Thursday, May 14, 2015

Noah Feldman: Bin Laden, War Crimes and Gray Areas

College Student to Jeb Bush: ‘Your Brother Created ISIS’

RENO, Nev. — “Your brother created ISIS,” the young woman told Jeb Bush. And with that, Ivy Ziedrich, a 19-year-old college student, created the kind of confrontational moment here on Wednesday morning that presidential candidates dread. [...] 
She had heard Mr. Bush argue, a few moments before, that America’s retreat from the Middle East under President Obama had contributed to the growing power of the Islamic State. She told the former governor that he was wrong, and made the case that blame lay with the decision by the administration of his brother George W. Bush to disband the Iraqi Army. 
“It was when 30,000 individuals who were part of the Iraqi military were forced out — they had no employment, they had no income, and they were left with access to all of the same arms and weapons,” Ms. Ziedrich said. 
She added: “Your brother created ISIS.” [...]
Then Ms. Ziedrich asked: “Why are you saying that ISIS was created by us not having a presence in the Middle East when it’s pointless wars where we send young American men to die for the idea of American exceptionalism? Why are you spouting nationalist rhetoric to get us involved in more wars?” 

Wednesday, May 13, 2015

"But in stepping back,

the United States left a power vacuum, with many hoping to project their influence. During Morsi's tenure, Qatar became the single largest contributor of financial assistance to Egypt, providing about $8 billion in loans and grants (with Turkey offering another $2 billion).[16] Just days after the military made its move, it was Saudi Arabia, the United Arab Emirates, and Kuwait which pledged $12 billion to the new army-appointed government, providing a crucial economic lifeline. It was transparently political, but it also made perfect sense.
-Shadi Hamid, Temptations of Power: Islamists and Illiberal Democracy in a New Middle East. (New York: Oxford University Press, 2014), 215. 

"In the decades before the Arab Spring,

the gulf between rulers and the ruled grew wider and more intractable. To be sure, Arab regimes weren't truly "secular." Islam was instrumentalized by the state to advance political objectives and consolidate power. Religious institutions were controlled by government appointees, with clerics becoming just another arm of the state. But Arab leaders' vision of the role of religion in political life differed, sometimes dramatically, from that of their populations. They sought to constrain and, at times, eliminate explicitly political expressions of religion.
These pseudo-secular regimes that portrayed themselves as progressive, liberal, and pro-women's rights were growing increasingly detached from a public mood that sought more, rather than less, mixing of religion and politics. In those rare occasions where meaningful elections were held, citizens made those preferences all too clear.
-Shadi Hamid, Temptations of Power: Islamists and Illiberal Democracy in a New Middle East. (New York: Oxford University Press, 2014), 207.

Tuesday, May 12, 2015

New book: The Fear of Islam: An Introduction to Islamophobia in the West by Prof. Todd H. Green

American and European societies, particularly in the long wake of the events of 9/11 and the bombings in Madrid and London, have struggled with the recurrent problem of Islamophobia, which continues to surface in waves of controversial legislative proposals, public anger over the construction of religious edifices, and outbreaks of violence. The ongoing conflict between Israel and Palestine contributes fuel to the aggressive debate in Western societies and creates the need for measured discussion about religion, fear, prejudice, otherness, and residual colonialist attitudes. The Fear of Islam speaks into this context, offering an introduction to the historical roots and contemporary forms of religious anxiety regarding Islam within the Western world. Tracing the medieval legacy of religious polemics and violence, Green weaves together a narrative that orients the reader to the complex history and issues that originate from this legacy, continuing through to the early and late modern colonial enterprises, the theories of "Orientalism," and the production of religious discourses of alterity and the clash of civilizations that proliferated in the era of 9/11 and the war on terror. The book contains analysis of interviews from figures such as Keith Ellison, John Esposito, Ingrid Mattson, Eboo Patel, Tariq Ramadan, and others.
Author's site

Monday, May 11, 2015

Seymour M. Hersh: "The Killing of Osama bin Laden"

High-level lying nevertheless remains the modus operandi of US policy, along with secret prisons, drone attacks, Special Forces night raids, bypassing the chain of command, and cutting out those who might say no.
Vol. 37 No. 10 · 21 May 2015 »  » The Killing of Osama bin Laden
pages 3-12 | 10356 words. London Review of Books.