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Monthly Archives: July 2011

Dershowitz’s continuum of civilianality turns five

Preliminary calculations suggest a breakdown of the civilian composition of this particular south Lebanese apartment complex as follows: 30 percent more-civilian civilians, 20 percent less-civilian civilians, 15 percent decidedly un-civilian civilians, and 35 percent undecided. (Photo: Amelia Opalinska)

Five years ago, Israel waged a 34-day war on Lebanon that resulted in the elimination of approximately 1200 persons in the targeted country, most of them civilians, as well as 43 Israeli civilians.

In a July 2006 opinion piece for the Los Angeles Times, Harvard Law School’s resident piranha Alan Dershowitz placed the term “collective punishment” in quotation marks and announced the need for a “continuum of civilianality” to determine just how civilian Arab civilians were.

Two-year-olds, for example, are established as falling on the “more innocent” side of the continuum, while Dershowitz explains that “[t]here is also a difference between a civilian who merely favors or even votes for a terrorist group and one who provides financial or other material support for terrorism.”

Voting and other forms of support for “a terrorist group” are of course presumably facilitated when said group is an official political party represented in the Lebanese government. Dershowitz’s categorization of “civilian” as an “increasingly meaningless word” meanwhile does not prevent him from employing the words “terrorism” and “terrorists” no less than 12 times in his brief piece.

Why Dershowitz bothers making distinctions between various levels of civilianality becomes even less clear with his announcement that

Hezbollah and Hamas militants… are difficult to distinguish from those ‘civilians’ who recruit, finance, harbor and facilitate their terrorism. Nor can women and children always be counted as civilians, as some organizations do. Terrorists increasingly use women and teenagers to play important roles in their attacks.

The Israeli army has given well-publicized notice to civilians to leave those areas of southern Lebanon that have been turned into war zones. Those who voluntarily remain behind have become complicit. Some — those who cannot leave on their own — should be counted among the innocent victims.”

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Uribe penetrated by terrorists

(Photo: Reuters/Alberto Lowe)

In honor of Colombia’s Independence Day yesterday, the hacker group Anonymous hacked the Twitter account of former Colombian president-cum-Georgetown University “scholar” Alvaro Uribe as well as the Facebook page of current President Juan Manuel Santos and the website of the Ministry of Defense. The hackings involved links to a video casting the day’s celebration as one of “false independence”.

Predictably, Uribe responded to events by sounding the alarm that his account had been “penetrated by terrorists”. According to the latest prostitution of terrorist terminology, the suggestion that Colombia is not truly independent given continuing oppression of the populace is thus more penetratingly terroristic in nature than, for example, the Uribe-era military practice of murdering civilians and disguising them as FARC guerrillas in order to receive bonus pay and extra vacation time.

As for the many other scandals that define the Uribe legacy, these include the extensive wiretapping project undertaken by Colombia’s Administrative Department of Security (DAS)—Uribe’s involvement in which, as Adriaan Alsema points out at Colombia Reports, has been farcically investigated by a group of three politicians who are themselves implicated in the parapolitics scandal that revealed rampant ties between the Colombian government and right-wing paramilitaries, whose claims to fame include massacres, forced displacement of peasants on behalf of elite interests, and drug trafficking.

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Honduras' very own war on terror

”]The following is my first article for Al Jazeera.

A few months after the 2009 coup d’etat against Honduran President Manuel Zelaya, I was approached on the street in Tegucigalpa by a man who threatened to kill me unless I produced an economic incentive sufficient to halt my demise. I suggested that we walk to an ATM and postponed the issue of my lack of an ATM card to an indefinite future point.

Fortunately, by the time we reached the nearest gas station, my companion had finished a bottle of aguardiente and our conversation had taken an unexpected course. Thanking me for the stroll, he requested that I adopt his 18-month-old son in order to spare the child his girlfriend’s crack cocaine habit.

The brief but tragic death of Popeye’s

From the gas station I procured a ride back in the direction of my pension with a female university student in an SUV and designer sunglasses, whose analysis of what had just transpired was that 80 percent of Hondurans were thugs. By coincidence, her calculations also revealed that 80 percent of Hondurans were poor and that this was why the recently-expatriated Zelaya was so popular, which did not alter her view that Honduran democracy had in fact been upheld by his forcible expulsion from the country.

The expulsion was orchestrated once Zelaya had shown himself to be incompatible with everything from the regional neoliberal project  to the elite Opus Dei sect’s obsession with banning the morning-after pill. The president’s transgressions had included raising the minimum wage in certain sectors and paying slightly more attention than previous leaders to the complaints of poor communities tired of the effects of international mining endeavors on their skin and reproductive abilities. The last straw was Zelaya’s attempt to poll the citizenry as to whether the national constitution – which hails from the era in which the country was affectionately referred to as the “USS Honduras” and is skewed in the interest of approximately ten families who dominate the economy – should be revised.

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