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U.S – Israeli Targeted Assassinations – Pyrrhic Victories, Strategic Losses.

September 19, 2021

Ghassan Suliemani and with former Iranian foreign secretary (and University of Denver, Korbel School of International Studies, phd.) Javad Zarif. Suliemani was assassinated by the Trump Administration. Most Americans have no idea how destructive that murder was to U.S. Middle East policy…

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Washington has a long history of exaggerating its victories – political or military – and minimizing or simply denying its setbacks or defeats. It has a long history of damage control when it comes to defeats or just “fuck ups” – like the recent drone killing of an Afghan family of ten that has been in the news. This New York Times article celebrating targeted assassinations of Iranian nuclear scientists fits nicely into that pattern. Washington and Tel Aviv might have their hands tied with Iranian shipments of oil to Lebanon (a strategic set back) but at least “we’re” still killing Iranian nuclear scientists! Sick logic, but what else is new?

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1.

Recently the New York Times ran a detailed story about the Israeli assassination of Iranian nuclear scientist, Mohsen Fakhizadeh on November 27, 2020, a murder carried out by a remote-controlled machine gun “equipped with an intelligent satellite system” using artificial intelligence.

Although the article gave the appearance of being some kind of breakthrough in investigative reporting, actually it was nothing of the kind. Most of the information therein had appeared days after the attack in the Iranian press with follow up articles all over the Middle East and beyond. Only in the United States were the details of the event – and Israel’s long-standing targeted assassination program against Iranian nuclear scientists – has the information been more muted (although there have been articles, especially in the alternative media). What is “new” about the piece is that finally the information is now appearing in an authoritative mainstream media source that remains a kind of unofficial flagship of U.S. foreign policy, the New York Times.

The article is curious in a demented sort of way.

Israeli (and U.S.) bragging that it can assassinate (which means politically murder) anyone in Iran from Fakhizadeh to the five other nuclear scientists it has killed since the program began in 2004 (this according to the article). The normalization of cold blooded murder? The evidence that these assassinations are essentially U.S.-Israel joint operations appears frequently throughout. Israel could not engage in such programs without the green light from Washington. The article claims that in the aftermath of assassination of Iranian Revolutionary Guard leader Qassim Suleimani that Iran’s response was “tepid.” Tepid? Iran bombed two U.S. military bases in Iraq, the major one be the Al Asad Base in Western Iraq. In so doing it showed to the world, but especially to Washington and Tel Aviv that it has accurate long range missile capability with missiles that could strike basically undetected over a distance of 800 miles. The other response to the Suliemani murder was that it has resulted in a region-wide campaign to close the network of U.S. military bases enveloping Iran. Tepid?

Read more…

Mussolini, the “nice” fascist” – Not Quite

September 17, 2021

Prevail: The Inspiring Story of Ethiopia’s Victory Over Mussolini’s Invasion, 1935-1941
by Jeff Pearce, Professor Richard Pankhurst (Foreword by)

Growing up in a New York City Jewish family as I did at the end of World War II (November 6, 1944 is when I first came into the world), it is not surprising that I heard some about WW2. Much of our extended family, both on the Prensky and Magaziner side were exterminated in places like Bialystok, Grodno, Prienai and Vilnius from whence my grandparents originated.

A number of my uncles (six by my unofficial count – Ira, Joe, Leo, Sam, Willie and family friend “Uncle Frank”) fought in “the War”. My father, then named “Herb Prensky”, did too. My father signed a waiver that permitted him to enter the military despite poor eyesight. His response as to why he signed up was simple, direct: “I wanted to kill Nazis” – an honorable goal, then and now.

He didn’t get to do so, as he spent most of the war stateside working directly under one Robert McNamarra is a special “statistical control” unit, the purpose of which was to stop the theft of fuel, weapons and other materials from U.S. military bases from where these items were being stolen, mostly with the connivance of commanding officers at the base.

No doubt my father’s finest moment – throwing criminal generals in jail for putting their personal greed before the national interest. “Of course” (sic!) these things no longer happen!! My father’s opposition to Nazism continued after the War had ended. He once told me that he contributed to Jewish hitman who combed South America for SS types hiding in places like Bolivia and Argentina. Although well traveled, he never visted Germany. He was upset not only that I did on many occasions, but worse, sincerely respected post war German youth of my own age who were active in their country’s peace movement, many of whom told me stories of questioning their Nazi parents… “How could you have?” I heard repeatedly. Postwar German youth, those who had to study and in many cases visit, concentration camps, had learned “history’s lessons” – and much better I would add, than the children of Americans who fought in Vietnam.

But if my father never believed that the children of Nazis could be that much different from their parents, his attitude towards Mussolini and his ilk, towards Italy was more generous, more forgiving. If he wouldn’t step foot in Germany, Italy was one of his favorite countries; he visited it frequently and spoke about how he enjoyed much of anything that is “Italian” – the people, their rich history, their food, you name it. That I grew up in a neighborhood where my early friends had surnames like Frabrizzi, Corragio, Macalusco, Napolitano might have something to do with it. But then it was only later that I learned that other than Frank Sinatra (who was an Italian anti-fascist) a large percentage of Italian Americans loved Mussolini and supported him repeatedly in hugh rallies throughout the 1930s.)

I have heard that “good cop, bad cop” comparison of Italian and German fascism most of my life, and not just from my father. I have long been more than a little suspicous. Yes, Italian fascism has a somewhat different trajectory than German Nazism. Yet all that “crap” – and that is all it is – about how benign, how “peace loving” the Italians fascists were compared to the Nazis – the kind of de-militarized military spirit that comes through in the Italian film “Mediterraneo” is the stuff of which propaganda is made. Italian fascism was as “benign” as the Chilean variety under Pinochet, or Franco’s Spain and in many ways far worse.

For anyone wanting to get a more accurate picture of the true face of Italian fascism, two words suffice: Libya and Ethiopia. Very little is written about either, although there is a fine film starring Anthony Quinn, “The Lion in the Desert” which gives a hint of Italy’s seething brutality in its conquest of Libya. A few books documenting the horrors of it’s 1935-1941 conquest and occupation of Ethiopia have appeared in recent years, among them, Jeff Pearce’s fine “Prevail: The Inspiring Story of Ethiopia’s Victory over Mussolini’s Invasion” and Ian Campbell’s “The Addis Ababa Massacre” detailing the three day orgy in which Italian occupation troops slaughtered tens of thousands.

Tying the two events together – the Libyan and Ethiopian Conquests – is the person of Rodolpho Graziani “Butcher of Fezzan” (Libya) and architect of the 1935 Addis massacre. Graziani – every bit as brutal as any Nazi SS officer, as Pinochet, Franco, is still celebrated as a great Italian patriot in the town of his birth, Affile, Italy.

I will be writing about Italy in Libya and Ethiopia over the next weeks.

I Campi Fascisti

Italian concentration camps in Ethiopia (in red). 1935-1941

California Governor Gavin Newsom in dialogue with the Ethiopian-Eritrean Community of California. September 9, 2021

September 9, 2021

Yebeg siga alitcha at Messob | Photo by Bill Esparza

The 100,000 + strong combined Ethiopian-Eritrean Community of California, that could be a swing vote in favor of defeating the recall election targeting California Governor Gavin Newsom, met with the governor. Supporting a program of universal healthcare, immigration rights, as strong stand against racism and expressing their concern for the Biden Administration’s hostility towards the Ethiopian government of Abiy Ahmed, the Community pledged they would work for the defeat of the recall election. Its spokespeople, both Ethiopian and Eritrean Americans, called on the governor to use his influence to press the national Democratic Party leadership to end their support for the outlawed terrorist group, the Tigray People’s Liberation Front.

Governor Newsom’s remarks mostly centered around the effort to defeat the recall, detailing the right-wing racist, anti-immigrant agenda of the recall initiative’s sponsors, one of whom called for putting computer chips in the bodies of all immigrants because “it works well on animals.”

Although Newsom is concentrating on the recall, he took note of the comments and said he’d look more carefully into the issue after the recall election is over. There were 325 participants on the Zoom conference, the overwhelming percentage of which were from California’s Ethiopian and Eritrean Communities.

The sound the first three minutes is a bit muffled, but improves after that. It is Governor Newsom who is speaking at the beginning, mentioning that his sound had been muted..

Labor Day, Louisville, Colorado. September 6, 2021

September 6, 2021

Teamster’ Union participants in Louisville Colorado Labor Day Parade. September 6, 2021

Nancy, David Fey and I went to the Labor Day Parade in Louisville today. Nancy and I had gone before about ten years ago, when she was active in the state employees union, Colorado WINS. Before that we attended many a Labor Day Parade in Denver but these have stopped and Labor Day in Denver – like so many other progressive holidays doesn’t exist anymore. All that remains is an annual “pig out” where people stuff their faces with overpriced food, and buy crap they don’t need. Whether it’s Labor Day, the People’s Fair – which really used to be a “people’s fair”, Cinco de Mayo – all have been coopted, commercialized stripped of their historical and radical content and made into yet another toothless commercial venture – buy and sell.

The Louisville Labor Day Parade is the vestigial parade that retains a modicum – actually a rather shrunken modicum – of the old, more militant celebration where Colorado labor struts its stuff to remind the state’s residences that this the state of the Sand Creek Massacre, the Ludlow Massacre and the Coors Boycott. And the Louisville area – well the Louisville-Lafayette-Erie area a bit north and west of Denver itself was the site of some of the meanest labor struggles in the early 20th century with full scale armed confrontation between company goons and the State Militia on the one hand and striking miners on the other. Before Louis Tikas, Greek organizer for the miners was murdered by the State Militia at Ludlow, his head blown off at point blank range, Tikas had worked these northern coal fields, organizing miners into the Unted Mineworkers Federation as he would further south along the Front Range north of Trinidad.

So Louisville has its labor history and the children and grand children of those miners who fought for their rights, some dying, still live in the area and come out to celebrate their ancestors on Labor Day.

Still, although we were pleased to find a Labor Day Parade somewhere in the state, and we did enjoy it, this year’s Louisville march wasn’t the same. Gentrification has taken its toll, not just on Denver and Boulder where its impact is more noticable but also on smaller towns like Louisville and Lafayette. In the past the march started on the northside of the Main Street and marched south through the center if town. Main Street has been turned into a walking-shopping mall and is closed off to cars… and parades. As we were temporarily disoriented by the venue change I started asking people in the downtown  center where the parade was starting from. A half dozen or so people had not the slightest idea even that there was a parade, no less what route it would follow. Finally a couple who described themselves as “old timers” pointed up in the right direction. The only remnant of the town’s history of class struggle on Main Street is a statue to its miners., seemingly ignored by Louisville’s newcomers.

The march itself started on the west side of town and marched down Pine St. towards the center, but never leaving the western suburb.

Tribute to Louisville’s history as a mining center

In many ways it was a nice parade, tame – too tame – in comparison with past Labor Day events, but still…

Hundreds, maybe more, turned up to watch it along the route. It included delegations of a couple of high schools with their marching bands, a number of political hopefuls. U.S. Congressman Joe Neguse marched with his wife and daughter, the Daughter of the American Revolution were cancelled out (in our book) by a delegation of Democratic Socialists of America (DSA), that included long-time democratic socialist and journalist, Dave Andeson. A bunch of realtors, never known to pass up a chance to advertise their ware along with a local church, the float of which included someone who looked like Mr. Rogers, also made their appearance as did three fleets of old cars, Thunderbirds, Cadillacs and some shiny cars and pick up trucks from the 1930s, 40s, Many of the paraders threw candy and ice cream to the kids (and one 76 year old unnamed adult).

But few unions showed and participated. The IBEW, Teamsters and Iron Workers all marched with their banners but there was not a trace of the miners whose spirits hover over Louisville, Unions that participated a decade ago when Nancy and I last participated – the AFT, Colorado WINS (the state employee’s union), ASCME, and many others, were nowhere to be seen. Besides, rather than leading the parade, the unions were placed at the very end, which we found degrading. Nor was there any militancy – other than from the Teamster float pictured above, no speeches reminding the participants of labor’s struggles, its sacrifices, why it is that Americans have an eight hour work day with two days off for the weekend.

Labor Day itself, as a social media friend of mine noted was instituted to peel off Labor-USA from May Day, with its more radical significance. And now Labor Day is being gutted, coopted, although not quite in Louisville. Although we wondered on the way home, what it meant to all those young families in attendance. Wsa it just another parade or something special, a reminder, that we just didn’t “get here”, that there is no such thing as “self-made” men and women., and that we are – as the commonly repeated expression puts it – “standing on the shoulders of those who came before” – amidst their blood, sweat and tears. Maybe the participants got it, maybe not.

Labor Day. Denver, Colorado. 1979. A very different feel from today.

September 1, 1939

September 1, 2021

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“September 1, 1939” is undoubtedly one of the great poems of the 20th century, one that marks the beginning of the Second World War and which readers have returned to at times of national and personal crisis. It is also a work that Auden came to despise. “The primary function of poetry, as of all the arts,” wrote Auden, “is to make us more aware of ourselves and the world around us. I do not know if such increased awareness makes us more moral or more efficient. I hope not. I think it makes us more human, and I am quite certain it makes us more difficult to deceive.”

“September 1, 1939”
~W. H. Auden

I sit in one of the dives
On Fifty-second Street
Uncertain and afraid
As the clever hopes expire
Of a low dishonest decade:
Waves of anger and fear
Circulate over the bright
And darkened lands of the earth,
Obsessing our private lives;
The unmentionable odour of death
Offends the September night.

Accurate scholarship can
Unearth the whole offence
From Luther until now
That has driven a culture mad,
Find what occurred at Linz,
What huge imago made
A psychopathic god:
I and the public know
What all schoolchildren learn,
Those to whom evil is done
Do evil in return.

Exiled Thucydides knew
All that a speech can say
About Democracy,
And what dictators do,
The elderly rubbish they talk
To an apathetic grave;
Analysed all in his book,
The enlightenment driven away,
The habit-forming pain,
Mismanagement and grief:
We must suffer them all again.

Into this neutral air
Where blind skyscrapers use
Their full height to proclaim
The strength of Collective Man,
Each language pours its vain
Competitive excuse:
But who can live for long
In an euphoric dream;
Out of the mirror they stare,
Imperialism’s face
And the international wrong.

Faces along the bar
Cling to their average day:
The lights must never go out,
The music must always play,
All the conventions conspire
To make this fort assume
The furniture of home;
Lest we should see where we are,
Lost in a haunted wood,
Children afraid of the night
Who have never been happy or good.

The windiest militant trash
Important Persons shout
Is not so crude as our wish:
What mad Nijinsky wrote
About Diaghilev
Is true of the normal heart;
For the error bred in the bone
Of each woman and each man
Craves what it cannot have,
Not universal love
But to be loved alone.

From the conservative dark
Into the ethical life
The dense commuters come,
Repeating their morning vow;
“I will be true to the wife,
I’ll concentrate more on my work,”
And helpless governors wake
To resume their compulsory game:
Who can release them now,
Who can reach the deaf,
Who can speak for the dumb?

All I have is a voice
To undo the folded lie,
The romantic lie in the brain
Of the sensual man-in-the-street
And the lie of Authority
Whose buildings grope the sky:
There is no such thing as the State
And no one exists alone;
Hunger allows no choice
To the citizen or the police;
We must love one another or die.

Defenceless under the night
Our world in stupor lies;
Yet, dotted everywhere,
Ironic points of light
Flash out wherever the Just
Exchange their messages:
May I, composed like them
Of Eros and of dust,
Beleaguered by the same
Negation and despair,
Show an affirming flame.

KGNU – Hemispheres Interviews Nebiyu Asfaw, of Colorado’s Ethiopian Community. Tuesday, August 31, 2021

August 31, 2021

Taste of Ethiopia. Aurora, Colorado. August 3, 2021

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Colorado and the Horn of Africa – KGNU Special Series

Listen to Nebiyu Asfaw, of Colorado’s Ethiopian Community

“The Tigray People’s Liberation Front is Ethiopia’s version of the Nicaraguan Contras”

Hemispheres: Colorado and the Horn of Africa

This Tuesday evening (August 31, 2021) on Hemispheres, Rob Prince hosta a program called “Colorado and the Horn of Africa”. On tonight’s program Prince interviews Nebiyu Asfaw, a community based organizer in the Ethiopian Community in Aurora, Colorado, and he’s also a founder of the “Annual Taste of Ethiopia”. Rob Prince and Nebiyu Asfaw will start off discussing the current situation of the Ethiopian Community in Colorado and the annual “Taste of Ethiopia” gala event. Then in the second half of program Prince and Asfaw will discuss the current political sitution in Ethiopia. All that and more on Hemispheres at 6:00pm.

 

KGNU Hemispheres interviews Nebiyu Asfaw, Community based organizer, Ethiopian Community in Colorado; Founder of the Annual Taste of Ethiopia. Tuesday, August 31, 2021 @ 6-7 pm Mountain States Time

August 29, 2021

Ethiopians and Eritreans in Colorado celebrate the selection of Abiy Ahmed as the country’s prime minister, late July, 2018 This “unity event” was held at Aurara High School in Aurora, Colorado. 7,000-10,000 people, mostly from Ethiopia and Eritrea were in attendance. It was a moment of hope and national unity. (R. Prince photo)

This coming Tuesday, August 31, 2021, at 6 pm Mountain States Time, KGNU Hemispheres will interview Nebiyu Asfaw, live. Asfaw works with the Ethiopians in Coloradans (a community based organization)  and a founder of “Taste of Ethiopia” – an annual festival in Aurora that introduces the heritage to Ethiopians in Coloradans. The festival brings together, literally, tens of thousands of people to the richness that is Colorado’s Horn of Africa population. Asfaw will discuss the situation of his community, the second largest immigrant community in the state after Latinos.  and one that has become increasingly political active. The program will also probe how Colorado’s Ethiopian Community views the crisis “back home” in Ethiopia which continues to be increasingly charged.

In Colorado, the program can be heard live at 88.5 FM (in Denver) and 1390 AM. It can also be heard live “streaming” at http://www.kgnu.org from anywhere in the world. It lasts one hour.

The program is produced by KGNU Hemispheres’ producer, Jim Nelson and program commentator, Rob Prince. This is the second in a series produced by Prince: Colorado and the Horn of Africa. Other programs will follow over the next year.

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Nebiyu Asfaw – a leader of Colorado’s Ethiopian Community

Nebiyu Asfaw’s Bio:

Nebiyu Asfaw is a native of Ethiopia and a proud Coloradan who is passionate about community service. Nebiyu is considered a thought leader in Colorado’s Ethiopian community where he has served in different capacities for over 15 years. Nebiyu advocates for his community locally and globally through organizing and civic engagement to improve conditions for Ethiopians and underserved minority groups.

As a native of Ethiopia, Nebiyu emphasizes the rich cultural landscape of his community as the co-founder of Colorado’s Taste of Ethiopia Festival; one of Denver’s largest summer festival. Operating under the motto “Once a Year Colorado Goes Ethiopian”, the Taste of Ethiopia has been a great success in mainstreaming the Food, Culture and Arts of the Ethiopian community in the Denver metro area.

Nebiyu is also co-founder and Vice President of the Board at the East Colfax Community Collective; an advocacy organization fighting to protect low and moderate-income residents and locally-owned businesses from displacement by urban revitalization efforts. East Colfax holds a special significance for Nebiyu and many in the Ethiopian and Eritreans communities, a neighborhood that celebrates diversity and welcomes thousands of new immigrants and refugees as the first place of settlement in Colorado since the 1970s.

Nebiyu is also a proud member of Denver’s “100 Men Who Cook” where he volunteers as a Chef to help raise education funds for local African-American students. Through this program; Nebiyu works on promoting plant-based Ethiopian food to the greater African-American community in the metro area. Nebiyu is also co-founder of the Ethiopian American Development council that works to advance the human rights, political, and economic interests of Ethiopian Americans and Ethiopians. Nebiyu also serves in several community advisory roles, including Governor Jared Polis’ Community Engagement Team, Congressman Joe Neguse’s Immigration Stakeholders team and the Community Police Advisory Team (CPAT) for Aurora Chief of Police Vanessa Wilson; where he contributes to the effort to improve police-community relations.

For his contribution to the community; Nebiyu was awarded the “African Americans Who Make a Difference” award in 2019 from the Denver Urban Spectrum; a Congressional Recognition from the United States Congress in 2018, and a “Life Time Achievement” award in 2017 from the East Colfax St. Mary Ethiopian Orthodox Tewahedo Church.

Nebiyu Asfaw interviewed at ETV (Ethiopian Television) recently

Background Article: The GrayZone Interviews Eritrean Journalist Elias Amare on the current conflict in Ethiopia

Audio: The U.S. Defeat in Afghanistan: Understanding the Great Debacle with Ibrahim Kazerooni and Rob Prince. KGNU Hemispheres Middle East Dialogues. Tuesday, August 24, 2021

August 25, 2021

Taliban officials sitting in the presidential place in Kabul

Audio: The U.S. Defeat in Afghanistan: Understanding the Great Debacle with Ibrahim Kazerooni and Rob Prince. KGNU Hemispheres Middle East Dialogues. Tuesday, August 24, 2021

Ibrahim and Rob discussed the U.S. defeat in Afghanistan. The U.S. media has mainly focused on the withdrawal debacle in Kabul while ignoring many serious issues of the past 20 years in Afghanistan. Kazerooni and Prince will go in-depth on this great failure and the loss of life. They’ll also look at the possiblity of civil war breaking out once the U.S. has pulled out of the country.  As they usually do Ibrahim and Rob gave KGNU listeners a perspective and analysis not often heard in the corprate mainstream media. All that and more on Hemispheres and the Middle East Dialogues.

The U.S. Defeat in Afghanistan: Understanding the Great Debacle with Ibrahim Kazerooni and Rob Prince. KGNU Hemispheres Middle East Dialogues. Tuesday, August 24, 2021 @ 6 pm Mountain States Time

August 21, 2021

Taliban officials sitting in the presidential place in Kabul

The U.S. Defeat in Afghanistan: Understanding the Great Debacle with Ibrahim Kazerooni and Rob Prince. KGNU Hemispheres Middle East Dialogues. Tuesday, August 24, 2021 @ 6 pm Mountain States Time

The 20 year U.S. Occupation of Afghanistan, begun in the aftermath of the 9-11-2011attack on the World Trade Center and Pentagon, has ended “not with a bang but with a whimper”. Different intelligence sources in the United States argued that the Washington propped government led by (U.S. educated) Ashraf Ghani would survive perhaps six months after the U.S. pull out. His government did not last 6 day. It collapsed. The U.S. trained, armed and financed Afghan army of 300,000 plus 75,000 strong airforce did not put up a fight. It disintegrated within 24 hours opening the way for a complete take over by the Taliban, the Islamic fundamentalist oriented guerilla movement that had ruled the country briefly in the late 1990s until just after 9-11 of 2001.

What’s the deal?

Kazerooni and Prince give their take on what happened and the prospect for the future.

Colorado Politics INSIGHTS – Conflict in Ethiopia bound to drive politics in Aurora.

August 16, 2021

Colorado Ethiopians and Eritreans celebrating the choice of Abiy Ahmed for prime minister. 7,000-8,000 in attendance. Aurora High School. July 22, 2021 (R. Prince photo)

(Personal note at the end of the article)

Colorado Politics

INSIGHTS – Conflict in Ethiopia bound to drive politics in Aurora

by Joey Bunch joey.bunch@coloradopolitics.com – August 12, 2021

The description sounds all too familiar and at the same time foreboding.

“A power struggle, an election and a push for political reform are among several factors that led to the crisis” is how the BBC described the bloody conflict between Ethiopia’s federal government and the ruling party in the regional state of Tigray.

The violent political transition happening in the country’s north, the cradle of mankind, extends its reach into Colorado politics, and smart purveyors of election matters would be wise to keep an eye on American policy toward the most populated country on the Horn of Africa.

Sadly, the British news service added, “All sides have been accused of atrocities.”

If Colorado politicos, especially Democrats, think fighting there ends there, they should turn in their politico membership card, because they’re neglecting a local constituency I’ve been watching rise in metro Denver for a decade now.

Tens of thousands of Coloradans have an interest in family or the bond of heritage.

Ethiopian immigrants have money, voting blocs, organization, a deep bench of good candidates and untapped potential to engage with either party. The relationship for years seemed to trend left, but that’s not a guarantee, especially in these times of fraught African policy and vague diplomacy.

Politicians have to walk a tightrope in a conflict they might not understand, and the risk is highest in eastern metro Denver, which will be reshaped by legislative and congressional redistricting this year.

Some immediate local political news happened last weekend when the annual Taste of Ethiopia Festival in east Denver was canceled again this year out of an abundance of caution in the ongoing COVID-19 crisis.

Organizers pledged to be back and bigger than ever the first weekend in August next year. With a midterm election in 2022, local politicians should hope so, too.

When the festival reminded festival fans of the postponement on Facebook last weekend, a video played beneath the post, interspersed with pictures of politicians: Gov. Jared Polis, Denver Mayor Michael Hancock, U.S. Rep. Joe Neguse (himself a first-generation American of Eritrean parents), U.S. Rep. Jason Crow and his congressional predecessor, current Aurora Mayor Mike Coffman among a cadre of state legislators and municipal leaders.

Politicos come for the goat kikil but stay for the association with likely voters who are up for grabs.

The civil war in Ethiopia would be a somber, if not chilling backdrop this year. Estimates as high as 52,000 people who have been killed, at least 350,000 in famine condition and more than 5.2 million people at risk of running out of food.

Last month United Nations Ambassador Linda Thomas-Greenfield tweeted, “If the Ethiopian government does not provide unhindered movement of humanitarian supplies, commodities, and aid workers into Tigray, hundreds of thousands of people could starve to death.

“We need access. We need aid. We need to end the conflict.”

Africa Reports says children are being detained, exploited and murdered. Hospitals, schools and refugee camps are being looted and destroyed.

The onus is on Democrats, because Joe Biden is in the White House, and he’s toothlessly called for a ceasefire and urged combatants to work it out.

In March he sent one of his congressional lieutenants, Sen. Chris Coons from the president’s home state of Delaware, to the Ethiopian capital of Addis Ababa.

Biden is under pressure for the U.S. to send unfettered humanitarian aid and launch an independent investigation into the human rights abuses in the region.

The rewards of statesmanship are high for his party in need of a foreign relations win ahead of next year’s midterms.

Rob Prince’s blog on the Colorado Progressive Jewish News laid out an insider’s view of the dynamic:

“Increasingly the Dems are persona non grata in Colorado’s Ethiopian churches, mosques and restaurants given the Biden administration’s support for the Tigray People’s Liberation Front’s separatist offensive. The brief honeymoon between elements of Colorado’s Democratic Party leadership and key Ethiopian personalities is coming to an abrupt end.

“Colorado Ethiopians helped elect Biden nationally and Jason Crow (D-Colorado) to the House in Colorado’s District 6 are now moving in droves into the Republican fold. Not that long ago here in Colorado, the then anti-Trump sentiment among Colorado’s Ethiopian community helped Jason Crow unseat his conservative, Mike Coffman in their contest for the U.S. Congressional seat in Colorado’s District 6. This swing to the Democrats came after then-President Trump urged Egypt to bomb Ethiopia’s Great Ethiopian Renaissance Dam as the dam nears completion.

“The brief honeymoon between Ethiopians-USA and the Biden administration is over.”

Ethiopia is a critical U.S. ally in the Red Sea arena, where good friends are valuable. In May, frustrated with the unceasing conflict, the Biden administration imposed restrictions including cuts in aid to the largest recipient of American aid in sub-Saharan Africa, including nearly $1 billion annually, mostly for humanitarian aid.

Biden’s response was high-minded but unspecific.

“America’s diplomacy will reflect our values: defending freedom, upholding universal rights, respecting the rule of law, and treating every person with dignity,” he said in May.

But what is there to do about accusations of brutality and ethnic cleanings by the ruling government. a friend where one is needed for so long?

How Democrats answer that question, carefully, could go a long way in determining which party sends its members to Washington from Denver’s immigrant-rich eastern horn.

Endnote:

Joey Bunch’s piece in Colorado Politics is one of the first pieces in a (somewhat) mainstream media publication that has tried to challenge the mainstream narrative on the unfolding Ethiopian drama. Bunch understands well, that these faraway events, poorly acknowledge or understood by the Colorado voting public still could affect Colorado electoral results. And he is right about that.  I am quoted in his article (towards the end) – even if he got the title of my blog wrong. It is “View from the Left: Don’t kvetch: Organize. OK Kvetch a little, but then try to get over it and organize. Ignorance is not bliss, it’s just ignorance.”

Colorado Politics, formerly the Colorado Statesmen, is a local Colorado political weekly. If I remember correctly, it is owned by the Anschutz Group, Colorado Billionaire Philip Anschutz’s political play thing. It considers itself, immodestly “the state’s top political and public policy news journal” which might be true because to my knowledge it is the only political and policy news journal in the state. On its webpage Colorado Politics claims that its “award-winning staff keeps tabs on Colorado’s public policy news, and the politicians, lobbyists, interest groups, non-profits and other players behind those policy debates.” Its annual subscription rate of $159 for the digital edition. 

 

U.S. Defeat in Afghanistan: Worse even than Vietnam. Afghanistan, Graveyard of Empires…Again

August 15, 2021

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But regardless, either way, in Afghanistan the United States has just suffered a political/military defeat on a grand scale, nothing less. This twenty year war against Afghanistan was a mistake from the get-go and in fact, the war, supposed revenge for the al Qaeda 9-11 attacks on New York City and Washington DC, this war really had nothing to do with Afghanistan or the Taliban. It was instead used as a springboard for Washington to launch a series of wars along the “arch of instability” – from Afghanistan to Morocco – for Washington to play the only card left in its deck – the military card. In an inept face saving comment, Biden insisted that there is no comparison between the U.S. defeat in Vietnam and the disorderly withdrawal from Afghanistan. Up to a certain point, he is correct, only in the sense that the U.S. defeat in Afghanistan is worse!

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1.

During a press conference a month ago, our president, Joe Biden argued the following points concerning the future of Afghanistan:

∙ that a Taliban seizure of power was not inevitable
∙ that the Afghan army, trained and armed by the United States and backed by the presence of tens of thousand troops – with more than 300,000 personnel in their ranks and with a military air force of 75,000 – was as good as any in the world and could defend the Kabul government against a Taliban take over
∙ Biden denied then what is happening before our eyes today – that the Afghan government is collapsing. He based this comment on the analysis of U.S. intelligence, one of the most well informed, if not THE most well informed in the world.
∙ Biden vociferously denied that there is any comparison between the U.S. historic defeat in Vietnam and the current situation in Afghanistan. In fact the Vietnam-Afghanistan comparison upset him greatly. “No, no, no. Zero. Then the opponent made his way through the gate of our embassy. Six teams, if I remember correctly. Taliban is not the North Vietnamese army. They don’t even have such opportunities. You won’t see people being removed from the roof of the US Embassy in Afghanistan. These are incomparable situations

Today’s events reflect the shallowness and mendacity of these comments –  all of them.  Events have revealed just how far off they are off the mark.

There will be no transition government in which the Ghani government shares power with the Taliban. By yesterday (August 14) most Afghanistan’s provincial capitals had fallen to the Taliban. The high trained 300,000 Afghan army with its additional 75,000 Air Force personnel that Biden and the U.S. media so highly tauted when phfff, collaped overnight and this morning it was announced that President Ashraf Ghani efforts to form some kind of coalition government, to rally those forces still faithful to Kabul, had completely failed. That was yesterday. Today, Ghani himself and a small entourage fled the country to the safety of Tajikistan.

Read more…

On Sources – 1: Dear Russia and China haters….

August 13, 2021
Dear China and Russia haters, 
 
First, as you should know, you’ve been duped (again).
 
You keep falling for it, don’t you? Yes, yes, yes, in both countries there are problems, all round fuck-ups – it seems that where humans are involved – this is inevitable – you know, the old greed, lust, ambition, narcissitic stuff. But… you’re going to compare the problems in China with the disaster unfolding in the US of A on all levels? political crisis where the two main parties are slugging it out, the swollen military budget with its 800+ military bases around the world and rampant military intervention the world round? And racism, the rampant, ever expanding … U.S. is Number One in that category, etc, etc.
 
No the USA is not, as my in-laws suggest “the best place, next to heaven”, “God’s country,” etc… Trumpty-Dumpty’s reference to African nations as “shithole” countries, is an excellent example of what psychologists call “projection”..
 
Anyway… SOME OF YOU are genuinely interested in foreign policy… Good. in the end it IS one world and we are all connected in a myriad of ways that transcend narrow, nationalist considerations… You folks, the “internationalists” among us need to start diversifying your sources of information. You’re simply NOT going to get a clearer picture of the world by reading the Denver Post, NY Times, Wall Street Journal or watching CNN – or worse, FOX News. And for those of you who think that somehow the BBC is a more objective alternative — it’s the same cool aid, political pablum as we get here, only better written or more articulately presented. Those Brits do have a way with words… but the message is THE SAME, in the end, no more than sugar coated political or journalistic poison, or, as it used to be described – Yellow Journalism.
 
In some of the posts that follow, I am going to suggest other news sources for you to follow. OF COURSE, read them skeptically too. In time you’ll be able to separate what is news from what is propaganda, lies, exaggerations etc… Below are two sources on China worth reading:
 
1. Subscribe to the Qiao Collective publications on China on Facebook.. As it statement tells us – it is the work of diaspera Chinese who define themselves as Marxist. They have already put together impressive bibliographies on modern Chinese history, on Hong Kong, Xinjiang, the U.S. military build up in the S. China Sea
 
2. Here is another source: – https://dongshengnews.org/en/ – Dongsheng news from China. Yes it’s an official source – learn how to discern what is fact from what is something less, but that said, you’ll find it sober and for the most part, objective (whatever that means these days).
 
3. On reporting about Russia – again, there are many decent sources – I won’t overwhelm you with a bio – although overtime I will suggest many others. But for now, you could do a lot worse – and not much better – than following the reports of Fred Weir on Facebook, the Moscow correspondent of the Christian Science Monitor and a regular contributor to Facebook.
 
I am going to add to this post over time… slowly, surely. Hope  you find it helpful.

Tunisia Crisis – The Crux of the Matter; How to Emerge from the Depths? A live interview with Ibrahim Kazerooni and Rob Prince.

August 6, 2021
The Gate to the old city – Tunis. (November 2011. R. Prince photo)

Tunisia Crisis – The Crux of the Matter; How to Emerge from the Depths? A live interview with Ibrahim Kazerooni and Rob Prince. Thursday, August 5, 2021. 8:30 pm Mountain States Time.

The current all round crisis in Tunisia has been in the making for as long as 40 years: the country’s failure to address the continually deepening socio-economic crisis which has fueled its other problems: constitutional gridlock, debt repayment, massive and unrestrained corruption, collapse of the country’s social net. Washington, Paris and the institutions they dominate (World Bank, IMF) are not neutral observers in these events but have done much to aggrevate Tunisia’s crisis. How to emerge from the depths?

YouTube Live: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=h9bGwDBLSqI

Facebook Live: https://www.facebook.com/RobPrince1106/videos/839755716899817

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(Ibrahim Kazerooni is an Imam at the Islamic Center of North America in Dearborn, Michigan. He received a joint Phd. in Religion and Social Change from the University of Denver’s Korbel School of International Studies and the Iliff School of Theology. He is originally from Najav, Iraq.)

(Rob Prince is a retired Senior Lecturer of International Studies at the University of Denver’s Korbel School of International Studies. He is a former Peace Corps volunteer and staff member in Tunis and Sousse, Tunisia. Living in Colorado for the past 52 years, he is originally from New York City.)

Are Colorado’s Ethiopian’s stampeding from the Democratic Party? What’s the deal?

August 4, 2021
 
Ethiopians and Eritreans of all stripes celebrating the removal of the Tigray People’s Liberation Front from power and the possibilities of a more united, prosperous countries with peace between them. Aurora High School, July, 2018, 7,00-10,000 in attemdance (R. Prince photo)
Washington’s endgame in Ethiopia remains unclear. Is its goal to limit the emergence of a regional Horn of Africa hegemonic power, whose politics will be more independent of Washington? Whose potential for energizing the entire region are a threat to U.S. interests? To partition Ethiopia in a divide-and-conquer manner that has marked the history of both European colonialism and American post war neo-colonialism? Counter Chinese growing influence in the Horn of Africa? Support Egypt (and Israel) in that country’s irrational fears of the consequences of the completion of the Great Ethiopian Renaissance Dam?
  1. Colorado Ethiopians Stampede from the Democratic Party?

Large numbers of Ethiopians in Colorado are bolting from supporting Democratic candidates to seek their fortune with Republicans. Anecdotally, it is nothing short of a stampede that would effect politics in the state long term. In a state where swing voters often make the difference the tens of thousands or so Coloradans of Ethiopian descent, who tend to vote as a block can make the difference between who gets elected to higher office.

There is a misconception that the community is split down the middle between the supports of the Abiy government in Addis Ababa and those who stand with the Tigray People’s Liberation Front. This is the stuff of which fantasies are made. 95% of Ethiopia’s diaspora community in Colorado (and elsewhere) stand with Abiy Ahmed, less than 5% have thrown their lot with the TPLF.

I recall a meeting several years ago between members of the mainstream Ethiopian Community of Colorado in an Aurora Ethiopian restaurant with the state’s Democratic Party leadership. There, the Party leadership heard many versions of “you only show up at election time and then we never hear from you till the next election” Increased focus did follow that produced temporary electoral results.

Much of that good will however has evaporated. Increasingly the Dems are persona non grata in Colorado’s Ethiopian churches, mosques and restaurants given the Biden Administration’s support for the Tigray People’s Liberation Front’s separatist offensive. The brief honeymoon between elements of Colorado’s Democratic Party leadership and key Ethiopian personalities is coming to an abrupt end.

Colorado Ethiopians helped elect Biden nationally and Jason Crow (D – Colorado) to the House in Colorado’s District 6 are now moving in droves into the Republican fold. Not that long ago here in Colorado, the then anti-Trump sentiment among Colorado’s Ethiopian community helped Jason Crow unseat his conservative, Mike Coffman in their contest for the U.S. Congressional seat in Colorado’s District 6. This swing to the Democrats came after then-President Trump urged Egypt to bomb Ethiopia’s Great Ethiopian Renaissance Dam as the dam nears completion.

Read more…

Tunisia Crisis – The Crux of the Matter; How to Emerge from the Depths? A live interview with Ibrahim Kazerooni and Rob Prince. Thursday, August 5, 2021. 8:30 pm Mountain States Time.

August 2, 2021
Entrance to the Tunis Medina – November, 2011

Tunisia Crisis – The Crux of the Matter; How to Emerge from the Depths? A live interview with Ibrahim Kazerooni and Rob Prince. Thursday, August 5, 2021. 8:30 pm Mountain States Time.

The current all round crisis in Tunisia has been in the making for as long as 40 years: the country’s failure to address the continually deepening socio-economic crisis which has fueled its other problems: constitutional gridlock, debt repayment, massive and unrestrained corruption, collapse of the country’s social net. Washington, Paris and the institutions they dominate (World Bank, IMF) are not neutral observers in these events but have done much to aggrevate Tunisia’s crisis. How to emerge from the depths?

YouTube Live: https://streamyard.com/view_on_platform/youtube?link=https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=h9bGwDBLSqI

Facebook Live: https://www.facebook.com/live/producer/schedule/839755716899817