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The Scope & Intensity of Anti-Americanism

Protests at US embassies are occurring throughout the Middle East and beyond. Four days thus far and counting.

Over a dozen deaths and hundreds of injuries.

The triggering catalyst was an ugly anti-Islamic video posted on YouTube but Bill Van Auken of wsws explains something even the most obtuse American should know by now, “underlying them [the upheavals] is deep-seated anger over the wars and oppression inflicted by American imperialism over the decades.”

The United States has a history -- a policy -- of backing right-wing regimes, in spite of the “spreading democracy” big fat lie to justify foreign engagement that has travelled down through the decades. That justification has now morphed into the “humanitarian intervention” lie. The welfare of foreign peoples is never a major consideration to US foreign policy, except for initial propaganda purposes. In fact, the will of the people to influence their governance in foreign lands is something NOT to be encouraged -- that is the realpolitik agenda of our American government leaders from BOTH legacy corporate political parties.

This week’s protests according to Alex Lanier of wsws have spread to at least ELEVEN COUNTRIES including Egypt, Yemen, Libya, Iraq, Tunisia, Algeria, Jordan, Iran, Morocco, Sudan, and Bangladesh.

This from Van Auken:

In Bangladesh, over 10,000 took to the streets of Dhaka, with protesters burning US and Israeli flags.

In Afghanistan, over 1,000 people demonstrated in the eastern city of Jalalabad, burning Obama in effigy.


In the central Nigerian city of Plateau, thousands of youth gathered after Friday prayers at the city’s central mosque but were quickly dispersed by troops firing live rounds. “People said it was a peaceful demonstration, but as usual the military doesn’t believe anybody has the right to demonstrate,” said one of the protesters.

Thousands of Palestinians gathered in Gaza City and the southern Gazan city of Rafah, chanting, “Death, death to America, death, death to Israel.” Several hundred who attempted to protest outside the Al-Aqsa mosque in Jerusalem were met by Israeli security forces, who fired tear gas and stun grenades, wounding several.

The protests according to Van Auken began in Cairo.

How long ago was Obama’s Cairo speech about peace and partnership?

How long ago was the Arab Spring that toppled dictatorships in Tunisia and Egypt? Not very.

Lanier emphasizes both Tunisia and Egypt had “US-backed dictatorships.”

Tunisia is where Mohamed Bouazizi in January 2011 set himself on fire in protest of his impoverished circumstances which martyrdom was a catalyst for the Tunisian Revolution and the Arab Spring. Tunisian president Zine El Abidine Be Ali stepped down mid-January after 23 years in power.

The US embassy in Tunis, the capital of Tunisia, was “stormed” by thousands of demonstrators Van Auken asserts. 28 people were wounded, two critically, and three killed. The crowds were made up of Muslims marching on the embassy directly from their mosques and young people from working class neighborhoods.

One of the Tunisian protest chants, according to Van Auken, has been used in a number of countries. “Obama, Obama, we are all Osama!” (In your face, America! Remember when following 9/11 we had the entire world’s empathy and Osama bin Laden was vilified?)

The Tunisian protesters broke through the embassy walls, set cars on fire in its parking lot, tore down the US flag and replaced it with a black banner that read, “There is no god but Allah and Muhammed is his messenger.” They also attacked an American school, looting it and setting it on fire.

Police fired tear gas and live ammunition to fight the protesters. The US embassy was evacuated.

Lanier quotes one day laborer, Yassin Maher, at the US Embassy in Egypt protesting the US-backed regime of Islamist President Mohamed Mursi and Mursi’s “police crackdown”: “As you can see, the security forces under Mursi are the same as those during the Mubarak era—both are defending America.”

The US Embassy in Sana’a, capital of Yemen, was attacked by workers and youth according to Lanier. Van Auken reports four people were killed there Thursday. Two more were killed on Friday. Police fired live ammo into the crowds as well as using a water cannon to stop the angry marchers.

Yemen. Profoundly poor country with a corrupt government. A corrupt government dominated by the family and operatives of former dictator Ali Abdullah Salhe, who was forced to resign by a people’s mass uprising. The present still corrupt authority is backed by Washington and it pushes back bloodily and earnestly at any protesting from the citizenry. Washington’s support? Periodic organized Special Forces raids and drone strikes. (Yemen was where Anwar al-Awlaki, an American citizen, was killed by a drone in 2011.) The government is pro-American. The people, not.

In Iraq thousands of BOTH Sunni and Shia protesters (that is telling) marched together in Baghdad and Basra. The US invaded Iraq in 2003. Devastated Iraq and occupied it for almost a decade. A common estimate is over a million deaths caused.

Van Auken on Iraq:

There were anti-American demonstrations in cities and towns across Iraq, which was occupied by US troops until the end of last year. The largest of the protests took place in the southern city of Basra, where thousands marched through the streets and burned US and Israeli flags.

On Friday, in Khartoum, Sudan, thousands tried to storm the US embassy. Guards inside the building fired shots as the protesters climbed over the security walls and ran up a black Islamic flag. Earlier there were 5000 demonstrators raiding the neighboring German and British embassies. The German embassy, having been evacuated, was set on fire and seriously damaged reports Van Auken.

In Libya, again from Van Auken, 200 gunmen raided the US consulate, killing the ambassador and 3 American staffers.

Libya, where Colonel Muammar Gaddafi’s government was “regime changed” last year with an illegitimate non-authorized by Congress US/NATO bombing campaign along with US/NATO special forces working on the ground and supporting “Islamist and tribal militias” including members of Al Qaeda. Lanier emphasizes that the US/NATO “intervention” (the faux-humanitarian intervention) “left a patchwork of right-wing militias fighting for control of the country.” How unsurprising though tragic members of one of these renegade groups violently invaded the consulate at Benghazi and savagely killed four Americans, including the US ambassador.

Washington. Lanier also explains, is following close to its Libyan “regime change” formula in Syria. It is backing a bloody proxy war against the Assad regime. As it did in Libya, cravenly and once again surreally using Al Qaeda jihadists as tools for that illegitimate “regime change” agenda. Disaster capitalism requires chaos -- shock and awe among populations -- for its opportunistic goals. The cost of human lives, collateral damage, so not a serious consideration.

Next stop for Washington: Iran?

Lanier on how “Washington” is responding to regional national protests:

Washington’s response to the latest upsurge of popular protests in the region is to mobilize its military power to intimidate popular opposition and set the stage for a new round of bloodshed. It has dispatched US destroyers to patrol the Libyan coast and fire cruise missiles at targets inside the country that it suspects of being responsible for the attack.

Van Auken explains in more detail. The Obama administration sent a unit of 50 Marine special forces known as a “Fleet Antiterrorism Security Team (FAST)” along with two naval destroyers armed with tomahawk cruise missiles to the Libyan coast.

Yesterday the authorities now in Libya closed down the Benghazi airport for several hours in fear of casualties involving civilian flights. US pilotless drones flying over the city were receiving anti-aircraft fire.

Obama sent another FAST Marine unit to Yemen.

Again according to Van Auken, yesterday, Obama submitted a letter to Congress “formally announcing, in accordance with the War Powers Act (imagine Obama finally acknowledging that?), that he had dispatched troops ‘equipped for combat’ to both countries with the motivation of “protecting American citizens and property” and they “will remain in Libya and in Yemen until the security situation becomes such that they are no longer needed.” Until no longer needed? Put that cost on our near bankrupt national budget for ... what ... forever?

On Friday Obama declared at the Andrews Air Force Base hanger ceremony as the bodies of Ambassador J. Christopher Stevens and his three US colleagues were returned to the US: “We will stand fast against the violence on our diplomatic missions.... Justice will come to those who harm Americans.”

What about justice for those who harm non-Americans, Mr. Obama?

Secretary of State Clinton warned Middle Easterners on the same occasion not to “trade the tyranny of a dictator for the tyranny of a mob.”

Yes, Mrs. Clinton. The same tyrants the US spent so many years enabling. These “mobs” you "lecture" include oppressed and terrorized people infiltrated with the US/NATO-enabled avowed terrorists who were used as opportunistic tools for “regime change”, profound destabilization and displacement, and imperialistic advantage.

According to AP, a 56-year old Israeli named Sam Bacile, the central figure being cited as responsible for this week’s global outrage, is a filmmaker and real estate developer based in California. He has gone into hiding but defiantly managed to communicate to the press the message, “Islam is a cancer, period.”

AP reports that the two-hour movie, “Innocence of Muslims” cost $5 million to make and was financed by 100 Jewish donors according to Bacile. It was made in three months in the summer of 2011, with 59 actors and a crew of 45.

AP’s analysis of the film:

The film claims Muhammad was a fraud. An English-language 13-minute trailer on YouTube shows an amateur cast performing a wooden dialogue of insults disguised as revelations about Muhammad, whose obedient followers are presented as a cadre of goons.

It depicts Muhammad as a feckless philanderer who approved of child sexual abuse, among other overtly insulting claims that have caused outrage.

Muslims find it offensive to depict Muhammad in any manner, let alone insult the prophet. A Danish newspaper's 2005 publication of 12 caricatures of the prophet triggered riots in many Muslim countries.

Oh and one more disclosure from AP on this:

The full film has been shown once, to a mostly empty theater in Hollywood earlier this year, said Bacile.

I wonder how many of the outraged global protesters know that the film had only one pathetic showing and the theater was mostly empty.

I wonder how many of the outraged global protesters assume that all Americans have Bacile’s back and point of view of them and their religion. How many of them assume that the movie is playing to sold-out houses daily all over our seemingly Islamist-hating country?

After all, with so many of their loved ones killed or wounded, their homelands devastated by US military violence and/or US-enabled violence (again, even incredibly from the likes of selectively demonized Al Qaeda working with the CIA) how could they appreciate that we ordinary Americans -- you know, us good people doing nothing -- don’t feel responsible or significantly involved in the tax-paid genocidal USWarMachine ever mowing them down. Mowing down the Middle East ... for now.

It has been 11 years since 9/11 and too many of us in America are still bemused as to “why they hate us.” Too many will wrong-headedly speculate why especially after the dramatic protests of this week -- protests that even American corporate media can’t ignore but will assuredly disinform about soon enough and probably, cooperating with our craven politicians, build a renewed drum beat to escalate American military violence further from (useful for Obama's re-election "hard on terrorism" image). These Americans will probably ask each other why those Islamists seem so eccentrically, dangerously and seemingly pathologically touchy about how disrespected they and their religious beliefs are by Americans.

Truly amazing how that American exceptionalism bubble stays intact, and even enlarges, in defiance of horrifying reality.

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