Encircling Empire: Report #16—War, Hegemony, Ideology, and Resistance


Encircling Empire: Report #16—War, Hegemony, Ideology, and Resistance

Encircling Empire Reports is a selection of essays, blog posts, and news reports covering a given time period, providing links and representative extracts or key passages from each resource, usually focusing on certain countries/continents and/or processes in each report. The focus of the reports ranges from imperialism discussed in broad strokes, to specific facets of imperialism: militarization and militarism; militainment; “humanitarian intervention” and the “responsibility to protect”; regime-change; nation-building; counterinsurgency; state terrorism; the economics of empire; soft power, psychological operations, and strategic information operations; and, the ideologies and moral constructions of contemporary imperialist thought. In keeping with the dualistic theme–the empire that encircles us, and the encircling of empire by resistance and collapse–we also attempt to provide coverage of anti-imperialism, anti-war struggles, and the direct resistance against imperialist intervention, as well as covering the decline of U.S. and European geopolitical hegemony.

(When links expire–and they certainly will in many cases–either use the full title of each item, inside quotation marks, and use that as a search term, or use the expired URL and use http://web.archive.org to do a search in its Wayback Machine.)

This report covers the period from July 23 to September 5, 2012.

This and previous issues have been archived on a dedicated site—please see: ENCIRCLING EMPIRE.

Topics covered in this report:

  • Top recommendations
  • Imperial Morality and Guilt-Evasion
  • Non-Aligned Movement versus Neo-Colonialism
  • Afghanistan: Failure, Withdrawal and Defeat
  • Cuba and Algeria
  • Syria and the Al Qaeda Cell within Western Foreign Policy
  • Zimbabwe: Vigilance as Elections Draw Closer
  • Militainment
  • National Security State
  • Imperial Debt Crisis
  • Economies After Capitalism

Top Recommended Site:

Center for the Study of Interventionism: “The purpose of this Project is to take a critical look at the arguments in favour of interventionism and to analyse the track record of actual interventions. Interventionism can be judicial and military. On this site you will find information about the legal structures which have been created for interventionist purposes, as well as critical analysis of actual military interventions”. Julien Teil, an excellent documentary filmmaker with damning exposes of the fabrication of claims to justify NATO intervention of Libya, and the manipulation of “human rights” discourse, is a Senior Associate behind the project.

Top Recommended Articles:

  1. “Why I had no choice but to spurn Tony Blair: I couldn’t sit with someone who justified the invasion of Iraq with a lie”–Desmond Tutu, The Observer, September 2, 2012

  2. William Hague is wrong… we must own up to our brutal colonial past: We associate the term ‘concentration camps’ with the Nazis. But it started with the British”–Owen Jones, The Independent, September 3, 2012–see the extracts below, and related links offered for more context.

  3. “Washington Puts Its Money on Proxy War The Election Year Outsourcing that No One’s Talking About”–Nick Turse, TomDispatch, August 9, 2012: “With ongoing military operations in Asia, Africa, the Middle East and Latin America, the Obama administration has embraced a six-point program for light-footprint warfare relying heavily on special operations forces, drones, spies, civilian partners, cyber warfare, and proxy fighters. Of all the facets of this new way of war, the training and employment of proxies has generally been the least noticed, even though reliance on foreign forces is considered one of its prime selling points….”

  4. “Gadhafi gone, but another monster hatched”–Scott Taylor, The Chronicle Herald , September 4, 2012

Imperial Morality and Guilt-Evasion

“William Hague: I came back to be the Foreign Secretary… that’s what I’m doing”–Sarah Sands and Joe Murphy, The Evening Standard, August 31, 2012:

He sounds a little lofty about domestic politics, preferring to dwell on Britain’s powerful new role in the world. Under his tenure, new embassies are opening across Africa, China, India and Latin America.

“This is part of the expansion of British presence in the world,” he says. Will this be viewed in places such as Africa as a form of colonialism?

“Some of an older generation will think of Britain in colonial terms,” he muses. “But that is a small minority of the population there. This is a new and equal partnership. It’s a world where networks defeat hierarchies and where the world is not in blocks. It is the networked world and Britain is a natural centre….

The Foreign Secretary, 51, believes that the Olympics should be the launchpad for Britain’s global expansion and should also mark the end of our post-empire apologetic relations.

“I think we should just relax. It’s a long time ago, the retreat from empire. You know the Winds of Change speech (in which Harold Macmillan acknowledged the yearning for independence in the colonies) was in 1960 before I was born and I’m the Foreign Secretary. It’s a different generation. Britain is seen in a different light.

“We have to get out of this post-colonial guilt. Be confident in ourselves. The lessons we should take from the admitted need for austerity, saving money, is that we actually need to be more ambitious, not less.”

“William Hague says UK must shed ‘guilt’ over empire”BBC News, August 31, 2012

William Hague is wrong… we must own up to our brutal colonial past: We associate the term ‘concentration camps’ with the Nazis. But it started with the British”–Owen Jones, The Independent, September 3, 2012:

Remember all that national soul-searching and self-flagellation over Empire and all the horrors committed in its name? No, me neither. But this is the fictional Britain that has been conjured up by our Foreign Secretary, William Hague. “We have to get out of this post-colonial guilt,” he declared in Friday’s Evening Standard. “Be confident in ourselves.”

Here is an echo of Gordon Brown’s assertion in 2005 that “the days of Britain having to apologise for its colonial history are over”. It was a straw man argument, because there has never been an apology for British imperialism. The British Empire has been virtually erased by collective amnesia; like an embarrassing, sordid secret that should never be mentioned in polite company. A foreign country such as Turkey can rightly be berated for failing to come to terms with an atrocity like the Armenian genocide, but the darkest moments of our own history are intentionally forgotten….

None of this is to single out Britain: a conspiracy of silence remains over European colonialism as a whole. Most have never heard of Belgium’s King Leopold II, but he should be regarded as a tyrant up there with Hitler and Stalin. Under his tyrannical rule over the modern-day Democratic Republic of Congo, about 10 million people – or half the population – died horrible deaths. Millions were forced to collect sap from rubber plants; those that missed their quotas had their hands chopped off. It is difficult to know where to start with other European horrors, like the forgotten German genocide against the Herero and Nama people in South-West Africa in the early 1900s, or the post-war French slaughter of hundreds of thousands in Indochina and Algeria.

European moral superiority is often asserted, despite the fact that the greatest atrocities in human history – colonialism, two catastrophic wars, Nazism, the Holocaust – were all committed by Europeans, and within living memory. But it is all too tempting to airbrush the colonial era from history. As Hague says, “it’s a long time ago, the retreat from empire.”

Yet it is all too easy for an aggressor to say “let bygones be bygones”. Hundreds of millions still suffer from the consequences of colonialism….

We could learn from our colonial past, too. The siren voices of armchair bombers, loudly demanding intervention in foreign lands, would be far less appealing if we were aware of past horrors. In the 19th century, Britain was bogged down in an unwinnable war in Afghanistan; and so history repeats itself.

Both William Hague and Gordon Brown would have us believe that we have tortured ourselves enough over Empire, and that it is time to move on. But a national debate over this largely ignored – and crucial – part of our history has not even begun. It is desperately overdue.

“Why I had no choice but to spurn Tony Blair: I couldn’t sit with someone who justified the invasion of Iraq with a lie”–Desmond Tutu, The Observer, September 2, 2012:

The immorality of the United States and Great Britain’s decision to invade Iraq in 2003, premised on the lie that Iraq possessed weapons of mass destruction, has destabilised and polarised the world to a greater extent than any other conflict in history….

On what grounds do we decide that Robert Mugabe should go the International Criminal Court, Tony Blair should join the international speakers’ circuit, bin Laden should be assassinated, but Iraq should be invaded, not because it possesses weapons of mass destruction, as Mr Bush’s chief supporter, Mr Blair, confessed last week, but in order to get rid of Saddam Hussein?

The cost of the decision to rid Iraq of its by-all-accounts despotic and murderous leader has been staggering, beginning in Iraq itself. Last year, an average of 6.5 people died there each day in suicide attacks and vehicle bombs, according to the Iraqi Body Count project . More than 110,000 Iraqis have died in the conflict since 2003 and millions have been displaced. By the end of last year, nearly 4,500 American soldiers had been killed and more than 32,000 wounded.

On these grounds alone, in a consistent world, those responsible for this suffering and loss of life should be treading the same path as some of their African and Asian peers who have been made to answer for their actions in the Hague.

“British Ex-PM Blair Rejects Tutu’s Charge On Iraq War”–VOA News, September 02, 2012: “Mr. Blair issued a stern response Sunday, saying that the argument is not new and has been proven wrong. He also criticized Archbishop Tutu for saying that it was wrong to remove then Iraqi leader Saddam Hussein despite his massacre of thousands of Iraqi citizens. But the former British leader added that he had great respect for the archbishop’s work. Tutu, a Nobel Peace prize laureate and retired Anglican bishop, argued that Western leaders are held to a different standard than their African counterparts. He said the death toll during and after the Iraq conflict is sufficient for Mr. Blair and Mr. Bush to face trial in an international court. He said he had decided not to attend a recent South African leadership conference because he would be uncomfortable to appear at a ‘leadership’ summit together with Mr. Blair. Tutu was a leading activist campaigning to end apartheid in South Africa, and later chaired a panel that oversaw reconciliation efforts after the end of white minority rule”.

Non-Aligned Movement versus Neo-Colonialism

“Venezuela Advocates Breaking with ‘Neo-Colonial Systems’ at Non-Aligned Summit, Designated 2015 Host”–Ewan Robertson, Venezuela Analysis, August 31, 2012:

He [Venezuela’s Foreign Minister, Nicolás Maduro] described Venezuela’s proposal to the summit as “the construction of a multipolar and multi-centric world, for which it’s necessary to unite forces and break political ties that have trapped us in neo-colonial systems for years”.

On the UN, Maduro proposed that power rest with the General Assembly in a “multi-polar structure” and that all nations participate in the election of the General Secretary.

Venezuelan delegates to the conference argued that the Latin America and Caribbean region is an example of the construction of a multi-polar world, a term referring to the shift away from a unipolar world order dominated by the United States.

“The Latin American experience of integration, with the creation of the CELAC (Community of Latin American and Caribbean States), the Unasur (Union of South American Nations) and the ALBA (Bolivarian Alliance for the People of Our Americas), where respect for diversity plays a fundamental role, can be taken advantage of by the NAM, to use diversity…and to play an active role at the international level,” said Venezuelan vice foreign minister for Asia, the Middle East, and Oceania, David Velasquez, during the summit.

In his contribution, Maduro also attacked US “aggression” in Latin America, and condemned the on-going US economic blockade of Cuba. He also spoke in favour of full Puerto Rican independence and supported Argentina’s claim to the British-held Malvinas / Falkland Islands.

Afghanistan: Failure, Withdrawal and Defeat

Afghanistan: a ragged retreat threatens to turn into a slow-motion rout: “The latest killings in Afghanistan are a stark reminder to western leaders of the folly of ignoring the situation in the country”–Simon Tisdall, The Guardian, August 27, 2012: “Barack Obama and David Cameron have set a departure date for Nato forces of 2014. But the deteriorating security situation, the rank unreliability or underperformance of large sections of the Afghan army and police, and the fearful persistence of the Afghan and Pakistani Taliban may yet force their hand, turning ragged retreat into slow-motion rout. Western leaders would prefer to ignore Afghanistan. It hardly features in the US presidential contest between Obama and Mitt Romney. In Britain, news of each soldier’s death is received with muted official regret. President Hollande of France has already washed his hands of the affair. The war has become an embarrassment, a hangover from the Bush-Blair days. More pressing issues, closer to home, now dominate”.

“Why isn’t anyone talking about Afghanistan?”–Stephen M. Walt, Foreign Policy,August 14, 2012:

Remember the war in Afghanistan? You know: It was the “good war,” fought in response to Al Qaeda’s attack on 9/11 and the Taliban’s refusal to turn them in, and subsequently justified by 1) the need to prevent future terrorist “safe havens,” 2) the desire to liberate Afghan women, 3) the imperative to bring democracy and modern governance to an underdeveloped tribal society, and 4) as always, the need to preserve American “credibility”….

…this whole sad episode should really be seen as a colossal failure of the American national security establishment. The futility of the Afghan campaign was apparent years ago, and we’ve heard plenty of testimony from returning soldiers, diplomats, and aid workers that the ISAF effort wasn’t likely to work. Even those who continued to defend the effort usually had to admit that success was going to require a decade or more of additional commitment and hundreds of billions of dollars in additional aid. Yet our national security apparatus couldn’t reach the conclusion to withdraw without first escalating the war, and without wasting more soldiers’ lives and a few hundred billion more dollars….

…it’s even harder [to end costly wars] when the culture of the national security establishment rewards hawkish postures, and tends to view anyone who counsels moderation or prudence as some sort of weak-willed idealist. Nothing does more than hard-headed and realistic assessments of the costs and benefits of alternative course of action, even when the writing was on the wall a long time ago.

“Top 10 reasons why wars [of choice[ last too long”–Stephen M. Walt, Foreign Policy, September 1, 2010:

  1. Political leaders get trapped by their own beliefs.
  2. Information in war is often ambiguous.
  3. The “sunk cost fallacy.”
  4. Political leaders have little incentive to admit mistakes and reverse course.
  5. The people who got you into the war aren’t the ones who can get you out.
  6. Great powers can always fight on.
  7. The military hates losing.
  8. The people at the top may not know how bad things really are.
  9. Exaggerated concern for “credibility.”
  10. National pride.

“Have Obama and Romney Forgotten Afghanistan?”–Dexter Filkins, The New Yorker, August 13, 2012: “How’s this for a conspiracy of silence? With less than three months to go until Election Day, President Barack Obama and Mitt Romney have successfully avoided saying almost anything about America’s war in Afghanistan. Remember that war? You will at some point, however little the two candidates talk about it. You can make your own guesses about why the candidates have said so little about Afghanistan—their positions are virtually identical, the economy is more important, etc. My own guess: neither of them knows what to do about the place. In a mere twenty-eight months, the United States is scheduled to stop fighting, and every day brings new evidence that the Afghan state that is supposed to take over is a failing, decrepit enterprise”.

Cuba and Algeria

“We feel the 50th anniversary of the Algerian people’s independence as our own”–Giraldo Mazola, Granma, June 12, 2012:

In 1960, we received a delegation from the Provisional Government of the Republic of Algeria (GPRA) and, two months after the Bay of Pigs victory, on June 27, 1961, we were the only country in the Western Hemisphere to recognize the GPRA, prompting reprisals from the French government, which lent itself to the increasing hostility of U.S. imperialism.

But the solidarity of Cubans with the Algerian people went much further and was, in fact, the beginning of the altruistic aid given to many Third World nations, with the dispatch of doctors, construction workers and teachers in the civil context, and military support in the Congo, Angola, Guinea Bissau, Syria and Ethiopia.

In October of 1961, Jorge Ricardo Masetti, an Argentine who founded the Prensa Latina agency and later died initiating a guerrilla movement in northern Argentina, was sent to contact the National Liberation Front and confirm our disposition to help them. At that time the FLN needed weapons. That same year the Cuban vessel Bahía de Nipe set sail with a sizeable consignment of arms and munitions and, in January of 1962, arrived in Casablanca, Morocco, headed for the FLN camp in the vicinity of Quida, close to the Algerian border. On its return to Cuba, the vessel transported 78 seriously wounded guerrillas to receive medical attention on the island, as well as 20 children from the refugee camps, most of them orphans, to be cared for and educated, a task assumed by the Cuban Institute of Friendship with the Peoples (ICAP).

With independence won, Ben Bella visited Cuba after Algeria was accepted into the United Nations in his presence. He arrived just before the October Missile Crisis and expressed his enduring solidarity with the Cuban Revolution.

One cannot relate the ties between our peoples without mentioning the active presence of Che in Algeria and his contribution to strengthening these indissoluble links forged in the common struggle against imperialism, colonialism and neocolonialism. This is attested to by President Ben Bella himself, who wrote of Comandante Che Guevara at the end of the 90’s, “Yes, only Revolution can sometimes make a man a luminous being.”

Not long after this visit, on May 24, 1963, the first Cuban internationalist medical mission of 45 men and 10 women arrived in Algeria, given the situation that the majority of the few doctors there were French and left when independence was won….

During the summer of 1963, taking advantage of the fact that the Algerian guerrilla columns had not as yet become a modern regular army, Morocco attempted to change the border with Algeria, in order to control the rich iron ore mines in Gara Yebilet, land it had never claimed during the French occupation. This led to what is known as the Desert War. In military terms, Morocco was superior to Algeria, given that its army was better equipped and trained. The Algerian government of Ben Bella asked Cuba for help and immediately, in October of 1963, in the midst of the devastation caused by Hurricane Flora, 686 combatants, under the command of Comandante Efigenio Ameijeiras, embarked in a turbulent sea to provide military solidarity.

The presence of internationalists who had fought victoriously at the Bay of Pigs and the steadfastness of our combatants in the October Crisis was a factor in the Moroccan authorities’ decision to sign a ceasefire and recognize the existing border.

Syria and the Al Qaeda Cell within Western Foreign Policy

“Gadhafi gone, but another monster hatched”–Scott Taylor, The Chronicle Herald, September 4, 2012:

In the early stages of the fighting, Assad claimed that a large proportion of the rebels were in fact foreign fighters — Islamic fundamentalists from Iraq and Libya. This of course did not fit the mould for the Western propaganda machine.

But even the most casual observer of international conflict would recognize that Canada has just spent more than a decade combating Islamic fundamentalists in Afghanistan and that this would in some way create some empathy for Assad’s beleaguered security forces.

Thus Assad’s claims had to be denounced as the delusional ravings of a hated dictator who cannot bring himself to believe that his own people have taken up arms against him.

Over the ensuing months, the portrayal of Assad as a demon has become so complete that even the reality of foreign Islamic fundamentalist in Syria is being hailed as positive.

Late last week, it was reported that Syrian rebels had attacked and seized at least a portion of the military airbase as Taftanaz. Footage released by the Free Syrian Army showed the downing of a fighter jet and an airfield ablaze with the wreckage of at least five Syrian air force helicopters.

This successful strike was carried out by the Liwa’ al-Ummah Brigade, which is comprised of Libyan volunteers and is openly affiliated with al-Qaida.

The British media hailed this attack as another major blow against Assad.

The unasked questions are, of course: what is an entire Libyan brigade doing in Syria? How exactly did they manage to transport themselves and their weaponry into an area supposedly subject to an embargo? And most importantly, what happens to these heavily armed mujahedeen when Assad is eventually toppled?

Mainstream Propaganda Watch: “Syria says no dialogue before it crushes rebels”–Bassem Mroue, Associated Press, September 3, 2012: First, note the peculiarity of the terminology and where emphasis and blame are placed: “The Syrian regime said Monday there will be no dialogue with the opposition before the army crushes the rebels, the latest sign that President Bashar Assad is determined to solve the crisis on the battlefield even if many more of his people have to pay with their lives. The statement comes a day after activists reported that August was the bloodiest month since the uprising began in March 2011. ‘There will be no dialogue with the opposition prior to the Syrian army’s imposition of security and stability in all parts of the country,’ Information Minister Omran al-Zoebi told reporters at a news conference in Damascus”.

Rather than commenting on how this statement was an overdue recognition of reality, that negotiations and peace talks were now impossible, the reporter places blame first on the government, claiming that its decision will mean more of “their own people” will be killed, in the phraseology typical of regime change proponents and assorted “humanitarian interventionists”. Only later does the reporter add: “The opposition has long rejected any talks with the regime until Assad is removed from power”.

In that case, the report could just as easily have started like this, and with greater reason:

The opposition to the Syrian government, which has long rejected any talks until Assad is removed from power, is determined to continue with its military actions even if many of their own people have to pay with their lives.

Free to endorse Al Qaeda, openly–as the U.S. and its partners collaborate for the fourth time with either Al Qaeda or the jihadists who formed or participated in the network (Afghanistan 1980s, Bosnia/Kosovo 1990s, Libya 2011)…as for Al Qaeda, which has never attacked an Israeli target, its primary aim seems to be secular regimes that have espoused some form of socialism:

“Al-Qaeda’s Specter in Syria”–Ed Husain, Council on Foreign Relations, August 6, 2012:

The Syrian rebels would be immeasurably weaker today without al-Qaeda in their ranks. By and large, Free Syrian Army (FSA) battalions are tired, divided, chaotic, and ineffective. Feeling abandoned by the West, rebel forces are increasingly demoralized as they square off with the Assad regime’s superior weaponry and professional army. Al-Qaeda fighters, however, may help improve morale. The influx of jihadis brings discipline, religious fervor, battle experience from Iraq, funding from Sunni sympathizers in the Gulf, and most importantly, deadly results. In short, the FSA needs al-Qaeda now.

How Obama threatens a new war if reelected: Reintroducing the WMD pretext for military intervention:

“Obama warns Syria chemical weapons use may spark US action”BBC News, August 21, 2012:

US President Barack Obama has said the use of chemical weapons by Syria would be a “red line” that would change his thinking on intervention in the crisis. He said he had “at this point not ordered military engagement”. But he added: “There would be enormous consequences if we start seeing movement on the chemical weapons front or the use of chemical weapons.”…He said: “It doesn’t just include Syria. It would concern allies in the region, including Israel, and it would concern us.”…He said: “A red line for us is [if] we see a whole bunch of chemical weapons moving around, or being utilised. That would change my calculus.”

“Worries intensify over Syrian chemical weapons”–Joby Warrick, The Washington Post, September 6, 2012:

Western spy agencies suspect Syria’s government has several hundred tons of chemical weapons and precursor components scattered among as many as 20 sites throughout the country, heightening anxieties about the ability to secure the arsenals in the event of a complete breakdown of authority in the war-torn nation, U.S. and Middle Eastern officials say.

Officials are monitoring the storage sites, but they expressed growing fear that they have not identified every location and that some of the deadly weapons could be stolen or used by Syrian troops against civilians.

“France warns of Syrian chemical weapons attack”–Angela Charlton, Associated Press, September 4, 2012:

Western powers are preparing a tough response if Syrian President Bashar Assad’s regime deploys chemical or biological weapons in its civil war, key European officials warned Monday….Hague said the U.S., France and Britain had been clear to Assad that the use of chemical weapons could prompt a dramatic change in their handling of Syria’s civil war. President Barack Obama has called the issue a “red line” for the U.S. “We have not ruled out any options as this crisis deepens,” Hague told lawmakers. Britain’s Prime Minister David Cameron has said the U.K. had no plans to intervene militarily in Syria, but that the use of chemical weapons would lead him to “revisit” that approach.

Zimbabwe: Vigilance as Elections Draw Closer

“Storm over Tsvangirai’s US trip”–Tendai Mugabe, The Zimbabwe Herald, September 5, 2012: Prime Minister Morgan Tsvangirai, leader of one fraction of the opposition “Movement for Democratic Change” (MDC-T), traveled to the U.S. to attend the Democratic National Convention, when “the Principals” (the key political leaders in Zimbabwe) were instead meeting to discuss proposed amendments to the draft constitution which was to be drafter prior to the coming national elections. Tsvangirai’s attitude is since there is draft, there is nothing to discuss. However, there are other sides to the his U.S. trip:

Presidential spokesperson Mr George Charamba said it was clear the MDC-T leader favoured foreign interests ahead of national issues.“It is clear where the priority of the MDC-T president lies. He values his spectator status in front of the mini drama of the Democratic Party than he does issues to do with the future of his country

“His interest is always outward, it is never inward. There is also a compelling reason for him to do so. He is going to assure the Americans after the Freedom House survey, which projected him as a bad political investment for the Americans,” he said.Mr Charamba said it was baseless for MDC-T spokesperson Mr Mwonzora to compare President Mugabe’s participation at the recent Non Aligned Movement Summit in Iran where 120 world leaders attended to Mr Tsvangirai’s attendance at a function of an American political party.

Zanu-PF secretary for administration, Cde Didymus Mutasa, said Mr Tsvangirai confirmed the widely-perceived view that he was a loyal servant of the West.“This confirms what we have always been saying that his (Mr Tsvangirai) interests are not here. He is a servant of those countries that used him and this is where my uncle Morgan Tsvangirai has gone to.

“Zimbabwe: MDC-T to Lose Forthcoming Polls – UK Group”AllAfrica.com, September 4, 2012:

A UK-based pro-MDC-T group, Zimbabwe Vigil, says the Morgan Tsvangirai-led party is likely to lose the forthcoming harmonised elections because of rampant corruption within its top leadership among other issues….

Zimbabwe Virgil’s damning assessment of MDC-T’s electoral chances comes hard on the heels of two unflattering surveys by the US-based group, Freedom House, and Afrobarometer that said President Mugabe and Zanu-PF would win polls ahead of Mr Tsvangirai and the MDC-T.

The Freedom House survey showed that support for MDC-T had fallen from 38 percent in 2010 to 20 percent this year while support for Zanu-PF grew to 31 percent from 17 percent, over the same period.

The survey also found that President Mugabe would command the support of 31 percent of voters in a presidential election, compared to 19 percent for Mr Tsvangirai.

The survey said Zanu-PF had clear programmes such as the land reform and other empowerment programmes to sell to the electorate while the “Change” mantra pushed by MDC-T had lost steam….

The Zimbabwe Vigil is one of a number of the so-called pro-democracy and Western funded groups in the Diaspora that have in the past made unsubstantiated claims against the Zimbabwe Government and its officials especially from Zanu PF as part of the wider regime change agenda.

They have conducted demonstrations at the Zimbabwe Embassy in the UK since 2002.

“Zimbabwe: Zanu-PF Popularity Surges: Poll”–Farirai Machivenyika and Zvamaida Murwira, AllAfrica, August 23, 2012:

ZANU-PF’S popularity among Zimbabweans is increasing while that of its main rival, MDC-T, is plummeting, a survey commissioned by Freedom House, a US-based non-governmental organisation reveals.

The survey results are contained in a report titled “Change and ‘New’ Politics in Zimbabwe” commissioned by Freedom House….

“In terms of the declared survey-based support, it appears the MDC-T has been suffering, falling from 38 percent to 20 percent in the parliamentary vote from 2010 to 2012, in a period of approximately 18 months between the 2010 and 2012 Freedom House surveys.

“In contrast, the survey data points to Zanu-PF having experienced a growth in popular support, moving from 17 percent to 31 percent in the same period,” reads part of the report….

Zanu-PF spokesperson Cde Rugare Gumbo said the survey was a reflection of how the revolutionary party had served the people.

“The survey demonstrates the credibility of Zanu-PF policies, principles and history. We are a party oriented towards people. People are now beginning to realise that the MDC-T has no agenda,” said Cde Gumbo.

“It’s externally funded and its interest is to please its master. People are beginning to see this for themselves.”

“Zimbabwe: What’s Behind the MDC-T’s Fall in Popularity?”–Andrew Mambondiyani, AllAfrica.com, August 31, 2012:

Political analyst Tendai Mudzunge, on the other hand, suggests that it was joining ZANU-PF in government that compromised the MDC-T in the eyes of the people.

“MDC-T’s popularity was centred on failure by the ZANU-PF government, but now that the party is in government they can no longer blame ZANU-PF for government failure”, he says. “The party thrived on being an opposition party. ZANU-PF has dragged MDC-T in the mud and all parties are now dirty. Zimbabweans were expecting MDC-T to perform miracles in government, but now that no miracle has been performed the electorate is losing faith in the party.”

Offering another perspective, independent economic consultant John Limani, suggests that ZANU-PF populist economic policies – such as the campaign to force foreign-owned companies to surrender majority shareholdings through community share trusts – are the reason behind ZANU-PF’s resurgent popularity. “MDC-T seems to be against the economic indigenisation and empowerment, which to some people might look like the party is against black empowerment”, Limani explains. “ZANU-PF has received widespread support from poor Zimbabweans on the economic empowerment drive.”

Militainment: “The Optics Aren’t What They Look Like”

Correspondence and collusion between the New York Times and the CIA: Mark Mazzetti’s emails with the CIA expose the degradation of journalism that has lost the imperative to be a check to power”–Glenn Greenwald, The Guardian, August 29, 2012:

The rightwing transparency group, Judicial Watch, released Tuesday a new batch of documents showing how eagerly the Obama administration shoveled information to Hollywood film-makers about the Bin Laden raid. Obama officials did so to enable the production of a politically beneficial pre-election film about that “heroic” killing, even as administration lawyers insisted to federal courts and media outlets that no disclosure was permissible because the raid was classified.

Thanks to prior disclosures from Judicial Watch of documents it obtained under the Freedom of Information Act, this is old news. That’s what the Obama administration chronically does: it manipulates secrecy powers to prevent accountability in a court of law, while leaking at will about the same programs in order to glorify the president.

But what is news in this disclosure are the newly released emails between Mark Mazzetti, the New York Times’s national security and intelligence reporter, and CIA spokeswoman Marie Harf. The CIA had evidently heard that Maureen Dowd was planning to write a column on the CIA’s role in pumping the film-makers with information about the Bin Laden raid in order to boost Obama’s re-election chances, and was apparently worried about how Dowd’s column would reflect on them. On 5 August 2011 (a Friday night), Harf wrote an email to Mazzetti with the subject line: “Any word??”, suggesting, obviously, that she and Mazzetti had already discussed Dowd’s impending column and she was expecting an update from the NYT reporter.

A mere two minutes after the CIA spokeswoman sent this Friday night inquiry, Mazzetti responded. He promised her that he was “going to see a version before it gets filed”, and assured her that there was likely nothing to worry about:

“My sense is there a very brief mention at bottom of column about CIA ceremony, but that [screenwriter Mark] Boal also got high level access at Pentagon.”

She then replied with this instruction to Mazzetti: “keep me posted”, adding that she “really appreciate[d] it”….

The relationship between the New York Times and the US government is, as usual, anything but adversarial. Indeed, these emails read like the interactions between a PR representative and his client as they plan in anticipation of a possible crisis.

“Why is the New York Times enabling a U.S. government smear campaign against reporters exposing the drone wars?”–John Hanrahan, Nieman Watchdog, May 11, 2012:

The Times let government officials anonymously attack a group of journalists and a lawyer who have uncovered evidence that belies the White House’s claim that drones aren’t killing many civilians. Was their rationale for that justified?

“NYT’s Anonymous Drone Defenders”–Peter Hart, FAIR, May 19, 2012:

It’s worth noting the tone the Times uses when it discusses the debate within Pakistan. Readers are told that over there “public discourse rings with thunderous condemnations of breached sovereignty and civilian casualties.” And the paper also picks up “signs are that the Pakistani debate will be dominated by strident calls for an end to drone strikes.”

You almost get the sense that those who demand that foreigners stop using unmanned planes to assassinate people in their country need to stop being so hysterical about it.

National Security State

“Giving In to the Surveillance State”–Shane Harris, The New York Times, August 22, 2012: Appropriating previous ideas for “Total Information Awareness,” this article touches on a few facets of what the National Security Agency is doing in terms of domestic spying on citizens:

The N.S.A. created what one senior Bush administration official later described as a “mirror” of AT&T’s databases, which allowed ready access to the personal communications moving over much of the country’s telecom infrastructure. The N.S.A. fed its bounty into software that created a dizzying social-network diagram of interconnected points and lines. The agency’s software geeks called it “the BAG,” which stood for “big ass graph.”

Today, this global surveillance system continues to grow. It now collects so much digital detritus — e-mails, calls, text messages, cellphone location data and a catalog of computer viruses — that the N.S.A. is building a 1-million-square-foot facility in the Utah desert to store and process it.

“Secretive Police Unit Sought to Map Terrorist Havens in City, Official Testifies”–Wendy Ruderman, The New York Times, August 21, 2012:

Despite being dispatched to hundreds of places across New York City where would-be terrorists might congregate, an eight-member Police Department unit that eavesdropped on countless conversations has not generated a lead or an investigation in at least six years, a police chief testified in a deposition unsealed Monday.

“I can tell you that information that have come in has not commenced an investigation,” the chief, Thomas P. Galati, said in a deposition taken on June 28. Chief Galati’s testimony, reported on Tuesday by The Associated Press, offers a detailed picture of the secretive unit, part of the Intelligence Division, which includes hundreds of investigators and analysts. Chief Galati, who has led the Intelligence Division since 2006, said the goal of the unit, once called the Demographics Unit but renamed the Zone Assessment Unit, was not primarily to identify would-be terrorists, but rather to map locations that might prove to be havens for terrorists.

“In order to fight terrorism, we needed to know where people lived from countries of concern that could either recruit, hide or secrete themselves in these communities that were radicalized toward violence,” he said in the deposition, taken as part of a civil rights lawsuit that has been going on for decades.

“Criminalizing Dissent”–Chris Hedges, Truthdig, August 13, 2012:

The administration’s added failure to restore habeas corpus, its use of the Espionage Act six times to silence government whistle-blowers, its support of the FISA Amendment Act—which permits warrantless wiretapping, monitoring and eavesdropping on U.S. citizens—and its ordering of the assassination of U.S. citizens under the 2001 Authorization to Use Military Force, or AUMF, is a signal that for all his rhetoric, Obama, like his Republican rivals, is determined to remove every impediment to the unchecked power of the security and surveillance state. I and the six other plaintiffs, who include reporters, professors and activists, will most likely have to continue this fight in an appellate court and perhaps the Supreme Court….

Contrast this crucial debate in a federal court with the empty campaign rhetoric and chatter that saturate the airwaves. The cant of our political theater, the ridiculous obsessions over vice presidential picks or celebrity gossip that dominate the news industry, effectively masks the march toward corporate totalitarianism. The corporate state has convinced the masses, in essence, to clamor for their own enslavement. There is, in reality, no daylight between Mitt Romney and Obama about the inner workings of the corporate state. They each support this section within the NDAA and the widespread extinguishing of civil liberties. They each will continue to funnel hundreds of billions of wasted dollars to defense contractors, intelligence agencies and the military. They each intend to let Wall Street loot the U.S. Treasury with impunity. Neither will lift a finger to help the long-term unemployed and underemployed, those losing their homes to foreclosures or bank repossessions, those filing for bankruptcy because of medical bills or college students burdened by crippling debt. Listen to the anguished cries of partisans on either side of the election divide and you would think this was a battle between the forces of light and the forces of darkness. You would think voting in the rigged political theater of the corporate state actually makes a difference. The charade of junk politics is there not to offer a choice but to divert the crowd while our corporate masters move relentlessly forward, unimpeded by either party, to turn all dissent into a crime.

“Stratfor emails reveal secret, widespread TrapWire surveillance system”RT, August 10, 2012:

Former senior intelligence officials have created a detailed surveillance system more accurate than modern facial recognition technology — and have installed it across the US under the radar of most Americans, according to emails hacked by Anonymous.

Every few seconds, data picked up at surveillance points in major cities and landmarks across the United States are recorded digitally on the spot, then encrypted and instantaneously delivered to a fortified central database center at an undisclosed location to be aggregated with other intelligence. It’s part of a program called TrapWire and it’s the brainchild of the Abraxas, a Northern Virginia company staffed with elite from America’s intelligence community. The employee roster at Arbaxas reads like a who’s who of agents once with the Pentagon, CIA and other government entities according to their public LinkedIn profiles, and the corporation’s ties are assumed to go deeper than even documented.

Debt Crisis and the Imperial Economy

“US national debt hits $16 trillion as Republicans blast Obama’s handling of economy”–Andrew Taylor, The Associated Press, September 5, 2012: “The Treasury Department said Tuesday that the national debt has topped $16 trillion, the result of chronic government deficits that have poured more than $50,000 worth of red ink onto federal ledgers for every man, woman and child in the United States”.

Economies Beyond Capitalist Crises

“Gifting Economies: Modelling alternative economies at the grass roots”–Patrick Jones, Arena, September 2012:

Having driven the industrial revolution full steam from the outset, ignoring Malthusian logic, that country [the UK] now finds itself an economic basket case. Within just 300 years it has overextended and overpopulated its land base to such an extent that it is now dependent on global imports for almost every resource, most notably food, making the mastermind of industrialised countries extremely vulnerable to global economic and climate crises, especially in an era that marks the end of cheap fossil fuels.

My household has been practising what Holmgren calls ‘voluntarily living within a depression economy’ for many years, reducing waste and spending, applying permaculture principles and living a form of creative frugality on less than a taxable income. I therefore find the main premise of Life Without Money―building fair and sustainable economies―not at all wishful in a pejorative sense, but manageable, achievable and critically necessary in preparing for the unavoidable and ensuing crises: economic contraction, climate change, energy descent, greater social division and aggregating ecological ‘overshoot’ and estrangement: in short, the results of hypertechnocivility, or progress-capitalism, peaking.

Despite all the experimentation in the last forty years, permaculture is one of the few movements or concepts to come out of the 1970s that actively works towards creating non-polluting social systems by taking a generalist approach to life contiguous with Indigenous knowledges and patterns of experience.

7 thoughts on “Encircling Empire: Report #16—War, Hegemony, Ideology, and Resistance

  1. John Allison

    Thanks Max. This is immensely helpful. Being a bit behind the curve with the digital media thing, I have wondered how people like you and David Price, etc, keep some kind of handle on what is being babbled “out there”. This Clearance House approach is just the ticket!
    Thanks for what you do.

  2. M. Jamil Hanifi

    Max, we are grateful to you for keeping us abreast of rays of critical and informed discourse in the otherwise dark sea of Western media cheering for the criminal Euro-American imperial stretch without understanding or embracing the increasing pace and intensity of its death pangs and impending death. Stephen Walt’s insightful observations confirm the criminal, aimless, and totally destructive presence of the United States military machine in Afghanistan. Walt and others in his political camp would do their audience a great service if they were (or could be) explicit and upfront about the ideological consortium that fuels the current freaked out policies and behavior of the American warfare state. The central aim of this assemblage of fixed ideas is to promote hostility and tension between the United States and the global, especially Middle Eastern and Central Asian, Islamacate.

  3. Maximilian Forte

    Many thanks Jamil, and even better that you have written on these very topics. Interesting how well predicted were these outcomes in Afghanistan, but the West persists with war nonetheless, and leaders are given blank cheques and open-ended endorsements by the electorate which thinks that it owns the board of a Monopoly game and is entitled to automatic “get out of jail free” cards on every pass. Any dent in the armour of Western supremacy has these people flying off in all directions talking about the coming apocalypse–because anything less than absolute dominance strikes them as a cataclysm of biblical proportions. Anyway, thanks again Jamil.

    Also thank you Karim Ramadan for your messages above. I am always interested in cases where YouTube allows videos depicting violence and atrocities, when they were keen to censor mine which showed no violence whatsoever. In addition, previously Digg, and now Reddit, prevent me from posting links to what we publish here in numerous of their subject lists, including the most relevant ones. While I suppose that means we are doing something right, we now virtually rely on the Internet equivalent of word of mouth to get these items circulated…so thanks again for your visits and interest.

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