Sunday, April 23, 2017

USA Africa Dialogue Series - Blasphemy and Freedom of Speech: Revisiting Boko Haram’s Bombing of ThisDay Newspaper


In his 2008 lecture titled 'Tarihin Musulmai' (History of Muslims), Muhammad Yusuf, the slain leader of Boko Haram, cited the unequivocal insult of the Prophet of Allah as one of the reasons for his group's advocacy for jihad in Northern Nigeria. Yusuf said:


"They insulted the Prophets, Jesus and Muhammad. They believed that since they combined the two Prophets, the people would feel indifferent. They are Christians, but they said the Prophet Jesus had a prostitute (karuwa), and the Prophet Muhammad, too, had a prostitute. At the time, the only reaction to this statement was the burning of the newspapers, but they were neither arrested nor charged in court. This event came to pass. Then one rash lady at the time of beauty pageant, Daniel, also perpetrated the same injustice [Yusuf is referring to Isioma Daniel, a Nigerian journalist, whose newspaper article in 2002 on the Prophet Muḥammad, sparked the Miss World riot in Kaduna]. And before that period, in Kafanchan one Reverend Bako also insulted the Prophet as well [Yusuf is referring to the charge of blasphemy on Reverend Abubakar Bako which occurred on March 7, 1987] (I was not even born by then) 


 So they will just insult the Prophet, then kill the Muslims and live in peace. [……] Now that all these events are happening, all the time I am always thinking: Why is it that whenever these events happen, they will just say: 'Sorry, you should exercise patience, wait for what the government will do or let us plead to the government to take measures.' Always that is what they say. Then Allah made me understand that it is not like that. What will stop them from insulting the Prophet or killing the Muslims is jihād. But how are we going to carry out the jihād? With whom are we going to carry out the jihād? Allah made me understand that first and foremost, we must embark upon the preaching towards Islamic reform. Then, we will have to be patient until we acquire power. This is the foundation of this preaching towards Islamic reform. It was founded for the sake of jihād and we did not hide this objective from anyone."


This statement from Muhammad Yusuf, which he delivered in 2008, is another reason why the conventional wisdom that the 2009 crackdown on the group led to the group's transmutation into a violent group is false.


Keep in mind that on November 26, 2002, a fatwa was issued against Isioma Daniel and it was broadcasted by Mamuda Aliyu Shinkafi, the deputy governor of Zamfara State. Shinkafi said in the fatwa: "Like Salman Rushdie, the blood of Isioma Daniel can be shed. It is abiding upon all Muslims wherever they are to consider the killing of the writer as a religious duty."


Elsewhere in a 2010 Hausa nashīd (poem), the first nashīd produced by the group, the poet said:

"If you blaspheme Allah's Messenger like the blasphemy of Thisday newspaper; we do not forget this and we do not forgive anyone who blasphemes the Prophet."


So, it never really came as a surprise when Boko Haram carried out one of its long-standing threats on April 26, 2012.


In the video titled "Reasons for Attacking Thisday Newspaper" delivered on May 4, 2012, Boko Haram reiterated the reasons they attacked Thisday:


"The reason we decided to attack the media organizations, particularly Thisday, is because the newspaper was used in the past to promote blasphemy against our Prophet of mercy, Muhammad, during a beauty pageant in Kaduna in November 2002. At the time the event occurred, some people who referred to themselves as the Muslims' leaders came out saying that they have forgiven those who committed the blasphemy. However, based on our knowledge, we know that there is no one who has the power to forgive anyone for an offense concerning which Allah Himself has stipulated a judgment, especially a grave offense such as the blasphemy against the Prophet Muhammad.


No one has the power to forgive this type of offense in Islam, and the judgment for the blasphemers is for them to be killed.The judgment concerning the lady who committed the offense is for her to be killed, whenever there is an opportunity. Likewise, the media organization should also be decimated whenever there is an opportunity to do so. The evidence for this has been well explained in the preaching of Mallam Muhammad Yusuf in Maiduguri on the issue of blasphemy against the Prophet. Now, we can attack the media organization, and we are hoping to continue these attacks until we decimate them. It is our hope that Allah will help His religion."


In his October 1, 2012, video titled "Message to the World", Abubakar Shekau reiterated the same threat on blasphemy. Shekau said: "concerning the blasphemy against the Prophet — plotting and acting in a film to humiliate our Prophet Muhammad. This plot will not affect Islam. However, whoever is engaging in such reprehensible act should await our reaction. Everyone already knows what I mean by my statement and you should wait to see our reaction." [Shekau is referring to the film "Innocence of Muslims" by Nakoula Basseley Nakoula.]


Question: Is Boko Haram's treatment of blasphemy in Northern Nigeria an outlier? How do Muslims in the region react to blasphemy?


Prior to the advent of Boko Haram, Gideon Akaluka was beheaded in December 1994. What was the crime of Gideon? He was arrested in December after his wife allegedly used pages of the Quran as toilet paper for her baby. After he was imprisoned by the police, a group of Muslims broke into the jail, killed him, and walked around the city parading his severed head. In February 2006, thousands of rioters burned shops and churches as a form of outrage at the publication in the Danish magazine Jyllands-Posten of cartoons that some Muslims consider blasphemous.


On March 21, 2007, Christianah Oluwatoyin Oluwasesin, a teacher Government Secondary School of Gandu in the city of Gombe was beaten to death by a mob of Muslim students after a student complained that she had touched a bag which allegedly contained a Quran, and had thereby defiled the Quran.

On June 2, 2016, Bridget Agbahime was also stabbed to death in Kofar Wambai in Kano for blasphemy.

Section 204 of Nigeria's Criminal Code prohibits blasphemy. The section states:


"Any person who does an act which any class of persons considers as a public insult to their religion, with the intention that they should consider the act such an insult, and any person who does an unlawful act with the knowledge that any class of persons will consider it such an insult, is guilty of a misdemeanour and is liable to imprisonment for two years."


But there is a contradiction?


Section 38 of the Nigerian constitution entitles every Nigerian to freedom of thought, conscience, and religion "Every person shall be entitled to freedom of thought, conscience, and religion, including freedom to change his religion or belief, and freedom (either alone or in community with others, and in public or in private) to manifest and propagate his religion or belief in worship, teaching, practice, and observance."


Section 39 gives every Nigerian the right to freedom of expression "Every person shall be entitled to freedom of expression, including freedom to hold opinions and to receive and impart ideas and information without interference


What is the boundary between blasphemy and freedom of speech? Is there a need for education on how Muslims in Northern Nigeria should react to blasphemy?


Share your thoughts


For more discussion on this piece, you can pre-order my forthcoming edited book co-authored with Michael Nwankpa titled "The Boko Haram Reader: From Nigerian Preachers to the Islamic State" via this link http://amzn.to/2oyl01s


Abdulbasit Kassim

Ph.D. Student

African Studies, Islam and IR

Department of Religion

Rice University

6100 Main Street

Houston, TX, 77005


Twitter:@ScholarAkassi1

https://medium.com/@ak61

https://www.linkedin.com/in/abdulbasit-kassim-43b57156

https://rice.academia.edu/AbdulbasitKassim

https://www.researchgate.net/profile/Abdulbasit_Kassim2


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Saturday, April 22, 2017

USA Africa Dialogue Series - Music & Culture: Mata Ku Dau Turame

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=HpNluHOAJFA


Music & Culture: Mata Ku Dau Turame

Sabon Sarki'means 'New King' in Hausa language. 

The album was release for the jubilation of the new crowned Emir of kano.



Funmi Tofowomo Okelola

-In the absence of greatness, mediocrity thrives. 

http://www.cafeafricana.com

On Twitter: @Bookwormlit
Instagram: Aramada_Obirin

Culture, Art History, Film/Cinema, Photography, World Literature, Criminal Justice, Sociology, Child Welfare, Lifestyle & Community. 


USA Africa Dialogue Series - Music & Culture: Mata Ku Dau Turame

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=HpNluHOAJFA


Music & Culture: Mata Ku Dau Turame

Sabon Sarki'means 'New King' in Hausa language. 

The album was release for the jubilation of the new crowned Emir of kano.

Funmi Tofowomo Okelola

-In the absence of greatness, mediocrity thrives. 

http://www.cafeafricana.com

On Twitter: @Bookwormlit
Instagram: Aramada_Obirin

Culture, Art History, Film/Cinema, Photography, World Literature, Criminal Justice, Sociology, Child Welfare, Lifestyle & Community. 



Re: USA Africa Dialogue Series - Digest for usaafricadialogue@googlegroups.com - 1 update in 1 topic

I stopped reading Salomon Kadiri's at this point:

"The abduction of Chibok girls occurred on 14 April 2014, which gave a time space of 12 years. Before 14th April 2014, there was no known abduction of girls by 'Boko Haram(?).' A commonsense questions that should be asked are, did 'Boko Haram's(?)' men sexual appetites die between 2002 and 13th April 2014 but were suddenly awoken on April 14, 2014? If easy access to sex is what attracted Northern Youths to 'Boko Haram(?)', how could access to sex have been fulfilled through the abduction of only three-hundred Chibok girls? Apart from the Chibok girls, why were there no further kidnappings of girls since..."

COMMENT
More than 700 women and girls have been rescued from BH dens since Buhari came to power, none of them identified to be among the Chibok victims. Many more are said to be in captivity.

There is no record of when the kidnappings of these non-Chibok females took place, unlike the Chibok haul; these could have before or after 14 April 2014, and this effectively knocks off the only leg of the argument that was standing at the point I stopped reading.

I believe a new and more sustainable argument is called for.

On 21-Apr-2017 11:53 pm, <usaafricadialogue@googlegroups.com> wrote:
Salimonu Kadiri <ogunlakaiye@hotmail.com>: Apr 21 08:36PM

However, I will continue to back Moses Ochonu's provocateur on a psycho-analytic examination of human motivation to horrendous mass action because it has been proven to be a useful (if difficult & technical tool) of social scientific and historical analysis. It is not a populist field in view of the highly technical manner of its investigative approaches and reactions so far had proven some of us trained in its intricacies right - Olayinka Agbetuyi.
 
 
You would have been telling the truth if Moses Ochonu's lecture at the University of Pittsburg had called for psycho-analytic examination of human motivation to horrendous mass action like the one allegedly perpetrated by "Boko Haram." The Christian name of the Lecturer at Pittsburg University is Moses, a Hebrew name from the Middle East. If his parents were Islamists, they would probably have named him Musa, also a Middle East Arabic equivalent name for Moses. I suspect that the majority of the audience at the University of Pittsburg, where Moses Ochonu lectured, must have been Christians and non-Africans (or non-Nigerians). He was not only being politically correct to the Christian majority listeners at his lecture, he was also selling himself to them by sinking Muslims in Northern part of Nigeria into sewage tank. Hear him, "Muslim-majority Northern Nigeria houses a sexual economy into which access to sex and the female body, whether mediated marriage or concubinage, is almost exclusively reserved for older, mostly Western educated, well off men."
 
"The region, moreover, is a home to a culture of sexual repression in which the expression and pursuit of desire is constrained by status and financial resources. The result is that sexual frustration coexists with and is exacerbated by the inability of young, uneducated and thus unemployable Muslim youth to access sexual resources and other benefits of heterosexual relationships."
 
"The rejection of Nigerian secular society and the concomitant allure of terrestrial caliphate or an extra-terrestrial paradise is intensified when the indoctrinated Muslim youth sees Western educated co-religionists and Christians engage in both licit and illicit sexual relationships with women. This is one of the silent but rarely acknowledged drivers of youth vulnerability to extremist indoctrination in Northern Nigeria."
 
"It is no coincidence that rapes, the kidnap of young girls, and sexual crimes have been rife within the ranks Boko Haram. Raids on the camps of Boko Haram have consistently turned up Viagra and other sexual enhancement drugs as well as condoms in large quantities." In the afore-cited statements from Moses Ochonu's lecture at the University of Pittsburg, nowhere was it indicated that he was calling for psychoanalytic examination of human motivation to horrendous mass action in general. 'Boko Haram (?)' might have committed criminal acts, but it is a product of the most horrible criminals in Nigeria, which are the political class and the intellectuals that serve under them in the Ministries, Departments, Agencies and parastatals. Any psychoanalytic examination of human motivation to horrendous mass action in Nigeria must start from the political class ruling Nigeria and the intellectuals serving under them. 'Boko Haram(?)' is just a stem in the tree of the evil in Nigeria and the best way to deal with the evil tree is to uproot it and not to just prune its stem.
 
 
Before attending to the questions raised by you, I must express my dissatisfaction over the disparagement of Northern Muslims at a lecture where the audience were mostly Christians and, perhaps, whites. Moses might have sold himself cheaply to his audience but the cost of negative repercussion for future generation of Nigerians is now inestimable. Slave trade started with Africans capturing their fellow Africans and exchanging them for pittance from Europeans. And in the intellectual front, we have the example of our African brother anthropologist, Anicet Kashamura, who in 1973 published a book in French, titled : FAMILLE, SEXUALITÉ ET CULTURE. The book contained a story about the sexual practices of peoples from Rift Valley Region of Central Africa. A section subtitled : MAGIES D'AMOUR, described the following sexual practice. "In order to stimulate a man or woman and induce them to intense sexual activity one inoculates them in the thighs, the pubic region and the back with blood from a male monkey (for a man) or a female monkey (for a woman)." Kashamura's book began with the preamble, "In the countries of the Great Lakes, and in particular, in Idjwi, one encounters a great variety of magic rites involving love." Fourteen years after this book was written, the origin of AIDS became public debate in 1987, whereby some European and American Scientists insisted that the disease originated in Africa from where it spread to the Caribbean and from there to the US and from there to Europe. Armed with Kashamura's book, J. Noireau got his letter published in the British Science Journal, Lancet, of June 27, 1987 with the title: HIV TRANSMISSION FROM MONKEY TO MAN. Since it was touted at that time that HIV jumped species from Monkey to man, Noireau asserted that the sexual practice described in Kashamura's book was the cause of AIDS originating in Africa. Professor Abraham Karpas of the Department of Haematological Medicine at Cambridge University Clinical School jumped on Noireau's assertion and wrote in the New Scientist of July 16, 1987 with the title: Origin of the AIDS Virus Explained. The explanation of course was the sexual ritual described by Kashumara in his 1973 book pertaining to the people around Lake Kivu on the Congo/Rwanda border. The only difference being that the alleged ritual sex practice was extrapolated to cover the entire Black Africa because of AIDS. It did not matter that Whites like Dr. Rosalind J. Harrison-Chirimuuta of Burton Hospital in Britain informed the world that thousands of Europeans in the 1920s underwent operation that was believed to slow down the ageing process, bring about rejuvenation and increase virility. The technique, she said, was pioneered by Dr. Serge Voronoff, a Russian working in Paris, and which involved the transplantation of testicles from living chimpanzees, monkeys and other simian species directly onto the testicle of the European recipient. She asserted that, those transplantations would have been far more efficient to transmit Simian Immune Virus to humans but her input was ignored. My point here is that just as Sexual rituals described by Kashamura in 1970 earned him French accolade and recognition of his most white French audience in 1973, Moses Ochonu's Lecture at the Pittsburg University before his Christan and perhaps mostly white audience may certainly earn him recognition or pecuniary reward now but which may turn negative not only to Nigerians but entire Africa in future.
 
 
Your questions as to whether the abduction of the Chibok girls was sex specific or not cannot be answered in yes or no. As you already know, the Islamic sect, 'Boko Haram(?),' was formed in 2002. The abduction of Chibok girls occurred on 14 April 2014, which gave a time space of 12 years. Before 14th April 2014, there was no known abduction of girls by 'Boko Haram(?).' A commonsense questions that should be asked are, did 'Boko Haram's(?)' men sexual appetites die between 2002 and 13th April 2014 but were suddenly awoken on April 14, 2014? If easy access to sex is what attracted Northern Youths to 'Boko Haram(?)', how could access to sex have been fulfilled through the abduction of only three-hundred Chibok girls? Apart from the Chibok girls, why were there no further kidnappings of girls since, as Moses is contending, access to sex is a major cause of youth's attraction to the sect? Do you know that despite the fact that the Chibok girls were said to have slept in a hall in anticipation to write their WASCE, no official at the State or Federal level has been able to confirm the exact number of girls that were kidnapped in Chibok till date? Some months ago, the federal government claimed that about 21 Chibok girls were released, but how the release took place was not disclosed. Why were only 21 girls released? There was no information on how many girls were still in captivity, why they were not released together with the 21 girls and when they are expected to be released. There are many illogic surrounding both the number of abducted Chibok girls and how the abduction was successfully executed in Bornu State where a State of Emergency and 24 hours curfew had been declared with patrolling soldiers and police to enforce law and order. Chibok to Sambisa forest is a distance of 60 kilometres. For 'Boko Haram (?)' to have transported three-hundred girls in a convoy from Chibok to Sambisa forest unhindered by the Nigerian armed forces is a mystery. Forty-two days after the Chibok girls were abducted, the Chief of Defence Staff, Air Marshal Alex Sabundo Badeh, told News Agency of Nigeria (NAN) on Monday, 26 May 2014 thus, "We want our girls back. I can tell you that our military can and will do it; but where they are held, can we go there with force? Nobody should say Nigerian military does not know what it is doing; we can't kill our girls in the name of trying to get them back." Badeh's statements implied that the where about of the girls were located and kept under surveillance by the Nigerian military. On July 22, 2014, the Director General of Nigeria's State Security Service (SSS), Ita Ekpeyong, told the press that the Nigerian government was aware of the location of the kidnapped Chibok school girls. He emphasized, "Government is making efforts. We know where they are, but we don't want to endanger their lives. That is the truth. We want to take it gradually and release them at the appropriate time. We know where they are. You can go to bed with that." Towards the end of July 2015, the newly installed President of Nigeria relieved both Badeh and Ekpeyong of their appointments and the Chibok's girls whose location they assured Nigerians they knew, remained in captivity. While retiring on 30 July 2015, the Chief of Defence Staff, Air Marshal Sabundo Badeh, informed his audience that the Armed Forces he led lacked the equipment to fight the terrorists. He failed to add, as subsequent EFCC enquiry and ongoing trial have shown, that he was under 13 months transferring N531 million every month into his private account from the Military budget. That was how President Jonathan and the service men under him gave life to 'Boko Haram(?)' and, in fact, the number of Nigerians killed by Jonathan's regime in a day could not be accomplished by 'Boko Haram(?)' in a year.
 
 
Questions which you think Psychologists should find answer to in Nigeria are : Why did the eastern Nigerians not react to whole sale corruption in their region the way Boko Haram did?; Why did Sata Guru religious commune not take up arms against their surrounding State?
 
Throughout Southern Nigeria, some people react to whole sale economic deprivation and impoverishment through armed robberies (Banks and private homes) and kidnappings of illegitimate millionaires and their close relations, for ransoms. 'Boko Haram(?)' also resorted to Bank robberies and kidnaps for ransom later after it had been attacked militarily by the power that be which felt threatened politically by the socio-political movement of the sect. Your observation about Eastern Nigerians to economic deprivation and impoverishment, presumed that all Northerners are 'Boko Haram (?).' That is not true. As for Sata Guru religious Commune, if their leaders had constituted threats to the surrounding ruling class, they would have been extra judicially murdered and their surviving members might have resorted to armed resistance just like 'Boko Haram(?)'.
 
 
Moses asserted that when Northern Muslim Youths were excluded from or deprived of sexual intercourse, and see their Western educated coreligionists and Christians engage in both licit and illicit sexual relationships with women, they become attracted to extremists who offer to quench their sexual hunger. What is just too easy for Northern Muslim youth to see their Western educated coreligionists and Christians engage in, than licit and illicit sex, is illegal acquisition of wealth and the worship of money, material wealth and not the worship of God or Allah. Whether Western educated or not, a Northern Muslim male youth knows that if he has money he can marry and care for, at least, a wife. If he is asked to choose between enslaving a woman sexually and money he will definitely choose to get his own legitimate share of the Federal allocation funds to his state with which he knows, he will be approved by his community to get married to a wife according to the tradition and culture. By the way, Western education should not be a criterion for a man to get married because before slavery, whether colonial or neo-colonial, Nigerians have been contracting marriages between the opposite sexes. What we proudly call Western Education in Nigeria is fluency in spoken and written English language which is not the mother tongue of Nigerians. Imposing English as the official language of Nigeria and making it a criterion on which one can get marry without simultaneously compelling the impostors of the language to provide opportunity for all Nigerians to acquire knowledge of the language is criminal. The imposition of Western education in Nigeria as a criterion for a man to gain access to a woman demands psychoanalytical examination of the impostors.
 
 
With Western education comes the perversion of our marriage system, traditionally and culturally. Thus, Moses in his drivel claimed that Western produced sexual facilitators were found during raids on 'Boko Haram's (?)' camps. Before the cultural pollution of Africa family-wise, boys and girls were brought up to abstain from sexual intercourse before marriage. Marriage itself was not just an affair between the bride and the bridegroom alone but parents and extended families on both sides. Even where the boy or the girl chose their would be partner in marriage self, parents were informed and mediators from both sides were appointed to investigate the suitability of the would-be couples together and to negotiate payment of traditional dowry to the family of the bride. Sex was seen only as means of procreation and not just a means to satisfy the man's lust. Boys, in particular, were trained to discipline their sexual instinct. The practice of polygamy ensured that every female was mated, especially where there were shortage of men. Even Lord Lugard who wrote the book, ' The Dual Mandate in British Tropical Africa,' to scorn Africans, could still appreciate the following, "The custom, which seems fairly general among the negro tribes, of suckling a child for two or three years, during which a woman lives apart from her husband, tends to decrease population." Lugard says the woman lives apart from her husband because they do not have sexual intercourse for the period of suckling when the child is still being tied to the back of the woman. There were no condoms but African men exercised self-control over their sexual behaviours. As history had it when the Western educated Nigerians returned from overseas to take appointments in Nigeria after independence, their loggages contained some kilograms of condoms which they intended using on their Nigerian wives. Contrary to the belief that Nigerian women are dominated and oppressed by their men, Nigerian wives of the condom wearing Western educated told their husbands that they should learn not only to know when to shower but not to shower with the rain-coats on. Some wives were even more blunt to their condom wearing husbands with questions, "Do you think I am a prostitute or a masturbating machine?" It was under the pretence of curbing the
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USA Africa Dialogue Series - The Looming Neocon Invasion of Trumpland


The Looming Neocon Invasion of Trumpland

Saturday, April 22, 2017 By William Rivers Pitt, Truthout | Op-Ed 

President Donald Trump during a joint news conference with Prime Minister Paolo Gentiloni of Italy, at the White House in Washington, April 20, 2017.  (Doug Mills/The New York Times)President Donald Trump during a joint news conference with Prime Minister Paolo Gentiloni of Italy, at the White House in Washington, April 20, 2017. (Doug Mills / The New York Times)

I can't dance
I can't talk
Only thing about me
Is the way I walk
I can't dance
I can't sing
I'm just standing here
Selling everything …

-- Genesis, "I Can't Dance"

Ted Nugent, Sarah Palin and Kid Rock dined with Donald Trump at the White House on Wednesday night. No, really. Nugent and Trump likely revisited their shared birther/terrorist obsession with Obama, while Palin and Rock explored the higher sociological meanings to be derived from the song "American Bad Ass." Palin later tweeted a photograph of the four of them in the Oval Office, stooped over the Resolute Desk like a murder of crows. The desk, a true piece of history itself, is said to have wept through the night and far into the following morning.

Nugent may be an oaf, Palin a fool and Rock a beer commercial footnote, but all three combined did not hold a candle to their host, the president of the United States, who somehow managed to lose a whole aircraft carrier. The USS Carl Vinson -- more than three football fields long, launch platform for dozens of military aircraft, floating home to more than 6,000 sailors and service members, a weapon so large and lethal that it is known as "God's Machine" to those who serve aboard it -- was part of an "armada" Trump was sending to the hostile waters off North Korea. The Vinson, in fact, was some 3,500 miles to the south, steaming sedately for Australia and some joint naval exercises … but no one quite knew what the orders really were and where the aircraft carrier was supposed to be. The Vinson eventually turned around and began steaming north, its captain announcing the crew would now be operating "in the Western Pacific." This is the nautical version of saying they would be somewhere on Planet Earth.

It's been almost 100 days, and these people still can't find the car keys. They've managed to enflame a fairly routine dust-up with North Korea to the point that even China's military is going on high alert, all so Trump can look tough and distract everyone from the numerous, burgeoning scandals tied to his presidency and his business relationships. Mike Pence is running around yelling about swords at a country that can't feed itself. North Korea is a struggling country with a stout paint job; its government pulls these attention-grabbing stunts every so often to raise its visibility in the world, and to broker a back-room deal to get food on the sly so the population doesn't starve to death. It's been like this for decades, but leave it to Trump to turn it into the potential strikepad for World War Whatever while losing track of the largest flotation device in maritime history. These guys could screw up the recipe for tap water.

From a foreign policy perspective, this is all certainly nerve-wracking and undeniably perilous. No one enjoys contemplating the seeming fact that the chain of command for the most dangerous fighting force in history has collapsed and gone completely sideways.

However, the way in which this administration's foibles -- and its potentially catastrophic decisions -- have been portrayed in much of the media is worrisome, to say the least. The pundits all agree what a shame it is that this White House lacks focus and discipline, not to mention experience. "We" all want this president to "succeed," we are told, because if he "succeeds," the country succeeds. These people control the entire federal government; if they could only get organized, they could really get some stuff done.

Nope, sorry. The only thing we've had going for us since this whole nightmare began is the fact that these people have been falling down open elevator shafts almost every time they try to accomplish one of their sordid goals. "Ban all Muslims! (falls down shaft)" followed by "Repeal Obamacare! (falls down shaft)" followed by "Ban all Muslims again! (falls down shaft)." They got a Supreme Court Justice they were going to get anyway. Bully for them; McConnell still had to break the Senate to get it done.

Thank you, no, I don't want this administration to succeed, because "success" on their terms would transmogrify this nation -- and, potentially, the rest of the world -- into a dystopian wasteland that makes The Grapes of Wrath seem like a spring break movie by comparison.

The ultimate nightmare scenario is still in the offing, however, but could come to pass any day. The ragged remnants of the neo-conservative cabal that came together under George W. Bush is still out there, plotting and scheming, concocting novel new ways to light the world on fire for power and profit. The Project for a New American Century (PNAC), think-tank mothership for every bad neocon idea that led us into Iraq and a wider conflict in the Middle East, never died; it just got new offices down the block. Unlike their counterparts in the current administration, the neocons know how the gears of government work, where the levers are, and how to actually get things done. Combine the wild fervor of Trump's band of wreckers with the ice-eyed competence of the neocon assassins, and the result could be horrific beyond any known measure.

It is already in the works, if you listen with the right kind of ears. Neocon dean Robert Kagan, thrilled by Trump's decision to bomb a parking lot in Syria, publicly offered a series of murderous suggestions earlier this month that sounded for all the world like a job interview. As co-founder of PNAC and a long-time advocate for the violent overthrow of virtually every Middle Eastern government, Kagan would make a dynamic -- and terrifying -- addition to the Trump administration. Elliot Abrams, another PNAC alum with two convictions under his belt from the Iran-Contra scandal, came within an eyelash of becoming the No. 2 man at the State Department last February. The fact that either of these men is being taken seriously by anyone in power today, after we have spent so many years digging out from under their catastrophic policy imperatives, is unsettling in the extreme.

So we're clear on what it is we're talking about when we talk about a neocon investment into the Trump administration, here is a bite of some reporting I did on PNAC from February of 2003:

The Project for the New American Century seeks to establish what they call "Pax Americana" across the globe. Essentially, their goal is to transform America, the sole remaining superpower, into a planetary empire by force of arms. A report released by PNAC in September of 2000 entitled 'Rebuilding America's Defenses' codifies this plan, which requires a massive increase in defense spending and the fighting of several major theater wars in order to establish American dominance.

The first step towards the establishment of this Pax Americana is, and has always been, the removal of Saddam Hussein and the establishment of an American protectorate in Iraq. The purpose of this is threefold: 1) To acquire control of the oilheads so as to fund the entire enterprise; 2) To fire a warning shot across the bows of every leader in the Middle East; 3) To establish in Iraq a military staging area for the eventual invasion and overthrow of several Middle Eastern regimes, including some that are allies of the United States.

Kagan and Abrams are not the only neocons scratching at Trump's backdoor. Bill Kristol, former PNAC director and editor of the Weekly Standard, has been making positive noises in the direction of the new administration. None other than former Bush Deputy Defense Secretary Paul Wolfowitz has also taken to the op-ed pages to gently chide Trump & Co. toward the neocon dark side regarding the Middle East.

Mark my words: One of these days, Reince Priebus or someone of equal status will finally get fed up with looking like The Gang That Couldn't Shoot Straight, pick up the phone, and say, "Get me Donald Rumsfeld, now." The temptation in the end, will simply be too great.

Donald Trump wants victories so he can look good on television. These neocons want victories so they can establish permanent US hegemony over the world via military might, and get nice and rich in the process. A combining of forces gives both sides everything they ever wanted.

Someone in Trump's crew is going to make that phone call, I think. After that, it's hats over the windmill, and God have mercy on us all.

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