ISIS and the Middle East
An Interview with James Corbett
ISIS can trace its roots back to a group that was founded as "Jamā-at al-Taw-īd wa-al-Jihād" ("The Organization of Monotheism and Jihad") in Jordan in 1999 by a Sunni militant named Abu Musab Al-Zarqawi. Originally founded with the intention of overthrowing the Kingdom of Jordan and replacing it with a religious government, the group was transplanted to Iraq in the wake of the US invasion in 2003. In 2004 Zarqawi pledged allegiance to Bin Laden and the group became "Al Qaeda in Iraq" (Tanzim Qaidat al-Jihad fi Bilad al-Rafidayn or "AQI"). Since that time, the group has undergone so many name changes that one would be forgiven for losing track of its connection to the current "Islamic State," including: al-Qa'ida Group of Jihad in Iraq; al-Qa'ida Group of Jihad in the Land of the Two Rivers; al-Qa'ida in Mesopotamia; al-Qa'ida in the Land of the Two Rivers; al-Qa'ida of Jihad in Iraq; al-Qa'ida of Jihad Organization in the Land of The Two Rivers; al-Qa'ida of the Jihad in the Land of the Two Rivers; al-Tawhid; Jam'at al-Tawhid Wa'al-Jihad; Tanzeem Qa'idat al Jihad/Bilad al Raafidaini; Tanzim Qa'idat al-Jihad fi Bilad al-Rafidayn; The Monotheism and Jihad Group; The Organization Base of Jihad/Country of the Two Rivers; The Organization Base of Jihad/Mesopotamia; The Organization of al-Jihad's Base in Iraq; The Organization of al-Jihad's Base in the Land of the Two Rivers; The Organization of al-Jihad's Base of Operations in Iraq; The Organization of al-Jihad's Base of Operations in the Land of the Two Rivers; The Organization of Jihad's Base in the Country of the Two Rivers; al-Zarqawi Network. Reporting on the group has always been unreliable at best, with both Zarqawi and his successor...
Elements of Resistance
Warriors of Peace
There have always been individuals who have sought to understand the root cause of oppressive violence and injustice, and who have tried, some successfully and some not, to counteract the violence of their culture with a nonviolent and pacifist alternative. Three such individuals stand out in the past few centuries as great leaders of resistance movements: Mohandas Gandhi, Nelson Mandela, and Martin Luther King, Jr. Each of these men and the struggles they led are commonly held up as examples of nonviolence at work. They are often brought up in conversations about nonviolent vs. violent tactics as proof that "Nonviolence works, right! I mean, India is independent, South Africa is no longer under Apartheid rule, and Black people in the US no longer have their own water fountains! How can you argue with that logic?" There are two major ways that we are duped into seeing 'The changing of the masks' as social progress; a) By not understanding that every successful nonviolent movement had a violent counterpart that was crucial to the success of the overall struggle; and b) By not understanding the way that oppression simply changes forms, methods, and definitions while maintaining or increasing the actual level of oppressive violence. We will closely examine the lives of these three men and the movements they represented and try to more accurately understand the roles that nonviolent and violent resistance has shaped the course of history in an attempt to learn from their mistakes and successes, so that we may hopefully make our resistance more effective.
From Pol Pot to ISIS
Imperialism, War Crimes, and Blowback
In transmitting President Richard Nixon's orders for a "massive" bombing of Cambodia in 1969, Henry Kissinger said, "Anything that flies on everything that moves". As Barack Obama ignites his seventh war against the Muslim world since he was awarded the Nobel Peace Prize, the orchestrated hysteria and lies make one almost nostalgic for Kissinger's murderous honesty. As a witness to the human consequences of aerial savagery - including the beheading of victims, their parts festooning trees and fields - I am not surprised by the disregard of memory and history, yet again. A telling example is the rise to power of Pol Pot and his Khmer Rouge, who had much in common with today's Islamic State in Iraq and Syria (ISIS). They, too, were ruthless medievalists who began as a small sect. They, too, were the product of an American-made apocalypse, this time in Asia. According to Pol Pot, his movement had consisted of "fewer than 5,000 poorly armed guerrillas uncertain about their strategy, tactics, loyalty and leaders". Once Nixon's and Kissinger's B52 bombers had gone to work as part of "Operation Menu", the west's ultimate demon could not believe his luck. The Americans dropped the equivalent of five Hiroshimas on rural Cambodia during 1969-73. They levelled village after village, returning to bomb the rubble and corpses. The craters left monstrous necklaces of carnage, still visible from the air.
An Interview with Son of Baldwin
I think this awakening started in my childhood. I grew up during the 70s, 80s, and 90s-a child of both Black Southern Baptist and Nation of Islam traditions-in a section of Brooklyn called Bensonhurst (infamous for the racist attack against and murder of Yousef Hawkins in 1989). Bensonhurst, at least at that time I grew up there, was a neighborhood of primarily Italian and Irish first- and second-generation immigrants. In this neighborhood, I lived in a housing project of mostly black and Latin@ peoples right in the middle of things. We were thus surrounded, if you will, in hostile enemy territory. This made everything tenuous. As a child and a teen, I had to plot routes home from school that would help me avoid running into the mobs of white children, teens, and adults who--with bats in hand, violence in heart, and death in mind--made a regular ritual of chasing kids of color back to the projects. What was different for me when I got back to the projects, having often but not always escaped the battering from racists, is that the battle didn't end there. I had to then contend with the other black and Latin@ peoples who wanted to pound on my head because they perceived me as gay. When you are not safe in any of the worlds you inhabit, you sort of don't have a choice but to become politicized. You kind of don't have a choice but to "wake up" because if you don't, you'll be murdered. Reading the works of authors like Baldwin..