Saturday, December 26, 2015

Oy, to the World!

DDGD December 26, 2015

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Today’s Post is brought to you by…  The Road to Hell Pavers Union: We love sheep, cattle and barbecue. But above all, we love decent well-intentioned faith-ridden and extremely naïve people. Smart ideologues used to be a delicacy, but large supply decreased the appeal.

The Delirica  

The victims of Assad's 'bureaucracy of death'. This is the truth buried under tons of gibberish and a myriad foolish pronouncement so it can be “safely” ignored: the systematic liquidation of thousands of political detainees in Assad’s prisons. This fact by itself should give us all pause. This fact by itself should rally us all behind efforts to end this war and bring the murderers to justice, for they are known. But our failure to be moved by it, to allow it to make us reconsider in the light of it our empty ideological stances, to put aside our differences and seek common grounds that can bring a measure of much needed relief and justice, is something that reveals a lot about the state of our battered sense of humanity at this stage. By asserting that some lives fail to matter still, not on the basis of any actions by the peoples involved but of some perceived interests and power balances, all lives fail to matter. We are nothing. Nothing.

Many months ago, faced with this realization, I fell silent. It was not a decision. Not a conscious one at least. But my words rang hollow to me, as hollow as the consciences of those who saw this crime unfolds in slow motion and chose to do nothing to stop it, or, to, at least, try. Some sought guarantees that no one could possibly offer that their intervention would be successful. Others tried to deny the nature of what was happening all together, asking us to belie our own eyes just they did theirs. And many were those who justified it all in the name of some alleged “principle” of theirs: resistance, anti-imperialism, anti-war, anti-everything including the rights of those who chose to rebel against tyranny and corruption, on the pretext that their rebellion could also serve the perceived interests of some external parties which these “principled” “many” happen to demonize. To the right of this lot, all the way from the center left to the far right, there few who justified nonintervention on the basis of realism, raison d’état and realpolitik, or some similar shit. The end result was the same. It was allowed to happen. And I lost my voice. But then I had to regain it, if only for few more moments: to register an objection, and to call for something different. Silence in the face of crime is surrender, and sometimes, it is an enabler. I can bear the guilt of failure, but not that of surrender, not to mention enabling.
Obama Signs $1.8 Trillion Tax And Spending Bill Into Law. “The spending bill also makes changes to the visa waiver program. Now people who've traveled to Iran, Iraq, Sudan and Syria in the past five years will face higher scrutiny if they wish to enter the U.S. Hard-line conservatives lost their fight to include language in the bill pausing the Syrian refugee resettlement program.

The restrictions will also affect those who hold dual nationality, that is, those who are citizens of the 38 partner countries in the Visa Waiver Program (VWP) as well as Iran, Iraq, Sudan and Syria. That is, a citizen of the UK, France, Germany or any of the 38 partner countries who is also Syrian or an Iranian national will now have to apply for a visa to enter the U.S., contrary to other British, French and German citizens who do not hail from these backgrounds.

The U.S., then, has taken it upon itself to divide the citizens of VWP countries into two groups: one Kosher, the other in need of further vetting, not on the basis of any extremist opinion its members might have, but simply on the basis of their ethnicity. This is racism, pure and simple. But the Congress passed it, with strong bipartisan support, and President Obama, the man whose election to the high office comes a major milestone in the struggle for civil rights in this country, signed it into law.  

No less significant is the fact that this happened despite stern warnings from Europe and other VWP partners that they would treat U.S. citizens in a similar manner. Now, then, we just have to wait for the other shoe to drop. Once it does, the world will witness the birth of new phenomenon: discrimination by proxy – the U.S. will discriminate racially against certain citizens from VWP countries, and VWP countries will reciprocate the gesture by adopting similar laws and regulations affecting U.S. citizens hailing from the same national background. The fact that there will be citizens from other backgrounds, who will be affected as well because they have recently travelled to these four countries should not detract us from the fact that there exists this group comprising millions of people from Europe, the U.S., Japan, and other VWP partner countries who will be singled out for additional vetting simply on the basis of their national and religious background. 

Personally, and as a political asylee, I already have had to contend with all sorts of restrictions imposed on my ability to travel overseas on account of having to use a special refugee travel document issued under the Geneva Convention of 1950. Arab countries have chosen not to honor this convention for the most part, so, and no matter how much I needed to, I could not travel to that part of the world in over a decade. Other countries required us to acquire a visa, which would normally take anytime between one to three weeks. Since the document is issued for a year at a time, and that most countries require that it has four months left on it in order to issue a visa, the resulting situation seriously undermined my ability to help Syria’s nonviolent revolutionaries, many of whom colleagues of mine and often trained by our Tharwa Foundation, now more or less defunct, at a time when liberal democratic voices where very much in need.

Only Germany and the Benelux countries allowed holders of the refugee travel document to travel to their lands without a visa. This openness gave me some room to maneuver and try to be heard, but only on a limited scale. Now, that I am months away from becoming a citizen and receiving an American passport, I might have to deal with even more restrictions. Most engagements require me to travel on a short notice, sometimes hours, and most of these travels involve the 38 countries partaking in the VWP. I have to deal with all this, while I am supposed to be known, “respected” and “needed.” How is it with others from my background? And how will it be soon?

On a legal note, when an American president signs into law a discriminatory bill that he was amply warned could also lead to similar discriminatory measures targeting American citizens being adopted by other countries, doesn’t this provide sufficient legal grounds for challenging said law? Sympathetic legal minds should begin looking into that. In fact, even if VWP countries refused to enact similar laws, a legal challenge to this law seems amply warranted. Discrimination against a specific group simply on the basis of their nationality signals a return to good old fashioned racism, and should no longer be legally tolerated even when the victims are not Americans, considering that the perpetrators are.

Lastly, and for those concerned with security, let me ask: how many of the extremists involved in the Paris terrorist attacks would have been prevented from entering the U.S. had they sought to do so and this law was in effect? The answer: while few might have been prevented from entry on account of their travel to Syria, many would not have been affected, because they were born in Belgium and France, did not travel to Syria, Iraq, Iran or Sudan and did not hold their nationality. In the case of some, there were insufficient signs in their background to raise alarm bells, so a security check may not have revealed much, and they could have been granted visas. Similarly, could in-kind measures adopted by VWP vis-à-vis American citizens have prevented the terrorists of San Bernardino, Syed Rizwan Farook and Tashfeen Malik, from entering these countries? The blunt answer is: No. They don’t come from the “wrong” background,” and they have not travelled to any of the four countries listed in the last five years.

What’s the point of all this then?

Ah yes: Congress Quietly Ends Federal Ban on Medical Marijuana. The same law that ushered back racism also lifted the ban on medical marijuana. Figures! And just in time for Christmas. Joy to the World!

One last note: to Iran’s leaders and those supporting their actions in Syria, or who have called for ignoring them for the sake of the nuclear deal, and who are naturally, unhappy with this particular turn of events: Go fuck yourselves you hypocritical maniacal scumbags! Iran’s actions in Syria and its recent missile test are far worse than what you choose to protest against: after all, they involve active killing, and promise of more to come. As for the letter Secretary John Kerry Obviously sent to his Iranian colleagues, well, what can one really expect from people who pimped out their policymaking to their enemies? The buck these days stops anywhere but the White House, obviously!  
The real threat that IS poses, and the real threat of state failure, proliferating conflicts, and the growth of illiberal states and alliances, lies in their quantum and asymmetric nature: they emerge as small crises that quickly metastasize into serious challenges to the security and stability of entire regions, and by extension: the world. Refugee inflows, humanitarian disasters, multiplying local conflicts and proxy wars, the resurgence of fascism even in democratic states, and the blurring of lines between crime syndicates, terrorist networks and the inner circles in various states running the so-called deep state, they are phenomena that feed off each other, amplifying their local and global impact, until they contain us rather than we them. 

The Deliricon

The Trumpone: A modern musical instrument in the orange brass family currently popular among certain White American Tribes. To an outsider, its sounds may mimic bowl movements, but to members of the tribes, the sounds the Trumpone seem to have a mesmerizing and hypnotic effect that can, depending on the particular combination of notes, generously speaking, put them into deep blissful sleep, cause amnesia coupled with a distorted view of reality, or, as some reports claim, rouse them into bouts of uncontrollable rage making them behave, more or less, like hordes of hungry dancing piranhas around the carcass of an unfortunate sacrificial bull.
Obviously: A political term used to hide drastic change in policy. For example: Mr. Kerry described the Syrian opposition's demand that Assad must leave as soon as peace talks begin as a "nonstarting position, obviously." Translation: Mr. Kerry admitted during the press conference that both he and the administration were indeed outmaneuvered by the Russians and Iranians in regard to the Syrian conflict, and that earlier their reluctance to intervene, coupled with their stupidity and downright amoral stands seem to have contributed greatly to the matter. Mr. Kerry also admitted that neither he nor the administration was ready to deal with the consequences, which is why they preferred to defer to Russia on this matter from now on, Russia even if this policy constituted another amoral stand.

Technically: A political term meant to hide the truth. For example: The Nigerian military is close to meeting its December deadline to defeat the Boko Haram militant group, President Muhammadu Buhari told BBC late Wednesday. "I think, technically, we have won the war." Translation: We're nowhere near victory, and, in fact, we're getting our ass kicked.

Actually (also: Truly): A political term signaling the beginning of a big lie. For Example: “I actually do like President Obama, and I truly think he’s a nice and decent human being,” said prodemocracy activist Ammar Abdulhamid in an interview on Christmas Eve with Sod Off Magazine. Translation not necessary. 

The Daily Delirynth

The Occasional Trumpist: Condemned by friends and allies from all over the world, and embraced by America’s number one enemy, what does Donald Trump do? He ignores America’s friends and allies, and embraces her enemy. Trumputin is born.

For those of you who are not familiar with the marvels, wonders and gems of the Holy Deliricon, and who have not read this recent edition of DDGD, Trumputin is a nightmarish creature by all accounts, but one whose existence in the real world was thought to have been avertible, until now. For now that he came into being, there is an urgent need to fulfill a certain prophecy, one that promised to chronicle the inevitable misadventures of this fantastical being in a series titled The Misadventures of Donny Boy and Vladdipus.

So, and without any further ado, here they are…

The Foretold Misadventures of Donny Boy and Vladdipus
Episode 1: A song, a note, and some pee

Let’s start with a song:

Oh Donny Boy, your hype, your hype is going
From bad to worse and up where the sun doesn’t shine
You made a stink, and now the winds are blowing
It’s you, it’s you who shat, you filthy cock-sucking swine.

Now, a note:

If we are to judge the Russian military by its current display in Syria, then, it’s obviously a joke. But if Putin drank his own Kool Aide, then, the world is in trouble, because a joke of an army is still capable of spreading mayhem. Yes, even when the economy is in shambles and the military in tatters, rather, on account of that, we cannot rule out more (mis)adventures. Putin is achieving victory be media, but in the real world, his kingdom is in trouble, and his throne is beginning to wobble.

Pee for Pu: Putin just made a major admission about one of Russia's primary goals in Syria. “We did not start the war" in Syria, Putin told reporters during his end-of-year news conference from Moscow, according to a translation by the state-sponsored news agency Russia Today. He added: "We are just conducting separate operations, using our air forces, air defense, intelligence. This is not a serious burden for the budget ... It's hard to imagine a better exercise [for the Russian forces]. So we can train there [in Syria] for a long time without any serious harm to our budget."

So, Pu’s intervention in the Syrian conflict was merely meant as an affordable exercise for Russian forces. And what that thing in eastern Ukraine? Another exercise? Yes. It seems that Vladdie has finally drunk his Kool Aide, and it turned out to be his own piss. Of what else could the tyrants’ Kool Aide be made? Ah yes: the blood of the innocents of course: Syria conflict: Russian air strikes 'killed 200 civilians'.

Join us soon, for Episode 2: How Donny Boy got schlonged on his own petard!

The Bottomliniest Bottom Line:  “The U.S.’s ‘Yadda, Yadda, Yadda’ Doctrine for Syria: Ideas for how the U.S. could intervene in Syria are all talk and no foresight because they ignore a crucial question: How do you stabilize the country afterwards?”  What Jeremy Shapiro proposes here, the need for a stabilization force, a mechanism for coordinating international assistance, a plan for rebuilding infrastructure and ensuring the continuity of institutions, a transitional process, and a Mechanism for resolving political differences, is exactly what Syrian activists and opposition members have been lobbying for since the early days of the Syrian revolution, only to be met with the Obama administration’s real red lines that were noted privately during our various meetings with administrations officials. No, we are not talking here about the “no boots on the ground” policy, but of a policy of no involvement whatsoever, even in a political process, not to mention transitional planning.

Even when the U.S. and various European governments finally saw the wisdom of amending this policy and began funding extensive programs dealing with transition planning and coalition building, and lent support to Civil Society Organizations all over the country, little was done by way of military support. The administration even prevented its allies in the region, including Saudi, Qatar and Turkey from supplying any advanced weaponry to the rebels. Meanwhile, realities on the ground kept on changing and civil society activists and moderate rebels were left at the mercy of regime bombardments and air strikes, which targeted every community where local councils were able to provide effective local governance.

By late 2012 and early 2013, the rebels had to deal with all types of extremist Islamist groups, including Al-Nusra Front, Daesh, Ahrar Al-Sham and Jaish Al-Islam. At first, these groups sent their own elements to take part in some of the U.S. training programs under the pretense of being moderates. Once there, they used their participation to collect information on other activists and real moderate rebels whom they would later target upon their return to Syria. Representatives of the State Department taking part in selecting people for the training were repeatedly warned about such infiltrations and its dangers, but they ignored all warnings.

Vetting was never going to be an easy process, especially when you have a late start at it, then, you choose to do it haphazardly, in fits and struts, and keep refusing to offer advanced weaponry or at least aerial support, and keep changing your objective, thus, demonstrating a certain unreliability and untrustworthiness, while extremist groups offer continuous reliable support. Add bureaucratic mismanagement to the mix, and of course you can expect fuckups.

Be that at it may, The real bottom line is: despite all the problems of the Syrian activists and opposition members, including their fractiousness and their amateurishness, they did, nonetheless and with the support of variety of American and European organizations, and some of the more experienced elements in their midst, do their due diligence on transition planning and day-after visions. But they were faced with an administration that was adamant about doing nothing: that saw any intervention in Syria, or anywhere else for that matter, to be unwarranted even when the protests were nonviolent and the regime was clearly committed to the use of overwhelming force, that is, even when the protesters clearly had the higher moral ground, and there were so few extremists. Neither the overwhelming evidence of systematic slaughter and ethnic cleansing by the regime, nor use of chemical weapons, changed the President’s calculus. When finally the administration chose to intervene in the situation, it did so in response to the rise of IS in Iraq and Syria, and it chose to confront it in Iraq first then in Syria, and always with a lot of caveats: no boots on the ground (later amended to only the fewest possible boots on the ground), no advanced weapons to rebels in Syria (but plenty to the Shia-dominated Iraqi army, which was also arming Shia militias fighting rebels in Syria), no no-fly zone over Syria (thus no cover to rebels fighting against anyone), and a slow-pace training program  for moderate rebels that was even more catastrophically mismanaged than the earlier training programs (and we cannot blame neither activists nor rebels here, since the management was always in the hands of American and European brokers). In fact, the entire training program with its half a billion dollar price tag seems to have been designed to enable the administration to claim that something was being done, when the administration had no intention of doing anything at all, yet.

Moreover, the administration never admitted to any miscalculations in connection to the Syria conflict, be it the persistence of the regime and its head, the rise of IS, the dwindling numbers of moderate rebels, or the fact that Syria seems to have been transformed into a failed state parts of which now are practically run by Iranian and Russian military advisers.

The real bottom line of the bottom line is: we have been dealing with an administration that doesn’t even see in the rise of Daesh a major threat, and is, therefore, willing to adopt a very slow-response strategy to combating it.

News from the Most Holy & Sacred Qalifate: IS fighters' families to leave southern Damascus in U.N. deal: group. The southern areas in Damascus are too close to Shia shrines. Iran needs the regime to secure them by whatever means necessary, including striking deals with IS, the alleged enemy. By giving IS families and some of its fighters safe passage to IS strongholds in the Raqqah province to the north, the areas can now come under regime control and Shia shrines can be secured. The overall plan seems to call for securing the western and southern parts of Damascus, with IS emerging is the likely candidate that will end up controlling the north and eastern parts, especially now seeing how the Russians have just eliminated Zahran Alloush, the Commander the Jaish Al-Islam, IS nemesis in eastern Damascus. But the symbolism of having the UN negotiate with IS with the regime’s approval (that is Russia and Iran) is quite telling.

So, the year seems about to end on a good note for the Most Holy Qalifate. Meanwhile, 2,000 miles from Syria, ISIS is trying to lure recruits in Somalia. But only there, for An under-the-radar European country has become a ‘recruitment hotbed’ for ISIS, namely: Bosnia. For wherever there are Muslims in great distress, even if it were at times imaginary, philosophical or just whimsical, hell, even if it were mere ennui, there you find IS trying to exploit them, with that ever intriguing appeal of Jihadi Cool: The Challenge of Jihadi Cool: ISIS’s countercultural appeal is real. And it must be taken seriously.

Refugenics: EU gets one million migrants in 2015, smugglers seen making $1 billion. A billion dollar industry will not be easily shut down.

Finally, Israel seems to have killed some Hezbollah rat in eastern Damascus, apparently with Russian approval, since the S-400 system did nothing to stop the aerial strike. The rat was considered to be a hero by Hezbollah, Iran and the Assad regime, in fact, he met with Bashar on a number of occasions and was honored by him. His heroic act took place some thirty years ago and consisted of butchering an Israeli family made up of a father and his little daughter while they slept. With heroes like these, is it any wonder we’re in the sewers?

Video(s) of the Day

A Sufi surprise to brighten your Christmas


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