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.
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 constitutional arguments against the Central Intelligence Agency’s assassinations of Anwar al-Awlaki and, two weeks later, his 16-year-old son have been widely discussed. Less well known, however, is the case against CIA assassinations to be made on the basis of the law of war.
Into the breach has stepped Howard University law professor Morris Davis, who in a recent column presented a well-researched case that the CIA’s drone assassination program is illegal under the law of war and that, as a result, CIA personnel participating in drone strikes could be prosecuted for murder.
Davis knows his subject well. He was a U.S. Air Force judge advocate for 25 years and served as chief prosecutor of the Guantanamo Bay military commissions from 2005 to 2007, resigning from that post in disgust at the use of torture to extract evidence from prisoners and the interference in the proceedings from the Pentagon. He is now executive director and counsel of the Crimes of War Education Project. In other words, Davis’ opinion on the matter of war crimes should not be taken lightly.
Central to Davis’ argument is the indisputable fact that the CIA is not an arm of the military but “a civilian agency made up of civilian employees and civilian contractors.” For those still not convinced, columnist Nat Hentoff reminds us that “when Gen. David Petraeus (who had led U.S. forces in Afghanistan) became the present head of the CIA, he removed his military uniform.”
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."
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.”
Afghan “President” Hamid Karzai, who rose to power with massive U.S. assistance, promised that the regime ruling Afghanistan would support the Pakistani government if a war broke out between America and Pakistan.
"God forbid, if ever there is a war between Pakistan and America, Afghanistan will side with Pakistan," Karzai said during an interview with Pakistan’s Geo television. "If Pakistan is attacked and if the people of Pakistan needs Afghanistan's help, Afghanistan will be there with you."
Other governments such as India (population: 1.2 billion) would also face the wrath of Afghanistan’s pitiful military if they decided to wage war. “Anybody that attacks Pakistan, Afghanistan will stand with Pakistan,” insisted Karzai, who clings to power in Kabul largely because of the U.S.-led occupation of the nation. “Afghanistan will never betray its brother.”
After news of Karzai’s remarks swept through the Western media, a spokesman for the presidential palace claimed the statements were taken out of context. "Pakistani media has misinterpreted it. They only showed the first part when the president says Afghanistan will back Pakistan if there is a war," the official insisted, claiming Karzai was talking about his regime’s willingness to accept Pakistani refugees if needed.
The White House announced that once again, the United States would be reevaluating its defense partnership with the Republic of China on Taiwan. The administration decided last month that the arms package it would be selling to Taipei would be sorely reduced; the Pentagon has chosen not to sell Taiwan 66 late-model F-16 aircraft, a deal potentially valued at over $8 billion, after years of debate over whether to supply the free Chinese island with advanced strike aircraft to upgrade its aging air force. Instead, administration and congressional officials said the new arms package will include weapons and equipment to upgrade its existing F-16 jets, worth about $4.2 billion.
The Obama administration turned down the request from both Taipei and congressional Republicans; supporters of the sale say that the new F-16s, produced by Lockheed Martin, are needed to bolster Taiwan’s defenses against communist China’s growing air power and to produce jobs for the U.S. aerospace industry (a blatant example of Military Keynesianism at play — the belief that government-manufactured and taxpayer-funded defense commodities are somehow a feasible, economically-sound, and constitutional means of creating and sustaining jobs).
Red China and the Obama Administration
Experts believe that the primary reason why the Obama administration refused to sell Taiwan the new F-16s is its desire to improve relations with communist China. Rather than viewing China’s growth as a threat to American interests, Obama stated on January 19, 2011 (at a White House press conference with Chinese President Hu Jintao), “We welcome China’s rise. I absolutely believe that China's peaceful rise is good for the world, and it's good for America,” arguing that the country’s economic progress benefits the United States and opens the door to greater international stability and humanitarian progress.
Even as the National Transitional Council (NTC) declared Libya “liberated” following the violent death of former strongman Col. Muammar Gadhafi, analysts were warning that civil war might continue to rage on as militia groups and armed factions struggle to seize power. And with real elections tentatively scheduled for 2013 at the earliest, the worst may be yet to come.
Western leaders have been demanding that all of the revolutionary groups unify behind the NTC. But widely divergent interests — including remaining pro-Gadhafi forces and victims of NATO bombings and rebel brutality — would seem to make that a difficult proposition, according to Libyans and outside analysts.
President Obama announced with much fanfare in an October 21 address to the nation that "as a candidate for President, I pledged to bring the war in Iraq to a responsible end.... Today, I can report that, as promised, the rest of our troops in Iraq will come home by the end of the year. After nearly nine years, America’s war in Iraq will be over."
But Obama's own Deputy National Security Adviser Denis McDonough acknowledged in a press conference the same day that the withdrawal from Iraq was more due to demands from the Iraqi government than from Obama's commitment to keep his campaign promises. "The security agreements negotiated and signed in 2008 by the Bush administration stipulated this date ... as the end of the military presence. So that has been in law now for — or been enforced now for several years. So it’s difficult to rebut the proposition that this was a known date." In essence, Obama trumpeted a troop withdrawal that he had little choice but to follow.
Indeed, Obama was most reluctant to follow through on his campaign promise. The National Journal reported October 22 that "as recently as last week, the White House was trying to persuade the Iraqis to allow 2,000-3,000 troops to stay beyond the end of the year. Those efforts had never really gone anywhere; one senior U.S. military official told National Journal last weekend that they were stuck at 'first base' because of Iraqi reluctance to hold substantive talks."