Black Agenda Radio Commentaries
News, analysis and commentary on the human condition from a black left perspective.

A Black Agenda Radio commentary by Glen Ford

A U.S. Marine task force is about to be deployed in the war against Somalia, where American drones are stepping up their predations. For the second time in four years, U.S. aggression threatens the lives of multitudes in the Horn of Africa. “A United Nations spokesman describes the food and refugee emergency in Somalia as the ‘worst humanitarian crisis in the world,’ with millions at immediate risk.

 

World’s Worst Humanitarian Crisis in Somalia: U.S. Sends in the Marines and Drones

A Black Agenda Radio commentary by Glen Ford

Whenever the U.S. rachets up its armed interventions in Somalia, disaster follows.”

Even as U.S. militarization of the Horn of Africa has contributed massively to the threatened starvation of millions, the Americans have announced an escalation of drone attacks against Somalia and the establishment of a Marine task forcefor the region. A United Nations spokesman describes the food and refugee emergency in Somalia as the “worst humanitarian crisis in the world,” with millions at immediate risk. Not coincidentally, the epicenter of the disaster is the area where Somalia, Kenya and Ethiopia meet – which is also a focus of U.S. Special Forces, surveillance and logistics activity.

The Americans blame the al-Shabab resistance for exacerbating the drought emergency, but for at least two years the Americans have used food as a weapon of war in Somalia, in an effort to starve out those who might be supporting the Shabab. The U.S. has armed an array of militias operating near the Ethiopian and Kenyan borders, making normal agricultural pursuits all but impossible, and the current world-class catastrophe, inevitable.

Whenever the U.S. rachets up its armed interventions in Somalia, disaster follows. Four years ago, after the Americans instigated an Ethiopian invasion of Somalia to overthrow an Islamist government that had brought a semblance of peace to the region, it set off what the United Nations then called “the worst humanitarian crisis in Africa – worse than Darfur.” Today, many of those same refugees are confronted with the worst humanitarian crisis on the planet – once again, largely courtesy of the United States.

The Obama administration has upgraded Somalia and Yemen as hotspots in its endless war-making.”

The original crime – the one from which all the other horrors flow – was the theft of Somalia’s government, and the crushing of its people’s dreams for peace. The American proxy aggression, largely conducted through Ethiopia and now Kenya, and much of it directed from Djibouti, the actual headquarters of the U.S. Africa Command, AFRICOM – is the root cause of the social disintegration of Somalia, which has pushed much of the population to the edge of extinction. These are the crimes against humanity that international courts should be prosecuting. Instead, the International Criminal Court has become a tool of the aggressor, and even proposes to deploy the U.S. military as its deputies, to enforce its warrants: justice turned upside down.

The newly activated Marine task force will augment America’s stepped up drone attacks against the Shabab, an escalation of Obama’s second shooting war in Africa, and war number 6, globally.

In addition to the Marines and the drones, the U.S. recently committed $45 million to equipment and training for the Ugandan and Burundian soldiers that are all that props up the puppet Somali government in Mogadishu, the capital.

The Obama administration has upgraded Somalia and Yemen as hotspots in its endless war-making, claiming al-Qaida operatives in the region are even more dangerous to the U.S. than their counterparts in Afghanistan and Pakistan – which essentially tells us that al-Qaida isn't really all that relevant to why American is spreading war and misery all over the planet. What is clear, is that the world's greatest humanitarian threat lives at 1600 Pennsylvania Avenue.

For Black Agenda Radio, I'm Glen Ford. On the web, go to www.BlackAgendaReport.com.

BAR executive editor Glen Ford can be contacted at Glen.Ford@BlackAgendaReport.com.

Direct download: 20110713_gf_SomaliaCrisis.mp3
Category:general -- posted at: 9:59am EST

A Black Agenda Radio commentary by Glen Ford

With no help from the Mossad, the Israelis created a “no-fly” list that stymied hundreds of Palestinian solidarity activists from reaching the city of Bethlehem, on the West Bank. “Social networking – or Internet organizing, if you will – made it easy to put the trip to the West Bank together – and just as easy for the Israelis to thwart it.” That’s the problem with Internet organizing: “Everybody sees who you are and what you're up to.”

Organizing in a Fish Bowl: Limits of the Web

A Black Agenda Radio commentary by Glen Ford

It is inevitable in an Internet age that dissenters will create their own ‘no-fly’ lists, or even their own ‘preventive detention’ lists, simply by using the technology.”

When Israel blocked hundreds of people from all around the world from flying to Ben Gurion International Airport to attend a “Welcome to Palestine” event in the West bank city of Bethlehem, it didn’t have to use its intelligence services to compile a targeted “no-fly” list. A spokesman for the Israeli Foreign Ministry bragged: “We didn’t need the Mossad” to find out who was planning to attend the Palestinian solidarity gathering, because “it was all out there in the open.” The Israelis simply tracked the would-be travelers through very public social networking and other sites on the Internet to find out who was planning to make the trip. The Israelis culled 342 names from the Internet, stopping almost all of them at airports in Europe or sending them back from the last stop, in Israel. The West Bank has no commercial airport of its own,

Social networking – or Internet organizing, if you will – made it easy to put the trip to the West Bank together – and just as easy for the Israelis to thwart it. And therein, lies one of the contradictions, or great weaknesses, of Internet organizing. Everybody sees who you are and what you're up to. Which bring us to some recent remarks by Wikileaks founder Julian Assange, who back in May described Facebook as “the most appalling spy machine that has ever been invented. Everyone should understand,” said Assange, “that when they add their friends to Facebook, they are doing free work for United States intelligence agencies, and building this database for them.”

Obama’s operatives are just as eager to use the Internet to find and suppress dissent as they are to use it to raise money for his reelection.”

Assange is not claiming that Facebook is run by the CIA or the FBI, but that the spooks have access to its records. And we should note that the owner of Facebook, Mark Zuckerberg, is no political progressive. He’s a huge friend and financial benefactor of Newark, New Jersey, mayor Cory Booker, who is backed by every rightwing moneybag in the country. Ralph Naders' recent novel to the contrary, there is no billionaire on the planet that can be trusted with a roadmap to the doorsteps of virtually everyone who might be – or is friends with people who might be – political dissidents.

Not that government spies need any help. They've got a great friend in the White House. As Internet activist and lawyer Glenn Greenwald told the recent Socialism Conference, in Chicago, President Obama has embraced George Bush’s hostility to civil liberties “as his own, and in many cases extended far beyond where George Bush and Dick Cheney ever dreamed of.” Obama’s operatives are just as eager to use the Internet to find and suppress dissent as they are to use it to raise money for his reelection.

It is inevitable in an Internet age that dissenters will create their own “no-fly” lists, or even their own “preventive detention” lists, simply by using the technology.

Black Agenda Report would not exist without Internet technology, and we certainly don’t want to discourage our readers and financial contributors – heaven forbid! But if you’re reading or listening to this commentary, you’re already on some kind of list that is being sliced and diced by the authorities. When all is said and done, we need to create the biggest possible list, the Mother of all Lists – with many millions of names – and dare them to come get us all.

For Black Agenda Radio, I’m Glen Ford. On the web, go to www.BlackAgendaReport.com.

BAR executive editor Glen Ford can be contacted at Glen.Ford@BlackAgendaReport.com.


Direct download: 20110713_gf_SocialNets.mp3
Category:general -- posted at: 9:51am EST

A Black Agenda Radio commentary by BAR editor and columnist Jared Ball

It is always good when white Americans with resources discover that their government is one of the “bad guys.” The plight of accused Wikileaks secret cables provider Bradley Manning has, apparently, awakened lots of folks to the oppressive side of the U.S. state. However, Black, Brown and Red political prisoners were rotting in the American Gulag for 40 years before Manning joined their ranks. “So much could be learned were his treatment put in the context of, for instance, the Scott sisters or the even longer-standing cases of Leonard Peltier, Mumia Abu-Jamal, Sundiata Acoli or the Move 9.”

 

Bradley Manning, Political Imprisonment and the Myopia of the Left

A Black Agenda Radio commentary by BAR editor and columnist Jared Ball

Until there are flotillas headed to Pelican Bay and ‘flytillas’ to Pine Ridge, claims of solidarity with the rest of the world will remain as hollow as claims of progress here.”

As long as we continue to allow the United States to function as an empire, it will. And as long as it treats many of its own “citizens” as “subjects” it is likely to impose that same status on those abroad. And to the extent that domestic struggles and the punished survivors of those struggles are ignored, efforts to change the country’s impact in the world will suffer. Until there is massive unrest and protest aimed at the treatment of the Indigenous, Black, Brown and poor, until there are flotillas headed to Pelican Bay and “flytillas” to Pine Ridge, claims of solidarity with the rest of the world will remain as hollow as claims of progress here. It is unfortunate the extent to which this political disconnect exists. And one need only look at the example of Bradley Manning, the accused and imprisoned deliverer of government secrets to Wikileaks, and the ways in which his case is so rarely connected to pre-existing cases of political imprisonment and torture, to see how far that gap really is. So much could be learned were his treatment put in the context of, for instance, the Scott sisters or the even longer-standing cases of Leonard Peltier, Mumia Abu-Jamal, Sundiata Acoli or the Move 9. Failure to do so hampers a deeper understanding of this country, its impact in the world and what it will take to change it.

Earlier this month at the Socialism 2011 conference in Chicago constitutional and civil rights lawyer Glen Greenwald gave an impressive talk that explored the consequences of Barack Obama’s increasingly imperial presidency and the shortcomings of the progressive political Left. According to Greenwald Obama’s track record on civil liberties and the so-called “war on terror” demonstrates a strict continuation of Bush and Cheney policies and yet so much of the Left obediently defends the man and his party. Greenwald also pointed out, importantly, that because of the president’s deft use of “symbol… packaging… [and] rhetoric…” he is able to disguise what is becoming an increasingly serious threat to civil liberties and human rights. For Greenwald the mission creep and shifting of targets from so-called “terrorists” to U.S. citizens is becoming too easy, conducted under too much secrecy and leading to an end of privacy and supposed claims of intellectual and political freedoms. But, despite his principled and accurate concern over these shifting targets Greenwald himself demonstrated a dangerous myopia, one that continues to threaten the development of progressive movements that he and those like him wish to see.

Greenwald (and others like him) should now then apply that same standard to the dozens upon dozens of political prisoners whose imprisonment pre-dates that of Manning’s by decades.”

Greenwald said that he was among the first to investigate and write about Bradley Manning and Wikileaks because they had been described vaguely by the New York Times as threats to national security. This, said Greenwald, was enough for him to become suspicious and think that Manning and Wikileaks deserved some assistance. But, being the principled man he is, Greenwald (and others like him) should now then apply that same standard to the dozens upon dozens of political prisoners whose imprisonment pre-dates that of Manning’s by decades. Following the same logic applied to Bradley Manning would greatly help the existing movement to free political prisoners get more attention and more resources. Who better to assist in the uncovering of the real inner-workings of this society? And who better than they, those who have long been considered threats to national security, to develop analyses needed to make real change? Perhaps this would help other well-meaning people like David House, founder of the Bradley Manning Support Committee, from having to admit, as he did last week, that it was the Manning case that awakened him to what this country could do.

The brave prisoners now risking their lives to stop the daily torture they suffer in Pelican Bay and prisons around the country are the antecedents of Bradley Manning. And the specifically political prisoners who continue to exist as such also continue to illustrate the national mooring to an imperialism that Greenwald and others seem somehow new to. And this is why we support the work of those like the Black is Back CoalitionThe Jericho Movement and the Freedom Archives for their consistent reminder of the “other wars,” those waged against domestic liberation struggles and the captives that remain as a result; those whose liberties were first to be taken before those now slowly being dwindled.

For Black Agenda Radio, I’m Jared Ball. Online visit us at BlackAgendaReport.com.

Dr. Jared A. Ball is an associate professor of communication studies at Morgan State University in Baltimore, MD. and is author of I MiX What I Like! A MiXtape Manifesto (AK Press). He can be reached online at: IMIXWHATILIKE.COM.

Direct download: 20110713_jb_PoliticalPrisoners.mp3
Category:general -- posted at: 9:49am EST