Tunisia’s former first lady Leila Trabelsi and Cameroon’s present, Chantal Biya, have strikingly similar profiles.
The Biyas and the Obamas. Courtesy Wikimedia Commons
Library of Congress: only U.S. copy
I am wondering if the copy of Bertrand Teyou’s La Belle de la Republique Bananière: Chantal Biya – de la rue au Palais* which I acquired is the only copy of the book here in the United States. Most copies of the book were confiscated by the Cameroon government itself. My search for it did produce a lone copy from the Library of Congress, which was sent me through the modern miracle of the inter-library loan system. I doubt it was an original – but seemed instead to be a Xeroxed copy, its pages poorly cut with a paper cutter, so that some of the text was cut away.
Still there it was, and I read it in its entirety.
For his contribution to our understanding of the psychology of power and female upward mobility in Cameroon Teyou was rewarded by being thrown in prison for six months where he nearly died. He would have, if not for an international campaign to free him that included publicity of his fate by organizations like Amnesty International and PEN International.
Starting on November 17, the British launched the single most intensive bombing attack on a city in World War II.
Courtesy Wikimedia Commons
Despite the lack of a world war since and the Nuremberg Trials, which sent the message that war criminals would be held accountable by a world body in the future, it’s debatable whether the lessons of World War II have been fully learned. By that point, of course, the Western world just wanted to put all the death and devastation behind it and rebuild. But, the speed with which the United States pivoted to the USSR as an enemy and were back on war footing, where we remain as if terrorism and China were threats equal to Germany and Japan, suggests we still haven’t digested World War II. In fact, it should be central to our daily discourse on a daily basis.
It might seem obscure to some, but November 17 and 18 mark the seventieth anniversary of the beginning of the Battle of Berlin. If you haven’t heard of or forgot it, the Battle of Berlin was to Germany as the Blitz was to England, only more so. The following passage is from World War II (Penguin, 1989) by the great British military historian John Keegan, who died last year.
Like nuclear weapons, storms such as Typhoon Haiyan need their own disarmament treaty.
Courtesy Wikimedia Commons
Speaking of Typhoon Haiyan, Jim Pe, vice mayor of the town of Coron on Basuang, said the 150-plus miles-per-hour winds were “like a 747 flying just above my roof.” Or as Alan Boyle reports for NBC News:
Experts say Typhoon Haiyan was about as strong as it could theoretically get when it swept through the Philippines. … If the higher estimates are correct, the warning center said Haiyan’s maximum strength would exceed that of its previous record-holder: Hurricane Camille, which hit the northern Gulf Coast in 1969 with sustained winds of 190 mph. [But] climate models suggest they will keep rising over the decades to come, with the potential for bigger and more devastating storms.
The UN helped the Congolese army and international prosecutors stand ready to help try war crimes.
M23. Courtesy Wikimedia Commons
In a reprise of the military operation that helped secure independence for the Democratic Republic of the Congo in 1960, the United Nations finally got tough. It unleashed MONUSCO, its in-country peacekeeping force, to join forces with the Congolese Armed Forces in a full-scale military operation to route the rampaging rebel group, the M23. Too often peacekeepers have been reduced to bystanders, most shamefully in Bosnia and Rwanda.
U.S. ambassador to the UN and genocide authority Samantha Power is often taken to task for advocating humanitarian intervention in an age when many Americans of conscience believe it’s only a cover for implementing our own agenda. The odds of that are rolled back to some extent when it’s authorized by the UN. In a November 5 press release reacting to MONUSCO’s success, she stated (emphasis added)
We look forward to the final declaration providing for the timely disarmament and demobilization of the M23, as well as accountability for perpetrators of war crimes and crimes against humanity. In this regard, we continue to call for the establishment of “mixed chambers,” a hybrid domestic-international court that would prosecute the worst perpetrators of atrocities. We reiterate our calls for the DRC government to hold accountable all those who have committed abuses in the Congolese army, as well as militia members.
In fact, the military’s claims that Egyptian protesters sought an end to the experiment in democracy are highly doubtful.
Egyptian security forces. Courtesy Wikimedia Commons
When Egyptian military leaders decided to end Egypt’s first ever-ever democratic experience in a coup d’etat on July 2nd, toppling the Muslim Brotherhood (MB) government from powerand imprisoning President Mohammad Morsi, Egypt perhaps became the only country in the world that had a revolution against democracy.
As a result, the new government embarked on persecuting and illegally imprisoning members of the Muslim brotherhood and others who defy the military takeover of power. Last Monday President Morsi was arraigned in court for his initial procedural hearing on charges of “incitement to murder” and “collaborating with enemy entities or states,” a reference to the Palestinian organization Hamas. During his brief appearance, Morsi defied the court declaring that he is the “legally-elected president of Egypt” and that “the court proceedings were illegal.” Although the trial was rescheduled for January 8th, it is doubtful that the Egyptian judiciary, which is famously corrupt and staffed with pro-Mubarak and pro-coup judges, will hold a fair trial for the deposed president and his aides.
Axis-of-evil thinking on Iran still prevalent in Washington.
Memorial for assassinated Iranian nuclear scientists. Courtesy Wikimedia Commons
At Going to Tehran, Flynt and Hillary Mann Leverett wrote about an appearance last month before the Senate Foreign Relations Committee by Undersecretary of State for Political Affairs Wendy Sherman, who is also the senior U.S. representative in the P5+1 nuclear talks with Iran. What Ms. Sherman said not only calls into question her ability to perform that job, it begs the question of whether she’s even listening to herself. Ironically, it was in the cause of attempting to delay the implementation of further sanctions until the talks that she said of Iranians:
“We know that deception is part of the DNA.”
The Leveretts’ reaction:
This statement goes beyond orientalist stereotyping; it is, in the most literal sense, racist. And it evidently was not a mere “slip of the tongue”: a former Obama administration senior official told us that Sherman has used such language before about Iranians.
Ironically, a negotiated settlement between the United States and Iran could trigger yet another war in the Middle East.
Is Israel really planning to attack Iran, or are declarations about the possibility of a pre-emptive strike at Teheran’s nuclear program simply bombast? Does President Obama’s “we have your back” comment about Israel mean the U.S. will join an assault? What happens if the attack doesn’t accomplish its goals, an outcome predicted by virtually every military analyst? In that case, might the Israelis, facing a long, drawn-out war, resort to the unthinkable: nuclear weapons?
Such questions almost seem bizarre at a time when Iran and negotiators from the P5+1—the U.S., China, Russia, Britain, France and Germany—appear to be making progress at resolving the dispute over Teheran’s nuclear program.And yet the very fact that a negotiated settlement seems possible may be the trigger for yet another war in the Middle East.
For fear of becoming victims of another drone strike.
Courtesy Wikimedia Commons
It often occurs to me that the fellow who wrote the book some years back about learning everything worthwhile at his mother’s knee had a very good point about foreign policy. We are trained and brainwashed to believe, of course, that foreign policy is too complicated for us mere citizens, and that the President and his minions have much more information than we do and must and should be trusted to deploy it to confound our enemies abroad. “Liberal” information radio constantly re-emphasizes the point that we are incompetent to participate in foreign policy by employing think-tank pundits to field every question and comment and turn it back on the listener with some patronizing pronouncement or other. (For example, CALLER: Why should everybody be in a lather about Iran and a possible nuclear weapon someday, when Israel already has 200-300 of those, won’t admit it, and doesn’t abide by any international agreements on nuclear weapons? ANSWER: Israel is a special case; it’s different; the President and the military and even Congress has special secret information about this; don’t worry your pretty head.)
An African war criminal tests God’s willingness to forgive.
Joshua Milton Blahyi
Many Christians believe that any sin they commit, no matter how great, will be forgiven if they repent. But, like the Second Amendment supposedly guaranteeing the right to bear arms, that may be one of those precepts that time has passed by. For example, if Hitler (his regime killed 11 million civilians), Stalin (six million), or Chiang Kai-Shek (30 million) were to repent before they died, in the face of hitherto unforeseen numbers (save for maybe Genghis Khan), the quality of God’s mercy would likely be strained to the breaking point.
From a real nuclear-weapons program to an imagined one.
Hassan Rouhani (Wikimedia)
“Iranian regime may be too fragmented to come to a consensus”
“Anytime you see a statement coming out of the government, just remember there’s a rat’s nest of people fighting underneath the surface,” Kevan Harris, a sociologist at Princeton who has studied Iran extensively, told me. As [President] Rouhani tries to engage the West, he will have to contend with the hard-liners … who for more than a decade have defined their foreign policy as a covert war on the U.S. and Israel.
The Shadow Commander, Dexter Filkins, the New Yorker