EE: Report #6, 09—16 October 2010
Encircling Empire Reports is a selection of essays, blog posts, and news reports covering a given time period. They are intended to be useful for those interested in: ● contemporary and critical political anthropology ● public anthropology ● imperialism and imperial decline ● militarism/militarization ● the political economy of the world system ● hegemony and soft power ● counterinsurgency ● revolution ● rebellion ● resistance ● protest ● activism ● advocacy ● critique.
A shorter EE Report for this week, focusing mostly on public calls for withdrawal, and public opposition to the war in Afghanistan in a series of nations with occupation forces in the country.
Previous issues are listed here.
[Special thanks to Dominique Esser and Lyn DeWald.]
DISSENT IN THE AGE OF OBAMA
Cindy Sheehan’s critical article on Al Jazeera, “Dissent in the age of Obama” details astonishingly violent FBI raids on the private homes of peace activists, that have gone without notice by the corporate media, and without protest from the American so-called “left.” As Sheehan notes:
“I submit that if George Bush were still president, or if this happened under a McCain/Palin regime, there would be tens of thousands of people in the streets to protest. This is one of the reasons an escalation in police state oppression is so much more dangerous under Obama – even now, he gets a free pass from the very same people who should be adamantly opposed to such policies.”
Continue to her article to read more about the extreme powers being amassed in the hands of President Obama as the national security state goes on steroids.
In addition, check the website Peace of the Action.
THE UN EXTENDS ITS OCCUPATION OF HAITI: HAITIANS REBEL
In Resolution 1944, the UN Security Council voted on 14 October 2010 to renew its military occupation of Haiti for another year. The United Nations Stabilization Mission in Haiti (MINUSTAH) comprises 8,940 troops and a police component of up to 4,391 officers. The next day, anti-UN protesters in Haiti blocked the UN military base. Meanwhile, of all the reconstruction funds promised by the U.S., none has arrived.
THE EXPENSIVE TASTE OF FOREIGN OCCUPATION
“An Easter menu I picked up [at] a military base in 2008 offers soldiers Cornish hen, grilled trout and chocolate-covered bunnies. Mark Larson, a military blogger who recently returned from Afghanistan, wrote that ‘Camp Phoenix is known for its large PX and barbecue tent that serves everything from steak to ribs daily on a very nice outdoor patio. And after dinner, soldiers can wash down their meal with a smoothie at Green Beans Coffee.’ None of these come from local markets: they are shipped in on trucks like the ones going up in flames in Pakistan. The volume of supplies has expanded so much that Matthew Nasuti, a former US Air Force captain and blogger, estimates that the average US army division needs in excess of 3,000 tons of supplies per day. (By comparison, a German Panzer division needed between 30-70 tons of supplies per day in 1942; and a North Vietnamese army division needed less than 10 tons of supplies per day in 1968.)”
For more, see Pratap Chatterjee’s “America’s chocolate bunny wars: To maintain morale, the US pampers its troops at exorbitant cost – and a grim toll in the lives of underpaid local workers.”
REVIEW YOUR IMPERIAL HISTORY
Peter Dale Scott and Robert Parry authored an article titled: “Surprise—The Very Dark Side of U.S. History.” Judging from the sanctimonious and ever self-flattering praise for the goodness of their nation that we continue to read from American commentators, it is no surprise that such articles are still needed. In a relatively short space, the authors write about the Indian Wars, the war in the Philippines and Vietnam, support for the Sukarno dictatorship in Indonesia and assistance in the massacre of dissidents there, and on to the Reagan administration and U.S. involvement in counterinsurgency proxy wars in Central America. Given the topics covered, it is far too short, too selective, and with little in the way of explanation. On the other hand, for audiences with limited attention spans, it might be perfect.
You can also download a free copy of Smedley Butler’s famous booklet, War is a Racket.
NATION NOTES: NEWS FROM SOME OF AFGHANISTAN’S OCCUPIERS
Australia: Leave Afghanistan
On the ABC news website, Ben Eltham takes to task the official justifications for continued Australian participation in the war in Afghanistan—see: “Obscuring the truth about the war.” Eltham methodically dismantles each justification, from the alleged threat of terrorism, to the Bali bombings, to the need to aid in reconstruction, to the fictions of progress spread by the Australian Defence Forces and their outstanding restrictions on media freedom. He concludes:
“As everyone knows but few are prepared to openly admit, Australia is not involved in Afghanistan because of the threat of terrorism originating there. Nor are we…involved because of our great love for the Afghan peoples. We are involved because America is. We are there because we believe it is the price of our friendship with the great and powerful United States.”
Tariq Ali has also been visiting Australia, and told audiences that, “Australia Should Leave Afghan War.” At the same time, he condemned Obama for being far worse of a threat to Afghanistan and Pakistan than Bush ever was, in this noteworthy statement:
“So, as far as Pakistan-Afghanistan is concerned, he is worse than Bush in terms of what’s going on and you will recall that event when the Iranians killed the demonstrator Neda on the streets of Teheran and the whole world was weeping in public and a moist eyed president appeared on the lawn of the White House to speak to the press corps, that very same day, a US drone killed 50 people, mainly women and children in Pakistan and it was barely reported outside the country. So, that is what we are confronted with double standards every single day.”
Canada: There Will Be No Victory in Afghanistan
Ex-diplomat says NATO can’t win: “On Thursday, the ninth anniversary of the invasion of Afghanistan, a former Canadian diplomat called on NATO countries to devise plans to leave the war-torn country. ‘It’s been almost 10 fruitless years on the ground,’ said Louis Delvoie, a senior fellow in the Centre for International Relations at Queen’s University who has written extensively on Canadian foreign and security policy and international relations. ‘It’s time to discuss an exit strategy.’ Delvoie, Canada’s high commissioner to Pakistan 1991-94 with diplomatic responsibility for Afghanistan, spoke Thursday at the Robert Sutherland Building on the university’s campus.” Among Delvoie’s other diagnoses:
- There will be no victory in Afghanistan;
- The Taliban will have to be accommodated in a new government;
- A new Afghanistan government should not have Hamid Karzai as its leader; and,
- Any agreement reached in peace talks will likely have a short shelf life.
Italy: Withdrawing from Afghanistan
In 2011, Italy will join Canada and the Netherlands in withdrawing ground forces from Afghanistan. Italian Defence Minister Ignazio La Russa announced that Italian training of Afghan forces will continue, but otherwise troops assigned to active combat duties will be withdrawn. This was also confirmed by Reuters-Italia. In that sense then, it is only a partial withdrawal, compared to what the Netherlands have done, and what Canada is supposed to do.
On 09 October, four Italian soldiers were killed in a blast. Il Giornale, writing in the action-oriented present tense as if the writer had been both a witness and participant in the attacks, produced a dramatic but largely uninformative account, added to this article about one of the soldiers killed who recently posted in Facebook that “it is better to die on one’s feet than living a life on one’s belly” –he did neither: he was blown up sitting in his vehicle. Corriere della Sera carried an account by the Taleban about the attack on the Italian forces, noting that they claimed to have fully destroyed 10 military vehicles that formed part of a convoy in Gulistan, in the province of Farah.
Also from the Italian media, this massive six article write-up in conjunction with Wikileaks by L’Espresso, “Afghanistan, ecco la verità” (“Afghanistan, Here’s the Truth”). In an editorial by Bruno Manfellotto “La pace con le bombe” (“Peace through Bombs”), he demands what has been sorely lacking from both left and right mainstream political parties: transparency and democratic maturity in informing the citizenry of why Italian troops remain in Afghanistan, and what is their mission (sold as a “peace” mission by Italian governments thus far).
UK: Withdraw from Afghanistan
An editorial in The Guardian, “Afghanistan: War without end,” argues that “there is a clear and pressing need to end the monumental folly of prosecuting a war in Afghanistan.”
U.S.: The Public Sees it as Another Vietnam
“The latest poll from CNN and Opinion Research Corporation found only 37% of all Americans favor the war, 52% say the war in Afghanistan has turned into a Vietnam.”
And the surge is working…for the Taleban:
“The insurgency in Afghanistan is gaining strength and new recruits in areas where the Taliban has not previously been prominent, according to a new report from the Afghanistan NGO Safety Office (ANSO) in Kabul. In the third quarter of this year, it says, armed attacks by insurgents were 59 percent higher than in the same period of 2009….insurgents are now operating advanced administrations in the south and east, and field reports suggest that insurgents are attracting non-Pashtun support in the north from elements within the Turkmen, Uzbek and Tajik communities.”
But Before We Go, Let’s Pretend We Support Women’s Rights…
Laura Bush, wife of former President George W. Bush, is an honorary adviser of the U.S.-Afghan Women’s Council. She leads the Women’s Initiative at the Bush Institute in Dallas. In an essay published dutifully by the Washington Post, “Afghanistan must embrace women’s rights,” Laura Bush proclaims:
“Afghanistan’s leaders must defend women’s rights with action and policy, not just lofty rhetoric. True reconciliation cannot be realized by sacrificing the rights of Afghan women. To do so would reverse Afghanistan’s progress and return its people to the perilous circumstances that marked the Taliban’s rule.”
She begins her piece with another run at the engineered propaganda stunt about “Bibi Aisha.” How lucky for her then that the U.S. was able to find this one Aisha. How unlucky for her that her husband teamed up with warlords whose long list of atrocities includes those against women, and whose husband presided over air force bombings of villages that killed scores of women.
WIKILEAKS NEWS AND PRETEXTS FOR WAR
“Stay tuned” as the next big Wikileaks release may be coming in the next couple of days: “Pentagon bracing for release of 400,000 secret Iraq reports.” In addition, the remaining 15,000 Afghan war documents, promised to be released since the end of August, are also due to come out.
Two of the other main stories that attracted attention this week were:
(1) “WikiLeaks says funding has been blocked after government blacklisting” – “Founder Julian Assange hits out at decision by Moneybookers, which collects the whistleblowing website’s donations,” where we read that Moneybookers has clearly been pressed into terminating its business relationship with WL since WL was placed on a blacklist and watchlist by the governments of Australia and the U.S.
(2) An explosive article in the Los Angeles Times, “WikiLeaks and 9/11: What if?,” by Coleen Rowley (who was a special agent/legal counsel at the FBI) and Federal Air Marshal Bogdan Dzakovic (who once co-led the Federal Aviation Administration’s Red Team to probe for vulnerabilities in airport security). If 9/11 was not an “inside job” it certainly does not meant that the events happened with the aid of an inexplicable amount of criminal negligence on the part of knowledgeable U.S. authorities, with the facts formally excluded from the 9/11 Commission report.
But no U.S. government would ever knowingly sacrifice any of its own citizens just to deliberately provoke war. Right? Read this in the Huffington Post: “Gen. Hugh Shelton: Clinton Official Suggested Letting U.S. Plane Be Shot Down To Provoke War With Iraq.”
I was reminded of an earlier search by a U.S. government for a pretext to justify military intervention in Cuba—see this 13 March 1962 memo from the U.S. Joint Chiefs of Staff: “Justification for U.S. military intervention in Cuba.”
And while Mahmoud Ahamdinejad did not say 9/11 was an inside job, former Minnesota Governor and celebrity Jesse Ventura said on 15 October: “I’m suggesting that governments do things to get us into wars…I’m saying 9/11 was to get us into Iraq and get us into Afghanistan.”
PUBLIC ANTHROPOLOGY NOTES
Thanks to the notification from Martijn de Koning (see his blog, CLOSER: Anthropology of Muslims in Europe), we learn about a seminar about to take place in The Netherlands on 05 November 2010, “Anthropology and/in Publicity.” On the blog for the seminar, we are told that “the focus of this meeting will be the dissemination of anthropological knowledge to relevant groups in the societies to which anthropologist belong and the societies where they conduct their research. The participants will reflect on the reasons for the underexposure of anthropological knowledge and explore ways to improve its dissemination and application in society.” The program is available here. Among the participants will be Ulf Hannerz and Thomas Hylland Eriksen.
This weekend I am sad to be missing the 7th Annual Public Anthropology Conference at American University, with this year’s conference titled “Revolutions! Building Emancipatory Politics & Action.” If anyone who participates wishes to write up a report, or share a paper they presented at the conference, we will gladly publish it on ZA.