Making Islam Democratic: Social Movements and the Post-Islamist Turn

Middle East Studies Online Journal- ISSN 2109-9618- Issue n°5. Volume 2 ( 2011)

Etudes du Moyen-Orient. N°5. Volume 2. 2011

2011.دراسات الشرق الأوسط، مجلة فكرية محكمة. العدد الخامس . المجلد الثاني

Book Review

Author: Asef Bayat
Book: Making Islam Democratic: Social Movements and the Post-Islamist Turn.
Publisher: Stanford: Stanford University Press, 2007.
Hardcover: 320 pages
  ISBN-10: 0804755949
  ISBN-13: 978-0804755948
Key-words: democracy, Egypt, Iran, Islam, Middle East, political history, political theology.
Reviewed by: Jacob Greenberg

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سوريا على طريق ثورة الكرامة والحرية

Middle East Studies Online Journal- ISSN 2109-9618- Issue n°5. Volume 2 ( 2011)

Etudes du Moyen-Orient. N°5. Volume 2. 2011.

دراسات الشرق الأوسط، مجلة فكرية محكمة. العدد الخامس . المجلد الثاني2011

Burhan Ghalioun
Abstract: Since the outbreak of the revolution of dignity and freedom in Tunisia and Egypt and its resounding transfer to all Arab countries, including oil-rich Gulf states, and more established monarchies in other countries, the silence of  the Syrian people drew the attention of all observers in the world. And many of them competed in analysing the reasons that prevented the refreshing winds of freedom sweeping across the Arab region, and igniting the enthusiasm of people, and uniting their thoughts and feelings and will, as it never happened before, to influence the course of the Syrian life.
Key-words: Syria, Arab uprisings, revolution, Democracy, Middle East…

د.برهان غليون§

لفت صمت الشعب السوري أمام اندلاع ثورة الكرامة والحرية في تونس ومصر وانتقالها المدوي إلى جميع الأقطار العربية، بما فيها دول الخليج النفطية الغنية، والملكيات الأكثر رسوخا في بعض الأقطار، نظر جميع المراقبين في العالم. وتبارى كثير من هؤلاء في تحليل الأسباب التي منعت رياح الحرية المنعشة التي هبت على المنطقة العربية، وألهبت حماسة شعوبها، ووحدت فكرهم ومشاعرهم وإرادتهم، كما لم يحصل في أي زمن سابق، من التأثير في مجرى الحياة السورية.

تنزيل المقالة كاملة = ملف ب د ف

  • § أستاذ علم الإجتماع السياسي بجامعة السوربون، ومدير مركز دراسات الشرق المعاصر. باريس.


The Era of Globalisation and Ethnical Developments in the Middle East

Middle East Studies Online Journal- ISSN 2109-9618- Issue n°5. Volume 2 ( 2011)

Etudes du Moyen-Orient. N°5. Volume 2. 2011.دراسات الشرق الأوسط، مجلة فكرية محكمة. العدد الخامس . المجلد الثاني

Research Paper

Akbar Valadbigi§ Islamic Azad University, Sanandaj Branch, Kurdistan, Iran (
Shahab Ghobadi§§ Islamic Azad University, Sanandaj Branch, Kurdistan, Iran (
Abstract: Ethnicities and nations are nowadays engaged in identity-related issues and their subsequent challenges more than ever. In the present paper, the major identity-related challenges of the Middle Eastern ethnicities are discussed from the point of view of globalisation. There are various and contradictory insights on globalisation, nation, and ethnicity. This paper seeks to discuss these subjects while holding a cultural view and go on to suggest solutions like tolerance, opportunity-making, paying attention to the elites, and maintaining plurality.
Globalisation in the Middle East, at least during the last three decades has functioned as a double-edged sword; at one hand, it has promoted employment and increasing ethnic and identity diversities and movements; at the other hand, however, it has sought to equalize ethnic-identity relations, and create structural development in unsuitable patterns on consumption, conflict-making, cultural genocide, collapse of plurality and so on.
Our main emphasis is on cultural mechanisms and plural opportunities that can be considered as some excellent opportunities for the governments of the Middle East and be applied as a unique alternative to mitigate the current destructive conflicts.
Then, we argue that civil society, tolerance and considering diplomatic relations, viewing the existing differences as opportunity ,and morally supporting the identities are some rational solutions for the region’s governments in the era of globalisation.
Key-words: Globalisation, the Middle East, ethnicities, civil society, cultural mechanisms, ethnic and identity-related issues…

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  • § Akbar Valadbigi is PhD candidate at the Department of Sociology of Yerevan State University (YSU) and lecturer at the universities of Kurdistan, Iran. He is a member to several committees of the International Sociological Association (ISA). He is now working on his doctoral dissertation that is about social capital and trust.  His research interests include social capital, poverty, ethnicities, and globalization. He has published actively on the socio-cultural and political affairs of the Middle East.  He has also been invited to numerous international conferences to present his works. His latest publication, “Perspective” which has a socio-cultural insight into the regional and international developments of the region.
  • §§ Shahab Ghobadi is majoring in English language and literature at the University of Kurdistan, Iran. He will graduate with a B.A. degree in 2012. During the last two years, he has focused most of his researches and studies on his main research interests, globalization, ethnicities, and the Middle East studies. As a co-author to Mr. Valadbigi, he has recently published “Challenges to sociology in Iran” in Asian Social Sciences. He is also a member to the International Sociological Association(ISA). He is going to continue his education in the Middle East studies and is in touch with several international universities to get a position for his M.A. course.


Iraqi Dogmatism: A Historical and Critical Approach

Middle East Studies Online Journal- ISSN 2109-9618- Issue n°5. Volume 2 ( 2011)

Etudes du Moyen-Orient. N°5. Volume 2. 2011

دراسات الشرق الأوسط، مجلة فكرية محكمة. العدد الخامس . العدد الثاني 2011

Research Paper

Rawaa Mahmoud Hussain§
Abstract: Iraq has a long history among world civilizations, a strategic geopolitical place which connects the ancient world continents; rivers shape the history of humanity, and different ideologies that seem to be conflicting all over the Iraqi history. Iraq also played a major role in the world of middle ages; when Baghdad became the capital of the caliphate, which stretched from the east to the west. It has been shaped by a group of communities and minorities and ethnic groups that coexist with each other through a long history. However, Iraqi ideology mobilizes socially, politically, and historically in a dogmatic context, which forces analysis this dogmatism from many perspectives, historically, philosophically and critically.
Key-words: Iraq, Mesopotamia, philosophy, rites, ideology, values, dogmatism…

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  • § Asst. Prof. Dr. Islamic Philosophy. Islamic University – Baghdad.

On The Global Political And Economic Environment Of The Current Al-Jazeera Revolution

Middle East Studies Online Journal- ISSN 2109-9618- Issue n°5. Volume 2 ( 2011)

Etudes du Moyen-Orient. N°5. Volume 2. 2011

دراسات الشرق الأوسط، مجلة فكرية محكمة. العدد الخامس . العدد الثاني 2011

Research Paper

Arno Tausch§
Abstract: The current revolutionary movement in large parts of the Muslim, especially the Arab world, which the present author is inclined to view as the Al Jazeera revolution (El-Nawawy and Iskander, 2002; Miles, 2005; Rushing and Elder, 2007; Seib, 2008) must be also viewed in the larger framework of the movements, trends and cycles of the global and the European economy, and the trends and cycles of global conflict in the world system. Are international conditions likely to support a generalized breakthrough towards democracy and human rights, especially in the Arab countries, or is the global economy and the European economy, the most important developed neighbouring region for the Arab countries, characterized by globalization, instability, and conflict?
Among the existing theoretical approaches, which are of relevance in this context, the contribution by the Austrian political economist Josef Steindl (1912 – 1993) should be especially mentioned as a policy alternative to the current and dominant, but waning Brussels/Paris neo-liberal consensus of the European Commission and the OECD, which still dominates the political economy of rich Europe in the neighbourhood of the revolting Arab world. Steindl (1952) empirically well established a relationship between economic stagnation and the growth of oligopoly in advanced capitalist countries. With Steindl, a secular tendency to stagnation in mature capitalist economies, brought about by monopolization, is to be expected, arrested by
• the rising share of the public sector;
• technical innovations and new products;
• international cooperation in economic policies;
• cooperation between business and trade unions; and
• a favourable political and economic climate.
in the post-war boom years, which raised effective demand. Since the early 1980s, income distribution has changed in favour of classes with high savings propensities; i.e. in most industrial countries, the share of wages and salaries in national income has been declining, while non-wage income, in particular property incomes have risen sharply, and income inequality between the rich and the poor has increased considerably. Especially in the countries of the EU, the burden of taxation has shifted from profits to wages – a process which reduced the expansionary effects of the public sector. Steindl’s European ‘policy of stagnation’ will continue for some time, since governments are preoccupied with inflation and the public debt (Steindl, 1979, p. 9). The waning political and economic landscape, which began to take shape already in the late 1970s and 1980s, was characterized by
• a macroeconomic policy being oriented primarily towards price stability and budget consolidation
• a declining international cooperation regarding economic policy (breakdown of the Bretton Woods system and the establishment of a flexible exchange rate system in the early 1970s)
• increasing environmental and energy problems
• a political trend against full employment (already foreseen by Kalecki, 1943).
Steindl very strongly believed in the ‘political aspects of full employment’, and argued that the entrepreneurs were losing interest in full employment because of the increasing power of trade unions and employees as a consequence of full employment. This policy set-up was called by Steindl as the ‘return of the Bourbons’. In view of the current crisis in Greece, Ireland and in other Southern European countries (‘PIIGS’), Steindl remarked prophetically that it has to be avoided that debtor countries are forced into a painful policy of restrictions, causing low growth and high rates of unemployment, of which all countries would have to suffer.
In the empirical and cross-national as well as time-series part of our essay, we show the relevance of this pessimistic analysis of the international environment for the current Al Jazeera revolution. The Al Jazeera revolution and its emerging leadership has the unique historical opportunity to follow another political economic path, the path of employment and demand, which will characterize the new economic cycle in the post-2008 years, centred around the Indian Ocean area.
Every major revolution needs an appropriate international environment. Will the international environment for the Al Jazeera revolution be as peaceful as the one, which supported the victory of the ‘velvet revolution’ in Eastern Europe, 1989? An international revival of the K-cycle (Kondratiev-cycle) debate (i.e. severe economic crises all 50 years) by NATO’s Advanced Studies Institute exactly raises the question of the relevance of long cycles of war and international conflict far beyond the narrower borders of the political debates among limited left-wing circles (Devezas, 2006). In this second, empirical part of our essay, we show the relevance of these concepts, using econometric techniques of auto-correlation and cross-correlation of world industrial production growth, war intensity and defence pacts over many decades and centuries in the tradition of Goldstein, 1988, as well as country time series data for 117 nations since 1980, which all show that rising globalization and rising instability went hand in hand.
Our analysis also re-iterates empirical results, recently published by the Russian scholars Korotayev and Tsirel (2010) and has shown in addition the following things:
1) liberal and ‘Marxist’ analyses of all ‘denominations’ are right in emphasizing the severe cyclical fluctuations of the capitalist system on a global scale
2) there is a world political and world strategic swing of societal system, which accompanies the economic ups and downs
3) and three there is a striking similarity in the logic of the globalized period of the second half of the 19th Century with our age.
Globalization and monopolies lead towards stagnation. Josef Steindl emphasized this since the early 1950s. Some other great political economists of the instability of the international order, like Rosa Luxemburg and Otto Bauer, foresaw the dark clouds of major inner-capitalist wars on the horizon, and in the light of our analysis, we are not too far away from such dark times, if the logic of ‘madness’ called contemporary globalization, is not corrected.
JEL classification:
B24 – History of Economic Thought since 1925: Socialist; Marxist; Sraffian
B25 – History of Economic Thought since 1925: Historical; Institutional; Evolutionary; Austrian
B31 – History of Economic Thought: Individuals – Individuals
E32 – Prices, Business Fluctuations, and Cycles: Business Fluctuations; Cycles
E37 – Prices, Business Fluctuations, and Cycles: Forecasting and Simulation: Models and Applications
E11 – General Aggregative Models: Marxian; Sraffian; Institutional; Evolutionary
E12 – General Aggregative Models: Keynes; Keynesian; Post-Keynesian
H56 – National Government Expenditures and Related Policies: National Security and War
P16 – Capitalist Systems: Political Economy

  • § Arno Tausch is in his academic function Adjunct Professor (Universitaetsdozent) of Political Science at Innsbruck University, Department of Political Science, A-6020 Innsbruck University, Universitaetsstraße 15, 2nd Floor/West, A-6020 Innsbruck; Austria. Currently, he is also Visiting Professor of Economics, Corvinus University, Budapest, and Lecturer of International Development, Vienna University. He authored or co-authored books and articles for major international publishers and journals, among them 15 books in English, 2 in French, 7 books in German, and over 200 printed or electronic scholarly and current affairs publications in 7 languages in 29 countries around the globe. E-mail:

Libya: Another Neocon War

By David Swanson*


The US department of justice (DOJ) has submitted a written defenceof the US role in this new war in Libyato the US Congress. The DOJ claims the war serves the US national interest in regional stability and in maintaining the credibility of the United Nations. Who knew?

The regional stability line would be a stretch for the UK but is downright nuts for the US. Who, outside of US strategic command types working on weapons in space, thinks Libya and America are in the same region? (In fact, the US is in Northcom and Libya in Africom, in the lingo of the Pentagon’s structure of global domination. Europe is in Eucom.) And what has done more good this year for the region that Libya is actually in than instability (think Tunisia, Egypt)?

The bit about the credibility of the United Nations is really cute coming from a government that invaded Iraqin 2003 – despite UN opposition and for the express purpose (among others) of proving the UN irrelevant. This also comes from the same government that just this month refusedto allow the UN special rapporteur to visit a US prisoner named Bradley Manning to verify that he is not being tortured. How does that maintain UN credibility? And how exactly does authorising the CIA to violate the UN arms embargoin Libya maintain UN credibility? How does violating the UN banon “a foreign occupation force of any form” in Libya maintain UN credibility?

So, one of the main justifications offered to the first branch of the US government is that the war in Libya is justified by a UNresolution, the credibility of which must be maintained even while violating it. But the DOJ memo also stresses that such a justification is not needed. A US president, according to this memo, albeit in violation of the US Constitution, simply has the power to launch wars. Any explanations offered to Congress are, just like the wars, acts of pure benevolence.

The DOJ memo also argues that this war doesn’t really measure up to the name “war”, given how quick, easy and cheap it’s going to be. In fact, President Obama has already announced the handover of the war to Nato. I think we’re supposed to imagine Nato as separate from the US, just as Congress does when it conducts no investigations of any atrocities in Afghanistanthat the US attributes to Nato. Do the other Nato nations know that this is the purpose Nato serves in US politics?

But how quick and easy will this war really be? One expert predicts it will last 20 years, with the US eventually pulling out and allowing the European Unionto inherit the illness of empire it had earlier shared with us. Certainly, the promise of a quick and easy war in Iraq in 2003 was based on the same baseless idea as this one, namely that killing a president will hand a country over to outside control (excuse me, I mean, flourishing democracy). The blossoming democracy in Iraq has just banned public demonstrations. The fact is that Gaddafi has a great deal of support, and making him a martyr would not change that.

Popular “progressive” US radio host Ed Schultz argues, with vicious hatred in every word he spits out on the subject, that bombing Libya is justified by the need for vengeance against that Satan on earth, that beast arisen suddenly from the grave of Adolf Hitler, that monster beyond all description: Muammar Gaddafi. But you can’t really fight a war against one person. The last time we did that to Gaddafi, we killed his little daughter, while he survived.

Even if you had the legal or moral right to assassinate foreign leaders, and even if you independently and rationally worked up your passion to kill a particular dictator by sheer coincidence in the same moment in which your government wanted to bomb him, you couldn’t do it without killing innocent people and shredding the fabric of international law (with or without UN complicity). Hatred of a single individual is great propaganda – until people begin to question what killing him will involve and what will come next.

Popular US commentator Juan Cole supports the very same war that Ed Schultz does, but supports it as a gentle act of humanitarian generosity. The Libya war has become less popular more quickly in the US than any previous US war, but it has its supporters. And to them, it doesn’t matter that half their fellow war supporters have a different or even opposing motive. For years, Americans cheered the slaughter of the hated Iraqi people while other Americans praised the Iraq war as a great act of philanthropy for the benefit of the Iraqi people (whether they wanted it or not).

But let’s examine Cole’s claims about Libya, because they are quite popular and central to the idea of a “good war”. One claim is that the Nato countries are motivated by humanitarian concern. Another is that this war might have humanitarian results. These have to be separated because the former is laughably absurd and the latter worthy of being examined. Of course, many people in Nato countries are motivated by humanitarian concern; that’s why wars are sold as acts of philanthropy. Generosity sells. But the US government, which has become a wing of the Pentagon, does not typically intervene in other nations in order to benefit humanity. In fact, it’s not capable of intervening anywhere, because it is already intervened everywhere.

The United States was in the business of supplying weapons to Gaddafiup until the moment it got into the business of supplying weapons to his opponents. In 2009, Britain, France and other European states sold Libya over $470m-worth of weapons. Our wars tend to be fought against our own weapons, and yet we go on arming everyone. The United Statescan no more intervene in Yemen or Bahrain or Saudi Arabia than in Libya. We are arming those dictatorships. In fact, to win the support of Saudi Arabia for its “intervention” in Libya, the US gave its approvalfor Saudi Arabia to send troops into Bahrain to attack civilians, a policy that US Secretary of State Hillary Clinton publicly defended.

The “humanitarian intervention” in Libya, meanwhile, whatever civilians it may have begun by protecting, immediately killed other civilians with its bombsand immediately shifted from its defensive justification to attacking retreating troops and participating in a civil war. The United States has very likely used depleted uranium weapons in Libya, leading American journalist Dave Lindorff to remark:

“It would be a tragic irony if rebels in Libya, after calling for assistance from the US and other Nato countries, succeeded in overthrowing the country’s long-time tyrant Gaddafi, only to have their country contaminated by uranium dust – the fate already suffered by the peoples of Kuwait, Iraq, Afghanistan and Kosovo.”

Irony is one word for it. Another is hypocrisy. Clearly, the military power of the west is not driven by humanitarian concerns. But that still leaves the question of whether, in this particular case, such power could accidentally have humanitarian results. The claim that a massive massacre of civilians was about to occur, on careful review, turns out to have been massively inflated. This doesn’t mean that Gaddafi is a nice guy, that his military wasn’t already killing civilians, or that it isn’t still killing civilians. Another irony, in fact, is that Gaddafi is reportedly using horrible weapons, including landmines and cluster bombs, that much of the world has renounced – but that the United States has refused to.

But warfare tends to breed more warfare; and cycles of violence usually, not just occasionally, spiral out of control. That the United States is engaging in or supporting the killing of civilians in Afghanistan, Iraq, Yemen, Bahrain and elsewhere, while ignoring the killing of civilians in various other countries, is not a reason to tolerate it in Libya. But escalating a war and doing nothing are, contrary to Pentagon propaganda, not the only two choices. The United States and Europe could have stopped arming and supporting Gaddafi and – in what would have been a powerful message to Libya – stopped arming and supporting dictators around the region. We could have provided purely humanitarian aid. We could have pulled out the CIAand the special forces and sent in nonviolent activist trainers of the sort that accomplished so much this year in the nations to Libya’s east and west. Risking the deaths of innocents while employing nonviolent tools is commonly viewed as horrific, but isn’t responding with violence that will likely cause more deaths in the end even more so?

Washington imported a leader for the people’s rebellion in Libyawho has spent the past 20 years living with no known source of income a couple of miles from the CIA’s headquarters in Virginia. Another man lives even closer to CIA headquarters: former US Vice President Dick Cheney. He expressed great concern in a speech in 1999 that foreign governments were controlling oil. “Oil remains fundamentally a government business,” he said. “While many regions of the world offer great oil opportunities, the Middle East, with two thirds of the world’s oil and the lowest cost, is still where the prize ultimately lies.”

Former supreme allied commander Europe of Nato, from 1997 to 2000, Wesley Clark claims that in 2001, a general in the Pentagon showed him a piece of paper and said:

“I just got this memo today or yesterday from the office of the secretary of defence upstairs. It’s a, it’s a five-year plan. We’re going to take down seven countries in five years. We’re going to start with Iraq, then Syria, Lebanon, then Libya, Somalia, Sudan, we’re going to come back and get Iran in five years.”

That agenda fit perfectly with the plans of Washington insiders, such as those who famously spelled out their intentions in the reports of the thinktank called the Project for the New American Century. The fierce Iraqi and Afghan resistance didn’t fit at all. Neither did the nonviolent revolutions in Tunisia and Egypt. But taking over Libya still makes perfect sense in the neoconservative worldview. And it makes sense in explaining war games used by Britain and France to simulate the invasion of a similar country.

The Libyan government controls more of its oilthan any other nation on earth, and it is the type of oil that Europe finds easiest to refine. Libya also controls its own finances, leading American author Ellen Brown to point out an interesting factabout those seven countries named by Clark:

“What do these seven countries have in common? In the context of banking, one that sticks out is that none of them is listed among the 56 member banks of the Bank for International Settlements (BIS). That evidently puts them outside the long regulatory arm of the central bankers’ central bank in Switzerland. The most renegade of the lot could be Libya and Iraq, the two that have actually been attacked. Kenneth Schortgen Jr, writing on, noted that ‘[s]ix months before the US moved into Iraq to take down Saddam Hussein, the oil nation had made the move to accept euros instead of dollars for oil, and this became a threat to the global dominance of the dollar as the reserve currency, and its dominion as the petrodollar.’ According to a Russian article titled ‘Bombing of Libya – Punishment for Gaddafi for His Attempt to Refuse US Dollar’, Gaddafi made a similarly bold move: he initiated a movement to refuse the dollar and the euro, and called on Arab and African nations to use a new currency instead, the gold dinar. Gaddafi suggested establishing a united African continent, with its 200 million people using this single currency. During the past year, the idea was approved by many Arab countries and most African countries. The only opponents were the Republic of South Africa and the head of the League of Arab States. The initiative was viewed negatively by the US and the European Union, with French President Nicolas Sarkozy calling Libya a threat to the financial security of mankind; but Gaddafi was not swayed and continued his push for the creation of a united Africa. […] If the Gaddafi government goes down, it will be interesting to watch whether the new central bank [created by the rebels in March] joins the BIS, whether the nationalised oil industry gets sold off to investors, and whether education and healthcare continue to be free.”

It will also be interesting to see whether Africom, the Pentagon’s Africa Command, now based in Europe, establishes its headquarters on the continent for which it is named. We don’t know what other motivations are at work: concerns over immigration to Europe? Desires to test weapons? War profiteering? Political calculations? Irrational lust for power? Overcompensation for having failed to turn against Egyptian President Hosni Mubarak until after he’d been unseated? But what about this one: actual fear of another Rwanda? That last one seems, frankly, the least likely. But what is certain is that such humanitarian concern alone did not launch this war, and that the continued use of war in this way will not benefit humanity.

The United Nations, far from being made credible, is being made the servant of wealthy nations making war on poor ones. And within the United States, where the United Nations is alternatively held up as a justification or mocked as irrelevant, the power to make war and to make law has been decisively placed in the hands of a series of single individuals who will carry the title “president” – precisely the outcome American revolutionaries broke with Britain in order to avoid.


* Courtesy David Swanson and The Guardian

*David Swanson is the author of “War Is A Lie”


The Obama-Gates Maneuver on Military Spending

By: Gareth Porter

Thursday April 21, 2011

Last week Barack Obama announced that he wants to cut $400 billion in military spending and said he would work Secretary of Defense Robert Gates and the Joint Chiefs on a “fundamental review” of U.S. “military missions, capabilities and our role in a changing world” before making a decision.

Spokesman Geoff Morrell responded by hinting that Gates was displeased with having to cut that much from his spending plan. Gates “has been clear that further significant defense cuts cannot be accomplished without future cuts in force structure and military capability,” said Morrell, who volunteered that the Secretary not been informed about the Obama decision until the day before.

But it is difficult to believe that open display of tension between Obama and Gates was not scripted. In the background of those moves is a larger political maneuver on which the two of them have been collaborating since last year in which they gave the Pentagon a huge increase in funding for the next decade and then started to take credit for small or nonexistent reductions from that increase.

The original Obama-Gates base military spending plan – spending excluding the costs of the current wars – for FY 2011 through 2020, called for spending $5.8 trillion, or $580 billion annually, as former Pentagon official Lawrence Korb noted last January. That would have represented a 25 percent real increase over the average annual level of military spending, excluding war costs, by the George W. Bush administration.

Even more dramatic, the Obama-Gates plan was 45 percent higher than the annual average of military spending level in the 1992-2001 decade, as reflected in official DOD data (pdf).

The Obama FY 2012 budget submission reduced the total increase only slightly – by $162 billion over the four years from 2017 to 2020, according to the careful research of the Project on Defense Alternatives (PDA). That left an annual average base military spending level of $564 billion – 23 percent higher than Bush’s annual average and 40 percent above the level of the 1990s.

Central to last week’s chapter in the larger game was Obama’s assertion that Gates had already saved $400 billion in his administration. “Over the last two years,” he said, “Secretary Gates has courageously taken on wasteful spending, saving $400 billion in current and future spending. I believe we can do that again.”

The $400 billion figure is based primarily on the $330 billion Gates claimed he had saved by stopping, reducing or otherwise changing plans for 31 weapons programs. But contrary to the impression left by Obama, that figure does not reflect any cut in projected DOD spending. All of it was used to increase spending on operations and investment in the military budget.

The figure was concocted, moreover, by using tricky accounting methods verging on chicanery. It was based on arbitrary assumptions about how much all 31 programs would have cost over their entire lifetimes stretching decades into the future, assuming they would all reach completion. That methodology offered endless possibilities for inflated claims of savings.

The PDA points out that yet another $100 billion that Gates announced in January as cost-cutting by the military services was also used to increase spending on operations and new weapons program that the services wanted. That leaves another $78 billion in cuts over five years also announced by Gates in January, but most of that may have been added to the military budget for “overseas contingency operations” rather than contributed to deficit reduction, according to the PDA.

Even if the $400 billion in ostensible cuts that Obama is seeking were genuine, the Pentagon would be still be sitting on total projected increase of 14 percent above the profligate level of military spending of the Bush administration. Last week’s White House fact sheet on deficit reduction acknowledged that Obama has the “goal of holding the growth in base security spending below inflation.”

The “fundamental review” that Obama says will be carried out with the Pentagon and military bureaucracies will be yet another chapter in this larger maneuver. It’s safe bet that, in the end, Gates will reach into his bag of accounting tricks again for most of the desired total.

Despite the inherently deceptive character of Obama’s call for the review, it has a positive side: it gives critics of the national security state an opportunity to point out that such a review should be carried out by a panel of independent military budget analysts who have no financial stake in the outcome – unlike the officials of the national security state.

Such an independent panel could come up with a list of all the military missions and capabilities that don’t make the American people more secure or even make them less secure, as well as those for which funding should be reduced substantially because of technological and other changes. It could also estimate how much overall projected military spending should be reduced, without regard to what would be acceptable to the Pentagon or a majority in Congress.

The panel would not require White House or Congressional approval. It could be convened by a private organization or, better yet, by a group of concerned Members of Congress. They could use its data and conclusions as the basis for creating a legislative alternative to existing U.S. national security policy, perhaps in the form of a joint resolution. That would give millions of Americans who now feel that nothing can be done about endless U.S. wars and the national security state’s grip on budgetary resources something to rally behind.

Three convergent political forces are contributing to the eventual weakening of the national security state: the growing popular opposition to a failed war, public support for shifting spending priorities from the national security sector to the domestic economy and pressure for deficit and debt reduction. But in the absence of concerted citizen action, it could take several years to see decisive results. Seizing the opportunity for an independent review of military missions and spending would certainly speed up that process.


Cupcake And Abaya Nation

Middle East Studies Online Journal- ISSN 2109-9618- Issue n°5. Volume 2 ( 2011)

Etudes du Moyen-Orient. N°5. Volume 2. 2011.

دراسات الشرق الأوسط، مجلة فكرية محكمة
العدد الخامس . المجلد الثاني2011

A Position Paper

Aysha Taryam§
Abstract: The author, who happens to be a female business-leader, calls the Emirati women to seek other businesses than the traditional Abaya and cupcake shops…
Key-words: United Arab Emirates, Arab women, business-ladies, emancipation, modernity..

Download the English and the Arabic version of this paper (PDF)

Emirati women have always been leaders in the pursuit of self-actualisation. With the birth of the Emirates they saw their dreams manifesting into realities at the hands of our father and the founder of our beloved country the late Sheikh Zayed bin Sultan Al Nahyan. It is because of his extraordinary efforts in encouraging women’s education throughout the Emirates that we are here today.
In the 1970s Emirati women sought knowledge with an insatiable thirst and had the courage to venture into worlds previously unknown to them. Nevertheless they ploughed their way through male dominated arenas and proved their abilities admirably. From being mothers in their homes they became teachers in our schools, filling positions that prior to their involvement saw only hired teachers from across the Middle East. Our pioneering Emirati women of the 70s were role models then and remain ones today.
By the 1980s, Emirati women constituted 6.2 per cent of the UAE’s workforce. Today this figure has risen to well above 50 per cent proving beyond any doubt that their long sought-after dream of financial independence had been achieved.
Today, in a bold yet welcomed step many Emirati women have decided to leave their jobs and seek private business ventures instead. Soon after, we began to see local businesses entirely owned and run by Emirati women. At first these business ventures came in the form of abaya stores. The abaya is the Emirati woman’s national dress and therefore understandably it became her first outlet for fashion expression.
It was indeed refreshing to see Emirati women designing their own national dress for who better to translate the experience of wearing abayas into fashion than the women that live in them on a daily basis. This move transformed a staple of UAE society into the ultimate fashion accessory, pushing its prices upwards from a few hundred dirhams in the 1990s well into the thousands today. This proved that abaya stores are great business models and profitable ventures. Soon every women stopped wanting to buy abayas and started making them. The country became littered with abaya stores and, in an odd twist on the theories of supply and demand, the more stores there were and the higher the prices got, the more people demanded them.
Once the national black cape market had been saturated our Emirati woman moved on to something a little bit sweeter, dessert making. In a decision reminiscent of the 1950s American woman’s pie baking ventures the cupcake craze was born in the UAE. Some opened up cupcake stores, others baked them from home and delivered them to designated locations. This also proved to be a venture too sweet to fail and with that the skies of the Emirates filled with the smell of freshly baked cupcakes.
While there is absolutely nothing wrong with replicating business models that have proved successful, it seems that Emirati women have backed themselves into an icing slathered corner. If you ever had an opportunity to walk around university fairs that showcase students’ business models you might get the impression that ideas have stagnated and become sandwiched between food and fashion.
What happens to the remaining business sectors? Have they become barely visible through the rows of abayas and the ensuing sugar rush? Young Emirati women should realise that there lies great potential and room for profits in different business areas offering them not only ease of entry but also an opportunity to be female pioneers.
Innovation is a word we live by in the UAE. Always seeking new heights, always pushing forward, we must not lose this passion for excellence. Daring to be different has its risks but brings with it change and variety. Emirati women have proven that they are worthy competitors in the work place and must now aim to prove that in all private business sector too.§§

  • § Aysha Taryam, whose political commentaries and philosophical essays have set the world of readers talking, is the first Middle Eastern female Editor-in-Chief of an English language daily broadsheet newspaper – The Gulf Today. Aysha, a scion of the family that owns the Gulf media house Dar Al Khaleej, is endowed with a rare literary wherewithal to conceive and discuss issues of socio-economic significance.
  • §§ Courtesy: Aysha Tariam and the Gulf Today. This paper has been published first by the Gulf Today, April 17, 2011. < >

عمل المرأة الإماراتية وشغف التميز

Middle East Studies Online Journal- ISSN 2109-9618- Issue n°5. Volume 2 ( 2011)

Etudes du Moyen-Orient. N°5. Volume 2. 2011.دراسات الشرق الأوسط، مجلة فكرية محكمة. العدد الخامس . المجلد الثاني

عائشة عبدالله تريم

كانت المرأة الإماراتية ومازالت رائدة في السعي لتحقيق ذاتها . وعندما أبصر اتحاد الإمارات العربية النور، فتحت المرأة عينيها لترى أحلامها قد تحولت إلى حقيقة على يدي والدنا ومؤسس دولتنا الحبيبة الشيخ زايد بن سلطان آل نهيان، رحمه الله وطيب ثراه . فلولا جهوده الجبارة في أنحاء البلاد كافة في دفع المرأة وتشجيعها على التزود بالعلم لما وصلنا إلى ما نحن عليه اليوم .

وفي السبعينات من القرن الماضي، بدأت المرأة الإماراتية سعيها لتحصيل العلم والمعرفة بخطوات حثيثة وبظمأ شديد، وقد كانت شُجاعة بما فيه الكفاية لدخول مجالات غريبة وجديدة عليها . ورغم ذلك، مشت المرأة الإماراتية بخطوات واثقة لتشق طريقها في قطاعات هيمن الرجل عليها، وأثبتت جدارة وقدرات تدعو إلى الفخر والاعجاب .

وخرجت المرأة الأم من بيتها لتصبح معلمة وتشغل مناصب كانت حكراً على الرجال، وأصبحت في ميدان العمل تنافس المعلمين الوافدين الذين كانوا يتدفقون من كل بلدان الشرق الأوسط للعمل في الإمارات . لقد كانت امرأة السبعينات الرائدة، قدوة لبنات جيلها ومازالت حتى اليوم نموذجاً يحتذى به .

وفي الثمانينات، بلغت نسبة النساء 6،2 في المئة من القوة العاملة في الإمارات . واستمرت هذه النسبة في ارتفاع حتى غدت في يومنا هذا أكثر من 50 في المئة . وفي هذا دليل قاطع على أن المرأة الإماراتية قد وصلت إلى ما كانت تصبو إليه وحققت أحلامها في الاستقلال مادياً .

ولم تكتف المرأة الطموحة بما وصلت إليه، بل واصلت مسيرتها الاقتصادية المستقلة، وفي خطوة جريئة قوبلت بالترحيب الشديد، قررت نساء كثيرات التخلي عن الوظيفة والسعي وراء المشاريع التجارية الخاصة، وسرعان ما بدأت مشاريع تملكها وتديرها النساء تظهر على الساحة التجارية المحلية .

وفي بادئ الأمر، اقتصرت تلك المشروعات التجارية على متاجر للعباءات، أي على زي المرأة الإماراتية الوطني . وقد كان من الطبيعي أن تكون العباءة النافذة الأولى التي تطل منها المرأة على عالم الأزياء .

ومما يدخل البهجة والحبور إلى القلب، أن نرى المرأة الإماراتية تصمم زيها الوطني بنفسها، فمن أقدر على ترجمة تجربة ارتداء العباءة إلى أزياء من امرأة تلبسها كل يوم؟

لقد حولت خطوة المرأة هذه مادة أساسية في المجتمع الإماراتي إلى أزياء ارتفعت أسعارها من بضعة دراهم في التسعينات إلى ما يربو على آلاف الدراهم اليوم، ما يثبت أن متاجر العباءات نماذج تجارية عظيمة ومشروعات تعود بالربح الوفير .

وفي زمن قياسي، تهافتت النساء على شراء وتصنيع العباءة الإماراتية، فغصت البلاد بمتاجر العباءات، وخلافاً لنظريات العرض والطلب، ازداد عدد المتاجر، فارتفعت أسعار العباءات وزاد الطلب عليها .

وعندما غرق السوق بالعباءة الوطنية السوداء، انتقلت المرأة الإماراتية إلى شيء أكثر حلاوة، ألا وهو صنع الحلوى . وقررت في ما يذكّر بمشروعات طهو الفطائر وصنع المربيات التي اشتهرت بها المرأة الأمريكية في الخمسينات، أن تصنع الكعك الصغير أو كعك القوالب ليتحول في الإمارات إلى ظاهرة تشبه الجنون . وقامت بعض الإماراتيات بفتح محال لبيع هذا الكعك، أما البعض الآخر فقد قمن بخبزه في البيت وارساله إلى محلات مخصصة .

ومرة أخرى، أثبتت المرأة الإماراتية أن النجاح سيكون حتماً حليف مشروعها الحلو . ومع الوقت، فاحت في جو الإمارات رائحة الكعك الطازج المسكوب في قوالب صغيرة .

وبالرغم من أن تكرار النماذج التجارية الناجحة لا عيب فيه البتة، لكنه من الواضح أن المرأة الإماراتية قد حشرت نفسها في زاوية مطلية بسكر الحلوى . فإذا ما قدر لأحدكم أن يتجول في معارض الجامعات حيث تقام مشروعات الطلاب التجارية الصغيرة فلابد أن يتكون لديه انطباع بأن الركود قد أصاب الفكر التي أصبحت محصورة بين الطعام والأزياء .

ترى ما الذي حدث للقطاعات التجارية الأخرى؟ هل اختفت خلف صفوف العباءات واجتياح السكر؟ على الإماراتيات الشابات أن يدركن أن القدرة هائلة في فرص الربح في المجالات التجارية المختلفة التي لا تمهد لهن الطريق لولوج عالم الأعمال فحسب، بل تعطيهن الفرصة كي يصبحن رائدات في هذا المجال أيضاً . الإبداع كلمة نعيشها في إماراتنا، ونحن نسعى دائماً للوصول إلى أعلى المستويات، ونجد في هذا السعي باستمرار، وينبغي ألا نفقد شغف التميز . وإذا كان للجرأة والمجازفة مخاطرها، فهي لابد تجلب معها التغيير والتنوع . ولقد أثبتت المرأة الإماراتية أنها منافسة جديرة في مكان عملها، وعليها الآن، أن تسعى لتثبت ذلك في القطاع التجاري الخاص أيضاً .

دار الخليج 17نيسان/أبريل 2011


Pakistan Moves to Curb More Aggressive U.S. Drone Strikes, Spying

Analysis by Gareth Porter *

WASHINGTON, Apr 13, 2011 (IPS) – The Pakistani military’s recent demands on the United States to curb drone strikes and reduce the number of U.S. spies operating in Pakistan, which have raised tensions between the two countries to a new high, were a response to U.S. military and intelligence programmes that had gone well beyond what the Pakistanis had agreed to in past years. Continue reading