Tuesday, October 16, 2007

Iraqis Sue Blackwater for Baghdad Killings - Jeremy Scahill

Taken from here

(Who still thinks the US liberated Iraq again?)

Blackwater USA is facing a lawsuit over the September 16 killings in Baghdad’s Nisour Square. The largest mercenary company working for the US State Department in Iraq, Blackwater may soon need more lawyers on its payroll than it has armed operatives in Baghdad.

Even before its operatives opened fire on a crowded Baghdad street in mid-September, allegedly killing seventeen Iraqi civilians and wounding twenty-four others, Blackwater faced two wrongful death lawsuits in the United States stemming from its activities in Iraq and Afghanistan, a federal investigation into arms smuggling accusations and a mounting Congressional inquiry. Now the stakes have gotten even higher for the politically connected mercenary firm.

The families of three Iraqis killed in the Nisour Square shootings have filed a major lawsuit in a US federal court in Washington, DC, against Erik Prince’s firm, charging that Blackwater’s actions amounted to “extra-judicial killing” and “war crimes.” The case was filed by veteran lawyer Susan Burke in conjunction with the Center for Constitutional Rights and attorney Shereef Hadi Akeel.

“Blackwater’s repeated and consistent failure to act in accord with the law of war, US law and international law harms our nation and it harms Iraq,” says CCR president Michael Ratner. “For the good of both nations, as well as for countless innocent civilians, the company cannot be allowed to continue operating extra-legally, providing mercenaries who flout all kinds of law.” The suit is believed to be the first US case brought by Iraqi civilians against a private armed military company, though Burke is also suing the US contracting firms Titan and CACI for their alleged role in the torture of prisoners at Abu Ghraib.

The three Iraqis named in the lawsuit who were killed on September 16–Oday Ismail Ibraheem, Himoud Saed Atban and Usama Fadhil Abbass–had fourteen children among them, one an infant, according to Burke. “Needless to say, we are very interested in holding this company accountable and in pursuing the lawsuit vigorously,” she said. Another plaintiff, Talib Mutlaq Deewan, was injured during the incident. The lawsuit “seeks punitive damages in an amount sufficient to punish Erik Prince and his Blackwater companies for their repeated callous killing of innocents.”

The suit comes just days after the Iraqi government released its official report on the Nisour Square shooting. In the report, Baghdad calls on US authorities to hand over the Blackwater shooters to be prosecuted in Iraqi courts. The government also wants Blackwater to pay $8 million to each of the seventeen victims’ families, totaling $136 million, an amount the government report says is warranted “because Blackwater uses employees who disrespect the rights of Iraqi citizens even though they are guests in this country.” Iraq backed off initial demands that the company immediately leave the country, saying it wanted Washington to sever all contracts with Blackwater within six months.

Blackwater and the State Department have both shrugged off the Iraqi investigation, saying that judgment should be withheld until the official US investigation is complete. But that process has already proven to be severely compromised. Not only did a Blackwater contractor write the State Department’s initial report on the incident on official government stationary; many witnesses have not been interviewed, and vehicles containing forensic evidence have not been secured even though the investigation is wrapping up, according to CBS News. “A lot of that evidence has been destroyed,” retired military analyst Col. Steve Lyons told the network.

Burke says she filed the lawsuit after being approached by some of the victims’ families. Her legal team in Baghdad has already begun gathering evidence and interviewing witnesses. The lawsuit alleges that at the time of the Nisour Square shootings, Blackwater was no longer protecting a State Department official, having already dropped off the official under its protection prior to arriving in the square. “We allege that Blackwater personnel were not provoked, and that they had no legitimate reason to fire on civilians,” says Burke. “We look forward to forcing Blackwater and Mr. Prince to tell the world under oath why this attack happened, particularly since a Blackwater guard tried to stop his colleagues from indiscriminately firing.” Shortly after the incident, a US official told the Washington Post that at least one Blackwater operative at the scene “drew a weapon on his colleagues and screamed for them to ’stop shooting,’ ” indicating that even Blackwater personnel thought the situation had spiraled out of control.

The suit contains seven counts against Prince and Blackwater. Two of them, war crimes and extra-judicial killing, are being brought under the Alien Tort Statute, which allows for litigation in US courts for violations of fundamental human rights committed overseas. The other five counts are wrongful death; assault and battery; negligent and intentional infliction of emotional distress, and negligent hiring, training and supervision. Attorney Burke says this case is bigger than the four plaintiffs she is representing. Ultimately, through legal discovery, she wants to expose what the suit alleges is a pattern wherein “excessive and unnecessary use of deadly force by [Blackwater] employees is not investigated or punished in any way.”

“We are going to get at the internal corporate files, the e-mails, the memos to expose the corporate culture that is leading to all this death and destruction in Iraq,” Burke says. “What these Iraqi families are doing is a civil service to all Iraqis because they don’t want anyone else to be killed by Blackwater.”

Jeremy Scahill is the author of the New York Times bestseller Blackwater: The Rise of the World’s Most Powerful Mercenary Army. He is currently a Puffin Foundation Writing Fellow at the Nation Institute.

Details of Hezbollah and Israeli Swap

taken from daily star

Hizbullah and Israel trade prisoner and bodies

Swap at naqoura raises hopes that larger deals could be forthcoming
By Rym Ghazal and Mohammed Zaatari

BEIRUT/NAQOURA: Israel and Hizbullah exchanged the remains of an Israeli civilian

for a captive Lebanese fighter and the bodies of two of his comrades on Monday during a swap conducted under tight security at the Naqoura border crossing point. The bodies of two Hizbullah fighters, Ali Wezwaz, from Mais al-Jabal and Mohammad Dimashqiyeh from Aita al-Jabal, along with Lebanese fighter Hassan Naim Akil, were exchanged on Monday in return for the body of Israeli citizen Gabriel Dwait, an Ethiopian Jewish immigrant who drowned in the Mediterranean Sea on January 20, 2005.

Rumors that an exchange might take place on Monday were confirmed at about 5 p.m. with the arrival of a convoy of sport-utility vehicles at the Lebanese-Israeli border in the Southern town of Naqoura.

A tripartite meeting between the Lebanese Army, the Israeli Army and the United Nations Interim Force in Lebanon took place in Naqoura just hours before the swap. The meeting was the second in as many days, whereas such meetings ordinarily take place only one a month.

Relatives of the Hizbullah fighters received phone calls from party officials at about 4:30 p.m.

"A Hizbullah official called me at 4:30 p.m. and told me I can come pick up my son," said Hussein Wezwaz, father of one of the fighters.

"I am very proud of my son for dying while fighting the enemy," said Wezwaz.

Ali Wezwaz, 32, married with two children, was killed in a major ground battle with Israeli troops during the summer 2006 war in the border village of Maroun al-Ras.

Alongside troops and journalists, families of other Lebanese prisoners being held in Israel also flocked to Naqoura in the hopes of getting information on the fate of their detained loved ones.

The father of Mohammad Srour, one of those still detained, said he was convinced that his son is going to be released "soon" given this swap.

"This could be the first step to bigger negotiations," Bassam Kantar told The Daily Star. His brother is Samir Kantar, the longest-serving Lebanese prisoner in Israel.

A correspondent for The Daily Star witnessed the arrival of the Hizbullah convoy to the border at 4:45 p.m.

The convoy, which included four ambulances and six black SUVs, crossed the Lebanese Army checkpoint at the northern entrance to Naqoura.

The Hizbullah convoy was met by an International Red Cross convoy, and Hizbullah handed over to the ICRC the body of the Israeli civilian, while the ICRC took custody of the Hizbullah captive and two bodies from Israel at around 6 p.m.

Israel initially refused to hand over the prisoner and one of the bodies until DNA tests were completed on the body of the Israeli civilian.

As The Daily Star went to press, both sides were conducting DNA tests to verify the identities of the corpses.

The negotiations for the swap were mediated by Germany and the United Nations. Local television station LBCI reported that a Lebanese detained in Germany under unknown charges, Abbas Al-Hael, is also part of the exchange.

In January 2004, Israel and Hizbullah conducted a historic prisoner swap mediated by Germany, in which Israel released more than 400 prisoners in exchange for the return of an Israeli colonel and businessman, Elhanan Tannenbaum, and the remains of three Israeli soldiers. Israel also turned over the bodies of 60 Lebanese fighters.

The swap could also be an indication that things are moving forward for the return of the two Israeli servicemen, Eldad Regev and Ehud Goldwasser, whose capture by Hizbullah last summer preceded the 34-day war.

A UN-appointed mediator is working on an exchange deal to get the soldiers and Lebanese and other prisoners released.

There has been no word on the condition of the two soldiers and whether they are dead or alive.

Arabic newspaper Asharq Al-Awsat had reported on Sunday that the two Israeli soldiers had been handed over by Hizbullah to Iran's elite Revolutionary Guards and could soon be freed in a German-brokered swap. - With agencies

Monday, October 15, 2007

Israel NOW remembers Negotiations rather bombing??!

After bombing the hell of Lebanon last year, suddenly they remembered there are other means to get their prisoners back?! (one of the many claims they had to justify their offensive on Lebanon and butchering over 1300 Lebanese, wounding 5000 civilians, and displacing a quarter of the population? Swapping Prisoners? How interesting, isnt it better than bombing?

This is the article

Al Gore is not a Man of Peace

Written by Zatikia and posted in the Further Left Forum

The real problem with Gore getting this award, an award who's past
recipients include Jimmy Carter, Doctors Without Boarders, Kim Dae-Jung, Amnesty International, Bishop Tutu, Nelson Mandela, Unicef, MLK, and the Red Cross, is Gore has a pro-war record as a politician. When he was in Congress, he supported Reagan's and Bush senior's wars. He voted to give aid to Reagan's "freedom fighters" in Nicaragua (although he later changed his opinion, too late), Angola, and Afghanistan. As one-half of Clinton/Gore, he brought us several questionable, if not unnecessary military conflicts, including the disastrous campaign in Somalia. He and Clinton continued the Iraq conflict which paved the way for GW Bush to invade. Gore can speak out now against the war, but what about the bombing and sanctions against Iraq that were responsible for tens of thousands of deaths during the Clinton/Gore administration? Speaking of Nobel Prize winners, another was the International Campaign to Ban Landmines, in 1997. He and Clinton also opposed that ban.

Now the Nobel Peace Prize awards are not perfect, there have been bad
choices. GW was nominated for the prize a few years ago! But at least
he did not win. Past mistakes do not however excuse the committee from awarding someone the prize for things unrelated to peace, and who has never done anything to advance the cause of peace

Regarding Zionism and the Jews

This is not a long post analyzing that dimension, but personally I have had enough of that topic as people seems to either blindly tag every Jew a Zionist or vice versa, knowing the fact that in Lebanon that there are Lebanese Jews who enjoy the full right as anyone else. In fact, their presence in Lebanon has been re-inforced by the different governments who agreed to repair and preserve an old Jewish Synagogue (facing Starco).

The problem of Judaism is Zionism, it transformed them from a sect to a race. Pre-Zionists (dubbed as Isolationists) were highly active in isolating the Jews in the communities in the face of Assimilationists (example: there can be a French Jew just as there is a French Catholic, and the sort). Isolationists brought bad name to Judaism and remained a minority within the Jewish Community, till Hitler’s butchery of the Jews reinforced Zionism beyond what Ben Gurion, Ben Horin, and Weitz ever imagined. To Ben Gurion’s surprise, most of the Jews of Europe fleeing the Nazi racial butchery, they prefered the United States. Only 100,000 people prefered Palestine. However, this is not my focus, if I dwell on history, I will never finish.

A lot of the Lebanese factions think that a Jew and a Zionist are the same. When Finkelstein, Chomsky, and others visited , things changed. In the beginning it was not safe for any Jew to visit Lebanon: for example: Chomsky a decade earlier was scheduled to visit Lebanon, a lot of death threats hovered that he will be assassinated (he stepped down from visiting Lebanon then). Ironically, ever since he sat with Hezbollah’s Nasrallah, same people who threatened to assassinate him, endorsed him as a partner who is fighting for the "cause". Despite the lunch, a lot others face the dilemma of accepting him or he is just part of a grand conspiracy plan (which I find totally ridiculous).

Their argument that once a Jew is no longer a Zionist then that individual X is no longer a Jew. Most parties assume Israeli – Zionist – Jew are the same entity, disregarding the Jewish minority in Lebanon. Another argument would come that every Jew in Israel is filling the home of an expelled family in Palestine. This piece of information holds true, but the solution to the crisis has to be emancipatory in nature. We all know how the Zionists demolished the homes of the Palestinians when they were expelled from their houses back in 1948 (and afterwards). The bulldozer always remains the Zionist's best friend. Hence, Zionist and non-Zionist Jews would be regarded the same. The argument rotates that European Jews have a second nationality, while Palestinians have none, so there is no way to sort the crisis except one group destroying the other, which I don’t regard as a solution. In fact, Zionism can be blamed for that hatred, specially for their previous and on-going butchery of the Palestinians.

More to the point, Marxist figures had plenty of people who are originally Jews: Marx originally came from a Jewish Family, Leon Trotsky, Krupskaya, Leon Kamenev, Clara Zatkin, Rosa Luxemburg, Zinoviev, and so forth; however, to some they exist as a grand conspiracy plan by the free masons to destroy the Eastern Orthodox Church and subdue Russia and previous ex-USSR nations to the Free Masons. This is racism to the extreme. I was accused in the past of being a Zionist because I insisted there is a big difference between Zionism and Judaism.

Now luckily, in the 21st century, some extremist groups began accepting non-Zionist Jews. Marcy Newman is probably one example to give, Chomsky’s welcoming as a national hero was greeted by two primary figures: Hassan Nasrallah and Walid Junblatt. Nine years ago, Newman’s life would have been in dangerous situation if she visited Lebanon. Several members of the Syrian Social Nationalist Party defended Newman’s stand when she was attacked by a certain pro-Zionist Professor who racially accused her of being “self-hating Jew”.

Bottom line, Jews lived in perfect harmony with their Arab citizens everywhere till Zionism sent us their racial ideas from Europe, and the division began. While the English had a racial term in London called: “Dirty Jew”, pre-Zionism arab nations didn’t seggregate between a Jew or any other Arab sect. Zionist butchery triggered the domino effect of bloodbaths and retribution to other Arab Jews (specially the Iraqi Jews). It is funny that Western Zionist Jews had to invent the notion of “empty Palestine” to build their “nation” in order to avoid “civilized Europe’s” racism to ruin the lifestyle of Arab Jews and render racism effective both ways.
For me, attacking Zionism does not mean racism. Zionism is a political exclusive racist theory that focused on expelling Palestinians from their homes, triggering a reactionary wave, pretend to be victims, then rewrite history as “bringers of civilization” to the Middle East. Zionism has not only Jews in the international arena supporting “poor Jews in a middle of Barbarian lands” but also non-Jewish sympathizers who believe in a single pure Jewish Israel and forgetting about Palestine. More to the point, I will never forgive the Zionists for triggering this racial division lines in this region of the world, not to forget the on-going slaughters, and also assisting indirectly in the rise of Islamist fundementalists. The Zionists remind me of Milosevic’s Serbia amidst the breakdown of Yugoslavia.

From our side, we have a long way to promote the idea that Zionism and Judaism are different. As much as this is a sensitive topic, I think it should be openly discussed and bluntly too. For this to happen, the following steps are needed to take place:

1) Zionist Jews should learn history as it happened and shouldn’t base their information from single Zionist sources, rather check both sides, check British archives of their mandate, the US, and history as a whole.

2) Arabs should dig up archives how Jews were regarded as a normal sect in their countries before the ressurection of Israel

3) Arabs should focus on the achievements of non-Zionist Jews and focus on the Internationalist dimension of humanity: people are people despite religion or race.

4) The discussions of the Iskra dialogues witnessed heavy offensive attacks from Trotsky on the Bund (Jewish Socialist Party) because they seperated the Proletariat as Jews and Non-Jews. This can trigger wonderful material for discussions.

5) Despite the racial practices of Israel on the Palestinians and triggering the domino effect of reverse racism in the Arab world and bringing us Islamist fundementalists, the non-Zionist Jews should be recognized in Israel. They are the key factor of bringing down a Zionist racial dogma, and hopefully transforming Israel into a secular real democratic nation, not having a big wall dividing Israel as Jews or non-Jews (at least a logical step one for the crisis instead of favoring a parallel logic similar to the Zionist logic of dumping non-Arab Jews into the sea.

6) More to the Point, the progressive Palestinians in Palestine/Israel should recognize the non-Zionist Jews as perfect allies and try togather to emancipate the Proletariat over there into a single movement. I seriously cant imagine any real solution except the unity of the Jews-Christians- Muslims of Palestine/Israel (which means Israeli/Palestinian civilians) unless the Palestinians/Israelis overthrow their oppressors and unify the proletariat as one.

7) The logic that “Jews rule the world” is over-rated and inflated (not to forget flawed) logic. In the end, Zionism is only one lobby in the US administration among many other factors. Again we separate between Zionists and Jews.

8) Not anyone who wants to “bring the destruction of Israel” is an ally. There are differences between those (say Ahmadinejad denying the existence of the Holocaust) , Qa’eda freaks, and progressive Marxists who want to emancipate the Proletariat as one. I am sure no one wounded recently the Zionists better than Yossi Schwartz’s “Origin of the Jews” (a Marxist from Israel). We have to always consider the difference between progressive forcesand non-progressive forces.

9) Edward Said at a one time was despised by the Palestinians for leaving the PLO when the Oslo agreement was reached. Personally Edward Said is a hero who proved Zionism is a typical 19th century European colonial movement. Azmi Bchara was accused by several people of treason for participating in the Israeli cabinet (and in defecto recognizing Israel through that act) but Azmi Bchara became persecuted by the Zionists when he resigned his position as an MP over there. Rather Azmi Bchara proved to the Arab world how certain form of progressiveness and emancipation can take place from within. Yossi Shwartz is a simple third 100% progressive example of the situation. He even shed light on how the Nazis and Zionists had hidden agreements.

10) Last but not least, as Marxists, we believe that the whole people should be unified as one despite race, gender, nationality, color, tendency, and religion. From here, the concept of one world will always rotate in the minds of the comrades everywhere in the world, and more importantly, we as Marxists dig up history EXACTLY as it happened.


Sunday, October 14, 2007

The Presidential Elections and On-Going Deadlock

The deadlock between the Opposition and the Government remained present between both parties. The first “round” of the Presidential elections was postponed, and so far Lebanon’s MPs didn’t meet yet officially for the year 2007, due to the chaotic status Lebanon has evolved into.

Ever since the Opposition launched their open demonstration and announced their boycott to the Parliament, nothing legislative has occurred. The two camps remained charging their followers, and indirectly bringing the neutral supporters to both sides of the camp. In such a situation, these supporters are recruited to one camp or another under the logo: “the lesser of the two evil”.

The Government has been exhausting its arguments that they seek reconciliation with any one who wants to, and insist to shove a March 14th candidate to the Presidential chair. In fact, at first they nominated every Maronite figure they had with them in the hope that the other camp will find fit to be voted for, but so far no minimum agreement occurred. They argued that the Presidential chair should be decided by the Christians, and then switched logos when the Archbishop Nasrallah Sfair agreed to the three quarters quorum for elections at the MPs. When the first round of Parliamentary session failed to meet (due to the majority of the Opposition refuting to enter), the Government threatened that the next round meeting, they will follow the 50% plus one quorum to vote. Despite the political assassinations, they hold the majority in the Parliament. As of yesterday, March 14th officially withdrew its candidates except two agreed on, and afterwards will push further as who has the better chance to win: Nassib Lahoud and Boutros Harb.

Nassib Lahoud and Boutros Harb had almost decade of challenging the Syrian Hegemony inside the Parliamentary Meetings. While the likes of Walid Junblatt and the late Rafiq Harriri disregarded the Syrian factor in Lebanon, these two had the guts to attack the rest of the members of Parliament for not tackling the Syrian corruption over Lebanon. Moreover, unlike the Free Patriotic Movement (Prior to Aoun’s return) and Lebanese Forces, they were never racist towards the Syrian people during the days of opposition. I remember one of Michel el Murr's hooligans opened fire on Nassib Lahoud's car.

The Opposition has Aoun as the most powerful candidate to represent the Opposition. So far, Hezbollah’s general secretary didn’t say it bluntly: “Aoun is my candidate”. Aoun’s sole purpose of entering the blunt alliance with the Opposition is due to the fact he is willing to ally with the devil to secure his presidential chair. Some people wonder if March 14th promise him the Chair, he will directly switch sides. While Aoun’s coalition “Reform and Change” did gather 72% of Christian chairs in 2005, Aoun’s popularity shrank in size after two years later after the Matn Elections of 2007 (to replace the assassinated minister Pierre Gemayel). His entire hopes currently are on the Opposition to get him to the Presidential chair. While almost five years ago he called Hezbollah terrorists because they carried arms outside the Lebanese Army / Internal Security Forces institutions, Aoun called them Official Resistance forged from Lebanese suffering, and excluded the Iranian factor. Aoun’s bargaining power with the opposition springs from the fact that he is self-promoted most powerful Christian figure. That may have been true in 2005, but now things changed for him. If things remain at a deadlock, the Opposition will stick to Aoun in order to penetrate Parliamentary chairs at Christian locations. The 2009 elections should be interesting to see who dominates the Christian street.

It is interesting that Aoun, relying on his allies for victory demanded that it is the people who should vote for the President in a mass referendum. I have no problem with that as long as it is permanent rather a solo occasion. Yet, this brought him in clashes with the Christian leaders of the government and Archbishop Nasrallah. Aoun’s situation got worsened. The Nahr el Bared battle between the terrorist group Fatah Islam and the Lebanese Army back-fired on his relations with his allies. Hassan Nasrallah clearly said that the Nahr el Bared Camp is a red zone to be entered by the Lebanese Army, Aoun encouraged the Lebanese Army to enter. Luckily for Aoun , the mediations so far failed and remained the primary candidate. Yet, Hezbollah’s MP Hussein Hajj Hassan was clear, Aoun is a powerful candidate, but there are others as well if they have a better chance, which pushed Aoun to say on TV that his hands are open to anyone for negotiations. Like all initiations, this one seemed to do nothing. Both camps are competing for that purpose.

So what kept the Opposition alive in its demands? They already boycotted the Parliament and Government, but they didn’t get any satisfactory results (National Unity Government or Bring Down the Seniora Government). They entered an open demonstration, now their camps are almost empty down there in Centreville, and I may add that almost 80% of Down Town stores have permanently closed because the government failed to protect them from the recession in Down Town due to the Open Demonstration. They tried an open civil disobedience action, the government masses retaliated with fist to fist in the face of them, proving to the opposition they are not the only ones with hooligans who know how to be aggressive. Last but not least, they are isolated internationally. The key to the Opposition’s face save would be definitely Speaker of Parliament and Leader of the Shiite Party: Nabih Berri. He is the one who has been blocking the Parliament from meeting. In my opinion, if the Opposition didn’t have the Speaker of Parliament position, business would have been as usual for 14th of March. Hence, some speculate that he will not call the Parliament to meet (in case no reconciliation occurs) till the 2009 elections (if that can last that long).

In any case, things are getting worse. The government at least had the guts to say officially what everyone else knows: a lot of pro-government and pro-opposition party members are rearming. The Junblatt’s PSP revealed they had arms during the Civil Disobedience of the opposition, so did Amal. Everyone knows Hezbollah have arms, and the Lebanese Forces probably have arms hidden since the civil war. AMAL thugs more than once entered a street to street fight with Sunni fundamentalist groups (in the past) using arms. The SSNP remained carrying out military training for their members at certain focal points, and the acquisition of detonations and arms (some dating post-war era) were confiscated by the Lebanese Army. Even Future Movement are rumored to carry arms as well (accusation of Manar TV to Future during the confrontations at the Arab University). The funniest event would be We’am Wahhab threatening the government to trash down the government if they proceed with the 50% plus one protocol to elect a President (some still wonder why Junblatt didn’t obliterate him from existence yet and his tiny masses in Durzistan).

All eyes are going to Bkerki (Maronite location) regarding Archbishop Sfair’s initiative to at least get the Christians on both sides to reconcile. On LBC, a lot of the high ranked Maronite bishops appear on TV with political statements. The Sunni side already are clear on their demands: Mufti Qabani has over-preached religiously his support to Saad el Harriri and the government. When Archbishop Sfair was asked about the last updates on his initiative to reconcile the two camps, he simply said: “We need to pray to heaven and get our prayers answered.” Only dark days are coming to this forsaken nation when the presidential elections arrive, unless we have a strange “divine” miracle to get both camps reconcile for the future of the people who will suffer from another potential civil war.


Saturday, October 13, 2007

Remembering Che Guevara

(Last Monday was the memorial of Che Guevara’s heroic death. This article is to celebrate and remember who Che Guevara is).

Probably the most famous communist figure these days is Che Guevara. There is no place in the world that doesn’t sell Che Guevara T-Shirts (unless we are considering Saudi Arabia), mugs, posters, and least read are his books. There are plenty of documentaries, DVDs, and movies where the Che appears as a secondary or primary character. The famous front picture with the beret always appears almost in every demonstration.

But who is Che Guevara? Who is the man who inspired dreams for the oppressed, and eventually created a timeless legacy for generations to come?

The myth of Che Guevara would probably have appeared when his name appeared in the Sierra Maestra epical battle. The Cuban revolution was composed of 1000 resurgent in the face of over 15000 soldier, heavily equipped with advanced weaponry, artillery, and tanks. Almost 800 of those revolutionaries lacked the experience to fight, they were simply asking for a better life, after Cuba been a resort for the US happy bourgeoisie. The people suffered from a US satellite dictator called Batista. This is where the legacy of Che Guevara begins.

Che Guevara was the only non-Cuban (Argentinean) among Cuban militants who were present at the Granma landing, and he was the most militant organized in Guerilla Warfare. Influenced by Stalinist figures, such as Mao Tsu Tung, Kim il Sung and others, he adopted revolution as a path for the salvation of Latin America. However, not everything was Stalinists. Pablo Neruda’s thoughts and poetry inspired the Che to another path. As Stalinism preaches allegiance to Moscow (at the time) and steals revolutionary thoughts of Marxism, Che Guevara adopted their dogma without dwelling on the details of the corruption.

Che Guevara’s focal point was that the revolution is possible from the rural side, to become the spark for a mass revolution. What Che distinguished himself from the Stalinists, he believed in a better life for the proletariat. Hence, he didn’t care where he died, as long as he died fighting for the people. He advocated Internationalism as applied and hailed by Marx and Trotsky. Sadly, this was the Maoist perspective. The revolution to Engels and Lenin has its core built in the Proletariat. The Cuban revolution was led by quasi-middle class renegades who were fed up from Batista’s reign of terror. Sadly, like all forms of Stalinist revolutions, the dream would end up as a cycle of installing a dictator and annihilating the former.

When the Cuban Revolution was over, the Cuban government tried to remain neutral, and opened hands to both the Stalinist Soviets and the US. With the US angry that they lost their warden, Batista, they shut off the Castro government. They rearmed the Batista loyalists, sent them to Guatemala to shoot down an insurrection taking place brutally (of which the Poet Otto Rene Castillo died in a most brutal manner: tortured severely then burnt to death), then sent them to overthrow Castro’s rule. Nevertheless, Che Guevara was present there to organize Cuba’s defenses and the Bay of Pigs became one of the US’s greatest military miscalculated blunders. One Batista loyalist was heard complaining how the US administration sold out on them. Eventually the Cuban government sided with the Soviet Union in the cold war, since they were given no option. Cuba suffered from heavy bombardments from the US Air Force, and a lot of sugar refineries were blasted by Napalm Bombs, which is ironic because the United States criticized China for supplying the Koreans (during the Korean War) with Napalm bombs.

Che Guevara was at first thrilled for this alliance with the Soviet Union, he still didn’t figure out the difference between Stalinism and Marxism. He thought he part of extending the revolution of Lenin’s to Latin America. To say the truth, if it weren’t for Che Guevara, the Cuban Revolution wouldn’t have had its socialist feature. He was the one who read to the world the statement and position of the revolutionaries. Gradually, the revolution became dubbed Communist.
Eventually Che Guevara exploded into mass popularity. His looks, his speech capabilities, his courage, and his Utopian dreams captured the hearts of plenty through out the globe. His speech delivered at the UN and Algeria probably reflects how much he charmed his audience and how much he attempted to inspire dream against dictators.

Eventually, Guevara started dwelling in the Marxist Dogma at a later age. The Soviet Union needed Cuba as a political means to slap Kennedy’s administration in the face, and henceforth the Nuclear Missile Crisis in Cuba began. Funnier part about the crisis was that the US had missile silos allocated in Turkey, Iran, and Japan. When the Che Guevara toured the Eastern European Socialist Camp, he directly attacked the leaders of the USSR and insisted that how they called themselves as Communists while living in palaces and their people were starving. Seeing Stalinism as it is was a slap in his dreams and aspirations. He eventually attacked the USSR and its reactionary derivatives as puppets of a one man show called Stalin. Even though Stalin died, for Guevara, Stalin ruined the Bolshevik revolution. It deviated from what it was supposed to do: Emancipation of the Proletariat into a unified front against Capitalism across the globe.

Guevara severely attacked the Soviet Regime, and in parallel attacked US Imperialism. More objectively, his criticisms will be followed by brilliant critiques of US foreign policy: Noam Chomsky. His offensive style in my opinion carved way for the current scholars of anti-US imperialism. His examples, his speeches will be focal point for future generations to follow. Guevara remained Communist to the end. His trip to the Congo under disguise was an attempt to prove to both: US imperialists and Stalinist Reactionaries that the people can self-emancipate themselves by themselves.

His heavy criticism of the Soviet Union collided with Fidel Castro’s interest, which was depending on the USSR loans to survive amidst US forced embargo. Castro actually when Guevara left to lead outside revolutions exposed a letter from the Che which was preaching brotherhood to him but duty called. Castro, always a politician, preferred the games of politics rather than the emancipation of the proletariat. Che Guevara was eventually framed in the Bolivar revolution whereby it is suspected that Castro, the USSR, and the US collaborated to end Che Guevara’s existence. His revolutionary act, along with Che Tania, was blocked by all of them. The Bolivian Communist Party, upon Moscow’s orders, didn’t participate. The Bolivian government coordinated carefully with the CIA to capture Che Guevara. The proof to the matter remained that the CIA were there in less than 30 minutes after his capture to witness his execution, who to us remains called : “Martyrdom”. Che Guevara’s final words were: “I know you have come to kill me… you will only kill a man”. Certain rumors have spread that Che Guevara was carrying on his back Trotsky’s “History of the Russian Revolution”, sadly we lack the evidence if that was true. Nevertheless, he helped without noticing the Trotskyite branches by attacking Stalin and demanding the return to basic Marxism.

In current days, Che Guevara lives as a hero. Most people don’t bother what he did, sadly even some members of the Left in Lebanon believe that he was Cuban rather Argentinean. They don’t bother to know how Che Guevara had severe case of Asthma but preferred to tour Latin America on his motorcycle. They didn’t know that he was a doctor. All they know he was a cool communist. The courage of Che Guevara will remain haunting the US imperialists indefinitely. Some US neo-cons tried to compare Che Guevara to Bin Laden. Both are not related in terms of ideology, and beliefs. Che Guevara’s pictures remain to hover on every location where oppression exists. The USSR were successful to transform Guevara’s myth as a Stalinist extension but Guevara’s ideas remain. The book Guerilla Warfare remains the bulk for many paramilitary groups, but sadly a lot missed the point of this book: arming the Proletariat to be prepared of defending themselves.

In the end, Guevara believed the impossible can be achieved. His famous words were: “Be Realistic and Ask the Impossible” which compliments Connolly’s famous lines: “For our demands most moderate are,We only want the earth.”And such footsteps of courage, Guevara became a respectable Communist despite his theoretical errors at an earlier stage of life. He fixed his ideas and directly thwarted on the face of the USSR and the US Imperialists.

Thursday, October 04, 2007

Traboulsi: Was the Iraq War Inevitable?

taken from here

[Translator's Introduction: The article below by Fawwaz Traboulsi first appeared in Arabic in the Beirut daily as-Safir on July 5, 2007.

Was the Iraq war inevitable? The anti-war movement in the West did what it could to prevent it. On February 15, 2003, in hundreds of American, European, and other cities across the globe an estimated ten million people demonstrated against the impending war. Massive demonstrations continued during the weeks preceding the invasion on March 20, 2003. World public opinion notwithstanding, the Bush administration plunged headlong into the war, and eventual catastrophe, with delusional fantasies: they would quickly win in a "shock-and-awe" campaign and the Iraqi people would welcome the invading troops with "rice and flowers" -- so they proclaimed.

What about the anti-war movement in Arab countries? There were demonstrations in Arab cities in the weeks preceding the invasion, to be sure, some turning violent in confrontations with the police (chiefly in Cairo); but these were few and sparse, sometimes organized by the state, and far smaller than anything witnessed in the West. Anecdotal evidence from expatriate Arab groups indicated a far larger turnout of Arabs abroad than in their home countries. No doubt the repressive police states that are the norm in most of the Arab world made it difficult to organize anti-war rallies without government authorization. Perhaps also the masses in Arab countries were weary of marching in demonstrations that would be perceived in support of Saddam Hussein's reviled government. But what about a wider oppositional movement in years preceding the war, if not in Iraq then in neighboring countries, that should have held Saddam Hussein and his government (and other despotic Arab regimes) accountable for their policies and deeds? What about intellectuals and journalists who should have written, and could still write critically, in a press whose freedom in many places (at least in Lebanon and the Gulf states) had not been curtailed? In the article below, Traboulsi addresses an Arab audience that has not always shown a disposition to take to task Saddam Hussein's regime and others like it. A particular target of Traboulsi's criticism are the political commentators that are prone to attribute the Arabs' woes to dark conspiracies or to external forces beyond their control, thus deflecting much of the blame from failed and discredited rulers. In doing so, these political commentators contribute, if not to public apathy and demobilization, then to a feeling of impotence and despair against current conditions.

-- Assaf Kfoury]

For anyone reviewing the record, it is now plain that the president of the United States was lying to the American people, his allies and the world when he was brandishing the specter of "weapons of mass destruction" as justification for the decision to invade Iraq. Not only was George W. Bush lying when he maintained WMD threatened the security of Iraq's neighbors, he managed to push the charade to the point of convincing a large segment of American and world public opinion that these weapons posed a direct threat to the security of the United States itself. His dutiful acolyte Tony Blair elevated the lie to an extra level of demagogy when he declared that Iraq's chemical weapons could be set and launched within 45 minutes!

The lie about WMD was coupled with another lie, this one about a presumed connection between Iraqi intelligence and al-Qaeda, which has since been totally exposed as a fabrication. Osama Bin Laden can now send reams of thanks to the American president for having turned Iraq into a haven for al-Qaeda and other Jihadi organizations. The Mesopotamian lands became a producer and exporter of terrorists within a brief period of importing them during the first few months of the occupation. And Bin Laden can double and redouble his thanks to the American president who has acted, wittingly or not, so as to help make al-Qaeda a truly international terrorist network which now reaches large portions of the planet.

While we recount lies that were used to justify the war, let's not forget that American neo-conservatives had been clamoring for regime change in Iraq since 1995. We now know preparations for regime change by force had been underway before the terrorist operation of September 11, 2001, and the latter provided the perfect excuse to put the plan to invade Iraq into action.

We know all of that, and a lot more, about the background that led to the war from the American side. But what about the background from the Iraqi side? We know very little about the latter and there does not seem to be much interest in finding out more. Nonetheless, during the WMD crisis in the months right before the invasion, there was one person in Iraq who knew with absolute certainty the non-existence of WMD -- this person was of course Saddam Hussein.

So, a question is in order: Why did Saddam Hussein procrastinate for months on end before permitting UN inspectors to proceed with the search for WMD? And why did he put up all sorts of obstacles before finally agreeing to let the inspectors freely pursue their assignment? By the time he agreed it was too late to stop or impede the inexorable drive to war. Many will rush to preempt the question with a flat answer: They were going to attack Iraq regardless!

The same answer came in response to another question several years before: Why didn't Saddam Hussein order his troops to withdraw from Kuwait in 1991 before the UN deadline? Had he done so, he would have invalidated the main and official reason the US and its allies used to attack Iraq in 1991.

In both situations, Saddam Hussein did not undertake to do any of the necessary steps to undercut the plans of the powers arrayed against Iraq. An attempt to do so may or may not have worked, but why refrain from it? There is no need to speculate why Saddam Hussein acted the way he did. He is no longer alive so that we could still hope he would be asked these questions in front of a truly independent Iraqi court -- a court that would judge him for the totality of his crimes and policies, not for only one relatively minor crime which, in the event, led to his execution in an act of tribal vengeance.

Was there a way to prevent the United States from invading Iraq?

Those who maintain the inevitability of the invasion, regardless of the Iraqi regime's conduct, repeat a logic heard before in justification of every war and every Arab defeat. That sort of logic of fated events complements another justificatory logic, this one preoccupied with conspiracies where the idea of a "trap" is central to the plot: After every war and every defeat, it must be that the unsuspecting leader fell into a "trap" set by his enemies. Some have said that Saddam Hussein's invasion of Kuwait and the Second Gulf War in 1991 resulted from his falling into a "trap" set by US Ambassador April Glaspie, who let him understand that her government would not intervene in inter-Arab conflicts, which led him to believe he would have a free hand in acting against Kuwait!

What is truly amazing in the conduct of our Arab rulers is that, while they literally follow the principles of Machiavelli's book "The Prince" when it comes to devising forms of internal repression and tyranny, they invariably fail to pay attention to the Prince's advice in being expert like the fox in uncovering "traps" and avoiding them. If they keep falling into "traps", it then stands to reason our rulers should be made accountable rather than absolved for their failure.

These questions may now seem from a different bygone time, but they haven't lost any of their relevance as we watch the unrelenting horrors in today's Iraq. There may be a lesson in pondering them. May they contribute to put an end to that pernicious habit of elevating defeated leaders to heroes -- these leaders who were often rewarded by promoting them to absolute ruler or by renewing their mandate by acclamation after ... a war they did not know how to avoid or a defeat that brought destruction to their country and their people!

Fawwaz Traboulsi teaches at the Lebanese American University, Beirut-Lebanon. He has written on history, Arab politics, social movements and popular culture and translated works by Karl Marx, John Reed, Antonio Gramsci, Isaac Deutscher, John Berger, Etel Adnan, Sa`di Yusuf and Edward Said. The translator, Assaf Kfoury, teaches computer science at Boston University.