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By Delisting the MEK, the Obama Administration is Taking the Moral and Strategic Bankruptcy of America’s Iran Policy to a New Low

By Flynt Leverett and Hillary Mann Leverett | Race for Iran | September 21st, 2012

The U.S. Department of State took the moral and strategic bankruptcy of America’s Iran policy to a new low today, by notifying Congress that the Obama administration intends to remove the mojahedin-e khalq (MEK) from the State Department’s list of foreign terrorist organizations (FTOs).

At a macro level, we are disdainful—even scornful—of the U.S. government’s lists of both FTOs and state sponsors of terrorism.  We have seen too many times over the years just how cynically American administrations have manipulated these designations, adding and removing organizations and countries for reasons that have little or nothing to do with designees’ actual involvement in terrorist activity.  So, for example, after Saddam Husayn invaded the fledgling Islamic Republic in 1980—on September 22, no less—and starting killing large numbers of innocent Iranians, the Reagan administration (which came to office in January 1981) found a way to remove Iraq from the state sponsors list, in order to remove legal restrictions prohibiting the U.S. government from helping Saddam prosecute his war of aggression as robustly as the administration wanted.  (During that war, the MEK—after having tried but failed to bring down the Islamic Republic through a bloody campaign of terrorist bombings and assassinations conducted against the new Iranian government’s upper echelons—ended up collaborating with an Iraqi government regularly carrying out chemical weapons attacks against targets, civilian as well as military, inside Iran.)  But, when the same Saddam invaded Kuwait in 1990, the George H.W. Bush administration couldn’t get Iraq back on the state sponsors list fast enough.  We are very skeptical that Saddam’s ties to groups that the United States considers terrorist organizations changed all that much during this period.

Yet, precisely because we know how thoroughly corrupt and politicized these designations really are, we recognize their significance as statements of U.S. policy.  Today, the Obama administration made a truly horrible statement about U.S. policy toward Iran.

The statement is horrible even if one wants to believe that FTO designations have some kind of procedural and evidentiary integrity about them.  (We don’t, but we also recognize that letting go of illusions is often not easy.)  Just this year, U.S. intelligence officials told high-profile media outlets that the MEK is actively collaborating with Israeli intelligence to assassinate Iranian nuclear scientists, see here; Iranian officials have made the same charge.  Since when did murdering unarmed civilians (and, in some instances, members of their families as well) on public streets in the middle of a heavily populated urban area (Tehran) not meet even the U.S. government’s own professed standard for terrorism?  Of course, one might rightly point out that the United States is responsible for the deaths of millions of innocent civilians across the Middle East.  But Washington generally strives to maintain the fiction that it did not intend for those innocents to die as a (direct and foreseeable) consequence of U.S. military operations and sanctions policies.  (You know, the United States didn’t really mean for those people to die, but, as Secretary of Defense Donald Rumsfeld once said, “Stuff happens.”)  Here, the Obama administration is taking an organization that the U.S. government knows is directly involved in the murder of innocent people and giving this group Washington’s “good housekeeping seal of approval.”

But, to invoke Talleyrand’s classic observation that a certain action was “worse than a crime—it was a mistake,” delisting the MEK is not just a moral abomination; it is a huge strategic and policy blunder.  It is hard to imagine how the Obama administration could signal more clearly that, even after the President’s presumptive reelection, it has no intention of seeking a fundamentally different sort of relationship with the Islamic Republic—which would of course require the United States to accept the Islamic Republic as a legitimate political entity representing legitimate national interests.

Count on this:  once the MEK is formally off the FTO list—a legally defined process that will take a few months to play out—Congress will be appropriating money to support the monafeqin as the vanguard of a new American strategy for regime change in Iran.  In the 1990s, similar enthusiasm for Ahmad Chalabi and the Iraqi National Congress—who were about as unpopular among Iraqis as the MEK is among Iranians—led to President Clinton’s signing of the Iraq Liberation Act, which paved the way for George W. Bush’s decision to invade Iraq in 2003.  The chances for such a scenario to play out with regard to Iran over the next few years—with even more disastrous consequences for America’s strategic and moral standing—got a lot higher today.

September 21, 2012 Posted by | Progressive Hypocrite, Timeless or most popular | , , , , , , | Comments Off on By Delisting the MEK, the Obama Administration is Taking the Moral and Strategic Bankruptcy of America’s Iran Policy to a New Low

Let’s All, For a Moment, Remember Bibi’s Wisdom on Iraq 10 Years Ago

By Jim Lobe | September 18th, 2012

As usual, Paul Pillar hits the mark in his latest blog post at the National Interest in asking “Why are the Neocons Still Around?,” suggesting that when you are responsible for “one of the biggest and costliest blunders in the history of U.S. foreign relations” [the Iraq war], retirement from public affairs — as opposed to beating the drums for a new Middle East military adventures — might be a more seemly course of action.

What applies to U.S. neo-cons should also apply to the current prime minister of Israel who, given his many years of growing up and living in the United States, as well as his close personal relations with leading U.S. neo-cons, has either drunk the same kool-aid or helped to brew it up himself. (After all, it was in 2001 that Bibi was bragging about how easy the United States could be “moved to the right direction.”) And just like then, he is now leading the charge for war with Iran in ways that are not only increasing the chances of a major breach between the United States and Israel, as M.J. Rosenberg and other informed observers see it, but are also raising serious questions among the national-security elite in Israel about his fitness to lead.

So, given his current efforts to take the U.S. to war in Iran, I thought it might be useful to review at least part of Netanyahu’s advice and exhortations to Washington in the run-up to the Iraq war. Coincidentally, it was almost exactly ten years ago when he testified at seemingly interminable length before the House Government Reform Committee about the absolute necessity for Washington to effect regime change in Iraq as the next step — the first was ousting the Taliban — toward destroying the “entire terror network” (Iraq, Iran, Syria, Libya, Al-Qaeda, Hezbollah, Hamas, Arafat, etc.) and “ventilating” the Middle East in much the same that the U.S. and its allies “ventilated” Nazi Germany after World War II. You will be quick to see that Netanyahu echoed many of the same points that were being made at the time by Paul Wolfowitz, Richard Perle, Bill Kristol, et. al. who spoke with similar confidence (and profound understanding of the region) about the necessity for war and the unmitigated good that would come of it.

It’s also worth remembering that Netanyahu testified before Congress on this issue five days after then-White House Chief of Staff Andrew Card told the New York Times in reference to the administration’s push for a war resolution on Iraq, “From a marketing point of view, you don’t roll out new products in August.” In that context, Netanyahu’s testimony has to be seen as part of the administration’s public campaign to roll Congress. Bibi subsequently drew heavily on his testimony in an op-ed published on the Wall Street Journal’s neo-con editorial page (September 20, 2002) and in an interview with the Washington Times a month later (October 23). Let there be no mistake: Bibi was a big booster of “one of the biggest and costliest blunders in the history of U.S. foreign relations,” as Pillar describes it.

Here’s some of examples of the wisdom he shared with Congress about Iraq, the alleged threat it posed, and how to transform the region:

On why invading Iraq — instead of pursuing Al Qaeda — was the top priority:

I think the first question is, do you want to merely avenge September 11th or do you want to win the war on terror? If you want to stop with September 11th, go after al Qaeda.
…[T]here is no international terrorism of any kind — al Qaeda, Hezbollah, Hamas, you name them, all of them — there is no international terrorism if you take away the support of sovereign states. And the sovereign states are few. If you want to win this war, you just have to neutralize these states. In neutralizing them, you have two options. It’s like when kamikaze fighters are coming at you and bombing you. You can shoot one; you can shoot the other. But if you really want to stop it, you have to shoot down the aircraft carriers. There are only a handful of aircraft carriers. …So, I think if you want to win the broader war on terror, you have to get rid of these regimes.

And:

And the question of time [for taking preemptive action], I think the sooner the better. But now the question is when you choose a target, I think Iraq brings two things, a confluence of two things. One, it is sufficiently important in this network to have a tremendous effect. If it collapses, it will have a beneficial seismic effect…

And:

And today the United States must destroy the same regime because a nuclear-armed Saddam will place the security of our entire world at risk. And make no mistake about it — if and once Saddam has nuclear weapons, it is only a matter of time before those weapons will be used.

And:

If a preemptive action will be supported by a broad coalition of free countries in the United Nations, all the better. But if such support is not forthcoming, then the United States must be prepared to act without it.[Emphasis added.]

On Saddam’s (presumed) nuclear program, Netanyahu had no doubts whatsoever:

“Two decades ago, it was possible to thwart Saddam’s nuclear ambitions by bombing a single installation. But today, nothing less than dismantling his regime will do, because Saddam’s nuclear program has fundamentally changed in those two decades. He no longer needs one large reactor to produce the deadly material necessary for atomic bombs. He can produce it in centrifuges the size of washing machines that can be hidden throughout the country. And I want to remind you that Iraq is a very big country. It is not the size of Monte Carlo. It is a big country. And I believe that even free and unfettered inspections will not uncover these portable manufacturing sites of death.”

And:

“There’s no question that [Saddam] had not given upon on his nuclear program, not [sic] whatsoever. There is also no question that he was not satisfied with the arsenal of chemical and biological weapons that he had and was trying to perfect them constantly. …So I think, frankly, it is not serious to assume that this man, who 20 years ago was very close to producing an atomic bomb, spent the last 20 years sitting on his hands. He has not. And every indication we have is that he is pursuing, pursuing with abandon, pursuing with ever ounce of effort, the establishment of weapons of mass destruction, including nuclear weapons. If anyone makes an opposite assumption or cannot draw the lines connecting the dots, that is simply not an objective assessment of what has happened. Saddam is hell-bent on achieving atomic bombs, atomic capabilities, as soon as he can.
…There was a constant upgrading of these weapons, constant upgrading of these weapons, constant efforts to make them more lethal and to expand the reach of the delivery systems to deliver them.”

And:

So we have all these dots and we say, well, we don’t know exactly what is happening. You know, it’s like you’re about to see somebody plunge the knife into someone, you’re looking through a keyhole. You followed a murderer. You know that he is suspected that he’s already killed a few people and you see him trailing somebody and you’re trailing him. He shuts the door. You’re looking through the keyhole and you see him grasping the throat of this person, raising the knife and then the light goes out, and the next thing you know a bod is found. And you can say, ‘Well, you know, I didn’t actually see him en flagrante, in the act, if you will,’ but I think, Mr. Kucinich, that it is simply not reflecting the reality to assume that Saddam isn’t feverishly working to develop nuclear weapons, as we speak.

And:

There is not question whatsoever that Saddam is seeking and is working and is advancing towards the development of nuclear weapons — no question whatsoever. And there is no question that once he acquires it, history shifts immediately.

On how regime change in Iraq will have wondrous effects on the region:

…If you take out Saddam, Saddam’s regime, I guarantee you that it will have enormous positive reverberations on the region.

And:

So what is the next step? I believe that the next step is to choose — it’s not a question of whether you have to take action but what kind of action and against whom. I think of the three [Iraq, Iran and Libya, all “racing to develop nuclear weapons”], Saddam is probably in many ways a linchpin, because it is possible to take out this regime with military action and the reverberations of what happens with the collapse of Saddam’s regime could very well create an implosion in a neighbor regime like Iran for the simple reason that Iran has, I don’t want to say a middle class, but it has a very large population that might bring down the regime, just as has [sic] brought down the shah’s regime. So I think that the choice of going after Iraq is like removing a brick that holds a lot of other bricks and might cause this structure to crumble. It is not guaranteed. The assumption of regime removal in Iraq, an implosion in Iran, an implosion in Libya is an assumption. It is not guaranteed. But if I have to choose should there be military action first against Iraq or first against Iran, I would choose exactly what the president had chosen, to after Iraq.

And:

The three principles of winning the war on terror are the three W’s — winning, winning and winning. The more victories you amass, the easier the next victory becomes. The first victory in Afghanistan makes a second victory in Iraq that much easier. The second victory in Iraq will make the third victory that much easier, too, but it may change the nature of achieving that victory.

Democratization is the answer:

The test and the great opportunity and challenge is not merely to effect the ouster of the regime, but also transform that society and thereby begin too the process of democratizing the Arab world. I think that’s absolutely essential.

…I think the greatest protection ….against the return of another Saddam, another bin Laden, another Mullah Omar …is to ventilate these societies with the winds of freedom. Democracy, or, if I want to be realistic, democratization, coupled with an economic package. I think that should be the step afterwards in Iraq. And I think it would actually stabilize Iraq. It might send a message — I think it will — to neighboring Iran, to neighboring Syria. And the people will wake up and they’ll say, “We can have a real life. We can have a choice. Our children can have a future.” That’s not a bad idea.

On regime change in Iran:

I once said to the …heads of the CIA, when I was prime minister, that if you want to advance regime change in Iran, you don’t have to go through the CIA cloak-and-dagger stuff — what you want to do is take very large, very strong transponders and just beam ‘Melrose Place’ and ‘Beverly Hills 2050′ [sic] and all that into Teheran and into Iran, because that is subversive stuff. …[B]ut it may take a long time.

If Bush strikes Iraq, Saddam will hit Israel:

I want to say that I’m here today as a citizen of a country that is most endangered by a preemptive strike, for it is, I think, clear that in the last gasps of Saddam’s dying regime, he will attempt to launch his remaining missiles, his remaining payloads, including biological and chemical payloads, at the Jewish state.

On the “right direction” in which Bush and the U.S. are heading (recalling, for a second, Bibi’s boast about the ease with which Washington can be “moved in the right direction” in the 2001 video):

I think, in a similar way, the bombing of September 11th opened the eyes of Americans to see the great conflict and the great danger that faces us. And once opened, then, the overpowering will of the majority of the people of the United States, of the steamroller, is inevitably moving to decide this battle. I think this is — I think this was called by Congressman Lantos “a hinge of history,” and it is exactly that. It is a hinge of history.

And one year later, I can come here and say that history is moving in the right direction; that had America not woken up, had America not mobilized its action, had it not — have — if it had not had the courageous leadership of President Bush, then I wouldn’t be able to say that I’m confident today. But I am saying that I believe that the war on terror is going in the right direction and that I am confident that if we pursue this direction, then we will achieve victory. And victory is victory for America and victory for Israel and victory for Britain, victory for all the democracies, however vacillating and however reluctant their governments are. This is a victory for all free societies, and I’m sure it will be achieved.

All of which raises the question: given his proven powers of analysis and foresight, why are we listening to Bibi Netanyahu on how to deal with Iran?

September 21, 2012 Posted by | Timeless or most popular, Wars for Israel | , , , , , , | Comments Off on Let’s All, For a Moment, Remember Bibi’s Wisdom on Iraq 10 Years Ago

Stopping the Campaign of Misinformation: New Study Affirms Less Copyright Restrictions Benefit the Economy

By Trevor Timm | EFF | September 21, 2012

A new study from Australia presents the latest evidence that loosening copyright restrictions not only enables free speech, but can improve an economy as well. The study, published by the Australian Digital Alliance, indicated that if Australia expanded copyright exceptions like fair use, along with strengthening safe harbor provisions, the country could potentially add an extra $600 million to their economy.

In addition, the report details how vital copyright exceptions are to the Australian economy as a whole. As ADA’s executive officer and copyright advisor Ellen Broad told EFF, “Australia’s sectors relying on copyright exceptions currently contribute 14% of our GDP, around $182 billion and they’re growing rapidly. It’s essential that Australia’s copyright policy framework adequately support innovation and growth of these sectors in the digital environment.”

Given how much Australia’s burdensome and confusing copyright law has held up innovation, EFF is encouraged by the fact that copyright reform is being considered and debated in the public sphere.

But more broadly, this is just the latest evidence disproving a major talking point used by the MPAA and RIAA anytime copyright laws come up for a vote: that tough copyright laws are good for the economy. During the SOPA debate, organizations such as the Motion Picture Association of America (MPAA) and the Recording Industry Association of America (RIAA) claimed over and over again that the restrictive laws are needed to save and create jobs. Yet the Australian study confirms similar research done by CIAA in the US, showing how important fair use exceptions are to the economy. In fact, fair use accounted “for more than $4.5 trillion in annual revenue” in the US and exceeding the economic benefits of copyright laws themselves.

Unfortunately, this new evidence probably won’t stop the MPAA and RIAA from continuing to peddle misinformation about the economics of copyright law in Australia, the US, or elsewhere. Currently, the MPAA is distributing materials to members of the US Congress—perhaps in another attempt to gin up support for SOPA 2.0—extolling how important new, restrictive laws will allegedly help them create jobs.

But these new talking points are short on statistics—perhaps for a reason. MPAA and RIAA have used drastically exaggerated numbers and discredited studies for years to claim that laws like SOPA and PIPA—or agreements like the Trans-Pacific Partnership—are vital for the economy. In reality, SOPA would’ve cost many more jobs than it saved, given it would have weakened or eliminated the Digital Millennium Copyright Act (DMCA) safe harbors that have allowed Internet companies like Google and Facebook to thrive for the last decade. That’s why when a survey was taken of venture capitalists, they “overwhelmingly” indicated they would stop investing in tech companies—the one of the economy’s fastest growing sectors—if SOPA were to pass.

Since the economic numbers don’t add up, advocates for draconian copyright laws have resorted to other misleading arguments. For example, this week, a Fox News editorial erroneously argued that intellectual property protection is a “forgotten” constitutional right and “it is the obligation” of Congress to pass laws like SOPA to protect rightsholders. Of course, the problem with SOPA was that it was written so broadly it would’ve ended up censoring millions of Americans who never even thought about copyright, but that’s beside the point. The US Constitution does mention intellectual property but not in the context of an individual right or mandate to Congress. Specifically, it says:

Congress shall have power . . . To promote the progress of science and useful arts, by securing for limited times to authors and inventors the exclusive right to their respective writings and discoveries.

A plain reading of the clause indicates that Congress has the authority to use copyright law to promote creativity—if they so choose. There’s no mandate for Congress to pass any copyright law that comes their way, and there’s no clause guaranteeing the rights of movie studios and record labels to maximize their profits. Meanwhile, creativity—far from being stifled without more copyright laws on the books—is currently thriving. There’s been a marked increase in the amount of movies, music, and books produced over the last decade, as this comprehensive study done by CCIA and Techdirt’s Mike Masnick shows.

So while huge legacy corporations may find it harder to keep a grip on their market share, it’s not because people have stopped creating and selling art. It’s quite the opposite: they’re creating more by incorporating fair use, cutting out the middlemen, and bringing their art directly to their fans through the Internet.

Unfortunately, all too often copyright maximalists, like the author in the Fox News editorials, put forth the idea that “lawlessness” prevails on the Internet, even though in the US and abroad there are many copyright laws already on the books. In the US alone, Congress has passed fifteen separate laws in the last thirty years alone strengthening the powers of rightsholders.

Most notably, the US DMCA gives power to copyright holders to force websites to take down any of their protected material. In fact, the DMCA gives disproportionate power to the rightsholders, often leading to abuse, and in turn, censoring material that is clearly protected free speech. As Techdirt noted, in Australia, their outdated and burdensome copyright system “is ill-equipped to cope with key Internet activities like search and indexing, caching and hosting, since they all involve incidental copying.”

Both countries would be better served by evidence-based policy that promoted the intended balance of copyright. After decades of unbalanced legislation, the evidence is clear, and points to relaxing copyright restrictions, not strengthening them.

For more on the debate over the economics of copyright see here and here.

September 21, 2012 Posted by | Civil Liberties, Economics | , , , , , , | Comments Off on Stopping the Campaign of Misinformation: New Study Affirms Less Copyright Restrictions Benefit the Economy

Ex-prisoner explains self-immolation attempt

Ma’an – 21/09/2012
Former prisoner Abeer Odeh (MaanImages/File)

RAMALLAH – A former prisoner who tried to set herself on fire in Ramallah on Thursday says the Palestinian Authority is neglecting released detainees.

Abeer Odeh, 30, tried to self-immolate in Ramallah’s Manara square on Thursday but was stopped by police, a Ma’an correspondent said. She was taken to a nearby police station.

Odeh was released from Israeli detention last year in a prisoner swap deal between Israel and Hamas.

Speaking to Ma’an on Thursday evening, Odeh accused the PA ministries of health and prisoner affairs of failing to assist prisoners struggling with health problems and financial difficulties after their release. She said she tried to set herself on fire to draw attention to the plight of ex-detainees.

Odeh receives a salary from the PA but has had to cover the cost of several surgeries since her release, she said.

She says she was tortured during her nine years in Israeli detention and suffers colon infections, hernias, jaw erosion and spinal problems.

The former prisoner rejected statements made by some Palestinian officials that she was suffering from psychological problems, and considered the claims efforts to discredit her.

She said police in Ramallah mistreated her after her attempt to self-immolate.

Six of Odeh’s brothers have spent time in Israeli jails, and one brother was killed by Israeli forces. Another brother is disabled after he was injured by Israeli soldiers.

Israeli forces arrested Odeh’s mother in August, and she is now subject to movement restrictions by the Israeli military.

September 21, 2012 Posted by | Subjugation - Torture, Timeless or most popular | , , , | Comments Off on Ex-prisoner explains self-immolation attempt

Is the Afghan Surge Really Over?

By Peter Hart – FAIR – 09/21/2012

Misleading media reports today are announcing the end of the U.S.  troop surge in Afghanistan.

USA Today:

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

And the Washington Post:

There are many more along the same lines.

It’s important to understand that the troop reductions are only part of the total troop surge that happened under Obama.

As FAIR noted last year (Media Advisory, 6/23/11) there were two major increases in the number of U.S. troops in 2009:

When Obama took office in 2009, the U.S. had about 34,000 troops in Afghanistan. Obama has initiated two major troop increases in Afghanistan: about 20,000 additional troops were announced in February 2009, followed by the December 2009 announcement that an another 33,000 would be deployed as well; other smaller increases have brought the total to 100,000.

The surge that is “ending” today refers to the 33,000 that were sent in December. But the troops that were sent in the earlier Obama surge are still there. As the USA Today article notes, there are still 68,000 U.S. troops in Afghanistan, roughly double the number that were in the country when Obama took office.

These headlines might give the impression that the Afghan War is winding down. Based on the troop levels alone, that would be highly misleading.

September 21, 2012 Posted by | Deception, Illegal Occupation, Progressive Hypocrite | , , , , | Comments Off on Is the Afghan Surge Really Over?

Off the Mark With Femen

“Muslim Women Let’s Get Topless!”

By BINOY KAMPMARK | CounterPunch | September 21, 2012

If you are interested [in registering], it’s not complicated.  You just have to take off your t-shirt. – Eloise, Femen co-ordinator in France, September 19, 2012

The founding of the militant anti-prostitution outfit Femen had, and still does have, a genuine basis of protest.  Exploitative sex-tourism in the Ukraine is something women and men would understandably take a strong stand against, and local resistance has been scanty (no pun intended). Ditto numerous countries where sexual slavery has found itself growing on the coat tails of globalisation and corrupt governments.  But as has been noted by commentators in, for want of a better term “industrialised” countries, rarely does the conversation move beyond the shock photo stunts the group wishes to disseminate.  In other words, the conversation becomes less a matter of revolution than a sense of whether one’s sets of breasts are better than another’s.  When the message of protest gets mired in tactics rather than aims, it’s bound to get lost in the hubbub.

The attempt by Femen to project a more European-broad protest – bare-breasted, of course – has been announced, with the ladies of the group taking their tops off in various European capitals.  So far the group have lacked a “base” to launch their indignation.  Paris has been greeted with the Femen flavour, and the website of Femen France features “Nudité, Lutte and Liberté” in the tricolour scheme, all against a backdrop of taut, curvy flesh.  Products can be purchased as well – the Femen Handbag, the Femen Hoody, and an assortment of shirts such as “F’Kamikaze.”  The latter is surely ironic – a topless women’s outfit that makes money selling tops.  Themes of protest do move in mysterious ways.

Paris is now the base for the first ‘training centre’ which will school feminist recruits on the art of dodging security forces.  In the words of one of the outfit’s more notorious figures, Inna Shevchenko, “We’re opening the first international training centre for feminists… who want to transform themselves into soldiers” (Spiegel Online, Sep 19).  To celebrate the occasion, the protestors marched through a largely Muslim neighbourhood in the 18th arrondissement. “Muslim women, let’s get naked.”

Mindful of her audience, Shevchenko makes sure that the press know her intellectual interests.  She is re-reading August Bebel’s Women Under Socialism (1883).  “Women, in the new society will enjoy total independence; […] she will be placed, in relation to man, in a position of total freedom and equality.”  She has no desire to return to unequal Kiev yet, not after she was filmed chain sawing an Orthodox Cross in the city in support of her sisters in Pussy Riot.

London has been witness to the topless protests taking a stance against Sharia law and the participation of various “bloody” Islamic states in the Olympics.  A hotchpotch medley of rationales were thrown in by Reza Moradi, who did not name any of those offending states in a protest in August.  “The Olympic Committee must not have allowed those governments to be represented in the Olympics.  They are fascists of our time, they treat women like third-class citizens” (Telegraph, Aug 2).

While much of what Moradi is lamenting is relevant, the institutional framework of the Olympics has been historically favourable to “bloody” states, not all of them necessarily Islamic. Oppression, not just of gender, is a spreadable commodity, and there is much of it about.

Femen also made a splash of sorts at the Euro 2012 tournament in Poland and the Ukraine, where they targeted prostitution in host cities.  A notable effort was made by Yana Zhdanova in Lviv to snatch the Euro 2012 championship cup, left tantalizingly on display.  Femen activist Oleksandra Shevchenko offered an explanation for the foiled action.  “We needed to tear down this trophy to show that this phallic symbol does not need to stand on a pedestal, when our country is being turned into a brothel.  UEFA have arranged this with our politicians in order to win back the money that has been put into Euro 2012” (Telegraph, May 24).

Parisian booby marches certainly garner attention, but of a different sort. It doesn’t necessarily consider issues specific to various groups of women in different countries.  Femen risk looking like a noisy university protest group, a tried and tired form of student radicalism that does, at some point, have to find a political agenda.  As Joseph Bamat notes, writing for France 24 (Sep 19), “Most feminists in France do not feel politically persecuted or oppressed, and tend to focus on more specific problems, such as domestic abuse and equal pay for equal work.”  Bamat further speculates that French feminists will retort that “we didn’t have to show our bums to win the right to vote or to abort”.

Sex is a tricky and volatile business, and Femen has taken the slippery line.  The coin of oppression and liberation is often one and the same thing.  Femen might see their Islamic sisters as enslaved, while many of them most certainly will not.  The view is bound to not only be contrary in some circles but dismissed as smutty claptrap, the fantastic yearnings of a pop feminism.

Then, there will be opposition of a different sort.  The counter to the bare breast heroines of Femen come from the French prostitutes’ union STRASS, who have been demanding a legalisation of prostitution for some time.  When a law was being considered in April 2011 to fine and jail sex clients, members of the organisation went apoplectic.  The order of battle has been made, and its bound to be vicious.

Binoy Kampmark was a Commonwealth Scholar at Selwyn College, Cambridge.  He lectures at RMIT University, Melbourne. Email: bkampmark@gmail.com

September 21, 2012 Posted by | Deception, Islamophobia, Timeless or most popular | , , | 1 Comment

West Braces for Clash of Cultures

By Ismail Salami | Dissident Voice |  September 21st, 2012

With the publication of the profane pictures of the holy Prophet of Islam in Charlie Hebdo magazine, the West seems to be consciously moving in a direction where chaos will dominate the international arena and a clash of cultures will inevitably run deeper for an indefinite period of time.

Magazine director Stephane Charbonnier said his staff is “not really fueling the fire,” but rather using its freedom of expression “to comment (on) the news [of the blasphemous film] in a satirical way.”

The French magazine has a history of attacking Islam. On February 9, 2006, it also published some cartoons denigrating the holy Prophet. The Grand Mosque, the Muslim World League and the Union of French Islamic Organizations (UOIF) in France filed a suit saying that the cartoons contained elements of racism. In 2007, executive editor Philippe Val was, however, acquitted by the French court. Surprisingly, François Fillon, the prime minister, and Claude Guéant, the interior minister voiced support for Charlie Hebdo.

According to reports, France is closing its embassies and schools in 20 countries, fearing a violent backlash from protestors over the blasphemous cartoons. French Foreign Minister Laurent Fabius has said, “Is it relevant and intelligent in this environment to add fuel to the fire?”

The publication of the cartoons, which came immediately after the release of the anti-Islam film Innocence of Muslims, has provoked widespread protests in most parts of the Muslim world.

It is painful to say that the French government has not only authorized such an anti-Islam move but it has also rejected a request by Muslims to hold demonstration in front of the Paris Grand Mosque on Saturday. According to the police ban, organizers of a possible demonstration will face six months in jail and a fine of 700 euros ($900). In a similar move, French Interior Minister Manuel Valls ordered a ban on any further demonstrations against the anti-Islam film made in the United States.

“I have issued instructions so that this does not happen again. These protests are forbidden,” Valls said in an interview with France 2 television network.

Protest is a form of freedom of expression which is denied Muslims in France but is given lasciviously free rein in the anti-Islam moves in the country.

There are abortive attempts by western analysts to interpret the two baneful incidents in the light of freedom of expression and thereby explain away the emotional hurt of the Muslim world. However, to an intellectually trained mind, this seems more than just an insult to Islam and the Muslims.

The calculated move of the French magazine in publishing the insulting cartoons immediately after the blasphemous film indicates a united front forming against Islam in the West. On the one hand, the move can be seen as an attempt to help escalate the crisis in the Middle East region and on the other hand to plunge the world into a vortex where a clash of civilizations is imminent.

Should we naively believe that the anti-Islam film which has caused much uproar and intellectual chagrin in the Muslim world is the work of a Coptic Christian Egyptian fraudster, a small-time porn director and a bunch of extremists who harbor deep hatred against Islam? This is a good question and it deserves an answer. Still, the answer seems to be found in the incident which followed the film i.e. the publication of the blasphemous cartoons.

Seen from an analytical point of view, the entire scenario apparently tilts the scale in favor of the Zionists who capitalize on a large-scale fracas between the Muslim countries and the rest of the world. In fact, they are the ones who will catch the bigger fish in these trouble waters.

Amidst this craftily authored plan, Israel has commenced a series of war games in Golan Heights, the biggest the Israeli Defense Force (IDF) has conducted in the six years since the second Lebanon war on Hezbollah in 2006. Military sources say the war game looks like a real war with tens of thousands of soldiers and senior officers, including the artillery and the air force taking part. Israeli officials have announced that the situation in Syria is precariously volatile and that the country is in possession of a huge arsenal of chemical weapons which they fear might fall into the hands of wrong people stockpile if President Bashar Assad is ousted. This is the excuse which they use to justify their military show-off. In point of fact, Israel is readying itself to wage a military encounter in the region by using the anti-Islam scenario.

With the Muslim world in turmoil over the anti-Islam video and cartoons, Israel will be in a position to turn the situation to its own benefit, depict the Islamic world in a negative light with the help of western media and exploit the rift deepening between the Muslims and the West. These facts suggest that there are certain Zionist elements in the West which are fomenting Islamophobia in the world in order to bring about a lethal encounter between the East and the West and serve the interests of Israel in the long run.

September 21, 2012 Posted by | Islamophobia, Timeless or most popular, Wars for Israel | , , , | Comments Off on West Braces for Clash of Cultures

New Quebec premier scraps tuition hike plan

Press TV – September 21, 2012

Newly-elected Quebec Premier Pauline Marois has reversed a planned tuition hike that touched off months of violent protests in Canada’s French-speaking province.

Marois, who started her job on Thursday, delivered on her electoral pledge to reinstate the USD 2,220 tuition.

“The new government is now in place,” she told reporters after the first cabinet meeting. “I intend to act rapidly to offer results to Quebecers, starting today, Day One of our mandate.”

The former premier, Jean Charest, had planned to increase tuition fees in a bid to make up for the country’s budget deficit.

Marois said she will also cancel the Liberals’ controversial anti-protest law, known as Bill 78. The draconian law, whose main objective was to restrict freedom of assembly, criminalizes students’ strike and sets rules for gatherings of more than 50 people, requiring organizers to provide an eight-hour notice of the itinerary and length of the event.

“These two decisions will allow us to return peace to our streets and to reestablish rights and liberties,” Marois was quoted as saying.

The new premier’s move drew applause from student groups.

“It’s a victory for justice and equality,” said Martine Desjardins, president of the FEUQ university student association.

“Together, we have written a chapter in the history of Quebec. Together, we have just proven that we can stand up and reach one of the student movement’s greatest victories,” he added.

Ahead of elections earlier this month, Marois had said that if her party – Parti Quebecois (PQP) – won and was able to form a new Quebec government, she would call for a referendum on the separation of Quebec from Canada.

September 21, 2012 Posted by | Civil Liberties, Economics | , , , , , , , | 1 Comment