Thomas Friedman Belongs in a Gulag

From the man who brought you nightmarish ramblings about “bursting the bubble of terrorism” by murdering every Iraqi. And from the man who brought you a book claiming that neoliberalism has somehow brought equality to the world. This week, the newest Thomas Friedman article came out in the New York Times. And Friedman is eager to solidify his place in the ever-growing list of people who belong in a Gulag.

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It’s a dream come true!

In his ahistorical, psychotic interpretation of the world, he thinks that Muhammad ibn Salman (the Crown Prince of Saudi Arabia) is somehow a force for liberating Saudi Arabia. Evidently, he knows nothing of the history of Saudi Arabia – while he also demonstrates a profound stupidity regarding the Crown Prince’s geopolitical games.

Case and point: Yemen is going through a famine and the worst cholera epidemic in history while being bombed back into the Stone Age by Saudi Arabia.

This is happening right now.

What does Friedman have to say about this tragedy in his article?

“[The Crown Prince] insisted that the Saudi-backed war in Yemen, which has been a humanitarian nightmare, was tilting in the direction of the pro-Saudi legitimate government there, which, he said is now in control of 85 percent of the country, but given the fact that pro-Iranian Houthi rebels, who hold the rest, launched a missile at Riyadh airport, anything less than 100 percent is still problematic.” (emphasis added)

Friedman is saying that Saudi Arabia needs to control 100% of Yemen in order for everything to be hunky-dory. This is propaganda on an unbelievable level.

Essentially, Friedman is saddling himself up to a war criminal.

Of course, this isn’t the first time that Thomas Friedman has encouraged massacres!

What was his solution to the breakdown of former Yugoslavia in 1999? It should be lights out in Belgrade: every power grid, water pipe, bridge, road and war-related factory has to be targeted.” In case you weren’t aware, those are war crimes.

What about his ideas on the invasion of Iraq in 2003?:

Such demagogy should be rewarded with hard labor.

Arguably, this nonsense likely arises from his skewed understanding of the world.

Thomas Friedman’s book “The World is Flat” is so full of hackneyed misrepresentation of basic facts and incoherent nonsense, that it’s amazing that Friedman is allowed to show his face outside without endless ridicule.

Let alone be published in mainstream newspapers!

Based on his constant defense and advocacy of war crimes, I suggest that we all pitch in together and make sure that Thomas Friedman gets an all-expenses-paid one-way ticket to a Gulag.

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The Right of Self-Defense

In the past week alone, countless acts of terror have taken place against Muslims. In Quebec, a white terrorist opened fire on worshipers and murdered six people. In Victoria, Texas, the mosque was destroyed in a clear act of arson, where the Jews of Victoria have offered their synagogue to the Muslim community in an act of generosity. And on Sunday, one of the U$ assassination squads (SEAL team 6) slaughtered multiple children in Yemen (including an 8-year-old American girl, if you happen to care about Americans more than people from Yemen).

Needless to say, we are facing an emboldened and renewed campaign of terrorism against Muslims around the world. And, of course, the encouraged (actually, insisted) response by general society is that we should not defend ourselves. Of course, I agree with Malcolm on this point. If we say that people of color, women, trans/queer people, and Muslims should defend themselves, there is an uproar that we’re “calling for violence”. I have yet to hear anyone call for violence – we’re calling for self-defense.

If we’re living in a society where Nazis can walk right into mosques and start shooting at people in prayer, then we ought to have the right to defend ourselves. As Malcolm put it: “I don’t even call it violence when it’s in self-defense; I call it intelligence.”

This applies globally as well. Saudi Arabia (along with the U$ and England) has launched one of the greatest humanitarian catastrophes of the century by invading and destroying one of the poorest countries in the world – Yemen. Bombs rain from the skies over Sanaa, but any attempt to arm the people of Yemen is rejected. Why? Because apparently everyone in Yemen is an agent of Iran (and, therefore, worthy of death).

This justifies assassination of all the men, women, and children of the country.

Who is to blame? Well, the obvious answer would be the bloated clown running the U$ (voted in by 62,985,105 Amerikkkans). But it isn’t that easy, of course, because we know that Obama was the one who started the assault on Yemen. While he was feeding everyone bullshit about the Arab Spring, he saw fit to murder innocent people in Yemen the “most extraordinary global terrorism campaign in history” for doing nothing more than being apart of the Arab Spring. The line can be drawn pretty clearly back to European colonialism.

In all times and places, the violence is supposed to flow down the hierarchy. The enormous empires try to dominate tiny countries in order to maintain hegemony. Anyone who tries to resist is exterminated and anyone who silently goes along with the program is kept in treachery, unless bribery is the only way to extract resources.

The Saudis go along with the program and are handsomely rewarded, whereas when Iran tried to stand up and reclaim its dignity, the West responded with terror and destruction. All the while, the media is the West has adeptly avoided talking about the invasion of Yemen. Coverage of the war might lead to pesky questions, such as the obvious: why shouldn’t the Houthis have arms?

Back in the West, terror continues mostly in the shadows.

The terrorism that takes place against Muslims is often ignored, because it doesn’t play into xenophobic, racist portrayals of groups at risk in Western society.

The first mosque I ever visited was in 2011. Almost immediately when I went downstairs I noticed black marks on the walls under the windows. When I asked people what had happened, they responded (very calmly) that someone had thrown two Molotov cocktails through the windows. This is the reality that Muslims are living with in the U$.

And the expectation is that we’re supposed to allow this reality to continue?

This is where we ought to make it clear that we will defend ourselves. There are those who call for full gun control and want to make it impossible for anyone to own guns (except the government, of course). This seems like an odd way of confronting the world as it is. Guns exist already and people have access to them already. No matter your position on gun control, it would be insanity for vulnerable people to remain unarmed as Nazis and fascists are arming themselves to the teeth.

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There is a Youtube channel run by a Sikh man named Gursant Singh. He is an American convert to Sikhism and often talks about the conditions faced by Sikhs in the U$. Let’s not forget the massacre five years ago at a gurdwara in Wisconsin, when a Alt-Right Nazi walked into the Sikh Temple and shot ten people, killing six.

Obama never even visited, despite being sure to visit other sites of mass shootings.

Gursant Singh called for all Sikhs to arm themselves and be prepared at all times. He pointed out, correctly, that Sikhs are often mistaken for Muslims (due to their turbans and beards) and that they were, therefore, walking targets. This demonstrates the successful demonization of Muslims and the general ignorance of Amerikans.

Si vis pacem, para bellum. – “If you want peace, prepare for war.”

This is an old Latin adage that I endorse wholeheartedly.

There’s No Such Thing As A “Humanitarian Military Intervention”

“You know, America really is the Great Satan.”

My friend said this as we discussed the current chaos that’s over-swept the Middle East. I’d never stopped to contemplate this term before. It always seemed too dramatic to be accurate and too sharp to be rhetorically useful.

“In North Africa, after giving a speech,” my friend continued, “the speaker will say that ‘anything good I said was from God and any mistakes I made were from myself and Satan.'”

And what role does Satan play in a theistic view of reality?

It is the role of creating the conditions to breed disorder and mayhem – to drive humans to destroy, kill, terrorize, and remove from one another the dignity of humanity.

And what role does the U.S. play around the world?

We’ll have to come back to this question.

America Great Satan

If you haven’t been keeping up with the news recently, I should probably fill you in.

Israel, once again, massacred the people of Gaza (in an ongoing process of systematic genocide), murdering almost 2,000 people (80% of whom were civilians).

The Islamic State of Iraq and Ash-Shaam (recently renamed the Islamic State), led by Abu Bakr Al-Baghdadi, claimed territory across eastern Syria and northern and western Iraq. They claim to have established a “Caliphate”, have declared Shi’a, Yazidis, and regular Sunnis to be heretics of one form or another, and are also partaking in a process of systematic genocide. In response to this, the United States has recently started a new bombing campaign in northern Iraq that is sure to last, if we can take Obama’s word for it, at least a few months.

In Baghdad, the Shi’a coalition has successfully replaced Nouri al-Maliki as the prime minister (as many have viewed his brutal leadership to have exacerbated the problems in Iraq) and appointed the ever-hopeful Haider al-Abadi. God willing, al-Abadi will bring together the opposing elements in Iraqi society against terrorist organizations and sectarianism.

Meanwhile, Egypt’s new (actually, old) military regime is not accepting responsibility for the Rabaa massacre last year, where authorities killed over 800 people.

Syria has had one of the deadliest months since the beginning over the civil war that started 3 years ago. In the midst of this, Bashar al-Assad was elected president and made an important speech at his inauguration.

Libya remains trapped between factions and militias claiming territory, fighting in the streets, and attempting to get control over the oil rich regions. Of course, this chaos is the direct result of one of NATO’s Humanitarian Military Intervention, in which NATO bombed combatants and civilians alike.

The regime in Bahrain shows no signs of acquiescing to the protests against the dictatorial monarchy of the al-Khalifa family that has maintained a brutal 230-year domination over the island thanks to the corrupt Saudi-Wahhabi regime next door. And we all know that the U.S. policy towards the Saudi regime is “regime-continuation”.

So much for freedom and democracy, right?

Turkey recently elected Erdogan to be president, shifting the political structure dramatically away from the parliamentary system and towards the presidential system. Erdogan will now have more power to do as he pleases, with less push back from those pesky parliamentarians who oppose his more authoritarian tendencies.

In other words, a lot of things are shifting right now across the Middle East. Really, everywhere from Morocco to Pakistan is changing. But one thing remains static: the countries of the Middle East aren’t experiencing this alone. They’ve been actively placed in a cauldron of boiling poison and told to remain afloat.

An impossible task if there ever was one.

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So in the face of all of this, what is taking place?

As the Islamic State has swept across the deserts of Syria and Iraq for the past few years, massacring Yazidis, Christians, Shi’a, and countless others, it has managed to continuously grow in size and scope. The Islamic State was the only rebel force in Syria that successfully conquered one of the provincial capitals, Raqqa.

Major funding contributions to this designated terrorist organization have been made by power-brokers in Kuwait, Qatar, and Saudi Arabia. In other words, the West is bankrolling terrorists.

But if the Islamic State has been around for years, then why did the U.S. just start bombing 9 days ago?

And if the Islamic State has been receiving funding from our dear allies in the Gulf, then why are we bombing them? And if we’re justified in bombing them, then why are those in the Gulf our dear allies?

There are a few pretty obvious answers to these questions, but obviously you’re not going to hear them from anyone in the government. This is what Obama said to justify the most recent bombing campaigns:

“When many thousands of innocent civilians are faced with the danger of being wiped out and we have the capacity to do something about it, we will take action. It is our responsibility as Americans. It is a hallmark of American leadership. That’s who we are.”

Here’s a video of Madeleine Albright, the Secretary of State under Bill Clinton, showing such compassion about the deaths of thousands of Iraqis in 1996:

That was her cold reaction to the fact that American sanctions were killing hundreds of thousands of Iraqi children.

It is a hallmark of American leadership.

That’s who we are.

So you can see that the U.S. government is pretending like this is one of its many important Humanitarian Military Interventions.

What is a Humanitarian Military Intervention?

Wikipedia has this great definition: “a state’s use of ‘military force against another state when the chief publicly declared aim of that military action is ending human-rights violations being perpetrated by the state against which it is directed.'”

When the chief publicly declared aim…

So essentially, according to the president, the U.S. Federal Government is bombing Iraq, because we have the “capacity” to help “many thousands of innocent civilians”. In this, he’s referring to the thousands of Yazidis who were (and many of whom still are) trapped on a mountain after fleeing.

On the surface, this seems like a very altruistic measure. There was an airlift that dropped food and water on the mountain and everything, because people were dying from thirst and hunger.

Don’t get me wrong, I certainly support dropping food and water in order to save the Yazidis and others. I also support doing anything possible to destroy the Islamic State.

However, the poison lies in intentions. There’s nothing Humanitarian about it. If the United States cared about suffering Iraqis, we wouldn’t have killed so many of them. If Obama cared about the “many thousands of innocent civilians”, he wouldn’t have supported Israel killing 2,000 Gazans over the past month. If this was about Humanitarianism then we would have stopped the Islamic State when it started crucifying children in Syria.

So why are we bombing now?

The Islamic State right now happens to be encroaching on Kurdistan, towards Erbil.

For those of you who don’t know, let’s play a game.

What resource do you think is most prevalent in Erbil?

a) Gingerbread men

b) Broccoli

c) Oil

Done guessing?

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That’s why the United States is attacking the Islamic State today, whereas they’ve been happy to allow this al-Qaeda offshoot to terrorize the Levant for the past few years. Up until now they weren’t threatening such important Humanitarian enterprises like Chevron and ExxonMobil.

When we funded Saddam in the 80’s, it was our Humanitarian duty to help him gas the Iranian army. When we bombed Iraq in 91, it was our Humanitarian duty to protect Kuwait. When we placed devastating sanctions on Iraq through the 90’s, it was our Humanitarian duty to put pressure on the government. When we invaded and occupied for a decade, it was our Humanitarian duty to “save” the Iraqi people from Saddam. And when we bomb Iraq today, it’s our Humanitarian duty to save the victims of the Islamic State.

But everyone knows why we’re really bombing Iraq.

Today we’re bombing Iraq because of oil.

So is America the Great Satan?

Does the United States create the conditions breed disorder and mayhem – to drive humans to destroy, kill, terrorize, and remove from one another the dignity of humanity?

Only God knows for sure, but I don’t think She’s keeping the answer a secret.

9 questions about Syria that still haven’t been answered

Since March 2011, over 100,000 people have been killed in Syria. It’s taken two and half years, but people in the United States are finally talking about the civil war. I’ve seen multiple articles scattered around the internet attempting to explain the situation (and almost always falling pathetically short). This post is aimed at filling in some gaps.

One article stands out in particular: a Washington Post article entitled “9 questions about Syria you were too embarrassed to ask” by Max Fisher.

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1. What is Syria?

Syria is a country. Let’s move on.

2. Why are people in Syria killing each other?

Mr. Fisher doesn’t aim to answer this question accurately at all. So yes, it’s true that the civil uprising began in March/April 2011 and protests around the country swelled. It also happens to be true that the government did respond “like monsters”. But this is only half of the story.

In April 2011, there were also protests around the country in support of Assad and the current government. I’m talking hundreds of thousands of people. These protests, however, didn’t receive the fanfare in the Western media. This is because the narrative in the West, from the beginning, has been about how a terrible dictator is killing his people. It happens to be a bit more complex.

To further complicate said narrative, on July 29th, 2011, a conglomerate of defected soldiers and random people established the “Free Syrian Army”. The Free Syrian Army remains the major oppositional force in Syria, fighting alongside (and oftentimes against) other groups like Al-Qaeda and Islamic Ahrar al-Sham Movement. Since the beginning, the rebels have had a difficult time developing any cohesive program, which has resulted in a civil war within a civil war.

On top of this, the FSA is a difficult organization to pin down. Some representatives claim that they want to establish a secular democracy. Some talk about an Islamic republic. All they can agree on is that they want Assad out of power. Keep in mind that this is the organization that gets its funding from Qatar, Turkey, Israel, the U.S., and Saudi Arabia.

Ultimately, people in Syria are killing each other, because they disagree on who should be in charge. Supporters of the government want Bashar al-Assad, the Free Syrian Army doesn’t really agree on who they want in charge (but I can guarantee you it’s a Sunni Arab male), and Al-Qaeda wants an state that wouldn’t be too radically different from Taliban rule in Afghanistan.

3. That’s horrible. But there are protests lots of places. How did it all go so wrong in Syria? And, please, just give me the short version.

It went “wrong” in Syria for a lot of reasons. One of the major reasons, which you’re never going to hear from the media, is that the opposition picked up guns. In the West, we’ve acted as though armed rebellion was totally justified, even though that’s exactly what threw the country into this bloody civil war. In fact, the opposition group that hasn’t been talked about at all is the nonviolent opposition.

4. I hear a lot about how Russia still loves Syria, though. And Iran, too. What’s their deal?

Let’s flip this: I hear a lot about how the U.S. still loves the rebels, though. And Saudi Arabia, too. What’s their deal?

The fact of the matter is that countries have their interests and act accordingly. Russia and Iran have a vested interest in seeing a stable and united Syria under Assad. Meanwhile, the U.S. has a vested interest in seeing an unstable Syria weaken Iran and Hezbollah. The loss of civilian lives is meaningless in the face of vital national interests.

So yes, the harsh reality is that governments do what they need to do, regardless of how many innocent people have to die in the process. Don’t believe me? Look at Darfur, Kosovo, the Democratic Republic of the Congo, Tibet and Xinjiang…

5. This is all feeling really bleak and hopeless. Can we take a music break?

I thought about putting a pro-government song here, just to contrast the original article, however that would be in poor taste. It also would misrepresent my views on the issue, because I’m not pro-Assad.

6. Why hasn’t the United States fixed this yet?

Here’s the big issue.

The United States hasn’t “fixed this yet”, because the United States is contributing to it. It is in the interest of the United States to see this war continue. That’s why it’s not even threatening to overthrow Assad.

Why?

Because right now you have members of Al-Qaeda and Hezbollah killing each other. You have Iran’s strongest ally in the Middle East faltering. You have Israel easily bombing southern Syria and continuing the occupation of the Golan Heights with no issues. At the same time, sectarian divisions are being exacerbated throughout the Middle East, which keeps too many of these countries from uniting and having more control over their oil.

7. So why would Obama bother with strikes that no one expects to actually solve anything?

The real answer is because Assad is winning. Striking at Assad would only weaken his forces and prolong the civil war. There is no “punishment” for using chemical weapons, because the rebels used chemical weapons in May and totally got away with it. Why would we want to prolong the civil war? See above.

8. Come on, what’s the big deal with chemical weapons? Assad kills 100,000 people with bullets and bombs but we’re freaked out over 1,000 who maybe died from poisonous gas? That seems silly.

I’m going to have to say this over and over and over, but:

ASSAD HAS NOT KILLED 100,000 PEOPLE WITH BULLETS AND BOMBS!

That number – 100,000 – is the number of people who have died in the civil war. That includes civilians, rebels, terrorists, priests, imams, soldiers, police officers, government officials, and everyone in between. To say that Assad has killed 100,000 people is total nonsense.

Also,

THERE IS NO EVIDENCE THAT ASSAD USED CHEMICAL WEAPONS

At least, not yet. The U.N. is still working on information gathering and hasn’t released any reports. Until the U.N. does so, everyone is relying on selected U.S. intelligence. And even U.S. intelligence analysts think it might have been the rebels! After all, it wouldn’t even be logical for Assad to have used chemical weapons, considering that he had U.N. inspectors in Damascus that day.

So there are some underlying questions left:

If it was the rebels, then are we going to retract any support for them? Didn’t they cross Obama’s “red line” in May? Why is the United States acting with such blatant hypocrisy?

Think about it.

9. Hi, there was too much text so I skipped to the bottom to find the big take-away. What’s going to happen?

The United States is maybe going to bomb a sovereign nation based on little evidence and a big ego.

Who Are You Calling a Fundamentalist?

About a year ago, I made a decision against my better judgment and went to a bar with a friend. He was interested in meeting up with a woman that he’d been dating for a while. I ordered my usual when going to a bar: a frothy cup of coca cola.

I was then asked a series of standard rapid-fire questions. Did you only order a coke? Don’t you want alcohol? Why don’t you drink? When my friend intervened and explained to her that I’m a Muslim, I received the strangest question of my life.

Are you like a Mozlum Fundamentalist? (stress on the way she said mozzz lummm)

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ummm what?

I had no idea how to respond.

I laughed, desperately hoping that it was just a joke.

Ha, you must be joking!

She wasn’t.

This, I believe, is nothing less than a crisis. The fact that she would seriously ask me that question is evidence of the crisis of ignorance. I eventually explained to her that, despite her keen eye, she was mistaken. Unfortunately for her, I’m not a “Muslim Fundamentalist”.

Homeland Security’s vigilantes foiled again!

But this of course begs the question: What is a “Muslim Fundamentalist”?

Sure, I had a vague idea of what she meant. Probably some guys she saw on the news wearing black headwraps and messing around on monkey bars. When you really think about it though, can you give accurate definitions to any of these terms that are thrown around today? Islamism, Islamic extremism, Jihadism, Islamofascism, etc…

First of all, “Fundamentalism” is Christian terminology. Specific groups of Christians called themselves “fundamentalists” in some protestant movements around the turn of the 20th century. It was associated with getting back to the fundamentals of Christianity in response to all the secularism, decadence, and immorality. “Fundamentalism” really came to the fore in the United States during the Scopes Trial. So the fact that “fundamentalism” gets associated with Islam isn’t really an accurate use of the word.

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Are you now, or have you ever been, the descendant of a monkey?

Secondly, all these terms get conflated and distorted so we lump different groups of people in with each other. Which, by the way, whether or not you’re a card-carrying communist or a neo-conservative nitwit, isn’t helpful at all. Is Saudi Arabia an “Islamic Fundamentalist” state? Then why do they work with the United States and issue rulings against suicide bombing? What about Iran? Was Osama bin Laden a “fundamentalist”? Was Saddam Hussein? Was Khomeini? Why are Syrian “fundamentalists” fighting Hezbollah right now?

This is why we’ve got to think critically for a second.

Saudi Arabia and Iran aren’t on great terms. Saddam Hussein wanted to kill Khomeini in the 70s (and subsequently fought Iran in a brutal war throughout the 80s, which, by the way, was totally bankrolled by the United States). And suicide bombing has been a tactic of plenty of non-Muslims. See: Kamikaze pilots in WWII or the Tamil Tigers of Sri Lanka. Or how about the story of Samson in the Bible?

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Definitely Muslim Fundamentalists.

Our language is at least inadequate and at most insidious and racist.

One thing’s for sure: our discourse today is profoundly unhelpful. Arguably, countless Americans wouldn’t have thought that Saddam and bin Laden were friends if they knew that Saddam was a secularist, while bin Laden was striving for something a little more religious. Maybe this information would have caused people to question the official line.

Maybe the U.S. wouldn’t have brutally invaded and occupied Iraq. But now that’s just getting into the realm of speculation.

Seriously, who the fuck ever thought that bin Laden and Saddam Hussein were working together!?

It is clear that the way we talk about things shapes the way that we think about things. So when we talk about “Muslim Fundamentalism” or “Islamofascism” or whatever, it’s horribly important that we are clear and precise in exactly what we mean. This is why we need to change the way we conceptualize the other, because otherwise we’re doomed to repeating the same mistakes over and over again.

So who are you calling a fundamentalist?

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