Annals of the Imperium: A Brief Round-Up

(UPDATED below -- and now UPDATED AGAIN.)

Very busy today elsewhere, so here's a too-quick round-up of several items that would otherwise get more time and consideration.

Ethiopian Premier Admits Errors on Somalia (Washington Post)
Ethiopia's dictator finds that he too has been hornswoggled by his mentor George W. Bush, saying that, upon reflection, it might not have been a good idea to join Bush's third "Terror War" regime change operation against Somalia, which has created yet another hellhole of chaos and suffering where violent extremism can breed. His Exalted Tyrannicalness also finds that the CIA-paid Somali warlords who assisted his rapine have not proved to be entirely trustworthy. Well, live and learn, they say. (For more on the American-backed destruction of Somalia, see this and this.)

Violence Sparks New Exodus from Mogadishu(Africa.com)
Meanwhile, Bush's splendid little proxy war in Somalia is spawning yet another wave of refugees, fleeing the renewed violence in Mogadishu. Perhaps Mr. Bush will direct some American planes to bomb these refugees too, in emulation of the magnificent feat of American arms against innocent civilians earlier in the war.

BAE wins $212.4M armored vehicle pact (Hemscott)
You will be glad to hear that the criminal investigation of Anglo-American arms merchant BAE for reportedly funneling $1 billion in bribes to Bush family intimate and longtime Saudi fixer, Prince Bandar has not in any way harmed the war profiteer's ability to feast at the public trough, with the Pentagon forking over $212 million to the company this week for war work. Of course, that's the merest chicken feed in comparison to BAE's multi-decade weapons deal with the Saudis -- more than $80 billion and still going strong: a windfall well worth a few dollops of backroom grease.

FBI to restrict student freedoms (Press Esc)
Are you a US college student or academic researcher? Do you ever travel abroad? Work late? Consult with your colleagues? Sell something on eBay or do anything else to bring in some extra cash? Do you, perchance, have any friends outside the United States? Then by God, you are probably a terrorist. So says the FBI, which has been gifting college campuses with a set of guidelines to help faculty, staff and students spy on each other. – Yes, that's what American education needs more of: uninquisitive, unambitious, unfriendly, untravelled but highly docile dullards, peeping into window and under bathroom stalls. (For more on the Bush Administration's helping hand for higher education, see Sentimental Education: Academia Signs Up for Tracking Down Dissent.)

Blood on the streets as drug gang and police fight for control of Rio favelas (Guardian)
Behold the fruit of the never-ending, ever-worsening, always-profitable "War on Drugs," the precusor to (and model for) the "War on Terror." (For a glimpse of this symbiosis in its early stages, see Gainspotting.)

UPDATE:
Our Second Biggest Mistake in the Middle East (London Review of Books)
This an excellent article on the Hamas-Fatah conflict in Palestine, and its disturbing ramifications on the Middle East as a whole. You should read the whole piece, although this telling excerpt stands out:

The activities of the US are fundamental to the present crisis. Iraq continues to radiate instability and is exacerbating tensions between the Shia and Sunni everywhere. US and EU policy in Palestine and Lebanon is driving internal tension and polarisation, and the risk of conflict involving Iran and possibly Syria overshadows everything else in the region. In all, the Americans and Europeans are engaged in six internal conflicts in Muslim societies – in Somalia, Sudan, Afghanistan, Iraq, Lebanon and Palestine – in each case providing finance and weapons for one faction to use against another. As I write, Hizbullah is preparing for the possibility of renewed conflict with Israel, and Syria and Iran have also reached the conclusion that conflict is a real and imminent prospect, and are actively preparing for it.

When all parties begin to see conflict as inevitable, then the ‘inevitable’ becomes self-fulfilling. Americans are fond of comparing the situation in the region to the 1930s and the rise of totalitarianism; but perhaps Europe in 1914 is a better metaphor: the situation is such that some small, unexpected autonomous event might trigger a sequence of events that even the great powers of the region could find it beyond their ability to control. In the past, after all, a car accident (in the case of the first intifada) and a cinema fire (triggering the Iranian revolution) have unleashed consequences that no one could have foreseen.

The 1914 analogy is most apt. We are standing on a knife's edge, led by witless elites on every side who are blundering headlong into a wider conflagration that could consume us all. The "War on Terror" -- the vast militarization of a political, social and economic conflict -- is a strategic mistake for which our great-grandchildren will still be paying for in blood and treasure.

Or to look at it another way: Wouldn't the world be a better place today if the assassination of Archduke Ferdinand had been dealt with as a "law enforcement matter," instead of the cause of a world-shattering war? But here we are again, almost a century later, making the same mistakes again. The First World War bred Nazi Germany, the Soviet tyranny, the Holocaust, the Gulag, and 50 years of Cold War (and proxy war) that killed millions of people. What monstrous progeny will the Terror War spawn?

UPDATED AGAIN:
Al Qaida Won. Just Ask Judge Richard Posner. (Arvin Hill)
I very much wanted to write on Judge Richard Posner's recent call for secret trials, mass surveillance of all Muslims in North America and his open scorn for Constitutional liberties, which Americans have apparently "over-invested" in. But I was too busy to do so properly today. Fortunately, Arvin Hill, man permanently on fire, has done the job better than I could have done, and so I hand him over to you. Read the whole thing, now.
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