Revolution is in the Air: 6/20/11: Gates: Winding down the Wars

INDEX (stories follow)

The WikiLeaks News & Views Blog for Thursday, Day 110

from The Nation Blogs: Media Fix by Greg Mitchell
EVENTS

Thieves and occupiers

Bahrain Update

Morocco: thousands march in rejection of proposed constitutional reforms

from World War 4 Report blogs by WW4 Report

Constitutional reforms in Morocco

King of Morocco gives award to pro-Israeli French politician

IMPERIALISM IN WORD & DEED

NATO MAY HAVE

The US ambassador in Afghanistan is hurt that American occupation of Afghanistan is referred to by the US puppet as, well, occupation

Kristof–like everybody else in the Western press–covering up for the Moroccan dictatorship

Western media and their racism (I include British media)

HISTORY & ANALYSIS

Gates: Winding down the Wars

from Informed Comment by Juan

Jews in Islamic history

Headlines for March 17, 2011

from Democracy Now! | Healthcare Reform by mail@democracynow.org (Democracy Now!)

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Thieves and occupiers

“”All indications are that the institutions of the United States of America committed financial corruption by stealing the money of the Iraqi people, which was allocated to develop Iraq, (and) that it was about $17 billion,” said the letter sent to the U.N. with a 50-page report.  The committee called the disappearance of the money a “financial crime” but said U.N. Security Council resolutions prevent Iraq from making a claim against the United States.

Bahrain Update

My reliable source on Bahrain sent me this:  “This is a long email.  There’s a lot going on in Bahrain now.

As you know, the National Dialogue will be occurring in March.  The dialogue will be headed by the head of the Parliament who is sectarian and has the intellect of a first grader.  He is a hardliner and a strong supporter of the regime and the Prime Minister.  Of course he doesn’t have any authority since he isn’t from the royal family, so the government is basically sending a message to everyone that it isn’t serious.  In addition over 60 societies (political and non-political) have been invited to the dialogue. Since the government cares so much about expats all of a sudden, they will be invited too.  Here’s a highly informative blogpost discussing the issue:  
Also Al Wefaq had a major rally on friday.  Ali Salman’s speech (head of Al Wefaq) wasn’t really clear but from what I understood he is saying that the government isn’t serious about dialogue and that they want meaningful reform.  The National Unity Gathering (pro-government coalition) was supposed to hold a rally on Saturday with the Prime Minister in attendance but for some odd reason, they were asked by the government to cancel the event.  Why?  Who knows
As you probably know, Waad, the secular leftist political society and the strongest opposition group after Al-Wefaq was banned earlier in the crackdown.  Waad offices were destroyed, its leader Ebrahim Sharif was thrown in jail and the house of Muneera Fakhro, one of Waads prominent members was attacked twice.  As a result, Waad had completely disappeared from the picture.
Now for reasons I don’t understand, the government has decided to lift the ban on Waad [See here:  ].  There are also rumors that Ebrahim Sharif as well as many other political prisoners will be released on friday of next week.  Waad also apparently issued an apology to the government on facebook:    The apology basically recognizes the legitimacy of the current Bahraini regime.  If this is true then Waad will have betrayed its constituents.  However, Mureena Fakhro was recently interviewed on twitter and she stated that Waad has no intention of backing down from its original demands, that it stands firmly with Al Wefaq and that it will settle for nothing less than a constitutional monarchy.  She said that no official statement has been released by Waad and that they will be releasing one shortly.  There also have been rumors that many Waad members are resigning due to political differences (i.e. the rumors are that many members of waad no longer support it and instead now support the national unity gathering) but Muneera Fakhro stated that there are no resignations that she is aware of.  Al Wefaq then tweeted that it welcomes the decision to reinstate Waad and that it is confident that Waad will remain strong and faithful to its history although it recognizes that because it was banned it was under a lot of pressure.  The Democratic Progressive Tribune (smaller leftist opposition society) also tweeted that it stands firmly with Waad and Al Wefaq.  Al Wefaq, the Progressive Democratic Tribune and Muneera Fakhro’s statements all appear to be in response that the 7 opposition societies are splitting because of Waads apology (which Muneera Fakhro seems to deny).
Meanwhile, the US Assistant Secretary of State is in Bahrain and he gave a speech on the importance of dialogue and moving on:  /  This speech would have been welcomed had it been issued on February 14 but now things have changed.  Also the editor of Al Wasat is on trial:    And in an idiotic move, the Bahraini government has decided to sue the Independent:
As usual, the government is sending mixed messages.  What does the reinstatement of Waad mean?  Why now?  Is it because of US pressure or do they have a plan in mind?  The government is obviously not serious about dialogue.  If you can provide any sort of analysis as to what is going on please let us all know!  I am really worried about what will happen next.  Of course there is one thing that consoles me:  The government has made mistake after mistake after mistake so I doubt they will be getting any smarter (but you never know – the US is in Bahrain now and might try to advise them)”

Morocco: thousands march in rejection of proposed constitutional reforms

from World War 4 Report blogs by WW4 Report

Some 10,000 marched in Casablanca June 19 in answer to a call from Morocco’s youth-based February 20 Movement, which has rejected constitutional reforms proposed by King Mohammed VI. Among the marchers in the city’s popular Derb Soltaine neighborhood were members of the Islamist Justice and Charity group. Rabat also saw a large march against the proposed reform package, and a much smaller march in support of the king was also held in Casablanca. The February 20 Movement said the proposed reforms would leave in place a network of privilege and patronage surrounding the king. While stopping short of a call for abolition of the monarchy, the movement is calling for democratic restrictions on the king’s power. (AFPMoroccoBoard News Service, June 19)

read more

Constitutional reforms in Morocco

The Justice and Mercy group in Moroccan dismissed the Moroccan royal “reforms” and said that the King “remains far from a democratic constitution in form and content and methodology.”  And added that the King changes reinforces the absolute powers of the king as he is President of the council of ministers; President of the Supreme Council of the Judicial authority; the supreme commander of the royal armed forces; the president of the Supreme Security Council; the president of the Supreme scientific council; and has the authority to dissolve parliament and dismiss ministers; and he appoints the head of the Constitutional Court and half of its members; and other unlimited wide powers, in addition to his title of sublime ruler as Commander of the Faithful which gives him powers beyond the constitution.

King of Morocco gives award to pro-Israeli French politician

“Ibn Rushd” sent me this:  “Manuel Valls is a French politician who banned pro-Palestine movies, takes BDS activists to court, made several statements against immigrants, against Islam, and was caught on camera complaining to a friend that there were too many non-white people in the streets of his city. He frequently signs petitions expressing blind support for Israel.   All this was more than enough for the King of Morocco to give him an award.”
IMPERIALISM IN WORD & DEED

NATO MAY HAVE

“NATO said “there may have been a weapons system failure which may have caused a number of civilian casualties.” A military missile site was the intended target of the air raid, NATO said, but “one weapon” apparently went astray.  “NATO regrets the loss of innocent civilian lives and takes great care in conducting strikes against a regime determined to use violence against its own citizens,” said Canadian air force Lt. Gen. Charles Bouchard, commander of the Libya campaign. Investigators were still “determining the specifics of this event,” Bouchard said.

The US ambassador in Afghanistan is hurt that American occupation of Afghanistan is referred to by the US puppet as, well, occupation

““When Americans, who are serving in your country at great cost — in terms of life and treasure — hear themselves compared with occupiers, told that they are only here to advance their own interest and likened to the brutal enemies of the Afghan people,” the ambassador said, “my people, in turn, are filled with confusion and grow weary of our efforthere.””

Kristof–like everybody else in the Western press–covering up for the Moroccan dictatorship

“Well, yes, Morocco remains repressive and utterly undemocratic. But in most police states, people don’t dare call it that — at least not with their names attached.”

Western media and their racism (I include British media)

Why this universal marking of an “anniversary” of the capture of an Israeli terrorist occupier whose name should not be mentioned?  Why should that terrorist occupier who was arrested while on a terrorist mission on a land that does not belong to him get more attention than the plight of 10,000 Palestinians in Israeli custody?  The answer is simple: pure and classical racism according to which a white Israeli is worth more than 10,000 sand niggers.  Look at the Guardian website: they are almost handing out buckets of tears for that terrorist occupier.  If the French resistance movement captured a Nazi occupier, you think that they would have kept him alive?
HISTORY & ANALYSIS

Gates: Winding down the Wars

from Informed Comment by Juan

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Outgoing Secretary of Defense Robert Gates was on CNN’s State of the Union with Candy Crowley on Sunday, and he sees a diminished American superpower on the horizon. Gates foresaw the winding down of the Afghanistan War, a slow grinding ultimate victory for NATO in Libya, fairly deep cuts in the war department budget on the horizon, but a residual force of American troops in Iraq. He again lambasted NATO allies for not keeping up with the massive US spending on armaments and military technology. He insisted on the US remaining a superpower, because of its interests in the world, and maintained that it has been a world power since the late 19th century.

While it is true that the US conquered the Philippines in the aftermath of the war with Spain in the very late 19th and early 20th century, it is incorrect to see the US as a great power in that period. Despite its one large colonial possession and its informal interventions in Latin America, the US was a relatively minor player in world affairs and had a small military. Holland, with its Indonesian possessions and its great navy, was probably of more consequence.

Gates’s idea of our historical arc distorts our history as a relatively un-militarized Republic until World War II and its aftermath, when we became a nuclear-armed behemoth. And enormous outlays on weapons, technology and war in just the last decade, as Karen Greenberg points out, further distort this arc. Rather than Gates’s steady state over a century, we should see US militarization as a steep upward graph with a stark vertical denouement at the far right.

Gates confirmed that the US State Department has for the past few weeks been negotiating directly with the Taliban. He seemed to expect something eventually to come of those negotiations. NATO allies are afraid that the US will go for a quick fix at the upcoming Bonn conference. It should be noted that the US government probably had preferred that those negotiations remain secret, but they were outed by our erratic and often hateful so-called ally, Afghanistan’s president Hamid Karzai.

AP reports:

As the Guardian noted, the direct talks with Taliban leaders are likely an outcome of the killing of al-Qaeda leader Usamah Bin Laden.

Outgoing US ambassador Karl Eikenberry blasted Karzai over the weekend in Herat for the various uncomplimentary things Karzai has had to say about the US in recent months, including branding them as on the verge of becoming foreign occupiers. Eickenberry according to State Department cables revealed by wikileaks thinks Karzai is flaky and “paranoid.”

The big debate in Washington is how many US troops President Obama should take out of Afghanistan this year, beginning in July. Senator Carl Levin has suggested 15,000. While it had been thought last year that the incoming Tea Party Republicans would attempt to forestall the drawdown, the Afghanistan War has suddenly become so unpopular that Republican presidential hopefuls are beginning to campaign against it. It appears that Obama will get pressure from both the right and the left to begin a relatively steep withdrawal. Gates clearly does not like this idea. He points out, though, that Obama put an extra 65,000 troops into Afghanistan, so there were be a lot of US military personnel in that country next year this time, no matter what.

Gates says he thinks Afghanistan will end as Iraq did, with the local government and army supplying just good enough security as the US draws down. There are many contradictions here. First, Gates doesn’t think Iraq is ready for a complete US withdrawal, even now. Second, the Iraqi military and Iraq officers and officials are from a literate, industrialized society and have capacities that their Afghan equivalents mostly do not. Third, al-Maliki leads the majority Shiites of the country and has good relations with the Kurds. Karzai’s constituency seems notably less broad, and the forces arrayed against him larger and more determined. Fourth, Gates’s conviction that 25% of Afghanistan is now under the effective control of the Afghanistan National Army and that turning over the rest of the country to it, province by province, is unproblematic, is probably wildly and uncharacteristically optimistic.

Speaking of Iraq, Gates is campaigning with Iraqi Prime Minister Nouri al-Maliki to make a deal to put some number of US troops into Iraq in January 2012, despite the Status of Forces Agreement that specifies all US troops out of that country by the end of 2011. Gates portrays Iraq as beset by radical Shiite militias acting on behalf of Iran, and maintains that they are now more dangerous than ‘al-Qaeda in Mesopotamia.’ The most active Shiite political movements in Iraq are, however, the most nativist, and they typically dislike Iran. That scruffy urban street youth in Nasiriya or Diwaniya following Muqtada al-Sadr can be seen as cat’s paws of an Iran they viscerally mistrust is a longstanding American fallacy. Iraq does not need US troops to protect it from its own majority Shiites. Al-Maliki himself is head of the fundamentalist Shiite al-Da`wa (Islamic Mission) Party, and has warm relations with Iran (even warmer since Wahhabi Saudi Arabia put troops into Shiite-majority Bahrain).

As for US troops being killed in Iraq, it is the very prospect of Gates succeeding in keeping them there that has caused violence against them to spike. When it was understood that they were leaving, the attacks on them declined enormously. (Likewise, the press to somehow keep Western troops in Iraq has caused renewed violence against Western interests generally. Today there was a bombing of a French embassy car in south Baghdad that wounded 7 Iraqis.

Although Gates professed himself optimistic that al-Maliki would ask for US troops for 2012, al-Maliki himself has kicked it to his cabinet, which is made up of representatives of the country’s major political blocs. I would give the chances of the cabinet coming to a decision on this matter in time for it to matter as low. That is, they will likely keep discussing the matter past January 2012 when all US troops are out, and then putting some back in would be a hot potato no one would be willing to take up.

Gates is worried about big across-the-board cuts to the Defense Department budget (which is as big as the next 20 or so countries combined). He says he has grown disillusioned with ‘wars of choice’ like that in Iraq, and says any president who goes to war again in Africa or the Middle East should have his head examined.

We are witnessing a belated fin-de-siecle in American confidence (or perhaps we should call it what it is, arrogance), exemplified in a tired old Realist ushering the US, a bit against his instincts, out of superpowerdom and into an age of limits and multilateralism. Even the Libya War, of the prosecution of which he has been bitingly critical, will turn out all right, he thinks, because NATO will stay in the fight and remain united. That is a multilateralist sentiment. It isn’t what we were hearing from Washington in 2003. One has a sense of an age passing, and to the extent that the age was characterized by unilateral adventurism, its demise will benefit us all.

Jews in Islamic history

“Anthony Julius’s review of Adina Hoffman and Peter Cole’s “Sacred Trash: The Lost and Found World of the Cairo Geniza” (May 29) properly appreciates the virtues of their absorbing account of that treasure-trove of manuscripts illustrating Jewish life under medieval Islam. But Julius misleads when he claims that the geniza documents portray Arab-Jewish relations as “not especially good.” The message of the geniza is, rather, that despite legal and social inferiority and payment of an annual poll tax, Jews enjoyed freedom of religion, communal autonomy and untrammeled economic opportunity. Moreover, Hoffman and Cole demonstrate in fascinating detail just how thoroughly Jews were immersed in Arab culture and, in fact, how Jews and Arabs lived together with less mutual hostility than they do in today’s Middle East.

MARK R. COHEN
New York
The writer is a professor of Jewish civilization in the Near East at Princeton University.”
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This entry was posted in Afghanistan, Background & Analysis, Bahrain, Counterinsurgency, Egypt, Events, Human Rights, Imperialist Interference & Views, Iraq, Libya, Morocco, Saudi Arabia, US Foreign Policy, Yemen. Bookmark the permalink.

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