Tag Archives: History

It is not just Bashar al-Assad who is ‘responsible’ for the rise of Isis

Talk to Bashar al-Assad’s enemies, and they’ll tell you he’s to blame for every man, woman and child who has been killed in Syria. That’s 400,000. Or 450,000. Or 500,000. The figures, so carelessly put together by the media, the UN and the various opposition groups who naturally want the statistics to be as high as possible, now embrace 100,000 souls who may – or may not – be still alive. But death tolls have nothing to do with compassion. They are about blame, about culpability.

And the claim that Assad is responsible for every one of the dead rests on the notion that he ‘started the war’. In his case, this means that the arrest and torture – and in one case, reported killing – of a group of schoolchildren who had written anti-regime graffiti on a wall in the southern city of Dera’a, was the ignition switch for the mass opposition rallies and subsequent armed uprising which has devastated Syria. In the case of Dera’a, Assad realised the seriousness of the event – he fired the city governor and sent his deputy foreign minister, Faisal Mekdad to see the families. Too late.

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Posted by on April 20, 2017 in Middle East


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Trump’s dangerous delusions about Islam

In the aftermath of the attacks of 11 September 2001, amid the grief and rage that followed the toppling of the World Trade Center, President George W Bush did not declare war on Islam. “These acts of violence against innocents,” he told Americans in the week after 3,000 people were killed by Muslim terrorists, “violate the fundamental tenets of the Islamic faith.” The war that Bush went on to declare soon thereafter was not against a religion, but against “terror” – and within that baggy term, he focused on al-Qaida, “a fringe movement”, in Bush’s words, “that perverts the peaceful teaching of Islam”.Sign up to the long read emailRead moreBush’s tact may have been caused by a short-term desire to rein in attacks on American Muslims (and others mistaken for them, such as Sikhs) in the wake of 9/11. But it also served the longer view of the president and his advisers, who believed that the Muslim world, much like everywhere else, was capable of being improved by exposure to democracy, free market capitalism and individual freedoms. In this regard, Bush’s views were in line with the then-influential “end of history” thesis proposed by the American political scientist Francis Fukuyama in 1989. With the end of the cold war, Fukuyama argued, it was only a matter of time before western liberal democracy was recognised everywhere as the best form of government. By the turn of the century, the belief that we were witnessing “the total exhaustion of viable systematic alternatives to western liberalism” was never more widely shared, and it lay behind one of Bush’s professed goals in invading Afghanistan and Iraq: to shepherd the Muslim world towards the universal ideology of liberalism.

Source: Trump’s dangerous delusions about Islam | Christopher de Bellaigue | News | The Guardian

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Posted by on April 19, 2017 in Middle East, North America


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Sul genocidio del Ruanda ci sono ancora molte domande aperte 

A distanza di 23 anni, la conoscenza del genocidio compiuto dagli estremisti hutu contro i tutsi – di cui sono state vittime anche numerosi tra i cosiddetti hutu moderati – non è ancora diventata patrimonio comune. Il trascorrere del tempo, in teoria, potrebbe avere una funzione positiva: l’enormità del massacro, la sua dinamica complicata, la storia precedente e le cronache successive, richiedono studi e analisi approfondite. Ma la sensazione è che il passare degli anni giochi contro la costruzione di una memoria collettiva di quel genocidio. La stessa giornata istituita dalle Nazioni Unite per ricordarne l’inizio, il 7 aprile, sembra appassionare sempre meno.

Source: Sul genocidio del Ruanda ci sono ancora molte domande aperte – Daniele Scaglione – Internazionale

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Posted by on April 10, 2017 in Africa


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I libri che smontano il mito del colonialismo buono degli italiani 

La sera del 21 marzo 2017 la sala del cinema Farnese a Roma è piena. I giovani sono molti.L’occasione d’altronde è di quelle da non perdere: la proiezione del documentario di Raoul Peck I’m not your negro, basato su uno scritto inedito di James Baldwin. Il documentario ripercorre con intelligenza e sentimento la stagione afroamericana dei diritti civili e le vicende di tre personaggi – Malcolm X, Martin Luther King, Medgar Evers – uccisi per il loro impegno contro il razzismo. Peck è un regista che non dà tregua. Ogni fotogramma è un invito a non abbassare la guardia, a non nascondersi dietro il velo del conformismo.Sa come ferirci con immagini di linciaggi reali o ricostruiti per lo schermo. Sa come scuotere le coscienze assopite o troppo impaurite per agire. E vediamo in ogni inquadratura quel corpo nero, quel popolo nero, maltrattato, umiliato, annientato, polverizzato. Un corpo che a seconda delle esigenze del potere diventa portatore delle ansie e della cattiva coscienza di un’intera nazione.

Source: I libri che smontano il mito del colonialismo buono degli italiani – Igiaba Scego – Internazionale

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Posted by on April 10, 2017 in European Union


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It is President Erdogan’s Turkey, not humane Germany, that is guilty of ‘Nazi practices’

There was something especially obscene about Turkish president Erdogan’s comparison of Angela Merkel’s Germany with the Nazis. “Nazi practices” were going on in Germany, he said, after Berlin banned Turkish political demonstrations – something which Erdogan does regularly. It’s not just that Germany daily repents its destruction of Europe’s Jews in the Second World War. Nor that Merkel’s extraordinary and humane – and, for her, politically damaging — decision to allow the Middle East’s refugees to enter her country was the greatest act of contrition for Hitler’s crimes. It’s that Erdogan’s own nation stayed heroically neutral in World War Two.

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Posted by on March 23, 2017 in Middle East


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La storia intorno alle foibe

Dal 2005, ogni 10 febbraio, sui mezzi d’informazione italiani viene raccontata una versione parziale e distorta di quel che accadde a Trieste, in Istria e in tutta quanta la “Venezia Giulia” nella prima metà del ventesimo secolo. La legge che nel 2004 ha istituito il “Giorno del ricordo” allude en passant alla “complessa vicenda del confine orientale”, ma non vi è alcuna complessità nella vulgata che tale ricorrenza ha fissato e cristallizzato. Una vulgata italocentrica, a dispetto della multiculturalità di quelle regioni.L’inquadratura, strettissima e al tempo stesso sgranata, si concentra sugli episodi di violenza chiamati – per metonimia – “foibe” e sull‘“esodo”, ovvero l’abbandono di Istria e Dalmazia, a cominciare dal 1945, da parte della maggioranza della popolazione italofona di quelle regioni.

Source: La storia intorno alle foibe – Nicoletta Bourbaki – Internazionale

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Posted by on February 14, 2017 in European Union


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When It’s Too Late to Stop Fascism, According to Stefan Zweig

The Austrian émigré writer Stefan Zweig composed the first draft of his memoir, “The World of Yesterday,” in a feverish rapture during the summer of 1941, as headlines gave every indication that civilization was being swallowed in darkness. Zweig’s beloved France had fallen to the Nazis the previous year. The Blitz had reached a peak in May, with almost fifteen hundred Londoners dying in a single night. Operation Barbarossa, the colossal invasion of the Soviet Union by the Axis powers, in which nearly a million people would die, had launched in June. Hitler’s Einsatzgruppen, mobile killing squads, roared along just behind the Army, massacring Jews and other vilified groups—often with the help of local police and ordinary citizens.

Source: When It’s Too Late to Stop Fascism, According to Stefan Zweig – The New Yorker

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Posted by on February 14, 2017 in Uncategorized


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The Origins of Anger | Pankaj Mishra

There is, plainly, no deep logic to the unfolding of time. But then we identify emollient patterns and noble purposes in history because evasions, suppressions and downright falsehoods have resulted, over time, in a massive store of defective knowledge—about the West and the non-West alike. Obscuring the costs of the West’s own “progress,” it turns out, severely undermined the possibility of explaining the proliferation of a politics of violence and hysteria in the world today, let alone finding a way to contain it.Thus, the intellectual cottage industry about Islam and Islamism that is sent into overdrive after every terrorist attack rarely lingers on the fact that it was France’s revolutionary state that first introduced terror into the political realm. (Devout Spanish peasants, fighting back against Napoleon’s secular universalist project, were the first irregulars to wage war against a regular modern nation state and army.)

Source: The Origins of Anger | Pankaj Mishra

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Posted by on February 10, 2017 in Uncategorized



Life Under Alternative Facts

There was no real cognitive dissonance existing in the minds of most people in the Soviet Union of the nineteen-seventies and eighties. Everyone knew that everything said on the radio or on television, everything (with the exception of weather reports or sports results) was a blatant lie, spoken pro forma, just because that’s the way things were and had to be: outside, it was dark or light or drizzly or sunny or cold and snowy or pleasantly warm or too hot for comfort—and on the radio and on TV and in newspapers and magazines the untold legions of official-propaganda folks talked about the kind of reality which did not remotely exist in the reality of Soviet people’s lives.

Source: Life Under Alternative Facts – The New Yorker

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Posted by on February 9, 2017 in Uncategorized


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What the history of Greece can tell us about the fight against Isis

Mass beheadings, public throat-cutting, eye-gouging, the chopping up of corpses, torture and mass executions into open graves. Professional butchers employed to decapitate victims. Remind you of anything?  No, not the cruelty of Isis, the cult which the US Joint Chiefs of Staff labelled “apocalyptic” only a couple of years ago – and with whom Donald Trump now thinks he is at war.

No, think instead of those nice, relaxed, laid-back, ouzo-drinking, euro-spending Greeks. The years between 1944 and 1949 were enough to curdle anyone’s blood in the land where European civilisation supposedly began, and a new study of that frightful extermination in Greece reads like a template of Syria, Iraq and all the other landscapes stained with the blood of Isis’s victims.

Source: What the history of Greece can tell us about the fight against Isis

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Posted by on February 8, 2017 in European Union


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