear of such places," he said. "They should steer clear of such places that we have mentioned in the past. The battle has changed."
Africa's most populous nation is divided between a largely Christian south and a Muslim north. "Boko Haram" -- which translates loosely as "Western education is forbidden/sinful" -- holds all government authority in contempt and wants to establish a state in northern Nigeria under Islamic law.
Simple solution: pull out every U.N. agency, not only from northern Nigeria, but from every Muslim-populated land. U.N. offices have been attacked, and people murdered, in Iraq and Afghanistan and Somalia and Nigeria. Why risk their lives? Muslims don't need, or mistrust, inter alia, the World Health Organization (with its sinister vaccination program that is clearly an Infidel plot against Muslims), the U.N. Development Program, the children's organization UNICEF, the Office on Drugs and Crime, the Joint Program on HIV and AIDS and, perhaps especially, the U.N. Development Fund for Women with its diabolical notions of raising the status of women.
Richard Landes: How The Jihad Groups Are Winning A Propaganda War The West Isn't Even Fighting
From The Tablet:
Muslim apocalyptic movements like al-Qaida, Hamas, Hezbollah, and other jihadi groups are winning an information war that the West barely recognizes exists
By Richard Landes | Aug 31, 2011
Muslim demonstrators at the Danish Embassy on Feb. 3, 2006 in London.
Peter Macdiarmid/Getty Images
When I first heard in the mid-1990s about the dreams of some jihadis and Islamists to have the green flag of Islam waving over the White House and the queen of England wearing a burka, I, like so many other Western liberals, thought that these were ludicrous fantasies. But as a student of apocalyptic millennialism, I understood that however silly such beliefs might sound to outsiders, they can have devastating consequences.
Millennialists, from stone-age cargo cults to the Pharaoh Akhenaten’s monotheistic revolution in Egypt around 1350 BCE to modern secular movements including the French Revolution, Marxism, Communism, and Nazism, all imagine that in the future the world will transform from a society in which evil, corruption, and oppression flourish and the good suffer into a world without suffering and pain. The term “apocalyptic” refers to the experiences and behavior of those who believe that this millennial transformation is imminent. In my new book, Heaven on Earth, I focus on two major developments in apocalyptic movements: The first concerns those rare moments when a previously low-volume apocalyptic discourse successfully enters the public sphere and, despite its outlandish claims, wins zealous, open, converts, and the second concerns the inevitable disappointment that greets all such movements, including those that succeed in taking power and implementing their plans for perfecting the world. Of the most dangerous such movements to jell are those I call “active cataclysmic” ones that believe that only vast destruction can pave the way to the new world, and that they are the agents of that violence. Such movements have killed tens of millions of people (often their own people) before their raging fires burned out.
Two key laws of apocalyptic dynamics became relevant in assessing Muslim apocalyptic expectations, even the most curious ones attached to the advent of the year 2000: First, one person’s messiah is another’s antichrist; and, second, wrong does not mean inconsequential. Muslims observing messianic Christians and Jews who wanted to rebuild the Temple where the Dome of the Rock stands in the year 2000 predicted the Dajjal, the Muslim version of the antichrist, for that year. And given the active cataclysmic fantasy involved—“We, Allah’s agents, must destroy much of the word to save it”—I understood how devastating it might be if this movement spread, no matter how wrong it might seem to secular people in the West.
When I first began to familiarize myself with this phenomenon, I was primarily worried that organizations like al-Qaida, Hamas, Hezbollah, and other jihadi and mujahedin movements might gain support in the Muslim world and cause damage both to fellow Muslims and to “infidels” around the world. But I did not for a moment imagine that these hateful and paranoid apocalyptic tropes—the very opposite of the notions of peace, equality, openness, and tolerance that Western progressives prized—would win supporters and allies among even the most progressive elements of the Western public sphere. Neither I nor, I suspect, the men who wrote Hamas’ genocidal charter in 1988 expected Western infidels to march in European capitals with Hamas’ flag, shouting “We are Hamas,” as protesters did in London, Athens, Paris, and Madrid in 2009.
In the course of the last decade, the Western public sphere has seen two major developments that systematically increased the strength of global jihad: on the one hand the adoption of some of the most vicious jihadi discourse—in particular the new anti-Semitism in the guise of anti-Zionism—and on the other, the equally strident attacks, often by non-Muslims, on those who try to identify the Islamic sources of the problem as hate-mongering Islamophobes. The result has been an undreamed-of success for jihadis over the past decade in a cognitive war that Westerners scarcely recognize.
Most Westerners greet the news of a global jihad against the West with derision. The vast asymmetry between Muslim and Western military forces makes any such ambition seem like a bad joke. Thus when Osama Bin Laden declared war on the United States in 1998, the Western news media scarcely mentioned it, and few even noticed. And if we outsiders ignored the battlefield jihad, we also failed to note that the jihadis were aware of their disadvantage on the battlefield and had chosen to conduct their major campaign against the West in a very different theater of war.
Cognitive warfare aims to paralyze the will of the enemy to resist attack, to maneuver that enemy into adopting vulnerable positions, and eventually to get him to give up in a conflict. In cognitive warfare, real violence (such as terror attacks) are adjuncts to the mental conflict, and the targets of such warfare are large audiences both among populations at home (recruitment and mobilization) and, still more significantly, among the enemy (paralysis). The advent of television, for example, with its highly emotive power, played a key role in the cognitive war the Vietcong successfully conducted against the United States in Vietnam.
Of course, such a line of action seems almost as unlikely to succeed as the military option. Jihadi Islam embraces values that by the normal standards of the Western public sphere are simply grotesque—misogyny, oppressive theocracy, homophobia, hate-mongering, and genocide. Yet as a collection of civil polities that prize peaceful conditions and positive-sum relations, in which public opinion has a great deal of influence on political decisions, the West is particularly vulnerable to a campaign based on appealing to our commitment to human rights, justice, and peace and against prejudice, racism, and intolerance. If jihadis can convince us—their target population—that by our standards we are in the wrong, that to think ill of them is a form or racism, or Islamophobia, then they can drain us of the will to resist and the awareness that we need to resist something.
One the most important dimensions of their cognitive war is to get infidels, even without being conquered, to behave according to the restrictions of Islam. Among the most important impositions we have seen of this phenomenon—one whose violation immediately removes any protection from harm from the head of the blasphemer—is the absolute prohibition on criticizing Allah or his prophet. Thus, a major battlefield of the cognitive war between jihadis and the West concerns tolerance for criticism of the other. Here, as elsewhere, the jihadis strive for asymmetry: Even as they criticize us virulently, how dare we criticize them?
Normally, the West would have won this fight hands down. Tolerance applies to all, and for freedom of expression and public criticism to exist one must develop a thick skin and renounce honor violence—shedding someone’s blood for the sake of saving face.
Yet the major players in our public sphere—the news media, pundits, academic experts, and even strategic policy thinkers—have systematically folded when faced with an aggressive assault from radical Islam. A number of factors can help us understand how this startling reversal came about—post-colonial guilt, moral relativism and narcissism, intimidation and cowardice, radical agendas, media malfeasance—but all of them profit from being understood in terms of a larger millennial framework.
Essentially, an apocalyptic millennial movement has declared war on the West and been able to conduct cognitive warfare on our home turf—partly because we don’t recognize the nature of the foe, partly because we are so committed to the rules and values of civil society that we have difficulty even acknowledging that a state of war exists. Most of us are too secular to appreciate the beliefs involved. And as a result of this ignorance, we misidentify and badly analyze the phenomenon in question.
Western purveyors of news are, of course, a strategic target for jihadi cognitive warriors: Journalists are the main shapers of Western public opinion, and, it turns out, they are highly susceptible to intimidation and manipulation. As a result, the mainstream news media have, surely unwittingly but nonetheless consistently, played a crucial role in mainstreaming jihadi themes in the Western public sphere, even as they disguise the source and nature of these themes. A study of perhaps the single most powerful attack in the cognitive war of global jihad and its aftermath offers a detailed insight into the ways in which this has occurred. It illustrates the weaknesses of our media, as well as the critical but obscured relationship between jihad and the so-called Israel problem.
On Sept. 30, 2000, France2 Television ran a story about Muhammad al Durah, a 12-year-old boy who, along with his father, was pinned down in a cross-fire between Israeli and Palestinian forces at Netzarim Junction in the Gaza Strip. “The target of fire from the Israeli position, the boy was killed and the father badly wounded,” veteran French journalist Charles Enderlin reported. Enderlin distributed the footage to all his colleagues for free, and this story ran around the world in hours.
The impact in the Arab world was immediate: Arab riots in Israel, world-wide indignation, accusations of deliberate murder. Al Jazeera and PA TV ran the footage repeatedly. PA technicians inserted a brief clip of an Israeli soldier firing rubber bullets at Arabs rioting over al Durah into the footage, so that it looked like the Israeli had targeted and deliberately killed the boy. The invented footage became a major tool of incitement for the nascent intifada that targeted Israeli civilians on both sides of the Green Line and reached a climax in the October 12 Ramallah lynching of two Israeli reservists by a mob who literally tore their bodies apart and dragged the parts through the city shouting, “Revenge for the blood of Muhammad al Durah.”
The actual evidence, however, posed serious problems for the explosive narrative of deliberate child-murder. The footage, closely examined, contradicted every detail of the claim that Israel had killed the boy “in cold blood,” as a France 2 photographer put it, from the alleged “forty minutes of [Israeli] bullets like rain” (rather, there were only a few bullets one could identify in the brief footage, all from the Palestinian side), to the 20-minute-long death from a fatal stomach wound (no sign of blood on the ground), to the murdered ambulance driver (no evidence), to the dead boy (who moves quite deliberately in the final scene, which Enderlin cut for his broadcast).
Moreover, the al Durah footage was only the most spectacular example of a widespread practice among Palestinian cameramen of staging scenes that illustrate their framing of the conflict: the Palestinian David vs. the Israeli Goliath. Indeed, over the years, Palestinians have created a veritable cinematic industry—Pallywood—of staged scenes that Western news agencies regularly pass on to an unsuspecting public. When historians look back in future generations, the failure of the mainstream news media to catch this badly executed hoax, even a decade after its occurrence and years after the evidence was available, will stand as one of the most astonishing failures of 21st-century journalism.
In turn, the al Durah footage was merely one episode in a long-standing cognitive war Palestinians have conducted against the Israelis with growing success since the Lebanon War of 1982. A representative of PATV revealed the cognitive warrior’s mindset as he explained why they spliced in the footage of the Israeli soldier in order to make the accusation of deliberate murder: “These are forms of artistic expression, but all of this serves to convey the truth. … We never forget our higher journalistic principles to which we are committed of relating the truth and nothing but the truth”—in other words, weaponizing a lethal narrative in order to demonize our enemy however much such an action might violate every principle of professional journalism.
Talal abu Rahmeh, the cameraman who shot the staged scene, boasted that he too was a warrior in the struggle of his people. When caught in a lie about having collected Israeli bullets from the scene in an interview, he explained unapologetically, “We have our secrets. We can’t give anything, just everything.” For Palestinian “journalists,” news was a theater of war. Western journalists acknowledged this even as they broadcast these lethal narratives to their publics at home: “They’re the weapons of the weak,” one French journalist explained of the broadcasts.
Indeed, the al Durah footage was such a powerful image that it became not merely an emblem for the Palestinians but, through Al Jazeera’s constant use of the image, a symbol for the entire Muslim world. Within months of the incident, Osama Bin Laden, who had declared jihad on the United States only two years earlier, featured the Palestinian conflict and specifically al Durah in a global recruiting video. Bin Laden immediately understood the value of the footage not only as a lethal narrative aimed at Israel but also at its supporters, like the United States, or those who failed to avenge the boy’s “death,” meaning cowardly Arab leaders. “In killing this boy, the Israelis killed every child in the world,” as Osama Bin Laden is said to have put it.
Paris, October 2000.
Francois Guillot/AFP/Getty Images
Like the medieval blood libel, the story of the deliberate murder of an innocent Muslim child was framed as a symbol of cosmic Jewish malevolence. Far from exercising any kind of due diligence, the European media ran the footage almost as frequently as Arab media, mainstreaming the longstanding Palestinian claim that the Israelis were the new Nazis. Within a week of its first appearance, demonstrators across the Western world massed in the streets to protest Israeli “murder,” some of them carrying signs equating the Star of David with the Nazi swastika and others carrying the banners of terrorist organizations like Hamas. The fact that Western viewers are hardly surprised by such images anymore is a measure of the success of a larger campaign of cognitive warfare by a millennial cult, whose dreams of the end of days may be preposterous but who pose a clear and continuing danger to Western democratic values and practices.
Israel became openly reviled. One diplomat referred to the Jewish state as that “shitty little country,” and more than one prominent world figure compared Israel to the Nazis. It was as if the restraints on criticizing Israel placed on Europeans since the Holocaust had been lifted. As one respected anchorwoman for Europe1 put it: “This death annuls, replaces, erases the picture of the boy in the Warsaw Ghetto.” In other words, al Durah was a get-out-of-Holocaust-guilt-free card.
Here we see the diabolic genius of the jihadi cognitive war against the West. Having borrowed extensively from the depraved archive of Western anti-Semitism, jihadis played on the scarcely repressed anti-Semitism of the West and reintroduced it via anti-Zionism. Even as Europeans insisted that anti-Zionism was not the same as anti-Semitism, they used anti-Zionism to free themselves of the restraints that decent guilt about the Holocaust had placed on their desire to heap abuse on Jews: Hatred of Israel, they claimed, had nothing to do with Jews, even as Israel’s behavior showed that Jews with power were no better than Nazis.
Swept with a wave of moral Schadenfreude, European audiences eagerly devoured the lethal narratives the Palestinians fed their press about an evil Israel. The blood libel worked: For many, Israel was above all a serial murderer of children. In 2007, when I gave a talk in Budapest about Muhammad al Durah, one of the organizers interrupted my presentation to insist that, “Everyone knows that the Israelis kill Palestinian children every day.” The same year, Canadian pro-Palestinian activist Mary Hughes-Thompson, who to this day recalls the importance of what she called seeing Muhammad al Durah “shot and killed before my very eyes,” wrote: “It’s … horrifying to know that Palestinian children are killed every day by bombs and bullets from Israeli occupation forces.” In the cognitive war, the al Durah lethal narrative was a nuclear bomb; while the explosion has died down, we’re still breathing in the radioactive waste.
Western journalists, especially Europeans, made three critical mistakes in their handling of the al Durah episode. First, even as they rejected any narrative supportive of Israel as unreliable “communautarisme,” or partisanship, they embraced any Palestinian lethal narrative no matter how incredible. Second, they represented the Palestinian hostility to Israel as that of a secular, national liberation movement hostile only to Israel rather than an Arab-Muslim jihad in search of honor lost on a global scale. Third, they therefore assumed that by siding with the Palestinians, they would gain their favor. Instead, as the Arab-Muslim street that took root in Europe in the last decade has illustrated, European infidels were every bit the target of jihadi malevolence.
Thus, as European journalists replayed endlessly the images of al Durah and reported every Palestinian claim that the Israelis murdered children, the journalists had no idea that they were waving the flag of jihad in front of their own Muslim immigrant populations, and no idea that they too were the target of jihadi hatred. In 2002, in response to unconscionably irresponsible reports from the European press about a massacre of hundreds if not thousands of innocent Palestinians in Jenin, self-styled progressives poured into the streets in support of the very terrorism that had prompted the Israelis to defend themselves. As Italian journalist Oriana Fallaci wrote at the time:
In Italy there [is] a procession of individuals dressed as suicide bombers who spew vile abuse at Israel, hold up photographs of Israeli leaders on whose foreheads they have drawn the swastika, incite people to hate the Jews.
After all, at this point, the only victims of suicide bombing were Israelis and Americans, both (still) the objects of astonishing European hostility. And yet, in so doing, Europeans both fueled the worst of the intifada and prepared their own paralysis in the face of jihadi threats. Suicide bombings, and the threat of them, have blighted, and will likely continue to, the new century. As a French friend told me in 2003: “The Arabs act as if they have a knife to our throat, and we act as if they did.” And that invisible knife was suicide terror.
Throughout this process, the press played a key role, both by concealing the genocidal incitement of the Palestinians (and other jihadi forces) and by broadcasting every lethal narrative produced by Pallywood. Thus al Durah triggered a wave of violence and vituperation against the Jews in Europe, and the very press that broadcast the false footage fell silent when it came to reporting its real effects. Anyone who had the nerve to denounce this explosion of Muslim anti-Semitism was tarred as a Zionist Islamophobe.
When Charles Enderlin, the reporter for France2, saw the footage his cameraman had sent him, if instead of rushing to broadcast and sharing it freely with his colleagues, he had exercised due diligence, fired Talal for faking the footage, and had run an article on Palestinian incitement via fake “reporting,” the Second Intifada would have had a very different trajectory. When European elites, hit with a wave of anti-Semitic speech and deeds by their Muslim populations in response to al Durah and similar reporting from the intifada, if instead of excusing it as an understandable response to Israeli crimes and concealing its full force from the public, had instead responded by making clear how unacceptable such behavior is in a civil society, the wave of European Islamic aggression might also have had a different career. Instead, the apocalyptic fires of genocidal hatred were stoked, often by people who thought they were advocates for peace.
Lest one think this was merely a problem of European anti-Zionism (coupled with its twin brother, anti-Americanism), consider the emblematic response of the New York Times to the problem of Palestinian incitement. The day after the savage lynching in Ramallah, two key events occurred: The Israelis in retaliation bombed a Palestinian radio station because, according to the IDF, the broadcaster was guilty of the same kind of genocidal incitement that led to the atrocities in Rwanda less than a decade previously. The same day, PATV broadcast a sermon by Sheik Ahmad Abu Halabiya live from Gaza:
The Jews are the Jews. Whether Labor or Likud, the Jews are Jews. They do not have any moderates or any advocates of peace. They are all liars. They must be butchered and must be killed. … It is forbidden to have mercy in your hearts for the Jews in any place and in any land. Make war on them any place that you find yourself. Any place that you meet them, kill them.
New York Times reporter William Orme came to investigate the Israeli claim of incitement as a major contributor to Palestinian violence. After giving ample and unchallenged space to a Palestinian spokesman who insisted, in an allusion to al Durah, that “we have no fabricated pictures, and no fabricated stories,” and that Israelis think anything is incitement, Orme offered this quote as his only example of Palestinian incitement:
Israelis cite as one egregious example a televised sermon that defended the killing of the two soldiers. “Whether Likud or Labor, Jews are Jews,” proclaimed Sheik Ahmad Abu Halabaya in a live broadcast from a Gaza City mosque the day after the killings.
One could excuse the uninformed reader for sympathizing with the Palestinian claim that the Israelis are hyper-sensitive.
Those aware of the full text might have difficulty imagining how this is not news fit to print. Unfortunately, this censored statement constitutes just one example of a vast industry of hatred and incitement to violence that characterizes the most aggressive forms of apocalyptic jihadi Islam not only in Palestinian circles but the Muslim world over. And Orme’s silence has been the rule, not the exception, in mainstream media coverage of both the Arab-Israeli conflict and global jihad since 2000.
Ultimately, Orme himself must explain his lacuna (which, so far, he has refused to do). I suspect that it has something to do with a widespread sentiment among journalists and intellectuals that if you broadcast such information, you put wind in the sails of the right-wing warmongers. The less said, the better.
Alas, from the perspective of cognitive warfare against an apocalyptic millennial foe, such a silence is wind in the sails of genocidal warmongers. And when joined to a systematic mainstreaming of jihadi lethal narratives into our information system as news, those winds wax ever stronger.
When will we stop losing, and even start winning, a cognitive war we should have won from the beginning? When will we use weaponry we have—like the jihadis’ honor-shame sensitivities—instead of allowing jihadis to bully the West into backing down for fear of provoking them? It’s entirely a matter of imagination and will. This one really is in our hands. And it begins with a prise de conscience. As Stuart Green, the author of Cognitive Warfare and the Role of the Media, remarks, “You can’t win the Battle of Midway if you don’t know you’re in a battle.”
UMM QANDEEL, Libya—Shooting rounds into the air from pickup trucks, Libyan rebels tore through this deserted village of longtime supporters of Col. Moammar Gadhafi—looting homes, cursing locals and giving form to fears across Libya that the final pursuit of Col. Gadhafi could spur a new phase of tribal warfare.
Alexandre Meneghini/Associated Press
People in the rebel-held town of Benghazi celebrated the news Aug. 22 of the capture of Moammar Gadhafi's son Seif al-Islam.
The Fight for Tripoli
On Edge in Libya
Track fighting and city control around the country.
The fronts around Sirte, Col. Gadhafi's hometown, were largely quiet Wednesday as rebels and Gadhafi loyalists took pause for apparent negotiations amid the Muslim holiday of Eid al-Fitr. Col. Gadhafi's whereabouts remained unknown, as two of his sons sounded contrasting notes of defiance and reconciliation.
On Tuesday in Umm Qandeel, about 50 miles east of Sirte, a rebel unit of about a dozen men spent part of the day searching the home of a tribal elder, Faraj al-Buhairi al-Hasouni. A leader of a pro-Gadhafi tribe, he was an officer in one of Col. Gadhafi's feared militias, according to documents found by the rebels.
In Mr. Hasouni's living room, the rebels saw photos of women lining up to kiss Col. Gadhafi's hand. They found handwritten lists of more than 150 members of Mr. Hasouni's tribe, the Hasoun, who the notes said had received arms from the Gadhafi regime this year to battle rebels. In the backyard, amid barrels rusting beneath a willow tree, they found flour bags concealing dozens of new-looking Kalashnikovs, rocket-propelled grenade launchers and crates of ammunition.
Soon, the compound was approached by a separate unit of rebels who had been breaking into other homes in the village, making off with valuables including television sets and sheep.
The newcomers were met with angry shouts.
"No one is allowed to enter!" said a frenzied Idriss abu-Kadwa, commander of the clutch of rebels that had been occupying the house. He ordered his men to draw their weapons. The newcomers retreated.
How rebels treat people and property in places like Umm Qandeel could have longer-term implications for the new Libya—helping to determine whether the rebel-led National Transitional Council assumes power relatively smoothly, or inherits a vengeful and drawn-out tribal insurgency.
Locals' fears of a rebel advance were fanned last week when Col. Gadhafi, in a message carried by a Sirte radio station, said rebels would plunder and rape women. Rebel leader Mahmoud Jibril, the head of the NTC's executive committee, pleaded with rebels Wednesday to refrain from looting or carrying out revenge attacks against regime supporters. But rebel units are often loosely-tied tribal or local bands over which the NTC mostly has little sway.
The North Atlantic Treaty Organization said Wednesday that it had hit military facilities the previous day near Sirte as well as near the towns of Bani Walid and Houn.
Seif el-Islam Gadhafi, long the strongman's heir apparent, urged supporters Wednesday to wage nonstop resistance and warned rebels of a formidable battle ahead in Sirte. "If you think entering it is a sea cruise, you're dreaming. Sirte has more than 20,000 armed men," a voice purporting to be his said in an audio message broadcast on Syria-based Al-Rai television.
Seif el-Islam also denied reports that his father had been under siege by rebels or cornered. "My father is in Libya and will continue to fight," he said.
Saadi Gadhafi, meanwhile, called for dialogue between the rebels and regime, calling the rebels his brothers and saying fighting is "religiously forbidden." In a telephone interview with Dubai-based al-Arabiya news channel, he said he was willing to give himself up if this helped to "stem bloodshed" provided there were guarantees, which he didn't specify.
The NTC issued an ultimatum Tuesday to Sirte to either surrender by Saturday or face an all-out military offensive. Even so, most members of the council itself, as well as fighters on the front, said they would rather avoid a confrontation that could spur tribal warfare.
"I wish we would not enter Sirte," said Salah al-Abidi, a rebel fighter from Benghazi now stationed near Sirte. "It will be a real problem."
In places such as Bani Walid, Jufra and Sebha, tribes including the Awlad Suleiman, Magarha and Warfalla have for more than four decades formed the backbone of Col. Gadhafi's regime. Now, these conservative and relatively insular tribes fear retribution for their loyalty.
The Hasoun tribesmen of Umm Qandeel fled to Sirte, for example, because of accusations that they had betrayed rebels when they first tried to seize the area in March. The tribal elder, Mr. Hasouni, couldn't be reached.
As of Wednesday, there was no sign of compromise by diehard loyalists inside Sirte, who have been joined by senior regime figures from Tripoli, according to Hassan al-Drue'e, the NTC's Benghazi-based representative for Sirte.
Late on Tuesday, pro-regime forces stationed in Wadi al-Ahmar, near Umm Qandeel, pounded the highway and a nearby area with rockets to prevent a rebel advance.
The rebel commander in Tripoli Wednesday said Col. Moammar Gadhafi's son Saadi called him to negotiate the terms of his own surrender. WSJ's Jeff Grocott has details on the News Hub.
Mr. Drue'e said he was in contact with mediators inside Sirte who were trying to allay residents' concerns by guaranteeing that rebels would secure military and security sites but not enter homes or arrest suspected collaborators.
"It would be best if the people of Sirte themselves issue a statement denouncing the regime and raise the [rebels'] flag," he said Wednesday.
But the rebels' looting in places like Umm Qandeel underscore the difficulty of gaining support for the new government in these tribal areas.
Of the estimated 1,200 households in Ben Jawad, the town next to Umm Qandeel, only a handful were occupied Tuesday. Fresh slurs against Ben Jawad residents were sprayed on walls.
Khamis Abdel-Karim, 60, nervously greeted a band of rebels driving through and assured them of his support.
"Only God's rule is everlasting," says Mr. Khamis, adding that he came back only to collect some possessions from his home and get some drinking water. Loading his station wagon with jerrycans filled with water, he said he was returning to his family, who he said are living in tents in the desert to the south.
Since Colonel Gaddafi has lost his military hold in the war against NATO and the insurgents/rebels/new regime, numerous talking heads have taken to celebrating this war as a “success”. They believe this is a “victory of the Libyan people” and that we should all be celebrating. Others proclaim victory for the “responsibility to protect,” for “humanitarian interventionism,” and condemn the “anti-imperialist left”. Some of those who claim to be “revolutionaries,” or believe they support the “Arab revolution,” somehow find it possible to sideline NATO’s role in the war, instead extolling the democratic virtues of the insurgents, glorifying their martyrdom, and magnifying their role until everything else is pushed from view. I wish to dissent from this circle of acclamation, and remind readers of the role of ideologically-motivated fabrications of “truth” that were used to justify, enable, enhance, and motivate the war against Libya—and to emphasize how damaging the practical effects of those myths have been to Libyans, and to all those who favoured peaceful, non-militarist solutions.
These top ten myths are some of the most repeated claims, by the insurgents, and/or by NATO, European leaders, the Obama administration, the mainstream media, and even the so-called “International Criminal Court”—the main actors speaking in the war against Libya. In turn, we look at some of the reasons why these claims are better seen as imperial folklore, as the myths that supported the broadest of all myths—that this war is a “humanitarian intervention,” one designed to “protect civilians”. Again, the importance of these myths lies in their wide reproduction, with little question, and to deadly effect. In addition, they threaten to severely distort the ideals of human rights and their future invocation, as well aiding in the continued militarization of Western culture and society.
Just a few days after the street protests began, on February 21 the very quick to defect Libyan deputy Permanent Representative to the UN, Ibrahim Dabbashi, stated: “We are expecting a real genocide in Tripoli. The airplanes are still bringing mercenaries to the airports”. This is excellent: a myth that is composed of myths. With that statement he linked three key myths together—the role of airports (hence the need for that gateway drug of military intervention: the no-fly zone), the role of “mercenaries” (meaning, simply, black people), and the threat of “genocide” (geared toward the language of the UN’s doctrine of the Responsibility to Protect). As ham-fisted and wholly unsubstantiated as the assertion was, he was clever in cobbling together three ugly myths, one of them grounded in racist discourse and practice that endures to the present, with newer atrocities reported against black Libyan and African migrants on a daily basis. He was not alone in making these assertions. Among others like him, Soliman Bouchuiguir, president of the Libyan League for Human Rights, told Reuters on March 14 that if Gaddafi’s forces reached Benghazi, “there will be a real bloodbath, a massacre like we saw in Rwanda”. That’s not the only time we would be deliberately reminded of Rwanda. Here was Lt. Gen Roméo Dallaire, the much worshipped Canadian force commander of the U.N. peacekeeping mission for Rwanda in 1994, currently an appointed senator in the Canadian Parliament and co-director of the Will to Intervene project at Concordia University. Dallaire, in a precipitous sprint to judgment, not only made repeated references to Rwanda when trying to explain Libya, he spoke of Gaddafi as “employing genocidal threats to ‘cleanse Libya house by house’”. This is one instance where selective attention to Gaddafi’s rhetorical excess was taken all too seriously, when on other occasions the powers that be are instead quick to dismiss it: U.S. State Department spokesman, Mark Toner waved away Gaddafi’s alleged threats against Europe by saying that Gaddafi is “someone who’s given to overblown rhetoric”. How very calm, by contrast, and how very convenient—because on February 23, President Obama declared that he had instructed his administration to come up with a “full range of options” to take against Gaddafi.
But “genocide” has a well established international legal definition, as seen repeatedly in the UN’s 1948 Convention on the Prevention and Punishment of the Crime of Genocide, where genocide involves the persecution of a “a national, ethnical, racial or religious group”. Not all violence is “genocidal”. Internecine violence is not genocide. Genocide is neither just “lots of violence” nor violence against undifferentiated civilians. What both Dabbashi, Dallaire, and others failed to do was to identify the persecuted national, ethnic, racial or religious group, and how it differed in those terms from those allegedly committing the genocide. They really ought to know better (and they do), one as a UN ambassador and the other as a much exalted expert and lecturer on genocide. This suggests that myth-making was either deliberate, or founded on prejudice.
What foreign military intervention did do, however, was to enable the actual genocidal violence that has been routinely sidelined until only very recently: the horrific violence against African migrants and black Libyans, singled out solely on the basis of their skin colour. That has proceeded without impediment, without apology, and until recently, without much notice. Indeed, the media even collaborates, rapid to assert without evidence that any captured or dead black man must be a “mercenary”. This is the genocide that the white, Western world, and those who dominate the “conversation” about Libya, have missed (and not by accident).
2. Gaddafi is “bombing his own people”.
We must remember that one of the initial reasons in rushing to impose a no-fly zone was to prevent Gaddafi from using his air force to bomb “his own people”—a distinct phrasing that echoes what was tried and tested in the demonization of Saddam Hussein in Iraq. On February 21, when the first alarmist “warnings” about “genocide” were being made by the Libyan opposition, both Al Jazeera and the BBC claimed that Gaddafi had deployed his air force against protesters—as the BBC “reported”: “Witnesses say warplanes have fired on protesters in the city”. Yet, on March 1, in a Pentagon press conference, when asked: “Do you see any evidence that he [Gaddafi] actually has fired on his own people from the air? There were reports of it, but do you have independent confirmation? If so, to what extent?” U.S. Secretary of Defense Robert Gates replied, “We’ve seen the press reports, but we have no confirmation of that”. Backing him up was Admiral Mullen: “That’s correct. We’ve seen no confirmation whatsoever”.
In fact, claims that Gaddafi also used helicopters against unarmed protesters are totally unfounded, a pure fabrication based on fake claims. This is important since it was Gaddafi’s domination of Libyan air space that foreign interventionists wanted to nullify, and therefore myths of atrocities perpetrated from the air took on added value as providing an entry point for foreign military intervention that went far beyond any mandate to “protect civilians”.
David Kirpatrick of The New York Times, as early as March 21 confirmed that, “the rebels feel no loyalty to the truth in shaping their propaganda, claiming nonexistent battlefield victories, asserting they were still fighting in a key city days after it fell to Qaddafi forces, and making vastly inflated claims of his barbaric behavior”. The “vastly inflated claims” are what became part of the imperial folklore surrounding events in Libya, that suited Western intervention. Rarely did the Benghazi-based journalistic crowd question or contradict their hosts.
3. Save Benghazi.
This article is being written as the Libyan opposition forces march on Sirte and Sabha, the two last remaining strongholds of the Gaddafi government, with ominous warnings to the population that they must surrender, or else. Apparently, Benghazi became somewhat of a “holy city” in the international discourse dominated by leaders of the European Union and NATO. Benghazi was the one city on earth that could not be touched. It was like sacred ground. Tripoli? Sirte? Sabha? Those can be sacrificed, as we all look on, without a hint of protest from any of the powers that be—this, even as we get the first reports of how the opposition has slaughtered people in Tripoli. Let’s turn to the Benghazi myth.
“If we waited one more day,” Barack Obama said in his March 28 address, “Benghazi, a city nearly the size of Charlotte, could suffer a massacre that would have reverberated across the region and stained the conscience of the world”. In a joint letter, Obama with UK Prime Minister David Cameron and French President Nicolas Sarkozy asserted: “By responding immediately, our countries halted the advance of Gaddafi’s forces. The bloodbath that he had promised to inflict on the citizens of the besieged city of Benghazi has been prevented. Tens of thousands of lives have been protected”. Not only did French jets bomb a retreating column, what we saw was a very short column that included trucks and ambulances, and that clearly could have neither destroyed nor occupied Benghazi.
Other than Gaddafi’s “overblown rhetoric,” which the U.S. was quick to dismiss when it suited its purposes, there is to date still no evidence furnished that shows Benghazi would have witnessed the loss of “tens of thousands” of lives as proclaimed by Obama, Cameron, and Sarkozy. This was best explained by Professor Alan J. Kuperman in “False pretense for war in Libya?”:
“The best evidence that Khadafy did not plan genocide in Benghazi is that he did not perpetrate it in the other cities he had recaptured either fully or partially—including Zawiya, Misurata, and Ajdabiya, which together have a population greater than Benghazi….Khadafy’s acts were a far cry from Rwanda, Darfur, Congo, Bosnia, and other killing fields….Despite ubiquitous cellphones equipped with cameras and video, there is no graphic evidence of deliberate massacre….Nor did Khadafy ever threaten civilian massacre in Benghazi, as Obama alleged. The ‘no mercy’ warning, of March 17, targeted rebels only, as reported by The New York Times, which noted that Libya’s leader promised amnesty for those ‘who throw their weapons away’. Khadafy even offered the rebels an escape route and open border to Egypt, to avoid a fight ‘to the bitter end’”.
In a bitter irony, what evidence there is of massacres, committed by both sides, is now to be found in Tripoli in recent days, months after NATO imposed its “life-saving” military measures. Revenge killings are daily being reported with greater frequency, including the wholesale slaughter of black Libyans and African migrants by rebel forces. Another sad irony: in Benghazi, which the insurgents have held for months now, well after Gaddafi forces were repulsed, not even that has prevented violence: revenge killings have been reported there too—more under #6 below.
4. African Mercenaries.
Patrick Cockburn summarized the functional utility of the myth of the “African mercenary” and the context in which it arose: “Since February, the insurgents, often supported by foreign powers, claimed that the battle was between Gaddafi and his family on the one side and the Libyan people on the other. Their explanation for the large pro-Gaddafi forces was that they were all mercenaries, mostly from black Africa, whose only motive was money”. As he notes, black prisoners were put on display for the media (which is a violation of the Geneva Convention), but Amnesty International later found that all the prisoners had supposedly been released since none of them were fighters, but rather were undocumented workers from Mali, Chad, and west Africa. The myth was useful for the opposition to insist that this was a war between “Gaddafi and the Libyan people,” as if he had no domestic support at all—an absolute and colossal fabrication such that one would think only little children could believe a story so fantastic. The myth is also useful for cementing the intended rupture between “the new Libya” and Pan-Africanism, realigning Libya with Europe and the “modern world” which some of the opposition so explicitly crave.
The “African mercenary” myth, as put into deadly, racist practice, is a fact that paradoxically has been both documented and ignored. Months ago I provided an extensive review of the role of the mainstream media, led by Al Jazeera, as well as the seeding of social media, in creating the African mercenary myth. Among the departures from the norm of vilifying Sub-Saharan Africans and black Libyans that instead documented the abuse of these civilians, were the Los Angeles Times, Human Rights Watch which found no evidence of any mercenaries at all in eastern Libya (totally contradicting the claims presented as truth by Al Arabiya and The Telegraph, among others such as TIME and The Guardian). In an extremely rare departure from the propaganda about the black mercenary threat which Al Jazeera and its journalists helped to actively disseminate, Al Jazeera produced a single report focusing on the robbing, killing, and abduction of black residents in eastern Libya (now that CBS, Channel 4, and others are noting the racism, Al Jazeera is trying to ambiguously show some interest). Finally, there is some increased recognition of these facts of media collaboration in the racist vilification of the insurgents’ civilian victims—see FAIR: “NYT Points Out ‘Racist Overtones’ in Libyan Disinformation It Helped Spread”.
The racist targeting and killing of black Libyans and Sub-Saharan Africans continues to the present. Patrick Cockburn and Kim Sengupta speak of the recently discovered mass of “rotting bodies of 30 men, almost all black and many handcuffed, slaughtered as they lay on stretchers and even in an ambulance in central Tripoli”. Even while showing us video of hundreds of bodies in the Abu Salim hospital, the BBC dares not remark on the fact that most of those are clearly black people, and even wonders about who might have killed them. This is not a question for the anti-Gaddafi forces interviewed by Sengupta: “‘Come and see. These are blacks, Africans, hired by Gaddafi, mercenaries,’ shouted Ahmed Bin Sabri, lifting the tent flap to show the body of one dead patient, his grey T-shirt stained dark red with blood, the saline pipe running into his arm black with flies. Why had an injured man receiving treatment been executed?” Recent reports reveal the insurgents engaging in ethnic cleansing against black Libyans in Tawergha, the insurgents calling themselves “the brigade for purging slaves, black skin,” vowing that in the “new Libya” black people from Tawergha would be barred from health care and schooling in nearby Misrata, from which black Libyans had already been expelled by the insurgents. Currently, Human Rights Watch has reported: “Dark-skinned Libyans and sub-Saharan Africans face particular risks because rebel forces and other armed groups have often considered them pro-Gadhafi mercenaries from other African countries. We’ve seen violent attacks and killings of these people in areas where the National Transitional Council took control”. Amnesty International has also just reported on the disproportionate detention of black Africans in rebel-controlled Az-Zawiya, as well as the targeting of unarmed, migrant farm workers. Reports continue to mount as this is being written, with other human rights groups finding evidence of the insurgents targeting Sub-Saharan African migrant workers. As the chair of the African Union, Jean Ping, recently stated: “NTC seems to confuse black people with mercenaries. All blacks are mercenaries. If you do that, it means (that the) one-third of the population of Libya, which is black, is also mercenaries. They are killing people, normal workers, mistreating them”. (To read more, please consult the list of recent reports that I have compiled.)
The “African mercenary” myth continues to be one of the most vicious of all the myths, and the most racist. Even in recent days, newspapers such as the Boston Globe uncritically and unquestioningly show photographs of black victims or black detainees with the immediate assertion that they must be mercenaries, despite the absence of any evidence. Instead we are usually provided with casual assertions that Gaddafi is “known to have” recruited Africans from other nations in the past, without even bothering to find out if those shown in the photos are black Libyans. The lynching of both black Libyans and Sub-Saharan African migrant workers has been continuous, and has neither received any expression of even nominal concern by the U.S. and NATO members, nor has it aroused the interest of the so-called “International Criminal Court”. There is as little chance of there being any justice for the victims as there is of anyone putting a stop to these heinous crimes that clearly constitute a case of ethnic cleansing. The media, only now, is becoming more conscious of the need to cover these crimes, having glossed them over for months.
5. Viagra-fueled Mass Rape.
The reported crimes and human rights violations of the Gaddafi regime are awful enough as they are that one has to wonder why anyone would need to invent stories, such as that of Gaddafi’s troops, with erections powered by Viagra, going on a rape spree. Perhaps it was peddled because it’s the kind of story that “captures the imagination of traumatized publics”. This story was taken so seriously that some people started writing to Pfizer to get it to stop selling Viagra to Libya, since its product was allegedly being used as a weapon of war. People who otherwise should know better, set out to deliberately misinform the international public.
In a startling declaration to the UN Security Council, U.S. Ambassador Susan Rice also asserted that Gaddafi was supplying his troops with Viagra to encourage mass rape. She offered no evidence whatsoever to back up her claim. Indeed, U.S. military and intelligence sources flatly contradicted Rice, telling NBC News that “there is no evidence that Libyan military forces are being given Viagra and engaging in systematic rape against women in rebel areas”. Rice is a liberal interventionist who was one of those to persuade Obama to intervene in Libya. She utilized this myth because it helped her make the case at the UN that there was no “moral equivalence” between Gaddafi’s human rights abuses and those of the insurgents.
U.S. Secretary of State Hillary Clinton also declared that “Gadhafi’s security forces and other groups in the region are trying to divide the people by using violence against women and rape as tools of war, and the United States condemns this in the strongest possible terms”. She added that she was “deeply concerned” by these reports of “wide-scale rape”. (She has, thus far, said nothing at all about the rebels’ racist lynchings.)
By June 10, Cherif Bassiouni, who is leading a UN rights inquiry into the situation in Libya, suggested that the Viagra and mass rape claim was part of a “massive hysteria”. Indeed, both sides in the war have made the same allegations against each other. Bassiouni also told the press of a case of “a woman who claimed to have sent out 70,000 questionnaires and received 60,000 responses, of which 259 reported sexual abuse”. However, his teams asked for those questionnaires, they never received them—“But she’s going around the world telling everybody about it…so now she got that information to Ocampo and Ocampo is convinced that here we have a potential 259 women who have responded to the fact that they have been sexually abused,” Bassiouni said. He also pointed out that it “did not appear to be credible that the woman was able to send out 70,000 questionnaires in March when the postal service was not functioning”. In fact, Bassiouni’s team “uncovered only four alleged cases” of rape and sexual abuse: “Can we draw a conclusion that there is a systematic policy of rape? In my opinion we can’t”. In addition to the UN, Amnesty International’s Donatella Rovera said in an interview with the French daily Libération, that Amnesty had “not found cases of rape….Not only have we not met any victims, but we have not even met any persons who have met victims. As for the boxes of Viagra that Gaddafi is supposed to have had distributed, they were found intact near tanks that were completely burnt out”.
However, this did not stop some news manufacturers from trying to maintain the rape claims, in modified form. The BBC went on to add another layer just a few days after Bassiouni humiliated the ICC and the media: the BBC now claimed that rape victims in Libya faced “honour killings”. This is news to the few Libyans I know, who never heard of honour killings in their country. The scholarly literature on Libya turns up little or nothing on this phenomenon in Libya. The honour killings myth serves a useful purpose for keeping the mass rape claim on life support: it suggests that women would not come forward and give evidence, out of shame. Also just a few days after Bassiouni spoke, Libyan insurgents, in collaboration with CNN, made a last-ditch effort to save the rape allegations: they presented a cell phone with a rape video on it, claiming it belonged to a government soldier. The men shown in the video are in civilian clothes. There is no evidence of Viagra. There is no date on the video and we have no idea who recorded it or where. Those presenting the cell phone claimed that many other videos existed, but they were conveniently being destroyed to preserve the “honour” of the victims.
6. Responsibility to Protect (R2P).
Having asserted, wrongly as we saw, that Libya faced impending “genocide” at the hands of Gaddafi’s forces, it became easier for Western powers to invoke the UN’s 2005 doctrine of the Responsibility to Protect. Meanwhile, it is not at all clear that by the time the UN Security Council passed Resolution 1973 that the violence in Libya had even reached the levels seen in Egypt, Syria, and Yemen. The most common refrain used against critics of the selectivity of this supposed “humanitarian interventionism” is that just because the West cannot intervene everywhere does not mean it should not intervene in Libya. Maybe…but that still does not explain why Libya was the chosen target. This is a critical point because some of the earliest critiques of R2P voiced at the UN raised the issue of selectivity, of who gets to decide, and why some crises where civilians are targeted (say, Gaza) are essentially ignored, while others receive maximum concern, and whether R2P served as the new fig leaf for hegemonic geopolitics.
The myth at work here is that foreign military intervention was guided by humanitarian concerns. To make the myth work, one has to willfully ignore at least three key realities. One thus has to ignore the new scramble for Africa, where Chinese interests are seen as competing with the West for access to resources and political influence, something that AFRICOM is meant to challenge. Gaddafi challenged AFRICOM’s intent to establish military bases in Africa. AFRICOM has since become directly involved in the Libya intervention and specifically “Operation Odyssey Dawn”. Horace Campbell argued that “U.S. involvement in the Libyan bombing is being turned into a public relations ploy for AFRICOM” and an “opportunity to give AFRICOM credibility under the facade of the Libyan intervention”. In addition, Gaddafi’s power and influence on the continent had also been increasing, through aid, investment, and a range of projects designed to lessen African dependency on the West and to challenge Western multilateral institutions by building African unity—rendering him a rival to U.S. interests. Secondly, one has to ignore not just the anxiety of Western oil interests over Gaddafi’s “resource nationalism” (threatening to take back what oil companies had gained), an anxiety now clearly manifest in the European corporate rush into Libya to scoop up the spoils of victory—but one has to also ignore the apprehension over what Gaddafi was doing with those oil revenues in supporting greater African economic independence, and for historically backing national liberation movements that challenged Western hegemony. Thirdly, one has to also ignore the fear in Washington that the U.S. was losing a grip on the course of the so-called “Arab revolution”. How one can stack up these realities, and match them against ambiguous and partial “humanitarian” concerns, and then conclude that, yes, human rights is what mattered most, seems entirely implausible and unconvincing—especially with the atrocious track record of NATO and U.S. human rights violations in Afghanistan, Iraq, and before that Kosovo and Serbia. The humanitarian angle is simply neither credible nor even minimally logical.
If R2P is seen as founded on moral hypocrisy and contradiction—now definitively revealed—it will become much harder in the future to cry wolf again and expect to get a respectful hearing. This is especially the case since little in the way of diplomacy and peaceful negotiation preceded the military intervention—while Obama is accused by some of having been slow to react, this was if anything a rush to war, on a pace that by very far surpassed Bush’s invasion of Iraq. Not only do we know from the African Union about how its efforts to establish a peaceful transition were impeded, but Dennis Kucinich also reveals that he received reports that a peaceful settlement was at hand, only to be “scuttled by State Department officials”. These are absolutely critical violations of the R2P doctrine, showing how those ideals could instead be used for a practice that involved a hasty march to war, and war aimed at regime change (which is itself a violation of international law).
That R2P served as a justifying myth that often achieved the opposite of its stated aims, is no longer a surprise. I am not even speaking here of the role of Qatar and the United Arab Emirates in bombing Libya and aiding the insurgents—even as they backed Saudi military intervention to crush the pro-democracy protests in Bahrain, nor of the ugly pall cast on an intervention led by the likes of unchallenged abusers of human rights who have committed war crimes with impunity in Kosovo, Iraq, and Afghanistan. I am taking a narrower approach—such as the documented cases where NATO not only willfully failed to protect civilians in Libya, but it even deliberately and knowingly targeted them in a manner that constitutes terrorism by most official definitions used by Western governments.
In terms of the failure to protect civilians, in a manner that is actually an international criminal offense, we have the numerous reports of NATO ships ignoring the distress calls of refugee boats in the Mediterranean that were fleeing Libya. In May, 61 African refugees died on a single vessel, despite making contact with vessels belonging to NATO member states. In a repeat of the situation, dozens died in early August on another vessel. In fact, on NATO’s watch, at least 1,500 refugees fleeing Libya have died at sea since the war began. They were mostly Sub-Saharan Africans, and they died in multiples of the death toll suffered by Benghazi during the protests. R2P was utterly absent for these people.
NATO has developed a peculiar terminological twist for Libya, designed to absolve the rebels of any role in perpetrating crimes against civilians, and abdicating its so-called responsibility to protect. Throughout the war, spokespersons for NATO and for the U.S. and European governments consistently portrayed all of the actions of Gaddafi’s forces as “threatening civilians,” even when engaged in either defensive actions, or combat against armed opponents. For example, this week the NATO spokesperson, Roland Lavoie, “appeared to struggle to explain how NATO strikes were protecting civilians at this stage in the conflict. Asked about NATO’s assertion that it hit 22 armed vehicles near Sirte on Monday, he was unable to say how the vehicles were threatening civilians, or whether they were in motion or parked”.
By protecting the rebels, in the same breath as they spoke of protecting civilians, it is clear that NATO intended for us to see Gaddafi’s armed opponents as mere civilians. Interestingly, in Afghanistan, where NATO and the U.S. fund, train, and arm the Karzai regime in attacking “his own people” (like they do in Pakistan), the armed opponents are consistently labeled “terrorists” or “insurgents”—even if the majority of them are civilians who have never served in any official standing army. They are insurgents in Afghanistan, and their deaths at the hands of NATO are listed separately from the tallies for civilian casualties. By some magic, in Libya, they are all “civilians”. In response to the announcement of the UN Security Council voting for military intervention, a volunteer translator for Western reporters in Tripoli made this key observation: “Civilians holding guns, and you want to protect them? It’s a joke. We are the civilians. What about us?”
NATO has provided a shield for the insurgents in Libya to victimize unarmed civilians in areas they came to occupy. There was no hint of any “responsibility to protect” in these cases. NATO assisted the rebels in starving Tripoli of supplies, subjecting its civilian population to a siege that deprived them of water, food, medicine, and fuel. When Gaddafi was accused of doing this to Misrata, the international media were quick to cite this as a war crime. Save Misrata, kill Tripoli—whatever you want to label such “logic,” humanitarian is not an acceptable option. Leaving aside the documented crimes by the insurgents against black Libyans and African migrant workers, the insurgents were also found by Human Rights Watch to have engaged in “looting, arson, and abuse of civilians in [four] recently captured towns in western Libya”. In Benghazi, which the insurgents have held for months now, revenge killings have been reported by The New York Times as late as this May, and by Amnesty International in late June and faulted the insurgents’ National Transitional Council. The responsibility to protect? It now sounds like something deserving wild mockery.
7. Gaddafi—the Demon.
Depending on your perspective, either Gaddafi is a heroic revolutionary, and thus the demonization by the West is extreme, or Gaddafi is a really bad man, in which case the demonization is unnecessary and absurd. The myth here is that the history of Gaddafi’s power was marked only by atrocity—he is thoroughly evil, without any redeeming qualities, and anyone accused of being a “Gaddafi supporter” should somehow feel more ashamed than those who openly support NATO. This is binary absolutism at its worst—virtually no one made allowance for the possibility that some might neither support Gaddafi, the insurgents, nor NATO. Everyone was to be forced into one of those camps, no exceptions allowed. What resulted was a phony debate, dominated by fanatics of one side or another. Missed in the discussion, recognition of the obvious: however much Gaddafi had been “in bed” with the West over the past decade, his forces were now fighting against a NATO-driven take over of his country.
The other result was the impoverishment of historical consciousness, and the degradation of more complex appreciations of the full breadth of the Gaddafi record. This would help explain why some would not rush to condemn and disown the man (without having to resort to crude and infantile caricaturing of their motivations). While even Glenn Greenwald feels the need to dutifully insert, “No decent human being would possibly harbor any sympathy for Gadaffi,” I have known decent human beings in Nicaragua, Trinidad, Dominica, and among the Mohawks in Montreal who very much appreciate Gaddafi’s support—not to mention his support for various national liberation movements, including the struggle against apartheid in South Africa. Gaddafi’s regime has many faces: some are seen by his domestic opponents, others are seen by recipients of his aid, and others were smiled at by the likes of Silvio Berlusconi, Nicolas Sarkozy, Condoleeza Rice, Hillary Clinton and Barack Obama. There are many faces, and they are all simultaneously real. Some refuse to “disown” Gaddafi, to “apologize” for his friendship towards them, no matter how distasteful, indecent, and embarrassing other “progressives” may find him. That needs to be respected, instead of this now fashionable bullying and gang banging that reduces a range of positions to one juvenile accusation: “you support a dictator”. Ironically, we support many dictators, with our very own tax dollars, and we routinely offer no apologies for this fact.
Speaking of the breadth of Gaddafi’s record, that ought to resist simplistic, revisionist reduction, some might care to note that even now, the U.S. State Department’s webpage on Libya still points to a Library of Congress Country Study on Libya that features some of the Gaddafi government’s many social welfare achievements over the years in the areas of medical care, public housing, and education. In addition, Libyans have the highest literacy rate in Africa (see UNDP, p. 171) and Libya is the only continental African nation to rank “high” in the UNDP’s Human Development Index. Even the BBC recognized these achievements:
“Women in Libya are free to work and to dress as they like, subject to family constraints. Life expectancy is in the seventies. And per capita income—while not as high as could be expected given Libya’s oil wealth and relatively small population of 6.5m—is estimated at $12,000 (£9,000), according to the World Bank. Illiteracy has been almost wiped out, as has homelessness—a chronic problem in the pre-Gaddafi era, where corrugated iron shacks dotted many urban centres around the country”.
So if one supports health care, does that mean one supports dictatorship? And if “the dictator” funds public housing and subsidizes incomes, do we simply erase those facts from our memory?
8. Freedom Fighters—the Angels.
The complement to the demonization of Gaddafi was the angelization of the “rebels”. My aim here is not to counter the myth by way of inversion, and demonizing all of Gaddafi’s opponents, who have many serious and legitimate grievances, and in large numbers have clearly had more than they can bear. I am instead interested in how “we,” in the North Atlantic part of the equation, construct them in ways that suit our intervention. One standard way, repeated in different ways across a range of media and by U.S. government spokespersons, can be seen in this New York Times’ depiction of the rebels as “secular-minded professionals—lawyers, academics, businesspeople—who talk about democracy, transparency, human rights and the rule of law”. The listing of professions familiar to the American middle class which respects them, is meant to inspire a shared sense of identification between readers and the Libyan opposition, especially when we recall that it is on the Gaddafi side where the forces of darkness dwell: the main “professions” we find are torturer, terrorist, and African mercenary.
Some feel a definite need for being on the side of “the good guys,” especially as neither Iraq nor Afghanistan offer any such sense of righteous vindication. Americans want the world to see them as doing good, as being not only indispensable, but also irreproachable. They could wish for nothing better than being seen as atoning for their sins in Iraq and Afghanistan. This is a special moment, where the bad guy can safely be the other once again. A world that is safe for America is a world that is unsafe for evil. Marching band, baton twirlers, Anderson Cooper, confetti—we get it.
9. Victory for the Libyan People.
To say that the current turn in Libya represents a victory by the Libyan people in charting their own destiny is, at best, an oversimplification that masks the range of interests involved since the beginning in shaping and determining the course of events on the ground, and that ignores the fact that for much of the war Gaddafi was able to rely on a solid base of popular support. As early as February 25, a mere week after the start of the first street protests, Nicolas Sarkozy had already determined that Gaddafi “must go”. By February 28, David Cameron began working on a proposal for a no-fly zone—these statements and decisions were made without any attempt at dialogue and diplomacy. By March 30, The New York Times reported that for “several weeks” CIA operatives had been working inside Libya, which would mean they were there from mid-February, that is, when the protests began—they were then joined inside Libya by “dozens of British special forces and MI6 intelligence officers”. The NYT also reported in the same article that “several weeks” before (again, around mid-February), President Obama Several “signed a secret finding authorizing the CIA to provide arms and other support to Libyan rebels,” with that “other support” entailing a range of possible “covert actions”. USAID had already deployed a team to Libya by early March. At the end of March, Obama publicly stated that the objective was to depose Gaddafi. In terribly suspicious wording, “a senior U.S. official said the administration had hoped that the Libyan uprising would evolve ‘organically,’ like those in Tunisia and Egypt, without need for foreign intervention”—which sounds like exactly the kind of statement one makes when something begins in a fashion that is not “organic” and when comparing events in Libya as marked by a potential legitimacy deficit when compared to those of Tunisia and Egypt. Yet on March 14 the NTC’s Abdel Hafeez Goga asserted, “We are capable of controlling all of Libya, but only after the no-fly zone is imposed”—which is still not the case even six months later.
In recent days it has also been revealed that what the rebel leadership swore it would oppose—“foreign boots on the ground”—is in fact a reality confirmed by NATO: “Special forces troops from Britain, France, Jordan and Qatar on the ground in Libya have stepped up operations in Tripoli and other cities in recent days to help rebel forces as they conducted their final advance on the Gadhafi regime”. This, and other summaries, are only scratching the surface of the range of external support provided to the rebels. The myth here is that of the nationalist, self-sufficient rebel, fueled entirely by popular support.
At the moment, war supporters are proclaiming the intervention a “success”. It should be noted that there was another case where an air campaign, deployed to support local armed militia on the ground, aided by U.S. covert military operatives, also succeeded in deposing another regime, and even much more quickly. That case was Afghanistan. Success.
There seems to be some confusion over roles and identities. There is no homogeneous left, nor ideological agreement among anti-imperialists (which includes conservatives and libertarians, among anarchists and Marxists). Nor was the “anti-imperialist left” in any position to either do real harm on the ground, as is the case of the actual protagonists. There was little chance of the anti-interventionists in influencing foreign policy, which took shape in Washington before any of the serious critiques against intervention were published. These points suggest that at least some of the critiques are moved by concerns that go beyond Libya, and that even have very little to do with Libya ultimately. The most common accusation is that the anti-imperialist left is somehow coddling a dictator. The argument is that this is based on a flawed analysis—in criticizing the position of Hugo Chávez, Wallerstein says Chávez’s analysis is deeply flawed, and offers this among the criticisms: “The second point missed by Hugo Chavez’s analysis is that there is not going to be any significant military involvement of the western world in Libya” (yes, read it again). Indeed, many of the counterarguments deployed against the anti-interventionist left echo or wholly reproduce the top myths that were dismantled above, that get their geopolitical analysis almost entirely wrong, and that pursue politics focused in part on personality and events of the day. This also shows us the deep poverty of politics premised primarily on simplistic and one-sided ideas of “human rights” and “protection” (see Richard Falk’s critique), and the success of the new military humanism in siphoning off the energies of the left. And a question persists: if those opposed to intervention were faulted for providing a moral shield for “dictatorship” (as if imperialism was not itself a global dictatorship), what about those humanitarians who have backed the rise of xenophobic and racist militants who by so many accounts engage in ethnic cleansing? Does it mean that the pro-interventionist crowd is racist? Do they even object to the racism? So far, I have heard only silence from those quarters.
The agenda in brow-beating the anti-imperialist straw man masks an effort to curb dissent against an unnecessary war that has prolonged and widened human suffering; advanced the cause of war corporatists, transnational firms, and neoliberals; destroyed the legitimacy of multilateral institutions that were once openly committed to peace in international relations; violated international law and human rights; witnessed the rise of racist violence; empowered the imperial state to justify its continued expansion; violated domestic laws; and reduced the discourse of humanitarianism to a clutch of simplistic slogans, reactionary impulses, and formulaic policies that privilege war as a first option. Really, the left is the problem here?
Yikes! A Lawfare Intifada in Westchester Amusement Park Melee Against Arresting Cops
After I posted on the Rye-Playland Amusement Park Muslim melee in Westchester County, New York, I received comments.
Dan Friedman asked if it wasn’t an Intifada we were witnessing in Westchester. He noted in an email:
Sharia meets the law of the land and an unfortunate incident in a leafy New York suburb ensues. Keep a sharp eye out for the aftermath. If the authorities go to the apology stage, then move on to the sensitivity training stage, there will only be a few steps to go before we reach dhimitude. df]
Then Dr. Michael Welner identified what it may lead to - a giant version of the Flying Imams litigation.
"The template of creating a provocative situation where their traditions force a disregard of the rules, in part because of the swarms of people. Then, feeding into a confrontation in which they insist as a matter of right, followed by law enforcement presence when the situation escalates, followed by litigation asserting denial of civil rights or personal injury."
It was the formula of the Flying Imams imbroglio that was quite likely staged in order to cascade in such a way as to make Muslims look like poor victims of prejudice. One sees it in the sly turns of phrase from those interviewed for the story.
In response to Dr. Welner I noted what we had done back in 2008 and in recommendations to Rep. Pete King, Chairman of the US House Homeland Security last January concerning An Act to Protect First responders Against Terrorism.
Here is what I wrote in a July 2008 NER article about the necessity for a federal legislative shield for first responders like the Westchester County Police Officers:
The bill is modeled after H.R. 1640 introduced in March 2007 to address the problems associated with protecting airline passengers, as in the ‘six flying imams’ case, who reported suspicious behavior on airline flights. The measure known as the “John Doe” law became an amendment to a Transportation bill that was resoundingly passed by the House. In August, 2007, the ‘six flying Imams’ filed a motion in Federal Court in Minneapolis dismissing the airline passengers from their suit, leaving US Airways as the defendant. Subsequently, ‘the six flying imams’ filed motions in Federal Magistrates Court in Minneapolis and were granted rights of limited discovery in its case against US Airways. The plaintiffs recently requested as part of a limited grant of discovery a backlog of 10 years of alleged complaints from US Airways, which objected on grounds of the post-9/11 security requirements.
The essence of the proposed measure for protection of first responders is contained in Section 2 below. The proposal: (1) provides for a shield for first responders against civil liability complaints by MB front groups, identified by the US Department of Justice as unindicted co-conspirators in the Holy Land Foundation trial with ties to and providing financial support to designated foreign terrorist organizations under US CODE: Title 8,1189; (2) defines workplace harassment and identifies applicable federal, state and local first responder agencies.
Last January, I noted this again in an NER Open letter to Rep. Peter King about to embark on a series of his Islamic radicalization hearings
During the 111th Congress, two important pieces of legislation were introduced to combat the lawfare offensive of the Muslim Brotherhood in America; the "See Something, Say Something" Act S. 879 and H.R. 1343: First Responders Fighting Terrorism Protection Act of 2009 sponsored by Rep. Sue Myrick (R- NC).
However we remain troubled by a federal Minneapolis court decision that barred FBI agents and local police from having limited immunity from litigation by MB fronts. This will have a chilling effect on fighting terrorism in the US. The HHSC should pursue the proposed legislation to provide liability protection for first responders to overcome this court ruling abetting MB lawfare and protect first responders engaged in counterterrorism.
The proposed [legislation], after appropriate revision, should garner the widest possible support from the first responder benevolent, fraternal and union groups across America.
Rep. King and a number of Republican colleagues re-introduced a broadened version of the See Something Say Something Act in late January.
Given what occurred yesterday, Rep. King should hold hearings to take up this measure, before the inevitable onslaught of lawfare resulting from the Eid ul-Fitir melee at the Westchester County, New York Amusement park is cranked up by CAIR and the Muslim American Society.
I've just finished a book that makes timely reading, to wit: Manias, Panics, and Crashes (4th edition), by solid Charles Kindleberger:
In a paragraph about the Kipper- und Wipperzeit (the debased coin-clippers of business-history yore and lore), on page 121, I came across the following:
"What interests me is the spread.[of the coin-clipping and debasement phenomenon] Some local sources made available to me through the kindly offices of Professor Wolfram Fischer of the Free University of Berlin set forth one view that the first invasion of debased money started in Italy and came to southern Germany through the Bishop of Chur."
Through the Bishop of Chur. Cherez Chur.
I hope members of the Russian delegation to this site -- Tanya? Andrey? Svetlana? Vova? Possibly you, Dmitri? --- small it is but cherce -- will be amused.
Waste, Fraud, And One Thing That The Report Fails To Mention -- Strategic Idiocy -- In Those Senseless Efforts In Iraq And Afghanistan
Panel tallies massive waste and fraud in wartime U.S. contracts
Washington (CNN) -- A nonpartisan panel reporting to Congress says the United States is wasting $12 million a day among contracts issued in support of American efforts in Iraq and Afghanistan.
The Commission on Wartime Contracting spent the past three years documenting whether American funding went where it was supposed to. The findings show misdirected money has totaled between $31 billion and $60 billion, and that both the government and the contractors are to blame for fraud and waste.
Commissioner Katherine Schinasi told reporters at a news conference Wednesday that the numbers don't seem to have an impact on people concerned about spending.
To make it easier to grasp the magnitude of the problem, Schinasi said, "we've broken it down to $12 million a day."
"We are wasting $12 million a day," she said, "maybe that will make a difference."
The study looked at contracts from 2001 through the projected end of fiscal year 2011.
Without contract reform and better oversight, future prospects look just as ominous, the panel members warned, as the U.S. considers a role rebuilding Libya in a post-Gadhafi time frame.
Dov Zakheim, a former comptroller at the Defense Department, said he believes the misdirected money is closer to $60 billion, not the low end of the range the panel itself has estimated.
"We also have to think about projects that we start, but are not sure can be finished or sustained," he said. "What is the point of spending hundreds of millions on projects that will then fall into disuse?" he asked, saying the choice then becomes writing off the investment, or "spending taxpayer money for God knows how long, in order to keep the projects going."
The panel issued 15 recommendations for contract reform, including hiring more auditors and analysts to make sure the government gets what was paid for.
The report was delivered to congressional staffers early Wednesday; lawmakers are on summer break.
A paper statement was left with reporters from Rep. John Tierney of Massachusetts, who said the panel's findings "are alarming." Tierney, the ranking Democrat on a House subcommittee that reviews foreign operations, said he will introduce a bill next week "to create a permanent inspector general for contingency operations."
Such a move is among the recommendations of the commission.
Tierney's statement continued: "The kind of waste we have witnessed in Iraq and Afghanistan cannot be repeated." [litotes]
The commission was a provision of the 2008 Defense Department budget, mandating an investigation into the reliance on contractors for security, logistics, and reconstruction in Iraq and Afghanistan. In the three-year probe, the panel held 25 formal hearings, and published two interim reports and five special reports to Congress.
Mr. Bashir came face to face with Ban Ki-moon, the United Nations secretary general, in their first meeting since the warrant was issued. Then, in a speech, Mr. Ban criticized Sudan for expelling aid workers after the warrant was issued.
Libyan leader Col. Muammar el-Qaddafi, the current chairman of the African Union who is perhaps unused to not being pariah number one, was also at the conference, and he made an effort to seize the spotlight.
Shortly after the speeches by Mr. Bashir and Mr. Ban, Col. Qaddafi took the microphone and disrupted events.
First, he denounced King Abdullah of Saudi Arabia as a “British product and American ally.” Then, when the Qatari emir tried to quiet him, the Libyan leader issued the following response: “I am an international leader, the dean of the Arab rulers, the king of kings of Africa and the imam of Muslims, and my international status does not allow me to descend to a lower level.” What else he said is not known, since, as the Arab satellite channel Al Arabiya reported, “Sound on the televised transmission of the session was interrupted as Qadaffi began his tirade.”
Then the Colonel stormed out of the summit hall.
At Arab League summits, Col. Qaddafi’s outbursts have become nearly annual events. As one writer noted in 2003: “Muammar Qaddafi is to Arab League summits what Old Faithful is to Yellowstone National Park.” The Associated Press has been keeping a list of recent highlights, which we’ve fleshed out a bit:
In 2003, Col. Qaddafi exchanged harsh words with the Saudi King, shortly before the U.S.-led invasion of Iraq, accusing him of cooperating with the plan to invade.
In 2004, Col. Qaddafi sat smoking cigars on the conference floor of the summit in Tunisia, to show his contempt for the other leaders.
In 2005, Col. Qaddafi told the summit in Algeria that Palestinians and Israelis are “stupid.” (Perhaps anticipating that they might never accept what Al Jazeera later called “his frequently made proposal” that the two nations should just merge to form one state already, and call it: “Isratine.”)
In 2006, Col. Qaddafi failed to outrage — but he may have been too busy warning that year of the dangers of the World Cup soccer tournament, which he wrote on his blog could lead to “psychological and nervous sicknesses leading to angina pectois, strokes, diabetics, blood pressure and early senility” among spectators.
In 2007, Col. Qaddafi boycotted the summit in Saudi Arabia but gave a televised speech saying ”Liza” — referring to the former American Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice — had dictated the gathering’s agenda. (A year later, he hosted her in Tripoli.)
In 2008, Col. Qaddafi warned at the summit in Syria that other Arab leaders might be overthrown like the former Iraqi President Saddam Hussein. As Al Jazeera reported at the time, Col. Qaddafi said that Saddam had once been an ally of Washington, “but they sold him out.” Then he added: “Your turn is next.” According to Al Jazeera, some of the other Arab officials gathered for the conference “looked stunned while others broke into laughter.” The Arab satellite channel also reported last year that Col. Qaddafi’s 2008 performance in Damascus culminated in this dismissive statement on the Arab League’s plan to start Arab cooperation on a joint nuclear program:
“How can we do that? We hate each other, we wish ill of each other and our intelligence services conspire against each other. We are our own enemy.”
All that said, Col. Qaddafi did return for the closing session of the summit later on Monday, and, according to Al Arabiya, he made an effort to patch things up with the Saudi King. Speaking in “a conciliatory tone as he addressed the monarch, drawing applause from delegates,” the Colonel said: “I consider the personal problem between you and me to be over and I am prepared to visit you and receive a visit from you.” Al Arabiya added that “At the end of the session he held a landmark reconciliation meeting with King Abdullah after years of dispute.”
A photograph of the two men sitting together after the reconciliation appears on Marc Lynch’s blog on the Foreign Policy Web site. What caused Col. Qaddafi’s sudden change of heart is not known, but perhaps he just wanted to ensure that the Saudi King would be in the audience for his next command performance at the 2010 Arab summit — in Libya.
Update: We can now add the photograph of Col. Qaddafi sharing a couch with King Abdullah of Saudi Arabia in Doha on Monday, released by the Saudi Press Agency. Note that at the rear left of the photograph one of Col. Qaddafi’s all-female team of personal bodyguards can be seen. In 2004, The Times wrote about “Shadows of a Leader: Qaddafi’s Female Bodyguards,” a documentary by Rania Ajami about Col. Qaddafi’s most Bond-villain-like flourish. The trailer for that film is available on Ms. Ajami’s Web site. More recent footage of the bodyguards in action can be seen in video posted on the blog Ukrainiana, shot during a visit by Col. Qadaffi and his entourage to Kiev last year.
Saudi Press Agency/Associated PressKing Abdullah of Saudi Arabia, center, Col. Muammar el-Qaddafi, right, sitting side by side on a couch in Doha, Qatar, on Monday, March 30.
Was There a Possible CBW Event at Scott AFB in Illinois?
HAZMAT team at Scott Air Force Base
Shades of the 2001 anthrax terror events. A suspicious’ sulfur spelling package somehow got into the post office at the US Transportation Command located at Scott AFB in Southern Illinois-about 25 miles east of St. Louis across the Mississippi River. You may recall that those 2001 Amerithrax terror packages sent by mail started a week following 9/11 and shut down Congressional offices and resulted in the deaths of 5 people and infecting a dozen individuals.
For a discussion of the 2001 Anthrax attacks and capabilities by sponsors of Middle East terror groups, see our interview with Dr. Jill Dekker on Syria's Bio-warfare threat in the December, 2007 edition of the NER. Given the current threats from al Qaeda and affiliate Islamic terrorist groups, the FBI had heightened concerns about possible attacks in anticipation of the 10th anniversary of 9/11, next Sunday. Today’s possible CBW event will doubtless increase the ‘fear factor’ and raise both national and homeland security levels, pending forensic examination of the contents of the mail package received at Scott AFB and examination of the persons immediately affected by the exposure. In the small world of things, Vice Admiral Anne E. Rondeau, now President of the National Defense University was Deputy Commander of the United States Transportation Command at Scott Air Force Base in Illinois from December 2006 to 2009. See our NER article, here.
Three people were hospitalized Wednesday and a hazmat team responded to a post office at Scott Air Force Base after a suspicious package was discovered.
The three apparently broke out in a rash and were treated at a nearby hospital. Over a dozen others at the mail center were being decontaminated as a precaution at the mail center.
Authorities are directing any base personnel who visited its post office Wednesday and exhibit any abnormal symptoms to report to a Pronto's Pizza, Fox2now.com reported. Loud speakers on the base could be heard warning personnel to avoid the west side of the base, KPLR11.com reported.
The package uncovered Wednesday morning prompted precautionary evacuations of the base's education center, bowling alley and other services near the mail center.
Garland didn't have any information on what made the package suspicious, although local media reported it emitted a sulphur-like smell.
Garland says the hospitalized people showed no symptoms other than the rash. There is no immediate threat to the community, the base said in a statement.
With the 10th anniversary of the Sept. 11, 2001, terrorist attacks less than two weeks away, Scott spokesman Thomas Kistler said no extra precautions were in place on the base. He said officials are not treating this as a potential terrorist incident.
"I think they're treating it as a normal suspicious package right now," he said.
The package discovered Wednesday morning prompted precautionary evacuations of the base's education center, bowling alley and other services near the mail center. Kistler said officials were confident there was no reason for anyone else to leave.
"We have evacuated an area around the package but we haven't enlarged the evacuation area," he said. "We don't anticipate there's any danger to the rest of the base or to the community as a whole."
Ferrero said the area had been cordoned off although she did not believe there was any immediate danger. She noted that the base routinely performs exercises for incidents like this and was ready to respond.
"We are reacting on the side of caution," she said.
Master Sgt. Jerome Baysmore said "several" firefighters at the base were overcome by heat and treated by on-base medics. The St. Louis Post-Dispatch reported that four firefighters affected.
Traffic flowed in and out of the base through one of the main gates by late morning.
The air base is near Mascoutah, Ill., about 25 miles east of St. Louis, and serves as a global mobility and transportation hub for the Defense Department. The base is home to the U.S. Transportation Command, Air Mobility Command, the 618th Air and Space Operations Center and Air Force Network Integration Center. It is also one of four bases in the Air Force to house both a Reserve unit -- the 932nd Airlift Wing -- and an Air National Guard unit -- the 126th Air Refueling Wing.
The base's Web site says its population is 45,749.
How Such Arabs As Abdul Hamid Ahmad Re-Write Even The Most Recent History
Here is a perfectly typical article, by the editor of Gulf News, which predictably blames the West for supporting Qaddafy:
Who is lost in Zenga Zenga [a reference to Qaddafy's phrase about fighting "from alley-to-alley"]
Ordinary Libyans have paid the price for unethical western policies that propped up autocratic and brutal regimes
By Abdul Hamid Ahmad, Editor-in-Chief, Gulf News
August 31, 2011
The images of Muammar Gaddafi on television threatening revolutionaries that he would hound them from house to house and zenga, zenga (alley by alley) will never be forgotten.
In fact, these images went viral through social networks and YouTube; they featured in songs and clips as no other political event before. Of course, this was taken lightly, as a joke. And that reflects the real image of Gaddafi in the Arab region and the world. He has been taken as a clown. People would sit in front of their televisions during Arab summits to listen to him only for fun. Nobody, especially in the last 20 years, ever took him seriously.
And, if you have a clown, you will have a theatre and an audience. Gaddafi always had an audience. Among them were world leaders who, in fact, helped him become a dictator. They knew that he supported terrorists; they knew that he had led his country to darkness. And though he admitted to the Lockerbie bombing, the leaders were happy with him as he entertained them with billions in compensation. Gaddafi also gave up his claimed nuclear plans. Hence, these leaders opened their doors for him to stay longer in his clowning glory.
The leaders, from UK, France, Italy and other countries, sent their envoys to him to strike deals and finalise projects. And, during these selfish, tough times, they have completely forgotten the people of Libya, who have been left in the dark. How much of this is similar to Saddam Hussain's case? Very similar, indeed.
For forty-one of his forty-two years of misrule and terrorism against the west, Qaddafy was never condemned, not once, by the Arab League. But what finally caused the Arab League, in recent times, to turn against him, was his constant mocking of his fellow Arabs and, in the case of Saudi Arabia, his plotting against the Saudi king. Thus did the Arab League decide to try to inveigle the West, or NATO, into creating the conditions -- the six-month bombing campaign to "protect civilians" -- that would ensure his removal.
Meanwhile, it was President Reagan who bombed Qaddafy's compound, and it was American pressure that forced Qaddafy to give up his nuclear and other weapons projects. And it was always Western, non-Arab and non-Muslim powers who, in various ways, managed when the occasion called for, punish or pressure Qaddafy. Meanwhile, the Arabs did nothing.
And it was exactly the same with Saddam Hussein. Not a syllable of protest was heard from any Arab government when Saddam Hussein murdered 182,000 Kurds -- and why would the Arabs protest the killing of non-Arabs? When have they ever done so? It was only the Americans, and the Western powers, and Israel too, with its bombing of the nuclear reactor, that ever managed to foil Saddam Hussein. And it was the Americans, with some help from other Western powers, that removed Saddam Hussein, just as it is NATO that is responsible for an end to the Qaddafy regime.
But now, in the re-telling by Arabs, for Arab audiences, the West is being blamed for Qaddafy and for Saddam Hussein. The transparent sourness and malignity of this effort to blame the West, for the despots such as Qaddafy and Hussein who are merely different in degree, but not in kind, from the other Arab rulers -- and one would like to see Al Jazeera give us some news about the luxury, the palaces and private planes, of the decadent ruling families, and all their princes and princelings and princelettes, in Saudi Arabia, the Emirates, Kuwait, and Qatar -- funder of Al Jazeera -- which far outdo any of the luxe that Qaddafy's family, or Saddam Hussein's, enjoyed.
"I am your shadow, my lord; I'll follow you." - E. Pointz
I. A Person of Interest
We all know him. He's a charter member of the Eastcheap crowd, a rogue's gallery which famously includes Bardolph, Pistol, Nym, Peto, Gadshill, as well as strumpet Doll Tearsheet and Mistress Quickly, the bawd. more>>>
I am of an old East End family. We define the East End as the three old boroughs of Bethnal Green, Stepney and Poplar which since 1965 make up the current London Borough of Tower Hamlets, plus that area of Shoreditch around Shoreditch Church which since 1965 is part of the London Borough of Hackney. more>>>
The immorality of ghetto culture combines with the false compassion of liberal elites to create lower class people with incredibly poor character.
A young man can sense meaninglessness in his own life. Even if he is materially comfortable, not poor in any true sense of the word, he will sometimes lash out in aimless violence when he has nothing better to do. The cause of such violence is not poverty; it is in part boredom, immorality, and gnawing restlessness which renders him violent. more>>>
On September 11, 2001, Islamic terrorists, well educated young men – Saudi, Egyptian, and Yemeni nationals - hijacked four airliners (American Airlines Flight 11 and United Flight 175 from Boston’s Logan airport, American Airlines Flight 77 from Dulles airport and United Airlines Flight 93 from Newark Airport). more>>>
In Libya, Sauce For The Goose, But Only If That Goose Is Cooked
So if the Libyan rebels indiscriminately bomb Sirte on Saturday, exposing tens of thousands of civilians, what will NATO do to stop them? Anything? Nothing?
From The Christian Science Monitor:
August 31, 2011
How NATO could find itself protecting Qaddafi loyalists in Libya
NATO's mandate in Libya is to protect civilians, and with rebels now promising to attack cities loyal to Qaddafi, the alliance could be called on to protect civilians there. It is one complication that has NATO pressing for a peaceful resolution to the crisis.
At a press conference Tuesday at NATO headquarters in Brussels, Col. Roland Lavoie refused to speculate on how NATO would respond if the rebels do attack Sirte, but added, “I can assure you that our mission is to protect the civilian population, and we will do that with great care.”
A desirable endgame
The shift in the rebels’ fortunes puts NATO in a new and tricky position. But there are also advantages to the rebel forces ending any remaining ambiguities about who is running Libya, says Frederic Wehrey, a senior policy analyst at the RAND Corp. in Santa Monica, Calif.
“If the rebels persist in hitting armed Qaddafi supporters while keeping civilian casualties to a minimum, then this can become the final phase of the revolution and a force for closure,” he says. “Where it becomes problematic is if it creates a humanitarian crisis – for example, if they started indiscriminately bombing Sirte.”
The Naval War College’s Gvosdev agrees. “If there’s a sense that the fall of Tripoli was not the final chapter and that the fight goes on, then it will be hard to proceed to any political transition,” he says. “There needs to be a sense of finality.”
NATO officials have suggested the alliance is ready to end its mission as soon as Libyan civilians are no longer under threat. They insist that any international nation-building duties will fall to the UN and not to NATO. Gvosdev notes that European leaders were particularly keen to suggest to their voters that the fall of Tripoli meant NATO’s role was over.
But Gvosdev adds that it very likely won’t be as easy for NATO to leave Libya as it would like.
“There will be questions about an international security role, maybe a need for peacekeeping forces, and if there’s a power vacuum the US will be concerned about that giving Al Qaeda in the Maghreb a chance to consolidate,” he says. “I don’t see the Arab League or the African Union taking on this international role, so it may end up falling by default to the countries that carried out the mandate that made this turn of events possible.”
New Hungarian Constitution Shirks Responsibility for the Holocaust
by Thomas Ország-Land (September 2011)
The new Hungarian constitution, which is to come into effect on January 1 2012, denies not the veracity of the Holocaust but the culpability of the state for the organized murder of some 600,000 of its Jewish citizens in 1944/45, mostly in Auschwitz.
Its novel approach to Hungarian history will necessarily affect the decisions of the courts in this country perhaps for decades to come on issues of restitution for Holocaust atrocities. more>>>