Previous posts in this discussion:
PostUS and a Changing Persian Gulf Region (Eugenio Battaglia, Italy, 08/05/19 7:00 am)
A few days ago I wrote about the US Empire's policies in North Africa. Now let's have a quick look at the Persian/Gulf Area. This is the one region that has most changed in the last 60 years, probably even more and deeply than in China.
When I used to travel there, the towns were mostly small villages of one-floor houses. Only the Emir's palaces and some administration buildings had multiple floors. Now they have the tallest buildings in the world. At that time there was a Catholic church in Kuwait, at the Mena al Ahmadi oil camp/port, with an Italian priest who received the wine for Mass through a special diplomatic envoy.
The local states in the GCC (Gulf Cooperation Council) formed on 25 May 1981 are Qatar, Kuwait, Bahrain, Saudi Arabia and Oman, plus the United Arab Emirates (7 small Emirates formerly known as the Land of Pirates).
In each of these countries the Empire has one or more military bases. No wonder, considering that 75% of the countries in the world have the Empire's military bases.
We could say that the GCC is practically the political heir of the OPEC, which enjoyed huge power in the 1970s, but was weakened by the reaction of the rest of the world, in part due to its friendship with the PLO.
Without going into great detail on all the events since the 1973 Oil Crisis, especially in the north of the area, we now have big questions.
The GCC is a powerful group full of weapons sold by the Empire, but it is also profoundly politically divided. Kuwait and Oman may be considered the moderates both in domestic and foreign policy. The bloc of Saudi Arabia and the UAE is a bloody warmonger friend of Israel, a strong enemy of Iran and the Muslim Brotherhood, and involved in the criminal Yemeni war. Moreover, this bloc supports the Egyptian military government and the controversial general Haftar in Libya. On the contrary, Qatar supports the Muslim Brotherhood, and various Islamist forces in Syria and Libya including the Tripoli government, all with the huge help of the powerful propaganda of Al Jazeera TV.
In reality all the above countries under the blind or (more precisely) complicit eye of the Empire support one or another Islamist extremist factions abroad to preserve their internal medieval power.
The fight between Doha and other members of the GCC is at present fought by foreign proxies, but if things get worse, what will the Empire do? And in the case of a showdown with Iran, which Trump seems to want, what will happen to Qatar and Oman, which prefer peaceful relations with the Iranians?
Bahrain is another question mark with its mostly Shiite population sympathizing with Iran, while the royal family militarily supported by Saudi Arabia is Sunni. This history of Bahrain is extremely interesting, with its Portuguese, Persian, and British influences, its Christian minorities and now a large number of Hindu immigrants.
JE comments: Regarding the US military presence in foreign countries, is Eugenio Battaglia including Marine detachments at embassies? I came up with 70 or 80 countries for "bases," which is a lot, but not quite 75%.
US Military Bases and Detachments Abroad
(Timothy Brown, USA
08/06/19 3:52 AM)
Having been a Marine Embassy Guard in two countries, an active-duty Marine in five more, and career diplomat in a dozen, I find the mere thought of counting every small detachment of US or any other country's Military Attache Office, Military Foreign Aid or advisory as an outpost of "Empire" (Eugenio Battaglia, 5 August) as nonsense--unless the objective is to "accentuate the negative, decentuate the positive, latch on to the perjorative, and don't let let the truth get in between," a classic tactic called "agitprop," knowingly and deliberately exaggerating something for political purposes.
My professor of Political Psychology, then Chair of my primary PhD subject, had been a professor at Lumumba University in Moscow and emphasized that, during the Cold War, the USSR considered "agitprop" (agitation and propaganda) a more powerful weapon than the "bomb," it was only after the end of Cold War I that she was free to immigrate to the US. I wonder if she's thinking about going back.
JE comments: The pen is mightier than the sword--although now the pen's job has been taken over by hackers with keyboards. We need to add a correction to yesterday's post from Eugenio Battaglia: the US has deployed in 75 countries, not 75% of the countries. Eugenio sent this link:
Tim, tell us more about your studies in Political Psychology. I thought I knew my Academia, but I never knew that Political Science had this particular subfield.
In How Many Nations Does the US Have a Military Presence?
(John Hesley, USA
08/07/19 5:51 AM)
I continue to be grateful to be privy to the high-level discussions on WAIS. In response to Tim Brown (August 6th), perhaps Eugenio Battaglia had a quote from this link in mind: "about 75% of the nations on the planet."
JE comments: Greetings again to our newest WAISer, John Hesley (Fort Worth, Texas). Compare the article above with the link here: https://www.eutm-somalia.eu/wp-content/uploads/2018/07/Last-Year-U.S.-Commandos-Were-Deployed-to-75-of-World%E2%80%99s-Countries.pdf
The title is identical with one crucial difference: 75% of the countries vs 75 countries. The world's current nation count is around 195. We'll also have to wade through the definitions of what constitutes a "base" vs a "detachment" or a simple embassy guard...not to mention "deployments" vs clandestine incursions and the like.
One point is clear, however: the United States has military folks in a heck of a lot of countries.
75 or 75%...and the WAIS Effect (from Gary Moore)
(John Eipper, USA
08/08/19 3:52 AM)
Gary Moore writes:
Great catch by our moderator pinpointing that
"75 percent of countries" is a headline fudge of
"75 countries," making a large propaganda difference,
though barely visible superficially (when I looked at
the two linked versions we now have, I missed the switch).
At any rate the use of the particular magazine quoted, In These Times, would in itself seem a flag of sorts.
Yet another headline from In These Times shows how
far left it can roam: "Elizabeth Warren is no progressive..."
Media like these can be useful for those determined to
see what they want to see, as the reading eye leaps like
Patrick Mears's (Aug 7) WAIS Effect moment, when a more
substantial wonderland (Novello's music, opened by Ed Jajko
Aug 7 and before) drew the eye to the real secret: "Perchance
JE comments: I presume our UK colleagues are aware of the Ivors, an award from the British Academy of Songwriters. Novello was possibly the first titan of 20th-century British pop music--although we could argue for hours about this honor.
Here's In These Times on Elizabeth Warren. Scroll to the end of the second paragraph, and the Phoenix rises again: "US commandos deployed to 75% of the countries."
- US Military Presence Abroad: 75 or 75% of the World's Countries? (Eugenio Battaglia, Italy 08/08/19 4:09 AM)
Responding to the posts of Timothy Brown, John Hesley and the wise comments of our esteemed moderator on the US Empire's military personnel abroad, it seems to me that the situation is extremely simple to understand:
1) The Empire has officially, in 2016, 686 military bases in 74 (now apparently 75) foreign countries. Strangely, these are mostly in Japan, South Korea, Germany and unfortunately Italy.
2) The Empire also has an unofficial military presence in various countries in North Africa. They are kept more or less secret for political reasons.
3) The Empire finally deploys clandestine forces, including "contractors" of Blackwater Worldwide, Dick Cheney's Halliburton, Dyn Corp of the General of the Marines Anthony Zinni, operation director of the disastrous operation "Restore Hope" in 1992-'93. (Is this against International Conventions?)
The total of countries according to the above 3 points is 149. Therefore the countries with official bases at present may be 75 but reach 75% of world's countries if we consider the unofficial bases and the clandestine deployment of fighting troops and mercenaries.
By the way I have a dear friend who during the failed Restore Hope mission was ambushed at the Checkpoint Pasta at Mogadishu, 2 July 1993, where the Italians had 3 dead soldiers and 36 injured. Restore Hope was poorly arranged and directed. See Mark Bowden's Black Hawk Down: A Story of Modern War, 1999.
JE comments: 149 out of 195 (total nations) comes to 76.4%. So both numbers are true. The endless joys of statistics! Eugenio, I trust your friend emerged unscathed from the Mogadishu battle. Could you share more of his (her?) story?
Italians at Mogadishu, 2 July 1993
(Eugenio Battaglia, Italy
08/10/19 4:33 AM)
John E asked about my friend Silvio on 2 July 1993. He was serving in the Italian Group (Folgore) which was ordered to move on from their checkpoints and start an operation of search and mop-up looking for weapons and guerrilla leader Mohamed Farah Hassan (called Aidid = the Victorious).
The Italians moved with the support of some M60 tanks, but they also had strict orders that under no circumstances could the M60s fire their guns and no civilians should be hurt.
Everything was initially going well: The Italians were moving according the old system of "Italiani Brava gente" maintaining friendly relations with the locals. Also with the local girls the Italians always look for a satisfactory mutual situation for both.
Anyway at a certain point, a big cache of arms and ammunition was discovered and then the Italians were attacked by guerrillas mixed among civilians.
The situation became extremely bad, and withdrawing from the middle of the town along Imperial avenue was not easy at all. According to my friend, however, at a certain point the commander of an M60 violated orders and fired a few rounds that sent the opponents scrambling away. The Italians in Silvio's group were safe.
Following the fight the Italian Secret Service contacted the elders of the local Communities and the Italians could return to their checkpoints among cheering people and without firing a single shot.
The UN Authorities officially directing Restore Hope, in reality the US Ambassador Robert Oakley and Marine Corps Lt General Robert B. Johnston, preferred a strong hand but without success. Finally, in 1995 they had to get out of Somalia.
JE comments: A quarter-century later, Somalia still has the trappings of a failed state. Eugenio, Somalia is in Italy's historic "sphere of influence." Do you follow the goings-on there? If so, could you send an update?
Somalia, Libya, and Italy's "Sphere of Influence"
(Eugenio Battaglia, Italy
08/11/19 4:08 AM)
When commenting on my post of August 10th, John E wrote that "Somalia is in Italy's historic 'sphere of influence.'"
Unfortunately, the new Italian republic--lay, democratic and antifascist, born from the resistance--has shamefully done his best to erase memories and relations with the nations of its former Empire.
Italy could have done much more for Somalia, Eritrea, and Ethiopia, where local people were still taking care of our cemeteries and their old Italian uniforms. I will always keep dear in my heart the marvelous Ascaris. My Eritrean skipper in Mena al Ahmadi had everything that I would like to see in an Italian.
The post war with Libya was different. At first Gaddafi kicked out the final 20,000 Italian settlers, on 1 September 1969, having completely robbed them of their property while their churches became mosques.
Now the Italian "nice souls" scream about immigrants kept at sea waiting for a landing permit, but in 1969 the same things happened to the expelled Italians who had to remain a long time at sea in order to be properly checked as if they were all criminals with the most contagious illnesses. Nobody complained.
However as more time passed, relations with Gaddafi became closer and closer. Italian firms and workers were all over Libya. Gaddafi was transforming Libya from the poorest to the richest country in Africa. For work I spent 5 days in Tripoli and everything seemed extremely good, with free housing, free education, free medical care and plenty of water.
However, how long will the well water pumped from deep down in the desert last?
Gaddafi occasionally insulted Italy's colonial past, but in reality he was our man in Africa. The fool Berlusconi even kissed Gaddafi's hand, but the Libyan leader was actually in the hands of Berlusconi.
On 30 August 2008 an Italian-Libyan Friendship Treaty was signed. It was because of this favourable (for Italy) treaty and also to hide huge amount of money received from Gaddadi that lousy Sarkozy started the war.
The Treaty included a prohibition against conducting any hostile act from the two nations' respective territories. There was no incompatibility here with NATO, provided that Libya acted within International Law, but of course you can play with the wording.
But on 19 March 2011 Sarkozy started the unprovoked but long-prepared military attack alongside Islamic extremists, within a few hours followed by the UK and the Empire with the laughable excuse of UN Resolution 1973. As we have so often seen the Empire can move and interpret the UN as it likes, even for the purpose of starting the usual self-defeating wars.
Here we have a very shameful page of Italian history, similar to the unconditional surrender and the betrayal of 9 September 1943.
The Italian government at first tried to resist, but it was pushed against Gaddafi in spite of the treaty by the president of the republic, a good lackey of the US Empire. This guy was previously a good lackey of the Fascists (GUF), and later of the Soviet Empire against the Hungarian insurgence. Also the Empire made it clear to Italy that it should join the imperialist coalition and Italy finally obeyed cutting its "attributes" and credibility.
Poor Gaddafi gave up his nuclear weapons and was wiped out. All this is "good advice" for someone else.
JE comments: Two questions: Can we "credit" Sarkozy with starting the war against Gaddafi? Especially to hide some sort of clandestine payments from the Libyan dictator? This sounds too tidy and conspiratorial for my tastes. And second, how close was Gaddafi to acquiring nuclear weapons? Reports say that way back in the early 1970s he tried to buy a bomb or two from China. To the latter's credit, they refused. Imagine an alternate world in which Gaddafi was one of the earliest members of the Nuclear Club.
Eugenio, tell us more about your time in Tripoli during the initial Gaddafi years. Was the cult of personality already evident at that time?
A 1990 Visit to Tripoli: Gaddafi's Green Book
(Eugenio Battaglia, Italy
08/12/19 7:41 AM)
When commenting on my post of 11 August, our esteemed moderator asked if I observed a Gaddafi cult of personality during my visit to Tripoli.
I did not notice any cult of personality when I was there in the summer of 1990.
Not only that, I went around Tripoli trying to purchase the famous Green Book in three volumes (The Solution of the Problem of Democracy, The Solution of the Problem of Economics: Socialism, Social Base of the "Third Universal Theory") in whatever language I could understand (Italian, English, French, Spanish, Portuguese). But I had no luck; it was available only in Arabic. This reminded me of 1971, when I went around Tenerife unsuccessfully trying to buy a recording of "Cara al Sol." I finally received one from Radio Nacional.
The local representative of my company promised to find the books and send them to me.
Some time later I received two books, one in Italian and the other in Spanish, of the same book "Comments and review of the Green Book, volume 1." Anyway in Italy the whole book can now be found in online.
Nowhere in the books received from Libya was the name of the author indicated. No cult of personality.
The book is supporting a new kind of socialism with some Mussolinian influence starting with the use of the word "producer." There was even some influence of the old Greek city-state democracies. It is worth reading to find some very surprising points of view--all modern, lay and social. One interesting point of view has to do with men and women. They are equal but different as the woman is beauty and should not do the physical work that only strong men can do, etc. The language of the book is extremely simple.
JE comments: With the marvels of the Internet, you can now read the Green Book from the comfort of your sofa. I perused the chapter on women, and it's a case study of no-nonsense thinking: "Women are females and men are males." Moreover, women menstruate. Click here for more insight:
Did any other WAISer visit Libya during the Gaddafi era?
- A 1990 Visit to Tripoli: Gaddafi's Green Book (Eugenio Battaglia, Italy 08/12/19 7:41 AM)
- Somalia, Libya, and Italy's "Sphere of Influence" (Eugenio Battaglia, Italy 08/11/19 4:08 AM)
- US Military Presence Abroad: 75 or 75% of the World's Countries? (Eugenio Battaglia, Italy 08/08/19 4:09 AM)
- 75 or 75%...and the WAIS Effect (from Gary Moore) (John Eipper, USA 08/08/19 3:52 AM)
- In How Many Nations Does the US Have a Military Presence? (John Hesley, USA 08/07/19 5:51 AM)