Obama and the Nuclear Microphone

Come on Barak. Not again. Will somebody please tell the President that you can’t discuss nuclear missile negotiations on an open microphone; especially not in a press-filled room at a nuclear security conference in a presidential election year? It just doesn’t get worse than that.

But that’s exactly what happened in Seoul, Korea on Monday when President Obama had a private chat with Russian President Dmitri Medvedev at the “2012 Nuclear Security Summit.” Obama told Medvedev and world the following: “On all these issues, but particularly missile defense, this, this can be solved but it’s important for him to give me space…This is my last election. After my election I have more flexibility.” Medvedev, in a seemingly sympathetic vein replied “Yeah, I understand. I understand your message about space. Space for you…I will transmit this information to Vladimir [Putin].”     Continue reading

The “Kony 2012″ Experiment

“The next 27 minutes are an experiment. But in order for it to work, you have to pay attention.” With those words, on March 5, Jason Russell, Co-founder of Invisible Children, Inc. launched the video “Kony 2012.” Sixteen days and 99 million viewers later, “the experiment” has not only gotten peoples’ attention, it has set off a fire storm of controversy writ large across the globe.

Literally, hundreds of thousands of people: foreign policy think tanks, high school students, bloggers, culture critics, politicians, NGO’s, actors, villagers in Uganda and even President Obama have dived into the debate over whether the film serves a positive social and political purpose.

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Why Nigeria’s Boko Haram Has Been Deemed A National Security Threat to the US

A new jihadist organization is threatening America’s homeland. But these upstarts aren’t your typical extremists from the Middle East; Boko Haram’s holy warriors hail from Nigeria’s northern badlands.

Two years ago, US intelligence agents described Boko Haram as a local Salafist group attacking Christians and local police stations with machetes and poison tipped arrows in Nigeria’s Northeastern Borno state. By November 2011, the House of Representatives Subcommittee on Counterterrorism and Intelligence had issued a report stating that “Boko Haram has quickly evolved and poses an emerging threat to US interests and the US homeland.”  That quantum leap was magnified by the report’s recommendation that “The Secretary of State should conduct an investigation into whether Boko Haram should be designated a Foreign Terrorist Organization (FTO).”  Continue reading

The Panjwayi Massacre: Crisis in Afghanistan Rising

The chilling massacre of 16 Afghan civilians reportedly killed by a lone U.S. Army sergeant in the Panjwayi district early on Sunday morning has the Obama administration reeling. They should be. Every imperial war and occupation has an “atrocity crisis,”which galvanizes opposition to the occupying forces in-theater, and opposition in the homeland to end the conflict. It remains to be seen if the Panjwayi Massacre will be that crisis moment; but one thing is clear, President Obama is moving with serious dispatch to contain the collateral damage on both fronts.

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The Iran-Israel Nuclear Conundrum: Obama’s Next Move

This week President Obama silenced the drums of war sounded by Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin “Bibi” Netanyahu and Republican leaders to attack Iran; but not for long.

Against the backdrop of the American Israeli Political Affairs Committee (AIPAC) convention, Netanyahu railed that Iran was on the brink of enriching uranium to weapons grade level and threatened to launch unilateral air strikes against Tehran. GOP presidential hopefuls endorsed the call for “Holy War,” and decried Obama’s policy toward Iran as “appeasement.” As expected, Obama told AIPAC conventioneers that he has “Israel’s back,” and implored all to give “sanctions” and “diplomacy” a chance.” We’ve seen this movie before, right? Wrong.      Continue reading

Obama’s Secret War Against Syria

Syrian President Bashar Assad’s “days are numbered. It’s not a matter of if but when,” said President Obama in a March 2 interview with Atlantic Monthly. Obama’s toughest talk yet on Syria was hardly imperial hubris run amok; his ongoing secret war to overthrow the Assad regime is about to escalate.

For months the media has questioned whether the Obama administration has a strategy to depose Assad, and painted a one dimensional portrait of a dictator gone mad slaughtering his own citizens. One might have thought the Fourth Estate would have deployed their considerable corporate resources to report that the administration has been financing Syria’s opposition movement; that the CIA has been training Free Syrian Army forces on Syria’s borders with Jordan and Turkey; that the U.S. is funneling weapons to insurgents inside Syria, and providing them with critical communications equipment. Continue reading

The Berber Rising: The “Other Arab Spring”

Since 2011, the Arab Spring revolts have become the source code for “people power movements” across the planet. Little, however, has been said about the indigenous Berber minority risings coursing through the Maghreb; but no more. Oppressed by Arab regimes for decades, Berber (Amazigh) militias have surged to the center of the post-Ghaddfi governance battle in Libya. In Tunisia and even in Egypt, Berber organizations have mounted spirited campaigns to secure recognition of their culture and Tamizight language. Nor have the Amazigh in Morocco and Algeria been pacified by long overdue reforms and concessions hastily granted by their governments in 2011. Continue reading

Boss Status: How Gaddafi Became the “King of Kings” In Africa

by Webster Brooks

Despite the Obama administration’s best efforts, the first black President is having a hard time getting the Africans, better yet the African Union (AU), on board with military actions in Libya. Why? Because Col. Muammar Gaddafi has been the most dominant force in Africa for over thirty years.

We keep hearing about how the Arab League is feeling and where everyone else stands on Libya. But, we hear little about what the African countries think, an important detail since it’s their continent and all. Right now, the coalition of mostly sub-Saharan African states (and some of your most notorious “dictators”) has refused to support the United Nations and Arab League’s “No Fly Zone” resolutions in Libya. So now, bombs dropped on Libya each day looks more and more like a European and Arab thing. Recently, Ramtane Lamamra, the AU Commissioner for Peace and Security said events in Libya require “urgent African action” to bring about an end to the hostilities. How did they propose doing that? Continue reading

Will Arab Spring Revolts Spread to Sub-Saharan Africa


by Webster Brooks
Today, Sub-Saharan Africa has two military regimes (Madagascar and Niger) and only one monarchy (Swaziland). Thus, the likelihood of a democratic tsunami sweeping over Sub-Saharan Africa is remote. Based on the political mix of  Sub-Saharan nations, both the scope and pace of future democratic upsurges will be varied and more deliberate.

Understandably, Sub-Saharan opposition forces are impatient with the status quo and frankly envious of the “Arab Spring” revolts that toppled Egypt’s and Tunisia’s dictators in the space of a few short weeks. But their impatience should be tempered with the understanding that in Egypt and Tunisia, the forces of democracy have yet to win democratic rights and the free elections they demanded; they are negotiating for them. The dictators are gone but the old systems are still intact. The work of re-ordering society on a new democratic foundation will prove far more difficult than dislodging authoritarian rule. It is only in Libya that revolutionary forces are attempting to overturn the old order and seize state power by the force of arms.  Continue reading

In the Shade of Libya’s Revolution

 

February 24, 2011

Moammar Ghadafi’s days as Libya’s maximum dictator days are numbered. With or without America and the European Union’s assistance, the forces of the “February 17 Revolution” will ultimately prevail in Libya. The tide of the civil war has irreversibly shifted to anti-government forces that control Libya’s eastern provinces, and most major cities in the west. On Friday, the fall of Zawiya to opposition forces after a bloody see-saw battle brought the revolution to within 28 miles of the capital. In Tripoli, Ghadafi remains holed up in a fortified compound while loyalist militiamen and mercenaries roam the streets firing on civilians in a desperate attempt to maintain control of his last stronghold. That Moammar Ghadhafi’s criminal rule will end soon is no longer the issue; the question is how much more death and destruction Ghadafi will visit on Libya before he ultimately deposed. For President Obama, America’s role in shaping the “end game” of the February 17 Revolution and Libya’s post-Ghadafi order will have immediate and far reaching implications across the Middle East—a region already rent with political turmoil from Bahrain to Morocco. Thus a valid question arises: How will President Obama respond to the crisis and what vital American strategic interests are at stake in Libya? Continue reading