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Pushing the limits of Turkish martyrdom

Speaking with a group of Turks in southwest Turkey recently about the Kurdish issue, I was told bluntly by a 30-year-old partner in a successful real estate business: “I hate Kurds.”

The man subsequently amended his statement such that the object of hatred became “terrorists” rather than a full 20 percent of the Turkish population. The lexical overlap of the two terms was however underscored when he reverted to a discussion of “Kurdish” insistence on making martyrs out of Turkish soldiers.

The Turkish word for martyr, şehit, is the subject of a national rhyme—“Şehitler ölmez vatan bölünmez”—according to which martyrs never die and the homeland will never be divided. Shouted at patriotic rallies and emblazoned on Turkish hillsides, the slogan wards off any secessionist aspirations harbored by members of Turkey’s largest ethnic minority—who, it bears reiterating, were formerly promised autonomy by none other than the iconic founder of said indivisible homeland: Mustafa Kemal Atatürk.



Doug Henwood interview: The Imperial Messenger

I was recently interviewed about my new anti-Thomas Friedman book by the great Doug Henwood for his program “Behind the News”. The show aired this morning on Berkeley’s KPFA 94.1.

The first guest was Michael Dorsey, professor of environmental studies at Dartmouth, who was speaking from the annual climate summit currently underway in Durban, South Africa.

My part begins at minute 27.10 with a wonderfully relevant introductory song.

Henwood has also included the recording of Friedman’s infamous “Suck. On. This” performance on Charlie Rose on behalf of the Iraq war effort. Remarks Henwood in response: “It’s like junior high school, only with automatic weapons and high explosives”.

Listen to the interview at the Left Business Observer or click below:

Thomas Friedman—Greenwashing Imperial Messenger?

My book The Imperial Messenger: Thomas Friedman at Work was recently excerpted at Guernica Magazine.

Here’s an excerpt of the excerpt:

Despite Friedman’s newfound annoyance that the United States is preoccupied with nation-building abroad and that “the Cheneyites want to make fighting Al Qaeda our Sputnik“ while “China is doing moon shots“ and turning from red to green, he credits the U.S. army with “outgreening al-Qaeda” in Iraq. In Hot, Flat, and Crowded, we learn that this has been achieved via a combination of insulation foam and renewable energy sources, reducing the amount of fuel required to air condition troop accommodations in certain locations.

After speaking with army energy consultant Dan Nolan— whom he “couldn’t help but ask, ’Is anybody in the military saying, “Oh gosh, poor Dan has gone green—has he gone girly-man on us now?“ ’—Friedman announces that the outgreening of Al Qaeda constitutes a typical example:

“of what happens when you try to solve a problem by outgreening the competition—you buy one and you get four free. In Nolan’s case, you save lives by getting [fuel transportation] convoys off the road, save money by lowering fuel costs [from the quoted ‘hundreds of dollars per gallon’ often required to cover delivery], and maybe have some power left over to give the local mosque’s imam so his community might even toss a flower at you one day, rather than a grenade.”


Al Qaeda is Deaf

Longer than Afghan-Pakistan border

A recent FoxNews.com dispatch from the “America’s Third War” series—this one entitled “Fighting Drug Cartels in Guatemala” (read: “Encouraging Drug Cartels in Guatemala Such That They Might Then Be Fought”)—ends on a warning note underscoring how America’s Third War is intimately linked to the first two:

U.S. officials who specialize in counter-narcotics worry that Al Qaeda will soon realize the porous nature of the Central American-U.S. corridor”.

My question is: when?

Is Al Qaeda oblivious to the U.S. news? For how many years must the media hype this threat before it registers?

It has already been proven that Islamic extremists are compatible with Latin American socialists, drug cartels, and other excuses for U.S. militarization. Former U.S. Marine Corps officer Oliver North confirmed in a 2006 FoxNews.com column entitled “Back Door to Terror”:

Since 9-11-01, Americans living along the U.S.-Mexican border have been warning that our porous frontier is a back door for terrorist entry into this country”.


U.S. Air Force encourages cultural immersion

At least the M is the same backwards.

A copy of a 2009 U.S. Air Force Airman’s Manual has just fallen into my hands.

The manual offers instructions on what to do in a variety of hostile situations, as well as advice to airmen to change their socks daily, wash their hands after using the bathroom, and learn the word “halt” in the language of the country in which they are stationed.

Following are additional bits of advice regarding cultural adaptation:

Terrorists don’t discriminate! If you’re an American, you’re a potential terrorist target. Your dress, conduct, and mannerisms should not attract attention. Make an effort to blend in.” [No advice is offered as to how blend in in countries in which the majority of the local population does not wear camouflage.]


It’s normal to have feelings of uneasiness after you arrive at your deployment location. But, don’t become consumed by fear. Slowly adjust to your new surroundings, learn all you can from more experienced people, and follow your training.” [Judging from the accompanying photograph, new surroundings include McDonald’s establishments with turbaned and veiled clientele.]

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Berlusconi stops short of copying Obama’s suntan

Il Cavaliere may have also noted Muammar Qaddafi's tan while paying his respects this past March.

The July 28 deaths of two Italian soldiers in Herat, Afghanistan—occurring shortly after the most recent Wikileaks deluge—prompted an article entitled “Obama’s ‘Just War’ is Already Lost” in the Italian daily La Repubblica, in which Italy’s involvement in said conflict is described as follows:

We Italians are in Afghanistan for America. But the Americans are no longer sure about the reasons they thought they were there… Our [other] allies have understood this and… [are] all in search of a way out and an exit date from the Afghan trap. As for us, we remain hitched to a crazed convoy with various derailed [components].”


Thomas Friedman charges Arabs and Muslims with building “something decent and self-sustaining in Afghanistan and Pakistan”, takes personal credit for outcome of U.S. Civil War

(Photo by Rensselaer/Kris Qua)

In another demonstration of his knack for captivating editorial ledes, New York Times columnist Thomas Friedman begins his recent dispatch “www.jihad.com” as follows:

Let’s not fool ourselves. Whatever threat the real Afghanistan poses to U.S. national security, the ‘Virtual Afghanistan’ now poses just as big a threat. The Virtual Afghanistan is the network of hundreds of jihadist Web sites that inspire, train, educate and recruit young Muslims to engage in jihad against America and the West.”

It thus appears that Friedman has in the course of a mere 6 months curtailed his exuberance over the lucrative opportunities offered to Islam by the internet, which he outlined in a June 16, 2009 column entitled “The Virtual Mosque.” Writing in the aftermath of the Iranian presidential elections, Friedman gushed:

What is fascinating to me is the degree to which in Iran today — and in Lebanon — the more secular forces of moderation have used technologies like Facebook, Flickr, Twitter, blogging and text-messaging as their virtual mosque, as the place they can now gather, mobilize, plan, inform and energize their supporters, outside the grip of the state.

For the first time, the moderates, who were always stranded between authoritarian regimes that had all the powers of the state and Islamists who had all the powers of the mosque, now have their own place to come together and project power: the network. The Times reported that [Iranian opposition presidential candidate Mir-Hossein] Moussavi’s fan group on Facebook alone has grown to more than 50,000 members. That’s surely more than any mosque could hold — which is why the government is now trying to block these sites.”