France | USA

Glenn Greenwald, Nermeen Shaikh, Amy Goodman: “Shameless” U.S. Officials Exploit Paris Attacks to Defend Spying & Attack Snowden (Democracy Now)

As France and Belgium move to expand state power in the aftermath of the Paris attacks, top U.S. officials have renewed a push to defend mass surveillance and dismiss those who challenge it. On Wednesday, FBI Director James Comey said intelligence and law enforcement officials need to have access to encrypted information on smartphones, despite no evidence that the Paris attackers used encryption. Meanwhile, others have used the Paris attacks to criticize NSA whistleblower Edward Snowden. In recent days, CIA Director John Brennan has suggested revelations about mass spying have made it harder to find terrorists, while former CIA Director James Woolsey has said Snowden has blood on his hands. “We have not heard such blatant, shameless lying from intelligence and military officials since 2002 and 2003 when they propagandized the country into invading Iraq based on utterly false pretenses,” says The Intercept’s Glenn Greenwald, the Pulitzer-winning journalist who exposed NSA mass surveillance based on Snowden’s leaks.

Amy Goodman, Nermeen Shaikh: Glenn Greenwald on “Submissive” Media’s Drumbeat for War and “Despicable” Anti-Muslim Scapegoating (Democracy Now)
Grey Anderson: The French Emergency (Jacobin)

From Algeria to the Paris attacks, French elites have used state of emergency legislation to consolidate power and repress dissent.

Ian Birchall: The Wrong Kind of Secularism (Jacobin)

The French secular ideal of laïcité is not a misused noble idea — it is deeply flawed at its roots…
Today laïcité serves as a justification for a variety of things — from banning headscarf-wearing mothers from accompanying their children on school outings to telling Muslim and Jewish schoolchildren that they must eat pork or go hungry.
But laïcité is not simply an idea that has been appropriated by the Right for political or cultural ends; it is also a value claimed by the Left, even the far left…
In 1886 Lafargue published a satire entitled La Religion du capital (The Religion of Capital). He imagined a conference in London with economic and political representatives of European capitalism — Clemenceau, Rothschild, Gladstone, Herbert Spencer, von Moltke, etc. Among those attending were Ferry and Paul Bert, who as education minister had been one of Ferry’s main allies in establishing laïcité. Their concern was to enable the survival of capitalism. And for that, a religion of some sort was required…
Some of the sharpest criticism of laïcité came from the anarchist and syndicalist currents; the anarchist position could be summed up as “neither the church nor the state.” As Sébastien Faure put it, the Christian school was “organised by the Church and for it, while the “école laïque” was “organised by the state and for it.” He counterposed the idea of “the school of the future . . . organised for the child.” André Lorulot put it rather more crudely, calling state schoolteachers “intellectual cops of the capitalist class.”…
Despite some opposing voices, laïcité largely achieved its goal of solidifying a national identity backed by military might…
The traditions of criticism of laïcité persisted after the First World War. The journal Clarté, close to but not entirely controlled by the Communist Party, reported on educational developments in post-revolutionary Russia that might offer an alternative to church or state education. An educational conference held in Moscow in 1919, for instance, dismissed academic neutrality and laïcité as a “mug’s game” (attrape-nigaud) designed to serve the interests of the bourgeoisie…
Today, with the concept being used in the service of Islamophobia, it is especially important to knock laïcité down from its elevated status. And that requires understanding laïcité not as a noble ideal that has been misinterpreted and distorted, but as deeply flawed from the outset.

The media after Paris: from fear to loathing, by way of made-up facts (Guardian)

Anti-immigration sentiment across Europe begins to make more sense when you realise that Brits and Spaniards think they have twice as many immigrants in their country as they actually do, the Italians, Belgians and French assume there are three times as many as there are, the Hungarians eight times and the Poles more than 30 times.

Gilbert Achcar: France Returns to the State of Exception (Jacobin)

The discourse of war is already upon us. But it must be resisted.

Don’t let them use Paris as a pretext! (International Action Center)
John Catalinotto: Historic crimes of the French military (International Action Centre)

Many young people in Paris were innocent victims of the Nov. 13 attack, but that doesn’t mean that the French imperialist state is innocent. While the 1789 French Revolution raised the idealistic slogans of liberty, equality and fraternity, French imperialism, which developed from that bourgeois revolution, has a bloody history across the world…
When imperialist France had just emerged from German occupation after World War II, the Arab and Berber peoples began carrying out mass demonstrations and uprisings in Algeria against French colonial rule. To suppress that rebellion, for several days French troops and police, acting on orders from the French president issued on May 8, 1945, massacred as many as 45,000 Algerians who peacefully demonstrated in the cities of Setif, Guelma and Kherrata. The French occupiers killed as many as a million Algerians trying to hold onto that nation, until the people finally won their liberation in 1962.
In 1947, French colonial troops slaughtered 89,000 people to “pacify” a rebellion in Madagascar, an African island in the Indian Ocean. During the long French war in Indochina, the French military killed many more Vietnamese, Laotians, Cambodians and some Chinese until French imperialism was finally driven out in 1954.
Even in Paris itself, on Oct. 17, 1961, French police opened fire on a demonstration of 30,000 Algerians, killing between 70 and 300 people …
This history of imperialist military intervention continues. French jets are bombing today in Syria and Iraq, along with the U.S.-led “coalition.” French jets opened the air war against Libya in 2011, leading NATO’s barbaric destruction of that country.

Mass Surveillance Isn’t the Answer to Fighting Terrorism (New York Times)

It’s a wretched yet predictable ritual after each new terrorist attack: Certain politicians and government officials waste no time exploiting the tragedy for their own ends. The remarks on Monday by John Brennan, the director of the Central Intelligence Agency, took that to a new and disgraceful low…
It is hard to believe anything Mr. Brennan says.

The Drone Papers (Intercept)

The Intercept has obtained a cache of secret documents detailing the inner workings of the U.S. military’s assassination program in Afghanistan, Yemen, and Somalia. The documents, provided by a whistleblower, offer an unprecedented glimpse into Obama’s drone wars.

Nicole Aschoff, Connor Kilpatrick, Paul Heideman: The Socialism of Bernie Sanders (Jacobin)

The novelty of Bernie Sanders has long been his adoption of the term “democratic socialist” to describe his political beliefs. On the presidential campaign trail, by way of definition, he’s repeatedly pointed to European countries with relatively robust welfare states.
On Thursday, in a major campaign address, he turned back stateside. Sanders cast himself not as the heir of Eugene Debs — a portrait of whom hangs in his congressional office — but of Franklin Roosevelt. In short, for Sanders, democratic socialism means New Deal liberalism.

Libya | Korea | Britain | Guyana | Palestine/Israel | Syria | Somalia | Greece

Summer break is long over and this post is long overdue.

Libya

Glen Ford: Black Libya City Said to Fall to Rebel Siege (Black Agenda Report)
Richard Seymour: Libya’s spectacular revolution has been disgraced by racism (Guardian)
Pepe Escobar: It’s a TOTAL war, monsieur (Asia Times)
Libya, Africa and the new world order: An open letter (Pambazuka News)
A blast from the past:
Gareth Peirce: The Framing of al-Megrahi (London Review of Books)
Maximilian C. Forte: The Top Ten Myths in the War Against Libya (CounterPunch)
Kim Sengupta: Rebels settle scores in Libyan capital (Independent)
Chris Stephen: Libya conflict: British and French soldiers help rebels prepare Sirte attack (Guardian)
Richard Norton-Taylor: SAS troopers help co-ordinate rebel attacks in Libya (Guardian)
Just a quick reminder what the UN had decreed: “The Security Council … [a]uthorizes Member States … to take all necessary measures … to protect civilians …, while excluding a foreign occupation force of any form on any part of Libyan territory”. It’s also worth reading again what the Chinese representative said at the time.
C. J. Chivers: Libyan Rebels Accused of Pillage and Beatings (New York Times)
C. J. Chivers: Looting and Arson in Qawalish (New York Times)
AP: Libyan rebels accused of burning homes and looting (Guardian)

Korea

Tim Beal: Russia Uses Economics to Promote Peace in Northeast Asia (CounterPunch)

Britain

Slavoj Žižek: Shoplifters of the World Unite (London Review of Books)
Nina Power: There is a context to London’s riots that can’t be ignored (Guardian)
Simon Basketter: Daniel Morgan: The stench of corruption underlies murder cover-up (Socialist Worker)
Jeff Sparrow: The Phony Populism of Rupert Murdoch (Counterpunch)
Bruce Page: A Real History of Rupert Murdoch (Counterpunch)

USA

The Roots of the Islamophobia Network in America (Center for American Progress)

Chile

Reuters: Chilean teenager shot dead during protests (Guardian)

Guyana

AP: MI5 files reveal details of 1953 coup that overthrew British Guiana’s leaders (Guardian)

Palestine/Israel

Catrina Stewart: How Israel takes its revenge on boys who throw stones (Independent)
M. J. Rosenberg: CIA veteran: Israel to attack Iran in fall (Aljazeera)
Noam Sheizaf: Everything you (never) wanted to know about Israel’s anti-boycott law: A reader’s guide to democracy’s dark hour (+972)
Henning Mankell: Israelis cannot make the Gaza reality disappear | משטר ישראלי שעיניו מכוסות (Ha’aretz)
Knut Mellenthin: Unantastbar unbegrenzt (junge Welt)

Syria

Syria as part of Arab popular revolt (Anti-imperialist Camp)

Freedom is anti-imperialist, truth is revolutionary, imperialist intervention is never justified

“Assad is provoking civil war and foreign intervention.” Interview with Wajdy Mustafa, Syrian leftist oppositionist (Anti-Imperialist Camp)
Will the Syrian exile opposition find its way to the people [sic] movement? On the patriotic and the pro-Western opposition to the Assad regime (Anti-Imperialist Camp)

Somalia

Jeremy Scahill: The CIA’s Secret Sites in Somalia (Nation)

Greece

John Lanchester: Can the eurozone survive the Greek debt crisis? (Guardian)

First, the “bailouts”, as they are always called, are no such thing. Taxpayer-funded capital injections into otherwise bankrupt banks were bailouts. The Greek “bailouts” are loans, pure and simple. The money will have to be repaid, and repaid at ungenerous rates of interest: in this case, 5.2%. These short-sighted and grasping interest rates, motivated by the need to provide political cover for other governments, make an already critical problem significantly worse. The Greeks know they are being lent money just so they can work very hard for lower wages and higher taxes in order to pay it back at great cost. The outstanding Greek debt is mainly owned by French and German banks, which is why the western European governments are especially keen on the “bailout”: it’s helping to keep their banks solvent. The Indignati do not find that a compelling reason to embrace a decade or so of abject misery. They want the Greek government to default, and the banks to accept losses for loans they shouldn’t have made in the first place.