Propaganda Report, 12/15

President Obama . . .

Speaking of a ‘theater’ of war – this language was common in the 50s and 60s when I was growing up.   Apparently Drones have not only made the language obsolete, but they have erased the history of ‘theater’ or, more specifically ‘battlefield’ based warfare.    I participated in Debate: US Drone Action Plan, on ‘The Debate‘ a show on PressTV over the weekend.   My opponent, Michael Lane, the founder of American Institute for Foreign Policy, took the stance that there never really was a battlefield, so the constraints of international law are purely abstract.   It would be odd if this entity referenced in western law going back hundreds of years never existed.

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Testimony From the Heart

A guest post by Roland Micklem, initially published in the Scrap Paper #407.

The year was 1942. We had been at war with Japan and Germany for a few months, and every red-blooded American male was itching for a piece of the action.

I was a puny, underage 14 year-old, my first year in high school, but like all of my classmates and teachers, I was literally bubbling over with zeal for the Allied cause. Songs like You’re a Sap, Mister Jap and In Th’ Fuhrer’s Face were making the rounds, and our school—and indeed the entire nation—was awash in waves of patriotic furor.

Against this backdrop of such unabated Americanism, the school authorities engaged a speaker to address an assembly of the student body. The speaker was a woman who had spent many years in Japan, and she was there to tell us about the Japanese people.

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Victory Parade in Homs

When I visited Syria a year and a half ago, the Syrian city of Homs was largely under government control.  A few days ago the government began evacuating the last of the militants from their enclave in Homs under a truce agreement brokered by the United Nations and Red Cross.   The victory parade of the Syrian Arab Army was in […]

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Missing Persons and the GWoT

Many innocent people have been ‘disappeared’ in the course of the United States Global War of Terror.    Many innocent men have been swept from the Streets of Pakistan and Afghanistan, Iraq and other places associated with U.S. wars.   Here is Amina Masood Janjua telling her story.   Her story is powerful because, before her husband’s abduction, her family was like most of ours, a middle class family with a comfortable life.   Her husband was a business man who traveled, he was a Pakistani Muslim like so many others, almost everyone in that country, and he did not support any fanatical religious organizations or causes.   He was just a guy.

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Massacres in Paris, San Bernardino and the World

Paris caused a devastated western society to gasp in horror.   Nearly 150 dead, the second massacre in Paris this year.  Mainstream newspapers and social media published photos of victims on the internet.  It is true, as the Quran implies, that every life in it’s unique perfection is the equal of all lives.   But there is something to be said for noting, at the very least, every life stolen by unjust wars and terrorism.   In that light, let us consider the following

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Mass Killers in the U.S. and Terrorism

On December 2nd, there was another ‘mass killing’ in San Bernardino last week that left 14 people dead and 12 injured.   I was at the laundromat watching the stand-of on the highway that ended a high speed chase and eventually, the lives of the shooters.  I had joined another customer watching avidly in front of the TV.   There has been a lot of fear and fear mongering across the country, and a lot of rather academic discussion about what to call this event.    The shooters were Muslim, but of course we don’t want to blame Islam for their crimes off the jump.   Apparently the man had a falling out with some fellow workers earlier in the day then returned to the party to commit mayhem.   But then a huge stash of weapons and explosives were found in SUV they had been driving, and a bigger stash of ammo and explosives in their home.   So then, well, it must be ‘Terrorism’ after all.

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A Holiday Benefit

A Holiday Benefit for The Afghan Peace Volunteers’ Quilt Project

After 13 years of U.S./NATO intervention in Afghanistan, and US$1.172 trillion dollars spent on the Afghan war from 2001 to October of 2012, the basic needs of ordinary Afghans constantly caught in the crossfire are still poorly met.

In the following winter of 2013, the Afghan Peace Volunteers ( APVs ) organized the making and distribution of duvets to poor families in Kabul, including those in refugee camps.

Thanks to international peace-builders who had raised funds from among ordinary Americans, the APVs were able to distribute more than 2000 duvets that year. The Afghan ladies who sewed the duvets were paid a living wage per duvet. – quote from APV website

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About the Houthis and the Saudi War on Yemen

The war in Yemen has most often been described to us either as a civil war between the government of Yemen and its supporters, and a Houthi tribal militia. It is also represented as a proxy war between Saudi Arabia backing the Sunni government of Yemen and Iran backing a Shia insurgency led by the Houthis, a Zaydi tribe from northern Yemen.   Neither description is entirely accurate.   To understand what is happening in Yemen, it is useful to understand the factions who are fighting, and specifically, the Houthis.

The ‘correct’ title of the political movement we call the Houthis is Ansarullah.   They are not a tribal organization but rather a revolutionary movement. They are also not a Shia movement.   Zaydi Islam, though referred to by the Saudis as a Shia Islam, is in practice, much closer to Sunnism and in the north of Yemen, Sunni and Zaydi often worship in the same mosque.   In fact, Ansarullah, the group we know as the Houthis, has broad popular support because they espouse populist values.

The reason Ansarullah came to be called Houthis is that in 2004, they informally took the name of Hussein Badreddin al-Houthi, who died while fighting in an insurrection against former President Ali Abdullah Saleh.   Al Houthi was so beloved that the members of the organization began to call themselves ‘Houthis’ or ‘the Houthi Movement’.   But you may ask, why was a Houthi leading this movement and in what context did they emerge?

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21 Talking Points on US Backed War in Yemen (Updated with Context and PDF)

I prepared the Fact Sheet below to distribute at a film being shown at the High Falls Film Festival.   ‘Yemeniettes‘, a documentary film made by a Lebanese film company, follows a group of teenage girls who win a regional science contest from their enthusiastic invention to a local contest in Sana’a and then on to Doha, and then through the events that follow their winning this international contest.  It is a delightful scenario with many unspoken contradictions, Though a level of the background violence is reflected in the film it mostly focuses on these very liberal Yemeniettes with their innocent capitalist (as well as nationalist) aspirations.

Sadly, current events have overrun the context of this film and it seems unlikely there will be any more Yemeniettes (or Yemenis of any stripe)  entering,  much less winning, regional science contests any time in the foreseeable future.  This is pertinent because the United States is providing all kinds of support to our Saudi allies in their war effort.   If you enjoy this film, you should understand that.

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  1. This US backed, Saudi led campaign is an intrusion into the internal politics of Yemen
  2. This US backed, Saudi led campaign has embroiled Yemen in an unnecessary civil war
  3. The US backed, Saudi War against Yemen constitutes a Crime Against Peace and is the site of numerous War Crimes

We in the US are complicit in the Saudi crimes against the People of Yemen!

 

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Syria and the Syrian Refugees

I had a very interesting experience last night.  I was asked to sit on a panel on the ‘Syrian Refugee Crisis’ at a college about 50 miles from home where there would be 2 other speakers, both professors at the school.   One was a philosophy professor who spoke about the ethics of war, and the other a historian who spoke about the European response, and especially the German response to the flood of refugees.   They invited me to give some background on Syria.

Syria, over the last half century, has taken in more refugees from the region and treated them better than any other country in the region.   They have a couple of million Palestinians living there and took in at least 1.5 million Iraqis.   The children were welcomed in schools and basic medical care was provided. Sadly, Syria is now the source of refugees.   The majority of displaced Syrians remain inside Syria where they are supported by the Syrian government,  Even so, Turkey, Jordan and Lebanon are flooded with refugees, and thousands more are crossing into Europe   Most would prefer to return to their homes in Syria.

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