Saturday, August 24, 2013

Twitter Messages -- August 24

Sooner or later this was sure to happen.

Al-Qaeda blames Hezbollah for Lebanon mosque bombings
Saturday, 24 August 2013
Reuters, Dubai

Al-Qaeda’s North African branch blamed Lebanese Shiite Muslim militant group Hezbollah for twin bombs that hit the northern city of Tripoli on Friday and threatened retribution, a U.S.-based intelligence monitoring website reported on Saturday. 
Although al-Qaeda in the Islamic Maghreb, or AQIM, is not operational in Lebanon, its statement shows a growing regional hatred against Hezbollah by radical Sunni Muslim groups and a wider, deepening sectarian divide in the Middle East. 
AQIM said in tweets it knew “with certainty” that the Iranian-backed Hezbollah was responsible for the attack that killed more than 42 people in Tripoli. 
“That vile party ... should know that it will meet retribution soon,” AQIM said, according to the SITE monitoring service. 
Hezbollah, which was once lauded by both Sunnis and Shiites for its battles against Israel, has lost support from many Sunnis since it joined Syrian President Bashar al-Assad’s side in his 2 1/2-year-old fight against a majority Sunni uprising. 
Syrian rebels, whose strongest elements are radical Sunnis, have been hosted in neighboring Lebanon by sympathetic Sunnis and there have been attacks on Hezbollah members on Lebanese soil. Both Hezbollah and radical Sunni groups in Lebanon have sent fighters into Syria to fight on opposing sides. 
The explosions in Tripoli, 70 km (40 miles) from the capital Beirut, were the biggest and deadliest there since the end of Lebanon’s own civil war and came a week after a huge car bomb killed at least 24 people in a Shiite district of Beirut controlled by Hezbollah. 
“We know with certainty that behind this deplorable act committed against are the hands of the vile, rafidah Hezbollah, which stands side by side with Bashar in Syria,” the AQIM tweets said, as quoted by SITE. 
Al-Qaeda groups follow a hardline ideology that rejects all non-Sunnis as infidels and regularly incites antagonism towards Shiites. Assad’s family is from the Alawite sect, an offshoot of Shiite Islam.

A sober reflection on how hard it is for leaders to advocate intervention to stop terrible crimes when their constituencies will not be supportive. As Power says, the relationship between leaders and followers is circular.
Samantha Power on the Duty to Intervene
By Jeffrey Goldberg 

Aug 23, 2013
[...]   So I have a sense that Power would believe that the following statement, which she made in her book’s concluding chapter, would apply to Syria: “When innocent life is being taken on such a scale and the United States has the power to stop the killing at reasonable risk, it has a duty to act.” 
In her conclusion, Power asks, “Why does the United States stand so idly by?” in the face of mass killing. And she explains the traditional behavior of Western leaders when confronted with proof of large-scale atrocities: “Western governments have generally tried to contain genocide by appeasing its architects. But the sad record of the last century shows that the walls the United States tries to build around genocidal societies almost inevitably shatter. States that murder and torment their own citizens target citizens elsewhere. Their appetites become insatiable.” 
Her argument for intervention in cases of large-scale violence against civilians is not motivated merely by moral interests: “Citizens victimized by genocide or abandoned by the international community do not make good neighbors, as their thirst for vengeance, their irredentism and their acceptance of violence as a means of generating change can turn them into future threats.” Two years of Western inaction in Syria, of course, have helped turn what began as a nonviolent citizens’ rebellion into an al-Qaeda-dominated campaign of anti-regime violence. 
To those analysts who argue that the American people, tired of the Middle East and weary of war, are comprehensively uninterested in engagement of any sort, Power, it seems to me, would recite this bit of cogent analysis: “The inertia of the governed cannot be disentangled from the indifference of the government. American leaders have both a circular and a deliberate relationship to public opinion.” 
She goes on, “It is circular because their constituencies are rarely if ever aroused by foreign crises, even genocidal ones, in the absence of political leadership, and yet at the same time U.S. officials continually cite the absence of public support as grounds for inaction. The relationship is deliberate because American leadership has not been absent in such circumstances. It has been present but devoted mainly to minimizing public outrage.” 
Power is alert to the short half-life of public outrage, on those rare occasions when public outrage manifests itself at all. She quotes Arthur Koestler on the subject: “‘You can convince them for an hour,’ he said, of the average citizen, but then ‘their mental half-defense begins to work and in a week the shrug of incredulity has returned like a reflex temporarily weakened by shock.’” 
She writes elsewhere in her conclusion that the U.S. consistently fails to deter crimes against humanity, even when its government knows perfectly well the details of the crimes, and the identities of the perpetrators: 
“What is most shocking about America’s reaction to Turkey’s killing of Armenians, the Holocaust, Pol Pot’s reign of terror, Iraq’s slaughter of the Kurds, Bosnian Serbs' mass murder of Muslims, and the Hutu elimination of Tutsi is not that the United States refused to deploy U.S. ground forces to combat the atrocities.” 
She continues, “For much of the century, even the most ardent interventionists did not lobby for U.S. ground invasions. What is most shocking is that U.S. policy makers did almost nothing to deter the crime. Because America’s ‘vital national interests’ were not considered imperiled by mere genocide, senior U.S. officials did not give genocide the moral attention it warranted.” 
As I read this morning that the UN secretary-general, Ban Ki-Moon, expressed “shock” upon hearing of the alleged chemical weapons attack, I was reminded of this succinct and unsparing line from Power: “We are responsible for our incredulity.”

Marc Lynch is an expert in his own right. So if he says something is worth reading, believe it. Mead's points, tough as they are against the Obama administration, are valid and mostly incontrovertible. 
The Failed Grand Strategy in the Middle East

By Walter Russell Meade
Here are a few snips.
The plan was simple but elegant: The U.S. would work with moderate Islamist groups like Turkey's AK Party and Egypt's Muslim Brotherhood to make the Middle East more democratic. This would kill three birds with one stone. First, by aligning itself with these parties, the Obama administration would narrow the gap between the 'moderate middle' of the Muslim world and the U.S. Second, by showing Muslims that peaceful, moderate parties could achieve beneficial results, it would isolate the terrorists and radicals, further marginalizing them in the Islamic world. Finally, these groups with American support could bring democracy to more Middle Eastern countries, leading to improved economic and social conditions, gradually eradicating the ills and grievances that drove some people to fanatical and terroristic groups.
All that, and a pony for Christmas. As events of the last few months, underscored by the Syrian catastrophe, the impact of those terrorist groups has been seriously underestimated. Moreover, the outcome of the Egyptian experiment has proved way different from what was hoped for. Egypt didn't come close to the Turkish model of what can happen when old regimes are replaced by more representative forms. 
Compared with Mr. Morsi, however, Mr. Erdogan is a Bismarck of effective governance and smart policy. Mr. Morsi and the Muslim Brotherhood were quite simply not ready for prime time; they failed to understand the limits of their mandate, fumbled incompetently with a crumbling economy and governed so ineptly and erratically that tens of millions of Egyptians cheered on the bloody coup that threw them out.
There is more. Much more. Go to the link for the bullet points.
The White House, along with much of the rest of the American foreign policy world, made another key error in the Middle East: It fundamentally misread the nature of the political upheaval in Egypt. Just as Thomas Jefferson mistook the French Revolution for a liberal democratic movement like the American Revolution, so Washington thought that what was happening in Egypt was a "transition to democracy." That was never in the cards. 
What happened in Egypt was that the military came to believe that an aging President Hosni Mubarak was attempting to engineer the succession of his son, turning Egypt from a military republic to a dynastic state. The generals fought back; when unrest surged, the military stood back and let Mr. Mubarak fall. The military, incomparably more powerful than either the twittering liberals or the bumbling Brotherhood, has now acted to restore the form of government Egypt has had since the 1950s. Now most of the liberals seem to understand that only the military can protect them from the Islamists, and the Islamists are learning that the military is still in charge. During these events, the Americans and Europeans kept themselves endlessly busy and entertained trying to promote a nonexistent democratic transition.
This is impressive. 
What Manning Revealed
By Greg Mitchell
First, just a very partial list from "Cablegate" (keep in mind, this does not include many other bombshells that caused a stir in smaller nations abroad):
-Yemeni president lied to his own people, claiming his military carried out air strikes on militants actually done by U.S. All part of giving U.S. full rein in country against terrorists.
-Details on Vatican hiding big sex abuse cases in Ireland.
-U.S. tried to get Spain to curb its probes of Gitmo torture and rendition.
-Egyptian torturers trained by FBI—although allegedly to teach the human rights issues.
-State Dept memo: U.S.-backed 2009 coup in Honduras was 'illegal and unconstitutional.'”
-Cables on Tunisia appear to help spark revolt in that country. The country's ruling elite described as “The Family,” with Mafia-like skimming throughout the economy. The country's First Lady may have made massive profits off a private school.
-U.S. knew all about massive corruption in Tunisia back in 2006 but went on supporting the government anyway, making it the pillar of its North Africa policy
-Cables showed the UK promised in 2009 to protect U.S interests in the official Chilcot inquiry on the start of the Iraq war.
-U.S. pressured the European Union to accept GM — genetic modification, that is.
-Washington was misled by our own diplomats on Russia-Georgia showdown.
-Extremely important historical document finally released in full: Ambassador April Glaspie's cable from Iraq in 1990 on meeting with Saddam Hussein before Kuwait invasion.
-The UK sidestepped a ban on housing cluster bombs. Officials concealed from Parliament how the U.S. is allowed to bring weapons on to British soil in defiance of treaty.
-New York Times: “From hundreds of diplomatic cables, Afghanistan emerges as a looking-glass land where bribery, extortion and embezzlement are the norm and the honest man is a distinct outlier.”
-Afghan vice president left country with $52 million “in cash.”
-Shocking levels of U.S. spying at the United Nations (beyond what was commonly assumed) and intense use of diplomats abroad in intelligence-gathering roles.
-Potential environmental disaster kept secret by the U.S. when a large consignment of highly enriched uranium in Libya came close to cracking open and leaking radioactive material into the atmosphere.
-American and British diplomats fear Pakistan's nuclear weapons program — with poor security — could lead to fissile material falling into the hands of terrorists or a devastating nuclear exchange with India.
-U.S. used threats, spying, and more to try to get its way at last year's crucial climate conference in Copenhagen.
-Hundreds of cables detail U.S. use of diplomats as “sales” agents, more than previously thought, centering on jet rivalry of Boeing vs. Airbus. Hints of corruption and bribes.
-Millions in U.S. military aid for fighting Pakistani insurgents went to other gov't uses (or stolen) instead.
-Israel wanted to bring Gaza to the ”brink of collapse.”
-The U.S. secret services used Turkey as a base to transport terrorism suspects as part of its extraordinary rendition program.
-As protests spread in Egypt, cables revealed that strong man Suleiman was at center of government's torture programs, causing severe backlash for Mubarak after he named Suleiman vice president during the revolt. Other cables revealed or confirmed widespread Mubarak regime corruption, police abuses and torture, and claims of massive Mubarak famiiy fortune, significantly influencing media coverage and U.S. response.
-Oil giant Shell claims to have “inserted staff” and fully infiltrated Nigeria's government.
And that's before he gets to Iraq ans Afghanistan. The amount of material is staggering.
Anyone who believes this pile of "secrets" is different from the Pentagon Papers is not living in the real world. As Snowden and others have shown, the response to the attack on the World Trade Center (not just in America but worldwide) has proved to be more catastrophic than even the perpetrators imagined. The fear and secrecy industrial complex has become a disease that threatens to smother representative government. 

This just in. Interesting. 
These military guys are getting serious.

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