Last week President Obama issued a letter to Congress informing them of ongoing US troop deployments for combat operations around the world.
“Since October 7, 2001, the United States has conducted combat operations in Afghanistan against al-Qa’ida terrorists, their Taliban supporters, and associated forces,” it reads. “In support of these and other overseas operations, the United States has deployed combat-equipped forces to a number of locations in the U.S. Central, Pacific, European, Southern, and Africa Command areas of operation.” In other words, all across the globe.
It goes on to talk about combat deployments in Somalia, Yemen, Egypt, Libya, Uganda, Kosovo, and all over the high seas in maritime operations “aimed at stopping the movement, arming, and financing of certain international terrorist groups.” As a reminder, the President explained “on September 12 a security force deployed to Libya to support the security of U.S. personnel in Libya” and ”on September 13, an additional security force arrived in Yemen in response to security threats there.”
“These forces will remain in place until the security situation no longer requires them,” it said. And here we are led to the crux of the ‘war on terror’:
“It is not possible to know at this time the precise scope or the duration of the deployments of U.S. Armed Forces necessary to counter this terrorist threat to the United States.”
In a straight line, the President here explained how a combat deployment less than a month after the 9/11 attacks is now – more than ten years later – justifying military action in several continents without any “precise scope” limiting their conduct and without any defined end point.
Update: A piece today by Daniel Klaidman at the Daily Beast argues the opposite of what I’ve implied in my above blog post. The article is titled “Will Obama End the War on Terror?”
Yet behind the scenes Obama has led a persistent internal conversation about whether America should remain engaged in a permanent, ever-expanding state of war, one that has pushed the limits of the law, stretched dwindling budgets, and at times strained relations with our allies. “This has always been a concern of the president’s,” says a former military adviser to Obama. “He’s uncomfortable with the idea of war without end.”
…This month Pentagon general counsel Jeh Johnson, with the full backing of the White House, became the first senior member of the administration to openly broach the delicate question of when the war on terror would be over. “Now that the efforts by the U.S. military against al Qaeda are in their 12th year,” he said in a speech at the University of Oxford in England, “we must also ask ourselves, how will this conflict end?”
…Johnson and others in the administration worried about being further out on the margins of the law. And yet the conflict kept widening.
…Many counterterrorism officials are making the case that the administration needs to be more discerning about which groups are worth going after militarily and how to calibrate our response to the level of threat. “Should we resort to drones and Special Operations raids every time some group raises the black banner of al Qaeda?” asks one senior military planner. “How long can we continue to chase offshoots of offshoots around the world?” In at least acknowledging this type of question, Johnson’s speech arguably represented an inflection point for the Obama administration—and perhaps for the war on terror as a whole.
Whether the Obama administration is genuinely concerned about endless war or whether they’ve used Klaidman to portray that concern in order to placate the increasingly non-interventionist sentiment in America remains to be seen. For now, all that’s clear is that such expressed sentiment has not manifested into policy.
He made it clear yesterday that this is definitely a war he doesn’t want, but Turkish Prime Minister Recep Tayyip Erdogan warned today that the nation is “not far from war” with neighboring Syria after yet another mortar shell strayed across the border into Turkey.
Turkey’s parliament was already on board for the conflict, voting for cross-border attacks yesterday, and the Turkish military has continued striking Syria for three straight days now.
So while Erdogan is putting this in the context of Syria “testing Turkey’s patience,” it may well be that continued tensions and cross-border incidents could be putting him in a tough position, faced with growing internal calls to start a war as well as major antiwar rallies in northern Turkey.
In the end, while today’s mortar shell didn’t actually hit anything, it has risked making an unstable situation even worse, with nations like Iraq openly expressing concerns that the Syrian Civil War could quickly go region-wide if it spills into Turkey.
Turkey Continues Shelling Syria After Another Cross-Border Mortar
Syria’s Kurds Head to Iraq to Prepare for War
UN Condemns Suicide Bombings in Syria
[image description: Paul Raffaele said a Suruwaha girl refused to shake his hand because she wanted to kill him. In fact, he was wearing so much sun cream the Suruwaha thought he had a skin disease.]
© Survival International
Australia’s Channel 7 network has been found guilty by the press regulator of serious violations of the broadcasting code, after screening a report so extreme it was branded ‘Freakshow TV’ by Survival International.
The report labelled Brazil’s Suruwaha tribe as child murderers; ‘Stone Age’ relics; and ‘one of the worst human rights violators in the world’.
Survival complained to Australia’s regulator ACMA after Channel 7 refused Survival’s request to issue a correction to its report, broadcast on its Sunday Night programme.
In a landmark judgment, ACMA has now ruled that the Channel was guilty of breaking its racism clause – ‘provoking intense dislike, serious contempt or severe ridicule against a person or group’ – believed to be the first time it has found a broadcaster guilty of this serious offence under the 2010 TV Code. It has also ruled that the Channel was guilty of broadcasting inaccurate material.
Survival’s Director Stephen Corry said today, ‘This was one of the worst reports about contemporary tribal people we’d ever seen. The Indians were made out to be cruel and inhuman monsters, in the spirit of 19th century colonialist scorn for ‘primitive savages’.
‘What makes it even worse is that the Suruwaha have been under attack by fundamentalist missionaries for years, who are waging a campaign slandering them as child-murderers. The missionaries are behind a draft law to allow them to remove Indian children from their communities, something with horrifying echoes of the Stolen Generations scandal.
‘The Channel 7 crew told the Suruwaha they wanted to allow them to put their side of the story – but actually produced one of the most grotesquely distorted pictures of a tribal people we can remember. The programme even openly fundraised for the missionaries on its website. We hope this ruling will mean we’re less likely to see such dangerous rubbish on TV in the future.’
Channel 7 is seeking a judicial review of the ruling in Australia’s Federal Court.
Note to Editors:
- Survival has written a set of ethical guidelines to help filmmakers work responsibly with tribal peoples. It is also using its Stamp it Out campaign to challenge racist depictions, however unwitting, in the media.
It was those dealings that would draw the government’s attention. “The United States government used the concept of guilt by association,” Bayan said. “There were some financial transactions between me and [Hamas political bureau deputy chairman] Mousa Abu Marzouk’s wife, who happened to be my cousin. The government didn’t like this, and indicted us mainly because of this relationship.” The “core issues,” he added, related to the Holy Land Foundation and also Abu Marzouk.
Abu Marzouk’s status as a “specially designated terrorist” allows the US government to criminalize his business transactions, personal property and even family relationships, without ever charging him with a crime or putting him on trial. It detained Abu Marzouk for 22 months after his designation, before releasing him without charges and deporting him to Jordan in 1997.
The Holy Land Foundation, once the largest Islamic charity in the United States, was shut down with an executive order from the Bush administration in December 2001. Ghassan Elashi and four other men associated with the foundation were arrested and, as The Electronic Intifada reported earlier this year, were “subjected to two extraordinary trials that, amongst other court precedents, relied on testimony from an anonymous Israeli intelligence agent. The men were accused of providing material support to Hamas, a Palestinian political party declared a terrorist organization by the US State Department, by funding Islamic charitable committees in Palestine through the Holy Land Foundation.”
Though they were not accused of committing or financing any violent acts, the five are serving out decades-long prison sentences for supporting charities that the State Department agency USAID continued to fund long after the Holy Land Foundation men were indicted. The Holy Land Foundation case is part of a pattern of the US government criminalizing Palestine advocacy and charity work while it funds the Israeli occupation and sheilds the state from accountability.
And thereby hangs a tale. And therein lies my pain. What worsens the situation and doubles the pain is that all moves around, oblivious to every fact on the ground. I seem destined to suffer each time I have to cross the Rafah border into Egypt. My story is not worth mentioning as compared to other ghastly stories whose ending is shaped by the Palestinian-Egyptian mood by which the conflict is once eased and million times further complicated. Unluckily, the latter has always been my case whenever I need to travel. And this makes the odyssey of crossing the Rafah-border worth telling. “Why don’t Palestinians have an airport?” it’s the joke that kills me the most. The difficulty of going out and into Gaza makes each story have its own special taste of pain. The last I travelled, I wished Gaza were located next to Cairo’s International Airport, so we wouldn’t have to withstand the humiliation of being allowed to cross the desert on a six-hour car ride from Gaza to Cairo. “Why couldn’t we transfer Gaza there, so we wouldn’t bother the Egyptians ever again?” this is the joke I want to hear and weep at.
Study: Proof That We Sexually Objectify Women
We look at women the same way we look at houses and sandwiches: as composites of attractive parts.
Problem: Few would argue that the objectification of women is a real thing — and a real problem — but as yet there’s been no cognitive explanation for it in a literal sense. Do we really look at women differently than we do men, and are they actually objectified in the eye — and brain — of the beholder?
Methodology: Images of average, fully clothed individuals were quickly flashed before the eyes of participants. After each one, the participants would then be shown two side-by-side images that zoomed in on one, “sexual” aspect of the individual (for example, a woman’s midriff) and asked to identify the version that hadn’t been modified. The experiment was also reversed, so that participants first looked at a specific part and then had to identify it in the context of an entire body. The test was designed to clue researchers in on whether the participants were using global or local cognitive processing while looking at the images — in other words, whether they perceived the individuals as a whole or as an assemblage of their various parts.
Results: Regardless of gender, participants consistently recognized women’s sexual body parts more easily when presented in isolation. Men’s sexual body parts, on the other hand, were more memorable as part of their entire bodies.
Conclusion: The cognitive process behind our perception of objects is the same that we use when looking at women, and both genders are guilty of taking in the parts instead of the whole. When we look at men, we use global processing to see them more fully as people.
The full study,”Seeing women as objects: The sexual body part recognition bias,” is published in the European Journal of Social Psychology.
*women of colour and trans* especially
Roy S. Bryce-Laporte, a sociologist who led one of the nation’s first African-American studies departments, at Yale University, and did research that advanced understanding of blacks who came to the United States voluntarily rather than as slaves, died on July 31 in Sykesville, Md. He was 78.
Roy Simon Bryce-Laporte was born in Panama City on Sept. 7, 1933, and earned an associate’s degree from the University of Panama. He moved with his family to the United States and earned bachelor’s and master’s degrees from the University of Nebraska at Lincoln. He next did advanced studies at the University of Puerto Rico, then went to the University of California, Los Angeles, to complete a Ph.D. in sociology.
Coca-Cola to be booted out of Bolivia
Coca-Cola, one of the planet’s giant corporations, is to be unceremoniously booted out of Bolivia. The announcement was made by Bolivian Minister of External Affairs, David Choquehuanca, who stated that the…
Speaking today at a mosque, Gaza Prime Minister Ismail Haniyeh told worshipers that he is “confident” that new Egyptian President Mohammed Mursi will shield the strip from future Israeli invasions and will fully open the border to trade.
“We are confident that Egypt, the revolution led by Mursi, will never provide cover for any new aggression or war on Gaza,” said Haniyeh. Mursi’s election was followed by major celebrations in Gaza, anticipating the change.
But while officials say that there has been some increase in traffic out of the Gaza Strip since Mursi took office, they say it is simply the usual seasonal change and that no actual policy shift has taken place so far.
And it might not be happening any time soon, as one diplomat said, because “the man has a million domestic problems to handle at home” and the Gaza Strip is likely to be fairly low on the list compared to his attempts to restore parliament and reconcile with the military junta.