Sunday, May 24, 2015

Re: USA Africa Dialogue Series - Re-Gaddafi'sdonations to Sierra Leone

hi kwame
i am opposed to u.s. hegemony, so there is no point in my imagining a posting to defend the politics of the u.s., or its instruments. however, since i posted earlier about my own fulbright jaunt, i can imagine relative autonomy.
for the voa, my only question about your attack on them is not the underlying principles that guide the funding, but rather the funding source itself. are you sure it is cia? i went to the source of all truth, wiki, and it said:
The Voice of America has been a part of several agencies. From its founding in 1942 to 1945, it was part of the Office of War Information, and then from 1945 to 1953 as a function of the State Department. The VOA was placed under the U.S. Information Agency in 1953. When the USIA was abolished in 1999, the VOA was placed under the Broadcasting Board of Governors, or BBG, which is an autonomous U.S. government agency, with bipartisan membership. The Secretary of State has a seat on the BBG.[34] The BBG was established as a buffer to protect the VOA and other U.S.-sponsored, non-military, international broadcasters from political interference. It replaced the Board for International Broadcasting (BIB) that oversaw the funding and operation of Radio Free Europe/Radio Liberty, a branch of the VOA.[24]
ken

On 5/24/15 10:20 PM, kwame zulu shabazz wrote:
Ken,

I already noted the distinction between your "defense" (your word) of individuals employed by VOA and VOA as an institution of imperial propaganda. VOA is funded by the CIA, I think we all know how the CIA works--it spend lots of time undermining the sovereignty of other nations. When VOA does an exposé on the relationship between the CIA and Taylor (or general CIA malfeasance) then you could make a case for limited autonomy of individual journalists. But that aint gonna happen. I served in the Marine Corps, so I have a pretty good grasp of what the State Dept and the Pentagon does. They agree on imperialism only the method might differ a bit. "Soft" imperialism is still imperialism. Sometimes we academics "complicate" and "nuance" things that are pretty straightforward. If the VOA can help expose the many injustices done by its boss, the CIA, then the VOA is an enemy of African progress.

On Saturday, May 23, 2015 at 8:20:39 AM UTC-5, Kenneth Harrow wrote:
hi kwame, for me it is not a matter of defending it or attacking it, but more simply assessing how institutions work. i believe that even when the state is quite powerful, its institutions can work with a degree of autonomy. i regard french cultural institutions overseas as being, at least at times, relatively autonomous from the french policies toward africa, or even as molding that policy in positive directions. the same with voice of america. it would work with limits, within limits, but also at an angle from, say, the goals of africom; i would view the state dept as being at odds with the pentagon, at least in less strategic regions.

i'll give a personal example. i received a few fullbright awards in the past. the first one, in 1977 in cameroon, we were told, i don't remember by whom, that there was an intelligence officer in the embassy, but we didn't know who, and that that person was to keep a distance from us because americans, working under america's official label, would all be suspected of being cia.

that tight line disappeared the last time i was fulbright in africa, in senegal, where the opening reception i attended included military whom the ambassador thanked alongside the cultural figures. we were mingled in with them; simultaneously i learned that the cultural work in senegal, and i dare say in africa, had shifted its priorities. money was reduced; the library in dakar was closed, alas, the cultural center had become a shadow of its former self. i wanted to have them put on an african american film series; i was told that the only real money they had was for events dealing with islam, showing the u.s. was concerned over terrorism, but wasn't anti-muslim.
i was allowed to project a few films on campus....but that was it.
when i accepted this last fulbright, and was interviewed, i stated that i was opposed to bush and american foreign policy--i wanted it to be clear. but the woman who interviewed me said i was free to speak my mind, say whatever i wanted. she requested, only, that i not embarrass the ambassador.
none of any of that mattered.
you could say i was an agent of imperialism simply because i had a u.s. fellowship to be there. but the principle of relative autonomy applied to me. i gave anti-bush lectures in tunisia, a few years before that, despite the fact that the dept of state had paid my tickets to come to a conference and give a series of lectures. when in senegal, no one monitored what i was saying, and in fact, i was learning about talibe, about life in dakar, about the issue of illegal emigration, etc. the state dept had provided all americans related to govt funding w absurd orientation sessions, telling us not to take public transport, etc, and to point out to them if we happened to come across terrorists. the person responsible for security addressed us as if we were children, and i suppose some were newcomers who knew little or nothing of where they had arrived.
but the security apparatus really functioned just to keep senegalese out, to keep them at a distance from the embassy or cultural affairs offices. before, they had been open; before, in cameroon and tunisia, they were in the heart of the downtown; now they were moved to fortresses at the periphery of the city.

when i think about the french cultural center, or the american, or the german, or all the rest, i see them not only in institutional terms, not only in how they might have been funded with a certain idea of their impact, but also how they actually functioned, with the particular people involved.
ken

On 5/22/15 10:38 PM, kwame zulu shabazz wrote:
Ken, the VOA is not defensible. It is the media arm of American imperialism; that is an institutional matter. If a media house has a weak critique of western imperialism, then I think we have to wonder about its agenda and interests. Your defense of individuals who work for VOA is a different matter. For example, Shaka Ssali seems to be a fair-minded journalist. But even he was weak on US imperialism, in my view. The VOA essay you posted is dubious, to put the matter mildly, if it has no accounting of the US govt orchestrated escape of Taylor. Again, you wont find Shaka or any VOA journalist addressing that important issue in a serious way.

As for credible source for the CIA sponsoring Taylor, I can only offer a healthy dose of commonsense and Taylor's own testimony. The FBI/CIA/and other "black bag" agencies have done fairly decent job of covering its bloody hands in Africa and Black America (although they were exposed in DRC). I do recall that the CIA admitted that Taylor was somehow working with the USG. However, in an unusual step, it was retracted by the Boston Globe (surprise! surprise!) see link here.

For a general discussion of CIA malfeasance also see former CIA agent John Stockwell's book, "In Search of Enemies" or Steven Kinzer's work on US "covert" operations in Latin America. If you have more likely explanation regarding Taylor's implausible "escape" from a US prison and unencumbered travel out of the USA and back to West Africa please share it.

kzs
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On Fri, May 22, 2015 at 8:24 PM, kenneth harrow <har...@msu.edu> wrote:
kwame,
also, let me defend voa a bit. the people who work there are people, not spies. the fonlon-nichols award is named after nichols, whom, if you knew as we at ala did for many decades, was a really decent, good-hearted guy whose first and last interests were african, not american govt. i'm sure the govt set limits to what they could say, but much of their work was first rate.

i have no real specialized knowledge about the rest of it: the only text i've read is the one i cited, by weissman, the msf guy, which was excellent. the political background stuff, w gaddafi's engagement, i take your reading of it. getting closer to ambitious political figures risks getting ugly too often.
ke


On 5/22/15 9:10 PM, kenneth harrow wrote:
hi kwame
is there a credible source that the cia did all these things, or is it suppositional?
ken

On 5/22/15 6:50 PM, kwame zulu shabazz wrote:
Peace, brother Ken. n


Pirio worked for VOA and calls it a "credible" source of information about Africa. Rubbish! VOA is a tool of US imperialism. You won't find a single instance of VOA taking on the CIA for sponsoring Taylor, facilitating Taylor's escape from prison and his unencumbered passage back to West Africa. There is nothing credible about VOA. Haba! Pirio's theory defies logic. He suggests that Gaddafi sponsored Taylor to get back at the US. But, in fact, the Taylor was being sponsored by the US govt. There would have been no war if the US govt. doesnt break Taylor out of prison and basically escort him back to West Africa.

I think its fair to say that Gaddafi has got some things right and some things wrong. His likely role in the assassination of Sankara was a huge setback for African self-reliance. On the other hand, I have been to about half of West Africa. Virtually everywhere I have gone, someone has pointed to some project that was supported by Gaddafi. And Nelson Mandela called him a comrade of South Africa.

Gaddafi's support of Taylor is probable and even likely. What is unclear was whether Gaddafi intent was to sponsor a bloody civil war. That is, by the way, precisely the benefit of doubt afforded to President Johnson Sirleaf who basically claims she was unaware of Taylor's actual motives. If Sirleaf was on the ground, as it were, and was duped by Taylor, then I think its reasonable to consider the Gaddafi might not of understood the complexity of the hostilities in that region.


On Thursday, May 21, 2015 at 7:14:33 AM UTC-5, Kenneth Harrow wrote:
hi pablo
i thought it was common knowledge, so did not probe it very deeply.
i am glad for your greater insight. what do you think of this report in Informed Comment, that confirms gaddafi's role? http://www.juancole.com/2012/05/my-last-phone-call-from-charles-taylor-or-how-qaddafi-plagued-africa-pirio.html

i also was being slightly disingenuous, not because i doubted his willingness of provide subventions to brutal figures, but because i also have read msf evidence that the opponents to ruf proved equally brutal--not excluding the nigerians when they came in as well. this was reported in In the Shadow of Just Wars  by fabrice Weissman.

nonetheless, after all this, the question of left tolerance of questionable leadership because they evoke anti-western rhetoric still troubles me. we've lived through that in the past w figures like idi amin. your posting ends with an appeal to holding leaders responsible, and that's what i was trying to address.
i haven't researched this as you have: what was gaddafi's response  once it became clear that the ruf policy of establishing its rule was to use terror and no-man's-land?
ken


On 5/20/15 9:13 PM, Pablo wrote:
Ken,

Crane went so far as to claim that the British put pressure upon the courts  not to prosecute Gaddafi because of oil,  but provided no evidence;  and even though we know the British lied about many things across two governments (under Major and Blair), they claimed otherwise. Crane's views, to say the least are contentious, and a number of HR lawyers  here in Canada (Schabas at Carleton,  for example), amongst others,  who had no  time for Gaddafi,  have contested them. Crane,   was not an uncontroversial figure in the trials, and  although appointed by the UN,  as a  former Pentagon prosecutor, notwithstanding  his position as a special prosecutor (and maybe because of it),   is hardly an unbiased source. He also seemed to me to  play it  every way; on the one hand,  talking about the problems of imposing white man's justice, nd aware the the multiple local "cultural" complication of but then saying, well this is the best that we can do.

BTW,  your paste here  is  from a  piece in TIME, of all places,  in January of 2011, when the propaganda war to oust Gaddafi was about to get into full swing. Gaddafi was a megalomaniac meddler. But, as Ibrahim knows better than me, as  does, amongst others, a former student, Zuba Wai (who has a slightly different take upon the class-based sources for the RUF than Ibrahim-- I personally don't know, one way or the other),  those  armed and trained  and influenced by  his green book  and Pan Africanism  appeared heterogeneous. Other than their being  expelled and believing in radical change in SL,  there was little ideological consensus or common  political program besides acquiring military training. There were multiple local players, at least through Taylor  and the NPFL, as much though Sankoh, including  Burkina Faso (a declining Houphouët-Boigny's),  Côte d'Ivoire, and even France. Certainly,  Gaddafi and Libya  were the primary bag men,  and if the conflicts could not have happened without his involvement, he was not the only source of the conflicts; but (and despite the relative small numbers of the fighters trained), the arms supplied and the money provided (though few, other than speculative guesses, and again, questionable evidence) have come up with how much. That  appallingly unspeakable  brutality and mayhem that ensued requires culpability, and leaders should be held responsible, even if they could not have anticipated what happened, or were indifferent to the consequences.  But I think, at least on this, we need better evidence then this piece.

Best,
Pablo


On 2015-05-20 7:50 AM, kenneth harrow wrote:
gaddafi and war crimes in sierra leone and liberia:

It was not long after he received a secret warning from the Italian government in April 1986 and narrowly escaped being blown to bits by American bombers that Muammar Gaddafi declared his intention to become Emperor of Africa. What followed as the increasingly erratic Gaddafi pursued his megalomaniacal dream was one of the most obscene and violent episodes in recent African history.

Drawing recruits from his terrorism camps, Gaddafi trained, armed and dispatched thugs like Charles Taylor and Foday Sankoh to take power in West African countries, initiating the brutal slaughter of innocents in Liberia and Sierra Leone, says David M. Crane, the founding prosecutor of the Special Court for Sierra Leone. "This was a long-term criminal conspiracy," says Crane, who is now a professor at Syracuse University, and "[Gaddafi] was the center point."

For those who don't remember, here's a quick summary of the atrocities that took place in the war in Sierra Leone in the 1990s. In pursuit of diamonds, timber and gold, Sankoh, backed by Taylor, backed by Gaddafi, invaded Sierra Leone and instituted a campaign of terror, cutting off the arms and other body parts of civilians to frighten the country into compliance. Rape was a widespread weapon of war, and according to reporting by one human rights organization, Sankoh's troops played a game where they would bet on the sex of a baby being carried by a pregnant captive, then cut the fetus out of the woman to determine its gender.

Sankoh died in custody after the war ended; Taylor is currently being tried by the Special Court for Sierra Leone. Gaddafi is named in Taylor's indictment, and Taylor has testified to Gaddafi's involvement. Crane says he found evidence that when Sankoh invaded Sierra Leone, "Libyan special forces were there helping train and assist them tactically and there were Libyan arms in that invasion: he had been involved from the get go."

http://swampland.time.com/2011/02/22/gaddafis-blood-soaked-hands/



On 5/19/15 11:34 PM, Anunoby, Ogugua wrote:

 

 

From: usaafric...@googlegroups.com [mailto:usaaf...@googlegroups.com] On Behalf Of Segun Ogungbemi
Sent: Tuesday, May 19, 2015 4:36 PM
To: usaafric...@googlegroups.com
Subject: Re: USA Africa Dialogue Series - Re-Gaddafi'sdonations to Sierra Leone

 

Thanks my dear colleague for that brilliant explanation. 

Prof. Segun Ogungbemi


On May 19, 2015, at 9:40 PM, Cornelius Hamelberg <cornelius...@gmail.com> wrote:

Prof. Segun Ogungbemi,

These days, there are said to be NGOS, AID workers and those representing other international agencies, tourists (after the war and before Ebola took the nation by storm) but the number of Europeans in what was known as "The White Man's grave"/ the Malaria Coast, has dwindled compared with e.g. British presence during the good old colonial days when we had French teachers from Belgium, France, and Canada…

There are also a lot of resident Lebanese in Sierra Leone (Christian, Shia, Sunni) in my day, mostly as you  pointed out, "who do not need any humanitarian services of Gaddafi" : entrepreneurs, retail traders,  diamond miners, diamond merchants, – including a category known as "Afro-Lebanese", to the extent that a law was specially crafted into the Constitution stating that anyone who wants to contest for the Sierra Leone presidency must have at least an  African grandfather or grandmother. I guess that with the passage of time this law will be successively updated and extended to read "at least a great great African grandpa or grandma".  Nabih Berri the speaker of  Lebanon's parliament was born in  Sierra Leone  and Afro-Lebanese  include John Akar  who composed the Sierra Leone National Anthem  - the words of course were authored by Clifford Nelson Fyle ) Joe Blell ("Afro-Lebanese" – for those who want to make that distinction)  brother of  Denys and Gandhi Blell , was Sierra Leone's ambassador to Nigeria for many years and most importantly, Ahmed Labi and Ahmed Diab…

There are said to be a lot of Chinese workers and that their restaurants are flourishing at least in Freetown and - no prejudice – I wonder what the coming race of Afro-Chinese are going to look like and to what extent they will multiply…

Still on the subject of those "who do not need any humanitarian services of Gaddafi", Hezbollah was said to be doing some of their fund-raising in Sierra Leone

In

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USA Africa Dialogue Series - Re: 65 YEAR OLD GERMAN GRANDMOTHER GIVES BIRTH TO QUADRUPLETS

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USA Africa Dialogue Series - 85 Films By and About Women of Color

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http://blogs.indiewire.com/womenandhollywood/85-films-by-and-about-women-of-color-courtesy-of-ava-duvernay-and-the-good-people-of-twitter-20150522 
85 Films By and About Women of Color, Courtesy of Ava DuV | Women and Hollywood
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