Saturday, March 31, 2012

Trayvon Martin’s murder sparks remobilization

Trayvon Martin was shot and killed on February 26, 2012 in Sanford Florida while walking from a neighbourhood store. The murder and the clumsy attempts by the police to cover up the real circumstances have exposed the callous and deep racism of sections of the criminal justice system. The information on the circumstances of the murder has sparked a new phase of mobilization against racism, racial profiling and hate crimes in the United States as details of the nature of his death becomes more widely known.

Trayvon Martin was targeted because he was a black youth and his murder highlights the structural and open violence in the United States. This murder reminded all who were talking about post-racial USA of the deep entrenched racism. Blacks face this racism in all areas of life, from kindergarten, in the school system, on the streets, where they live and in this case how they end their lives. Whether it was the case of Amadou Diallo who was shot with 41 bullets by the New York Police, James Bryd (chained in Texas and dragged through the streets), Anthony Hill (lynched in Mississippi) or the thousands of other innocent black males who have been killed in cold blood, these murders expose the dangers of living and walking while black in the United States.

The killer of Trayvon Martin, George Zimmerman, admitted that he had killed the young 17-year-old, claiming that he shot Trayvon in self-defense. Decent people all across the USA have been outraged as many parents have identified with the parents of Trayvon who lost their son. The remobilization has taken the form of protests, demonstrations, teach-ins, prayer vigils, marches and other forms of expressions that are calling for the arrest of George Zimmerman. The media is going overboard linking this episode to one person, but this killing has brought out in the open the depth of the issue of racism in the United States. We will agree with Frantz Fanon,

‘Racism is not the whole but the most visible, the most day-to-day, the crudest element of a given structure....We must look for the consequences of this racism on the cultural level. Racism, as we have seen, is only one element of a vaster whole: that of the systematized oppression of a people.’

In our commentary we draw attention to the escalation of hate crimes and violence in the United States in the past five years. For the oppressed forces, the killing of Trayvon Martin is serving as on inspiration for those who want to speak out against the demagoguery and hatred that has been spread in the United States in the midst of the capitalist depression. This case is again bringing attention to the world that 21st century racism and violence against the black people in the United States is still rampant. More

Friday, March 23, 2012

Kony2012: militarization and disinformation blowback


In any major disinformation campaign, the minimum requirement for success is to at least be credible. Invisible Children, Inc. is not a credible basis for information on Uganda and Africa. Joseph Kony is not in Uganda and cannot be compared to Hitler, Bin Laden and Saddam Hussein. This group that is called the Lord’s Resistance Army (LRA) has in the past kidnapped children and turned them into child soldiers and has exploited young girls. However, this LRA is not the military threat to Africa which is portrayed in this massive campaign called Kony2012. At this moment, to mobilize millions around the world around a campaign that Joseph Kony is a major military threat in Uganda and Central Africa is disinformation.

This is the act of deliberately spreading inaccurate information. The campaign, Kony 2012, is a classic example of military disinformation. The success in tapping into the emotions of 80 million young persons has exposed its linkages to the disinformation and cyber warfare capabilities of the US defense infrastructure. Ugandans have already responded with clarity to this manipulation of the war in their society. I think that it is important to examine the wider context of the ‘invisible hand’ behind the production of Kony2012 and the current campaign calling for a day of Action on April 20. This campaign raises deeper issues about the contemporary moment in global politics and the intense competition for imperial domination of Africa.

Disinformation and Ideological coercion of US citizens to support the military-industrial complex has been most manifest in the propaganda war over terrorism. However, this war on terror only served to isolate the United States, weaken the society and bog down its military in quagmires such as Afghanistan. Yet, despite this ideological coercion and decline, planners of the military information operations have been studying social media and information warfare in order to neutralize the growing opposition to militarism in the United States. This social media event must be examined thoroughly because the Kony2012 video broke records to become the fastest-spreading online video in history. This fact of the breaking of records alone requires deeper understanding. I will argue that the barrage of media coverage which ensured this record was not accidental. The massive promotion of this on-line can now be understood in the wider context of full spectrum warfare. in which combat operations are reserved for the last resort. Psychological warfare and disinformation operations are crucial to weaken populations both at home and in ‘enemy’ territory. I am contending that the Kony2012 was a test to intercept the social media capabilities of the youths in the USA in this revolutionary moment. Kony2012 with its ambition to ensnare millions has already been exposed with millions debunking the assertions of the film. Pambazuka has published the response of Mahmood Mamdani. The Association of Concerned Africa Scholars has published their statement addressed to the U.S. Government about the Lord’s Resistance Army and Central Africa.

A special Africa Focus bulletin has pulled together reflections of videos, blog posts, and articles with Ugandan voices and other commentaries. This record is important in that it gives a comprehensive list of resources so that young students who are organizing rebuttals can find resources to counter the planned April 20 manifestations to support the call for the US military to intervene in Africa.

In the face of this massive grassroots opposition to the manipulation by Invisible Children, even the New York Times has now joined in with its Opinion Page article that ‘Kony is not the problem.’

If Kony is not the problem, then what should peace and progressive forces do to ensure that campaign such as these are nipped in the bud? Read more

Pan Africanists and the International Criminal Court: What lessons for the future of peace and justice?

The recent news of the prayer meetings being held across Kenya by aspiring presidential candidates and the genocidal language being used in these political rallies are so morally repulsive that decent human beings in all parts of the world must pay attention. If abusing the idea of prayer and spiritual reflection was not bad enough, the inflammatory language is coming from individuals who have been ordered to stand trial at the International Criminal Court in The Hague on charges of crimes against humanity. These charges stem from the crimes committed against the peoples of Kenya after the 2007 elections and fraud when more than 1,100 people are believed to have been killed in organised attacks and more than 300,000 were driven from their homes or fled in the violence.

The violence in Kenya was only one manifestation of the wider economic terrorism against the people committed by a cabal that has been associated with numerous forms of primitive accumulation since the peoples of Kenya fought for their independence. There is a ‘mafia-like cartel’ that has become rich in Kenya and these forces see themselves as above the law. Numerous reports exist on the relationship between fraud, money laundering, drug trafficking, violence, phony pharmaceutical products and a deformed financial sector. Kenyans are conscious of these crimes and the struggles against impunity reached a high point in 2010 when Kenyans ratified a new constitution. Kenyans understood that there must be an end to impunity and that the Kenyan judicial system had to be cleaned up in order to shut down the cartel of accumulators who use violence to stay in power. These Kenyans who want peace and social justice must be supported by progressive Pan Africanists everywhere.

That the judicial system in Africa and the African Union has been unable to prosecute those who carry out crimes against humanity is one of the weaknesses of the AU at this historical moment; but, as I will argue this week, Pan Africanists ought to be at the forefront at the prosecution of crimes against humanity. Pan Africanists from the grassroots cannot await the legal processes of the International Criminal Court (ICC) to organize against criminality and genocide in Africa. Justifiably, there are voices in Africa who have pointed out how the ICC has been used against Africa at present. I will maintain in this contribution that peace and justice activists must take the lead to ensure that those who commit genocidal violence and crimes against humanity must be tried in the court of public opinion and isolated in every way. In this way all of the resources available within the Pan African Movement must be deployed to ensure that the members of criminal syndicates involved in drug running, gun running and money laundering cannot use these resources to corrupt the political processes. I will argue that the form and content of the discussions of Pan Africanists and the International Criminal Court cannot distract peace and social justice forces from the need to develop networks of peace, justice and social solidarity. Read more

Thursday, March 1, 2012

Drumbeats of war: Israel’s dangerous brinkmanship

As the capitalist depression deepens, there are militarists in the United States who are now openly championing war so that the US government would embark on another massive investment for missile defense, rather than discussing reduced military spending. The drumbeat of war is so loud that it is becoming deafening. Accompanying this drumbeat is the unstated idea that there are too many non-white people in the world and that a limited nuclear war can be managed and won. Underlying the call for war is also the racist fear of a world where whites are in the minority and in such a war the racists can eradicate millions of non-whites and non-western people from the planet. The immediate plans for war are now concentrated in the Persian Gulf, with the escalating propaganda war about the nuclear capabilities of Iran. However, at the present moment Iran does not possess Intercontinental Ballistic Missiles (ICBM) so the discussion is really about war with contingency planning for the escalation beyond Iran. This is because the strategic analysts know full well that war with Iran will escalate beyond the borders of Iran. Already Pakistan has warned that it will come to the defense of Iran if it is attacked.

Decent humans everywhere must pay attention, actively mobilise and raise their voices against the present mobilisation for warfare. There is a debate on Ballistic Missile Defense among specialists. This struggle is part of a larger context where every day there are reports of the preparations by Israel to strike Iran. Inside the United States, those sections of the financial-military complex that are gearing up for new wars are stepping up the military information operations (psychological warfare to implant fear) against citizens of the United States. In short, the plans for war can be seen as a major propaganda war against the citizens of the United States. There is desperation by sections of the financial oligarchy who are afraid of the November elections and that Barack Obama may win a second term. In this planning for war the interests of the militarists merge with the present political leadership in Israel.

Report after report continues to come out that the Israelis will attack to prevent Iran from developing nuclear capabilities. This is the same Israeli state that possesses between 200 and 300 nuclear weapons. Israel is already involved in electronic warfare, cyber war and other forms of low intensity war against Iran.

In our contribution this week we will underscore the point that this is a very dangerous situation. This is brinkmanship and is designed to intervene in the politics of the United States to push the society towards a global war in order to secure the regional military monopoly of Israel. This military monopoly perpetuates the status of Israeli military occupation and illegal settlements in the homeland of the Palestinian people. Next week the Prime Minister of Israel will visit the United States and through the lobbying organisation, the American Israel Public Affairs Committee (AIPAC), the Prime Minister will seek an advantage by manipulating the dangerous situation which can take humanity into nuclear war. The brinkmanship is so dangerous that even Cold Warriors such as Zbigniew Brzezinski (former National Security Advisor under President Jimmy Carter) have suggested that President Obama should make it clear to Israel that if they attempt to attack Iran's nuclear weapons sites the US Air Force will stop them. It is not usual to read statements such as these in the US media, “Obama Administration Should Tell Israel U.S. Will Attack Israeli Jets if They Try to Attack Iran”.

Brzezinski had appealed to Obama three years ago, long before the propaganda war reached this precipitous stage. Brzezinski, who considers himself a strategic thinker, said today that if Israel attacked Iran, the state of Israel would not survive in its current form. In short, it is possible that we are entering a period of catastrophic warfare. Read more

Mega-super star Madonna's campaign for world peace

On Sunday February 5, 2012 one of the biggest spectacles in the US entertainment and sports world took place, Super Bowl XLVI, the annual championship game of American football. It was during the half time show when over 111 million spectators watched when the world famous songstress, Madonna unveiled her statement of World Peace. These two words were released as a puff of smoke after she sang one of her more well-known songs, “Like a Prayer.”

The Super Bowl half time show is one of the most coveted slots in the United States’ entertainment calendar. Remarkably, this artist was able to sing a medley of 8 songs in ten minutes. In these ten minutes Madonna brought out a performance that must have taken months of rehearsing, using the most advanced technology and working with the circus entertainment company, Cirque du Soleil. Drawing on the talents of other younger radical and anti-imperialist artist M.I.A, the unclear Nicki Minaj along with others such as LMFAO and Cee Lo Green, Madonna brought out collaboration. With her “World Peace” statement, she intended the halftime show was to make a statement to the US society to get off its militaristic path. There are sections of the militaristic wing of the United States which is currently in a fever pitch of discussion about ‘Will Israel Attack Iran’?

There is not a day where there is not speculation in the media whether the Israelis will blackmail Obama into joining Israel in an attack on Iran. Ira Chernus in his submission, “New York Times Hypes Israeli Attack On Iran” has drawn attention to how mainstream newspapers such as the New York Times and the Washington Post are hyping the question of war against Iran. The Madonna message was presented in the midst of this media pressure for war. Read more