How can a state use its nuclear weapons program as a deterrent when it refuses to own up to its existence?
For nuclear deterrence to work, other states need to know what they’re supposed to be deterred by. (Photo: WikiMedia)
“Newly declassified documents reveal how U.S. agreed to Israel’s nuclear program” reads the title of an article at Haaretz. Author Amir Oren writes:
The Obama administration this week declassified papers, after 45 years of top-secret status, documenting contacts between Jerusalem and Washington over American agreement to the existence of an Israeli nuclear option.
… The documents outline how the American administration worked ahead of the meeting between President Richard Nixon and Prime Minister Golda Meir at the White House in September 1969, as officials came to terms with a three-part Israeli refusal – to sign the Non-Proliferation Treaty; to agree to American inspection of the Dimona nuclear facility; and to condition delivery of fighter jets on Israel’s agreement to give up nuclear weaponry in exchange for strategic ground-to-ground Jericho missiles “capable of reaching the Arab capitals” although “not all the Arab capitals.”
Romanian dictator Nicolae Ceausescu’s “urban renewal” ripped the heart out of Bucharest .
The changes to Ceausescu that made to Romania’s infrastructure were a reflection of his outsized ego. (Photo: John Feffer)
Cross-posted from JohnFeffer.com.
Nicolae Ceausescu was not exactly a team player. He adopted the title conducator – literally, the leader – and constructed his own personality cult. He defied the Warsaw Pact by refusing to allow Romania to participate in the Soviet-led 1968 invasion of Czechoslovakia. He preferred to pick up leadership tips from Beijing and Pyongyang – where Mao and Kim Il Sung offered larger-than-life examples — than from the apparatchiks of Moscow. He cultivated court poets who sang his praises and arranged for the endless republication of his own pedestrian contributions to Marxism.
Ceausescu didn’t stop at politics and culture. He wanted to transform the very physical structure of the country. He planned to wipe out what he considered non-viable villages and consolidate the countryside into larger collectivized units. He also reshaped the urban centers of Romania’s major cities so that, among other things, there would be a large central square and a balcony from which he could address his throngs of admirers. It was one of his most enduring – and disturbing – legacies.
Contradictory U.S. policies, as with Al Qaeda a generation ago, have aided and abetted the development of the Islamic State.
Image on wall of Islamic State head Abu Bakr al-Baghdadi, beneficiary of misconceived U.S. policies. (Photo: Thierry Ehrmann / Flickr)
In fulfilling the terrorists’ dream — transforming into a state with an army — ISIS, now the Islamic State, has become the stuff of nightmares for much of the Middle East and the West. I almost wrote that it had become “the worst nightmare,” but I’ll reserve that for when it obtains nuclear weapons. (Wait — what?)
But, to some extent, the Islamic State is a product of the United States.
The expansion of the Islamic State is not a problem for the United States to solve alone.
The United States would be better off ceding leadership in halting the Islamic State to another country. (Photo: Ottoman Imperial Archive / Flickr)
President Obama has assigned Secretary of Defense Chuck Hagel and Joint Chiefs of Staff Chairman Martin Dempsey the task of preparing a “range of options,” as he said in a press conference, for dealing with the Islamic State. On August 29, Politico Magazine asked a military and experts for which option(s) they would choose.
SGI can be viewed as a counter-insurgency program whose goal is to strengthen economic development by strengthening security.
SGI continues the failed AFRICOM tradition of giving Africans a greater role in supporting foreign corporate penetration of their continent as if it were in their own interest. (Photo: USAFRICOM / Flickr)
While the media attention in the United States is riveted on the Israeli war against Gaza, on the ISIS offensive in Iraq and Syria, accomplished for the most part with guerrillas trained by U.S. allies (Turkey, Saudi Arabia, Jordan, and Israel), and the ongoing attempts to consolidate the neoliberal hold on the Ukraine in the name of “democracy,” some other global developments have gone largely unnoticed.
Among them is the August 6, 2014 announcement of a new Obama Administration “initiative” for Africa. Actually there are two: the so-called “Security Governance Initiative for Africa” (SGI) on the one hand and “the African Peacekeeping Rapid Response Partnership, called A-PREP for short, on the other. Old wine in new bottles?…or old wine in old bottles slightly polished up?
The spirit of Saddam Hussein lives on in the Islamic State.
Top members of the Islamic State met at the U.S. detention center Camp Bucca in Iraq. (Photo: demostene35 / Flickr)
At the New York Times, Ben Hubbard and Eric Schmitt report that Islamic State (which the Times still calls ISIS) chief Abu Bakr al-Baghdadi “handpicked many of his deputies from among the men he met while a prisoner in American custody at the Camp Bucca detention center a decade ago.” They continue:
He had a preference for military men, and so his leadership team includes many officers from Saddam Hussein’s long-disbanded army.
They include former Iraqi officers like Fadel al-Hayali, the top deputy for Iraq, who once served Mr. Hussein as a lieutenant colonel, and Adnan al-Sweidawi, a former lieutenant colonel who now heads the group’s military council.
The pedigree of its leadership … helps explain its battlefield successes: Its leaders augmented traditional military skill with terrorist techniques refined through years of fighting American troops, while also having deep local knowledge and contacts. ISIS is in effect a hybrid of terrorists and an army. … it fights more like an army than most insurgent groups, holding territory and coordinating operations across large areas.
IS, formerly ISIS, elicits cult-like behavior in its followers and those it conquers.
Raqqa, Syria is the Islamic State’s center of operations. (Photo: Beshr O / Flickr)
No doubt because it expects the caliphate it declared to extend beyond Iraq and Syria, the Islamic State in Iraq and Syria (ISIS) recently changed its name to just the Islamic State (IS). Never mind that Iran is already the Islamic Republic: presumably IS hopes to one day over-run Iran and either drive out or murder its Shia population. Of course, that will never happen. In fact, Iran is mounting a military offensive against IS. At the Daily Beast, Eli Lake reports:
Did the CIA accept information obtained from a journalist tortured to death?
Bruce Reidel said: “After the Abbottabad raid, the Pakistanis were under enormous pressure to show that they were serious about Al Qaeda.” (Photo: ISAF Media / Flickr)
While on vacation, the editor is re-running old posts that have retained their timeliness.
It’s been a little over three years since intrepid Pakistani journalist Syed Saleem Shahzad died on May 30, 2011.
Not everyone found the reporting of the late Pakistani investigative journalist Syed Saleem Shahzad one hundred percent credible. But that may have just been a function of how incredulous they were at the extent to which he was able to insinuate himself with al Qaeda and the Taliban.
One of his most impressive contacts was long-time militant Ilyas Kashmiri, who fought in the Kashmir until President Musharraf wound down fighting there. Kashmiri then moved to Pakistan’s tribal areas and turned on the state, once trying to assassinate Musharraf and later named as a mastermind of the 2008 Mumbai attacks.
According to Osama bin Laden and Ayman al-Zawahiri's interpretation of Sunni Islamic law, Muslims who support a tyrannical regime or an occupying force are fair game for al Qaeda.
Bin Laden maintained that Al Qaeda couldn’t fulfill its mission if it were forbidden from killing Muslims. (Photo: Dept. of Defense)
While on vacation, the editor is re-running old posts that have retained their timeliness.
In light of recent violence, including against Muslims, by Boko Haram and the Islamic State in Iraq and Syria (or the Levant), we thought this post would be especially timely.
Michael Scheuer, some of whose pronouncements about al Qaeda since 9/11 you may be familiar with, was head of the CIA’s Bin Laden unit between 1996 and 2005. In a piece titled The Zawahiri Era, he addresses the succession of al Qaeda’s leadership.
The question on everyone’s lips is whether new al-Qaeda head Ayman al-Zawahiri is up to the job. My own bet is that al-Qaeda will survive, as it did after near economic ruin in Sudan (1994–96); after the pounding it took from the U.S.-NATO-Pakistan coalition (2001–02); and after the U.S. military helpfully killed Abu Musab al-Zarqawi, al-Qaeda’s chief in Iraq (2006), whose indiscriminate targeting of Muslims almost pushed al-Qaeda to the brink of defeat.
A Mizrahi feminism cut-and-paste primer.
In Israel Ashkenazi women often marginalize Mizrahi women. (Photo: Matthew Powell / Flickr)
Cross-posted from There Will Be War.
Jews are the most privileged group of citizens in Israel. Jews of European descent, called Ashkenazim, form the top of a class hierarchy while Mizrahim—Jews of African or Asian descent and Jewish immigrants from Muslim countries—are often marginalized socially, economically and politically. This extends to the feminist establishment, which started out as a movement spawned and then dominated by middle to upper middle-class, educated Ashkenazi women who preached universal female solidarity in the face of the patriarchy. Feeling unrepresented, ignored and/or ostracized, many Mizrahi feminist activists broke away from what they viewed as an Ashkenazi women’s movement unsympathetic to their own ideas of liberation, which were particular to their situations. Mizrahi women were critical of Ashkenazi insularity and discrimination—some claiming experiences of racism—but without political, social or economic capital, their voices have often been suppressed and kept from influential circles and media.