Sunday, April 22, 2007


"We do not need U.S. presidents to tell us where our homeland is. And even if they try to do so, we should not subordinate our better judgement to their economic, strategic or political agenda."
~ Monte Melkonian, Armenian freedom-fighter.

Okay, there's a lot of ground to cover today, so let's get to it.

First, there's a post at DozaMe about the US Treasury Deparment, Office of Foreign Asset Control's (OFAC) expansion into the censorship business.

What is interesting is the fact that the US Treasury Department's OFAC is supposed to do just that--control assets, i.e. money, finances, trade sanctions. Here's their mission statement (Note: I'm not going to link to the site, but whoever wants to, can google "OFAC" and it should come up as the first return, then check their mission statement):

Our Mission

The Office of Foreign Assets Control ("OFAC") of the US Department of the Treasury administers and enforces economic and trade sanctions based on US foreign policy and national security goals against targeted foreign countries, terrorists, international narcotics traffickers, and those engaged in activities related to the proliferation of weapons of mass destruction. OFAC acts under Presidential wartime and national emergency powers, as well as authority granted by specific legislation, to impose controls on transactions and freeze foreign assets under US jurisdiction. Many of the sanctions are based on United Nations and other international mandates, are multilateral in scope, and involve close cooperation with allied governments.

I don't see anything in that mission statement that has anything whatsoever to do with First Amendment rights meddling. For those who don't know, here's the First Amendment to the US Constitution:

Congress shall make no law respecting an establishment of religion, or prohibiting the free exercise thereof; or abridging the freedom of speech, or of the press; or the right of the people peaceably to assemble, and to petition the Government for a redress of grievances.

Specifically, free speech and free press rights are central to the mission of the sites listed at DozaMe as targeted by the OFAC. OFAC is, therefore, going outside of its mandate by meddling in questions of First Amendment rights, but I guess that acting "under Presidential wartime and national emergency powers," i.e. DICTATORIAL powers is consistent with the problem of rising global fascism.

Since Yahoo is now being sued by a court in San Francisco for handing over information to China that led to the arrest, torture, and imprisonment of cyber-dissidents there, it looks like the civil rights types are the only ones left to mount a defense of free expression. The organization bringing that suit is The World Organization for Human Rights USA. Then there is the Center for Consitutional Rights which brought the lawsuit against the PATRIOT Act on behalf of LTTE and PKK.

Until the legal machinery can get a handle on these violations of civil rights, I would expect more of the same from the fascist elites, particularly in the US and in Turkey, as well as from their wimpy, limp-wristed, panty-waisted proxy, the EU.

Then, there were several articles in American media this last week that focused on Kurds, the first of which is Justin Raimondo's critique of Christopher Hitchins' recent propaganda. Who would have thought that Raimondo would take the ultra-neoconservative point of view, aligning himself with the swill from the AEI's uberfascist, Michael Rubin? But this is what Raimondo does, in between hand-wringing over the "horrific persecution of Kamal Said Qadir" and the recent KDP attacks against journalist Nabaz Goran.

Now, I personally know of very few Kurds who supported KDP in its stupidity over the Qadir Affair, but was it "horrific persecution?" Yesterday I posted a number of examples from Peace in Kurdistan Campaign on the situation of Ragip Zarakoglu, Belge Publishing House, and Ozgur Gundem, and as we all know, these examples are a miniscule drop in the bucket compared to the truly horrific attacks against free expression rights for which America's ally, Turkey, is extremely well-known for. And on this score, I rush to point out that Michael Rubin has never, in his entire career as a professional propagandist, ever pointed out even the slightest minutiae of the slightest repression of Kurds by the Ankara regime. And that's a characteristic that Raimondo shares.

Aside from the fact that Raimondo ignores the plight of the ordinary Kurd in South Kurdistan who is struggling simply to survive, the lack of basic services in the face of "Dream Cities" and the construction of shopping malls for the elites, the huge number of Arab families that have fled the violence of Arab Iraq and have found a relative haven in South Kurdistan, or the numbers of Kurdish youth that are attempting to flee South Kurdistan because they feel they have no future there . . . aside from the fact that Raimondo ignores these examples and others, he conveniently leaves out the fact that there is great discontent among the general population and, because he prefers to view Kurds as two-dimensional, non-human, extras in a Hollywood-style fiasco manufactured by the American war industry, he overlooks one central fact of Kurdish history--Serhildan.

As an aside, but only because it's such bullshit--Raimondo sheds crocodile tears for Arabs leaving Kerkuk as Kurds "swarm" into the city, but he conveniently ignores the fact that thousands of Kurdish families were forced out by America's former best ally in the region, Saddam Hussein. By the way, if you'd like to hear a fabulous discussion of Donald Rumsfeld and how well he got along with Saddam and the Ba'athi regime, check out the two-part interview with Andrew Cockburn at Stress. Part 1 is almost an hour and Part 2 is slightly over 40 minutes.

Keeping in character with his apparent doppelganger at AEI, Raimondo characterizes PKK and the legitimate Kurdish armed struggle in Turkish-occupied Kurdistan as "terrorism." Let's cut to the chase, shall we? If Americans had to suffer forced evacuations of their small towns and the destruction of their homes; if they had to suffer real violations of their freedom of expression or freedom of association; if they had to suffer routine torture and impunity at the hands of security forces; if their mothers, sisters, daughters, aunts, nieces, and other female relatives were routinely raped and otherwise sexually assaulted, do you think they'd fight back? Or do you think they'd "acquiesce" in their treatment like their good sidekick Tony Blair would counsel?

If Americans armed themselves and conducted a legitimate armed resistance against such state-sponsored atrocities, then Americans themselves would be classified as terrorists, by their own definition, just as PKK is classified as "terrorist." Oh, did I forget to mention that all of the atrocities perpetrated against the so-called terrorists of Turkish-occupied Kurdistan were backed by the US?

So that brings me to Raimondo's claim that "One of Kurdistan's chief exports is terrorism." Wrong. This is America's chief export. The US has exported terrorism to Indonesia, Guatemala, El Salvador, Cuba, Vietnam, Colombia, Afghanistan, now Iraq, and, of course, Kurdistan, as brilliantly documented by Desmond Fernandes as far back as 2001 and more recently. This is on top of the tons of documents on Turkey's brutal repression of Kurds by human rights organizations, or Ismet Imset's analysis of PKK's legitimacy vis-a-vis armed struggle, or even John Tirman's book Spoils of War, to mention a few sources.

Should I even mention Raimondo's reference to Seymour Hersh's unsubstantiated claims about US support for PJAK? Whoever wants more on that can search Rastî for "PJAK."

At the end of Raimondo's self-serving rant is the mention of "romanticization" of Kurds (from Hitchens), which goes back to the whole two-dimensional, non-human view of Kurds and what is ironic about that characterization is that when a Kurd steps out of Western-imposed two-dimensionality and faces the enemies of Kurdistan on his or her feet with AK-47 in hand, that real-life, warm-blooded, very human Kurd becomes a "terrorist."

The second article from last week comes from David Ignatius on Lebanon's Daily Star. Bearing in mind that all the previous argument for legitimate armed resistance applies here, too, at least Ignatius makes the statement that Turkey "denounce[s] the PKK as a terrorist group . . . "

But . . . then he goes on to mention the role of that great humanitarian of our time, Lockheed Martin's Joseph Ralston, and how he's struggling to "defuse the crisis, clear[ing] a Kurdish refugee camp of suspected PKK members and talk[ing] regularly with both sides."

If Lockheed Martin's director was really so hot to "defuse the crisis," why didn't he take advantage of the PKK's offer of a democratic solution last August (when Ralston was appointed) or why did he reject PKK's fifth unilateral ceasefire out of hand and remove any kind of political negotiation from the solution table? Why? Well, because Ralston has been too busy reinforcing the business agenda of Lockheed Martin to keep all that blood money rolling in to Lockheed's management. This is Ralston's real job, since he is a vice-chairman of The Cohen Group, a lobbyist for Lockheed Martin, and Ralston himself was registered with the US Senate last year as a lobbyist for The Cohen Group to specifically export tactical fighter aircraft, something which Turkey has since agreed to, to the tune of $13 billion.

What about this reference to Maxmur Camp as needing to be cleared of "PKK members?" I guess Ignatius missed the fact that the US military and the UN established the civilian nature of the camp, not even finding weapons suitable for PKK's legitimate armed resistance against the US-backed terrorist regime in Ankara. I guess Ignatius also missed that Ralston presented himself to Congress and proceeded to lie out of his ass to Congress. I guess Ignatius further missed the fact that the Turkish media wondered why Ralston was lying out of his ass.

Ignatius must subscribe to the American saying: If you can't dazzle 'em with brilliance, baffle 'em with bullshit.

Finally, there was an article by Hersh-wannabe, Reese Erlich, on PJAK. Erlich was mentioned here earlier this month, but now he tries to be amusing by pointing out the fact that PJAK's armed female gerîlas like American actors like girly-faced Brad Pitt and Mr. Alcoholics Anonymous himself, Mel Gibson. While I cannot account for the personal tastes of the gerîlas, I do wonder why this is an issue? Then my mind goes back to the two-dimensionality that gets applied to the Kurdish people and the extreme parochialism of Westerners. If movies are stories translated to the big screen, then why should Kurds not be familiar with movies or watch them? Why shouldn't Kurdish gerîlas watch them? After all, Kurds love a good story and story-telling done well.

By the way, Erlich acknowledges that the Washington regime permits Komala and KDPI "to operate openly in northern Iraq," while admitting of no American influence in PKK's/PJAK's camps. He also mentions that both Komala and KDPI have been to Washington last year for meetings. Neither PKK, nor its sister organization, PJAK, has done so.

In addition, the Erlich article brings up another subject that all the enemies of Kurdistan love to talk about, and that's the celibacy of PKK's gerîlas. What do all these enemies prefer, that PKK's gerîlas behave in the barbarous manner of American forces? Would they prefer that the crime of rape be a usual feature of gerîla life as it is for the lives of American soldiers? That fact of American military life was noted here on Rastî last Monday.

In this case, I will presume to speak for the gerîlas and say "No, thank you." The enemies of Kurdistan and their allies can behave in despicable ways with their own, in their own militaries; I prefer the honor of the gerîlas--Brad Pitt and all.

In contrast, if you'd prefer to read a much more thoughtful discussion of the Kurdish situation than you can find anywhere in American media, check out this post at the Shiraz Socialist blog.


Anonymous said...

ugh... I'm so sick of these stupid hypocritical, two-faced, self-centered so-called journalists like Justin Raimondo and Michael Totten...

If they really gave a damn about the rights of Kurds, they would give a damn with no exceptions. I wouldn't be surprised if tomorrow we saw Raimondo and Totten switch sides completely like Rubin...

voltaires_priest said...

Thanks for the vote of confidence in Shiraz Socialist, Mizgin - I have added you to my Blogroll. Hope all's well!

voltaires_priest said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
Mizgîn said...

Anonymous, tell me what you really think :P

Seriously, this kind of thing is not really about Kurds. It's about the use of Kurds as pawns. It's about ignoring state-sponsored genocide of the Ankara regime. This is why the atrocities are never considered and there is always a knee-jerk reaction to Kurds defending themselves.

As for criticism of the two main Başûrî parties, I have my own criticism but my criticism is based on concern for the Kurdish people and not an outside political entity's agenda. That is why I felt that the quote by Monte Melkonian was appropriate in this context.

Voltaires_priest, you're welcome for the vote. For many years, Ocalan and PKK have asked for a fair hearing in an international venue. Everyone knows mistakes have been made, even serious mistakes, but not everyone knows the root cause that has forced Kurds under Turkish occupation to take up arms.