Having been officially recognized as a “drive for human rights” by the European Parliament, the movement known as the “Arab Spring” is now extending itself into other nations and being re-branded as the “Arab Winter.”
The boundaries of the Arab Spring are difficult to define precisely. Most reports set the birth of the movement on December 18, 2010. On that date, protests erupted in Tunisia following the self-immolation of Mohamed Bouazizi, an act taken to draw attention to and protest the corruption of police and the mistreatment of citizens by the same. Emboldened by this uprising, citizens of Jordan, Egypt, Yemen, and Algeria joined in similar protests of government corruption and authoritarianism.
Libya, as has been well-chronicled, is the latest country to witness the toppling of an autocratic regime. Moammar Gadhafi, the ruler of Libya since taking office in a coup in 1969, was deposed by anti-government rebels on August 23, 2011 and was killed by the transitional governing body of Libya after that group took control of Gadhafi's hometown, where the former dictator was hiding out.
While the spirit of freedom undoubtedly resides in all men, often there is as much to be feared from “democrats” as despots. Tyranny of the many is no less oppressive than tyranny of the few. In the case of the Arab world and the supposed “liberation” of its people that comes with the Arab Spring/Winter, there seems to be as much corruption in the liberators as in the former oppressors whose palaces they now occupy.
Although his commitment to “limited government” is unsurpassed, establishment Republicans in both politics and the so-called “conservative media” labor incessantly to discredit Texan Congressman and GOP presidential contender, Ron Paul. On its face, who couldn’t judge this phenomenon, the phenomenon of the most vocal champions of liberty ridiculing and trivializing the most vocal champion of liberty, as anything other than bizarre? Any remotely curious observer couldn’t resist the impulse to inquire into the roots of this enigma.
We needn’t dig too deeply to discover that the establishment Republican’s apparently irrational conduct toward Paul stems from his angst regarding Paul’s foreign policy vision. Paul, you see, rejects in no uncertain terms the notion that Big Government is not only permissible, but desirable, as long as it is non-American citizens abroad upon whom our government’s designs would be brought to bear. Loudly and unapologetically, he rejects the idea that “social engineering” is a good thing as long as it is other societies that our government seeks to “engineer.” Paul makes no secret of his utter contempt, a contempt born of his passion for liberty and individuality, for the belief that policies rooted in utopian fantasy are worthy of pursuit as long as it is not America, but the world, that our government seeks to perfect.
As brutal revenge attacks against loyalist towns and bickering between various armed factions pick up steam in Libya, the al Qaeda flag was photographed flying above the courthouse in the rebellion’s home town of Benghazi. The White House, which unconstitutionally committed American forces in the conflict, said it was not surprised by recent developments.
"There is no God but Allah," read the black flag with a full moon fluttering atop the key government building, which served as the rebel regime’s headquarters throughout much of the eight-month civil war. The first media outlet to publicize the banner also noted that Islamists could be seen throughout the city flying the al Qaeda flag and shouting Muslim slogans.
When a photographer with Vice.com approached the courthouse to take pictures of the flag, a guard came out and warned him to stop. “Whomever speaks ill of this flag, we will cut off his tongue,” the camouflaged security officer said. “I recommend that you don't publish these. You will bring trouble to yourself.”
The Libyan revolutionary also insisted the flag on the courthouse was dark black, while al Qaeda’s flag was charcoal black. Locals urged the photographer to leave too, saying Islamist fighters could be watching him.
The Obama administration is pushing to leave more troops in the Persian Gulf and to create a regional equivalent of NATO in the Arabic Middle East, according to the New York Times.
"After unsuccessfully pressing both the Obama administration and the Iraqi government to permit as many as 20,000 American troops to remain in Iraq beyond 2011, the Pentagon is now drawing up an alternative," the New York Times reported October 30. Part of that plan may be to leave additional troops in Kuwait, for years a staging area for the Iraq war, or simply to float a larger naval fleet in the Persian Gulf.
But the Obama administration has another alternative they are floating to create "security" in the Islamic world, the New York Times reported: "The administration and the military are trying to foster a new 'security architecture' for the Persian Gulf that would integrate air and naval patrols and missile defense."
That "security architecture" may include boosting existing security alliances in the Arab world, especially the Gulf Cooperation Council (GCC), a 30-year-old group of six Persian Gulf dictatorships led by Saudi Arabia. The GCC is both a NATO and European Common Market-style organization with a customs union agreement that was inked in 2003. The GCC's six nations on the Arabian peninsula together have one trillion dollars in GDP, and the GCC is considering membership requests from Jordan and Morocco. "Another part of the administration’s post-Iraq planning involves the Gulf Cooperation Council, dominated by Saudi Arabia," the New York Times reported. "It has increasingly sought to exert its diplomatic and military influence in the region and beyond. Qatar and the United Arab Emirates, for example, sent combat aircraft to the Mediterranean as part of the NATO-led intervention in Libya, while Bahrain and the United Arab Emirates each have forces in Afghanistan."
JBS CEO Art Thompson's weekly video news update for October 31-November 6, 2011.
This week the European Parliament awarded the annual Sakharov Prize for Freedom of Thought to key participants in the Arab Spring.
The five recipients were chosen “in recognition and support of their drive for freedom and human rights.” The five are described in a press release announcing the award as “representatives of the Arab people.”
The Sakharov Prize for Freedom of Thought, named for the Soviet physicist and political dissident Andrei Sakharov, has been awarded by the European Parliament every year since 1988 to individuals or organizations that that multinational body believes “have made an important contribution to the fight for human rights or democracy.” The prize is accompanied by an award of €50,000.
The named winners of the €50,000 prize are: Asmaa Mahfouz (Egypt), Ahmed al-Zubair Ahmed al-Sanusi (Libya), Razan Zaitouneh (Syria), Ali Farzat (Syria), and posthumously to Mohamed Bouazizi (Tunisia).
The first prize was awarded jointly to South African Nelson Mandela and Russian Anatoly Marchenko. The prize has also been awarded to various individuals and organizations throughout its history, the first being the Argentine Mothers of the Plaza de Mayo (1992).
Millions no doubt have read or heard the Hans Christian Andersen tale of how some alleged weavers of long ago convinced their emperor that the new clothes they were selling him were made of such fine and rare material that only the stupid and incompetent could fail to see the exquisite threads. The emperor, not wishing to be exposed as either stupid or incompetent, bought the story and the invisible “clothes.” He wore nothing else as he went though the streets in a grand parade, hearing nothing but praise from his subjects on the excellence of his royal attire. Until one simple, unschooled child broke the spell by crying out the simple, unadorned truth: The emperor was wearing no clothes at all.
We are left to imagine what might have followed. Was the politically incorrect brat beheaded for that unseemly outbreak of candor? Placed in a dungeon? Enrolled in one of the emperor’s schools to be reeducated, with a mind more attuned to the political “realities”? And what of the conniving “weavers”? Were they suitably punished for deceiving the emperor and his subjects with false “intelligence” on the nature of the fabric that went into the making of the magnificent new clothes? Or did they receive the emperor’s Medal of Freedom and go off to write books and appear as experts at symposiums on royal apparel?
If Herman Cain is elected President, America’s soldiers are not going to be coming home from wars in Afghanistan and Iraq anytime soon. To the contrary, they can expect more foreign deployments than they are experiencing today under the Obama administration. Asked his view of foreign policy, presidential candidate Herman Cain told NBC’s Meet the Press host David Gregory that he’s most impressed with the opinions of establishment neoconservatives, though he said he was unfamiliar with the term “neoconservative”: “I’ve looked at the writings of people like Ambassador [John] Bolton,” Cain said October 16. “I’ve looked at the writings of Dr. Henry Kissinger and K.T. McFarland, someone I respect.” All three are establishment neoconservatives and have been Council on Foreign Relations members — internationalists of the first order — who are among the “experts” most interested in expanding America’s foreign wars.
Asked about his views on the Iraq War and if he was familiar with the neoconservative movement, Cain told Gregory, “I’m not familiar with the neoconservative movement.... I don’t think the war in Iraq was a mistake, because there were a lot of other reasons we needed to go to Iraq and there have been a lot of benefits that have come out of Iraq. Now that being said, I don’t agree with the President’s approach to draw down 40,000 troops and basically leave that country open to attacks by Iran. Iran has already said that they want to wait until America leaves.... I would want to leave American troops there if that was what the commanders on the ground suggested, and I believe that that’s what they are saying.”
China has the world's second-largest economy and grew at more than 10 percent last year, yet Congress continues to dole out foreign aid to a country that holds more than one trillion dollars of U.S. government debt. Although long overdue, two U.S. lawmakers are speaking out against this seemingly illogical notion, as they pose the question: Why should the United States continue to shovel out taxpayers’ dollars to a communist nation that holds more than one trillion dollars of U.S. debt and competes in the same economic spheres?
"Why in the world would we be borrowing money and then turn[ing] around and giving it back to the countries that we’re borrowing it from?" asked Sen. Tom Coburn (R-Okla.). "If they have enough of a surplus to loan us money, they have enough of a surplus to take care of their own needs." Sen. Jim Webb (D-Va.) echoed his Republican colleague, telling Fox News, "Hey, in the crisis that we’re in right now, should we really be continuing to send American taxpayer dollars over to China for these purposes?"
U.S. foreign aid to the People’s Republic of China (PRC) is siphoned off in the form of bilateral and multilateral developmental assistance and aid to individual recipients. Some of the aid exits to the PRC in the form of social and economic development assistance through the United Nations.
Are the days of the European Union coming to an end? The riots in Athens, the popularity of the True Finns Party in Helsinki, and the growing tension between Paris and Berlin all indicate that more and more Europeans are seeing themselves as citizens of nations, rather than members of an amorphous bureaucracy headquartered in Brussels. In fact, the folks in Brussels are looking at a nation unable to form a government at all and teetering on the brink of splitting into the two logical nationalities — Flemish and Walloon — which language, religion, and custom divide more than unite.
Prime Minister David Cameron has a reputation as a technocrat and policy wonk rather than the tough leader of a clear political position. His coalition government with the Liberal Party (which is really the middle-of-the-road party in Britain) only makes that inclination toward a nuanced response to euroskeptics more politically natural.
The problem for Cameron is that significant members within his Conservative Party are demanding a popular referendum on British membership in the European Union. In parliamentary governments such as the United Kingdom, the head of government (Prime Minister Cameron) needs to have the confidence of a majority of the members in the lower chamber of the national legislature, or the House of Commons in Britain.