In this spirit, let us briefly examine the economic condition of humanity at the close of 2012.
Our finding is sadly that the ongoing world economic depression continues to increase the needless privations of the vast majority of the inhabitants of this planet. The great scourges of mankind remain poverty, illiteracy, ignorance, disease, unemployment, homelessness, inadequate sanitation, low social mobility, and exclusion — and many of these are getting worse.
27,000 children die each day from needless poverty
The tragic condition of humanity is perhaps most dramatically reflected in the fact that between 22,000 and 27,000 children die each day due to poverty, largely in the form of starvation, malnutrition, and diseases like diarrhea which can be cured for a few pennies. The upper end of this range corresponds to one needless childhood death caused by poverty every three seconds. Total needless childhood deaths from poverty, these data suggest, must be approaching at least 10 million per year – a yearly total which by itself rivals any of the great genocides of world history. Of the 2.2 billion children who live in today’s world, one billion live in poverty. This is the estimate from the most recent United Nations Human Development Report.
And these figures only include children. Estimates for total daily avoidable mortality, including children, suggest a level of 40,000 to 50,000 fatalities per day — for a yearly hecatomb of over 18 million deaths.
We need look no further for the severest condemnation of the existing economic systems of the world, including especially the International Monetary Fund, the World Bank, the Bank for International Settlements, the Asian Development Bank, the Inter-American Development Bank, the international system of privatized central banks, and similar entities.
Three billion people on less than $2.50 per day
These deaths occur in the world in which about a billion people try to survive on less than one dollar per day. 2.6 billion people or 40% of the world’s population are struggling to subsist on less than two dollars a day. It is a world in which a total of 3 billion people or 50% of the world total must try to get along on less than $2.50 per day. For all the talk of a growing middle class made possible by globalization, 80% of humanity receives less than $10 per day. At the other end of the scale, the most prosperous 20% of the world’s population account for 75% of total world income, and this distribution becomes even more extreme when permanent assets are considered.
Almost a billion malnourished worldwide
Closely correlated with needless death and needless immiseration is the problem of world hunger. According to the United Nations Food and Agricultural Organization in Rome, there are in 2012 some 925 million persons experiencing hunger and malnutrition. Some 578 million of the hungry live in the Asian and Pacific countries, followed by 239 million malnourished in sub-Saharan Africa. Even in the developed countries, the FAO lists 19 million hungry. We should recall that, in the United States, some 50 million people rely on food stamps for their survival, meaning that they may have as little as $1.50 to spend per meal and per person.
The FAO’s world hunger estimates are very likely too low. This agency assumes that world hunger was about at its current level in 2008, and then rose to over one billion people in 2009, before returning to approximately the 2008 level in 2010. but this may turn out to be wildly optimistic, and perhaps deliberately so.
Another big factor in economic immiseration is the current high level of world unemployment. Here the statistics are even sketchier. The CIA assumes a world unemployment rate of 9.1%. The United Nations International Labor Organization (ILO) sets this rate at about 6% — meaning about 200 million current jobless — but at the same time concedes that in many developed countries – such as the United States and the nations of the European Union – the combined figure for unemployment and underemployment is in the neighborhood of 30%. These are depression levels by any reckoning.
Especially dramatic is the situation of youth unemployment. According to the ILO, almost 70 5 million young people between the ages of 15 and 24 were unemployed, yielding a global youth unemployment rate of 12.7%, up one full percentage point from pre-depression levels. Young people are currently three times more likely to be unemployed than adults. In Greece and Spain, 50% of youth are jobless.
The ILO notes a global tendency for discouraged workers to drop out of the labor market in despair, thus disappearing from the official unemployment statistics on which these estimates are based. Almost 29 million workers dropped out of the labor force in 2011, according to their figures, On a world scale, more and more of those previously employed are now exiting the labor force: The employed portion of the population has declined from 61.2% in 2007 to 60.2% in 2010. This is no ordinary shrinkage, but rather represents the largest decline recorded since these statistics started being kept in 1991. The ILO thinks that this data series is headed for a double dip, with a new all-time record low set to be registered during 2013.
The ILO concludes that the world requires a minimum of 600 million new productive jobs to be created over the coming decade. This is once again doubtless a lowball estimate, but at least gives some basis for programmatic discussions. Who could finance the creation of 600 million new productive jobs, with the high level of capital investment per job which this implies? Surely it cannot be the private zombie banks, which barely manage to keep themselves and their mass of toxic, kited derivatives in existence through massive infusions of money from governments and privatized central banks. It is unlikely to be the national treasuries, which are already under heavy pressure to maintain the existing social safety nets. As the Woytinsky-Lautenbach program and the experience of American Lend-Lease suggest, capital investments on such a scale can only come through the nationalization of the central banks, requiring them to provide the necessary trillions in 0% long-term loans and bonds for infrastructure, manufacturing, construction, energy production, agriculture, scientific research, and other productive activities.
1.1 billion lack clean water
This work is especially urgent because the lack of modern hard and soft infrastructure plays a central role in the continuing immiseration of mankind. Fully 1.1 billion people in developing countries today lack adequate access to clean water. One third of all children, or 640 million kids, exist without adequate shelter. One fifth of all children, or a total of 400 million, do not have access to safe water. One seventh of all children, or 270 million, are denied access to adequate health services.
The United Nations report on the World Economic Situation and Prospects 2013, published on December 18, 2012, points to a significant slowdown in the already anemic levels of world economic activity. This reflects first of all the devastating impact of the austerity imposed by the International Monetary Fund, European Central Bank, and European Commission (the “troika”) on the depression-stricken economies of southern Europe. It also tries to factor in the grave danger of a similar deflationary shock in the United States, under the rubric of the “fiscal cliff,” imposed by reactionary Republicans and Obama’s Wall Street Democrats. Another major factor is the marked downturn of the Chinese economy, a byproduct to a large extent of the ongoing recessions in much of Europe.
Political instability rooted in economic immiseration: Egypt
The world economic depression has of course been a major factor in the youth unemployment and food price inflation which have played a central role in the destabilizations commonly known as the “Arab Spring.” Those destabilization had been prepared by the austerity demands of the IMF on countries like Libya and Syria. As the imperialists had intended, the new regimes left in the wake of those destabilizations are weaker than their predecessors, and thus even more likely to sell out to the demands of the international financiers. A case in point is the new Egyptian government of Mohammed Morsi. Morsi capitulated to the IMF on the critical question of food and fuel subsidies in the last week of November, setting the stage for a major crisis of his regime. Under Morsi’s sellout to the IMF, the price of a liter of gasoline has gone from 2.75 Egyptian pounds to five Egyptian pounds – a price hike sure to cause riots in any country. The IMF has forced Morsi sea to set a goal of reducing fuel subsidies by one third, cutting them by $5 billion to a level of about $11.4 billion. At the same time, Morsi is supposed to increase the sales tax as part of a transition towards a value added tax (VAT), which translates into a massive shift towards regressive taxation, the most socially destructive type. In addition, new levies on personal property and telecommunications our plan. This is the freshest example of what not to do.
What the world needs, by contrast, is a decisive repudiation of neoliberal economics, a rejection of austerity measures, and a reaffirmation of the priority of a social safety net, combined with measures to shift the cost of the world depression off the backs of working people and onto the parasitical bankers who created the depression in the first place. The centerpiece of a world recovery program will be the nationalization of the existing central banks and their transformation into Hamiltonian national banks dedicated to providing masses of extremely cheap, long term loans and bond purchases for the purpose of reviving infrastructure and a broad array of tangible, physical production, thus turning the world economy away from the hyper-financialization and casino economy of recent years.
Insists Move ‘Temporary’ and Aimed to Protect Constitutional Committee
Faced with an ever-growing backlash over last week’s power grab, Egyptian President Mohamed Mursi struggled to defend his edict, insisting that the move was “temporary” and not intended to centralize power in his hands.
Rather, in a new statement Mursi insisted that the move was meant to limit the power of the judiciary, and was primarily aimed at avoiding the “politicization” of the court system while keeping them from ousting the committee penning the new constitution.
Yet the edict went well beyond protecting the committee, claiming unilateral power for the president to do anything he deems necessary and insisting the court can’t even theoretically review anything he does. To the extent it renders the court totally powerless it would seem to limit interest in its politicization.
Making the move temporary does seem to be a key part of the edict, and assuming it remains temporary it may placate some critics. The edict only sought to define presidential power until the new constitution is written, with the assumption that the constitution itself will define them afterwards.
“Temporary” measures in the Middle East have a tendency to last for decades, however, as with the “emergency law” in place in Egypt before the revolution, which granted Mursi’s predecessor Hosni Mubarak similar unchecked power. The longer it takes to get a constitution in place, the more Egyptians are likely to bristle at the power Mursi is now claiming for himself.
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| Palestinian Hamas leader in the Gaza Strip
Ismail Haniya (R) and Egyptian Prime Minister Hesham Kandil
hold the body of a Palestinian baby boy who was killed
in an Israeli air strike on November 16, 2012 during a visit
You know the drill by now: an escalation occurs in the Gaza Strip that is automatically blamed on Palestinian fighters. The New York Times does it, as the Electronic Intifada’s Maureen Murphy points out, and now the Washington Post prints a story with a similar narrative.
Here’s how the Post reports on how the bombardment in Gaza started:
The latest round of fighting began Saturday, when militants from a non-Hamas faction fired an antitank missile at an Israeli jeep traveling along the Israel-Gaza border, injuring four Israeli soldiers. Israel responded with shelling and firing that Gaza medical officials said killed at least four people, including two children, and wounded about two dozen others. Militants then fired about 130 rockets and mortar rounds at population centers of southern Israel over several days. After mediation from Egypt, the flare-up appeared to have waned by Tuesday.
But that’s now how “the latest round of fighting began.” The Institute for Middle East Understanding published an excellent timeline that shows how the fighting actually began:
THURSDAY, NOVEMBER 8
Following a two-week lull in violence, Israeli soldiers invade Gaza. In the resulting exchange of gunfire with Palestinian fighters, a 12-year-old boy is killed by an Israeli bullet while he plays soccer.
Shortly afterwards, Palestinian fighters blow up a tunnel along the Gaza-Israel frontier, injuring one Israeli soldier.
SATURDAY, NOVEMBER 10
An anti-tank missile fired by Palestinian fighters wounds four Israeli soldiers driving in a jeep along the Israel-Gaza boundary.
An Israeli artillery shell lands in a soccer field in Gaza killing two children, aged 16 and 17. Later, an Israeli tank fires a shell at a tent where mourners are gathered for a funeral, killing two more civilians, and wounding more than two dozen others.
As you can see, the escalation began when Israel killed a 12-year-old boy. The rockets and missiles fired in response were what the Gaza-based militant group Popular Resistance Committees called a “revenge invoice.”
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Russian President Vladimir Putin says his country will back Egyptian efforts to put an end to the Israeli aggression in the besieged Gaza Strip.
In a telephone conversation with Egyptian President Mohamed Morsi on Friday, Putin said Russia planned to support Cairo’s efforts directed at normalizing the situation in the Palestinian territory, the Kremlin said in a statement.
The remarks come after Egypt’s Prime Minister Hisham Qandil visited the Gaza Strip on Friday, where he urged the world leaders to stop Tel Aviv’s attacks.
Qandil promised to intensify Egypt’s efforts to “stop this aggression and achieve a lasting truce.”
On Thursday, President Morsi also condemned the Israeli aggression as “unacceptable” and warned it could lead to instability in the region.
Some 25 people have been killed and more than 250 others injured in the new wave of attacks since November 14.
The Israeli regime frequently carries out airstrikes and other attacks on the Gaza Strip, saying the acts of aggression are being conducted for defensive purposes. However, in violation of international law, disproportionate force is always used and civilians are often killed or injured.
|Smoke rises after an Israeli air strike in Gaza city on 15 November 2012.|
An Israeli minister has called for the army to bomb Gaza until the population flees en masse into Egypt’s Sinai peninsula, and for water and electricity supplies to be cut, a clear case of incitement to war crimes.
Israel Katz, Israel’s transport minister, was quoted on the Orthodox website B’Hadrei Haredim on 11 November:
Israel must act in Gaza with a very clear policy. The leadership of the Hamas, which is responsible for all the attacks and shooting, must be eliminated. Beyond that, we must detach from Gaza in a civilian manner – electricity, water, food, and fuel – and transition into a policy of deterrence, just like in Southern Lebanon.”
Why don’t they shoot at us from Southern Lebanon and do from Gaza? Because there is no clear boundary with Gaza. Because the civilian link with Gaza is unreasonable. Gaza should be considered a border, and every time we are hurt, hurt back [retaliate]. When I see Palestinian citizens escaping into Sinai, the way Lebanese citizens escape toward Beirut when there is a round of fire against Israel – we will then know that the deterrence has been achieved.”
Calling for war crimes
Katz, a member of Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu’s Likud Party, appears to be inciting war crimes of the kind Israel committed in Lebanon and previously in Gaza.
In July 2006, hundreds of thousands of civilians in Lebanon fled their homes to escape an indiscriminate Israeli onslaught that left 1,200 people, mostly civilians, dead, and the country’s infrastructure devastated.
Israel’s bombardment of the civilian areas came to be known as the “Dahiya doctrine” after the southern suburb of Beirut that was leveled by Israeli attacks.
The tactics used by Israeli military armed forces in the Gaza offensive are consistent with previous practices, most recently during the Lebanon war in 2006. A concept known as the Dahiya doctrine emerged then, involving the application of disproportionate force and the causing of great damage and destruction to civilian property and infrastructure, and suffering to civilian populations.
The Goldstone report noted that Israeli officials had explicitly articulated the goals and methods of this strategy.
Such use of indiscriminate and “disrproportionate” force (there is no such thing as proportionate force against civilians), calculated to destroy civilian infrastructure and cause suffering, amounts to a war crime.
Now, just as in those previous cases, Israeli ministers are not shy about publicly stating their criminal intent, confident of the international impunity and complicity that has so far protected them from accountability.
Israel’s current assault, which it began by breaking a truce with Palestinian resistance factions in Gaza, has claimed at least 22 Palestinian lives in recent days, with dozens of injuries.
Sixteen Palestinians have been killed since 14 November, the latest a 10-month old baby named Hanin Tafish. Yesterday, Israeli bombardment killed 11-month-old Omar Masharawi, the son of a BBC staffer in Gaza.
Three Israelis were killed this morning in retaliatory rocket fire from Gaza.
With thanks to Dena Shunra for spotting and translation.
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Thousands of supporters and opponents of Egyptian President Mohamed Morsi battled for control of Cairo’s Tahrir Square, the epicenter of the recent revolution. Over one hundred protesters are reported injured in the violence.
Supporters and opponents of Egyptian President Mohamed Morsi fought for control of Cairo’s Tahrir Square, the epicenter of the recent revolution.
Protesters hurled rocks and bottles at each other, fists flew and gunshots were heard during the melee in downtown Cairo on Friday. The ongoing conflict is the first major street fight between liberals and Islamists since Morsi’s election in June.
Bel Trew, a Cairo-based journalist, told RT about the chaotic scene unfolding on Tahrir, saying she had “personally witnessed rock throwing, several very heavy head injuries, Molotov [cocktail] throwing; we have heard gunshots, though I can’t confirm that myself as I wasn’t able to see.”
She also said there were small fires by a museum adjacent to the square caused by petrol bombs and fireworks. Trew believes the violence is unlikely to end soon, as “there has been no police presence whatsoever, even though in Morsi’s 100-day plan, he did say that he would up security in the country and reassure people that they wouldn’t see scenes like this.”
The Health Ministry said 110 people had sustained light to moderate injuries, state media reported.
Mounira Public Hospital chief Muhammad Shawky said earlier in the afternoon that his hospital had received at least ten injured protesters, the Egypt Independent reports. One man was hospitalized after receiving a serious eye injury, while nine others were treated for minor wounds and later released. Since then, the number reported injured has continued to increase without any signs of abating.
Eyewitnesses said many of the injured had been pelted with rocks.
|Egyptian protesters hold a national flag as they walk past a
burning bus during clashes in Cairo on October 12, 2012
Some 2,000 people poured onto the square on Friday after tensions erupted between pro- and anti-Morsi forces when a court acquitted Mubarak-era officials accused of ordering camels to charge against protesters during last year’s uprising.
The February 2011 incident, known as the “Camel Battle,” left nearly a dozen people dead. It was one of the bloodiest incidents in the 2011 revolution that toppled the Mubarak regime.
The so-called “Judgement Day” protest on the square had originally been organized by left-leaning activists hoping to draw attention to their disaffection with President Morsi and the Constituent Assembly. Islamists arrived to protest the contentious “Camel Battle” ruling, which saw 25 figures in the Mubarak regime set free.
While all sides to the conflict were united in their opposition to the acquittal, long simmering tensions between the rival parties quickly spilled over.
The coalition of liberals and secular-minded groups was particularly concerned with Islamist control of the body drafting the country’s new constitution.
Fighting commenced after Muslim Brotherhood supporters tore down a podium belonging to a group chanting anti-Morsi slogans, AFP reported.
“Down, down with rule by the guide,” Morsi’s detractors chanted in reference to Mohammed Badie, the leader of the Muslim Brotherhood. Morsi officially resigned from the Brotherhood upon assuming office, but his opponents believe that he maintains control over the president.
|Egyptians inspect a burnt bus which was set on fire
during clashes on Tahrir square in Cairo on October 12, 2012
On Friday Morsi was in Egypt’s second largest city, Alexandria, where he vowed that the former regime’s figures would be held accountable in spite of Wednesday’s ruling.
Morsi moved to dismiss the country’s prosecutor general – a Mubarak appointee – following the controversial verdict. The prosecutor, Abdel-Maguid Mahmoud refused to resign and accept an offer to be Egypt’s envoy to the Vatican.
|Egyptians help to evacuate a wounded man during clashes of opponents of the
Muslim Brotherhood and President Mohamed Morsi with government supporters in
Tahrir square in Cairo on October 12, 2012
|Anti-Muslim Brotherhood demonstrators tackle a Muslim Brotherhood member
and supporter of Egyptian President Mohamed Mursi at Tahrir Square, the focal
point of the Egyptian uprising, in Cairo October 12, 2012
Pro and anti-Morsi forces clash in Cairo October 12, 2012
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Official documents obtained by Al-Ahram daily indicate that imprisoned Habib El-Adly’s fortunes are around $3 billion, including a ‘fleet’ of fancy cars and dozens of villas
Egypt’s former minister of interior Habib El-Adly reportedly owns 42 palaces and villas, 75 feddens and a ‘fleet’ of luxury cars, state-owned Al-Ahram daily newspaper reported on Saturday.
Al-Ahram has obtained official documents which will be handed to the country’s illicit gains authority that include details about El-Adly’s wealth, which is estimated at LE18 billion ($3 billion).
El-Adly and ousted strongman Hosni Mubarak are currently serving life sentences for failing to prevent the killing of protesters during last year’s uprising.
Most of the former interior minister’s properties are located in Sharm El-Sheikh, the North Coast, Mohandiseen and Zamalek, all in wealthy neighbourhoods.
El-Adly owns a villa in satellite 6 October City surrounded by a bulletproof glass façade, according to Al-Ahram.
It is reported that there are other undisclosed properties that have been registered under the names of his relatives.
In July 2011, El-Adly was sentenced to five years in prison for squandering public funds in the infamous number plates case. Earlier that same year the former interior minister was handed a 12-year sentence for corruption charges related to using his senior position to illegally gain profits.
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Prof. James Petras
toward the symbols and substance of everything US.
From Morsi’s perspective, a one day blow-off of steam aimed at the US Embassy, was the price for his larger agenda of putting an end to the revolutionary democratic and nationalist aspirations of the masses who overthrew Mubarak, especially when Morsi has every intention of “continuing his (Mubarek’s) economic agenda with a stated policy to battle corruption”. Egyptian Muslim and secular populace are profoundly disenchanted with the Brotherhoods betrayal of their promises of welfare, jobs, prosperity and nationalist foreign policy .The “film” served as a “legitimate pretext” to unify their forces: the protest against “the film” was in reality about the larger socio-economic and political cleavages emerging and the tremendous boost in US influence in Morsi’s Egypt .
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Exclusive: The new conventional wisdom, in the wake of angry protests roiling the Middle East, is that Muslims are either way too sensitive or irrational. How else to explain the fury over an offensive anti-Islam video? But the video was just the spark that ignited a long-smoldering fire, says ex-CIA analyst Ray McGovern.
By Ray McGovern
“Why Is the Arab world so easily offended?” asks the headline atop an article by Fouad Ajami, which theWashington Post published online last Friday to give perspective to the recent anti-American violence in Muslim capitals.
While the Post described Ajami simply as a “senior fellow” at Stanford’s conservative Hoover Institution, Wikipedia gives a more instructive perspective on his checkered career and dubious credibility.
The most telling example of this came in Cheney’s VFW address on August 26, 2002, in which the Vice President laid down the terms of reference for the planned attack on Iraq. Attempting to assuage concerns about the upcoming invasion, Cheney cited Ajami’s analysis: “As for the reaction of the Arab ‘street,’ the Middle East expert Professor Fouad Ajami predicts that after liberation, the streets in Basra and Baghdad are ‘sure to erupt in joy in the same way the throngs in Kabul greeted the Americans.’”
|Author and scholar Fouad Ajami.|
In his writings, Ajami did warn, in a condescending way, that one could expect some “road rage … of a thwarted Arab world – the congenital condition of a culture yet to take full responsibility for its self-inflicted wounds.” He then added:
“There is no need to pay excessive deference to the political pieties and givens of the region. Indeed, this is one of those settings where a reforming foreign power’s simpler guidelines offer a better way than the region’s age-old prohibitions and defects.”
No One Better?
Ignoring the albatross of tarnished credentials hanging around Ajami’s neck, the Post apparently saw him as just the right academician to put perspective on the violence of last week in Middle East capitals. As for his record of credibility: Well, who takes the trouble to go to Wikipedia for information on pundits?
Nor were the Post’s editors going to take any chances that its newspaper readers might miss the benefit of Ajami’s wisdom. So the Post gave pride of place to the same article in Sunday’s Outlook section, as well. What the Post and other mainstream media want us to believe comes through clearly in the title given to the article’s jump portion, which dominates page 5: “Why a YouTube trailer ignited Muslim rage.”
Setting off the article were large, scary photos: on page one, a photo of men brandishing steel pipes to hack into the windows of the U.S. embassy in Yemen; the page-5 photo showed a masked protester, as he “ran from a burning vehicle near the U.S. embassy in Cairo.”
So – to recapitulate – the Post’s favored editorial narrative of the Mideast turmoil is that hypersensitive, anti-American Muslims are doing irrational stuff like killing U.S. diplomats and torching our installations. This violence was the result of Arabs all too ready to take offense at a video trailer disrespectful of the Prophet.
Nonetheless, it seems to be true that the trailer did have some immediate impact and will have more. According to an eyewitness, the 30 local guards who were supposed to protect the U.S. consulate in Benghazi simply ran away as the violent crowd approached on Tuesday night.
Wissam Buhmeid, the commander of the Tripoli government-sanctioned Libya’s Shield Brigade, effectively a police force for Benghazi, maintained that it was anger over the video trailer which made the guards abandon their post.
“There were definitely people from the security forces who let the attack happen because they were themselves offended by the film; they would absolutely put their loyalty to the Prophet over the consulate. The deaths are all nothing compared to insulting the Prophet.”
Predictably, Islamophobes and Muslim haters with influence over Western media coverage are citing the violence as the kind of “irrational” over-reaction that “exposes” Islam’s intolerance and incompatibility with democratic values and demonstrates that Islam is on a collision course with the West.
It is no surprise that Ajami gives no attention to the many additional factual reasons explaining popular outrage against the U.S. and its representatives – reasons that go far deeper than a video trailer, offensive though it was. Ajami steers clear of the dismal effects of various U.S. policies over the years on people across the Muslim world – in countries like Iraq, Egypt, Yemen, Bahrain, Tunisia, Libya, Afghanistan. (The list stretches as far as distant Indonesia, the most populous Muslim state.)
Last week’s violence not only reflects the deep anger at and distrust of the U.S. across the Islamic world, but also provides insight into the challenges posed by the power now enjoyed by the forces of extremism long held in check by the dictators toppled by last year’s wave of revolutions.
Who are the main beneficiaries of misleading narratives like that of Ajami. He himself concedes, “It is never hard to assemble a crowd of young protesters in the teeming cities of the Muslim world. American embassies and consulates are magnets for the disgruntled.”
So, does that mean the notorious video trailer is best regarded as a catalyst for the angry protests rather than the underlying cause? In other words, if the video served as the spark, who or what laid the kindling? Who profits from the narrative that neocons are trying so hard to embed in American minds?
Broad hints can be seen in the Washington Post’s coverage over recent days – including a long piece by its Editorial Board, “Washington’s role amid the Mideast struggle for power,” published the same day Ajami’s article appeared online.
What the two have in common is that the word “Israel” appears in neither piece. One wonders how and why thePost‘s editors could craft a long editorial on the “Mideast struggle for power” — and give editorial prominence to Ajami’s article — without mentioning Israel.
Presumably because the Post’s readers aren’t supposed to associate the fury on the Arab “street” with anger felt by the vast majority Arabs over what they see as U.S. favoritism toward Israel and neglect for the plight of the Palestinians. The Israeli elephant, with the antipathy and resentment its policies engender, simply cannot be allowed into the discussion.
In the circumstances of last week, Israel may be less a centerpiece than the ugly Islamophobia that has found a home in America. But these factors tend to build on and reinforce each other. And the indignities suffered at the hand of Israel certainly has resonance is the larger context of Muslims who feel their religion and culture are under attack in a variety of ways.
“Why Do They Hate Us?”
On Saturday, during a live interview on Al-Jazeera, I tried to inject some balance into the discussion. I noted that one key reason for the antipathy toward the U.S. among Muslims is the close identification of the U.S. with Israel and the widespread realization that support from Washington enables Israel’s policies of oppression and warmongering against the Palestinians and its regional neighbors.
[As an example of that Israeli brutality and American complicity, an op-ed in Monday’s New York Times detailed how U.S. diplomats in 1982 acquiesced to Israeli actions in Lebanon that led to the massacre of defenseless Palestinian civilians at the Sabra and Shatila refugee camps.]
As to “why they hate us,” I had time to recall three very telling things I had mentioned in an earlier article on this sensitive topic.
1 — From the 9/11 Commission Report of July 2004, page 147, regarding the motivation of alleged 9/11 mastermind Khalid Sheikh Mohammed: “By his own account, KSM’s animus toward the United States stemmed not from his experience there as a student, but rather from his violent disagreement with U.S. foreign policy favoring Israel.”
2 — The mainstream-media-neglected report from the Pentagon-appointed Defense Science Board, a report that took direct issue with the notion that they hate us for our freedom. Amazingly, in their Sept. 23, 2004, report to Rumsfeld, the DSB directly contradicted what Vice President Dick Cheney and President George W. Bush had been saying about “why they hate us.” Here’s part of what the DSB said:
“Muslims do not ‘hate our freedom,’ but rather, they hate our policies. The overwhelming majority voice their objections to what they see as one-sided support in favor of Israel and against Palestinian rights, and the longstanding, even increasing support for what Muslims collectively see as tyrannies, most notably Egypt, Saudi Arabia, Jordan, Pakistan, and the Gulf States. Thus, when American public diplomacy talks about bringing democracy to Islamic societies, this is seen as no more than self-serving hypocrisy.”
The New York Times ignored the Defense Science Board’s startling explanation (as it has other references to the elephant plopped on the sofa). On Nov. 24, 2004, the erstwhile “newspaper of record” did publish a story on the board’s report — but performed some highly interesting surgery.
Thom Shanker of the Times quoted the paragraph beginning with “Muslims do not ‘hate our freedom’” (see above), but he or his editors deliberately cut out the following sentence about what Muslims do object to, i.e., U.S. “one-sided support in favor of Israel and against Palestinian rights” and support for tyrannical regimes.
mply a matter of shortening the paragraph. Rather, the offending middle sentence was surgically removed.The Times then included the sentence immediately after the omitted one. In other words, it was not si
Equally important — and equally missing — there is never any sensible examination of the motives that might be driving what Cheney called this “same assortment of killers and would-be mass murderers [who] are still there.” We are left with Ajami’s image of hypersensitive or irrational Muslims unwilling to confront their own cultural failings.
3 – On May 21, 2009, just four months after he left office, Dick Cheney gave a speech at the neocon America Enterprise Institute and blurted out some uncharacteristic honesty. He explained why terrorists hate “all the things that make us a force for good in the world — for liberty, for human rights, for the rational, peaceful resolution of differences.”
However, no longer enjoying the services of a functionary to vet his rhetoric, Cheney slipped up (and so did the reporters covering the event). Expanding on the complaints of the terrorists, Cheney said:
“They have never lacked for grievances against the United States. Our belief in freedom of speech and religion … our belief in equal rights for women … our support for Israel (emphasis added) — these are the true sources of resentment.”
“Our support for Israel” – a true source of resentment. Cheney got that part right.
One Brief Shining Moment
My mind wandered back to June 2004, when former CIA analyst Michael Scheuer published his insightful book, Imperial Hubris: Why the West is Losing the War on Terror. The book won him interviews with the likes of NBC’s Andrea Mitchell, and – to his credit – Scheuer rose to the occasion with candor rarely heard in mainstream media before or since.
On June 23, 2004, he told Mitchell:
“It’s very hard in this country to debate policy regarding Israel … bin Laden’s ‘genius’ lies in his ability to exploit those U.S. policies most offensive to Muslims – our support for Israel, our presence on the Arabian peninsula, in Afghanistan and Iraq, our support for governments that Muslims believe oppress Muslims.”
Scheuer went on to say that bin Laden regarded the war on Iraq as proof of America’s hostility toward Muslims, and of the reality that America “is willing to do almost anything to defend Israel. The war is certainly viewed as an action meant to assist the Israeli state. It is … a godsend for those Muslims who believe as bin Laden does.”
In an interview with ABC’s “This Week,” he added that failure to change American policies to better match realities in the Middle East could mean decades of war. Only if the American people learn the truth could more effective strategies be fashioned and implemented, he added.
By and large, the truth-telling did not happen, so there has been but negligible pressure from the American people. The situation today differs little from then.
Indeed, in the same time frame of Scheuer’s book, Defense Secretary Donald Rumsfeld grappled publicly with a troubling “unknown” that followed along the same lines, i.e., “whether the extremists … are turning out newly trained terrorists faster than the United States can capture or kill them. It is quite clear to me that we do not have a coherent approach to this.”
Since then, eight years have come and gone – with still no coherent approach and with continued media camouflaging of the bedrock reasons as to “why they hate us.”
Among the chief beneficiaries of this woodenheaded approach? One can look at the military-industrial-congressional-media-security complex, especially the war profiteers and their favored politicians who stoke fear of the “evildoers.” All the better to scare you with.
Ray McGovern works with Tell the Word, a publishing arm of the ecumenical Church of the Saviour in inner-city Washington. He served for 30 years as an Army intelligence officer and then a CIA analyst. He is co-founder of Veteran Intelligence Professionals for Sanity (VIPS).
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