Focal Points Blog

Dying to Get Into Europe (Pt. 2)

Migrants arriving on Lampedusa in the past. (Vito Manzari / Flickr Commons)

Migrants arriving on Lampedusa in the past. (Vito Manzari / Flickr Commons)

Cross-posted from View from the Left Bank. Also read Part 1.

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For the second time in less than five years, European nations, backed by NATO are considering military intervention against Libya, this time to squash the illicit migrant passage across the Mediterranean. Having shattered the Libyan national political and social body through its 2011 NATO military intervention “for humanitarian” purposes, the European countries, once again, using a slightly different pretext, appear on the verge of performance, this time to counter the burgeoning flow of migrants from Libya’s shores across the Mediterranean to Europe. Having messed up royally in its Libyan policy once leaving the country essentially a shattered state, more and more, Europe appears to be building on its tradition of failure a second time. As in the past, this time, large portions of European public opinion are cheering them on.
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Dying to Get Into Europe (Pt. 1)

Migrant ship that actually arrived on Lampedusa in 2007. (Photo: Noborder Network / Flickr Commons)

Migrant ship that actually arrived on Lampedusa in 2007. (Photo: Noborder Network / Flickr Commons)

Cross-posted from View from the Left Bank.

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A continued tightening and militarization 0f European immigration policy – not unlike that implemented in the United States towards it southern neighbors – along with 35 years of World Bank-IMF economic domination/strangulation of Africa have mixed into a toxic cocktail of death and suffering from the growing number of people – men, women, children – trying to escape a dangerous and empty present and a future with no end in sight of war, repression, economic and political collapse in both the MENA countries (Middle East and North Africa) and Africa.

Tens of thousands just pick up and try to reach Europe where they hope to find salvation. They walk across the Sahara from the Cameroon, Mali, Somalia and Southern Sudan to the North African coast or die trying. They leave Syria and Iraq any way they can, by foot through Turkey, by sea to Cyprus and from there hopefully to Europe. But as their overland options have narrowed due to increased security at the Bulgarian and Greek borders and within Turkey itself, migrants increasingly take their chances at sea, trying to cross the Mediterranean to what they hope will be salvation of more often not is simply another version of purgatory.
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When It Comes to Nuclear Deterrence, Realists Are Actually Dreamers

Realists are reluctant to support disarmament lest their credibility be threatened. Pictured: thermonuclear bombs. (Photo: Wikimedia Commons)

Realists are reluctant to support disarmament lest their credibility be threatened. Pictured: thermonuclear bombs. (Photo: Wikimedia Commons)

In a Bulletin of the Atomic Scientists analysis titled How nuclear realists falsely frame the nuclear weapons debate Ward Wilson reports widespread dissatisfaction with the nuclear Non-Proliferation Treaty (NPT), much of it manifest at its five-year review conference (RevCon) this month. The author of Five Myths About Nuclear Weapons (Mariner Books, 2013) writes:

The potential unraveling of the Non-Proliferation Treaty is causing a careful reexamination of the assumptions that underlie the entire nuclear weapons debate. … Rather than being a stale debate that occasions stifled yawns, the debate about nuclear weapons is suddenly full of surprising new developments.

Perhaps the most interesting new thinking involves the familiar framing of the debate as a contest between realists and idealists. It turns out this division was not really a distinction created for intellectual clarity but a sort of gerrymandering that aimed to fix the outcome of the debate. This gerrymandering has been so successful, with one side in the debate losing so consistently, that most people now hesitate to be associated with the losers. In the United States, where this framing is most prevalent and shapes the debate most strongly, enthusiastic support for disarmament (except in the most far-off, one-day, maybe-someday terms) is tantamount to professional suicide.

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Solidarity’s Offices: Where Time Has Stopped

With the shipyards, mines, and even the famous Ursus tractor factory gone, former Solidarity activist Mariusz Ambrosiak asks, “Where are all the enterprises where we all fought together?” (Photo: John Feffer)

With the shipyards, mines, and even the famous Ursus tractor factory gone, former Solidarity activist Mariusz Ambrosiak asks, “Where are all the enterprises where we all fought together?” (Photo: John Feffer)

Cross-posted from JohnFeffer.com.

When I met with Mariusz Ambroziak in 1993, he was secretary for the Solidarity trade union in the Mazowsze area around Warsaw. He’d been a Solidarity activist for most of his life, starting out as a young worker involved in the famous Solidarity chapter at the Ursus tractor factory in Warsaw.

But by 1993, he was having difficulties getting up in the morning and going to work. It took two alarm clocks, he confessed to me, to get him roused out of bed. The union was shrinking in membership, and it just didn’t have the resources to help people. Moreover, its reputation was taking a beating. “The union,” Ambroziak pointed out, 
”is paying today with its name because 
under the banner of Solidarity the entire 
economic reform was undertaken.”

As it turned out, Ambroziak didn’t stay much longer with Solidarity.
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Seymour Hersh’s bin Laden Investigation Passes the Smell Test

Osama bin Laden in his happy cave days. (Photo: The Telegraph)

Osama bin Laden in his happy cave days. (Photo: The Telegraph)

In a London Review of Books article titled The Killing of Osama bin Laden, Seymour Hersh reports the results of his investigation into that much-celebrated raid. While dovetailing often with the Obama administration’s story, it’s more often diametrically opposed.

For example, many of us have wondered how the Pakistani military and ISI command couldn’t know about bin Laden in their midst. According to Hersh, they not only knew about it, they captured bin Laden in the Hindu Kush mountains, where he’d been living with his family from 2001 to 2006. They were keeping holding him in Abbottabad, courtesy of Saudi money, as leverage to keep the Taliban and al Qaeda under some sort of control, lest they turn him over to the Americans.
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The Islamic State’s Crimes Against Islam

The Islamic State makes a mockery of Islam. (Photo: Edward Musiak / Flickr Commons)

The Islamic State makes a mockery of Islam. (Photo: Edward Musiak / Flickr Commons)

Last September, 126 Islamic scholars signed an open letter to the followers of the Islamic State and its leader Abu Bakr Al-Baghdadi. At Religion News Service, Lauren Markoe quoted a signatory and spokesperson, Nihad Awad, the executive director of the Council of American-Islamic Relations.

“The letter is written in Arabic. It is using heavy classical religious texts and classical religious scholars.” … Even mainstream Muslims, he said, may find it difficult to understand.

Awad said its aim is to offer a comprehensive Islamic refutation, “point-by-point,” to the philosophy of the Islamic State and the violence it has perpetrated.

… the Muslim leaders who endorsed Wednesday’s letter called it an unprecedented refutation of the Islamic State ideology.

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Who Knew? Sister Megan Rice Didn’t Seek to Sabotage Our National Defense

Sister Megan Rice points us in the direction of the true saboteurs. Pictured: UN Swords Into Plowshares sculpture. (Photo: David Ohmer / Flickr Commons)

Sister Megan Rice points us in the direction of the true saboteurs. Pictured: UN Swords Into Plowshares sculpture. (Photo: David Ohmer / Flickr Commons)

On May 8 an appeals court in Nashville, Tenessee ruled that the conviction of Transform Now Plowshares anti-nuclear activists Sister Megan Rice, Michael Walli, and Greg Boertje-Obed, currently imprisoned for breaking into a nuclear weapons facility, was a mistake. The New York Times reports:

At issue was whether [they] injured national security when they cut through several fences to break into the Y-12 National Security Complex in Oak Ridge in July 2012. A panel of the 6th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals ruled in a 2-1 decision that they did not.

… the trio had hung banners, prayed and hammered on the outside wall of the bunker to symbolize a Bible passage that refers to the end of war: “They will beat their swords into ploughshares.”

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Rand Paul’s Foreign-Policy Flip-Flop Not Likely to Win Him Many Friends

Rand Paul’s anti-interventionism amounted to an anti-war policy. (Photo: Gage Skidmore / Wikimedia Commons)

Rand Paul’s anti-interventionism amounted to an anti-war policy. (Photo: Gage Skidmore / Wikimedia Commons)

In a recent article in the National Interest, Jacob Heilbrunn, its editor, notes Senator Rand Paul’s metamorphosis from your standard libertarian isolationist on all things offshore to a hawk. The man who once invoked George F. Kennan and prescribed the policy of containment that the latter applied to Russia for Iran and who opposed drones is “refurbishing his foreign-policy stands.”

In recent months, Paul seems to have experienced a conversion when it comes to intervention abroad.

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Could the Yugoslav Wars Have Been Avoided?

Yugoslav political scientist Mitja Zagar foresaw the war in Bosnia. (Photo: John Feffer)

Yugoslav political scientist Mitja Zagar foresaw the war in Bosnia. (Photo: John Feffer)

Cross-posted from JohnFeffer.com.

When I traveled through Yugoslavia in 1990, a number of people confessed their fears to me. They were worried about the rise of nationalism, particularly in Serbia with Slobodan Milosevic. They were concerned about the economic situation – the high level of national debt, the overall stagnation, the persistent gap between the more prosperous northern republics and the less prosperous south. And they feared that the federal structure of the country could not withstand these centrifugal forces.

When I met political scientist Mitja Zagar in Slovenia, he provided the most chilling prediction. “I believe that the only way of dismantling Yugoslavia without creating any kind of new links or forms of common living would be if there is a war in some parts, maybe Kosovo-Serbia, maybe Croatia,” he told me. “But I think the most dangerous spot is Bosnia-Herzegovina.”
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Conservatives Can’t Understand Why Pamela Geller Fails to Win Same Sympathy as Charlie Hebdo

Conservatives are lauding Pamela Geller as a beacon of free speech. (Photo: Del-Uks / Flickr)

Conservatives are lauding Pamela Geller as a beacon of free speech. (Photo: Del-Uks / Flickr)

On May 3, as you’ve no doubt heard, conservative commentator Pamela Geller’s AFDI Muhammad Art Exhibit and Contest in Garland, Texas was disrupted by two gunmen, subsequently shot dead, supposedly acting on behalf of aggrieved Muslims. The Islamic State at first tried to take responsibility for the event, but their provenance was scarce. One of its representatives then apparently posted a threat to her and boasted of Islamic State cells across the United States just waiting to be activated. For her part, Ms. Geller posted:

This threat illustrates the savagery and barbarism of the Islamic State. They want me dead for violating Sharia blasphemy laws. What remains to be seen is whether the free world will finally wake up and stand for the freedom of speech, or instead kowtow to this evil and continue to denounce me. What’s really frightening and astonishing about this threat is that the media in denouncing me is essentially allying with and even cheering on the Islamic State. I expected this from jihadists. I never expected it from my fellow Americans in the mainstream media.

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