Tuesday, April 30, 2013

10 Reasons Why Islam Forbids Terrorism

Prof. Juan Cole elaborates:

1. Terrorism is above all murder. Murder is strictly forbidden in the Qur’an. Qur’an 6:151 says, “and do not kill a soul that God has made sacrosanct, save lawfully.” (i.e. murder is forbidden but the death penalty imposed by the state for a crime is permitted). 5:53 says, “… whoso kills a soul, unless it be for murder or for wreaking corruption in the land, it shall be as if he had killed all mankind; and he who saves a life, it shall be as if he had given life to all mankind.”
2. If the motive for terrorism is religious, it is impermissible in Islamic law. It is forbidden to attempt to impose Islam on other people. The Qur’an says, “There is no compulsion in religion. The right way has become distinct from error.” (-The Cow, 2:256). Note that this verse was revealed in Medina in 622 AD or after and was never abrogated by any other verse of the Quran. Islam’s holy book forbids coercing people into adopting any religion. They have to willingly choose it.
3. Islamic law forbids aggressive warfare. The Quran says, “But if the enemies incline towards peace, do you also incline towards peace. And trust in God! For He is the one who hears and knows all things.” (8:61) The Quran chapter “The Cow,” 2:190, says, “Fight in the way of God against those who fight against you, but begin not hostilities. Lo! God loveth not aggressors.”
4. In the Islamic law of war, not just any civil engineer can declare or launch a war. It is the prerogative of the duly constituted leader of the Muslim community that engages in the war. Nowadays that would be the president or prime minister of the state, as advised by the mufti or national jurisconsult.
5. The killing of innocent non-combatants is forbidden. According to Sunni tradition, ‘Abu Bakr al-Siddiq, the first Caliph, gave these instructions to his armies: “I instruct you in ten matters: Do not kill women, children, the old, or the infirm; do not cut down fruit-bearing trees; do not destroy any town . . . ” (Malik’s Muwatta’, “Kitab al-Jihad.”)
6. Terrorism or hirabah is forbidden in Islamic law, which groups it with brigandage, highway robbery and extortion rackets– any illicit use of fear and coercion in public spaces for money or power. The principle of forbidding the spreading of terror in the land is based on the Qur’an (Surah al-Ma’ida 5:33–34). Prominent [pdf] Muslim legal scholar Sherman Jackson writes, “The Spanish Maliki jurist Ibn `Abd al-Barr (d. 464/ 1070)) defines the agent of hiraba as ‘Anyone who disturbs free passage in the streets and renders them unsafe to travel, striving to spread corruption in the land by taking money, killing people or violating what God has made it unlawful to violate is guilty of hirabah . . .”
7. Sneak attacks are forbidden. Muslim commanders must give the enemy fair warning that war is imminent. The Prophet Muhammad at one point gave 4 months notice.
8. The Prophet Muhammad counseled doing good to those who harm you and is said to have commanded, “Do not be people without minds of your own, saying that if others treat you well you will treat them well, and that if they do wrong you will do wrong to them. Instead, accustom yourselves to do good if people do good and not to do wrong (even) if they do evil.” (Al-Tirmidhi)
9. The Qur’an demands of believers that they exercise justice toward people even where they have reason to be angry with them: “And do not let the hatred of a people prevent you from being just. Be just; that is nearer to righteousness.”[5:8]
10. The Qur’an assures Christians and Jews of paradise if they believe and do good works, and commends Christians as the best friends of Muslims. I wrote elsewhere, “Dangerous falsehoods are being promulgated to the American public. The Quran does not preach violence against Christians.
Quran 5:69 says (Arberry): “Surely they that believe, and those of Jewry, and the Christians, and those Sabeaans, whoso believes in God and the Last Day, and works righteousness–their wage waits them with their Lord, and no fear shall be on them, neither shall they sorrow.”
In other words, the Quran promises Christians and Jews along with Muslims that if they have faith and works, they need have no fear in the afterlife. It is not saying that non-Muslims go to hell– quite the opposite.
When speaking of the 7th-century situation in the Muslim city-state of Medina, which was at war with pagan Mecca, the Quran notes that the polytheists and some Arabian Jewish tribes were opposed to Islam, but then goes on to say:
5:82. ” . . . and you will find the nearest in love to the believers [Muslims] those who say: ‘We are Christians.’ That is because amongst them are priests and monks, and they are not proud.”
So the Quran not only does not urge Muslims to commit violence against Christians, it calls them “nearest in love” to the Muslims! The reason given is their piety, their ability to produce holy persons dedicated to God, and their lack of overweening pride.

Syria’s 6 Simultaneous Conflicts

Rami G. Khouri writes:

The war in Syria is so enduring and vexing precisely because it is such a multilayered conflict, comprising at least six separate battles taking place at the same time:

First, it is a domestic citizen revolt against the Assad family regime that has ruled Syria for 43 years. This aspect of the conflict reflects a widespread spirit of citizen activism for freedom, rights and dignity that continues to define much of the Arab world today. After the nonviolent demonstrations that erupted across the country in spring 2011 elicited a violent military response from the regime, this political conflict quickly became a militarized war.

Second, the armed battle for control of Syria reignited the second layer of conflict, which has defined the region since the 1950s – the Arab cold war between assorted regional forces that keep shifting over time, but can most easily be described as conservative versus radical, or capitalist versus socialist, or royalist versus republican, or Islamo-monarchist versus Arab nationalist, or pro-Western versus anti-Western, though none of these simplistic black-and-white dichotomies is fully accurate. At its simplest, this Arab cold war for decades has been led on the one side by Saudi Arabia and its conservative allies, and on the other by governments such as those in Syria, Egypt or Iraq at various moments.

The third layer of conflict in Syria is the old Iranian-Arab rivalry, recently also often defined as a Shiite-Sunni rivalry. This is symbolized by the Iranian government’s alliance with Syria since 1979, and recently including the close structural ties between Iran and Hezbollah (or, more accurately, the ties between Hezbollah and the institution of the Wali al-Faqih, or the supreme leader, in Iran).

Iran’s strategic links with both Syria and Hezbollah have been among the few foreign policy achievements of the 1979 Islamic Revolution, so the Iranian, Syrian and Hezbollah leaderships will battle hard to maintain those mutual benefits that all of them derive from their relationships.

The fourth conflict taking place in Syria is the renewed but more limited version of the Cold War between the United States and Russia (with other players such as China and assorted European states hanging around to pick up energy contracts and other gains). At its most simple, this renewed Son of the Cold War sees Russia taking a determined stand in Syria to prevent the United States from unilaterally deciding which Arab leaders go and which ones stay, while also burnishing its renewed credentials as a global power. Almost a quarter of a century after the end of the original Cold War, Russia is trying to recalibrate global power relations, formally closing the “post-Cold War” era in which the U.S. was the world’s sole superpower in a unipolar world.

The fifth conflict in Syria – like the domestic citizen revolt against autocracy that reflects a regional trend – is the centurylong tension between the power of the centralized modern Arab developmental and security state and the forces of disintegration and fragmentation along ethnic, religious, sectarian, national and tribal lines. These subnational, ancient and primordial identities defined Arab societies long before the imposition of the modern Arab state, and are always there to reaffirm themselves when that state fails to function efficiently and meet citizen needs.

And the sixth and most recent strain of conflict in Syria is between the forces of Al-Qaeda-inspired Salafist fanatic militants, such as the Nusra Front, and mainstream opposition groups fighting to overthrow the Assad family regime, such as the Muslim Brotherhood or broader, more secular groups, such as the Syrian National Opposition Coalition. Hysteria has typically gripped some analysts in the region and in the West as they fret over the prospect of the Nusra Front and others like them taking control of all or parts of post-Assad Syria – an impossible prospect, in my view.

So what we are witnessing in and around Syria is a great deal more complicated than spillover into neighboring countries or a continuation of the Sunni-Shiite rivalry.

The Coming Micro-Drone Revolution

By John W. Whitehead

“[Drones are a] game-changing technology, akin to gunpowder, the steam engine, the atomic bomb—opening up possibilities that were fiction a generation earlier but also opening up perils that were unknown a generation ago.”—Peter Singer, senior fellow at the Brookings Institution
America will never be a “no drone zone.”
That must be acknowledged from the outset. There is too much money to be made on drones, for one, and too many special interest groups—from the defense sector to law enforcement to the so-called “research” groups that are in it for purely “academic” reasons—who have a vested interest in ensuring that drones are here to stay.
At one time, there was a small glimmer of hope that these aerial threats to privacy would not come home to roost, but that all ended when Barack Obama took office and made drones the cornerstone of his war efforts. By the time President Obama signed the FAA Reauthorization Act into law in 2012, there was no turning back. The FAA opened the door for drones, once confined to the battlefields over Iraq and Afghanistan, to be used domestically for a wide range of functions, both public and private, governmental and corporate. It is expected that at least 30,000 drones will occupy U.S. airspace by 2020, ushering in a $30 billion per year industry.
Those looking to the skies in search of Predator drones will be in for a surprise, however, because when the drones finally descend en masse on America, they will not be the massive aerial assault vehicles favored by the Obama administration in their overseas war efforts. Rather, the drones coming to a neighborhood near you will be small, some nano in size, capable of flying through city streets and buildings almost undetected, while hovering over cityscapes and public events for long periods of time, providing a means of 24/7 surveillance.
One type of drone sensor, the Gorgon Stare, can keep track of an area 2.5 miles across from 12 different angles. Another sensor system, ARGUS, can find an object that is only 6 inches long, from 20,000 feet up in the air. A drone equipped with this kind of technology could spy on an entire city at once. For example, police in California are about to begin using Qube drones, which are capable of hovering for 40 minutes at heights of about 400 ft. to conduct surveillance on targets as far as 1 kilometer away. Michael Downing, the LAPD deputy chief for counter-terrorism and special operations, envisions drones being flown over large-scale media events such as the Oscars, using them to surveil political protests, and flying them through buildings to track criminal suspects.
These micro-drones will be the face of surveillance and crowd control in the coming drone age.
Modeled after birds, insects, and other small animals, these small airborne surveillance devices can remain hidden in plain view while navigating spaces off limits to conventional aircraft. Able to take off and land anywhere, able to maneuver through city streets and hallways, and able to stop and turn on a dime, these micro-drones will still pack a lethal punch, equipped with an array of weapons and sensors, including tasers, bean-bag guns, “high-resolution video cameras, infrared sensors, license plate readers, [and] listening devices.”
You can rest assured, given the pace of technology and the fervor of the drone industry (and its investors), that the sky is the limit when it comes to the many uses (and abuses) for drones in America. The following is just a small sampling of what will be descending from the skies in the near future.
Cyborg drones. The Defense Advanced Research Projects Agency (DARPA) has begun to develop a Micro-Electro-Mechanical System (MEMS) for the manipulation of insects into “cyborgs.” Through genetic engineering, they are aiming to control the movement of insects and utilize them for surveillance purposes.
Dragonfly drone. First reportedly spotted in 2007 hovering over protesters at an anti-war rally in Washington, DC, it turns out that the government’s dragonfly drones are just the tip of the iceberg when it comes to small aerial surveillance devices designed to mimic nature. Just a year later, the US Air Force “unveiled insect-sized spies ‘as tiny as bumblebees’ that could not be detected and would be able to fly into buildings to ‘photograph, record, and even attack insurgents and terrorists.’”
Hummingbird drone. Shaped like a bird, the “Nano Hummingbird” drone is negligibly larger than an actual hummingbird and fits in the palm of one’s hand. It flits around effortlessly, blending in with its surroundings. DARPA, the advanced research division of the Department of Defense, gets the credit for this biotic wonder.
Nano Quadrators. Similar to the hummingbird drone, these small, four-propellered nano quadrator drones, developed by researchers at the University of Pennsylvania, operate based upon the flight dynamics of insects, enabling them to operate as a swarm. Using twenty drones, researchers demonstrated how, moving compactly as a unit, the drones were able to navigate obstacles, form complex patterns, and even execute a fluid figure eight arrangement.
Black Hornet Nano drone. Weighing in at roughly half an ounce and four inches long, comparable to a finch, the Black Hornet Nano helicopter drone was designed to capture and relay video and still images to remote users, and can fly even in windy conditions.
DASH Roachbot drone. Developed at UC Berkeley's PolyPEDAL Lab, DASH, a 10-centimeter long, 16-gram Dynamic Autonomous Sprawled Hexapod strives to mimic a cockroach’s speed and ability to remain covert and a gecko’s speed and agility. Trained to perform “rapid inversion” maneuvers that include dashing up to a ledge and then swinging itself around to end up underneath the ledge and upside-down, DASH is being trained to make rapid transitions between running and climbing.
Samarai drone. Lockheed Martin’s compact “Samarai” drone, inspired by the design of a maple seed, is capable of high speeds, low battery consumption, vertical movement, and swift ground deployment.
MicroBat drone. Additionally, CIT Group, Aerovironment, and UCLA have produced a “MicroBat”  ornithopter; it was designed in part by zoologists who have attempted to make the MicroBat mimic the movement of birds and other flying animals.
Spy-butterfly drone. In 2012, Israel unveiled its new insect-inspired drone which they dubbed the “spy-butterfly” because of its two sizable wings. Weighing in at only 20g, this drone was developed for indoor surveillance, including public places such as “train stations and airport terminals—or office buildings.” The size and muted sound of the “virtually noiseless” machines makes them unnoticeable and therefore ideal for intelligence gathering. The spy-butterfly is so realistic that, when tested, “birds and flies tended to fall behind the device arranging into a flock.”
Switchblade drone. A more sinister example is the Switchblade, a small military drone intended to act as a kamikaze weapon. Weighing in at a mere six pounds and two feet in length, it flies effortlessly through urban environments before zeroing in on its target, a person, at which point it explodes, unceremoniously killing him or her.
Mosquito drone. More lethal than its real-life counterpart, the mosquito drone, while an engineering marvel, is also a privacy advocate’s nightmare with its potential to land on someone and use a needle-like-pincer to extract DNA from its victims or, alternatively, inject drugs or other foreign substances. As software engineer Alan Lovejoy notes:
Such a device could be controlled from a great distance and is equipped with a camera, microphone. It could land on you and then use its needle to take a DNA sample with the pain of a mosquito bite. Or it could inject a micro RFID tracking device under your skin. It could land on you and stay, so that you take it with you into your home. Or it could fly into a building through a window. There are well-funded research projects working on such devices with such capabilities.
Raven drone. Weighing in at 4 pounds, the RQ-11 Raven drone is not as small, nor is it as agile as its smaller counterparts, but with more than 19,000 out there already, it is the most common. Useful for seeing around corners and sending footage back to its handlers, the Raven resembles a rudimentary model airplane and crumbles like Legos upon landing.
With 63 active drone sites across the nation and 56 government agencies presently authorized to use drones, including 22 law enforcement agencies and 24 universities, drones are here to stay. Indeed, the cost of drones—underwritten by a $4 million Homeland Security program which encourages local law enforcement to adopt drone technology as quickly as possible—makes them an easy sell for most police departments. Moreover, while manned airplanes and helicopters can cost $600/hour to operate, a drone can be put in the sky for less than $25/hour. That doesn’t even begin to cover drone use by the private sector, which is already chomping at the bit at the prospect.
No matter what the future holds, however, we must ensure that Americans have a semblance of civil liberties protections against the drones. Given the courts’ leniency towards police, predicating drone use on a warrant requirement would provide little to no protection.  Thus, the only hope rests with Congress and state legislatures that they would adopt legislation specifically prohibiting the federal government from using data recorded via police spy drones in criminal prosecutions, as well as preventing police agencies from utilizing drones outfitted with anti-personnel devices such as tasers and tear gas.
Either way, we’d better get ready. As Peter W. Singer, author of “Wired for War,” a book about military robotics, warns: “The debate over drones is like debating the merits of computers in 1979: They are here to stay, and the boom has barely begun. We are at the Wright Brothers Flier stage of this. There’s no stopping this technology. Anybody who thinks they can put this genie back in the box—that’s silliness.”

Monday, April 29, 2013

Polar Spirits

By Ole C. Salomonsen

This is my third short-film about the northern lights. This year some epic displays has been on the sky, and for the first time I have included real-time recordings.

As usual, my main focus is on getting the auroras show as close as possible to real-time speed given the time available in a short video. Although in a few sequences I have accepted overdoing the speed to better enhance other elements, such as moving fog, faster pans, clouds, milky way etc.
In the film I have tried to show the slower majestic dancing lights, as well as the more faster, dramatic and abstract shows, and finally the auroras in combination with city lights and urban elements.
The video is shot using stills and assembled together for best possible resolution and dynamic range. In this video however, for the first time, I have also chosen to include some real-time video footage. This is to better show how furiously fast and beautiful the polar spirits can dance! The two sequences which are shot in real-time (in the middle of the video) could never have been recreated using still photos, regardless what camera you are using.
To substantiate the feeling and sense of the different aurora shapes and speeds I did get a special musical soundtrack composed by composer Peter Nanasi. In my opinion the music is just fantastically beautiful and I recommend you watching the video on a large screen as well with proper audio gear connected. Peter is just fantastic talented, and very professional to work with. Thank you Peter for your hard work.
The video has been shot with Canon DSLR’s and various lenses, as well as using rails and time-lapse gear from Dynamic Perception. (Stage One / Stage Zero) dynamicperception.com
Most sequences have been shot in arctic northern Norway, close to the city of Tromsø. One sequence is from Finland and one from Sweden.The city sequences you see are shot in and over Tromsø, which in Norway often is referred to as “the northern lights city”.
BTW! This year the coast of northern Norway was overwhelmed with humpback whales, which are absolutely magnificent and beautiful creatures. While watching the auroras and shooting the opening sequence of this video I could hear the whales breaching and blowing air in the fjord. It was an absolutely magic experience. Sadly the whales never came close enough to do a really good shot of the whales under the auroras, but If you watch closely on the opening sequence you can actually see the whales breaching a few times a bit out in the fjord.
This video will be featuring in full HD on my upcoming Blu-Ray / DVD “The Magic Auroras”, in good company with LOT’S of more videos, soon to be released!!! ;) To ensure you get more information regarding this, please pay attention on my facebook page.
More information about me and my photography work:
Arctic Light Photo / Ole Salomonsen
Peter Nanasi:
e-mail: nanasipeter@gmail.com
I hope you like watching the video, and that you find the dance of the polar spirits just as fascinating as I do.
Video is immediately available in 4K+ in various formats/codecs:
4096 x 2304 24p/ 3840x2160 24p/ 1920x1080 24p.
In addition to these sequences I have a large collection of sequences shot with all sky cams (360degrees fisheye) which are suitable for domes, and many more real-time sequences. I am considering putting out something more shot in these formats, at a later time.

The Racism That Fuels The 'War On Terror'

abdulrahman awlaki

Glenn Greenwald writes in The Guardian:

new Gallup poll released Monday morning has a surprising finding: amajority of Americans - while supporting air strikes in foreign countries against foreign nationals suspected of Terrorism - oppose such air strikes when used to target US citizens who are suspected Terrorists, whether at home or on foreign soil:
gallup awlaki
The reason this is surprising is that when the US actually killed a US citizen on foreign soil on the grounds that he was a suspected Terrorist -Anwar al-Awlaki - large majorities approved. One poll at the time reportedthat "a large proportion of Americans believe the US Government made the correct decision in killing a US born Islamist militant in a drone strike last month" - specifically, that "69 per cent of respondents think the action taken by the US Government to kill Anwar al-Awlaki was justified" (that included 77% Republicans and 73% Democrats approving). Another poll at the time reported that Obama's approval ratings on national security increased eight points in the wake of the Awlaki killing. Meanwhile, Obama aides ran to Politico to boast that Awlaki's corpse would be a significant asset in Obama's re-election bid, leading to this Politico headline:
politico awlaki
What can explain this obvious discrepancy? How can it be that a policy which a majority of Americans oppose (killing Americans on foreign soil on the grounds of suspected Terrorism) was so popular and politically beneficial for Obama when it was actually done to Awlaki? I'm not speaking here about those who support the US Government's right to kill US citizens on foreign soil without a trial: people who believe that and support the Awlaki execution are at least being consistent. I'm focusing here on how it can be that a majority of Americans say they oppose having Americans so targeted on foreign soil yet still support the Awlaki killing.
There are several possible factors explaining this discrepancy. It is probably easier to oppose such killings when considered in the abstract than it is when asked specifically about a person like Awlaki who had been subjected to such an intense government and media demonization campaign. It's also possible that intervening events between these polls - particularly the Rand Paul filibuster - created unprecedented media debate about the dangers of Obama's claimed assassination powers and caused people to re-think their wisdom (that was the ground cited by the ACLU's Laura Murphy when she praised Paul's protest: "As a result of Sen. Paul's historic filibuster, civil liberties got two wins: . . . Americans learned about the breathtakingly broad claims of executive authority undergirding the Obama administration's vast killing program").
But it seems clear there is a much more odious factor driving some of this. Many Americans can (a) say that they oppose the targeted killings of Americans on foreign soil while simultaneously (b) supporting the killing of Anwar al-Awlaki in Yemen because, for them, the term "Americans" doesn't include people like Anwar al-Awlaki. "Americans" means their aunts and uncles, their nice neighbors down the street, and anyone else who looks like them, who looks and seems "American". They don't think those people - Americans - should be killed without charges by the US government if they travel on vacation to Paris or go to study for a semester in London. But the concept of "Americans" most definitely does not include people with foreign and Muslim-ish names like "Anwar al-Awlaki" who wear the white robes of a Muslim imam and spend time in a place like Yemen.
Legally - which is the only way that matters for this question - the New-Mexico-born Awlaki was every bit as much of an American citizen as the nice couple down the street. His citizenship was never legally revoked. He never formally renounced it. He was never charged with, let alone convicted of, any crime that could lead to the revocation of citizenship. No court ever considered revoking his citizenship, let alone did so. From a legal and constitutional perspective, there was not a single person "more American" than he. That's because those gradations of citizenship do not exist. One is either an American citizen or one is not. There is no such thing as "more American" or "less American", nor can one's citizenship be revoked by presidential decree. This does not exist.
But the effort to depict Muslims as something other than "real Americans" has long been a centerpiece of the US political climate in the era of the War on Terror. When it was first revealed in 2005 that the Bush administration was spying on the communications of Americans without the warrants required by the criminal law, a Bush White House spokesman sought to assure everyone that this wasn't targeting Real Americans, but only those Bad Ones that should be surveilled (meaning Muslims the Bush administration decided, without due process, were guilty):
"This is a limited program. This is not about monitoring phone calls designed to arrange Little League practice or what to bring to a potluck dinner. These are designed to monitor calls from very bad people to very bad people who have a history of blowing up commuter trains, weddings and churches."
Identically, when the Israelis attacked the Mavi Marmara flotilla in 2010 and killed 9 people including the US-born teenager Furkan Dogan, some conservatives insisted that he was not a Real American because his parents were Turkish and he grew up in Turkey ("it is silly to call him an 'American of Turkish descent'. He, like the other members of his family, was a Turk"). The stark contrast in reactions between the sustained fury of the Turkish government over the killing of their citizens by the Israelis versus the support for those killings given by the US government was accounted for in part by the blind US support for whatever Israel does (including killing Americans), but also by the belief that Dogan wasn'treally an American, not the Real Kind you get upset about when a foreign army kills them.
This decade-long Othering of Muslims - a process necessary to sustain public support for their continuous killing, imprisonment, and various forms of rights abridgments - has taken its toll. I'm most certainly not suggesting that anyone who supports Awlaki's killing is driven by racism or anti-Muslim bigotry. I am suggesting that the belief that Muslims are somehow less American, or even less human, is widespread, and is a substantial factor in explaining the discrepancy I began by identifying.
Does anyone doubt that if Obama's bombs were killing nice white British teeangers or smiling blond Swiss infants - rather than unnamed Yemenis, Pakistanis, Afghans and Somalis - that the reaction to this sustained killing would be drastically different? Does anyone doubt that if his overhead buzzing drones were terrorizing Western European nationsrather than predominantly Muslim ones, the horror of them would be much easier to grasp?
Does it really take any debate to know that if the 16-year-old American suspiciously killed by the US government two weeks after killing his father had been Jimmy Martin in Sweden rather than Abdulrahman al-Awlaki in Yemen, the media interest and public outcry would be far more substantial, and Robert Gibbs would have been widely scorned if he had offered this vile blame-the-victim justification for killing Jimmy rather than Abdulrahman? It is indisputably true that - just as conservatives argued that Furkan Dogan was not a Real American - large numbers of Americans believe the same about the Denver-born teenager named Abdulrahman. This ugly mindset is not the only factor that leads the US public to support more than a decade of US killing and rights abridgments aimed primarily at Muslims, including their fellow citizens, but it is certainly a significant one.
Amazingly, some Democratic partisans, in order to belittle these injustices, like to claim that only those who enjoy the luxury of racial and socioeconomic privilege would care so much about these issues. That claim is supremely ironic. It reverses reality. That type of privilege is not what leads one to care about and work against these injustices. To the contrary, it's exactly that privilege that causes one to dismiss concerns over these injustices and mock and scorn those who work against them. The people who insist that these abuses are insignificant and get too much attention are not the ones affected by them, because they're not Muslim, and thus do not care.
The perception that the state violence, rights abridgments and expansions of government power ushered in by the War on Terror affect only Muslims long ago stopped being true. But ensuring that people continue to believe that is the key reason why it has been permitted to continue for so long.

Domestic Surveillance Aimed At Muslims

The New Jersey Star Ledger this morning has an excellent interview with CUNY Professor Diala Shamas, who just co-authored a new report on the devastating impact of the NYPD's shockingly invasive and indsicriminate surveillance program aimed at Muslim communities in New York and New Jersey. She documents in particular how this type of surveillance, aimed at innocent Muslims, creates an intense climate of fear and chills political speech. Would anyone tolerate having such sweeping surveillance programs infiltrating Jewish or Christian communities in the US? I once asked this question of leading New York Mayoral candidate Christine Quinn, who supports the NYPD program, and she refused to answer). But the answer is obvious: of course not. That is the point.


The ACLU's Jameel Jaffer perfectly summarizes the point I am making from those polls:
jaffer tweet

BitCoin Explained

By Duncan Elms

A short video looking at 'Bitcoin', a decentralised digital currency.
Directed, Designed and Animated by Duncan Elms - duncanelms.com
Written and Voiced by Marc Fennell - marcfennell.com
This is a personal project done between other jobs. Therefore some of the stats are not up to date. For more info please seeen.wikipedia.org/wiki/Bitcoin

Sunday, April 28, 2013

Wings Of Life Montage

By Disney Nature
Courtesy Of BlackLight Films

From Disneynature, the studio that brought you Earth, Oceans, African Cats and Chimpanzee, comes Wings Of Life -- a stunning adventure full of intrigue, drama and mesmerizing beauty. Narrated by Meryl Streep, this intimate and unprecedented look at butterflies, hummingbirds, bees, bats and flowers is a celebration of life, as a third of the world's food supply depends on these incredible -- and increasingly threatened -- creatures. Directed by acclaimed filmmaker Louie Schwartzberg, Wings of Life utilizes riveting high-speed, closer-than-close filmmaking techniques to showcase in spectacular detail these unsung heroes of our planet.

Racial Hatred As Policy In Myanmar

Brian McCartan explains that the former military regime is to blame for perpetuating ethnic and religious bigotry.

The violence that erupted in central Myanmar town of Meiktila on March 20 represented the first large-scale anti-Muslim riots outside of Rakhine State since 2001. Mosques, homes and shops were burnt and destroyed in an orgy of violence, scores more were seriously injured and thousands have been left homeless.

A state of emergency was declared in Meiktila and several surrounding townships on March 22, an executive decision that brought the army in to restore order. Despite this, rioting spread to several other townships in Mandalay Division and Bago Division to the south. The violence continued until 29 March after homes and mosques were burned in Tatkon, Yamethin, Lewei, Gyobingauk, Okpo, Minhla, Monyo and Padigon townships.

The role of Buddhist monks has been more visible. In recent months, a number of prominent monks have grown increasingly vocal in their anti-Muslim views. The role of the Buddhist clergy in the violence in Meiktila, where robed monks were photographed brandishing weapons and committing acts of violence, raises the risk that the pogroms spread further due to monks' strong leadership roles in Myanmar society.

Significantly, the recent violence in Meiktila and elsewhere in central Myanmar was aimed at the country's broad Muslim community. Myanmar's Muslims make up at least 4% of the population, representing over 2 million people. Many live in cities and towns but a significant number of Myanmar's Muslims reside in villages across the rural countryside.

Discrimination and violence towards Muslims is not new to Myanmar, also known as Burma. Anti-Indian feelings began to grow under British rule as Buddhists felt they were losing out to Indians, many of whom were Muslims, brought in by the British for administrative purposes. Many others followed to set up businesses, work as laborers, or moved into extant Muslim villages to take up farming in the country.

Riots periodically broke out, most notably in 1930 when the return of striking Indian dockworkers put replacement Burman stevedores out of work. The rioting that ensued took on anti-Muslim overtones and spread to a number of areas across the country. Another riot in 1938 aimed at the British colonial government used violence against Muslims as a proxy. Fears of possible ethnic Burman reprisals in the wake of Japan's invasion during World War II caused tens of thousands of Indians to flee to India.

The xenophobia behind the 1962 military coup that ushered in almost five decades of consecutive military rule served to reinforce negative perceptions of the Muslim community. Businesses were nationalized and hundreds of thousands of South Asians, most Muslims, were forced to flee to East Pakistan, now known as Bangladesh. Over time, the terms for Indian and Muslim populations in Myanmar became almost synonymous in the local vernacular.

After 1962, Muslims were often equated in government propaganda with colonial rule and the exploitation of Myanmar by foreigners. While some Muslims have lived in Myanmar for hundreds of years, many others arrived during British colonial rule. Most of Myanmar's Muslims descend at least partly from South Asians, though through the generations there has been a great deal of intermarriage so that many of the Muslims in Myanmar today are of mixed ethnicity.

The vast majority of Muslims in Myanmar were born there, as were several generations of their ancestors. Because they speak Burmese, most consider themselves to be Myanmar Muslims when asked. Government propaganda, however, has stirred anti-Muslim feelings across the country, with various ethnic groups encouraged to look down on Muslims as uneducated, usurping foreigners.

Xenophobic Coup

Under the nationalities laws put in place following the 1962 coup, Muslims found it difficult to obtain citizenship cards. The lack of legal recognition has made it difficult for them to travel, enroll in government schools and conduct business. As effective non-citizens, Muslims are not permitted to join the military or hold positions in the civil service. A large number of Muslims are landless and work as traders or day laborers.

These xenophobic feelings have often been exploited by the country's military rulers in order to relieve periods of political, economic or social pressures and perpetuate divide and rule tactics for controlling the populace. Pogroms against ethnic Rohingya Muslims occurred in the late 1970s and again in 1991-1992.
In 2001, anti-Muslim riots broke out across central Myanmar where several mosques, homes, and shops were destroyed. In this violence, too, monks were blamed as instigators, although at that time many saw the hidden hand of the regime behind the violence. Then, there were widespread accusations of military intelligence agents donning the saffron robes of monks.

Islam was often viewed as a threat by the military regime, in part because it could not be influenced in the same way the state controls Buddhism. The military gradually tightened restrictions on Islam during the late 1990s and early 2000s, including new requirements that official permission must be sought to hold religious ceremonies and celebrate special occasions. The number of mosques were restricted and even the type of renovation work on existing ones was restricted to the interiors. The activities of religious leaders and religious groups were also closely monitored.
There remains some suspicion that the government, or at least retrograde elements in the military, may be behind the recent anti-Muslim violence. In Meiktila, the attacks on the town's Muslim quarter were methodical, suggesting to some a certain degree of advanced planning.

Hurdles! What Hurdles?

Nothing will come between me and my goal! I'll do what it takes to make it!

The Bluest Blues

Artist: Alvin Lee

A Message From An American To Pakistanis

Micah Daigle, an American citizen from San Francisco, posted on Facebook after Boston Bombings:

“On Friday at 7:05pm Eastern Time, Boston Police received a report that suspected terrorist Dzhokhar Tsarnaev was hiding in a boat in Watertown. At 7:15pm, the low buzz of a drone was heard overhead. Seconds later, an enormous explosion engulfed the area, destroying the boat and several nearby homes. Sources say 46 Watertown residents were killed in the missile strike, including 12 children….
Of course, that’s not what happened. But if it did, wouldn't we find it unconscionable?
If so, then why are Americans okay with our government doing this to people in other countries?
In Pakistan alone, the U.S. government has killed more than 3,000 people with drone strikes… and only 1 out of 50 were suspected terrorists. The rest were bystanders, rescue workers, and children.
Let’s stop this madness now.
One people. One planet. ♥”

The love and empathy that came with this powerful post flooded Micah’s facebook account with thousands of messages, followers and friend request as it went viral in Pakistan. Gratitude, love and respect for Micah from Pakistanis was all over his wall. Today his facebook wall says something that builds bridges across two nations. I couldn’t help sharing it.

“It’s been an amazing 24 hours. To my new Pakistani friends:

For years, I’ve only been able to imagine how it must feel to live under skies pregnant with hellfire missiles. But in the last day, I’ve had the honor of talking with hundreds of you and hearing your stories. Though I feel a bit undeserving of all the attention and praise, that hasn’t stopped me from scooping up as much knowledge as I can before this little bubble of Internet magic pops.Though the results aren’t surprising, this is what I’ve learned.

1. The vast majority of you are decent, reasonable, good-hearted human beings. There are certainly people who are violent and power-hungry in your country, but most of you just want to lead fulfilling, loved-filled lives. Just like many of us.

2. You are tired of living under the constant threat of violence. You’ve grown a resilience that comes from living in such a place, but there’s also a deep weariness. You just want it to stop. You don’t want to have to worry about being bombed at any moment. Just like many of us.

3. You don’t support terrorists, but you can understand why some people become terrorists. You see that our bombings only fan the flames of hatred, by taking the lives of innocents, and creating a desire for revenge within their loved ones. You know that for every terrorist we kill, we create several more ready to take their place. And you are able to understand this terrible cycle without defending or excusing those who commit acts of terror. Just like many of us.

4. You are forgiving and understanding of Americans even though our government bombs you. You have your own corrupt government that doesn’t represent your interests, which allows you to see why a nation of good people can do horrible things. You can separate people from the system they are embedded in. Just like many of us.

5. Many of you think of yourselves as Global Citizens first and Pakistanis second. You can see that you share more in common with reasonable people in other countries than with the extremists in your own. So many of you have have shifted from a mindset dominated by Me into a mindset dominated by We. Just like many of us.

6. But that doesn’t mean you aren’t proud to be Pakistani! I can’t count the number of generous offers I’ve received to be hosted and fed if I come to your country. If there’s one thing I’ve learned, you are an incredibly hospitable people. You’re proud of your land, your food, your culture. Just like many of us.

7. You’re human, and you’re deserving of love.

Just like ALL of us.

Shared by Admin M.L
Source: MyBitForChange

Saturday, April 27, 2013

Hegemony Masquerading As Leadership

The underlying cause of most international tension is the unwillingness of powerful states to recognise that we live in a multipolar world. The idea of hegemony, often sanitised as “leadership”, is unacceptable. In a post-colonial era there are multiple centres of authority, international influence and soft power, and we should rejoice when new or old states, individually or collectively, have the courage and ability to challenge another state’s ambition to be a superpower. States will always make common cause or “coalitions of the willing” on specific issues, but interests fluctuate and priorities change – and we should junk the cold war-style system of military alliances and ideological or sectarian camps.

France To Keep Troops In Mali ‘Permanently’

From A Few Weeks To Forever

Foreign Minister Laurent Fabius revealed:

"France has proposed, to the United Nations and to the Malian government, a French support force of 1,000 men which would be permanent, based in Mali, and equipped to fight terrorism," Fabius said before leaving Bamako after a one-day visit.

A diplomatic source in Paris said France hoped to have the peacekeeping force approved by the Security Council within three weeks, and to have it deployed by the end of June or early July in time for scheduled presidential elections.

A clause in the U.N. resolution will allow Ban to request the rapid intervention of France's 1,000 troops, which would be deployed under a bilateral deal with Mali, the source said.

Ibiza Lights III

By Jose A. Hervas

Music: AudioMachine itunes.apple.com/es/album/epica/id535899602

Friday, April 26, 2013

How America’s War On Terror Became A Global War On Tribal Islam

By The Brookings Institute

Along with the ground wars in Afghanistan and Iraq, America’s global war on terror has been characterized by the use of drones. In his new book, The Thistle and the Drone (Brookings, 2013), Brookings Project on U.S. Relations with the Islamic World Nonresident Senior Fellow Akbar Ahmed—the Ibn Khaldun chair of Islamic Studies at American University and former Pakistani high commissioner to the United Kingdom— examines the tribal societies on the borders between nations who are the drones' primary victims. He provides a fresh and unprecedented paradigm for understanding the war on terror, based in the broken relationship between these tribal societies and their central governments. Beginning with Waziristan in Pakistan and expanding to similar tribal societies in Central Asia, the Middle East, North Africa, and Eastern Europe, Ahmed demonstrates how America's war on terror became a global war on tribal Islam. This is the third volume in his trilogy about relations between the U.S. and the Muslim world after 9/11 that includes Journey into Islam (Brookings, 2007) and Journey into America (Brookings, 2010). 

On March 14, the Brookings Press hosted the launch of The Thistle and the Drone featuring a discussion on the regional, societal and humanitarian effects of the war on terrorism. Following Ahmed’s presentation, Mowahid Shah, a former Pakistani minister, and Sally Quinn, editor-in-chief of the Washington Post’s “On Faith,” joined the conversation. Khalid Aziz, a leading official from Pakistan, formerly in charge of Waziristan, offered recorded remarks via video.

Weak Constitution

By Jon Stewart

Following the Boston bombing, the freedom lovers at Fox jettison Constitutional amendments like Han Solo dumping his cargo at the first sign of an Imperial cruiser. 

Creating An Enemy-Industrial Complex

Tom Engelhardt writes in The Huffington Post

The communist enemy, with the “world’s fourth largest military,” has been trundling missiles around and threatening the United States with nuclear obliteration.  Guam, HawaiiWashington: all, it claims, are targetable.  The coverage in the media has been hair-raising.  The U.S. is rushing an untested missile defense system to Guam, deploying missile-interceptor ships off the South Korean coast,sending “nuclear capable” B-2 Stealth bombers thousands of miles on mock bombing runs,pressuring China, and conducting large-scale war games with its South Korean ally.
Only one small problem: there is as yet little evidence that the enemy with a few nuclear weapons facing off (rhetorically at least) against an American arsenal of 4,650 of them has the ability to miniaturize and mount even one on a missile, no less deliver it accurately, nor does it have a missile capable of reaching Hawaii or Washington, and I wouldn't count on Guam either.
It also happens to be a desperate country, one possibly without enough fuel to fly a modern air force, whose people, on average, are inches shorter than their southern neighbors thanks to decades of intermittent famine and malnutrition, and who are ruled by a bizarre three-generational family cult.  If that other communist, Karl Marx, hadn’t once famously written that history repeats itself “first as tragedy, then as farce,” we would have had to invent the phrase for this very moment.
In the previous century, there were two devastating global wars, which left significant parts of the planet in ruins.  There was also a "cold war" between two superpowers locked in a system of mutual assured destruction (aptly acronymed as MAD) whose nuclear arsenals were capable of destroying the planet many times over.  Had you woken up any morning in the years between December 7, 1941, and December 26, 1991, and been told that the leading international candidate for America's Public Enemy Number One was Kim Jong-un’s ramshackle, comic-opera regime in North Korea, you might have gotten down on your hands and knees and sent thanks to pagan gods.
The same would be true for the other candidates for that number one position since September 11, 2001: the original al-Qaeda (largely decimated), al-Qaeda in the Arabian Peninsula located in poverty-stricken areas of poverty-stricken Yemen, the Taliban in poverty-stricken Afghanistan, unnamed jihadis scattered across poverty-stricken areas of North Africa, or Iran, another rickety regional power run by not particularly adept theocrats.
All these years, we’ve been launching wars and pursuing a “global war on terror."  We’ve poured money into national security as if there were no tomorrow.  From our police to our borders, we’ve up-armored everywhere.  We constantly hear about “threats” to us and to the “homeland.”  And yet, when you knock on the door marked “Enemy,” there’s seldom anyone home.
Few in this country have found this striking.  Few seem to notice any disjuncture between the enemy-ridden, threatening, and deeply dangerous world we have been preparing ourselves for (and fighting in) this last decade-plus and the world as it actually is, even those who lived through significant parts of the last anxiety-producing, bloody century.
You know that feeling when you wake up and realize you’ve had the same recurrent nightmare yet again? Sometimes, there’s an equivalent in waking life, and here’s mine: every now and then, as I read about the next move in the spreading war on terror, the next drone assassination, the next ratcheting up of the surveillance game, the next expansion of the secrecy that envelops our government, the next set of expensive actions taken to guard us -- all of this justified by the enormous threats and dangers that we face -- I think to myself: Where’s the enemy?  And then I wonder: Just what kind of a dream is this that we’re dreaming?
A Door Marked “Enemy” and No One Home
Let’s admit it: enemies can have their uses.  And let’s admit as well that it’s in the interest of some in our country that we be seen as surrounded by constant and imminent dangers on an enemy-filled planet.  Let’s also admit that the world is and always will be a dangerous place in all sorts of ways.
Still, in American terms, the bloodlettings, the devastations of this new century and the last years of the previous one have been remarkably minimal or distant; some of the worst, as in the multi-country war over the Congo with its more than five million dead have passed us by entirely; some, even when we launched them, have essentially been imperial frontier conflicts, as in Iraq and Afghanistan, or interventions of little cost (to us) as in Libya, or frontier patrolling operations as in Pakistan, Yemen, Somalia, and Northern Africa.  (It was no mistake that, when Washington launched its special operations raid on Abbottabad, Pakistan, to get Osama bin Laden, it was given the code name “Geronimo” and the message from the SEAL team recording his death was “Geronimo-E KIA” or “enemy killed in action.”)
And let’s admit as well that, in the wake of those wars and operations, Americans now have more enemies, more angry, embittered people who would like to do us harm than on September 10, 2001.  Let’s accept that somewhere out there are people who, as George W. Bush once liked to say, “hate us" and what we stand for.  (I leave just what we actually stand for to you, for the moment.) 
So let’s consider those enemies briefly.  Is there a major state, for instance, that falls into this category, like any of the great warring imperial European powers from the sixteenth century on, or Nazi Germany and Imperial Japan in World War II, or the Soviet Union of the Cold War era?  Of course not.
There was admittedly a period when, in order to pump up what we faced in the world, analogies to World War II and the Cold War were rife.  There was, for instance, George W. Bush’s famed rhetorical construct, the Axis of Evil (Iraq, Iran, and North Korea), patterned by his speechwriter on the German-Italian-Japanese “axis” of World War II.  It was, of course, a joke construct, if reality was your yardstick.  Iraq and Iran were then enemies.  (Only in the wake of the U.S. invasion and occupation of Iraq have they become friends and allies.)  And North Korea had nothing whatsoever to do with either of them.  Similarly, the American occupation of Iraq was once regularly compared to the U.S. occupations of Germany and Japan, just as Saddam Hussein hadlong been presented as a modern Hitler.
In addition, al-Qaeda-style Islamists were regularly referred to as Islamofascists, while certain military and neocon types with a desire to turn the war on terror into a successor to the Cold War took to calling it “the long war,” or even “World War IV.”  But all of this was so wildly out of whack that it simply faded away.
As for who’s behind that door marked “Enemy,” if you opened it, what would you find?  As a start, scattered hundreds or, as the years have gone by, thousands of jihadis, mostly in the poorest backlands of the planet and with little ability to do anything to the United States.  Next, there were a few minority insurgencies, including the Taliban and allied forces in Afghanistan and separate Sunni and Shia ones in Iraq.  There also have been tiny numbers of wannabe Islamic terrorists in the U.S. (once you take away the string of FBI sting operations that have regularly turned hopeless slackers and lost teenagers into the most dangerous of fantasy Muslim plotters).  And then, of course, there are those two relatively hapless regional powers, Iran and North Korea, whose bark far exceeds their potential bite.
The Wizard of Oz on 9/11
The U.S., in other words, is probably in less danger from external enemies than at any moment in the last century.  There is no other imperial power on the planet capable of, or desirous of, taking on American power directly, including China.  It’s true that, on September 11, 2001, 19 hijackers with box cutters produced a remarkable, apocalyptic, and devastating TV show in which almost 3,000 people died.  When those giant towers in downtown New York collapsed, it certainly had thelook of nuclear disaster (and in those first days, the media was filled was nuclear-style references), but it wasn’t actually an apocalyptic event.
The enemy was still nearly nonexistent.  The act cost bin Laden only an estimated $400,000-$500,000, though it would lead to a series of trillion-dollar wars.  It was a nightmarish event that had a malign Wizard of Oz quality to it: a tiny man producing giant effects.  It in no way endangered the state.  In fact, it would actually strengthen many of its powers.  It put a hit on the economy, but a passing one.  It was a spectacular and spectacularly gruesome act of terror by a small, murderous organization then capable of mounting a major operation somewhere on Earth only once every couple of years.  It was meant to spread fear, but nothing more.
When the towers came down and you could suddenly see to the horizon, it was still, in historical terms, remarkably enemy-less.  And yet 9/11 was experienced here as a Pearl Harbor moment -- a sneak attack by a terrifying enemy meant to disable the country.  The next day, newspaper headlines were filled with variations on “A Pearl Harbor of the Twenty-First Century.”  If it was a repeat of December 7, 1941, however, it lacked an imperial Japan or any other state to declare war on, although one of the weakest partial states on the planet, the Taliban's Afghanistan, would end up filling the bill adequately enough for Americans.
To put this in perspective, consider two obvious major dangers in U.S. life: suicide by gun and death by car.  In 2010, more than 19,000Americans killed themselves using guns.  (In the same year, there were “only” 11,000 homicides nationwide.)  In 2011, 32,000 Americans died in traffic accidents (the lowest figure in 60 years, though it was again on the rise in the first six months of 2012).  In other words, Americans accept without blinking the equivalent yearly of more than six 9/11s in suicides-by-gun and more than 10 when it comes to vehicular deaths.  Similarly, had the underwear bomber, to take one post-9/11 example of terrorism, succeeded in downing Flight 253 and murdering its 290 passengers, it would have been a horrific act of terror; but he and his compatriots would have had to bring down 65 planes to reach the annual level of weaponized suicides and more than 110 planes for vehicular deaths.
And yet no one has declared war on either the car or the gun (or the companies that make them or the people who sell them).  No one has built a massive, nearly trillion-dollar car-and-gun-security-complex to deal with them.  In the case of guns, quite the opposite is true, as the post-Newtown debate over gun control has made all too clear.  On both scores, Americans have decided to live with perfectly real dangers and the staggering carnage that accompanies them, constraining them on occasion or sometimes not at all. 
Despite the carnage of 9/11, terrorism has been a small-scale American danger in the years since, worse than shark attacks, but not much else.  Like a wizard, however, what Osama bin Laden and his suicide bombers did that day was create an instant sense of an enemy so big, so powerful, that Americans found “war” a reasonable response; big enough for those who wanted an international police action against al-Qaeda to be laughed out of the room; big enough to launch an invasion of revenge against Iraq, a country unrelated to al-Qaeda; big enough, in fact, to essentially declare war on the world.  It took next to no time for top administration officials to begin talking about targeting 60 countries, and as journalist Ron Suskind has reported, within six days of the attack, the CIA had topped that figure, presenting President Bush with a “Worldwide Attack Matrix,” a plan that targeted terrorists in 80 countries.
What’s remarkable is how little the disjuncture between the scope and scale of the global war that was almost instantly launched and the actual enemy at hand was ever noted here.  You could certainly make a reasonable argument that, in these years, Washington has largely fought no one -- and lost.  Everywhere it went, it created enemies who had, previously, hardly existed and the process is ongoing.  Had you been able to time-travel back to the Cold War era to inform Americans that, in the future, our major enemies would be in Afghanistan, Yemen, Somalia, Mali, Libya, and so on, they would surely have thought you mad (or lucky indeed).
Creating an Enemy-Industrial Complex
Without an enemy of commensurate size and threat, so much that was done in Washington in these years might have been unattainable.  The vast national security building and spending spree -- stretching from the Virginia suburbs of Washington, where the National Geospatial-Intelligence Agency erected its new $1.8 billion headquarters, to Bluffdale, Utah, where the National Security Agency is still constructing a $2 billion, one-million-square-foot data center for storing the world’s intercepted communications -- would have been unlikely.
Without the fear of an enemy capable of doing anything, money at ever escalating levels would never have poured into homeland security, or the Pentagon, or a growing complex of crony corporations associated with our weaponized safety.  The exponential growth of the national security complex, as well as of the powers of the executive branch when it comes to national security matters, would have far been less likely.
Without 9/11 and the perpetual “wartime” that followed, along with the heavily promoted threat of terrorists ready to strike and potentially capable of wielding biological, chemical, or even nuclear weapons, we would have no Department of Homeland Security nor the lucrative mini-homeland-security complex that surrounds it; the 17-outfit U.S. Intelligence Community with its massive$75 billion official budget would have been far less impressive; our endless drone wars and the “drone lobby” that goes with them might never have developed; and the U.S. military would not have an ever growing secret military, the Joint Special Operations Command, gestating inside it -- effectively the president’s private army, air force, and navy -- and already conducting largely secret operations across much of the planet.
For all of this to happen, there had to be an enemy-industrial complex as well, a network of crucial figures and institutions ready to pump up the threat we faced and convince Americans that we were in a world so dangerous that rights, liberty, and privacy were small things to sacrifice for American safety.  In short, any number of interests from Bush administration figures eager to “sweep it all up” and do whatever they wanted in the world to weapons makers, lobbyists, surveillance outfits, think tanks, military intellectuals, assorted pundits... well, the whole national and homeland security racket and its various hangers-on had an interest in beefing up the enemy.  For them, it was important in the post-9/11 era that threats would never again lack a capital “T” or a hefty dollar sign.
And don’t forget a media that was ready to pound the drums of war and emphasize what dangerous enemies lurked in our world with remarkably few second thoughts.  Post-9/11, major media outlets were generally prepared to take the enemy-industrial complex’s word for it and play every new terrorist incident as if it were potentially the end of the world.  Increasingly as the years went on, jobs, livelihoods, an expanding world of “security” depended on the continuance of all this, depended, in short, on the injection of regular doses of fear into the body politic.
That was the “favor” Osama bin Laden did for Washington’s national security apparatus and the Bush administration on that fateful September morning.  He engraved an argument in the American brain that would live on indelibly for years, possibly decades, calling for eternal vigilance at any cost and on a previously unknown scale.  As the Project for the New American Century (PNAC), that neocon think-tank-cum-shadow-government, so fatefully put it in "Rebuilding America's Defenses" a year before the 9/11 attacks: “Further, the process of transformation [of the military], even if it brings revolutionary change, is likely to be a long one, absent some catastrophic and catalyzing event -- like a new Pearl Harbor.”
So when the new Pearl Harbor arrived out of the blue, with many PNAC members (from Vice President Dick Cheney on down) already in office, they naturally saw their chance.  They created an al-Qaeda on steroids and launched their “global war” to establish a Pax Americana, in the Middle East and then perhaps globally.  They were aware that they lacked opponents of the stature of those of the previous century and, in their documents, they made it clear that they were planning to ensure no future great-power-style enemy or bloc of enemy-like nations would arise. Ever.
For this, they needed an American public anxious, frightened, and ready to pay.  It was, in other words, in their interest to manipulate us.  And if that were all there were to it, our world would be a grim, but simple enough place.  As it happens, it’s not.  Ruling elites, no matter what power they have, don’t work that way.  Before they manipulate us, they almost invariably manipulate themselves.
I was convinced of this years ago by a friend who had spent a lot of time reading early Cold War documents from the National Security Council -- from, that is, a small group of powerful governmental figures writing to and for each other in the utmost secrecy.  As he told me then and wrote in Washington’s China, the smart book he did on the early U.S. response to the establishment of the People’s Republic of China, what struck him in the documents was the crudely anti-communist language those men used in private with each other.  It was the sort of anti-communism you might otherwise have assumed Washington’s ruling elite would only have wielded to manipulate ordinary Americans with fears of Communist subversion, the “enemy within,” and Soviet plans to take over the world.  (In fact, they and others like them would use just such language to inject fear into the body politic in those early Cold War years, that era of McCarthyism.)
They were indeed manipulative men, but before they influenced other Americans they assumedly underwent something like a process of collective auto-hypnotism in which they convinced one another of the dangers they needed the American people to believe in.  There is evidence that a similar process took place in the aftermath of 9/11.  From the flustered look on George W. Bush’s face as his plane took him not toward but away from Washington on September 11, 2001, to the image of Dick Cheney, in those early months, being chauffeured around Washington in an armored motorcade with a “gas mask and a biochemical survival suit" in the backseat, you could sense that the enemy loomed large and omnipresent for them.  They were, that is, genuinely scared, even if they were also ready to make use of that fear for their own ends.
Or consider the issue of Saddam Hussein’s supposed weapons of mass destruction, that excuse for the invasion of Iraq.  Critics of the invasion are generally quick to point out how that bogus issue was used by the top officials of the Bush administration to gain public support for a course that they had already chosen.  After all, Cheney and his men cherry-picked the evidence to make their case, even formed their own secret intel outfit to give them what they needed, and ignored facts at hand that brought their version of events into question.  They publicly claimed in an orchestrated way that Saddam had active nuclear and WMD programs.  They spoke in the most open ways of potential mushroom clouds from (nonexistent) Iraqi nuclear weapons rising over American cities, or of those same cities being sprayed with (nonexistent) chemical or biological weapons from (nonexistent) Iraqi drones.  They certainly had to know that some of this information was useful but bogus.  Still, they had clearly also convinced themselves that, on taking Iraq, they would indeed find some Iraqi WMD to justify their claims.
In his soon-to-be-published book, Dirty Wars, Jeremy Scahill cites the conservative journalist Rowan Scarborough on Secretary of Defense Donald Rumsfeld’s growing post-invasion irritation over the search for Iraqi WMD sites.  “Each morning,” wrote Scarborough, “the crisis action team had to report that another location was a bust.  Rumsfeld grew angrier and angrier.  One officer quoted him as saying, ‘They must be there!’  At one briefing, he picked up the briefing slides and tossed them back at the briefers.”
In other words, those top officials hustling us into their global war and their long-desired invasion of Iraq had also hustled themselves into the same world with a similar set of fears.  This may seem odd, but given the workings of the human mind, its ability to comfortably hold potentially contradictory thoughts most of the time without disturbing itself greatly, it’s not.
A similar phenomenon undoubtedly took place in the larger national security establishment where self-interest combined easily enough with fear.  After all, in the post-9/11 era, they were promising us one thing: something close to 100% “safety” when it came to one small danger in our world -- terrorism.  The fear that the next underwear bomber might get through surely had the American public -- but also the American security state -- in its grips.  After all, who loses the most if another shoe bomber strikes, another ambassador goes down, another 9/11 actually happens?  Whose job, whose world, will be at stake then?
They may indeed be a crew of Machiavellis, but they are also acolytes in the cult of terror and global war.  They live in the Cathedral of the Enemy.  They were the first believers and they will undoubtedly be the last ones as well.  They are invested in the importance of the enemy.  It’s their religion.  They are, after all, the enemy-industrial complex and if we are in their grip, so are they.
The comic strip character Pogo once famously declared: “We have met the enemy and he is us.” How true. We just don’t know it yet.