I never particularly liked Ibrahim El Hodeiby (for his positions, not his person). Even since he’s become so prolific. But here is a not-so-well-written article that’s hard to disagree with. He basically points to the OBVIOUS fact that although democracy may not benefit the US’s short-term interests, it definitely beats their current game plan that inevitably generates anti-Americanism. Naturally the regime-bashing inspired some inward glee.
Archive for the ‘United States’ Category
How bout these ideas: What if Americans toned down their grossly decadent consumption? What about canceling tax breaks for oil companies? And giving them to alternate energy research? Maybe slow down global warming while you’re at it? Give up your SUVs or stop complaining!!
Apparently the US government seeks to establish a strategic command for Africa (AFRICOM) that would be the aid, policy, military and counterterrorism nerve-center for Africa. The idea is that this will help raise the profile of Africa and improve efforts through coordination and increased attention. Ultimately, more US government drivel:
The Pentagon says AFRICOM will bring its hearts-and-minds campaign closer to the people; critics say it represents the militarization of U.S. Africa policy. Already, the United States has identified the Sahel, a region stretching west from Eritrea across the broadest part of Africa, as the next critical zone in the War on Terror and started working with repressive governments in Chad and Algeria, among others, to further American interests there. Worried U.S. allies argue that AFRICOM will only strengthen America’s ties with unsavory regimes—including the Ethiopians, who have become U.S. proxies in an expanding civil war in Somalia—by prioritizing counterterror over development and diplomacy.
The command would serve to consolidate the efforts to date:
AFRICOM would take these piecemeal efforts and expand them substantially. The outlines are already visible. In Dire Dawa, a dozen American reservists and Army National Guardsmen on a yearlong tour live together in a four-story house that serves as both base and home. Each morning they raise two flags: Ethiopian and American. With a $1 million budget they hope to build enough schools and wells and bridges to wrestle key local leaders, clan elders and unemployed youth over to their vision of Ethiopia’s future. AFRICOM, with its cadre of officer corps and civilian expertise, could then integrate those smaller efforts with larger strategic objectives across the continent, sharing intelligence and speeding up communications. Amazingly, China now has more embassies and consulates—and thus more listening posts—in Africa than the United States.
Not really all that amazing. The comparative shrewdness of China’s Africa policy has been the subject of much discussion.
Perhaps the biggest source of concern is the recent U.S. track record in the Horn of Africa, where Washington has been pursuing an increasingly militarized policy for more than a year with disastrous results. Twice in the past year, the United States has intervened in Somalia—first by supporting local warlords, then by backing an Ethiopian invasion—to undermine the regime of the fundamentalist Islamic Courts Union (ICU), which Washington accuses of maintaining links with Al Qaeda. Fighting has raged across Mogadishu ever since, killing hundreds of innocent civilians and forcing some 400,000 from their homes, without decisively toppling the Islamists. U.S. and European attempts to create a government of national unity have failed spectacularly.
South Africa is leading a group of countries in opposition to US meddling.
Interestingly, Egypt would be the only non-island country excluded from AFRICOM. (See the map on the DoD site).
There‘s more from the EUCOM website to which AFRICOM will be initially subordinate.
I recently watched The Situation (IMDb), by Philip Haas. It attempts to bring out the side of Iraq that is often neglected in the media. The review on indieWIRE is a little harsh on the timidity, especially given that i know they had serious problems with funding and, later, with finding a willing distributor. I wouldnt disagree, however. I also wouldnt give the acting as much credit. Many scenes come off as unconvincing. Perhaps this is due to the most of the actors’ lack of Arabic fluency. This review covers it significantly better.
I recommend watching it if you come across it.
Thanks, one again, to the folks behind the Arabist for highlighting this article in the Rolling Stone. There are some other articles linked to, including in the comments, but this is the most… aggressive and entertaining, if you will. It’s about all the unaccounted money poured into contractors’ pockets.