Author Archives: Yousef K.B.

10 things you should know about the crisis in Iraq

By Yousef K.B.

The current crisis in Iraq has been 11 years in the making and it is the legacy of the American invasion and occupation of Iraq. The arrogance, self-delusion, paternalism, and poorly informed nature of American policy makers, military officials, and pseudo intellectual cannot be understated. They want to have us believe that everything that occurs in Iraq is due to the incapacity of the Iraqi government and political elite, all of which is rooted in their cultural deficiencies. Sen. John McCain and others talk as if the problem is the withdrawal of Americans.  They argue that if only we allowed the American mission to succeed we wouldn’t be in this mess.

Events in Iraq are fast moving. Rather than try to explain exactly what is happening on the ground, I put forward 10 points that should be considered in any analysis of Iraq. Continue reading

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In Brief: Still doubt that Egypt didn’t have a reactionary coup?

By Yousef K.B. 

The Egyptian army chief called for country wide protests to come and out and “give me the mandate and order that I confront violence and potential terrorism.” Then Tamarod, the folks who supposedly mobilized the June 30th protests, announced “We call on the Egyptian people to rally in squares on Friday to officially demand the trial of [former President] Mohamed Morsi and support [the] armed forces in its coming war against terrorism,” They have called for a “cleansing” of Egypt.

If you were still pondering about the situation in Egypt, let me put your mind to rest: it was a brilliant and sophisticated coup. It was a counter-rebellion against the January 25th movement that drove out Mubarak. Regardless of opinion on Morsi, these are old Mubarak era elites and the “deep state” taking control once again. This is no revolution, it is a passive revolution, where old elites neutralize and/or co-opt revolutionary leaders and sentiments to retain their control. It is a political reform, that retains the social formation, but with renewed legitimacy and hegemony.

The liberal and leftists supporting this are either intentionally supporting the military and the old elites (making them culpable), or are clue-less as to how politics functions (making them naive).

Are secular, liberal, and “leftists” so diluted by their reactionary itch of the hint of anything smelling like “Islamism” or “Islam” that they’re willing to throw their lot with the likes of the Egyptian military?

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How did the situation in Egypt get to this point?

By Yousef K.B. 

On January 25th 2011 an unprecedented mass movement in the making for some time in Egypt, erupted in Tahrir Square. Within 18 memorable days this protest movement removed Hosni Mubarak, the long time dictator of Egypt from office. But it was not the people in Tahrir Square that replaced Mubarak. On February 11,2011 the Supreme Council of the Armed Forces (SCAF), aka the Egyptian military, took over the reign of power. The military attempted to demobilize the protests by threatening protestors of economic calamity if they didn’t go back to work, by breaking up strikes, beating protestors, and imprisoning a countless number – all while professing to be the “guardian of the nation.”

Mubarak was ousted from power and taken to court to symbolically show the end of an era, but the state that governed under Mubarak was still in place. It is doubtful that the Egyptian military wanted to rule Egypt publicly, because the Egyptian population would not have accepted that. But the military wanted to control the outcome of the political process to ensure its position both politically and economically remains intact. Continue reading

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In Brief: Consenting to American Exceptionalism

By Yousef K.B. 

The way that American foreign policy under the Obama administration has been talked about and analyzed publicly and especially by progressives (or those who call themselves progressive/leftist/radical/social justice advocates etc. etc.) is very disheartening and dare I say dangerous.

I know by now we’re all familiar with the list of foreign policies of the Obama administration that many critics point to, but just as a reminder let me throw out a quick list:

  • Drone attacks over sovereign territory
  • Continued imprisonment and torture of individuals deemed as ‘terrorists’ or harbingers of ‘terrorists’
  • Imposing debilitating sanctions outside the framework of any international laws
  • The continued occupation of Afghanistan and full fledged support of the economic policies of the previous administration in Afghanistan and Iraq
  • The murder of people who retroactively are labeled as enemy combatants
  • Continued support of neo-liberal development programs (including free trade, privatization, and de-regulation) that devastate economies and lives throughout the world
  • Full fledged support for the policies of Israel as well as despotic regimes based on some notion of US national interest
  • The mass deportations of people (Don’t forget Obama was deporter in chief)
  • Sustaining and increasing surveillance of peoples in the US
  • Increased militarization of not only the US border but borders throughout central America
  • The continued promotion of the war on drugs outside of the US
  • I can go on, but I think you get the point.

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Irvine 11: Victims of Penal Code Section 403

Below is a brief analysis of the recent Irvine 11 jury verdict and thoughts on moving forward by a Southern California based lawyer from the community. It is a unique angle on the case and provides relevant suggestions as how to orient upcoming campaigns. I hope you take further action upon reading this piece. Please check out the website of the Irvine 11 for further details on their case and things you can do.

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I recently finished reading this  piece from Sajid Khan, a public defender in San Jose, who gave his take on the Irvine 11 jury verdict.

I thought the most important sentence of Sajid’s article was this:

However, as much as people are condemning the jury verdict as unjust and a blow to free speech rights, it merely was the jury doing their job: applying the law, as stated, to the facts of the case.

I agree with Sajid.  Despite a great effort by the legal team for the Irvine 11, I had real concerns with the potential outcome of the jury trial.   As I saw it, the jury trial was where the defendants had the weakest shot of winning, specifically because the judge and jury were hamstrung by California Penal Code Section 403 and how it’s been interpreted in California courts. Continue reading

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The “War on Terror” and Undefeated Despair

By Yousef K.B.

I heard the news when my brother called me as I was getting home after a long drive, “are you watching the news? Obama is about to announce that they killed Bin Laden.” Surprised, I told him I’ll call him back, and hurried to unpack my luggage from my car, turn my computer on and search for streaming coverage of Obama’s statement online.  My heart started to beat faster, and I was filled with emotions, but I couldn’t understand them. I kept asking myself how I was feeling, but I couldn’t make it out. Was I sad? No, I despised Bin Laden and what he stood for. Was I happy? No. I sure wasn’t indifferent to the news. As always my mind had to work hard to catch up to my heart. I listened attentively to Obama’s speech. His detailing of the mission, his effort to take credit for the operation in anticipation of his electoral bid, the invocation of the 9/11 attacks, remembering the sacrifices of American military, their families, and the families of those who died in 9/11, and his complete silence on the misery felt by the rest of humanity that had suffered as his government waged the “war on terror.” After the speech, the coverage turned to pictures of a thousand or so, mostly young people who had gathered outside the White House enthusiastically jumping up and down, shouting “USA! USA! USA!” I sat back on my chair, and realized that what I had been feeling was undefeated despair.

I had been here before. Continue reading

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Taxpayers vs. Citizens: The Battle for the Soul of America

By Yousef K.B.

The last election cycle in the United States was permeated with concerns over the economy.  As the economy entered its third year of crisis, and with continued cuts to public services until only recently the only movement that can be heard of was that of the right-wing Tea Party.  Albeit a very heterogeneous and decentralized movement, its key figures speak of the movement as one that is mainly concerned with economy.  Specifically they decry increase in spending, increased government bureaucracy, tax increases and increasing budget deficits.   What makes the Tea Party worth mentioning is that they are the extreme manifestation of what is mainstream common sense across the US: budget deficit is increasing and that is a threat to all Americans, the national debt is growing and that is a threat to future generations in the US, and the deficit and the debt are the major roadblocks to economic recovery.  Based on this rationale it is argued that the deficit must be reduced immediately and this reduction can only come through a drastic cut in government spending and size, as taxation should be out of the question.   Taxing Americans would result in a slow down in the economy as people have less to spend, businesses would stop investing and hiring people, and even worse the money raised would only help to increase the government’s size adding to its already inefficient structure.  I’m sure you’ve all heard this pitch, whether in the last elections or currently as the budget debates heat up in D.C.   I’m sure you can make a plausible argument against taxation during economically hard times, but the rants and rhetoric against taxes have become a dominant mantra with the emergence of the conservative movement that propelled Reagan to the presidency.    So powerful is this idea that no policy maker dares to speak of new taxes––in good or bad economic times.  The result has been a steady erosion of public programs across the US.  The disproportionate victims of this erosion have been those at the bottom of the labor market as they depend more on these programs, but the so called “middle class” has also been a victim of this tax cutting to an extent that no one wants to admit. Continue reading

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