Category Archives: Africa

La Marseillaise Casablanca

Released in January 1943, when the most important battle of the war, the battle of Stalingrad, was still raging, with Normandy still a year and a half in the future, and the tide not yet turned against Hitler’s war machine. Most of Europe and North Africa was under the jackboot of Nazi tyranny. Many of the actors in the scene were actual refugees who had fled from the Nazis, so the emotions were real. This celluloid moment may capture the spirit of hope and resistance better than any other. It is a true testament to the power of movies.

In real life Jean Moulin, murdered by the Gestapo in 1943, became the symbol of the French Resistance.

 

Remembering the Anti-Apartheid Movement in the East Bay

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It was  thirty years ago, May 1985, when Bishop Tutu spoke so eloquently at the Greek Theater, I was there. When students took over Sproul Plaza, leading to UC Berkeley’s divestment of $1.7 billion from South Africa, I was there. When Nelson Mandela came to the Oakland Coliseum in 1990 to thank us after decades in South African jails, I was there. Divestment movements and boycotts can and do work.

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Sequestration: The Real Enemy of DoD

sucking-money-vacuum-cleaner-13399508McHugh: America’s Army Facing Sequestration ‘Enemy’ at Home

“Not only does the U.S. Army face rapid, unpredictable changes in the geopolitical landscape, but also the uncertainty of an adversary — sequestration — here at home, Army Secretary John M. McHugh said before a Senate subcommittee…”

But not to worry Jedi Knights, it seems that the fix is already in for you. Here is what Rep. Rob Wittman, R-VA., the chairman of the House Armed Services had to say about it last month:

“Congress will likely act to repeal the automatic budget cuts known as sequestration during the budgeting process… the area where Congress can agree is on the Defense Department sequestration cuts, while lawmakers would have to figure out how to juggle non-defense spending by civilian agencies [author’s italics]… At least the defense spending sequester will be set aside. I think with all the dangers we see around the world it has to be.” — Notice that everyone else still needs to take the cuts!

So why the big deal? Well, if your beloved war machine, million $$ mansion, private plane and Ivy league placement for your kids was on the line, plus your future entitlements as a defense industry lobbyist, you’d try to hedge your bets too, wouldn’t you? Besides, who can trust politicians (or the American public) to do the right thing without a little cajoling, right?

So do what you do best– plan a covert mission:

Strategy: trump up the existential threats loud enough, and distribute troops broadly enough, to make it darn near impossible, both logistically and politically, to do anything but keep feeding the beast.

Tactic: work through the mainstream media to “familiarize” the public with the magnitude of the threats. Remember we are on the verge of all-out war at all times, hyper-vigilance being the only answer. Afghanistan (Taliban), Iraq (ISIL), Somalia (al-Shabaab), Yemen (Al-Qaeda), Iran (Death to America), Russia (Putin), Nigeria (Boko Haram), Al-Qaeda is everywhere, ISIS (same as ISIL, but to the less-informed it appears to be two different groups). Notice that Pakistan never seems to make the existential threat list?  And the poor old Communists must feel like Norma Desmond in Sunset Boulevard, no one pays any attention to them anymore!

Then send troops to as many of those places as possible, as discretely as possible, so when the time comes you can cry “You can’t cut our budget, you’ll be putting our boys (and girls) in greater harm.”

And let us not fool ourselves– the civilians (Executive and Congress alike) plus the CIA and NSA and Homeland Security etc…all take their places at the rampart to defend against the Philistines.

At any rate….

While you slept this weekend we received this news from the Pentagon:

US To Abandon Plan For Troop Reduction In Afghanistan

Notice how this announcement comes on a Saturday night, outside of the prime news cycle. Are we to believe that they didn’t know this during the week?

And last week our new defender of the realm, “Ash” Carter, had this to say to a Senate committee:

US War on ISIS May Expand to Include Boko Haram in Nigeria

Now this idea has not yet been properly “massaged” for US public consumption, so even though it seems like a pretty big deal it took the UK Guardian to print it. You can bet that if they want to go there, the mainstream media will dutifully play its role in convincing us that it is a good idea, or at the very least a necessary evil.

Does it make anyone else uncomfortable that our Defense Chief goes by the name “Ash”? Isn’t that all that’s left after a major conflagration? Maybe it’s just me?

If you want to get a sense for how mobilized the armed forces already are to win the battle for hearts and minds against the “enemy at home” check out the DoD’s “Sequestration” web site

Happy Trails….

Previous variations on a similar theme on ParallelNarratives:

Misleading Headline of the Week

SOUTHCOM Chief: Sequestration Will Bring “Defeat.” 

BBC Documentary – The History of Islam in Europe