A propagandist-in-chief's war on intellectual imperialism and pursuit of a resistance episteme

Posts Tagged: us foreign policy

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That’s right, two-thirds of the Iranian people are willing to brave western sanctions and lend support to their government’s pursuit of its nuclear program, as reported by the Washington Post here. Moreover, a more detailed analysis of the findings on the Gallup website  reveals that although 85% believe the sanctions have hurt Iranians generally while 83% say they have been hurt  personally  by them, they still want Iran to pursue nuclear power. RESPECT. 

Findings like these only underline how detached from reality the US’ and Europe’s Realist-driven foreign policy is. The reality is that some nations are not motivated solely by economic interests nor do they cow in the face of military threats. Imperialism has helped forge a nationalist, resistant and justice-seeking political identity and culture among the peoples it oppresses as a matter of foreign policy. And where this political identity is weakened, as in religiously diverse Syria, it is only on account of Empire’s divide-and-rule tactics to sow sectarian strife. 
Excerpts from the WaPo article:

But, judging from a new Gallup poll, the sanctions do not seem to be successful at two major, secondary goals: turning Iranian public opinion against the nuclear program and against national leaders for behaving in a way that has invited sanctions. Last year, The Washington Post’s Karen DeYoung and Scott Wilson reported that the Obama administration sees public discontent as an intended effect of the sanctions. But an overwhelming majority of Iranians told Gallup that Iran should continue its nuclear program, even when the question was specifically phrased to remind them that economic sanctions are a direct result of that program.

Gallup asked, “Given the scale of the sanctions against Iran, do you think Iran should continue to develop its nuclear power capabilities, or not?” Almost two-thirds of respondents, 63 percent, said yes. Only 17 percent said no; 19 percent said they didn’t know or refused to answer.

The poll also found that Iranians are almost five times as likely to blame the United States for sanctions as they are to blame their own government. Even fewer blame Europe or the United Nations, though both are instrumental in the crippling economic sanctions. Pollsters asked, “Which of the following groups do you hold most responsible for sanctions against Iran?” Out of the seven choices, the most popular by far was the United States, with 47 percent. Only 10 percent blamed the Iranian government; 9 percent said Israel; 7 percent each named “Western European countries” and the United Nations. Three percent said “someone else,” zero said “no one,” and 17 percent declined to answer.

Sanctions do not, based on this poll, seem to be rallying Iranians against their leaders or the nuclear program, but rather reinforcing popular antagonism toward the United States. To the extent that Iranian leaders are worried about popular support, this poll suggests that nuclear development and defiant foreign policy will continue to be winners.

 

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So “the [Egyptian] people want the downfall of the regime”. Indeed, it is ironic that the people are demanding the overthrow of a DEMOCRATICALLY ELECTED government, but hardly surprising when we consider that it represents the latest breed of “democratic regime” the US has been promoting in the region to reverse its losses incurred by the “Arab Spring”. 
But the first indications of this new trend in government were in fact visible in 2005 when the first State Dept. colour coded “revolution” occurred in the region, aka “the Cedar revolution.” In 2007 I wrote about the March 14 ruling bloc in Lebanon and Mahmoud Abbas’ government in the West Bank: “Such governments appear to be the latest breed of democracy that Washington is cultivating: the democratic regime. This is democratic, insofar as the political systems of which it is part is a democracy; but it is a regime, in that it represents a new form of government which is challenged by the people, its constitutionality is widely disputed, and it derives its legitimacy from external powers. In short, this is the closest the US can get to an authoritarian regime without admitting the reality.”

This description is particularly applicable to Mursi’s regime today, which, like its predecessor is perceived as illegitimate, dictatorial and increasingly, repressive. And like other democratic regimes, it too is the only type of outcome one can expect from US-engineered “procedural” or “low intensity” democracy which possesses only the structures and institutions of liberal democracy (itself an oxymoron of sorts and a defective form of democracy) minus the substance. 
As a basic principle of any real democracy, national self-determination is the prerequisite for any substantive democracy to take hold in our region.

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My latest article: "Iran: Safeguarding its Identity"

My latest article on why Iran won’t submit to US diktat:

"Diplomacy with Iran was essentially war by other means; the offer of dialogue accompanied by threats of a military strike and/or further “crippling” sanctions if the outcome of the “dialogue” was not to Washington’s liking…US diplomacy was not based on a recognition of Iran as an equal, but on a grudging tolerance of a “rogue” state Washington deemed inferior….

Ideological principles such as sovereignty, justice, independence, self-sufficiency and dignity are not abstract values but founding principles and strategic necessities which emerged from Iran’s historical experience of foreign domination. This experience taught Iranians that the politics of dependency practiced by pre-revolutionary Iran was a sure recipe for strategic weakness and domestic collapse, as the Shah’s regime illustrated. Moreover, Iran did not see in the US’ Arab allies a success story worthy of emulation.”

Full article here

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Confused about the US policy on Islamic jihadis? Maybe this will help clarify a little: the more jihadism overlaps with the secular concept of Moqawama (resistance) and pursues irredentist and liberationist goals (i.e. Palestine, Lebanon, Afghanistan, Kashmir), which are essentially DEFENSIVE and driven by a rejection of oppression, with no ambitions to cleanse the nation of “infidels”, then jihad

 is terrorism. All other types (save the global jihad against the US and the West) are more than welcome, particularly the Salafi Takfiri and Wahhabi variants of jihad as well as the Qutbist variety, when they shift focus away from fighting the external enemy to the “enemy within”, i.e. fellow Muslims and minorities, as well as Arab/Muslim regimes on account of their perceived apostasy rather than their inherent injustice. While not entirely comfortable with jihadism, the US has learned to exploit it and hence favours offensive rather than defensive jihad, which strives to re-establish the “golden age” of Islam by forceful imposition because US policy works under the [sometimes erroneous] assumption that while Moqawama cannot be co-opted, Islamic rule can be.

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Mohammad Marandi on the difference between Romney and Obama on Iran: Nothing

I am proud to be a friend of Seyed Mohammad Marandi. Mohamad is an associate professor of English Literature at University of Tehran and the founder and director of Institute for North American and European Studies there. Talking to al-Jazeeraa English, he turns colonial discourse on its head in the video link below:

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=SgUnLcNZndQ


“The Iranians have been talking. The Iranians are basically saying that ‘we are willing to negotiate.’ But the Western position is ‘you give up everything and then we’ll start talking.’ The Iranian right to enriching uranium is a right that all sovereign countries have. And the Iranian Revolution itself was partially about dignity and independence. The Iranians are not going to accept being a second-rate country. This is not the Saudi regime or the Jordanian regime. This is a country that is fiercely independent. So the Iranians will continue to enrich uranium within the framework of the NPT and international law. The United States cannot stop Iran from doing so. If the United States was reasonable and rational, if the Europeans were rational, then the Iranians would be willing to give further assurances to ease tensions. But the United States isn’t really after that, in the eyes of Iranians.”

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U.S. to Focus on Forcibly Toppling Syrian Government - NYTimes.com

Talk about political bankruptcy. The NY Times believes it had made headline news out of….nothing new. The article begins with this sensationalist lead paragraph:
"The Obama administration has for now abandoned efforts for a diplomatic settlement to the conflict in Syria, and instead it is increasing aid to the rebels and redoubling efforts to rally a coalition of like-minded countries to forcibly bring down the government of President Bashar al-Assad, American officials say.”
But then it turns out that "Administration officials insist they will not provide arms to the rebel forces. Turkey, Saudi Arabia and Qatar are already financing those efforts. But American officials said that the United States would provide more communications training and equipment .."
Also turns out that the international effort to “forcibly remove” Assad, is nothing more than rallying its allies to further pressure the Syrian government and to lay out contingency plans for a post-Assad scenario :“It’s going to take an international effort when Assad falls — and he will fall — in order to secure these weapons,” Adm. William H. McRaven, the head of the military’s Special Operations forces, told Congress in March.”
And then this bizarre paragraph: “The administration has had regular talks with the Israelis about how Israel might move to destroy Syrian weapons facilities, administration officials said. The administration is not advocating such an attack, the officials said, because of the risk that it would give Mr. Assad an opportunity to rally support against Israeli interference.”
If the US doesn’t want Israel to attack then why begin the paragraph with the ominous sounding "The administration has had regular talks with the Israelis about how Israel might move to destroy Syrian weapons facilities"?? Let’s face it, the NYT is starting to sound as bankrupt and desperate for some muscle to flex as the Obama regime for which it serves as an unofficial mouthpiece. Articles like this only convince me more that the Empire’s hands are tied and hence, must resort to this inane saber-rattling much like its colonial outpost, Israel.

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US takes careful first steps with new Egypt – AFP

"Despite Morsi’s Islamist background, the confirmation of his election brought relief to President Barack Obama’s administration which feared that the military would not accept his victory and provoke new chaos in Egypt.

Morsi put Washington further at ease shortly after his victory announcement Sunday when he pledged to be a leader for all Egypt — where around 10 percent of the population is Christian — and to honor a peace treaty with Israel.

"He’s been saying a lot of the right things, both privately and then you saw him say many of the right things publicly," State Department spokeswoman Victoria Nuland told reporters.

Katulis said that relations with Egypt could move in a similar direction as US ties with Turkey, where Prime Minister Recep Tayyip Erdogan has an Islamist background but has worked with the United States on issues including Iraq, Afghanistan and Syria.”

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C.I.A. Said to Aid in Steering Arms to Syrian Rebels - NYTimes.com

And the sad part is that the supporters of the Syrian “revolution” and Third-Wayers will still refuse to see how their position serves Empire after reading reports like these. In fact, for many of them, especially those in the first category,  Empire is no longer the principal enemy if at all. 

"By helping to vet rebel groups, American intelligence operatives in Turkey hope to learn more about a growing, changing opposition network inside of Syria and to establish new ties. “C.I.A. officers are there and they are trying to make new sources and recruit people,” said one Arab intelligence official who is briefed regularly by American counterparts.

American officials and retired C.I.A. officials said the administration was also weighing additional assistance to rebels, like providing satellite imagery and other detailed intelligence on Syrian troop locations and movements. The administration is also considering whether to help the opposition set up a rudimentary intelligence service. But no decisions have been made on those measures or even more aggressive steps, like sending C.I.A. officers into Syria itself, they said.

What has changed since March is an influx of weapons and ammunition to the rebels. The increasingly fierce air and artillery assaults by the government are intended to counter improved coordination, tactics and weaponry among the opposition forces, according to members of the Syrian National Council and other activists.Last month, these activists said, Turkish Army vehicles delivered antitank weaponry to the border, where it was then smuggled into Syria.”

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'Atrocities' could trigger military intervention in Syria, Joint Chiefs chairman warns | Fox News

Not that I think that this is more than saber rattling, but  again interesting to see how Houla massacre serves no one but the military interventionists:

The escalating “atrocities” in Syria could end up triggering a military intervention, Chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff Gen. Martin Dempsey told Fox News on Monday — following the massacre that left more than 100 dead. 

"You’ll always find military leaders to be somewhat cautious about the use of force, because we’re never entirely sure what comes out on the other side," he said. "But that said, it may come to a point with Syria because of the atrocities." 

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US condemns Syria massacre and looks for Russian help to oust Assad | World news | guardian.co.uk

And there you have it, a motive for the massacre, force Russia to accept a Yemen-like deal :

In a strongly worded statement condemning the attack – which left more 90 dead including 32 children – Clinton accused Assad and his cronies of ruling by “murder and fear” adding that the regime must “come to an end”….Russia, as one of Assad’s few remaining allies, has long blocked tough sanctions against the regime proposed by the United Nations, claiming that it could lead to the bloody ouster of Assad.

But the breakdown of the already fragile Syrian peace process amid horrific scenes could push Moscow towards using its influence in the strife-torn country to assist a transition of power.”

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Written 5 years before Arab “Spring” and US foreign policy thereafter: “What is really being promoted is “procedural” or “low-intensity democracy”, which serves to actually “suppress aspirations for substantive democratisation” by “focus[ing] on aspects of democracy which are congruent with capitalism (i.e. individual and contract rights) to the detriment of its participatory and social aspects.” Thus although it is correct to say that the US is “promoting democracy” of sorts, it would be more accurate to refer to these efforts as “promoting polyarchy”…The promotion of “low-intensity democracy” is aimed not only at mitigating the social and political tensions produced by elite-based and undemocratic status quos, but also at suppressing popular and mass aspirations for more thoroughgoing democratisation of social life in the twenty-first century international order.”

Source: Michael Barker, “Promoting polyarchy in Serbia,” Znet, 29 October, 2006

http://www.zcommunications.org/promoting-polyarchy-in-serbia-by-michael-barker

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Yesterday’s FP Magazine covered Senators John McCain and Joe Lieberman’s visit to the Turkish-Syrian border to meet with leaders of the Free Syria Army and Syrian refugees. They were quoted as saying: "If America still stands for the cause of oppressed people who are fighting for their freedom, and justice, and deliverance from tyranny, we cannot abandon the people of Syria," they said. "We cannot shirk our responsibility to lead. Our deepest values and interests compel us to act in Syria, and we must do so before it is too late.”

The provocative reference to the “cause of the oppressed” aside, what’s striking about this statement is how its language is unabashedly liberal imperialist . Not only do the Senators refer to their White Man’s Burden, “the responsibility to lead”, but they also acknowledge that “our interests compel” intervention in Syria. Coupled with the characteristic anchoring of all foreign policy [read interventionist] discourse in the language of values, the senators’ statement smacks of Enlightened Imperialism. Like its predecessor, Enlightened Absolutism (monarchies inspired by Enlightenment values of religious toleration, freedom of speech and the press, and the right to hold private property, and which aimed at “improving” their subjects’ lives in order to further entrench their own authority), Enlightened Imperialism pursues similar liberal values such as human rights, economic development, democratization etc., which ultimately reinforce its economic and political domination of the oppressed South. Both are based on the liberal concept of “Enlightened self-interest” (as used by Alexis de Tocqueville in his study of democracy in America),  a philosophy in ethics which states that persons who act to further the interests of others, ultimately serve their own self-interest. 

Such Realist morality, or what some have called the “imperialism of virtue” is not confined to American conservatives but pervades contemporary liberal discourse in the US. A case in point, is Obama’s National Security Strategy document of 2008 where he clearly spells out this doctrine: “A key source of American leadership throughout our history has been enlightened self-interest…The United States rejects the false choice between the narrow pursuit of our interests and an endless campaign to impose our values. Instead, we see it as fundamental to our own interests to support a just peace around the world—one in which individuals, and not just nations, are granted the fundamental rights that they deserve… The belief that our own interests are bound to the interests of those beyond our borders…” In other words, the US’ interests and values are made synonymous and moral and political values are reduced to naked self-interest, while these interests are equated with, or forcibly projected onto, the interests of those it seeks to neo-colonize. 

Given that De Tocqueville viewed the concept of Enlightened Self-Interest as the cornerstone of American democracy, and considering the space it occupies in mainstream and official political discourse, one can only conclude that it defines the US’ political identity, which effectively makes that identity an imperialist one. 

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We really have to start challenging the concept of US “security interests” in the Middle East. I know it seems so self-evidently nonsensical as to obviate the need for a critique but it has become so deeply naturalized in mainstream political discourse, that even well-meaning Arabs feel compelled to appeal to the US’ regional interests when dissuading Washington from committing further foreign policy blunders.
First of all, how does the US even have a security to protect in the region when it isn’t part of the region? Sure, it’s a regional actor and player insofar as it has occupation troops stationed in the Arab and Islamic world, and it has military bases strewn across GCC countries, but the US doesn’t belong to the Middle East; it isn’t located here so it has no physical security concerns to speak of. What happens in Syria or Libya for example, does not constitute a threat to the US’ homeland security. 
Second, how is security an interest? And why use the plural “interests” if survival is the main concern? One need only read Obama’s National Security Strategy document (May 2010) to find an explanation. Here, Obama equates national security with “economic competitiveness” among other interests which are completely divorced from the concept of physical security. So basically, in American liberal parlance, security is not synonymous with the survival of a state but with survival and maintenance of empire-building. 
The US is not entitled to any interests in our region. Period.

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