Sunday, December 18, 2011
-- Iraq's former Deputy Ambassador to the UN Feisal Istrabadi, discussing Iraq with host Warren Oleny on KCRW's To the Point last Tuesday.
-- Ted Koppel, on Rock Center with Brian Williams.
Another late Sunday.
First up, we thank all who participated this edition which includes Dallas and the following:
The Third Estate Sunday Review's Jim, Dona, Ty, Jess and Ava,
Rebecca of Sex and Politics and Screeds and Attitude,
Betty of Thomas Friedman Is a Great Man,
C.I. of The Common Ills and The Third Estate Sunday Review,
Kat of Kat's Korner (of The Common Ills),
Cedric of Cedric's Big Mix,
Mike of Mikey Likes It!,
Elaine of Like Maria Said Paz),
Ruth of Ruth's Report,
Wally of The Daily Jot,
Trina of Trina's Kitchen,
Marcia of SICKOFITRDLZ,
Stan of Oh Boy It Never Ends,
Isaiah of The World Today Just Nuts,
and Ann of Ann's Mega Dub.
And what did we come up with?
The NewsHour, the CBS Evening News with Scott Pelley, ABC World News with Diane Sawyer, The New York Times, The Washington Post, Morning Joe, Morning Edition, The Diane Rehm Show, Talk of the Nation, Rock Center with Brian Williams and Nightline. That's a lot of ground to cover.
That's what we came up with. See you next week. (Yes, Sunday is Christmas. Yes, we will be publishing.)
-- Jim, Dona, Ty, Jess, Ava and C.I.
For example, CBS News reported today (link is text and video), "After nearly nine years of war, the last U.S. combat troops have crossed the border into Kuwait." And here's the Sydney Morning Herald offering a mash-up of The New York Times' Jack Healy and The Washington Post's Liz Sly with "The last US combat troops left Iraq yesterday, crossing the border into Kuwait just as the country's political process threatened to unravel." Angela K. Brown (AP) insists today, "Several soldiers said they were happy upon hearing the news that the last U.S. combat troops left Iraq at daybreak Sunday." And on and on it went.
But, thing is, they'd already told that lie. In fact, they told it over a year ago.
Adam Gabbatt (Guardian) reported August 19, 2010, "The last American combat troops left Iraq today, seven-and-a-half years after the US-led invasion, and two weeks ahead of President Barack Obama's 31 August deadline for withdrawal from the country." Also August 19, 2010, Aamer Madhani (USA Today) reported, "Muthanna Abdul Ameer al-Kaabi said he awoke to learn that the last of U.S. combat troops had departed. As his family watched the TV coverage Thursday, he said it hardly seemed a momentous occasion." And August 18, 2010, Brian Stelter (New York Times) blogged:
"We are with the last combat troops" in Iraq, the NBC correspondent Richard Engel said at 6:30 p.m. Eastern, the same time that the military lifted an embargo that had been placed on the reporters traveling with the 440 troops, a part of the 4/2 Stryker Brigade.
The Associated Press, Fox News, The Los Angeles Times, The Washington Post, Al Jazeera and other news media outlets also reported Wednesday evening that the last combat troops were crossing into Kuwait.
Withdrawal, like losing one's virginity, can only happen once. Yet the lovely press whores told us in August 2010 that the last US combat troops had left Iraq and they told us today, over a year later, that the last US combat troops had left Iraq.
They can't keep their lies straight.
In 2002, they lied to the people about what was happening and why. Is it all that surprising that in 2011, they'd lie again?
"But The Nation lies now!!!" Of course they do. The Nation a Whore Organ for the Democratic Party. Were Bully Boy Bush still occupying the White House, The Nation would be telling the world -- in story after story, blog post after blog post -- how CIA forces will remain in Iraq, how US Special Ops will remain in Iraq, how a little under 200 US service members will be attached the US 'diplomatic' presence, how US service members will be attached to equipment sales and that will increase their numbers as well, how the White House is still in negotiations for more US troops in Iraq after the start of the year, and so much more.
But "Democrat" Barack is in the oval office now and The Nation doesn't call out their Demmy Dreamboat.
[Above, US President Barack Obama at Fort Bragg last week, announcing he's wearing Michelle's panties to a cheering crowd.]
Can you count on the non-Democrats to tell the truth?
In most cases no. Antiwar.com has surrendered truth telling for attacks on Hillary Clinton. Getting their sexism on became so much more important than telling the truth about the President of the United States, Barack Obama. In fact, they've taken to pimping whore Gareth Porter who has returned to lying for Barack.
Shine us on, of course. What's more important? A bunch of Iraqis whom the media has left faceless and nameless or groovy Barry O?
For most in the media the answer is: Barry O!
They love him. They love him more than truth, they love more than democracy, they love him more than reality, they love him more than their profession.
When it comes to Barack, the Cult of St. Barack delivers much more powerful nocturnal emissions than they do reporting.
The Iraq War has not ended. Not while the State Department has been militarized. Not while General Martin Dempsey, Chair of the Joint-Chiefs, proclaims the US has ten "enduring" bases in Iraq, not while 1700 State Department workers remain, 40,000 US troops are stationed in the surrounding region (and in naval crafts on the water), not while US Special Ops remain in Iraq, not while the CIA remains in Iraq.
But don't worry.
At some point, maybe a year from now, maybe two, maybe five, maybe ten, the press will again be reporting that US forces have left Iraq. And maybe then it will actually be true.
All week long, The NewsHour demonstrated that even supposed freedom from the demands of advertisers and being public television doesn't mean you can provide the truth. Monday, there was Jeffrey Brown declaring, "President Obama and the prime minister of Iraq held a final summit today before the last American troops withdraw from Iraq." And, later, "In fact, the current schedule calls for all US forces to be out of Iraq by the holidays." While Thursday, viewers encountered Judy Woodruff maintaining, "The president today welcomed the end of the war in Iraq, with all U.S. troops due to leave before the month is out."
It wasn't any better on commercial TV. Thursday on the CBS Evening News with Scott Pelley, Jim Axelrod was declaring, "With headquarters now closed, over the next several days the last of the US troops will begin moving towards Kuwait and leaving Iraq. The military doesn't want to say exactly when this will happen, worried about attacks from Iranian-backed militias on the way." Scott Pelley only made it worse, insisting after Axelrod's report, "And that will be by the end of the month when the last 4500 troops will leave." Wednesday Diane Sawyer could be heard gushing, "Tonight, final saulte! The president proclaims the end of the war in Iraq as the last American troops journey home after nearly nine years!" Neither she nor World News Tonight with Diane Sawyer got any better as Martha Radditz quickly grabbing the baton as she went on about "the last American troops preparing to make the final journey out of Iraq."
And then there was the sad little program known as Nightline. The ABC half-hour gave less than 3 minutes to the Iraq War on Wednesday night -- after almost 7 minutes on Mary Kay vendors doing well in a bad economy, over 7 minutes of Katie Couric interviewing and a bunch of commercials, they gave less than three minutes to the Iraq War. 'Well they are a five-day a week show,' we hear some of you say. 'Surely, they did another segment somewhere else during the week.' No, that was it for Nightline and Iraq. They had no more time for it because there were so many important topics to cover. There was time for Janet Jackson and Christmas pudding and Tim Tebow and a grandmother who may have shot her son-in-law and "extreme toddler parties" (Nightline plays like an extreme toddler party itself these days) and, most of all, pondering whether or not salt was the new food war.
With only one segment the entire week on Iraq on this supposed news program and with less than three minutes for the segment, you might think they used the limited time wisely. You would be wrong. Terry Moran started off badly (with the repetative and time consuming: "They are coming home, they are coming home.") and didn't end any better.
Now some of you -- especially news consumers -- may be wondering what's wrong with the above? Shouldn't reporters note when all US troops come home from a war?
Yes, they should. Or, as Terry Moran might word it, "Yes, they should. Yes, they should."
However, that's not what's happening.
Friday, on the second hour of The Diane Rehm Show, reality could be raised very easily as Diane Rehm demonstrated asking,"And David, how many people are we leaving there in Iraq? We're not moving out every soldier?"
And that the point that so many outlets repeatedly and consistently ignored. If you were a news consumer, you were told over and over by the bulk of the TV media that all US troops were departing Iraq. And NPR didn't do much better on their news programs. Steve Inskeep was declaring Monday on Morning Edition, "The last American troops are coming home from Iraq this week." And, even worse, Ari Shapiro's segment allowed Deputy National Security Advisor Ben Rhodes to make the following statement without challenging it, "They requested training and assistance beyond 2011, but we agreed with the Iraqis that the best way to do that was to remove all U.S. troops and have a relationship that's like the relationship we have with many countries around the world, where we sell them military equipment, we show them how to use it. We can do joint exercises, but we'll have no U.S. troops based in the country."
US troops will remain in Iraq. They're not all leaving. Nor did the US 'decide' that removing almost all of the troops was the best thing to do. That 'decision' was the only response to the White House insisting that the Iraqi Parliament grant US troops immunity and the Parliament (at that time) refusing. All Things Considered was just as bad. But on the programs not billed as "news," NPR had a little more success. This was true of Tuesday's Talk of the Town which found Neal Conan addressing Iraq with Ted Koppel.
Koppel wasn't gas bagging. (And for those afraid we've forgotten the gas bags, we're almost up to Mark Shields, don't worry.) He had just returned from Iraq for the reporting he did on Monday's Rock Center with Brian Williams (NBC).
Ted Koppel: If those Iranian backed militias were to launch a full scale attack on this consulate [in Basra], would the US calvary ride to the rescue?
US Ambassador James Jeffrey: We depend upon the Iraqis and if we need security support, we will turn to them and we will tell them, "I've got a problem in Basra and you need to help us.
Ted Koppel: The question is will they?
US Ambassador James Jeffrey: I believe they will.
Ted Koppel: That's what an ambassador has to say about his hosts. This is the man who might actually have to deal with that nightmare, Lt Gen Robert Caslan. General, how are you going to get 1320 people out of there? I mean if you've 24 hours notice that something like this was going to happen, you're telling me the Iraqi government would evacuate immediately? Would get them all out of there?
Lt Gen Robert Caslan: I would argue that we do have, in theater, whether it's in Kuwait or elsewhere in theater, that we fall under the central command, Centcom, and I feel confident that Centcom has the necessary assets to take whatever measures they need to to counter that attack.
While the bulk of the country's press played dumb, Ted Koppel would remind everyone what reporting was.
It was information most would avoid, over and over, day after day, all week.
The print medium was just as bad. An exception was the work done last week by Tim Arango, Jack Healy and Michael S. Schmidt for The New York Times -- especially this report on Nouri al-Maliki. You could have read almost every major US daily last week and been completely unprepared for what took place Saturday if the one paper you missed was The New York Times.
Take, for example, Liz Sly (Washington Post) rushing into print in today's paper insisting Iraq was "unraveling faster than had been anticipated Saturday." And quickly adding, "In recent days, the homes of top Sunni politicians in the fortified Green Zone have been ringed by tanks and armored personnel carriers, and rumors are flying that arrest warrants will be issued for other Sunni leaders." Leaving stunned readers to ponder "recent days" and why the paper had offered one wave of Operation Happy Talk after another when they should have been informing readers that the "tanks and armored personal carreis" had surrounded the homes of "top Sunni politicians" for "days."
So many seemed unwilling or unable to tell the truth. And of course there were those who had never been bound by the truth to begin with. Take MSNBC's Morning Joe on Thursday which was nothing but garbage.
We were hoping Bob Somerby would grab some of it, but he didn't. We can't blame him. Nor can we pretend that we're about to take on everything. But, for example, Jon Meachem, "the Iraq Study Group" was not a group advocating for war with Iraq. It was a group created, after the start of the Iraq War, by the US Congress, tasked with assessing and making recommendations about the Iraq War. (The Iraq Study Group is also the name of the Friday group Mike started in 2005 to discuss the Iraq War. A year later, March 2006, Congress would create their Iraq Study Group.) Meachem, asked about the 90s roots of the Iraq War, begins babbling, "Remember the right-wing was looking for an enemy in the 90s. It was China for awhile. It was ultimately the Iraq Study Group." No, it wasn't. And no one corrected him. Maybe because they were in shock over the outrageous claim by Joe Scarborough that Bill Clinton, Ted Kennedy, Al Gore, Hillary Clinton and Carl Levin were all stating in 2002 "Saddam Hussein? I would invite him to Thanksgiving if he would come!" Hyperbole, maybe. But if you're stating you want to set the record straight, Joe, you stick to the facts and don't resort to hyperbole. Then came Willie Geist's highly offensive sexism (see Thursday's snapshot). In addition, you got this commentary from Willie Geist:
I do hope that one of the lessons, though, is that the country takes the war a little more seriously than it did ten years ago. I remember sitting on the night of March 20, 2003, watching those bombs fall over Baghdad and it looked like a video game. It was a war that was happening on TV and that's actually what it turned out to be. One percent of our country fighting a war that the rest of us watched on TV. It's important to remember that if we commit troops to a war, we commit troops to conflict, people will die. This is not a video game. It's not happening on TV.
Geist hopes the country takes the war a little more seriously? Apparently, the years spent kissing Tucker Carlson's ass altered reality for Willie. The American people did not call for this war, the American people did not send troops to this war. The White House and members of Congress did. No where in the endless crap flowing from Willie's facial anus did he ever address that or note the media's complicity in selling the Iraq War. The problem was not that American citizens turned the war into a video game, it was the media and the media portrayals. Willie is the worst sort of right wing reactionary. He grabs lefty slogans and lefty sounding ones and spins them around to strip them of their actual meaning and blame the people (not the powerful) for a war that they turned out in record numbers to oppose.
As outrageous as Willie's nonsense was, centrist Mark Shields may have been even more outrageous due to his age, his outlet (The NewsHour on Friday) and the fact that he should know a few things after all these years. Yet there he was yammering away:
This was a war that the generals opposed, generals like Brent Scowcroft, and Anthony Zinni, and Joe Hoar, and Norman Schwarzkopf, and Eric Shinseki, people who had seen combat and tasted it. It was a war favored by civilians who had never experienced combat, whether it was Richard Perle, or Paul Wolfowitz, or Don Rumsfeld, or George Bush, or Dick Cheney.
No, Mark Shields, civilians didn't favor this war. Were that the case, they would not have been protesting it in large numbers before it even started. It was not the reluctant generals against the civilians. Nor, for that matter, is that how we determine whether or not to go to war but Mark appears to be insisting it should be: If generals don't want it, don't do it; but if they do want it, go for it.
The generals actually have no say. While we don't buy the lie -- and it is a lie even when it's Debra Sweet repeating it -- that the peace movement ended the Iraq War, we do expect that it is recognized in the discussions of the war.
But why should anyone speak to reality when, from the top, it's all blurred.
Barack gave many speeches on Iraq last week. They were nothing to be proud of.
For example, Monday, at the White House, he delivered a series of remarks to the press including that "more than one million Americans, military and civilian, who have served in Iraq; nearly 4,500 fallen Americans who gave their last full measure of devotion; tens of thousands of wounded warriors, and so many inspiring military families."
Tens of thousands.
You know what, if you're president of the United States, your speech writers can get the actual numbers. If the number of Americans who died serving in Iraq matters, you don't say "nearly 4,500." If it matters, you ask someone to call up the Pentagon and provide you with the number (it was then and right now remains 4487). If you're the president of General Motors and you're going to give a speech on how many trucks you sold this year, you're going to ask for that exact figure.
But if 4487 lives actually mattered, you visit the graves of those who died in the Iraq War at Arlington National Cemetery. You don't, instead, take the prime minister of Iraq with you to visit the grave of the Unknown Soldier.
How insulting to those who served in the Iraq War.
By Wednesday, delivering a speech at Fort Bragg (with his two teleprompters clearly visible), he finally got an estimate on the number injured, "We know too well the heavy cost of this war. More than 1.5 million Americans have served in Iraq - 1.5 million. Over 30,000 Americans have been wounded. And those are only the wounds that show. Nearly 4500 Americans made the ultimate sacrifice." Over 30,000.
The number most reporters noted was 32,000. And credit to Terry Moran of Nightline for noting 4487, one of the few reporters who actually did. But numbers were hard for Barack and, by Saturday when he delivered his national address, he'd be back to "tens of thousands" for the injured, "More than 1.5 million Americans have served there with honor, skill, and bravery. Tens of thousands have been wounded. Military families have sacrificed greatly -- none more so than the families of those nearly 4,500 Americans who made the ultimate sacrifice."
If he truly believed it was "the ultimate sacrfice," he'd make someone at the White House supply him with a number to give.
Back to The Diane Rehm Show's second hour on Friday:
Diane Rehm: 32,000 U.S. troops wounded, more than $800 billion spent. While you say we're getting out of this rather quietly, the president didn't make a huge thing of it, the president's campaign is making a bigger thing of it, Nadia. They've got a website with a very glossy film posted.
Nadia Bilbassy: Of course, because from the beginning, Diane, President Obama described this war as a war of choice, it wasn't out of necessity.
He gave one speech after another on Iraq last week. You can't honestly say he's played it low key. As Mara Liasson (NPR's Morning Edition) explained Tuesday, "The White House has choreographed a series of events to drive home one message: The deployments to Iraq are over. At a press conference with Iraqi Prime Minister Nouri al-Maliki at the White House yesterday, Mr. Obama reminded Americans that when he came into office there were 150,000 U.S. troops in Iraq, and that he had pledged to bring them home."
Liasson actually reported, but so few bothered to. And looking at the junk that passed for news, we wondered why that was until Nadia Bilbassy declared (on the second hour of The Diane Rehm Show Friday):
Well, that was the stated reason by the Bush administration that the regime of Saddam Hussein was dangerous, in the process of acquiring weapons of mass destruction and they will threaten the world and the United States. But looking back again, I don't know if it's worth looking into the pretext of the reason why they went to war or the actual reasons of the conspiracy theory in the Arab world why the United States decided to invade Iraq or this whimsy link with al-Qaida.
When that's the attitude of a journalist, that reflection no longer matters, that people shouldn't look back into the reasons given for doing something just don't matter, you get a very shallow press corps covering the world in a very shallow manner. For all his bluster, Willie Geist never spoke of humanity. Sadly very few bothered to. The Iraq War was a thing and now it's a thing that's ended -- and all the US troops came home! -- to follow the bulk of the press coverage. Having blown their reputations selling the Iraq War, they spent last week treating it as a meaningless event unworthy of exploration or, as Nightline demonstrated, even three minute of your time.
In addition, they had a Friday action. Dallas was in Dallas and eating lunch in the West End. When he and his friends left, they saw the police out in full force in southwestern Dallas.
What was going on?
A friend saw a sign that included the word "Cabal" and they began to suspect it might be Occupy Dallas.
When police finally allowed traffic to move, Dallas and his friends saw the last of the protest (at Dealey Plaza).
[Note: These are Dallas' photos. They were taken with a Digital Video camera on December 15, 2011. At Flickr, where we posted them, Flickr wrongly adds, "This photo was taken on January 1, 2000 using an LG_Electronics GW300." No. December 15, 2011 and with a Digital Video camera. Take it up with Flickr.]
On Fox, Tom's called Allen Gregory (voiced by Jonah Hill) and stars in the animated show of the same name. In animated and real life, Allen-Tom is desperately unpopular, always pursuing women far out of his league, identifying with abusive personalities, practicing sexism and desperate to be seen as a one of the boys. In both animated and real life, he fails.
The show was a failure, we heard right before Thanksgiving, when speaking to a friend with Fox. That was a surprise to us and only more so when episode six (featuring a guest spot by Lisa Kudrow) would go on to set a season high for the show's ratings.
We could understand the issue of Julie upsetting people, we explained, but were surprised there was objection -- We were cut off. People were objecting to the treatment of Jeremy (voiced by Nat Faxon). That was so typical of a world that embraced Tom Hayden.
Jeremy and Richard De Longpre are Allen Gregory De Longpre's parents. Though some sippers in the Water Cooler Set felt they were defending Jeremy, in our research, we saw a lot of people calling Richard (voiced by French Stewart) Allen's father but referring to Jeremy as Richard's partner (see Robert Bianco, USA Today, for that bias).
Both Jeremy and Richard are adults. Richard has known he was gay for some time. Supposedly, Jeremy was married with kids when he met Richard and had no idea he was gay until then. This led to the Water Cooler Set lodging objections that the show was saying that people could be "turned" gay. Heaven forbid they ever have to watch an actual program before objecting to it. In episode three, Allen Gregory presents that notion at a school dance and Principal Judith Gottlieb (voiced by Renee Taylor) will take to the stage to correct him.
Allen Gregory gets many things wrong -- as episode five's exploration of racism and class makes clear. All the episodes establish that Allen Gregory's bad behavior is learned from Richard.
Richard treats Jeremy like crap. Jeremy is highly indulgent of Richard or else enjoys being treated badly. Comments made -- especially about things stretching when Jeremy said they wouldn't -- appear to indicate that Richard is the top and Jeremy is the bottom. That may be too much for the Water Cooler Set to handle. (They're rather vanilla -- which explains all their panting over sex.) If indeed that is correct, then Richard and Jeremy may be carrying over bedroom behavior outside the bedroom. May. We'll never know because the show got the axe.
But we know a great deal more than the Water Cooler Set.
For starters, Richard most likely is not Allen Gregory's biological father. Look at Richard, Jeremy and Allen Gregory. Two of them have blue eyes while Richard has brown eyes. Did no one study biology? Does no one know the difference between dominant and recessive traits? Does no one notice that Allen Gregory and Jeremy have the same chin? Or that Allen Gregory's nose should grow out, in time, to be like Jeremy's but, with that upward turn, can never grow out to be like Richard's nose?
Like Richard, Allen Gregory is horrible to Jeremy. Imagine the episode when the Richard worshipping Allen Gregory learns that Jeremy is his biological father?
Richard comes from a wealthy family and, until recently, Jeremy stayed home with the kids (Allen Gregory was home schooled). Along with supplying the money, Richard throws tantrums to get his way. Not only does he delude himself about their home life, he also deludes himself about his work life and we see Jeremy know that Richard's given busy work as opposed to actual tasks at work (Richard's father started the company Richard works for) but Jeremy goes along with Richard's lie that he's a very, very important businessman. So why is it that the Water Cooler Set never stopped to think that Richard could force Jeremy into telling a story that was false?
It happens throughout the program. For example, episode six starts with Allen Gregory yet again self-embarrassing in front of his class when he interrupts his teacher (voiced by Leslie Mann) to explain that she's wrong and that men can give birth. He will tell the class that Richard gave birth to him. At home, he will recount his day at school and Jeremy will suggest it's time to tell the truth. Richard will bring out a photo album which only further documents how Jeremy goes along with Richard's lies -- they're pretending that Richard's pregnant in one photo, in another, Richard is on a birthing table supposedly having just given birth to Jeremy.
Did the Water Cooler Set not catch that?
They don't catch much. We were informed that the show was being attacked for the mean attacks on Jeremy and we saw that reflected in the reviews.
Whether Jeremy was married or this is just another lie Richard's vanity needs, Jeremy is a grown man. If Richard and Allen Gregory are disrespectful to him, that's not nice but our hearts aren't going to break.
You know who else Richard and Allen Gregory are disrespectful to?
Julie (voiced by Joy Osmanski) is Allen's sister. Supposedly she's adopted, supposedly she's Cambodian. "Supposedly" because Richard's not really a trust worthy source and it wouldn't be at all surprising to us if Richard were Julie's biological father.
But Julie is a child and she's left alone in the home during a family outing ("No one woke me up!" she will explain). She's targeted with racist remarks by Richard while eating dinner. She's dismissed and insulted non-stop.
And no one in the Water Cooler Set found that worth objecting to in any of the 15 reviews we read. Again, when we were on the phone with a Fox suit, that's what we thought the complaints were about. But apparently -- Tom Hayden must be thrilled -- abuse towards young girls is so common that no one bothers to object.
Nor do they object to the way Allen Gregory treats Gina Winthrop (the teacher Mann voices). Among other things, Allen Gregory constantly insults his teacher ("Jean, sweetheart, think we could button up that blouse all the way to the neck? Catching those weird bumps from the saline bags."; "Let's see how this goes and then we'll probably need to have a little chit-chat about you losing what? 75, 80 pounds mostly around your ass and face." ), calls her by her first name and sometimes by a variation on her first name ("JY-nah" or "JYn") that sounds like slang for vagina, interrupts her constantly and undermines her to the superintendent Stuart Rossmyre (voiced by Will Forte). And did we mention that Rossmyre's very glad that he got off (in court) after slipping a date rape drug to Gina Winthrop?
The treatment of women on this show is very, very ugly. Not unlike the way Tom Hayden attacks and demeans women. Think of his slams on Hillary Clinton in 2008 or, during his Rocky Mountain News interview in 2008, his stopping his young, female intern as she walked through the room and ordering her to slowly turn around. He's not a designer, it's not House of Hayden. That young woman could have had him up on charges of sexual harassment. And, of course, sexism is what got Tom kicked out of the Berkeley commune back in the early seventies.
The Water Cooler Set managed to register an objection about women in one way. Over and over, they complained about Joel's attraction to Principal Gottlieb. That attraction made perfect sense. Richard's instilled in him a love for power. Which adult is the most powerful at an elementary school? The principal. But the Water Cooler Set registered their disgust over the attraction often noting Gottlieb's weight (she's overweight) and declaring it unrealistic that a young boy would know about sex.
But Allen Gregory doesn't know about sex. Did they miss episode two? Where he insists he has a sex tape of himself and Gottlieb but it quickly becomes obvious that he doesn't have the first clue about sex (this will also be clear in episode six).
Last week, Tom Hayden was lying furiously in an attempt to make Barack look good. The hero worship there is disgusting not only because Barack is a War Hawk (see the illegal Libyan War) and Tom likes to self-present as a voice of peace but also because Barack first began publicly insulting Tom when he mocked what he termed "Tom Hayden Democrats." Tom's desperate pursuit of Barack is akin to Allen Gregory's forever attempting to become best friends with classmate Joel Zadak (voiced by Jake Johnson). Allen Gregory never looks more pathetic than when chasing after Joel, just as Tom never looks more pathetic than when chasing after Barack.
Had the show stayed on the air and lasted season after season, we could see Richard writing off Allen Gregory over some disappointment and Jeremy getting sick and coming to live with Allen and his spouse. But while Allen made his spouse care for Jeremy, he spent Jeremy's last days busying himself with extra-marital affairs, running for public office on his spouse's money and deciding that he needed to sign up for baseball camp. We could picture Allen Gregory being just that selfish to the only parent that ever loved himbecause, again, it's the animated life of Tom Hayden.
Maybe because our eyes are wide open, we can laugh loudly at Tom Hayden. And possibly that's why we thought that Allen Gregory had many strong points. Yes, the sexism bothered us but is there a Fox animated program not trafficking in sexism currently? Leaving aside the sexism, the show had much going for it. One critic raved over the Warhol look -- again reminding us just how stupid the Water Cooler Set is. While Allen Gregory does have a portrait that looks like a Warhol, the show's animation is nothing like Warhol but could be said to owe a debt to the work of Margaret Keane and its visual was probably the show's strongest point.
At a time when the most coverage of Iraq comes via media in Arabic, Antiwar.com apparently has no one who can translate Arabic reports.
It's just one of the many ways that finds the site in a position of dependency as opposed to strength.
Their failure to send anyone to the November 15th Senate Armed Services Committee hearing on Iraq went a long way towards explaining how their coverage of that hearing was so incredibly wrong. [For our community coverage of the hearing, see the November 15th "Iraq snapshot," November 16th "Iraq snapshot," November 17th "Iraq snapshot," Ava's "Scott Brown questions Panetta and Dempsey (Ava)," Wally's "The costs (Wally)," Kat's "Who wanted what?" and Third's "Gen Dempsey talks '10 enduring' US bases in Iraq." ]
In their hearing coverage, their 'source material' was yet again someone else's reporting.
Which, more and more, means when it comes to Iraq coverage, Antiwar.com is only as good as the media they follow.
This was really driven home when they decided to follow The Daily Mail this weekend and Jason Ditz embarrassed himself proclaiming David Hickman the last "casualty" in the headline (a casualty can be someone injured). But even "fatality," as Ditz termed it in the body of his post, isn't correct. The last? There will be no more? Is that a predicition?
It's not even the latest. November 16th, DoD identified Hickman as a fatality:
The Pentagon immediately updated their count after the identification was made.
So, Jason Ditz, if Hickman was the latest death in the Iraq War, explain the news broken last Sunday in "And the war drags on . . ." and in Monday's "Iraq snapshot" that another US service member had died in the Iraq War.
It did so without media attention or an announcement. Early this fall, when Barack was also spinning the 'success' of the war, the same thing happened only it was three deaths. The media refused to report on that.
Here's the official Pentagon count on December 2nd.
Here's the same count on December 9th.
Note it increased by one. (Barack renamed Operation Iraqi Freedom to Operation New Dawn August 31, 2010.)
That increase is not David Hickman. The Pentagon updated the count for him already. (And, yes, need be, we can also prove that with screen snaps of the official count.)
In this case, Antiwar.com didn't have to speak Arabic or attend a hearing. They just needed to visit the Pentagon's count online on a regular basis and keep track of it.
But even that proved too much for them, too much work.
And that's why their Iraq coverage suffers so, they don't want do any work at all. They are completely and totally dependent upon what someone else reported and unable to originate anything on their own.
Supposedly Antiwar.com wants to build a bridge between right and left, wants to expose both major political parties for what they are and wake up the people to realities.
That's not happening.
And it's not happening for a variety of reasons but the most basic is the numbers.
Here's one: Half the US adult population is female, actually slightly over half.
Though an official Libertarian policy on abortion is weak ass and embarrassing, making them come off like idiots as opposed to brave leaders, it still is a weakly worded statement that it's not the government's business. (See the party's platform, section 1.4.)
Yet despite all the attacks on abortion and reproductive rights in the last three years by the White House and by the Congress, Antiwar.com doesn't express interest.
Some might argue, "It's Antiwar!" Meaning, if it's not war, it doesn't have a place there. Except the Fifth Amendment isn't about war but they're happy to cover that and anything they see as a "war" on the Constitution and they're happy to write about the "war" on drugs and the need for legalization. In fact, they'll weigh in on every issue (including economic models) except issues having to do with women's right to control of their own bodies.
It's part of the rank sexism, the foul smell that wafts from their site.
You can find it in the comments constantly. Most recently, they posted that comments were disappearing and that, if your comment did, please e-mail Angela Keaton. Is there anything in that topic that's sexual? No. But leave it to Pig Boize.
JLS posts, "I would like to see more cleavage from Angela. Thank you."
So there's a serious issue, a matter of comments disappearing, and the place to go is "Show us your tits"? Seriously? Angela Keaton's not a pin up. She's attempting to address serious issues yet is reduced to her breasts by JLS who doesn't appear to grasp that his faceless comment is not unlike a strange man yelling at a woman on the street as she walks by. It is not flattering, it is not wanted and it reduces the discussion as well as those involved.
Sexism also includes Antiwar Radio in which Scott Horton airs both the crazy and the sexism non-stop. Do they really think no one ever notices all the attacks on Hillary, vicious attacks, contrasted with the excuses for Barack? Do they really think nobody gets what a sexist pig Scott Horton? And coward because only a coward holds the Secretary of State responsible for policies that a president sets. Only a coward refuses to call out a president while repeatedly attacking a cabinet secretary. Only a coward obsesses over a cabinet secretary.
Then there's the inclusion issue.
Of interviews currently posted? The last eight were all men? Do they not grasp the message they are sending? You have to go back nine interviews to find a woman. And the next woman? Go back 25 interviews.
They don't even concern themselves with that, they're not even bothered by it. That tells you a great deal and goes a long damn way towards explaining why there has not been a right-left bridge built by them. A little less than every 12th interview will be a woman and the most attacked person on the program will always be a woman (Hillary) and they don't understand why they have so much trouble attracting women to their site?
In the 21st century, they think is behaivor that brings in the donors and behavior worth paying for. Official Antiwar columnists? There are eight. How many are women?
One. Only one. (Kelley B. Vlahos.)
This sends a message and they better wake the hell up and grasp that. Or else accept the fact that they aren't going to grow their base, let alone build a bridge.
We have been -- community wide -- very happy to support Antiwar.com and we'll, no doubt, continue to note a column by Justin Raimondo from time to time. But that's it. They have had months to get their act together and they've refused to do so. More importantly, while a Raimondo might be consistent in his thoughts, Horton's all over the map, calling out a despot one moment and then cheering on the same despot the next -- not to mention far more involved with personal battles that detract from the stated mission of Antiwar.com. (And there is the huge, huge ignorance when it comes to Iraq but that's another feature.)
When Angela Keaton's prescence became a little more than fundraising act, we thought, "Okay, they get it. They see the problem. They're trying to address it." We were wrong. Our mistake, please accept our apology. That especially goes for seven women who have written us in the last weeks (which is why we've not noted the site in the last weeks) noting that they will always be against war but they can't embrace the attacks on women that have become the hallmark of Antiwar.com.
Antiwar.com better start owning their mistake. When women make up over 50% of the population, ignoring their rights, under representing them as guests and columnists and turning prominent women into punching bags (while the men over these women get the kid gloves treatment) makes it very difficult for women (or non-sexists of any gender) to feel welcome at Antiwar.com and greatly limits the reach Anitwar.com could have.
Senator Patty Murray (pictured above) is the Chair of the Senate Veterans Affairs Committee and she's calling for a new outpatient clinic in the state of Washington:
Thursday, December 15, 2011 (202) 224-2834
Chairman Murray Urges VA to Establish New, Full-Time CBOC on North Olympic Peninsula
(Washington, D.C.) -- Senate Veterans' Affairs Committee Chairman Patty Murray has sent a letter to Department of Veterans Affairs (VA) Secretary Eric Shinseki about the critical need to establish a new, full-time Community Based Outpatient Clinic (CBOC) on the North Olympic Peninsula. In her letter, which urges the VA to include funding for a new clinic in the Department's Fiscal Year 2013 budget, Murray cites the growing need for veterans care in the Northern Peninsula region and rising enrollment at the current Port Angeles facility. In addition to sending the letter to Secretary Shinseki, Murray also hand delivered the letter and discussed this issue with Dr. Robert A. Petzel, the VA's top health official, yesterday in a meeting in her office.
"For too long, the needs in the North Olympic Peninsula have outpaced VA's ability to provide veterans in the region with adequate health care services," said Chairman Murray. "While the current lease has been extended until the end of fiscal year 2012, I believe that veterans in the North Olympic Peninsula cannot wait any longer for a new clinic that has sufficient staff, space and hours to meet the needs of veterans living in this rural region of Washington state."
Since its establishment in 2008, the Port Angeles outreach clinic has served more than 14,000 veterans living on the North Olympic Peninsula. As a result of the strong growth in this rural area, the Port Angeles outreach clinic has already exceeded maximum physical capacity and can neither expand services nor accommodate additional personnel. The need for care is expected to grow, with a 20 percent increase in enrollment projected over the next 10 years. Currently, the clinic occupies approximately 1,500 net usable square feet in a building owned by the Olympic Medical Center. A new CBOC would provide primary care and mental health services in a much larger space five days a week.
The full text of Chairman Murray's letter is below:
The Honorable Eric K. Shinseki
Secretary of Veterans Affairs
810 Vermont Avenue, NW
Washington, DC 20420
Dear Secretary Shinseki:
As you continue to work toward our shared goal of increasing veterans' access to VA services and benefits, I write to urge your support for the establishment of a new, full-time Community Based Outpatient Clinic (CBOC) on the North Olympic Peninsula.
Since its establishment in 2008, the Port Angeles outreach clinic has served a critical and growing need for the more than 14,000 veterans living on the North Olympic Peninsula. In FY 2010, the clinic delivered primary care and mental health services to 1,200 veterans (a 6.5 percent increase over FY 2009), and accommodated 4,876 patient visits (a 5 percent increase over FY 2009). As a result of the strong growth in this rural area, the Port Angeles outreach clinic has already exceeded maximum physical capacity and can neither expand services nor accommodate additional personnel. The need for care is expected to grow, with a 20 percent increase in enrollment projected over the next 10 years.
When I wrote to you in August 2010 requesting that the Department examine in earnest a full service CBOC to serve veterans in the North Olympic Peninsula, you let me know that the VA Puget Sound Health Care System (VAPSHCS) was working on a lease expansion proposal to develop a larger outreach clinic when the current lease with Olympic Medical Center expires at the end of fiscal year 2011 and that VAPSHCS will request that the outreach clinic be upgraded to a full-time CBOC "as space, staff and hours of operations are expanded." I believe the time has come for veterans living on the North Olympic Peninsula to have access to the level of care and services afforded by a full-time CBOC.
For too long, the needs in the North Olympic Peninsula have outpaced VA's ability to provide veterans in the region with adequate health care services. While the current lease has been extended until the end of fiscal year 2012, I believe that veterans in the North Olympic Peninsula cannot wait any longer for a new clinic that has sufficient staff, space and hours to meet the needs of veterans living in this rural region of Washington state.
As you finalize the Department's Fiscal Year 2013 budget, I urge you to include in your request sufficient funding to establish a new, full-time CBOC on the North Olympic Peninsula.
I thank you for your enduring commitment to our nation's veterans and look forward to learning of your plans.
Deputy Press Secretary
Office of U.S. Senator Patty Murray
Africa 2011: Year of mass upheaval, imperialist interventionsBy Abayomi Azikiwe
Editor, Pan-African News Wire
December 17 marks the anniversary of a year of uprisings, strikes, government resignations and regime change on the African continent. A resource-rich and strategically located geopolitical region, Africa has experienced numerous mass demonstrations, general strikes, rebellions and full-scale military assaults as part of a heightening global class struggle for control of the continent’s economic and political future.
In the North African state of Tunisia, 26-year-old Mohamed Bouazizi set himself on fire on Dec. 17, 2010, after his vending business was shut down by the authorities in the city of Sidi Bouzid, purportedly because he did not have a license to sell on the street. This act of self-immolation led to mass demonstrations in the Western-backed state that eventually engulfed large sections of the country.
The demonstrations in Tunisia led to the resignation of longtime political leader Zine El Abidine Ben Ali on Jan. 14. President Ben Ali, who had headed the state for 24 years under the Rally for Constitutional Democracy (RCD) ruling party, fled the country and is reported to have taken refuge in Saudi Arabia.
After continuing demonstrations and political debate, an election was held in late October. The majority of the votes went to the moderate Islamic party Ennahda, headed by Rachid Ghannouchi. Ghannouchi had lived in exile for many years and is considered a leading Islamic scholar in the region.
A Dec. 2 deadline has been set for the formation of a new government in Tunisia. The majority of the new ministries will be filled by members of Ennahda and the secular center-left Congress for the Republic and Ettakatol parties. It is anticipated that Ennahda Secretary-General Hamadi Jebali will be the next prime minister.
According to Tunisia-live.net, “The key Ministries, namely those of Interior, Foreign Affairs, and that of Justice, are expected to be taken charge of by members of Ennahda. The moderate Islamic party actually insists that the Prime Minister be chosen among members of the party that disposes of the biggest number of seats — a request that has met vivid opposition among CPR and Ettakatol commissions.” (Nov. 27)
Left parties in Tunisia have participated in the new political situation by emerging as organizations that are allowed to operate openly. Most of the left organizations had been forced underground since the 1980s when the Tunisian Communist Worker’s Party (PCOT) was formed.
At least a dozen other left formations have attempted to organize inside the country, and some of the groups have merged and formed coalitions to strengthen their ranks. The Revolutionary Communist Organization has reorganized itself as the Left Workers League (Ligue de la gauche ouvrière). Two Maoist groups, the Party of the Patriotic Democrats and the Movement of Patriotic Democrats, held a unification conference in April after the fall of Ben Ali.
PCOT is perhaps the most well-known of the left parties in Tunisia. Its leader, Hamma Hammami, spent years in prison under the RCD government. The PCOT won three seats in the new Constituent Assembly.
A center-left formation, the Progressive Democratic Party, led by the only significant woman in Tunisian politics, Maya Jribi, was expected to come in second in the national elections but instead landed in fourth place. Jribi said that the PDP would continue as an opposition party.
Tunisia’s trade union federation, the UGTT, played a significant role in the demonstrations that led to the fall of Ben Ali. However, its role in the future political administration of the country still remains to be seen.
Egypt erupts on eve of national elections
On Nov. 19, thousands of youth entered Cairo’s Tahrir Square to protest the desire of the Supreme Council of the Armed Forces to remain in charge of the political transition process in the North African state of Egypt. Tahrir Square was the center of nationwide demonstrations that began on Jan. 25 and resulted in the resignation of longtime U.S.-backed dictator President Hosni Mubarak.
Since the Mubarak government collapse, revolutionary democratic forces have held consistent demonstrations claiming that the struggle was being subverted by the role of the Supreme Military Council. The character of Egyptian foreign policy in relation to a peace treaty with the state of Israel has also been a major source of anger and frustration among broad sectors of the population.
Elections for parliamentary seats began on Nov. 28 with long lines in the capital of Cairo, where voters complained of delays of up to four hours. The SCAF insisted that the elections go forward despite eight days of mass demonstrations that preceded the elections and resulted in the deaths of more than 40 people.
Most political analysts predict that the Muslim Brotherhood’s Freedom and Justice Party will win the majority of seats in the new parliament. The Brotherhood was split over participation in the recent demonstrations. However, despite the absence of the official parent body, youth members did play a leading role.
The New York Times reported, “At some polling places, teams of Brotherhood members wearing the insignia of the Freedom and Justice Party were on hand to help maintain security, and they could be seen performing services like escorting elderly women to specially designated lines.” (Nov. 28)
According to the Times, although large sections of the population appear to have gravitated to the election process amid mass demonstrations demanding the liquidation of ultimate political control by the SCAF, Field Marshal General Mohamed Hussein Tantawi declared on Nov. 27 that “the position of the armed forces will remain as it is — it will not change in any new constitution.”
Another North African state that experienced mass demonstrations over the last year, Morocco, recently held a nationwide election in which a moderate Islamist Party came out victorious. The Justice and Development Party won 107 seats out of 395. King Mohammed VI must therefore select the next prime minister from the ranks of the PJD.
The Istiqlal Party, a decades-long opponent of the monarchy, finished second with 60 seats. The Socialist Union of Popular Forces, which had formed an alliance with the Party of Progress and Socialism, won 30 seats in the new parliament.
Economic crisis underlies political turmoil in N. Africa
The political developments in North Africa are not taking place in a vacuum. The uprisings are a response to massive unemployment and poverty. In Tunisia and Egypt, unemployment is extremely high, and the neocolonialist relationship of both countries with the imperialist states has failed to provide any benefits for the majority of the population.
In Morocco, the situation is quite similar and will in all likelihood continue in the face of the failure of the left to win a dominant position within the new political arrangement. At the same time, the role of the U.S. military in Egypt and Morocco will continue to be an impediment to the social development of the region.
With the overthrow of the Moammar Gadhafi government in Libya, U.S. Africa Command (Africom) has been emboldened. The stage is set for greater exploitation of the region’s resources. Despite these changes, the situation will remain unstable and volatile.
Recently, the Tunisian government was forced to cancel flights to Libya due to threats posed by the armed “rebel” groups, which were sponsored by the U.S. and NATO to topple the government in Tripoli. The capture and killing of Gadhafi and four of his sons will ensure the continuation of conflict inside of Libya, which has Africa’s largest known oil reserves.
Even the Wall Street Journal admitted, in relationship to Egypt, that “the turbulent protests that ousted President Hosni Mubarak scared off tourists and foreign investors alike. And the new military leadership, which reversed many of the economic liberalization gains in favor of populist policies intended to boost social stability, did little to instill new confidence.” (Nov. 28)
The worsening of the economic crisis in numerous European countries and the U.S. will continue to send shock waves into North Africa and the Middle East. Only the popular organization of the masses of workers, youth and farmers and the formation of governments that serve their interests can provide the possibility of an economic reversal and foster genuine security, stability and development.
U.S. & French imperialism on the continent
Washington and its NATO allies have intensified their military operations on the African continent. Nevertheless, the unequal distribution of wealth and economic power between the imperialist states and the oppressed postcolonial nations has continued to spark mass demonstrations and rebellions in various geopolitical regions on the continent.
The war against Libya represented the first major operation of Africom, which was formed in 2008. The people of this oil-producing North African state put up formidable resistance to this intervention. It took six months for the war to drive the Libyan government from the capital of Tripoli and another two months to take the Jamahiriya strongholds of Sirte and Bani Walid. (Translation of Jamahiriya from Arabic means “the state of the masses.”)
Rebel forces patched together under the banner of the National Transitional Council could not have toppled Col. Muammar Gadhafi’s government without U.S.-NATO’s combined airstrikes, naval blockades, economic sanctions, intelligence operatives, special forces and their regional allies. Even this massive bombing, the murder of thousands of Libyans and the seizure of its national wealth cannot ensure its stability for imperialism. Resistance to these neocolonial designs continues.
U.S.-French base in the Horn of Africa
In former French colony Djibouti, the U.S. and France maintain a 6,500-troop military base. Both imperialist countries operate in neighboring Somalia, leading a combined effort to liquidate the Al-Shabaab Islamic resistance movement they call a “terrorist” al-Qaida affiliate.
The Kenyan Defense Forces have ground troops in Somalia supported by Ethiopia, African Union Mission to Somalia (AMISOM) troops and Transitional Federal Government soldiers. Washington finances these African troops, and the Pentagon, the Central Intelligence Agency and the French military support them from the air and sea. Israel deploys drones.
Despite French and U.S. troop presence in Djibouti, its people erupted in February with widespread social unrest. Mass demonstrations and rebellions resulted in government repression leaving several people dead and injured.
The military alliance between Djibouti’s government and the U.S. and France has brought no economic benefits to this country of less than 1 million people with a gross domestic product of only $982 million. The country’s location on lucrative Red Sea shipping lanes gives it a strategic interest.
In November, it was announced that Djibouti will become more directly involved in the current war against Somalia, with the possible deployment of so-called peacekeeping troops to join AMISOM in Mogadishu. The country has also been the location for training the U.S.-backed Somalia TFG military forces as well as hosting “reconciliation” talks for the country that has not had an internationally recognized government in over two decades.
Defense Professional website reads, “Djibouti is seeking to play a stabilizing role in the frequently tense regional politics of the Horn of Africa.” (Nov. 8) Objectively the imperialists are using Djibouti’s government to establish their broader political and military influence in Africa.
Burkina Faso & Ivory Coast
Two other former French colonies in West Africa, Burkina Faso and Ivory Coast, illustrate the impact of the world economic crisis and increased militarism.
In Burkina Faso between February and April, President Blaise Compaore’s Western-allied regime was forced to place the country under curfew after a mutiny within the armed forces and the police accompanied nationwide protests in response to the rising cost of living.
“Koudougou, located 100km west of Ouagadougou [the capital], was the birthplace of a wave of protests in the country two months ago, placing growing pressure on Compaore, who has been in power for 24 years. The first protest in Koudougou took place on Feb. 22 when students took to the streets, saying a school pupil said to have died of meningitis was in fact tortured and killed in police custody.” (AFP, April 28)
The same AFP article pointed out: “Allegations of police impunity, torture and cover-ups and the high cost of living have fueled mounting protests by all sectors of the population against Compaore’s regime. The country is also beset by woeful social conditions, with much of the 16 million-strong population living on barely $1 a day, while prices of basic goods continue to rise.”
Following unrest, President Compaore dismissed his government’s cabinet. Nevertheless, without a major restructuring of political and economic relations with France and the imperialist states in general, there will be no real progress for the majority of Burkina Faso’s workers, farmers and unemployed.
Developments in Ivory Coast exposed escalating French military aggression in Africa. The imperialists took advantage of a months-long dispute over the results of a run-off presidential election between Alassane Ouattara and Laurent Gbagbo. Paris and Washington sided with Ouattara and sought to remove incumbent Gbago from office under the guise of following international law.
After French paratroopers overthrew and captured Gbagbo in April, he was subsequently kidnapped and transported to a detention facility first in Ivory Coast and eventually to The Hague, Netherlands. There he is slated to be tried for alleged war crimes by the International Criminal Court.
ICC is imperialist tool in Africa
The ICC has focused exclusively on the harassment, persecution and indictment of African leaders. These include President Omar Hussein al-Bashir of Sudan and the martyred Col. Muammar Gadhafi of Libya and members of his family and government.
Following the massive bombing of Libya and the government’s overthrow, the ICC suddenly abandoned plans to place Seif al-Islam Gadhafi, Moammar Gadhafi’s son, on trial. The Western-backed rebel forces had arrested him in November. The ICC chief prosecutor’s recent visit to Libya resulted in an announcement that the imperialist-installed rebels would be allowed to prosecute Seif and to also seek the death penalty in the event that he is found guilty of purported “war crimes.”
Governments and mass organizations in Africa have condemned the ICC for targeting continental leaders and organizations and for its refusal to hold the imperialists accountable for numerous war crimes in Africa and throughout the world. Over the last year the U.S., France, Britain, other NATO states and Israel have killed thousands of Africans in Libya, Somalia, Ivory Coast, Egypt and Sudan.
Developments in Zimbabwe
The Southern African state of Zimbabwe has been battling U.S., British and E.U. sanctions for over a decade — sanctions the imperialists imposed in response to a massive land redistribution program that returned white-owned farms to indigenous Africans who had been colonized beginning in the late 19th century.
The ruling party that led the nation to national independence in 1980, the Zimbabwe African National Union-Patriotic Front, held its annual National People’s Conference in Bulawayo Dec. 6-10.
The Bulawayo conference enhanced the “indigenization” process that allows the government to seize land and other resources for the benefit of the majority of the population. A Dec. 10 article in the state-owned Zimbabwe Herald stated, “According to the Central Committee report presented by President Mugabe on Dec. 8 to the party’s 12th Annual National People’s Conference here, there are 198 white-owned farms which the department [Land Reform, Resettlement and Agriculture] wants.”
This report indicated that “land redistribution was a continuous process” and “the government must continue the process to address the needs of deserving people.” Also the Herald reported that “there were still some white former commercial farmers who were refusing to vacate gazette land.”
ZANU-PF is preparing to hold elections next year on the future of the country. Under pressure from imperialist sanctions, the party had formed an inclusive unity government with the Western-backed Movement for Democratic Change factions in 2008. The upcoming national elections will eliminate the Government of National Unity now in place. ZANU-PF feels it is in a position to politically sweep the elections based on its land redistribution program that provided farms to 400,000 families.
Zimbabwe has been able to endure sanctions and other destabilization efforts through its close working alliance with South Africa, which has refused to blockade the country and deny energy resources demanded by the West. Also Zimbabwe has close ties with the People’s Republic of China, which has defended the government in the United Nations Security Council in the face of additional threats of sanctions.
ZANU-PF foreign policy is centered on the notion of “Look east,” which is designed to increase trade relations with countries in Africa and Asia. Zimbabwe has some of the largest deposits of diamonds in the world, and there has been a struggle with the imperialist states, which have attempted to block the nation from selling its gems on the international market.
Malawi & South Africa: Subcontinent on the brink
Two countries in Southern Africa, Malawi and South Africa, have experienced escalating labor and popular upheavals over the last year. The two states have very different economic relations of production, but both are still heavily integrated into the world capitalist system.
Malawi is considered one of the least developed countries in Africa, while South Africa has the largest economy on the continent, and is the most industrialized with the strongest organized working class. Both states have a history of British colonialism and U.S. economic involvement since the 19th century.
In Malawi during late July, 18 people were reported killed in two days of mass unrest stemming from the impact of the capitalist crisis. The initial protests were in response to fuel shortages, the escalation of prices for basic food stuffs and other commodities, as well as extremely high unemployment.
Ten people were killed in the northern cities of Karongo and Mzuzu. Protesters ransacked the offices of President Bingu wa Mutharika’s ruling Democratic Progressive Party. In the capital of Lilongwe and the southern commercial center of Blantyre, police and army troops fired teargas into the crowds to break up demonstrations.
Part of Malawi’s unrest arises from its strained relations with Britain that resulted in the expulsion of London’s ambassador after revelations surfaced of involvement of the former colonial power in the country’s internal affairs. Britain later expelled the Malawian ambassador and suspended $550 million in foreign aid over a period of four years.
In South Africa, trade unions engaged in massive strikes that brought hundreds of thousands of workers into the streets during August. Various industries were hit by the work stoppages, including the public sector, mining, electricity, fuel, postal services, telecommunications and platinum.
The militancy of the Congress of South African Trade Unions and other labor federations was reflected in the demands for wage increases of up to 18 percent. South Africa ended the racist apartheid system in 1994 after centuries of struggle against settler colonialism, yet the economy is still largely controlled by European capitalists allied with Western-based transnational corporations.
Strikes and other industrial unrest resulted in the loss of $200 million in production output by the middle of 2011. The African National Congress government’s political base is rooted in the trade union movement, and therefore the ruling party is under tremendous pressure to both maintain popular support and also keep foreign capitalist investment involved in the country’s economy.
The Globe & Mail noted in August, “Partly because of the frequent labor unrest, South Africa’s mining industry is widely seen as more unstable and more expensive than others in the developing world, and the latest strikes will add to that perception. Strike settlements in the mining sector have provided wage increases of 7 to 10 percent.”
These developments in Africa’s various regions indicate the close connections between the rising economic crisis in Europe and North America and instability and increasing poverty in the postcolonial states. Consequently, the nations of Africa will be forced to seek solutions outside the world capitalist system, which provides no models for genuine development in Africa.
Imperialists can’t bring development, democracy
U.S. imperialism and its allies often claim they are intervening in Africa to protect civilians and to foster security and democracy. Nothing could be further from the truth. The history of colonialism and neocolonialism has served to suppress the legitimate aspirations and needs of the majority of people in society.
All projects the imperialist states support are only designed to make profit for the capitalist class. The U.S. has never supported any genuine liberation movement in Africa and has always worked to prevent the right of oppressed peoples to self-determination and sovereignty.
Two excellent examples during 2011 are the destabilization efforts in Ivory Coast, which is outlined above, and in Somalia.
In Somalia, under the guise of fighting “terrorism,” the U.S.-backed governments in Kenya and Ethiopia have invaded the country. Shabelle Media Network pointed out Dec. 10, “Fighter jets were reported to have hit an Islamist militant stronghold town located in the southern-war-ravaged Somalia on Dec. 10.”
U.S. drones and French bombs will not bring peace and stability to Ivory Coast or Somalia. Even Council on Foreign Relations author Bronwyne E. Bruton wrote in an essay advocating the withdrawal of the West from Somalia that it was “utterly unsurprising that Kenya and/or Ethiopia would want to get in on the act. The international war against the Shabaab could provide them with a handsome Western subsidy for setting up shop in the country and — one assumes — forcibly setting up their proxies.” (New York Times, Dec. 9)
Nonetheless, Africa’s long history of resisting slavery, colonialism and neocolonialism, and the current wave of U.S. and French military interventions, will be met with fierce resistance and the failure of the imperialists and their allies to achieve victory. In relationship to Kenya, the military debacle in southern Somalia has prompted the government to join the efforts of the African Mission in Somalia, which has been fighting to prop up the puppet Transitional Federal Government in Mogadishu.
Africa must break with world imperialism and build societies that place the interests of the people above those of the transnational corporations and the Western-based financial institutions. It is through this process that genuine peace, development and security will be realized.
Workers World, 55 W. 17 St., NY, NY 10011
Support independent news DONATE