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Posts Tagged ‘Vijay Prashad

Don’t Bring up Occupied Palestinians in Polite Company? Or break the rule of civility?

In the US, and especially within the US Palestine solidarity movement, the biggest Israel-Palestine news since Gaza Genocide 3.0 (which, with Palestinians dying daily, whether from the effects of the siege or horrific wounds leftover from the attack, makes this genocide ongoing), is the unceremonious un-hiring of Professor Steven Salaita from the University of Illinois on the ostensible basis of his impolite presence on social media.

Salaita was hired by the University of Illinois’ American Indian Studies department, based on his contribution to the emerging field of comparative indigenous studies.

He was going to provide scholarly expertise on the comparative situation of colonized peoples in North America and Palestine.

As a result of his un-hiring, for example, Salaita notes that his “family has no income, no health insurance, and no home of our own. Our young son has been left without a preschool. I have lost the great achievement of a scholarly career: lifetime tenure with its promised protections of academic freedom.”

Heike Schotten (Ma’an News Agency) posted this Oct. 6, 2014

Incivility: On not Bringing up Occupied Palestinians in Polite Company

The short version is this:

Salaita, a tenured professor at Virginia Tech, signed a contract with the University of Illinois and had his new job all but in hand. Two weeks before the start of the semester, he was informed by Chancellor Phyllis Wise that she would not be forwarding his case to the Board of Trustees for approval.

Subsequent sleuthing revealed big donor pressure on both Wise and the Board to un-hire Salaita, with threats to turn off the money spigot unless he was removed.

Shockingly, Wise and the Board caved in.

This disgusting turn of events is one big pile up of injustices that is dizzying even to contemplate, much less sort through or analyze.

Just off the top of my academic head, this decision:

• Evacuates tenure of any real meaning.
• Renders Salaita unemployed in the near term and likely unemployable in the long term.
• Thumbs its nose at the Department who vetted Salaita’s hire.
• Disparages the knowledge, qualifications, and judgment of U of I faculty.
• Privileges the demands of wealthy donors over faculty expertise, institutional integrity, and shared university governance.
• Makes a complete mockery of academic freedom.

These are only the most obvious problems.

It doesn’t take a genius to figure out the next level of injustice, however — which isn’t about the ostensible “civility” Salaita was accused of lacking on Twitter.

It is rather about the content of his tweets, which were less impolite than they were critical of the Israeli state and its latest armed incursion into the Gaza Strip, a one-sided act of military aggression that resulted, most crudely, in the death of over 2,100 Palestinians (a full fourth of whom were children) and 11,000 injured.

And those donors?

They are supporters of Israel, who didn’t want someone with Salaita’s particular political views teaching the next generations of students at their alma mater.

To date, there has been plenty of attention paid to civility, the justificatory fig leaf for Salaita’s firing.

According to David Palumbo-Liu, civility is for suckers. Put a bit differently, Vijay Prashad notes that civility is the new term used by those in power to demand capitulation and compliance.

And yet this case is not primarily about speech, or academic discourse, or the upholding (or restricting) the freedom and civility of either.

The un-hiring of Salaita is part of the larger, national-level campaign being waged on US campuses against critics of Israel, be they faculty or student groups.

It is, in other words, part of the McCarthyist silencing tactics of the Israel lobby to curtail political critique on college campuses.

As Jakeet Singh has recently pointed out, there is another level of injustice to which we have been inattentive in the Salaita affair: systematic racism and colonialism.

Singh argues correctly that the targeting of Salaita, as well as the department where he was to teach — American Indian Studies — replicates and perpetuates racist and colonialist structures of civilizationalism, paternalism, and white privilege.

Prashad notes that Salaita’s tweets were deemed “uncivil” because they criticize a government that the US and its power brokers favor supporting. Were he to have tweeted critiques of Russia, say, or North Korea, the story would likely be different.

And yet, there is a reason that Salaita was critiquing Israel and not Russia or North Korea.

Salaita was hired by the University of Illinois’ American Indian Studies department, based on his contribution to the emerging field of comparative indigenous studies. He was going to provide scholarly expertise on the comparative situation of colonized peoples in North America and Palestine.

Perhaps unsurprisingly, then, the most-discussed aspect of this case as well as the least-discussed — civility, on the one hand, and race and indigeneity, on the other — are related.

It’s not simply that a scholar of color is being targeted for being “too angry,” or that a critic of Israel is being targeted by the Zionist lobby, or that “civility” is being used to justify the neo-liberalization of the university and perpetuate colonialism (although it is all of these things).

It’s also that these are in some sense interchangeable.

“Civility” is the sharp end of this particular spear of racism and colonialism, which drives the targeting of Salaita in particular and critics of Israel in general.

Indeed, the effects of U of I’s actions actually replicate those of colonization and dispossession.

As a result of his un-hiring, for example, Salaita notes that his “family has no income, no health insurance, and no home of our own. Our young son has been left without a preschool. I have lost the great achievement of a scholarly career: lifetime tenure with its promised protections of academic freedom.”

It is difficult to ignore the bitter irony of a Palestinian American becoming homeless and destitute as a result of Zionist lobbying efforts to un-hire him.

And yet, it isn’t even ironic.

After all, “irony” implies an outcome that is surprising or unexpected.

It seems, rather, that Salaita’s homelessness and de-instatementare simply appropriate, simply what Palestinians deserve.

In some sense defined by refugee status, what happened to Salaita is simply what happens to Palestinians. Indeed, Salaita has become a refugee once more, academically unaffiliated and without a physical home for himself and his family.

In his very scholarly existence, in other words, Steven Salaita is an exercise in incivility.

Not only is he Palestinian himself, and thus a member of a group already considered savage, backward, and in need of a lesson in “making the desert bloom.”

But if “civilization” is understood as having been brought into being through the settlement of North America and the North American (not to mention Israeli) academy, then surely to draw attention to this illegitimate foundation by engaging in comparative indigenous studies is to question the very basis and legitimacy of civilization itself.

When that interrogation comes directly from the mouth of the “savage,” you can be sure that the result will be, by definition, “uncivil.” Its words — their content no less than their tone — will be anathema to civilization, synonymous with its annihilation.

The day of the iniquitous Board of Trustees vote (which, strangely, took place, despite Wise’s insistence it would not), Salaita re-emerged on Twitter. He tweeted only once, stating:

A whole book could be written on the profundity of this statement — about its implications for identity, affect, Palestinianess; for privation, withdrawal, and loss more generally.

But one thing seems sure: the defenders of civilization have acted to preserve its sanctity from the threat of savagery and destruction.

There is no question, then, that far from having finished, the ugly machinations of “civilization” — dispossession, dispersal, silencing, and removal — continue apace, whether in the ruins of what is left of the Gaza Strip or the elite ravages of the neoliberal American university.

The views expressed in this article are the author’s and do not necessarily reflect Ma’an News Agency’s editorial policy.

Heike Schotten is Associate Professor of Political Science at the University of Massachusetts Boston, where she teaches political theory, feminist theory, and queer theory (her work is available here).

She has been active in the Palestine solidarity movement since 2006.

Mirrored from the Ma’an News Agency

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Related video added by Juan Cole:

Steven Salaita Speaks About His Termination

US votes against the world to shield Israel at UN Human Rights Council

Shame on the US

29 of the 46 countries voted to set up a Commission of Inquiry to investigate war crimes by Israel.

Vijay Prashad posted on FB:

Palestinian Foreign Minister Riad al-Malki:

“Israel is perpetrating huge crimes in Gaza. It is killing whole families. Israel must be held accountable for its crimes.”

India’s Permanent Representative to the UN, Asoke Mukerji said,

“We remain hopeful that a sustainable ceasefire will be reached between the two sides, linked to the resumption of the peace process, for a comprehensive resolution of the Palestinian issue.” India is “deeply concerned” with the civilian casualties. India votes yes.

That is a very important sign.

The pressure from the BRICS and from the pro-Palestinian bloc prevailed (see my less hopeful analysis from last week,http://www.epw.in/commentary/india-and-israeli-war-palestine.html).

Who abstained:

Austria, Benin, Botswana, Burkina Faso, Czech Republic, Estonia, France, Gabon, Germany, Ireland, Italy, Japan, Montenegro, South Korea, Romania, Macedonia and the United Kingdom.

The yes votes came from part of the old Socialist bloc, the old NAM bloc (including India) the Arab League, the Organisation of Islamic States, the new South American assertion and the two major veto powers (Russia, China). A very important step for a broad consensus against Israel’s wars, and for Palestinian freedom.

The US was the lone State to vote “No for human rights and yes for crimes against humanity”

Malaise over Syria, again?

Sahar Mandour, columnist for Lebanon daily As-Safir and novelist, wrote this September 16, 2013:

Up to the US invasion of Iraq in 2003, we took a clear position against [imperialist preemptive] war and against all kinds of dictatorships: “No to war (la li-al-harb), No to dictators  (la li-al-dictatoriyat)”.

Today, no such simple slogan is possible. That slogan is old. We need new positions, new slogans. We need to find our way out of the confusion of today.

 Vijay Prashad posted this Sept. 21, 2013 on Jadaliyya
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[A Syrian child sits, in a neighbouring village to Kafr Nabuda, in the Idlib province countryside, Syria, 19 September 2013. Image via Associated Press]
A Syrian child sits, in a neighboring village to Kafr Nabuda, in the Idlib province countryside, Syria, 19 September 2013. (Image via Associated Press)

Death and displacement has begun to define Syria.

The numbers are suffocating. One cannot keep up with them. For the displaced, now near 7 million, relief cannot come fast enough–and in fact does not seem to come at all for many.

Of the dead, little can be said. The UN team now confirms the use of sarin gas in the rocket attacks on Ghouta, east of Damascus. It was not in the team’s mandate to say who fired the rockets. Whether it was the Assad regime itself or rogue elements, or (an unlikely scenario) the rebels, it is devastating. The number of dead in that attack is around one thousand, a sizable fraction of the hundred thousand dead so far in this seemingly unending war.

The rebellion, which began in Dar‘a as a peaceful demonstration against an autocratic regime, morphed largely due to the intransigence and the violence of the Assad system into a fissiparous brutality encaging the democratic core that remains and shrinks.

The Free Syrian Army (FSA) crosses swords with Jabhat al-Nusra and the Islamic State of Iraq and al-Sham (ISIS) as much as it does against the regime.

Al-Nusra and ISIS fight each other, as both are fired upon by the Kurdish popular protection committees (the YPG).

Pockets of northern and eastern Syria are in the hands of al-Nusra and ISIS to the consternation of their local populations and of the less Islamist parts of the rebellion. In Eastern Ghouta, over the summer, on the other hand, sections of the Free Syrian Army united with a variety of groups including al-Farouq Omar Battalion, the Lions of Allah, the Islam Battalion, al-Bara‘ Battalion, Islam’s Monotheism Battalion–but most starkly Jabhat al-Nusra. Unity in some places, seemingly under the hegemony of the Islamists, but disunity elsewhere.

In other parts of Syria, the Free Syrian Army seems in charge, and yet in other parts matters remain in the hands of what Yasser Munif calls the “peaceful activists.”

During a 2-month trip to northern Syria, Munif went to Manbij, near Aleppo. What he saw there is that the people, under the leadership of the peaceful activists, fought off the attempt by the ISIS to take charge of the city. As he describes it:

Ahrar al-Sham and al-Nusra (which became the Islamic State later) entered the city and tried to control it. They tried to do so several times since then, but they failed. They try to intimidate the population by patrolling the city. They tried to take over the mills 3 times but failed. They were very much against the revolutionary court but were not able to close it.

The Ahrar al-Sham and al-Nusra also tried to close several newspapers but were not successful. They tried to take over mosques but the religious establishment in the city prevented them. Most recently, the revolutionary council sent a threatening message to the ISIS because they assassinated the imam of the grand mosque who did not want the ISIS to take over his mosque. The message was clear: either they (ISIS) leave the city or they will be expelled by force. They are almost not present in the city anymore.

Such reports are heartening, but not too common.

In Raqqa, Munif notes, the ISIS has established an emirate, although even here there are regular demonstrations against their rule. “Even in Jarablous where the entire revolutionary council was arrested and put in the ISIS prison,” Munif said, “a week ago there was an uprising in the city and people are becoming very critical of the practices of the the ISIS. They want them to leave the city.”

If what Munif reports were general across Syria, then the anxiety that one senses amongst friends would not be so grave.

The rebels are in disarray. The most recent thrust by the ISIS in northern Syria, given the name of “Expunging Filth,” has either expelled or absorbed the FSA units in Raqqa, with on-going fierce fighting in Tabqa.

The border town of A‘zaz is in ISIS hands, and the Turks have closed the border. The embers of the 2011 revolution seem to be smothered by the ISIS in large sections of northern Syria.

On the ground, Saudi Arabia and Gulf Arab money and personnel have redefined the nature of the rebellion.

In the Syrian National Coalition (SNC) matters are not good.

Over 3 years, the SNC has been unable to draft a clear and patriotic program for Syria. Its absence is not a sign of lack of imagination, but of the subordination of the SNC to the petty fights amongst their Gulf Arab benefactors.

The SNC stumbled when it essentially allowed a palace coup to remove Mo‘az al-Khatib from his post. After much infighting, the SNC finally appointed Ahmad Saleh Touma as its prime minister. Ghassan Hitto resigned because he was seen to be too close to the tarnished star of Qatar. The marks of Gulf Arab infighting are all over the Coalition, much to its discredit.

The rebels are in disarray, and despite Gilbert Achcar’s effusions that they must alone overthrow Assad, do not seem capable of it. The rebels are not a homogeneous force, and amongst them are sections of those whose ideology terrifies others amongst them.

This disunity, as Munif notes, is real, and it has no objective basis for reversal. If it is the case that sections of the ISIS are from outside Syria, then there is not even the cord of Syrian nationalism to unite them against Assad.

One section wants a more democratic Syria, while the other wants an emirate of Syria: the lines that divide them, if we are to be honest with the facts, are deeper than any subjective hatred of Asad can bridge.

It is from a realization of this impasse that perhaps we see this conclusion: if the rebels are stuck, then the tonic that might work is a US military strike.

No one person amongst us likes this, but if we assume that it is the only thing that can break the stalemate, then it seems to be a terrible necessity.

Either the US strikes to help oxygenate the rebellion or the rebellion will linger on in a wounded state, with the ISIS taking the upper hand as its own sense of its inevitable victory overshadows the despondency of the “peaceful activists.” That is the framework that seems to lead many friends and comrades into a hopeless support for a US military intervention.

But the West has no intention of intervention in a fashion great enough to topple or wound Asad. Obama said he would strike the Asad regime with Tomahawk missiles, which the US military said would have “limited tactical effect.”

On 10 September 2013, Obama said, “I don’t think we should remove another dictator with force.

What the United States would provide is a face-saving moral strike, even after the conclusive UN report from 16 September that establishes that sarin was used in Ghouta. This will not assist the rebels. The West is not going to act in the way imagined.

To say that the rebels are in disarray, with little capability to overthrow the Asad regime alone, to say that the United States is not interested (for reasons that have to do with Tel Aviv as well) in overthrowing Asad–to say all that is not to end up with nothing. It is not to end up with the status quo, giving the Asad regime free reign to crush the rebels and to end the hopes of a new Syria. This is not the way forward.

Other paths are open, if we allow ourselves to push for them. Other social forces need to be brought to bear on the Syrian catatonia.

During 2012, an unlikely group of regional players—Egypt, Iran, Saudi Arabia and Turkey—formed the Syria Contact Group in order to provide muscle for a defanged UN Envoy Kofi Annan.

Before they could get going, the United States and Russia decided to side-line them, and moved the discussion to Spain for bilateral talks on Syria. The message was that only the United States and Russia has the authority to set the agenda for Syria. Not even the Syrians.

The Syria Contact Group folded not long after, suffocated by this Cold War attitude and by the internecine problems amongst the members. But new regional potential are available:

1. Lebanon, Iraq, Turkey, and Jordan are weighted down by the refugee crisis.

The creation of a  Regional Syrian Refugee Crisis Team would allow these countries to create a common platform to deal with the humanitarian relief problems that bedevil them all. Recognizing the need for coordination, the United Nations has appointed Nigel Fisher as the Regional Humanitarian Coordinator.

Now Fisher and the 4 regional countries need to create a modus vivendi to deal with the severe crisis for each of these countries. But Fisher’s ambit is largely going to be on relief.

A four-country conference would allow these countries to move from coordination around relief to a consideration of the political root of the refugee crisis.

2. Lebanon, Algeria, Egypt, and Iraq voted against the Gulf Arab proposal at the Arab League meeting to give backing to the US strike. These countries need to now push for a regional solution based on their refusal to allow an armed strike. Pressure needs to come on them to involve themselves as a bloc to push the Asad regime and the rebels to recognize that there is no path for either toward total victory.

Negotiation is the only way.

3. Iran has a new leadership, which has reached out to its immediate neighbors seeking a new foundation for relations. The new head of government Hasan Rouhani has said that Iran would welcome any elected Syrian leader. This can, of course, mean anything. After all Bashar al-Asad is technically an elected leader. But it indicates that there is a sense in Iran that the legitimacy of Asad is deeply compromised and that if there were another election he might not want to put himself forward for the sake of Syria.

This is a productive gesture, and it could mean an Iranian feint to save Syria from destruction. In the Obama-Rouhani letters, there is apparently a sentiment that Iran might be brought to the table to build confidence for Geneva 2. Iran might want to insist that that table include Saudi Arabia, and the immediate neighbors of Syria. Only such a table would be able to exert genuine pressure on all sides in this dispute.

Progressives in the region need to try and strengthen these social forces to enter the Syrian dialogue.

The road to salvation in Syria does not only go through the Pentagon. It might have to wind its way through Beirut, Baghdad, Ankara, Amman, Algiers, Cairo, and Tehran–a circuit that has concrete stakes in the germination of a political process in Syria. The West could live with perpetual war.

It would weaken Hizbollah (the same boring wished for mantra of the west and Saudi Arabia), Israel’s main threat and it would bring disorder to what the West fears, the illusion of Iranianism.

Syria cannot survive perpetual war. It needs the strength of the region to recover from the dark night of the Ba‘th and the dark dawn of ISIS and al-Nusra.

Diplomacy has not been exhausted. No regional approach has been permitted to get off the ground.

This has to be the focus of energy.

Elevation of bagman: Ambassador Jeffrey Feltman

Jeffrey Feltman, US Assistant Secretary of State for Near Eastern Affairs and former ambassador to Lebanon, is set to be appointed UN Under-Secretary General for Political Affairs. Samir Sanbar, a former UN Assistant Secretary General for Public Information, notes in his blog on UN Forum that UN Secretary General Ban Ki-moon is set to replace B. Lynn Pascoe with Feltman in the post. The world community will really miss Pascoe, and will hate Feltman from the start.

The UN Security Council’s Secretariat is handled by the Department of Political Affairs, which would be able to have some sway on its agenda. The post is central to the UN bureaucracy. The UN will announce the appointment on Monday, May 28.

The office was created in 1992 to help identify and resolve political conflicts around the world. Pascoe ran at least a dozen missions in Africa, Asia and the Middle East, notably in Burundi, Somalia, Iraq, Lebanon and Libya. The longest running mission is in Somalia (since 1995) and the most recent is in Libya (since September 2011).

With a budget of $250 million and funds for special political missions that amount to $1 billion this year, the post allows its leader to intervene in political crises around the world.

When Secretary General Ban began his second term in January, he promised to reshuffle some of his senior staff. Pascoe’s replacement is part of this process.

Of the proposed new appointment Sanbar writes, “Designating someone with varied field of experience, though controversial, and from a substantially senior post, may mean that more issues could be referred to the Security Council.” (To the detriment of the Middle-East region…)

Is Jeffrey Feltman the best person to run such an influential office in the UN? Why does Sanbar believe that this appointment is “controversial” (read one-sided to the liberal capitalists and US emperial interests, and total support to Zionism…)

VIJAY PRASHAD, author of Arab Spring, Libyan Winter posted (with slight editing, and paragraphs in parenthisis ae mine):

Shibley Telhami, the Anwar Sadat Chair for Peace and Development at the University of Maryland and a Senior Fellow at the Brookings Institution, told me that Feltman is “an accomplished and respected American diplomat…He has been involved in the Arab-Israeli conflict, Iran, Lebanon and Syria, and other hot spots. These engagements bring up inevitably controversial issues. Feltman would have his share of detractors, including in the Middle East”.

But why would Feltman have these “detractors” and how did he come off on the “controversial issues”?

On one issue, Feltman is remarkably consistent. When it comes to the Middle East, Feltman has been outspoken about the threats posed by Iran in the region. Whether in Beirut or Manama, he has publically denounced Iranian “interference” outside its own boundaries.

Feltman has generously offered US assistance to the absolute monarchies and oligarchies. In other words, US interference is quite acceptable, but Iranian interference is utterly unacceptable. This might be adequate behavior for the diplomat of a country, but it is hardly the temperament for a senior UN official. It raises doubts about Feltman’s ability to be even-handed in his deliberations as a steward of the world’s political dilemmas.

Feltman’s intemperate logic was not of the distant past. It was on display in March 2012 at a Lebanese American Organization’s meeting at the Cannon Office Building in Washington, DC (as Franklin Lamb reported on this site this week). At this meeting, the former US Ambassador to Lebanon, instructed the Lebanese people as to what they must do in their next election:

“The Lebanese people must join together to tell Hezbollah and its allies that the Lebanese State will no longer be hijacked for an Iranian-Syrian agenda. The Lebanese people must use the 2013 parliamentary elections to defeat the remnants of the Syrian occupation, the pillar of which is Hezbollah…” (There is a pseudo-State in Lebanon, and every regional State hijacked it, and is still fomenting internal troubles…)

Indeed, interference by speeches is not the limit of Feltman’s ambitions. On May 3, 2012, he was back in Beirut, meeting former Prime Minister Fouad Siniora, former Finance Minister Mohamad Chatah, Future Movement leader Nader Hariri and others at Hariri’s residence. In the transcript of their meeting (leaked through Al-Akhbar), an older side of US policy making emerges.

US Ambassador to Lebanon Maura Connelly is heard saying that the government is “Hezbollah dominated,” to which Feltman says to the Lebanese politicians in the room, “You can bring down the government if Walid [Jumblatt] is with you in the parliament or if Najib [Mikati, the PM] resigns right?” To Siniora, Feltman says, “Would it help if this government is brought down before the elections,” and then he mentions that he is seeing the Prime Minister Najib Mikati later that evening. “This place is very, very weird,” he notes, “weirder than when I left.” This is not a trivial statement.

A glance at Feltman’s cables when he was ambassador to Lebanon reveals a fulsome appetite for the weird. The cables betray an obsession with the social lives of the Lebanese elite, their peccadilloes and their foibles.

Feltman’s “non-interference” to prevent Iranian “interference” in Lebanon brings to mind another episode in his recent career. When the people’s protest broke out in Bahrain, US Secretary of State Hillary Clinton sent him there at least six times.

Feltman was in Bahrain on the eve of the Saudi-led invasion into Manama to smash the protests in March 2011. In a visit to Manama on March 3, 2011, just before the crackdown, Feltman praised the King for his “initiatives” and urged him to “include the full spectrum of Bahraini society, without exception.”

In the Shia quarters, and amongst the al-Wefaq party activists, this sounded like Feltman was urging the King to take them seriously. In language similar to what he used in Lebanon, Feltman noted that the US wants a “Bahraini process” and urges others “to refrain, as we are, from interference or trying to impose a non-Bahraini solution from outside Bahrain.” The crucial phrase here is as we are, which implies that the US is not intervening in Bahrain.

The fact of the 5th Fleet stationed in Manama and of the close cooperation between the Saudi monarch, the Bahraini King and Feltman’s bosses was to be ignored. “We are not naïve,” Feltman said, pointing across the waters at Iran. They cannot be permitted to intervene, but the US, a “critical partner” of the Kingdom, and the Gulf Arab monarchs, “will support Bahrain.”

When events heated up in Bahrain, Feltman and the chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff Admiral Mike Mullen went on a tour of the emirates’ capitals, declaring their unconditional support. The US stands for “universal human rights,” Feltman told the emirs, but of course since “every country is unique” these rights would emerge in their own way. Mullen was at hand to “reassure, discuss and understand what’s going on.” The key word here is reassure.

A clear-eyed assessment comes from Karim Makdisi, who teaches at the American University of Beirut. Makdisi recalls Feltman’s role as Ambassador in the area, where he made himself an extremely divisive figure. Feltman pushed in 2004 for UN Resolution 1559 to disarm the Lebanese resistance (Hezbollah), he supported the Israeli invasion in 2006, and he provided assistance to the March 14 political party against Hezbollah.

In other words, Feltman actively took sides in a divided political landscape. Feltman’s appointment “would be a disaster and send exactly the wrong signal for the UN” to the region. Having recognized its weakness, the US knows that it will be the UN that takes the lead in Syria and elsewhere for the foreseeable future.

Makdisi believes that in “anticipating a larger role for the UN,” the US wishes Feltman to be well-placed to “ensure that US interests are maintained as much as possible.” Whatever credibility remains with the UN will whittle in the region with this appointment.

It is likely that Secretary General Ban Ki-moon picked Feltman for an unearned reputation. He is known around the Beltway for his work on the Arab Spring. But in the totality of the Arab world Feltman will not be seen as an open-minded professional. He has already thrown his hat into the camp of the Saudis and their satellites (the Gulf Arabs and the Hariri clan of Lebanon).

This will limit Feltman’s ability to move an agenda in the region, least of all on the Arab-Israeli conflict where sober diplomacy is necessary from the UN. When I asked several people who watch the UN’s work in the Arab world carefully about this appointment, most offered me three words, “very bad news”.

Not bad news for the Saudis or the US neoconservatives, but certainly bad for the people of the Arab world, whose Spring had them longing not so much for this kind of venal diplomacy but for honesty and good-will”.

Vijay Prashad’s new book, Arab Spring, Libyan Winter , is published by AK Press.

Note: Jeffrey Feltman was the former US ambassador to Lebanon when Israel tried to invade Lebanon in 2006 and pounded it for 33 days with 15,000 air raids and 175,000 cannon shells, and failed, but destroyed almost all Lebanon infrastructure, displaced 300,000 Lebanese civilians, and polluted our seashores (bombed our oil reservoirs).

Bagman Feltman visits frequently Lebanon, a few days before the US warns its citizens not to travel to Lebanon: He programs the destabilization of a country he was supposed to protect and insure its stability.  Feltman precede the visits of Zionist US Senators and Congressmen, like Joseph Lieberman who pay visits to North Lebanon in order to establish a Free Zone for the Syrian armed insurgents to start a civil war in Syria from a safe zone in Lebanon…

Rebellious Spring, Murderous Winter

I didn’t yet read Arab Spring, Libyan Winter by Vijay Prashad, but Ron Jacobs did a short review.

” Arab Spring, Libyan Winter attacks the western interpretation of the transitions in Egypt and Libya and explores the actual events from a perspective that explains the players in terms of their allegiances, holdings and politics.

In Prashad’s work, the differences between the fighters on the ground and the suits on television are not only acknowledged, they are examined in terms of their meaning to the future.  In discussing Egypt, Prashad describes the conflagration of Washington’s imperial needs, Tel Aviv’s paranoiac perception of its security, and the Mubarak clique’s desire to maintain power.

Prashad gives lie to the West’s claim that it was interested in democracy (a relatively simple task to be sure), explaining that in the western mindset democracy doesn’t mean democracy, it means a guarantee that the interests and holdings of capital will not be upset.  The common term one hears is Stability.

Most of this book is about the battle for Libya.  Prashad’s text provides the most detailed description of the events both on the ground and in the office suites.  He exposes the humanitarian intervention by NATO for what it was.  That is, a means for the western powers to regain unfettered access to Libyan oil and rid themselves of an at best erratic client—Muammar Qadhafi.

Unlike many on the Left, Prashad does not take sides for or against the rebellion.  Instead, he explains the uprising as a popular and positive thing that was manipulated by the forces of the G7 and NATO.  Simultaneously, he discusses Qaddafi’s reign as one that began with many positive changes, yet ultimately was a victim of its own excess and greed.

If there are any good guys in his narrative, it would be the masses that risked their lives to overthrow the autocracy that had Qadhafi at its helm.  Their opposite would be the men on both sides of the battle whose only real interest was in keeping their bank accounts plush while serving their masters in the stock exchanges of the neoliberal world.

An interesting, and as yet not very closely examined, is the role of the  Jordan, Morocco, and the Gulf Cooperation Council (GCC) States of Bahrain, Kuwait, Oman, Qatar, Saudi Arabia, and United Arab Emirates.

Prashad makes note of the fact that the western capitals have said very little about the harsh repression visited on the Bahraini uprising or the Saudi intervention there.  He also explores the military role played by Qatar in Libya, its current role in Syria, and the inclusion of some GCC States in a NATO adjunct.  Perhaps this adjunct of NATO will be able to stand in for NATO in future operations in the Arab world, thereby creating another shadow in the workings of modern imperialism.

Despite the millions of words written about the Libyan uprising and the NATO intervention, nothing written in English has come near the truth. After reading Arab Spring, Libyan Winter, it seems that when all is said and done, Prashad’s work will come the closest”.

What I know is that France and England had prepared detailed military plans for Libya, before the uprising in Tunisia and later in Egypt. Qadhafi decided to buy his weapon systems exclusively from Russia, and France and England had little oil investment in Libya, and they wanted to have their big share of the cake…

You may read https://adonis49.wordpress.com/2012/03/09/federal-libya-as-i-predicted/

Ron Jacobs wrote on Libya and the Arab Spring:

“The last twenty or so months have certainly been months of insurrection.  This is perhaps no truer anywhere on earth than in the Middle East and northern Africa.  Exactly what the phrase “Arab Spring” means is still open for discussion.

After the protests, the sit-ins and encampments, the armed assaults and the killings, the only thing certain is that four dictatorial autocrats are no longer in power in the countries they formerly ruled.  Ben Ali, Mubarak, Qaddafi, Ali Abdullah Saleh of Yemen.  What will stand in their stead is still being debated.

When the Egyptian people began to gather in Tahrir Square in February 2011, the embers of the immolation that consumed Tunisian street vendor Mohamed Bouazizi had already sparked the prairie fire that overthrew the dictatorial ruler Ben Ali.  The protest in Tahrir Square was the first manifestation of that fire in Egypt but certainly not the last. 

Th fires of protest in Egypt tossed out their dictator less than two months after Mr. Ben Ali was deposed.  The feat of that overthrow was not only momentous within the borders of Egypt itself: Its repercussions were felt in the halls of Arabia, Asia, Africa and the Americas.

In Washington, Tel Aviv, London, Berlin, Paris, and Rome and on Wall Street, there was plenty of catching up to do.

Neither the eavesdroppers at the National Security Agency or the black ops managers of the Central Intelligence Agency predicted the end of the Mubarak regime.  Indeed, it wasn’t until the bitter end that the political powers in the aforementioned capitals began to side with (and subvert) the popular uprising in the streets of Egypt.

After Mubarak’s fall, the revolutionary fire spread like flames whipped by warm Santa Ana winds.  Bahrain to Libya.  Yemen to Syria.  London and New York.  Athens and Oakland, Occupy Wall Street protests.  The insurrectionist wave was in motion and nowhere was it more powerful than in the Arab world.

Nowhere was it met with more determined (and murderous) resistance from the powers that be, internally and externally.  Underlying the insurrectionary tide were the economic facts of neoliberalism’s struggle to maintain its global dominance.  When it became apparent that this goal could not always be accomplished by continuing to support the old regimes, the capitols of capitalism inserted their agents into the opposition and did their best to manipulate the rebellion into serving the agencies of those capitols.

For example, the IMF, World Bank and the rest of the usual suspects saw their moments in each instance and made their moves.  As I write, the entire insurrectionary wave is at a stalemate between the forces of popular social justice and just another new face for western imperialism.

Naturally, very little has been written about this aspect of the revolutionary upsurge of 2011-2012 in the organs of neoliberalism.  Instead, the fact of IMF arrangements with the post-Mubarak Egypt and the new Tunisia are interspersed with superficial analyses of the rebellions that would have the reader believe that it was social media that provoked them.

Even more revealing of the mainstream media’s allegiance to the imperial regime in the insurrection is its lack of coverage of the continuing popular resistance in the Pentagon’s shipyard Bahrain.  Instead, we are presented with an ongoing litany of unconfirmed atrocities committed by the Syrian military and a portrayal of the resistance there as essentially untainted by its affiliation with outside governments and military.” End of quote

Note 1: Ron Jacobs is the author of The Way the Wind Blew: a History of the Weather Underground and Short Order Frame Up. Jacobs’ essay on Big Bill Broonzy is featured in CounterPunch’s collection on music, art and sex, Serpents in the Garden.

His collection of essays and other musings titled Tripping Through the American Night is now available and his new novel is The Co-Conspirator’s Tale. He is a contributor to Hopeless: Barack Obama and the Politics of Illusion, forthcoming from AK Press. 

He can be reached at: ronj1955@gmail.com.


adonis49

adonis49

adonis49

October 2020
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