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By Michael Schwartz, New Labor Forum
As the Arab Spring became an Arab Summer, the failure of other uprisings to replicate the regime changes in Tunisia and Egypt has raised important questions about these increasingly impressive successes.
With this in mind, I want to scrutinize Egypt carefully, looking for the points of leverage that allowed and impelled the movement to oust Hosni Mubarak in only 18 days of protest with low mortality counts, particularly in light of the much longer and far more lethal and less successful uprisings in other countries.
The outcome in Egypt was in large part a conjunction of several visible, but rarely scrutinized, aspects of the Egyptian political economy:
- Egypt is the poster child of neo-liberal reform in the Middle East Its rapid integration into globalized capitalism since 1990 has made it vulnerable to a savvy mass movement that can exploit the pressure points in current world system.
- Egypt’s recent history produced a legacy of working class militance and organization that provided a tangible foundation for the Tahrir Square movement.
- This combination of political-economic vulnerability and a savvy mass movement created a strategic bind for Egyptian and global capitalism in which abandoning Hosni Mubarak was the least dangerous exit from an intractable crisis.
What is notably absent from this list of key factors is the most visible feature of Egypt’s almost-peaceful regime change. The Egyptian armed forces, unlike their Libyan and Syrian counterparts, decided not to attempt to crush the rebellion; this forbearance may have been a key factor in enabling the protest to succeed.
Multiple Wars are Symptoms of the Need to Escape the Quagmire of Empire
By Kevin Zeese
I can't remember a time when the U.S. military has been stuck in so many war quagmires at once. Libya seems destined to fail unless the U.S. gets a lucky shot and kills Gaddafi. U.S. militarists are openly maneuvering to stay in Iraq -- the war Obama told us was over. Relations with nuclear-armed Pakistan are at their lowest levels ever. And, Afghanistan is getting worse with Obama’s minimal, slow withdrawal looking more like staying than leaving.
A Black Agenda Radio commentary by Glen Ford
The African Union found the spine to reject execution of an arrest warrant against Libyan Leader Muammar Gaddafi issued by the International Criminal Court, which appears to have an “Africans only” indictment policy. The AU’s chairman calls the court’s prosecutions “discriminatory” because they ignore the West’s crimes in Afghanistan, Pakistan and Iraq. China has hosted Sudanese President Omar al-Bashir, another ICC arrest target.
African Union Says 'Up Yours' to International Criminal Court
A Black Agenda Radio commentary by Glen Ford
“The AU decided, finally, that it can stand up to the International Criminal Court.”
The African Union is asking all of its 53 members not to buckle under to the International Criminal Court’s arrest warrant against Libyan leader Muammar Gaddafi. The International Criminal Court, or ICC, has never indicted anyone but Africans, and many consider it to be a tool of the United States. The Obama administration gives constant lip service to the Court, even though the U.S. is not a member of the ICC and has refused to make its own policies and military answerable to any outside authority.
By Kevin Zeese
A new anti-war movement that can really challenge U.S. militarism is being born. People from across the political spectrum joined together opposing U.S. war and empire. In a letter organized by, Come Home America, they cite a combination of events that present a “historic opportunity to redirect U.S. foreign policy down the pathways of peace, liberty, justice, respect for community, obedience to the rule of law and fiscal responsibility.”
For too long Americans who oppose wars have felt powerless to stop the war machine. Not since the early part of the 20th Century has there been a strong anti-war movement that Americans from across the political spectrum could participate in. The Come Home America letter shows the beginning of such a broad-based movement.
Charlottesville Friends Meeting invites you to a discussion with
(former columnist on global affairs, The Christian Science Monitor,
and owner, Just World Books)
(Edward R. Stettinius Professor of Politics, University of Virginia)
... about their recent trip to Cairo and Gaza,
and the 'Arab Spring' of 2011.
When: Monday, July 11, at 7 p.m.
Where: Charlottesville Friends Meeting meetinghouse, 1104 Forest St., Charlottesville (opp. Murray High School.) Parking for mobility-impaired to right of meetinghouse. Others park in Murray H.S. lot.
And least we not forget the millions of refugee's created in our names, the U.S., over the past decade in Iraq and Afghanistan as well as area's of Pakistan!
By Catherine Hornby
ROME | Wed May 18, 2011
(Reuters) - Up to 27 million people are modern-day slaves, and migrants fleeing violence in North Africa are among those most at risk of being exploited, a senior U.S. official said on Wednesday.
Countries where migrants arrive should try to identify potential victims and protect them, rather than opting for immediate repatriation which often sends them back into the hands of human traffickers, U.S. Ambassador-at-Large Luis CdeBaca said.
Tens of thousands of migrants are fleeing turmoil in North Africa, with many trying to reach Europe by boat, but the problem of slavery exists all over the world and India, Thailand and Malaysia are among the worst-affected countries.
By Marjorie Cohn
The United States, France and Britain invaded Libya with cruise
missiles, stealth bombers, fighter jets and attack jets. Although NATO
has taken over the military operation, U.S. President Barack Obama has
been bombing Libya with Hellfire missiles from unmanned Predator
drones. The number of civilians these foreign forces have killed
remains unknown. This military campaign was ostensibly launched to
enforce United Nations Security Council Resolution 1973 in order to
protect civilians in Libya.
In addition, the United Nations and France have been bombing the Ivory
Coast to protect civilians against violence by Laurent Gbagbo, who
refuses to cede power to the newly elected president after a disputed
election. UN Secretary Ban Ki-Moon insists that the United Nations is
“not a party to the conflict.” France, former colonial ruler of Ivory
Coast, has over 1,500 troops stationed there. Ivory Coast is the
The International Trade Union Confederation (ITUC) has asked us to mobilize the broadest possible online campaign in support of the trade union movement in Bahrain.
If you've been following the news you'll know that the movement for democracy in that country has been met by a violent response from the regime - and unions have been on the front lines.
It will take you less than a minute to send off your message of protest and it's hugely important that you do so. Today, if possible.
And please make sure to forward this email message on, and to publicize this campaign in your union, on Facebook, and elsewhere.
Al-Ahram is reporting in Arabic that Gamal and Ala Mubarak, the sons of deposed dictator Hosni Mubarak, have been arrested and will be moved from Sharm El Sheikh to the maximum security Tura prison in the Muqattam hills above Cairo. They are said to have sat stunned and silent for some time on receiving the news. They will be held for 15 days while the office of Egypt’s chief Prosecutor interrogates them about their possible role in ordering secret police to attack nonviolent protesters during the rallies that began January 25. Nearly 900 persons are now thought to have been killed in the various attempts at crackdown by the Amniyyat al-Dawlah or security police.
By Agence France-Presse
CAIRO (AFP) – Egypt's public prosecutor on Sunday ordered ousted president Hosni Mubarak and his sons to be questioned over violence against protesters and alleged corruption, MENA state news agency reported.
"The public prosecutor Abdel Magid Mahmud decided today to ask for the questioning of former president Hosni Mubarak and his sons Gamal and Alaa," the official news agency reported.
Mubarak and his sons would be questioned about allegations and legal complaints that they were "connected to the crimes of assault against protesters, leading to deaths and injuries," said MENA.
He would also be quizzed on allegations of graft, it added.
An estimated 800 people were killed in clashes with police and the former president's supporters during weeks of protests that led to Mubarak's resignation on February 11.
By Missy Comley Beattie
I used to joke with my peace-movement friends, telling them I might self-immolate in front of the White House to make a statement about war. And, then, I’d laugh, saying there was just one glitch in the plan—I’d require so much Valium I’d be unable to strike the match.
For weeks, I’ve thought about a 26-year-old Tunisian man. Mohamed Bouazizi, educated, jobless, unable to feed his family, and desperate, doused himself with gasoline and died from his burns. This sacrificial act triggered the uprising in Tunisia and inspired other people across North Africa to do the same.
We are witness to revolution, civil wars, in which ordinary people are demanding basic rights.
Lately, I’ve been obsessing about the catastrophe of Fukushima, a crescendo of events as/more devastating than Chernobyl.
It’s impossible to make sense out of why we are at war in Libya through the lens of Republican/Democratic politics and outside the context of U.S. Empire.
If it weren’t so tragic, it would be humorous that Republicans are opposed because there is no distinct mission or endgame, given their steadfast support of nine years of war in Afghanistan and eight years in Iraq without so much as a whimper of dissent. While the Democratic president, who made the decision for war, is far too enamored with the “war is peace” doctrine (he presented to the world when he accepted the Nobel Peace Prize for escalating the Afghanistan war) than to giving the Libyan freedom fighters the support they were asking for when they needed it.
Read the rest at
President Obama on Monday said he would "never hesitate" to use the U.S. military "unilaterally" to defend "interests" and "values," including "maintaining the flow of commerce." Fear of exactly that led the founders of this republic to give Congress the exclusive power to declare war. James Madison did not believe any single individual could be trusted with such power:
"The strongest passions and most dangerous weaknesses of the human breast, ambition, avarice, vanity, the honorable or venal love of fame, are all in conspiracy against the desire and duty of peace."
March 23, 2011 - The number of people around the world uprooted by conflict or violence and displaced within their country has increased to 27.5 million, the highest figure in the last decade, according to a new report released Wednesday.
The report by the Geneva-based Internal Displacement Monitoring Center, established by the Norwegian Refugee Council in 1998 at the U.N.'s request, said close to three million people in 20 countries were newly displaced by conflict or violence in 2010 including 1.2 million in Africa.
Gadhafi's LatAm allies criticize military strikes
By IAN JAMES, Associated Press Ian James, Associated Press
CARACAS, Venezuela – Venezuelan President Hugo Chavez condemned military strikes against Libya on Saturday, accusing the United States and its European allies of attacking the country to seize its oil.
Chavez's ally and mentor Fidel Castro raised similar concerns in a column written before the first strikes, while Bolivian President Evo Morales also accused world powers of intervening with an eye to the North African country's oil.
Chavez, who has long-standing ties to Moammar Gadhafi, has urged mediation and called it "disgusting" that the U.S., France and other countries are taking military action.
"More death, more war. They are the masters of war," Chavez said. "What irresponsibility. And behind that is the hand of the United States and its European allies."
"They want to seize Libya's oil. The lives of Libya's people don't matter to them at all," Chavez said. "It is deplorable that once again the warmongering policy of the Yankee empire and its allies is being imposed, and it is deplorable that the United Nations lends itself to supporting war, infringing on its fundamental principles instead of urgently forming a commission to go to Libya."
From the Black Agenda Report
Certainly, Somalia is a victim of U.S. war-making. Washington attempted to occupy the country in 1993, suffered military setbacks (Blackhawk down), then returned to invade the country in December 2006 through its proxy, Ethiopia, buttressed by U.S. Special Forces and air and naval support. The invasion, which interrupted Somalia’s first, brief period of relative peace in decades under an Islamic Courts regime, caused what United Nations officials called “the greatest humanitarian crisis in Africa” at the time, “greater than Darfur,” displacing 3.5 million people. When the Ethiopians withdrew with heavy casualties, the Americans waged a “food war” against the Somali populace to starve the “Shabab” resistance into submission. The U.S. bulldozed the UN, its European allies and the African Union into recognizing a puppet regime huddled in a tiny corner of the capital city, Mogadishu – a rump entity that is incapable of serving any purpose other than preventing Somalis from establishing control over their own country. In the process, Washington has destabilized the entire region, sowing the seeds of wider war. An American financed and directed offensive is currently underway in the capital and on the borders with Kenya and Ethiopia. This is a U.S. war. End the War Against Somalia! U.S. out of the Horn of Africa!
The main protectors of Somalia’s puppet regime are Rwandan troops, who act as hit men and mercenaries for the U.S. in Africa, as does Uganda’s military. A United Nations report charges both U.S. allies with the mass killing of Congolese during Rwanda and Uganda’s invasion, occupation and systematic looting of eastern Congo. Hutus of Rwandan and Congolese nationality were systematically selected for slaughter: genocide. Congolese blame the U.S.-backed foreign militaries for the bulk of the six million deaths since the mid-Nineties, yet the U.S. has made no substantive changes in its policies in the Great Lakes region of Africa since the UN report was formally released, in October.
“The U.S. paid for and engineered the biggest killing field since World War Two, and is legally and morally culpable for waging aggressive war against peace.”
Has the U.S. been at war with the people of the Democratic Republic of Congo? Emphatically “yes,” a continuation of the war America has waged since Eisenhower ordered the assassination of Congo’s elected president, Patrice Lumumba. The U.S. paid for and engineered the biggest killing field since World War Two, and is legally and morally culpable – not only for genocide and crimes against humanity, but for waging aggressive war against peace, along with its Rwandan and Ugandan hirelings, in eastern Congo. Washington Must Pay for Six Million Dead! U.S. Out of Central Africa!
America’s war against Haiti goes back to the days when the U.S. waged slavery, which is inseparable from war. The free Black Republic of Haiti was quarantined, harassed, subjected to extortion, constantly bombarded and invaded by U.S. privateers and uniformed forces until 1915, when an official, 19-year U.S. occupation began. Nobody called this a “war” on Haiti; you will not read of America’s “Haitian wars,” but thousands were killed by rifle, grenade and machine gun, or by aerial bombardment. And, since the U.S. is not thought to have ever been at war with Haiti, it can pretend to be a good and caring neighbor when it sponsors coups or physically re-invades, such as in 1994 and 2004.
The 2004 invasion – at first by proxy through a few hundred U.S.-trained and -financed terrorists, then by uniformed American troops – put a definitive end to Haiti’s sovereignty, which is what sometimes happens when countries lose wars to merciless adversaries. The U.S. military occupation was transformed by extra-legal magic into an armed United Nations occupation, commanded by Brazilians. This is, of course, a continuation of the original invasion and, therefore, inseparable from the American war. Free Haiti! End the Occupation! Washington, Stop Your Wars Against Haiti!
WASHINGTON -- Green Party leaders strongly urged the White House not to launch a military intervention in Libya, saying that democracy must be achieved by Libyans without meddling by the U.S. or NATO.
Greens insisted that the U.S. and NATO honor the request of human rights lawyer Abdel-Hafidh Ghoga, spokesman for the new Libyan National Transitional Council, who said, "We are against any foreign intervention or military intervention in our internal affairs... This revolution will be completed by our people."
Wouldn't it be kind and generous of us to send the US or NATO or a UN-approved military into Libya to bloodlessly prevent the vicious slaughter of masses of people by a truly evil lunatic?
In a study called "Why Civil Resistance Works," Maria Stephan and Erica Chenoweth examined major uses of violence and nonviolence against tyrannical governments around the world between 1900 and 2006. They found that violence succeeded 26 percent of the time. I think they were taking a short view, because the blowback from violence is often delayed. But they found that nonviolence succeeded 53 percent of the time, over twice as often.
They also found that when the regime being challenged uses violence, a nonviolent resistance campaign gains in its likelihood of succeeding, whereas a violent campaign becomes more likely to fail.
War is a crime.
Joining an ongoing war is a crime.
Joining on the side of a friendly lunatic dictator is an immoral tragedy.
Joining on the side of violent rebels who capture and expel British troops there to "help" is an immoral comedy.
Joining on the side of our own nation would be opposed by both of the existing sides plus our own nation.
Limited warfare is limited murder.
Limited warfare almost always traverses the limits.
The military is the worst organization to provide humanitartian relief.
The military is not needed to protect anyone, and would endanger many.
We disguise military defeats by pretending to have stumbled into civil wars.
Actually stumbling into a civil war would add to our military and moral defeats.
Pouring all of our money into our military is what makes imperial warfare possible.
Pouring all of our money into our military is what makes financial crises blamed on teachers and cops possible.
At a time when the issue of civilian casualties in Libya has been dominating the international agenda, our Recording Casualties of Armed Conflict programme has launched Every Casualty.org, a website aiming to raise the profile of casualty recording worldwide and the organisations that undertake it. The site is a one-stop shop for information on casualties of conflict worldwide. It engages 22 of the organisations that record them in the International Practitioner Network convened by ORG.
From NY Times:
Clashes erupted in Tripoli on Friday as security forces loyal to Col. Muammar el-Qaddafi used gunfire to try to disperse thousands of protesters who streamed out of mosques after prayers to mount their first major challenge to the government’s crackdown in the capital.
The protesters refused to back down, witnesses told news services and the opposition reported on websites, and clashes continued in parts of the city. Rebel leaders said they were sending forces from nearby cities and other parts of the country to join the fight.