The Passionate Attachment

America's entanglement with Israel

The Arab Spring’s National Security Cheerleaders

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Check out this Middle East Institute publication, “Revolution and Political Transformation in the Middle East,” featuring “The Power of Strategic Nonviolent Action in Arab Revolutions” by the International Center on Nonviolent Conflict’s Stephen Zunes; and “People Power: The Real Force Behind the ‘Bad Year for Bad Guys'” co-authored by Srdja Popovic, leader of the National Endowment for Democracy-backed Otpor movement that overthrew Milosevic.

Timed to coincide with the six-month anniversary of the resignation of Mubarak, the Introduction reads:

The first volume of this series, “Agents of Change,” focuses on the groups and individuals who have led the popular uprisings throughout the region. Nine scholars, journalists, and activists remind us of the history behind these movements, demonstrate the effectiveness and importance of nonviolent struggle, explore the use of social media and other tools of mobilization, and investigate the characteristics and motivations of the players in the activist and rebel movements in Egypt, Libya, Syria, Tunisia, and Yemen.

The Middle East Institute’s Board of Governors includes such noted advocates of nonviolent anti-imperial revolution as Anthony C. Zinni, former Commander in Chief of U.S. Central Command (CENTCOM); Richard A. Clarke, former chief counterterrorism adviser on the National Security Council; and William H. Webster, the only American to serve as both Director of Central Intelligence and Director of the Federal Bureau of Investigation.

Update: In “The Power of Strategic Nonviolent Action in Arab Revolutions,” Prof. Zunes parenthetically reveals his uncanny powers of prediction:

(Indeed, my visits to Egypt and meetings with pro-democracy activists led me to predict in an article posted on the Foreign Policy in Focus web site in early December that “Egypt could very well be where the next unarmed popular pro-democracy insurrection takes place of the kind that brought down Marcos in the Philippines, Milosevic in Serbia and scores of other autocratic regimes in recent decades.”6)

It might be worth keeping an eye on his Institute for Policy Studies-affiliated FPIF column (regularly republished by the supposedly “non-interventionist” Antiwar.com) to see where Zunes “predicts” the next “unarmed popular pro-democracy insurrection” is likely to spontaneously occur.

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Written by Maidhc Ó Cathail

January 30, 2012 at 6:30 am

Posted in Uncategorized

41 Responses

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  1. Antiwar.com’s research editor Jason Ditz responded to this post by email:

    I’m not at all clear what the lesson of this article is.

    1. Some stodgy DC think tank ran some professor’s article six months ago,

    2. Some washed up general and some equally washed up CIA guy are on their board of directors,

    3. Antiwar.com ran some different articles by that same professor both before and after that.

    Can you draw me a map or something?

    Maidhc Ó Cathail

    January 25, 2012 at 3:32 pm

  2. Mr. Ditz,

    Your facetious attempt to downplay the significance of Antiwar.com promoting the exact same narrative on the Arab Spring, touted by a (supposedly anti-imperial) well-rewarded advocate of strategic nonviolent action, as a think tank sponsored by the military-industrial complex is further evidence of your site’s complicity — either through ignorance or by design — with the interventionism you fervently claim to oppose.

    Maidhc Ó Cathail

    January 26, 2012 at 7:21 am

  3. But since you seem to require a map, this comment I posted in response to Prof. Zunes’ most recent appearance on Antiwar Radio might help you navigate the issue.

    In “Regime Change, Inc.: Peter Ackerman’s Quest to Topple Tyranny,” Franklin Foer wrote:

    “When some of State’s desk officers don’t want to create international incidents by advising activists on how to overthrow governments, they gently suggest visiting Ackerman, who has fewer qualms about lending a helping hand.”

    U.S. Department of State > Ackerman > Zunes > activists > regime change.

    Get it?

    Maidhc Ó Cathail

    January 26, 2012 at 8:14 am

  4. Since your lower map seems to miss Antiwar.com entirely, I’ll just have to infer from the upper comment that you imagine interventionism as some sort of communicable disease transferred by either direct or indirect contact with infected hosts.

    It seems a particularly perplexing position for someone who has had their writing published in so many different places to imagine that this is the case, but maybe those outlets are putting you through massive indoctrination campaigns before letting you in the door. I can assure you that’s not the way normal editorial writing works.

    Jason Ditz

    January 26, 2012 at 7:44 pm

  5. No need to infer anything. The supposedly “non-interventionist” Antiwar.com promotes someone who works to overthrow governments as “the great Stephen Zunes.” Your amazing ability to miss the significance of this is a pretty damning reflection on “the way normal editorial writing works” at Antiwar.com.

    Maidhc Ó Cathail

    January 26, 2012 at 11:38 pm

  6. The principal source of confusion still seems to be the significance of running an editorial.

    Running an editorial or analysis piece from an author is, at best, an endorsement of the ideas within the article itself, and not a blanket endorsement of all the ideas that author shall ever express past or future. The decision of whether or not to run an article rests on the article’s merit, and there is not some shadowy back-room meeting where Antiwar.com (or anybody else) decides that a particular author is worthy of our imprimatur. Likewise, there are many times when a regular writer for Antiwar.com will find his article rejected because it isn’t worth running. It isn’t an indictment of the author nor evidence of some insidious plot to silence him.

    So when the opinion section decides to run this Zunes character’s analysis of the internal Democratic Party reaction to Israel’s attack on the Mavi Marmara, its because they feel that analysis is worth passing along to the readership. It has entirely nothing to do with what he may or may not write in the future or where that might get published.

    There simply is no conspiracy here, and no one at Antiwar.com is sifting through the last 15 years of articles checking to see where else each of those authors has appeared since. You might see our failure to not vet all authors past and present as a “damning reflection” but I feel quite comfortable that nobody outside of a handful of cultish websites with single-digit readerships does it that way.

    Jason Ditz

    January 27, 2012 at 12:28 am

  7. To help dispel any remaining confusion on your part as to Antiwar.com’s complicity with Regime Change, Inc., here’s an updated map:

    U.S. Department of State > Ackerman > Zunes > activists > regime change > Antiwar Radio provides uncritical platform for Zunes to deny U.S. role in regime change.

    Either Antiwar.com is complicit by design or through ignorance and incompetence. Which is it?

    Maidhc Ó Cathail

    January 27, 2012 at 1:41 am

  8. I’m not one to take endless shots at a moving target. It seems like if Antiwar Radio was the real issue here it would’ve been mentioned in the original article as opposed to as a desperate riposte in the comment section. Suffice it to say being a guest on a radio show works the same as writing an editorial, it doesn’t imply a plenary endorsement for all that person has ever said in the past or will say in the future.

    Jason Ditz

    January 27, 2012 at 2:32 am

  9. The man featured by AntiWar.com I consider most incriminating is Ivan Eland. How dare he write this? And how dare AntiWar.com publish it?

    The indigenous democratic revolutions in Tunisia and Egypt seem to be progressing … Although bumps on the road may arise and both of these countries may not have completely Western-style liberal democracies, their prospects for being long-term democracies look much brighter than in the three countries in which outside force was used to remove oppressive regimes.

    niqnaq

    January 27, 2012 at 3:26 am

  10. “I’m not one to take endless shots at a moving target. It seems like if Antiwar Radio was the real issue here it would’ve been mentioned in the original article as opposed to as a desperate riposte in the comment section.”

    Like your colleague, Mr. Knapp, you seem not to have read my article on Antiwar.com very carefully, if at all:

    More recently, “the great Stephen Zunes” was interviewed by Scott Horton on Antiwar Radio in which he argued that the Arab Spring was “the culmination of decades of peaceful rebellion against tyrannical governments.” Despite his collaboration with Otpor alumni in training activists in Egypt and elsewhere in nonviolent conflict (an important fact that was deftly obscured during the interview, unless we count Zunes’ oblique reference to having “met” Syrian activists), the ICNC’s academic advisor claimed that the US had “very little” to do with these “really exciting” developments.

    Maidhc Ó Cathail

    January 27, 2012 at 4:09 am

  11. The question “how dare he?” seems like it should be related at least tangentially to the question “is it true?” I notice a lot of recent criticisms are light in that regard.

    It seems like the central thesis of that paragraph, that Tunisia and Egypt have “brighter prospects” to be democracies than Libya, Iraq or Afghanistan, is materially factual. Egypt’s US-backed junta might be a serious thorn in the side of Egypt becoming an actual democratic state, but I’d still put its prospects miles ahead of any of those three.

    Jason Ditz

    January 27, 2012 at 4:15 am

  12. Sorry I thought the original article was up here and wasn’t on some other blog.

    Its funny though… I particularly like the part where you guys start trying to figure out who is and isn’t Jewish.

    Jason Ditz

    January 27, 2012 at 4:19 am

  13. The expression used is “Western-style liberal democracies”. I take it this is intended to include the USA. Out of the Rothbardian side of your faces, though, you subscribe to the thesis that the USA is not a democracy at all, but a military crypto-dictatorship. So it would seem to follow that that is what you want for Egypt and Tunisia too, and indeed, that is what they are going to get. So “their prospects look much brighter,” if not according to your usual Rothbardian point of view, then at least according to the point of view of the State Dept and the Pentagon. “Oh, what a tangled web we weave when first we practice to deceive!”

    niqnaq

    January 27, 2012 at 4:44 am

  14. “Its funny though… I particularly like the part where you guys start trying to figure out who is and isn’t Jewish.”

    It’s quite telling that rather than attempt to address the substantive critique of your work in my article you try to divert attention from it by referring to comment(s) made by someone else.

    Maidhc Ó Cathail

    January 27, 2012 at 5:18 am

  15. Pretty sure chemical_ali sold fertilizer, that’s how he got his name.

    Jason Ditz

    January 27, 2012 at 5:22 am

  16. huh?

    niqnaq

    January 27, 2012 at 5:23 am

  17. sub·stan·tive/ˈsəbstəntiv/
    Adjective:
    Having a firm basis in reality…

    I think we can stop right there and just accept that there’s not a “substantive” anything therein.

    Jason Ditz

    January 27, 2012 at 5:27 am

  18. “Pretty sure chemical_ali sold fertilizer, that’s how he got his name.”

    More to the point (something to which at least one other Antiwar.com staff member seems to have a pathological aversion), did it not occur to you to wonder why Gene Sharp’s nice-sounding “nonviolent resistance thinktank” might be offering a book on strategic nonviolent conflict for free by the former military attaché at the US Embassy in Rangoon?

    Maidhc Ó Cathail

    January 27, 2012 at 5:57 am

  19. Once again we’re back to your overall theorem: that author affiliation trumps content. It doesn’t.

    Jason Ditz

    January 27, 2012 at 6:35 am

  20. “Egypt’s US-backed junta…”

    But you wrote on December 29 last year in a piece entitled “US ‘Concerned’ as Egypt Junta Attacks Pro-Democracy Groups”:

    Security forces loyal to Egypt’s military junta today attacked 17 different offices of pro-democracy and human rights NGOs, nominally over accusations that the groups, which included several US-backed organizations, were operating without the correct permits to receive foreign funding.

    As I commented then,

    Pro-democracy NGOs? Why didn’t you name them? NDI, IRI and Freedom House. The same USAID/NED regime change organizations that trained the activists behind your beloved nonviolent “anti-imperial revolution” in the first place.

    Maidhc Ó Cathail

    January 27, 2012 at 6:45 am

  21. is your argument that the US isn’t backing the junta? Or that the US isn’t backing the NGOs? Because I’m here to tell you, they do both.

    Jason Ditz

    January 27, 2012 at 6:59 am

  22. You haven’t written much about the latter, have you? And why didn’t you name the NGOs in your piece? Didn’t think Antiwar.com readers would be interested to know that your “pro-democracy and human rights NGOs” included NED affiliates?

    Maidhc Ó Cathail

    January 27, 2012 at 7:12 am

  23. The nesting has obscured the fact that my “huh?” was a response to Jason’s “Pretty sure chemical_ali sold fertilizer, that’s how he got his name.” It looks as if we’re in for another week or two of irrelevant sarcasms, à la Thomas L Knapp. Whatever happened to him, anyway? I was beginning to enjoy his knockabout repartee.

    niqnaq

    January 27, 2012 at 7:46 am

  24. I’m not an expert on Muslim naming conventions, but as I understand it Ali is an extremely common name among them. As it was explained to me, people attending a mosque where several people have the same name tend to, in an effort to remain on a first-name basis, give such members a prefix based on their occupation. Dentist Ali or Grocer Ali or whatnot. chemical_ali sold fertilizer and pesticides (chemicals) for the many farms around Metro Detroit.

    Jason Ditz

    January 27, 2012 at 7:55 am

  25. “Once again we’re back to your overall theorem: that author affiliation trumps content. It doesn’t.”

    Would you care to elaborate on how in this case the author’s affiliation (a former DIA officer training anti-government activists in strategic nonviolent conflict as a fundamental part of a U.S. government-backed regime change agenda) is irrelevant to the content (strategic nonviolent conflict as a fundamental part of a U.S. government-backed regime change agenda)?

    Maidhc Ó Cathail

    January 27, 2012 at 7:58 am

  26. I still haven’t figure out how ‘chemical_ali’ comes into this, but I can confirm that I am the “you guys” who is interested in “who is and isn’t Jewish” at AntiWar.com. This is not because I am ‘anti-Semitic’, quite the reverse. It is because AntiWar.com, like other so-called ‘paleo-con’ organs, holds Israel responsible for the worst excesses of US military imperialism, while the so-called ‘neo-con’ organs hold Israel to be proof that US military imperialism is just what the world needs today. Jews, whether they like it or not, tend to become imperial operatives, and always have done. The operatives Maidhc has identified in the Regime Change Inc. machinery are all Jewish. It matters not whether they are ostensible ‘zionists’ or not; they know how the ‘dialectical’ game is played, how both sides of the designated argument are staffed by people who tacitly, shall we say, complement each other. So it’s relevant.

    niqnaq

    January 27, 2012 at 9:54 am

  27. “I still haven’t figure out how ‘chemical_ali’ comes into this…”

    From “Antiwar.com – Your Best Source for Antiwar News?”

    In March 2005, Ditz was the first to respond to a message on an Anti-State.com discussion forum entitled “Ideas for How Somalis can defend themselves” in which someone called “chemical_ali” notified participants of the Albert Einstein Institute’s release of Robert Helvey’s On Strategic Nonviolent Conflict as a free PDF. Describing “chemical_ali” – a rather odd choice of pseudonym for an advocate of nonviolence – as “probably my favorite new poster in the past year,” Ditz didn’t raise any questions (nor did anyone else in the discussion) about why Gene Sharp’s nice-sounding “nonviolent resistance thinktank” might be offering a book on strategic nonviolent conflict for free by the former military attaché at the US Embassy in Rangoon.

    Maidhc Ó Cathail

    January 27, 2012 at 12:11 pm

  28. Funny coincidence time:

    Arab spring: ‘Western-backed exported Islamist revolution’
    Russia Today, Jan 26 2012

    The string of uprisings in the Arab world boils down to Saudi Arabia and Qatar using money and influence to hijack public dissent and bring Sunni Islamists to power, says John R. Bradley, British author and expert on the Middle East. ­He argues that the turbulence that saw several governments overthrown in 2011 came from sectarian divide among Muslims, which the West played on, to support its own allies. The expert told RT:

    What we’re seeing is a Sunni-Shi’ite divide reemerge in the Middle East, with Washington clearly backing the Sunni powerhouse Saudi Arabia, a close US ally. And Saudi Arabia in turn, along with Qatar, has taken control of the revolutions elsewhere. For example it’s funding the Ennahda, the main Islamist party in Tunisia. The Muslim Brotherhood and more extremist Salafi groups in Egypt on the record were saying they received substantial funds from Saudi Arabia. The Yemeni government has openly criticized Qatar for interfering in its internal affairs and funding radical Islamists. And of course in Syria the main civilian opposition is dominated by the Muslim Brotherhood, and the so-called Free Syrian Army is dominated by not only radical jihadists from within Syria, but also by jihadists from throughout the region.

    niqnaq

    January 27, 2012 at 4:03 pm

  29. “Would you care to elaborate on how in this case the author’s affiliation (a former DIA officer training anti-government activists in strategic nonviolent conflict as a fundamental part of a U.S. government-backed regime change agenda) is irrelevant to the content (strategic nonviolent conflict as a fundamental part of a U.S. government-backed regime change agenda)?”

    For the same reason DARPANet’s origins as a US military funded enterprise is irrelevant to the question of whether or not the Internet it eventually became is a good way to get information about US military war crimes to the American public.

    The US government in general and the military in particular shoot themselves in the foot all the time, doing things which end up having unforeseen consequences to them. If this book is sound strategically, and I see no reason to believe it is not, it can be used just as readily against the imperial agenda as for it.

    Jason Ditz

    January 27, 2012 at 5:15 pm

  30. “The string of uprisings in the Arab world boils down to Saudi Arabia and Qatar using money and influence to hijack public dissent and bring Sunni Islamists to power, says John R. Bradley,”

    This is a ridiculous oversimplification that only makes sense if you look at a cherry-picked subset of the uprisings. It doesn’t explain Bahrain’s identical Shi’ite uprising. It doesn’t explain Yemen, where the Salafists have been overwhelmingly pro-Saleh. It damn sure doesn’t explain why the NATO-backed war in Libya ended with the NTC cutting out all the Islamist factions.

    Jason Ditz

    January 27, 2012 at 5:25 pm

  31. “Whatever happened to [Knapp], anyway?”

    Sorry, I’ve been busy couriering hollowed-out copies of Gene Sharp’s books, stuffed full of US currency, to color revolutionaries. The conspiracy is short-handed at the moment.

    Thomas L. Knapp

    January 27, 2012 at 6:10 pm

  32. Hi, Thomas! You have my sympathy, it must be hard doing all the <iShabos goy drudgery for the others.

    😉

    Isn’t it striking that there is a thriving school of crank right-wingers in the US teaching that the practitioners of ‘dlalectical’ tactics and strategy are the Nazi/Commie/Illuminist Anglo-German Ruling Class? This they call ‘Hegelian’ (though Hegel never suggested that the historical dialectic could be consciously manipulated in this way) to emphasise its supposed German origins.

    Whereas I have just said, quite clearly, that it is US Jewry who are the practitioners of ‘dialectical’ tactics and strategy in USAia. And everyone, I assume, has been too shocked to respond. But if you just dare to think this, it becomes obvious. The stigma of ‘anti-Semitism’ acts like a cloak of invisibility to conceal it.

    niqnaq

    January 28, 2012 at 4:37 am

  33. Saudi to recognize, fund SNC
    Russia rejects Syria resolution

    Al-Akhbar, Jan 27 2012

    Saudi Arabia will recognize the Syrian National Council (SNC) as the “official representative” of the Syrian people amid a joint Western-Gulf Arab push to have President Bashar Assad removed, a senior member of the opposition group said on Friday. SNC executive council member Ahmad Ramadan told Kuwait’s Al-Rai newspaper:

    Saudi Foreign Minister Prince Saud al-Faisal told an SNC delegation he met in Cairo last week the kingdom will recognize the Council as the official representative of the Syrian people.

    Ramadan did not specify when Saudi will make the call, or whether it will be backed by its Gulf Arab allies in the GCC. It was also reported in the UK Times on Friday that Saudi Arabia and Qatar will begin funding the SNC as well as armed groups fighting the regime.

    niqnaq

    January 28, 2012 at 5:34 am

  34. “If this book is sound strategically, and I see no reason to believe it is not, it can be used just as readily against the imperial agenda as for it.”

    While it may be theoretically true that Helvey’s strategic nonviolent conflict “can be used just as readily against the imperial agenda as for it,” can you name one country in which it has not been used as part of a NED regime change agenda?

    By ignoring the intimate connection between “strategic nonviolent conflict” and NED-backed regime change in your writing on the so-called “Arab Spring,” you and Antiwar.com are complicit in this regime change agenda.

    Maidhc Ó Cathail

    January 29, 2012 at 5:57 am

  35. “And everyone, I assume, has been too shocked to respond”

    Its so off topic that its just tough to know what to do with it.

    I for one have greatly enjoyed the speculation over which religion my co-workers’ maternal grandmothers may or may not have practiced, and the notion that it is somehow decisive evidence of some insidious plot they are secretly in on is, I think, a better example of why we ought to judge a work on its merit rather than its author’s incidental biographical details than anything I could come up with on my own.

    Whatever you may think it reveals about the putative conspiracy, unironically introducing out of the blue a line like “I’ll bet X is secretly a Jew” inevitably sucks all the air out of the room. I don’t know that “shocked” is quite the right word for it, because little genuinely “shocks” people anymore, but it is one of those little things where you just stop for a minute and go “wow”

    Seriously… “wow.”

    Jason Ditz

    January 29, 2012 at 9:08 am

  36. “can you name one country in which it has not been used as part of a NED regime change agenda? ”

    The United States

    Jason Ditz

    January 29, 2012 at 9:09 am

  37. Visiting antiwar frequently during the past year, one thing is crystal clear.
    Antiwar.com was very actively promoting war against Libya, and is doing it again on Syria.

    The height of hypocrisy is the current article up at antiwar trying to do damage control on Libya with the recent revelations of torture and abuses by NATO and their puppets.
    http://www.antiwar.com/blog/2012/01/26/torture-and-a-brewing-civil-war-in-americas-latest-liberated-country/

    Now up in their (Let’s push for war on Syria) section, titled Syria, every story makes a case for war, one of the most vile being this one.
    http://www.voanews.com/english/news/Syrian-Singer-Rallies-Assad-Forces-138256099.html

    The crafty responses and successful attempts to change the subject and confuse the issue by Ditz and his little helpers here shows the talent and skill that antiwar has to work with. Given the lies they peddle, they have to be that good. Imagine if they used their talents for good purposes and actually tried to stop wars with good journalism, just imagine.

    dreamer

    January 29, 2012 at 5:13 pm

  38. “can you name one country in which it has not been used as part of a NED regime change agenda? ”

    “The United States”

    You don’t mean the Soros-backed Occupy Wall Street protests? I guess Ivan Marovic, veteran of the NED-backed Otpor movement turned professional globetrotting “retired revolutionary,” must have been in New York to egg on the OWS protestors in an unofficial capacity…

    Maidhc Ó Cathail

    January 30, 2012 at 6:47 am

  39. Antiwar.com’s idea of “non-interventionism”…

    Today, its Viewpoints section features another op-ed from the NED-backed Trita Parsi, who opines:

    After all, no US president has come as close as Obama in reaching a diplomatic breakthrough with Tehran, no other US president has managed to create this degree of international mobilization against Iran, and no other US president has been able to impose so many crippling, indiscriminate sanctions on the Iranian economy.

    Iran was fast expanding its influence in the region during the George W. Bush Presidency. “Iran was on a roll,” one Obama Administration official told me. But in the past three years, it has lost its regional momentum. Iran’s domestic political situation is much more unstable following the fraudulent 2009 elections, its source of soft power in the region has take a hit following the Arab uprisings, its economy is hurting under the crushing weight of government mismanagement and sanctions, and its ability to play the major powers against each other has been severely limited since Obama took office.

    Maidhc Ó Cathail

    February 1, 2012 at 5:41 am

  40. This line from the Leveretts’ review of Trita Parsi’s A Single Roll of the Dice applies to all those who profess to be “anti-war” at the same as they contribute to the delegitimisation of the targeted country:

    But by depicting an Islamic Republic that does not follow his preferred path as illegitimate, with no evidence that most Iranians living in Iran want what he wants, Parsi is facilitating a potential U.S. war he professes to oppose.

    Maidhc Ó Cathail

    February 2, 2012 at 8:27 am

  41. Poor Antiwar.com! Despite the trojan efforts of Jason Ditz et al. to promote the interventionist narrative of peaceful protesters being massacred by tyrannical regimes, it wasn’t enough to avert the wrath of Redress editor Nureddin Sabir.

    Maidhc Ó Cathail

    February 6, 2012 at 5:59 am


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