The Iranian presidential election seems to have been implemented smoothly and the people have elected a moderate-reformist cleric named Hassan Rouhani. Use of the terms, ‘moderate’ and ‘reformist’ can be confusing to us over here as a number of candidates have either changed camps since the early post revolutionary period, or are not a perfect fit in any category. Rouhani was early on referred to as a ‘moderate’, which would reflect his insider status among the clerics who form the infrastructure of the Islamic state. However, since he won the election he has clearly been identified as a Reformist candidate who had the backing of other Reformists not running. And, it must be noted that Mohammed Khatami, Ali Akbar Rafsanjani, Mir-Hossein Mousavi and Mehdi Karrubi are also long time insiders within the power elite of the Islamic State.
7pm, June 22 at the Baobab Cultural Center, 728 University Avenue, Rochester
Horace G. Campbell is Professor of African American Studies and Political Science at Syracuse University. He is on the Board of the Syracuse Peace Council, and has been an activist and scholar for over forty years.
NATO intervened in Libya in March 2011, one month after the successful revolutions in Tunisia and Egypt. Was the NATO intervention designed to provide a base for the future NATO military operations in North Africa? This question can be answered in the affirmative in relation to the role of US intelligence services in Benghazi and the recruitment of fighters from that region of Libya to engage in the war in Syria. However, the operation has backfired and this slow and deadly war has created complications for the credibility of the forces working with NATO. We have recently heard of efforts of NATO to redeploy in Libya in the wake of the fact that the society is now ungovernable. Over 1700 militias are intimidating citizens in all parts of the country. US citizens learned of this level of militia activity when the U.S. Ambassador Christopher Stevens was killed in a CIA safe house in Benghazi in September 2012.
In his new book Horace Campbell brings out the hypocrisy of the West in presenting the NATO intervention as a humanitarian exercise when the goal of the mission was regime change and the execution of President Gaddafi. The increasing Western military intervention in Africa is the context for Dr. Campbell’s passionate critique of the NATO Mission in Libya. This mission reduced to rubble one of the most prosperous countries in Africa, with the highest standard of living in the region. This intervention has since moved on to Syria, and in a different way, to Mali. Campbell explores the questions: “Who are the terrorists?” and “Whose interests do Western ‘humanitarian’ missions actually protect?”
Horace Campbell is also the author of the book, Rasta and Resistance: From Marcus Garvey to Walter Rodney. His work and commentaries on international issues can be viewed on http://www.horacecampbell.net. (He is on twitter @Horace_Campbell)
Tomorrow the Iranian presidential election will decide who will replace President Ahmadinejad, a populist who came into office with a strong mandate 8 years ago, and who has been consistently demonized in the west for the duration of his presidency. Conflict over the results of the last election have been reflected in restrictive policies leading up to this one. Concerns that, out of a field of 6 hundred and some odd candidates, no women made the final list seem pretty hypocritical. We have never had a woman run in the final field of a presidential election either. In fact, we have never had 6 or 8 candidates make it to the final race. However, the disqualification of Akbar Hashemi Rafsanjani and Esfandiar Rahim Mashaei from the contest was disappointing to many in Iran. These 2 candidates have little in common other than their openness to diplomacy and their willingness to break with the political establishment on critical issues. This, I’m sure, makes them dangerous to the elite bureaucracy. It is interesting that they put their names in the ring on the very last day. It would seem that they don’t want another election related melt down any more than those currently in power.
Today, the day before the Iranian Presidential Election, I notice that the candidates for the election have kind of shifted into a right/left curve with Hassan Rohani getting the reformist support while U.S. press claims the only reformist candidate has dropped out. Continue reading On Tomorrow’s Iranian Election
Friday, I participated in a CrossTalk debate on Russia Today. It aired today. I was nervous. I didn’t realize the topic would focus on drones, so I contacted friends in Pakistan to hear more about the election. It turned out we were focused on Drones. Probably this discrepancy was a good thing.
I could have smiled more often. Could have left out the phrase ‘I think’ on a number of occasions though it is probably better than the "umms" I had managed to control.
But, all in all, not too bad. I got my point across.
I also think it is worth while to confront people. Yesterday I took my mother to an event where my 90 year old father (and 43 others) were celebrated for their participation WWII. It was a very stressful experience. Little children were encouraged to run up and hug these old warriors and to raise money for their trip to DC where the visited the WWII Vet Memorial, the Korean Vet Memorial and the Vietnam Vet memorial. It took a very long time for 43 guys, more than half in wheelchairs to move through the crowd. We were the for four hours, waiting, then cheering, more waiting, and more cheering.
From the family point of view, it was an obligation and an opportunity to seem my parents feel happy and important. I was on point to support my mother. As she sat in front of the roped off procession route more than 60 years fell from her mind. Most of he honorees smiled and waved as they were rolled by. Some honorees seemed confused, and others wept. My dad walked along with a rakish manner I haven’t seen in years, while my brother (whose son is struggling to recover from nearly a decade as a Marine in Iraq) was in tears. I know it was a powerful experience for these men, who feel like their lives are ending; who feel they have been or may soon be forgotten. But there ought to be a better way to celebrate their lives, most of which were devoted to the activities of peace; family, work and community life. But then what could be as important as saving civilization? Continue reading Loving Dad. Celebrating War.
A year ago, at the New York State Fair in Syracuse, I met a drone pilot while I was outside the main entrance protesting the MQ9 Reaper drones being flown from nearby Hancock Air National Guard Base. Every year we have a Tableau on the lawn beside the entrance to the Fair that depicts the aftermath of a drone strike in Afghanistan where Hancock pilots fly their drones, though it could be Pakistan, Yemen, Somalia or any of the other places where drones strike civilian targets where suspected ‘militants’ might be present. Notice I say, ‘suspected’ and ‘might’. The only certainty is that the location is a civilian structure like a home, a workplace, a place of worship or market in a civilian context, like a village. This isn’t war as it was explained to me in the study of history. It is pillage. And the result, as we show in our tableau, is the death or ordinary people, men, women, children and elders, and the destruction of their homes, workplaces and places of worship.
Last year, in particular, Hancock Air Base was promoting it’s grisly work with a booth inside the fair where people could experiment with controlling a drone flight emulator. Continue reading Meeting a Drone Pilot
I spent the weekend at the Upstate Drone Coalition‘s Resisting Drones, Global War and Empire, A Convergence to Action, a weekend of networking , learning and action. It was a wonderful weekend with a Conference followed by a day of action at Hancock Air National Guard Base. You can see an assortment of videos on the Upstate Drone Action Blog.
Hundreds of prisoners of the US War of Terror languish in prisons around the world, in Guantanamo and on the US mainland. Some have been there as long as 12 years some have sentences that extend beyond the span of their life. Many have never been charged with a crime and more than half the prisoners who remain in Guantanamo have had their original charges dropped or have served their full sentence, but are barred by US law from being repatriated to their homeland, therefore can not be released. Even the few prisoners in Guantanamo who are considered ‘high value’ are mostly charged with thought crimes, plans that were never carried out in any significant detail. In many cases, the leads that initially brought them to the attention of the FBI or CIA have proved to be inaccurate. Continue reading Prisoners of the War on Terror