The United States is falling apart. It’s pretty obvious to everyone – the exceptions seem to be reactionary conservatives who think America is by default always the greatest place on earth and liberals who don’t want to recognize imperfections in Obama’s America. Everyone can see that things are going to shreds and it is going to last well in to the next president, Republican or Democrat;
Despite the aura of omnipotence most empires project, a look at their history should remind us that they are fragile organisms. So delicate is their ecology of power that, when things start to go truly bad, empires regularly unravel with unholy speed: just a year for Portugal, two years for the Soviet Union, eight years for France, 11 years for the Ottomans, 17 years for Great Britain, and, in all likelihood, 22 years for the United States, counting from the crucial year 2003.
Future historians are likely to identify the Bush administration’s rash invasion of Iraq in that year as the start of America’s downfall. However, instead of the bloodshed that marked the end of so many past empires, with cities burning and civilians slaughtered, this twenty-first century imperial collapse could come relatively quietly through the invisible tendrils of economic collapse or cyberwarfare.
But have no doubt: when Washington’s global dominion finally ends, there will be painful daily reminders of what such a loss of power means for Americans in every walk of life. As a half-dozen European nations have discovered, imperial decline tends to have a remarkably demoralizing impact on a society, regularly bringing at least a generation of economic privation. As the economy cools, political temperatures rise, often sparking serious domestic unrest.
Available economic, educational, and military data indicate that, when it comes to U.S. global power, negative trends will aggregate rapidly by 2020 and are likely to reach a critical mass no later than 2030. The American Century, proclaimed so triumphantly at the start of World War II, will be tattered and fading by 2025, its eighth decade, and could be history by 2030.
There wasn’t not warning about all of this. There were some incredible books and documentaries released during the Bush years that warned of everything that is happening to us. George W. Bush wasn’t a bad guy and he may have even meant well and truly believed we would help Iraq and Afghanistan the way we did Korea, Japan or Germany but the consequences have obviously been deeply negative. Hamid Karzai, the most friendly leader in that region, told us point blank to leave Afghanistan – what makes people think Syria would have been less embarrassing?
There was the documentary Why We Fight, released in Bush’s later years (I remember writing a review for it at a school newspaper I was at at the time), which explored the creation of the military industrial complex:
If you really want to see what a tool John McCain is, Why We Fight lays it out pretty well. McCain is seen talking about the military industrial complex and his worries about firms like Halliburton and interrupts the interview when he is told Dick Cheney is on the other line. The Syria episode showed how futile the 2008 election was – however pro-war McCain has been, Obama spent much of the beginning of his second term trying to launch a war as foolhardy as his predecessor’s.
There were books like Sorrows of Empire by Chalmers Johnson. The only elected officials who seem to truly understand what is occurring are Ron Paul and his son, Rand. Rand has dropped the phrase “military industrial complex” in many an interview. I personally am proud to have voted for Ron in 2008 and Libertarian Party in 2012 – both father and son are going to turn out right about nearly everything. All of this information was and is still available.
As Salon writer Alfred McCoy illustrates, American omnipotence was so great that people really believed that this country was infallible. I think the last few years have shown how fallible we really are. The fall may be inevitable but we can still place pillows there for our landing.
A couple months ago, the I-5 bridge, a famous bridge near Mount Vernon, in Washington state, collapsed. Here is a photo:
There was another one years before in Minneapolis.
Without infrastructure, countries fall apart. It’s a big reason our wars failed so bad – destroying the infrastructure of developing countries was bound to be counter to developing their economies.
The American Society of Civil Engineers has an article in Slate today that argues that America’s infrastructure is in horrible shape and is only getting worse. Personally, I experienced this yesterday while trying to order a pizza – the pizza chain, Domino’s, couldn’t do business because a water main in the area had literally exploded. The water main was 80 years old.
Maybe it’s an ideological thing that has kept our infrastructure from being updated while most other countries have advanced theirs. After all, Republicans did adhere to a strict “limited government” and privatization path that may lead to opposition to building public works. It shouldn’t, though, it was a Republican president – Dwight Eisenhower – who helped to build the highway system we all use regularly. If there’s a non-government, private alternative to infrastructure that would work better, we haven’t seen it – our bridges and roads have simply been neglected.
I had a very interesting discussion with a friend of mine, Luis, who is also a founding member of Gonzo. We talked about sexism and I said that it took a very long time to personally realize how potent and strong sexism is towards women in much of the world, having personally grown up around mostly women who were very far from the benign, free of nefarious intent nature that modern feminists credit with simply being female.
It takes exposure to the larger world to realize how subjugated women really were and to really start to think about where that subjugation came from. In People’s History of the World, author …. argued that much of the aspects of human life we think are part of human nature may be more constructed than we think. He sighted tribal societies that were cooperative and shared resources versus the selfish societies we have constructed today.
Likewise, it is very likely than women were not subordinate to men in early societies. Take this discovery for example:
Women made most of the oldest-known cave art paintings, suggests a new analysis of ancient handprints. Most scholars had assumed these ancient artists were predominantly men, so the finding overturns decades of archaeological dogma.
Archaeologist Dean Snow of Pennsylvania State University analyzed hand stencils found in eight cave sites in France and Spain. By comparing the relative lengths of certain fingers, Snow determined that three-quarters of the handprints were female.
“There has been a male bias in the literature for a long time,” said Snow, whose research was supported by the National Geographic Society’s Committee for Research and Exploration. “People have made a lot of unwarranted assumptions about who made these things, and why.”
With human beings, things can suddenly change from good to a whole lot worse. Many parts of the Middle East have elected female leaders in the past and allowed women to walk around dressed normally only decades ago, only to force them to cover every inch of their face decades later. Many of us reading this are old enough to remember when the United States was much safer, economically sound and more sane than we are today. Societies do get worse and human nature brings out both prosperity and poverty, love and neglect, hope and fear.
Notably before the rise of Judaism, Christianity and Islam, female leaders were very common. The Queen of Sheba, Cleopatra and Nefertiti top a long list of female rulers that were numerous within the ancient world (remember that rulers in the ancient world over kept authority far longer than the Presidents and Prime Ministers we are used to).
Contrary to what most sides think about gender relations, the wars over authority between the sexes may have more to do with our own recently constructed institutions than how men and women naturally view one another.
This new Pope is super different. First he said “Who am I to judge?” about homosexuality then he said that the Catholic Church position on contraception had been extreme in the past – now Pope Francis had this to say:
Pope Francis has been making headlines ever since the pontiff was announced as the Roman Catholic Church’s leader, and now he’s getting even more attention because he recently said, “I believe in God, not in a Catholic God.” He essentially took a dig at the Catholic Church hierarchy by condemning its “Vatican-centric view.”
That is a statement one would usually expect from the Dalai Lama than any religious figure in the West. Religion for most of the last thousands of years has rested on a pretty firm “I’m right, you are wrong” approach. There was a concession a while back that it is very likely that life exists on other planets and this is in line with an evolving world view at the Vatican.
What do the people think? That’s the important thing, right? Catholicism reflects over a billion people on earth so their thoughts and views are what pushes Catholicism. It turns out he is very popular:
American Catholics have an overwhelmingly favorable view of Pope Francis, a new Pew Forum survey shows.
The Pope was viewed favorably by 79% of the poll respondents, and unfavorably by only 4%; the remainder expressed no opinion. That 79% favorable rating is close to the highest ever recorded for Pope Benedict XVI (83%) in the Pew surveys, although it does not match the results for Pope John Paul II, who topped a 90% approval rating.
The world is changing and the views of the world’s largest religious institution are changing with it.
A really must watch video on the horror of the growing police state we’ve all seen grow in this country.
There’s a really much watch video called “Is Higher Education Even Worth It?” by Young Turks up on their website now. The way people are ripped off by higher education in America is absolutely ridiculous – either the government needs to pay for people’s educations wholesale or we need to find a different medium for accepting people in to the workforce. Spending $100,000 to make Powerpoint presentations for a few years is ridiculous.
Antiwar.com is a sister website of Gonzo Times – our founder, Punk Johnny Cash, appeared there several times. Antiwar.com is a critical site, founded by left libertarians who could care less about what political persuasion the truth falls in to, and has spoken up about foreign policy during Republican and Democratic administrations. They have a critical article about the redundancy of this country’s fear mongering about Iran, a country whose government is public enemy number one for the crime of not allowing us access to their fossil fuels.
The article provides a historical basis to claims President Obama is making, which sound like a Groundhog’s Day version of George W. Bush ten years ago:
The United States believes Iran is a year or a more away from being able to produce a nuclear weapon, President Barack Obama said in an interview with the Associated Press released on Saturday, although he described the estimate as “conservative.”
“Our assessment continues to be a year or more away, and in fact, actually our estimate is probably more conservative than the estimates of Israeli intelligence services,” Obama said in reply to a question about the U.S. intelligence assessment of Iran’s ability to produce nuclear weapons.
Sounds scary, doesn’t it? Perhaps Obama knows something about the threat of Iran that no one has known before? Well, maybe not. From the Antiwar.com article:
Since then, the dire predictions about Iran obtaining nuclear weapons have been made frequently. First, in April 1984, Jane’s Defense Weekly reported that West German intelligence believed that Iran could have a nuclear bomb within two years. Twenty-six years later, that bomb has not been produced.
I wasn’t even born yet when that first warning happened. Again:
On June 27, 1984, the late Sen. Alan Cranston was quoted by The Age, a broadsheet daily newspaper published in Melbourne, Australia, claiming that Iran was sevenyears away from being able to build its own nuclear weapon. When Cranston passed away in 2000, Iran’s nuclear bomb was nowhere to be found.
On April 12, 1987, David Segal published a piece in the Washington Post titled “Atomic Ayatollahs: Just What the Mideast Needs – an Iranian Bomb,” sounding the alarm about Iran’s forthcoming nuclear weapon.
You wouldn’t believe who warned about Iranian nuke capability next:
The next year, in 1988, it was America’s reliable ally Saddam Hussein who put the world on notice that Tehran was already at the nuclear threshold.
The rest of the article shows even more of the same fear mongering. At some point in the process of becoming president, Barack Obama the senator died and Barack Obama the neoconservative was reborn anew. As head of a giant government, you can’t totally hold Obama responsible for what his government does – the US government is huge and operates on his own – Harry Truman actually had no idea the government had an atomic bomb when he suddenly felt the pressure to use it.
What instead is truly disappointing is that Obama has publicly become an advocate for neoconservatism and doesn’t even feel the need to explain the change. He has not provided any evidence backing an aggressive foreign policy that is more convincing than that of George W. Bush. It was forgivable to buy in to this destructive and failed foreign policy philosophy in the wake of 9/11 – to continue to tout it in 2013 is just strange.
A woman killed by police today after a high-speed chase through Washington, D.C., that led to a lockdown of Capitol Hill suffered post-partum depression following the recent birth of her daughter, the suspect’s mother told ABC News.
The woman was believed to be Miriam Carey, 34, a dental hygienist from Stamford, Conn., authorities told the woman’s family, according to a family spokesman.
Police earlier said they were witholding the name of the driver of the car involved in the chase pending positive identification and notification of next of kin.
Authorities said the woman led police on a chase down Pennsylvania Avenue to the Capitol after ramming a gate at the White House.
Authorities described Carey has having a “mental illness.”
“She had post-partum depression after having the baby” last August, said the woman’s mother, Idella Carey.
She added, “A few months later, she got sick. She was depressed. … She was hospitalized.”
Almost all modern treatment for depression involves SSRIs – a dangerous class of drugs with unknown compounds which encourage suicidal and homicidal thoughts. I took SSRIs because of my family. My parents took me to behavioral pathologists as early as four years old. I wasn’t alone – many people of my generation got put on meds for ADD, ADHD, bipolar, etc. We’re talking about children here being placed on serious psychiatric medications for rowdy behavior, not adults with documented illnesses.
I had the inevitable burnout – fortunately for me, I guess, it happened around family so no one really got hurt. I had alot of people, who didn’t even understand what was going on, help me through it, take me to work with them and get my mind off the hell.
I can’t help but wonder if something like this DC shooting could have happened with me. I worked in DC in 2010 – what if I had run out of Effexor then instead of in the Pacific Islands? Would my life have become a news clip? I’m not sure – it’s all a hazey blur, as most people in the support group I helped start have said.
When I really explored this issue – the link of all these unprecedented public mass murders to SSRI use, the promotion of psychiatric drug use to children, women suffering post partum depression and others, the fact that drug companies and doctors literally say they “don’t know how they work” but give them out anyway and that the drugs list suicidal and homicidal ideation on the label - I naturally thought it would be something left wing audiences would go for. These are vulnerable people – isn’t protecting vulnerable people from corporate exploitation what the Left is about?
Big mistake. Apparently not. I have written for a long time on public issues and I’ve gotten alot of hostility and been called nasty things but the sort of hostility I got on this issue when posting about it at a left wing site was new to me. Likewise, I called up a very conservative friend and he was very sympathetic. Go fig – well, neither “side” has a monopoly on the truth or right versus wrong.
Most of these recent motiveless mass murders, involving normal people who all of a sudden “snapped,” have involved SSRIs and treatment for depression. The family of Chad De Soto, a young man who went buckwild and stabbed several people including a baby in a Guam cafe, said he was mixing antidepressants with hard drugs. Mass killer Christopher Dorner’s manifesto went in full detail about his depression treatment. This is not to say that mental illness hasn’t always been present in society but it’s only very recent that it has resulted in such extreme behavior regularly and among people with fairly high functioning histories.
This should be a political issue and I’m not sure what side will pick it up – the evidence is pretty stark and undeniable. There have always been murders but this sort of daily insanity is something new – if it were not new, it would not be so jarring for us. SSRIs have been involved in a huge swath of these mass murders – regulation of their use would result in a great reduction of these random, bizarre killings.
The step to change all this is to reform psychiatry – make it illegal for children to be taken to psychiatrists and encourage natural, talk therapy based approaches to serious depression. Medication is something that should be used to treat genuine illnesses and conditions and not conditions based on a checklist of behaviors versus real symptoms. Our lives are the most important things – we need to protect them.
Barack Obama simply is not a good leader. This is the reality – his policies inspire little confidence, from foreign to domestic, and have resulted in the failure we’ve seen.
Most Americans likely support some form of socialized medicine. There has been a push in that direction from Lyndon Johnson to George W. Bush with Medicare being expanded and eventually the Affordable Care Act. It’s something that has been adopted in most developed countries. Even if a loud minority sees it as a communist plot, both parties’ candidates – Romney and Obama – had pushed varying health care policies that could be seen as “socialist.”
The Republican opposition to Obamacare, which is irrational and nonsensical, wouldn’t have gained this sort of traction without an opening being given to them. Great leaders speak directly and have a coherent narrative that their supporters can relay and which puts confidence in their leadership. Great leaders and great presidents – John F. Kennedy, Franklin D. Roosevelt, Ronald Reagan, even Bill Clinton and even George W. Bush – all did this. Barack Obama did speak clearly and directly when he came on to the American scene. His anti-war speeches and speech before the 2004 Democratic National Convention were successful because he provided a counterpoint to John Kerry’s nonsensical talk.
It’s hard to see where the confusion comes from – while talking to a friend, I posited that it may have to do with him being African American. Mitt Romney, a Mormon, also lacked coherence and bounced around the place quite a bit, not really having confidence in his own narrative. A good black friend once told me that, even with the progress we’ve made, he is always on guard about being “the black guy” – perhaps minority political leaders always feel on guard in a way non-minorities don’t.
With Obama now, as President Obama, incoherence and confusion is the motus operandi. Whenever Obama says “Let me be clear,” you know that he’s not going to make any sense at all. The foreign policy makes zero sense – what on earth was the point of accelerating the war in Afghanistan and Pakistan and killing Osama bin Laden if we are now arming Al Qaeda in Syria? What the hell?
No one can explain it and the Obama fan club is losing alot of members – it’s really only people with strong emotional investments that don’t see how ineffective he is.
Russian President Vladimir Putin has been singled out for the 2013 Nobel Peace Prize, with claims that he is more deserving of the award than US President Barack Obama.
The International Academy of Spiritual Unity of the Peoples of the World announced Tuesday that it had written to the Nobel Prize committee, backing Putin for his plan that helped avert a “new world war.”
The patriotic Russian group said Putin deserves the award for his efforts in brokering an agreement for Syria to hand over its chemical weapons under international control.
Ruling party lawmaker and famous singer Iosif Kobzon also added that Putin was more deserving of the Nobel Prize than Obama.
To the people with the International Academy of Spiritual Unity of the Peoples of the World, who nominated Vladimir Putin for the Nobel Peace Prize, please remember that temporary political emotions are what resulted in Obama getting a Peace Prize to begin with. Putin is a dictator and helped to expand the war in Chechnya. That’s not to mention his government’s absurd and bizarre crackdown on its homosexual population.
I certainly understand the sentiment – it was Putin and Russia that helped stop the United States from launching another war in Middle East (it was not going to be the temporary strike that John Kerry said it would be – - Donald Rumsfeld said the same sort of thing before Iraq. A situation as extreme as Syria has would have resulted in a protracted engagement.).
There are civil rights activists in many countries who are fighting the good fight without money or political power – they are the ones who should be getting Nobel Peace Prizes. A Peace Prize for Putin would be as ridiculous as the Obama one was.
The Nobel Prize was set up because Alfred Nobel felt profoundly guilty about his history as an armaments manufacturer. Giving Barack Obama, whose presidency has not scaled back war but actually made warfare easier than ever before, a Nobel Peace Prize was absurd and ridiculous. Giving Vladimir Putin one is ridiculous too. There is a reform that could be taken to make sure this doesn’t happen again and the Nobel Peace Prize remains a pure and respected institution.
Put a moratorium on awarding Nobel Prizes to politicians at least as far as their time in elected office goes. Jimmy Carter would be eligible for his humanitarian work, Nelson Mandela for his activism. There would be alot of holes in this approach but it would go along with the tradition of the Nobel Prize – it is always politicians who make wars and a peace prize would logically award those who struggle on the outside against politicians.
People like that, such as Malala Yousafazi, do not often have the popularity and acclaim of politicians for obvious reasons. An institution like the Nobel Prize should find such people and reward them, not ignore them in favor of the most popular world leader.
Positive, conscious hip-hop. “They treat you like you shot someone just because you need a little help.”
On the more extreme end, fascist Greek mercenaries may now be training in Syria to help defend Assad and have formed a European support network to spread pro-regime propaganda.
Just over a month ago, the Irish-Greek blogger Glykosymoritis sent me an article translated from the right-wing Greek newspaper, Democratia. The clipping contained an interview with an obscure far-right group called Black Lily, who were making bold claims about having a “whole platoon of volunteers [who] are fighting side by side with Assad’s government forces.”
If you haven’t read Vice Magazine, you should do so. They had an entire issue dedicated to Syria when the civil war there exploded.
If it’s true, it is jarring in that the Syria situation is pretty extreme. For obvious reasons, neo-Nazis are a very feared group and many countries have outlawed them. Unless I’m mistaken, they haven’t been involved in a genuine war since World War II.
Alot of different groups view it as necessary to fight there and the potential for a regional war is great. For some, that might validate my this country should go in and “intervene” but, if the situation is that critical, surely there are countries in the region – Greece, Turkey, Iraq, Israel, Qatar, Lebanon, etc. – who have positive relations with the United States who could take care of their own interests instead of having us do it. If they’re not equipped or unwilling to do so, that’s a serious problem all its own.
Remember Trayvon Martin? And George Zimmerman? Well, so does Pharoahe Monch – except for Pharoahe is still angry and has channeled that anger in to some amazing music – a trilogy of punk rock powered Fight the Power songs. Here is one – appropriately called “Stand Your Ground:”
So there’s an amazing article in The Guardian about race relations and music. Sly Stone has emerged from his exile (you should know Sly Stone if you know anything about 1970s pop music). Apparently Sly Stone is coming back with….an all Albino rock band!
It’s a remarkable story for any band to live up to, but then Stone’s new idea sounds pretty remarkable too. “You know what? I’m looking for albino musicians,” he says. “My feeling about it is that it could neutralise all the different racial problems.”
“To me,” he continues, “albinos are the most legitimate minority group of all. All races have albinos. If we all realise that we’ve all got albinos in our families, it’s going to take away from the ridiculous racial tension, if you’re black or you’re white, blah blah blah. That’s why I’ve been trying to look for albino musicians and organise a group of people that are going to be right. That’s what I’ve been rehearsing for. People will see us, all of us together – a real family, an albino family. People will get happy when they see that! People,” he says firmly, “have got to be happy for that.”
Before, I posted about Brother Ali, who has been working alongside the black intellectual Cornel West. Ali is a very significant underground rapper who takes the conscious route serious. His music and message sounds alot like Gil Scott Heron and the language and iconography he uses shows that he has been immersed in black culture for a long time.
Brother Ali is Albino, however. With a shaved head and goatee, one has to actually look closely to realize he is Albino and not just a white dude. Of course, white guys have made hip-hop for a very long time – Eminem, Beastie Boys, Vanilla Ice, Everlast, etc. Everlast is even Muslim as Ali is, further taking down Ali’s uniqueness, but Everlast was never so in your face about race relations and his religious affiliation was quiet. Ali has an open working relationship with Cornel West, worked with and praises Black Muslims and boasts about being spied on by the Federal government.
The images are even jarring despite all of our racial progress. Even I just tacitly assume that someone who looks like Ali wouldn’t be hanging out with Cornel West.
Ali is a more presentable version of Albinoism. Many Albinos, especially Asian Albinos, are very visibly jarring for many people. There still may be alot of prejudice there. If we could work on that prejudice, then maybe the book could finally be closed.
The Albino experience is a unique one and one I know very little about but Sly Stone may be right. I’m not sure that Eminem or Mark Wahlberg or even Macklemore could get together with Cornel West and have as genuine of contributions to one another as Ali and West had, though it is possible.
The government shutdown that the Republican Party is reigning on America is allegedly an effort against Obamacare. “Obamacare” i.e. the Affordable Care Act was passed in both the House of Representatives and then the Senate. It was then validated by the Supreme Court. Barack Obama was then re-elected President with the Affordable Care Act a huge campaign issue. It’s obvious the American people want this. The Republican Party is a minority party and our Constitution does not validate the wishes of the hardcore base of a minority party.
Gonzo Times has criticized Obama greatly and in harsh terms as well. Both myself and Mohamed opposed the potential war on Syria and this website veers towards a strong distrust in many government initiatives. However, we don’t share the sentiments of the Libertarian Party - who are marketing T-shirts that say “Shut It Down” as if the Republican temper tantrum is something to cheer on.
In his speech on the subject, Obama said that payments such as Social Security will still be delivered but one has to assume that if you’re an astronaut in space, you’ve got no one to call to get back down, if you work for any state office, you have to stay in and watch I Love Lucy reruns, etc. The Republican Party is filled with disrespect and contempt for other people and their life situations – it’s that sort of self-absorption that will mean they may not win an election after Obama leaves office.
Finally, what makes and has made this website better than a liberal or conservative one is that we see the hypocrisy that goes in to football team style politics. Barack Obama is right when he says “this perpetual cycle of brinksmanship and crisis has to end once and for all” but he needs to apply that to foreign policy too. Obama tried to take this country to the brink with Syria – his hands are not as clean as he thinks they are.
There’s a pretty desolate wasteland out there when it comes to political commentary but there are exceptions. One is Cenk Uygur. A Columbia grad and Northeast native, Cenk originally was a Republican in the 1980s but has been “reformed,” as it were. Check it out:
I think that the pro-life/pro-choice debate is more complex than Cenk reads it out as – especially in poor areas, Planned Parenthood has been known to push abortion as a first option, when other options are obviously available. If people are left unaware of their full choices regarding such a difficult situation, that’s not really freedom. Nonetheless, modern Republicanism does veer towards the Catholic Church position of keeping all contraception from being available – something that is disastrous in combating disease or rape.
Cenk is also right about the subsidization of the oil industry by Republicans, which has helped push our various wars in the Middle East forward and kept innovation in alternative energy occurring (a true free market would provide various means of transportation).
If you like Gonzo Times, I recommend subscribing to the THNKR account as well as The Young Turks account on YouTube. Cenk gets it – he gets the dialect. He gets how far astray the Republicans have gone and he is also not afraid to stand up to President Obama, who he supported in 2008. Cenk has challenged Obama quite a bit and was on fire when the Obama administration was pushing for war with Syria.
There was a really great post in the British magazine Telegraph about getting honest on Islamic extremism and the barbarism those freaks exhibit. Over a decade after 9/11, we’ve seen jihadists eat Syrian soldiers, massacre Kenyan shopping malls and massacre Nigerian colleges.
Even years after George W. Bush retired to Texas, I still hear some left wing friends talking about how Tea Partiers and conservative Christians are “just as bad” as these psycho jihadists. The few times I tried to write honest articles about this subject, I got called “racist” (Islam isn’t a race and it’s not the religion of brown people that people with little exposure to it seem to think it is) – there’s a denial of how twisted their ideology really is. I’m not even sure what statements like that mean – are today’s “progressives” trying to defend President Obama arming terrorists with some sort of moral equivalence? That is disgusting.
Obama’s Syria episode was the nadir of America’s conflict with hard Islamism. Under Obama, we’ve now started supporting Al Qaeda in Syria with weapons and threatening a popular leader who is actually trying to combat people who kill children and eat people on camera. Al Qaeda and Islamism hopes to win over the developing world and I think they honestly will – they have been consistent and relentless for decades while we have been deeply schizophrenic and confused. (Non interventionism from the likes of Alan Grayson on the Left and Rand Paul on the Right has taken off because most Americans can tell that our policy makes no sense. Christian Science Monitor had an article called “America’s New Isolationism” that laid out how and why Americans of all political persuasions increasingly look at American military interventions with a serious weariness.)
If Islamists do win the developing world, it’s a tragedy because it really could have been the other way around.
Just while the world slugs it out over Islamists and Assad in Syria, a Somali militant group in Africa calling itself the Al-Shabaab unleashed a horrifying siege on a mall in downtown Nairobi, effectively killing at least 72 people with casualties still counting. It took the Kenyan armed forces no less than 3 days to flush out the militants from the Westgate Mall. But the devastation left behind is yet tragic.
Terrorism isn’t new to Africa, but it has seen a notable rise in the recent past. Early this year, French forces were involved in a brutal faceoff with Islamist extremists in Mali. Meanwhile, towards the east in Libya, terrorists launched a bloody conquest on the US Embassy with Ambassador Christopher Stevens ending up on the casualties list. Then last month, the United States closed many of its embassies across Africa and the Middle East following a terror alert. The Kenyan mall attack is the latest high-profile incident of the year, along with a number of other less reported ones too. Notably, most of these bombings, hostage incidents and shootouts involved Islamist militants connected in one way or the other to the Al-Qaeda, some said to be its proxy in the continent.
What in the world is going on in the ‘Dark Continent’?
Following the death of Osama bin Laden and the growing number of drone attacks on top leaders of the Al-Qaeda and its associates in the Af-Pak region, Islamist militants have been looking to shift base to other more secure yet vulnerable parts of the world. With the democratic movements across north Africa and the Middle East, the radicals found a perfect escape. That shortened their pathway to the most lawless areas in the world – the heart of Africa.
If the Al-Qaeda ever wanted a safe haven closer to the West and just as proximate to the Middle East wherefrom to launch their Islamist movements, Africa is paradise. Here’s why – barring its regional superpower down south, Africa is less a continent of nations and more a continent of tribes. The biggest trouble with Africa has been its perennial system of loose governance. Most Heads of State in the continent have been ruling unopposed for decades and power at the centre is often passed down from father to son. Democracy, although often existent on paper, is absent for all practical purposes with most citizens either too impoverished and uneducated to care about national politics or more involved in clan politics and tribal wars. All this means that there is little connect between the capital city aristocrats and the ordinary citizen with the result that most of the continent’s minerals end up being used by the aristocratic rulers while almost no benefits are accrued to the local people. When the status quo prevails for years on end, the country eventually falls into civil war and a fight begins between the local tribes and the ruling aristocrats with natural resources to prize. And in the natural sequence of events thereafter, separatism rises, nations get divided and militants sneak in, claiming to champion the rebel cause. That’s the scene across Somalia, Sudan, Congo and Uganda, and the virus is rapidly spreading.
With its sizable and growing Muslim population, if Africa fails to control the contamination, it may soon end up a continent on fire. The Nairobi attacks are a stark reminder of the growing threat. What Africa needs is stronger local governance. Due to the poor grassroots connect of the central government in most African nations, tribal chiefs continue to drive public opinion. However, in the absence of a well-established system of law recognizing them, empowering them and connecting them with the aristocratic leadership, Africa’s tribes tend to pull in different directions and often have little resources with which to benefit the local people they are answerable to. In the absence of true constitutional powers and resources – both financial and natural – the tribal clans end up fighting with each other and the government above them. Trust and accountability to the local people too is lost in the process and chaos reigns, helping terrorism grow.
This is where Africa can learn from the Panchayati Raj system in India where local rural governments are given constitutional status and powers which they often exercise with considerable effectiveness when provided with ample resources. Despite the existence of rural governments, the loose rule of law in Africa makes their legitimacy rather questionable and relevance ineffective.
In its current situation, Africa is only a few steps away from becoming the next big Islamist hotspot. With its geographical and demographic vastness, and globally strategic location, the growth of Islamism in Africa can have devastating consequences all over the world. Perhaps it’s time the African Union and the United Nations did something about it.
During the height of the Syria/Obama episode, this actually struck my mind. A good comedic break – it certainly doesn’t seem as absurd as it did then.
Race really is socially constructed – I think that video – which is only from ten years ago really shows how alot of our differences are based on stereotypes and not reality.
Since Punk Johnny Cash allowed to me to take on Gonzo Times, I thought one of the most important things to set in stone would be what Gonzo stands for. People’s political views are confused, tired and don’t really apply to reality but we seem to keep them for lack of anything else. Most of the people I have recruited for this website stand on a pretty good line:
We need a small government that serves us and not a big government that terrorizes us.
We live in a social environment now in which this country has engaged in wars, under two administrations of “different” parties, that have lasted well over twelve years. Despite running as a president that would end wars, Obama campaigned for a war in Syria in much the same manner his predecessor had. The response by the government after the Boston terror attacks were totally unacceptable from a Constitutional point of view.
As of this writing, Congress is considering cutting funding on Food Stamps – a program that helps people to afford food to survive when they are financially destitute. At Gonzo, we are all for getting rid of big government but big government isn’t people feeding themselves – big government is cops running around American cities dressed like they’re in a warzone, wars in two Middle Eastern countries and threatening another one and $80 billion a year spent on incarcerating people.
If you find this website challenging or offensive, we challenge you to look at your own world view and why you find this website challenging. We are not going to apologize and are going to stand for the truth whenever it shows up and reject fiction and lies whenever we see them.
By Mohamed Zeeshan
Heading further into the sunset of his term in India, Prime Minister Manmohan Singh’s Government passed yet another of its landmark legislations in both Houses of the Parliament earlier this month – the Right to Fair Compensation and Transparency in Land Acquisition, Rehabilitation and Resettlement Bill, 2013 (or simply the Land Bill, 2013). As with any legislation passed or debated in the Indian Parliament, the Land Bill drew mixed responses from India’s highly diverse crowd. The real estate magnates have scoffed at how the Bill ‘makes business even harder in India.’ More socialist elements on the other hand have welcomed it as a much-needed constitutional law.
Although the Land Bill’s long term implementation effects are hard to predict and need the luxury of the passage of time, there are some key features of the Bill which reveal much about Indian socio-economics and the great dilemma involved in it, looking forward. The most prominent feature is the one that forbids any land acquisition for development in the country when such acquisition includes over 5% of “irrigated multi-cropped land” in a district. The concerned sub-section further provides that such an acquisition would be done only as a “demonstrable last resort” and when acquired, “an equivalent area of culturable wasteland shall be developed for agricultural purposes.” As put by the lawmakers, this was a ‘safeguard for food security’, considering that India has only recently passed a rather ambitious although novel Food Security Bill amidst much concern.
But what’s so special about this provision?
Here’s what. One of the great dilemmas in Indian economic planning has been the choice between industrialization and agriculture. While everyone agrees that food security and production is central to India’s growth and development, some argue that with India’s population expanding beyond control, agriculture can no longer be the main profession. Chew on these numbers for instance – the Indian agriculture sector employs 58% of the workforce while returning merely 14% of the total GDP – a figure which is steadily declining. In addition, agriculture today accounts for just over 10% of India’s total exports – another figure that is steadily declining. The drop in export share isn’t just due to a fall in the land under cultivation; it is also due to the uncontrollable growth in population. In other words, India sows largely to feed itself. On the other hand, the industrial sector has brought India greater rewards with lesser input, helping reduce the current account deficit and sparing money to invest in infrastructure and civic amenities.
Which of these paths should the country now take?
There is no doubt that all of India’s economic planning is done with one binding goal in mind – the alleviation of poverty and betterment of life. Question to be asked here is if India can alleviate poverty and better the lives of its billion people while well over half of them are still stuck in the farm. No modern, contemporary economy has yet done that without a transition to industrialization and if India does indeed manage to do that, it will be a history-making Renaissance moment of its own.
But that isn’t all so decisive. A few days ago, Outlook Magazine reported a little farmers’ riot taking place in the western state of Gujarat, the home state of the leading opposition party Bharatiya Janata Party’s Prime Ministerial candidate, Narendra Modi. Modi’s industrialization deal with the carmaker, Maruti Suzuki, had set aside a piece of land some miles from the city of Ahmedabad in little known Hansalpur village for the setting up of a factory. Unfortunately, part of that land also included farm fields and when the peasants got to know how they were losing their territory, all hell broke loose. The state’s current land acquisition law apparently requires no compensation to be reimbursed to the peasants. Unless the new federal Land Act is now quickly implemented, the trouble is likely to grow further.
Strikingly, when the protesters were informed about how development would come to their little village and employment be granted to the people, few were moved. Most of them didn’t believe it would benefit them; a few others said there was no job they could undertake in a factory, given their limited knowledge on the manufacture of automobiles; and a third group even went to the extent of saying they’d rather die than lose land. There are a couple of key aspects that were revealed by the protests: one, that Indian farmers have little confidence in finding themselves employment in industries outside their own, considering their meager levels of knowledge, and two, that rural Indians see land as a form of financial security that gives their children a definite means of livelihood.
Can India then do both agriculture and industrialization? For the moment, it can, and that’s precisely what Prime Minister Singh is attempting to do with his new Land Bill – to balance industrialization and agriculture, while in a sense protecting the latter from the former. But it’s hard to tell if India can have the best of both permanently, given the scarcity of land in the country and the growing demand for space. India will never have enough land to plough while still rolling out products from factories. It still needs to choose.
Therefore, considering its economic compulsions, India must in the long run undertake a decisive shift towards industrialization. India will not be able to sustain itself with a large agrarian sector, especially when financial returns in the profession remain so low and most of what is grown, is consumed domestically. Importing food will become increasingly inevitable too with the growing number of people, but that seems a less scary threat if you have ensured higher levels of income amongst your citizens. Also, being in a neighborhood of nations that are predominantly agrarian, if India can make its people richer through industrialization, it can not only afford to offshore farming to the likes of Sri Lanka, Bhutan and Bangladesh, but also ensure an added influence in geopolitical affairs while at it.
But first, the old rules – India needs to improve its social infrastructure to provide the current peasantry with basic education and therefore the qualification needed for employment in the manufacturing sector, and further it needs to ensure that their children get quality education for a more secure future. Perhaps the government can even tie up with corporate houses who wish to establish industries in order to impart basic training to the locals so that they can be employed in the concerned industry.
These are obviously politically hard choices to make. But if anyone wants to lead India – the world’s most promising superpower aspirant – to glory, they’ll have to look beyond the immediate popularity.
This is a really good interview between Brother Ali and Dr. Cornel West – I’m pretty sure many Gonzo readers will disagree with Dr. West on many things but Dr. West has always been incredibly respectful towards rappers and hip-hop acts – Mos Def and Talib Kweli being additional artists that he has reached out towards. West has been right on in many matters.
Ali is Albino so the sight of the two together might be unusual at first. I think this is a fantastic interview – two great minds collaborating in tandem not just on political matters but on personal matters as well.
FYI Gonzo Times doesn’t endorse everything that Ali or West said in the interview – Gonzo doesn’t endorse the Nation of Islam or anything like that – it’s critical to read between the lines in a complicated world. West and Ali collaborated on “Letter To My Countrymen:”
If you’re politically savvy enough to read this website, you probably already heard about the mass shooting that occurred in a Naval shipyard in Washington D.C. D.C. is the heart of the beast – the heart of empire – whatever is causing this sickness of violence is widespread throughout our entire country.
Before this shooting occurred, I was talking personally with a friend on Facebook and I said that America is probably the most violent a country has ever been without actually being at war. He fired back that “we are at war” but that there just weren’t the obvious signs. In a war, like you have in, say, Syria, there are usually sides that are representing their views violently. These daily violent attacks – and they now are daily – are the sort of thing you’d expect in Iraq, Afghanistan or Syria – the countries we are supposed to be “liberating.”
What is the cause? Drugs? That’s a cause I documented alot when I was writing for the progressive website Dagblog. There is a large class of antidepressants that literally come with the side effect “homicidal ideation.” Peter Hitchens, Christopher Hitchens’ brother, has written extensively about his well founded suspicion that pharmaceuticals are playing a role in this epidemic of mass murders. Military servicemen now are definitely put on large levels of pharmaceuticals – including antidepressants. That would be an easy sign to point to and I do think that encompasses many of these incidents, especially ones like Sandy Hook, but episodes like this as well all make me wonder if the overall level of paranoia, fear and distrust in everything we used to trust might be a significant cause as well.
Who knows, really, if we had the answers, we wouldn’t keep asking questions, would we? Whatever the cause is, it’s clear that this country doesn’t need to go find new wars – it has plenty right here on its shore.
The good guys at Antiwar.com have been an ally of this website for a very long time – PJC did an interview there which is how I found out about the website in the first place. Noam Chomsky did an interview for Antiwar.com where he made a pretty spot on analysis, pretty in tune with what we’ve been saying here:
“Well, the Russian plan is a godsend for Obama. It saves him from what would look like a very serious political defeat. He has not been able to obtain virtually any international support for this—the action he’s contemplating. Even Britain wouldn’t support it. And it looked as though Congress wasn’t going to support it either, which would leave him completely out on a limb. This leaves him a way out.
“He can maintain the threat of force, which incidentally is a crime under international law, that we should bear in mind that the core principle of the United Nations Charter bars the threat or use of force, threat or use of force. So all of this is criminal, to begin with, but he’ll continue with that. The United States is a rogue state. It doesn’t pay any attention to international law.
Chomsky, of course, isn’t what to stay tight lipped so be sure to read all of it and stay tuned to Gonzo as this website enjoys a rebirth.
For approximately the last 60 years, two-thirds of America’s national hard-earned income has been spent exclusively on guns. Two-thirds of all our taxes. And two-thirds of all America’s credit-card debts too.
“But if I had spent all that money on guns for all those years, then where are they?” you might also ask. Good question. For all the trillions of dollars that we Americans have spent on guns in the last 60 years, you would think that every single one of us would have at least one or two Glocks, a couple of semi-automatics or at least even a Deringer stashed in the back of our closets or under our beds, right?
Then you would be wrong. We’ve got nothing to show for our rash 60-year spending spree except for a couple of million corpses, a goodly part of which are women and children. And who wants a pile of dead babies stinking up the house!
PS: Actually, the annual American tax budget allotment for guns is only 57% — that we know of. But who the freak even knows how much we also spend on black budgets and covert ops and foreign rendition prisions and spying on evil-doers like you and me.
If you or someone you know or care about has trouble even maintaining a place to live, it’s worth looking at where our government – which is supposed to be ours – is spending your money. It’s pretty sick, isn’t it?