Archive for March, 2012

Koran burning in Afghanistan: Mistake, crime, and metaphor

By Richard Falk

On February 20, 2012 several American soldiers, five having been identified as responsible at this point, took some Islamic writings including several copies of the Koran to a landfill on Bagram Air Base in Afghanistan where they were burned. As soon as Afghan workers on the scene realized that Korans were being burned, they recognized what was happening as an act of desecration, and launched an immediate protest. The protest spread rapidly throughout the country, and turned violent, producing at least 30 Afghan deaths, as well as five dead American soldiers that also produced many non-lethal casualties. Read the rest of this entry »

Is Gambia a viable state?

By Gunnar Westberg

Gambia, or properly The Gambia, is a curious remnant of the British Empire, a crooked British finger poking from the Atlantic coast into Francophone Senegal. It is the smallest state in Africa, with about 1.6 million inhabitants.

Gambia was a hot spot for tourism 20 or 30 years ago, but is now largely bypassed by many other attractive subtropical or tropical countries and Gambia never discussed in international media. Read the rest of this entry »

Reciprocity, lawfare and self-defence: Targeted killing

By Richard Falk

This post is a modified and expanded text of a contribution to a Jadaliyya roundtable on targeted killing posted on March 5, 2012, and responding to the article by Lisa Hajjar referred to in the opening paragraph.


There is an emergent Israeli/American controversy on the lawfulness of targeted killing. Although the policy has not yet attained the status of being a national debate, there are signs that it may be about to happen, especially in light of the Attorney General, Eric Holder’s Northwestern Law School speech on March 5, 2012 outlining the Obama’s administration’s controversial approach to targeted killing in some detail. Lisa Hajjar convincingly narrates how the “legalization” of targeted killing has evolved over the course of the last twenty years. [Hajjar, “Lawfare and Targeted Killing Developments in the Israeli and U.S. Contexts,” Jadaliyya, Jan. 15, 2012] She there calls attention to the analogy to the torture debate that, in many ways, defined the political and moral identity of the Bush presidency in the aftermath of the 9/11 attacks, and even caused moral and legal fissures to develop that divided the American people unto this day.

Hajjar shows that it was Israel that first crossed the threshold of legality in response to a wave of suicide bombings that traumatized Israeli society in the 1990s. In other words, targeted killing became a tactic of choice for both the Israel and the United States as part of the preventive logic of counter-terrorism, that is, placing a premium on eliminating threats before harm is inflicted rather than the reactive logic of striking back and retaliating. The upsurge in targeted killing seems responsive to the belief that neither defensive strategies nor deterrence, nor massive retaliation are appropriate or effective against a terrorist adversary, especially if the violence might accompanied by the readiness of a perpetrator to die while carrying out a mission. Read the rest of this entry »

Democracy and economy buzzing in Nigeria

By Jonathan Power

Lagos – March 6th 2012

Politically Nigeria has been extraordinarily lucky in its political leadership the last thirteen years. Under dictator Sani Abacha opposition was routed and its leaders imprisoned, tortured and murdered, the press was neutered and the treasury looted for personal gain. It only ended when Abacha suffered a heart attack in bed in the company of three prostitutes.

Then one of his most vociferous opponents, Olusegun Obasanjo, who had spent three years in a primitive prison, won the first post-Abacha election. Read the rest of this entry »

The U.S. – from Empire to Global Fascism?

By Johan Galtung

In The Fall of the US Empire-And Then What?[i] a subtitle is US Fascism or US Blossoming? Of blossoming there seems to be none, with the Dow Jones crossing the 13,000 border, the real economy still mostly in bad shape, the Republican candidates embracing the economic system that produced the crisis, and Obama running the progressive rhetoric trick that brought him into power in 2008. By midterm 2010 the bluff was called, with a landslide. The OWS, Occupy Wall Street, is in the first three stages, consciousness-formation, mobilization and some confrontation; but not yet in the real struggle with massive nonviolent practice of alternatives.

Fascism? There is a domestic and a global variety and the latter is Obama’s foreign policy, with domestic elements. Read the rest of this entry »

Tonight I lost my last bit of sympathy for President Obama

By Jan Oberg

A man shall be judged more by his deeds than by his words, says President Obama. That is what I do to him here. On the basis of what he has done and says he will do.

This is President Obama’s most nasty, bellicose, one-sided and perversely power-arrogant speech ever. The Nobel Committee ought to revoke its Prize to him, but of course it won’t.

This cynical man speaks about the goodness of even more “crippling” sanctions on a country of 75 million people of which 25 % are children under 14.

At every single aspect he touches upon, he takes the wrong path: towards making war irreversible. There is no excuse that it was for AIPAC. In contrast to George W. Bush, he is neither ignorant, under-educated, or un-intelligent. That’s what makes it so serious, so tragic.

Among several remarkable things is that the President here also gives a carte blanche to Israel deciding alone what it will do in the future vis-a-vis Iran.

Under no circumstance can the U.S. under this man serve in a peaceful role, and it’s laughable to argue that it can be a mediator in the Middle East.
Pray that I am wrong but this speech, combined with everything else that goes on these months, makes me predict war on Iran within 4-6 months.

Of course this speech figures only on 2-3 front pages of the Western mainstream press the day after; they are more interested for a 2nd day in the likely, but so far undocumented, election fraud in Russia. Most editors probably don’t know what AIPAC is, or why Obama’s words in that forum are so important.


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