On The Monitor this week:
I am unable to be in the studio this week. Rather than play an older show I am playing the last part of a documentary series made in 2004. The series “The Power of Nightmares: The Rise of the Politics of Fear” is a BBC television series by Adam Curtis. It mainly consists of archive footage, with Curtis narrating. The series was originally broadcast in the United Kingdom in 2004. It has subsequently been aired in multiple countries and shown at various film festivals, including the 2005 Cannes Film Festival.
The film compares the rise of the neoconservative movement in the United States and the radical Islamist movement, drawing comparisons between their origins, and remarking on similarities between the two groups. More controversially, it argues that radical Islamism as a massive, sinister organisation, specifically in the form of al-Qaeda, is a myth, or noble lie, perpetuated by leaders of many countries—and particularly neoconservatives in the U.S.—in a renewed attempt to unite and inspire their people after the ultimate failure of utopian ideas. Part 3, played on the show this week is called “The Shadows in the Cave”. Short synopsis:
On The Monitor this week:
- A Muslim perspective on secularism and governance – an interview with Abdullahi Ahmed An-Na’im
- The “Militant Wahabism” of al-Shabab, the Nairobi massacre and the genealogy of the tragedy – an interview with Abdi Ismail Samatar
More about this week’s guests:
Abdullahi Ahmed An-Na’im (from Sudan) is the Charles Howard Candler Professor of Law at Emory Law, associated professor in the Emory College of Arts and Sciences, and Senior Fellow of the Center for the Study of Law and Religion of Emory University. An internationally recognized scholar of Islam and human rights and human rights in cross-cultural perspectives, Professor An-Na’im teaches courses in international law, comparative law, human rights, and Islamic law. His research interests include constitutionalism in Islamic and African countries, secularism, and Islam and politics. Professor An-Na’im directed the following research projects which focus on advocacy strategies for reform through internal cultural transformation:
- Women and Land in Africa
- Islamic Family Law
- Fellowship Program in Islam and Human Rights
- The Future of Sharia: Islam and the Secular State
These projects can be accessed through Professor An-Na’im’s professional website »
Abdullahi Ahmed An-Naʿim argues that the coercive enforcement of shariʿa by the state betrays the Qurʿan’s insistence on voluntary acceptance of Islam. Just as the state should be secure from the misuse of religious authority, shariʿa should be freed from the control of the state. State policies or legislation must be based on civic reasons accessible to citizens of all religions. Showing that throughout the history of Islam, Islam and the state have normally been separate, An-Naʿim maintains that ideas of human rights and citizenship are more consistent with Islamic principles than with claims of a supposedly Islamic state to enforce shariʿa. In fact, he suggests, the very idea of an “Islamic state” is based on European ideas of state and law, and not shariʿa or the Islamic tradition.
Abdi Ismail Samatar (from Somalia) is Professor of Geography at the University of Minnesota, a research fellow at the University of Pretoria, and member of African Academy of Sciences. His research focuses on the relationship between democracy and development in the Third World in general and Africa in particular. He is currently looking at the the link between democratic leadership, public institutions, and development in East and South Africa. Other themes in his research include Islam, social capital and ethnicity in the Horn of Africa, and environment and development.
Quote: “The brutality of al-Shabab is simply staggering. Its latest atrocity is the outright killing of over 100 students at Garissa University [in Kenya]. But what people also need to understand is the insidiousness of the Kenyan government and it’s actions in Somalia, which al-Shabab uses as a pretext to rally people in Somalia. If Kenya and the international community are serious about defeating al-Shabaab it can only be done by well resourced professional Somali security forces. The international community has failed to help Somalis build such a force. In addition Kenya and Ethiopia must withdraw their troops from Somalia as well as their efforts to gerrymander politics in that country by supporting certain factions in Somalia. The regime in Mogadishu is hopelessly corrupt and incompetent and can not galvanize the Somali people. The international community, including Africans, have been not only oblivious to the plight of the Somali people, but have turned them into a disposable political football since the collapse of their state in 1991. For years the world watched warlord terrorists rape, loot and kill Somalis with impunity. The U.S. actually backed the warlords against the Union of the Islamic Courts (UIC), which was trying to bring some stability to the country. In 2005, the UIC defeated the warlords and created peace in Mogadishu for the first time in years and without any help from the international community. Rather than engaging with the UIC, the U.S. and its African clients considered them as terrorists and Ethiopia was given the green light to invade and dismantle it. Ethiopian forces took over Mogadishu on December 25, 2006, and the prospect of a peaceful resurrection of Somalia perished. The brutality of the Ethiopian occupation has been documented by human rights groups. Resisting the Ethiopian occupation became the rallying cry for all Somalis. Some of the toughest challengers of the Ethiopian war machine were segments of the UIC militia known as al-Shabab. Their valour endeared them to many Somalis and this marked the birth of al-Shabab as we know it today. Had the international community and particularly the West productively engaged the UIC, I am confident that al-Shabab would have remained an insignificant element of a bigger nationalist movement. Kenya’s original rationale for invading Somalia was to protect its citizens and tourist-based economy from al-Shabab’s predations. For many this argument seemed reasonable as al-Shabab was accused of kidnapping several expatriates from Kenya. According to a U.S. official who spoke on condition of anonymity, there were credible reports that the Kenyan government had planned on gaining a strong sphere of influence in the lower region of Somalia long before the al-Shabab-affiliated incidents.”
Background: Samatar’s piece “The Nairobi massacre and the genealogy of the tragedy.” The New York Times reported last week: “Kenyan fighter jets bombed two training camps of the Shabab militant group in Somalia, defense officials said on Monday, the first military response to the attack on a university last week that killed nearly 150 students. Kenya’s president, Uhuru Kenyatta, had vowed to respond ‘in the severest way possible’ to the massacre at the university. Military officials said it was difficult to assess the damage because of heavy cloud cover. Kenya has carried out bombing raids in Somalia after terrorist assaults in the past, and the Shabab militants, knowing what was coming, have often abandoned their camps after major attacks.”
This Labor Day week we look at Labor, Pensions and Debt. Our guests are Steve Early and David Graeber.
Steve Early is a labor journalist and lawyer who has written for numerous publications. He is the author of Embedded With Organized Labor: Journalistic Reflections on the Class War at Home and The Civil Wars in U.S. Labor. Early was a Boston-based international representative or organizer for the Communications Workers of America for 27 years, and is a member of the editorial advisory committees of three independent labor publications: Labor Notes, New Labor Forum and Working USA. http://www.civilwarsinlabor.org
He just wrote the piece “Pension Changes Create Labor Strife.” http://www.progressive.org/pension_changes_labor_strife.html
David Graeber is an American anthropologist and anarchist who currently holds the position of Reader in Social Anthropology at Goldsmiths, University of London. He was an associate professor of anthropology at Yale University, although Yale controversially declined to rehire him, and his term there ended in June 2007. Graeber has a history of social and political activism, including his role in protests against the World Economic Forum in New York City (2002) and membership in the labor union Industrial Workers of the World. His father, Kenneth Graeber, participated in the Spanish Revolution in Barcelona and fought in the Spanish Civil War and his mother, then Ruth Rubinstein, was part of the original cast of the 1930s labor stage review Pins & Needles, performed entirely by garment workers. Graeber’s father ultimately found work as a plate stripper and Graeber has sometimes suggested his working class upbringing might have played at least as large a role in the problems he later encountered in academic life as his political activities.
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Egypt has been in the news a lot over the last month. The President is gone and the army now runs the country. Parliament has been dissolved, the constitution has been suspended and elections are supposed to happen in 6 months. Little has been said by the corporate media about the context of the revolution. The Monitor will change that tonight, as it has been doing over the last 3 weeks.
Tonight’s guests will be Khaled Beydoun and Sibel Edmonds.
Khaled Beydoun is co-founder of http://www.FreeEgyptNow.org
He said today: “Mubarak gained an absurd amount of wealth by effectively impoverishing his own people, and therefore, his funds should be frozen, reclaimed, and returned to the people of Egypt. … One cannot ignore the thousands of imprisoned Egyptians who were locked away for the very same actions
and behavior of the revolutionaries in Tahrir Square — political dissent, speaking truth to power and organizing against government repression and corruption. The army should take the immediate steps to vindicate these individuals, as well as any detained since January 25.” See: “Mubarak family fortune could reach $70 billion, say experts.”
Sibel Edmonds is the founder and publisher of Boiling Frogs Post, an online news, analysis, and weekly Podcast interview site covering select but significant blacked out stories and issues. Ms. Edmonds is also the founder and director of National Security Whistleblowers Coalition, NSWBC, a nonprofit organization dedicated to aiding national security whistleblowers. PEN American Center awarded Ms. Edmonds the 2006 PEN/Newman’s Own First Amendment Award for her “commitment to preserving the free flow of information in the United States in a time of growing international isolation and increasing government secrecy”. She is also the recipient of the 2004 Sam Adams Foundation Award. Ms. Edmonds has a MA in Public Policy and International Commerce from George Mason University, and a BA in Criminal Justice and Psychology from George Washington University. She is certified as a Court Appointed Special Advocate and as an instructor for the Women’s Domestic Violence Program. She is fluent in Turkish, Farsi and Azerbaijani. She has appeared on national radio and TV as a commentator on matters related to whistleblowers, national security, and excessive secrecy & classification, and has been featured on CBS 60 Minutes, CNN, MSNBC, NPR, and in the New York Times, Washington Post, Vanity Fair, The American Conservative, and others.
She recently wrote two excellent articles on Egypt and media coverage of Egypt.
US Media & Egypt Coverage: Dodging the Real Issues & Fudging the Real Culprits
Let It Cut Both Ways: US Foreign Aid & State Sponsored Terrorism
Our guests this week are Bruce Schneier and Jesse Drucker
In earlier shows we have mentioned the Stuxnet worm and the story that had spread about it being the cause of centrifuge failures in Iran’s nuclear facilities. Bruce Schneier has other ideas about this worm and will be sharing them with us on the show tonight.
As ‘austerity’ garners more hits around the web and people are told they will have to sacrifice to get through tough economic times we talk with Jesse Drucker about corporate tax dodges and loopholes that cost the US government billions of dollars each year.
Stories by Jesse Drucker on Bloomberg
Bruce Schneier’s website: Schneier on Security
This week’s guests are Jesselyn Radack and Thomas Ferguson
Jesselyn Radack is a former ethics adviser to the United States Department of Justice who came to prominence as a whistleblower after she disclosed that the Federal Bureau of Investigation (FBI) committed an ethics violation in its interrogation of John Walker Lindh (the “American Taliban” captured during the 2001 invasion of Afghanistan), without an attorney present, and that the Department of Justice attempted to suppress that information. The Lindh case was the first major terrorism prosecution after 9/11.
She is currently the homeland security director of the Government Accountability Project, the nation’s leading whistleblower organization.
We talk to her about the treatment of whistleblowers and her recent articles on the subject.
Aricles by Jesselyn Radack
Thomas Ferguson is an American political scientist and author who studies and writes on politics and economics, often within a historical perspective. He is a political science professor at the University of Massachusetts Boston and a member of the advisory board for George Soros‘ Institute for New Economic Thinking. He obtained his Ph.D. from Princeton University. A contributing editor for The Nation and a contributing writer to The Huffington Post, he is a frequent guest and economic commentator on numerous radio and television programs. He is known for his investment theory of party competition.
He joins The Monitor to talk about a recent study he co-authored called: A World Upside Down? Deficit Fantasies in the – Deficit White Paper
KPFT is still in pledge drive for one final week. Last week’s show coincided with the ‘World Series’ and the Texans on Monday Night Football. As a sports fan I understand the effect these two events had on our listener level and pledge levels. We need to make up for it this week. Please call 713 526 5738 during the show to help. Thank you!!
Our guest for this week’s show is Bob Cavnar
Robert L. Cavnar is a 30 plus year energy industry veteran based in Houston, a regular commentator on national network television, and is active in local and national politics. He brings a pragmatic business perspective to his commentary, often going contrary to traditional industry political positions in expressing his opinions on energy, healthcare, media, and politics. He has deep experience in operations, start-ups, turn-arounds, and management of both public and private companies, and was most recently President and Chief Executive Officer of Milagro Exploration, a large, privately held oil and gas exploration firm based in Houston, Texas with operations along the Texas, Louisiana, Mississippi Gulf Coast and offshore Gulf of Mexico.
Bob joins The Monitor this week to talk about drilling in the Gulf, US energy policy and his new book:
You can read Bob’s articles at the Huffington Post here: Robert L. Cavnar