On The Monitor this week: Venezuela in detail and in context.
This week’s guests discuss events in Venezuela. First up is Abby Martin taking a close look at recent events in Venezuela. She is followed by John Perkins who casts a wider historical net to put those events in a broader context.
More about this week’s guests:
Abby Martin is a journalist, artist, and presenter of The Empire Files, an investigative news program on teleSUR English and YouTube. She was formerly the host of Breaking the Set on RT America network, working from the Washington, D.C. bureau. She also worked for two years as a correspondent for RT America.
Martin is the founder of the citizen journalism website Media Roots. She serves on the board of directors for the Media Freedom Foundation which manages Project Censored. Martin appeared in the documentary film Project Censored The Movie: Ending the Reign of Junk Food News (2013), and co-directed 99%: The Occupy Wall Street Collaborative Film (2013).
John Perkins was Chief Economist at a major international consulting firm where advised the World Bank, United Nations, IMF, U.S. Treasury Department, Fortune 500 corporations, and leaders of countries in Africa, Asia, Latin America, and the Middle East. He is the author of several books. The most recent is The New Confessions of an Economic Hit Man (2016), a follow-up to his bestseller Confessions Of An Economic Hit Man which spent 73 weeks on the New York Times non-fiction bestseller list and has been translated into 32 languages. It, along with his other books, The Secret History of the American Empire (also a New York Times bestseller) and Hoodwinked, were ground-breaking exposés of the clandestine operations that created the current global crises; they set the stage for the revelations and strategies detailed in The New Confessions of an Economic Hit Man.
John is a founder and board member of Dream Change and The Pachamama Alliance, non-profit organizations devoted to establishing a world future generations will want to inherit, has lectured at Harvard, Oxford, and more than 50 other universities around the world, and has been featured on ABC, NBC, CNN, CNBC, NPR, A&E, the History Channel, Time, The New York Times, The Washington Post, Cosmopolitan, Elle, Der Spiegel, and many other publications, as well as in numerous documentaries including The End Of Poverty, Zeitgeist Addendum, and Apology Of An Economic Hit Man. He was awarded the Lennon Ono Grant for Peace in 2012, and the Rainforest Action Network Challenging Business As Usual Award in 2006.
On The Monitor this week:
- Reporting from Syria and not just on Syria – an interview with Eva Bartlett
- The difference between a tactic and a strategy for dealing with ISIS – an interview with Ambassador Edward Djerejian
More about this week’s guests:
Eva Bartlett is a Canadian freelance journalist and activist who has lived in and written from the Gaza Strip, Syria, and Lebanon. She has visited Syria four times in the last 2 years (April and June 2014, February and December 2015). You can read other articles by Eva, or visit Eva’s website. She has a lengthy article published on DissdentVoice titled Deconstructing the NATO Narrative on Syria
You can follow here on twitter here and read her articles about Syria here. The interview attempts to dissect the divergent narratives presented about Syria in the media and to get an eyewitness account from somebody who has actually been there. It is sure to cause some controversy.
Edward Djerejian is a former United States diplomat who served in eight administrations from John F. Kennedy to Bill Clinton (1962–94.) He served as the United States Ambassador to Syria (1988–91) and Israel (1993–94), Special Assistant to President Ronald Reagan and Deputy Press Secretary of Foreign Affairs (1985-1986), and was Assistant Secretary of State for Near Eastern Affairs (1991-1993.) He is the director of the James A. Baker III Institute for Public Policy at Rice University and is the author of the book Danger and Opportunity: An American Ambassador’s Journey Through the Middle East. You can read his full bio here and follow him on twitter here
The main focus of the interview is Ambassador Djerejian’s policy brief on ISIS titled A STRATEGY TOWARD DEFEATING ISIS in which he argued that recent attacks were an opportunity for a U.S.-led coalition to come together to defeat a common enemy. Full text available online in English (CME-ISIS-111915) and Arabic (CME-ISIS-Arabic-122115).
During the interview I asked Ambassador Djerejian for his response to the speech President Obama gave in which he outlined the U.S. response to the terror threat posed by ISIS: Full text of President Obama’s speech in reaction to the shootings in San Bernardino, CA You can also read Ambassador Djerejian’s June 2, 1992 speech mentioned towards the end of the interview: Meridian House Speech.
This week’s episode of The Monitor features two guests discussing issues related to the Middle East. Our first guest, Amr Hamzawy, discusses the Egyptian political scene. Our second guest, Paul Gottinger, talks about the impact of the “War on Terror” on the number of terrorist attacks around the world.
More about this week’s guests:
Amr Hamzawy is a visiting scholar at Stanford University, and associate professor of Political Science at Cairo University. He is a former member of the People’s Assembly in the Parliament of Egypt and the Egyptian National Council for Human Rights. He previously served as a senior associate at the Carnegie Endowment for International Peace. His research focuses on democratization processes, political movements and civil society in Egypt as well as contemporary debates in political thought and governance in the Arab world. He holds a B.Sc. in political science from Cairo University, M.A. degrees in developmental studies from the University of Amsterdam and the International Institute of Social Studies in The Hague, and a Ph.D. in political science from the Free University of Berlin. You can find him on Twitter: @
Amr spoke at Rice University’s Baker institute last week. You can watch the talk and Q&A session below.
Paul Gottinger is a journalist based in Madison, WI, USA. He can be reached onTwitter @paulgottinger. He recently wrote an analysis of the”war on terror”: “Despite 14 Years of the U.S. War on Terror, Terror Attacks Have Skyrocketed Since 9/11,” which states: “Terror attacks have jumped by a stunning 6,500 percent since 2002, according to a new analysis by Reader Supported News. The number of casualties resulting from terror attacks has increased by 4,500 percent over this same time period. These colossal upsurges in terror took place despite a decade-long, worldwide effort to fight terrorism that has been led by the United States.
“The analysis, conducted with figures provided by the U.S. State Department, also shows that from 2007 to 2011 almost half of all the world’s terror took place in Iraq or Afghanistan — two countries being occupied by the U.S. at the time.
“Countries experiencing U.S. military interventions continue to be subjected to high numbers of terror attacks, according to the data. In 2014, 74 percent of all terror-related casualties occurred in Iraq, Nigeria, Afghanistan, Pakistan, or Syria. Of these five, only Nigeria did not experience either U.S. air strikes or a military occupation in that year.
“The U.S. invasion of Iraq destabilized Iraq and Syria, creating the conditions for the emergence of ISIS, which now controls large parts of the two countries. The invasion of Afghanistan has not been able to wrestle large sections of the country from the Taliban, leaving Afghanistan in state of perpetual war. And the air war to oust Muammar Gaddafi has left Libya in a state of chaos.
“The instability caused by these wars, along with the atrocities perpetrated by U.S.-led forces, which can be exploited for terrorist recruitment, have played a significant role in the increase of terrorism worldwide.”
On The Monitor this week:
- Dollar Democracy: with Liberty and Justice for Some; How to Reclaim the American Dream for All – an interview with Peter Mathews
- Gaza under attack: Getting the basics right as the corporate media gets them wrong – an interview with Robert Naiman
More about this week’s guests:
Peter Mathews has spent 30 years as a College and University Professor. Peter is a full-time Professor of Political Science at Cypress College, and an adjunct Professor of Sociology at Long Beach City College. He has taught at California State University, Fullerton, and is currently a Featured Political Analyst and Contributing Partner on the “Head-On” Radio Show on KEIB AM 1150 in Los Angeles, California. On July 3, 2014 Peter served as guest Host on KPFK radio 90.7 FM and KPFK.ORG from 3 PM to 4PM of Special Programming, calling it, “Standing up for Social and Economic Justice.” During 2012 and 2013, Peter served as a Political Analyst on KTLK Progressive Talk Radio’s popular “The David Cruz Show” in Los Angeles. Peter has served as a political analyst on KNBC-TV, KCBS-TV, KTLA-TV, CNN radio, KPFA radio and guest on KPFK radio, KPCC radio, and as a commentator on KNX News Radio and other venues. He is a contributing columnist for the Long Beach Register, and on-line Orange County Register. He has been a guest op-ed writer in the Long Beach Press Telegram, and other publications. Having lived, traveled, taught, and conducted research in 27 countries including Brazil, Britain, Canada, Costa Rica, Denmark, France, Germany, India, Nicaragua, and elsewhere, Peter Mathews has gained firsthand knowledge of public policy issues such as healthcare, education, economic development, international relations, and environmental sustainability in these and other societies. Peter Mathews was the Democratic Party Nominee for the U.S. Congress in 1998 and ran a close race in the Long Beach, California based district, while refusing money from corporate donors. Peter Mathews moved to Los Angeles in 1979 and has been a resident of Long Beach for 23 years, where he lives with his wife Toya Baker-Mathews and daughter Page.
Robert Naiman is a spokesperson for Gaza Ark, whose ship was attacked on July 11th. Gaza Ark is “part of the ongoing international Freedom Flotilla Coalition challenging the illegal and inhumane Israeli blockade of Gaza” imposed by Israel. Naiman — who is also policy director of Just Foreign Policy — recently wrote the article “Netanyahu’s War: What Is It Good For?” which states: “The government of Benjamin Netanyahu has launched a new war on Palestinians in Gaza, a war whose purported justifications make George W. Bush’s excuses for his illegal invasion of Iraq smell nice by comparison. So far, the United States, Netanyahu’s chief enabler, has been unwilling to stop the carnage, as it could easily do, because Washington hasn’t yet heard enough complaint from Americans not to use their tax dollars to kill children in Gaza.”
On The Monitor this week:
- Democracy comes to Egypt and Syria…or does it? We discuss the Egyptian and Syrian election results with Ghada Talhami.
- New Organization Launches with Invitation: “Whistleblowers Welcome”. We talk with Marsha Coleman-Adebayo about her own whistleblowing experience and why protections for whistleblowers are still needed.
More about this week’s guests:
Ghada Talhami is emeritus professor in the department of politics at Lake Forest College. Her books include The Mobilization of Muslim Women in Egypt. She said last week (prior to the election results in Egypt and Syria): “Western observers may see the abstaining of large sectors of the Egyptian public from the current elections as an indictment of army rule, but a closer look reveals greater issues at play. If, as has been drummed by human rights advocates, Western governments and Egypt’s religious right, al-Sisi’s credibility has been greatly damaged by his crackdown on political opponents and residual forces of the January 25 uprising, then the electoral dent inflicted on al-Sisi’s legend is perfectly understandable. But what is being underestimated here is the apparent apathy of the non-Islamic and non-revolutionary forces, for as in all revolutions, the struggle between the forces of freedom and the primal quest for security usually take center-stage. In Egypt’s case, the quest for security is being interpreted currently as concern over domestic security and stability. Concern for Egypt’s strategic security and the safety of its external borders, however, has always been at the core of the military’s psyche.”
She is the author of six books: Suakin and Massawa under Egyptian Rule (University Press of America, 1979), Palestine and the Egyptian National Identity (PRAEGER, 1992), The Islamic Mobilization of Women in Egypt (University Press of Florida, 1996), Syria and the Palestinians: The Clash of Nationalisms (University Press of Florida, 2001), and Palestinian Refugees: Pawns to Political Actors (Nova Science Publishers, 2003). Her latest book, Palestine and the Egyptian Press: From al-Ahram to al-Ahali, was released by Lexington Books in 2007. She is also the editor of an encyclopedia volume, Children in the Middle East and North Africa, published by Greenwood Press.
Marsha Coleman-Adebayo is author of No Fear: A Whistleblower’s Triumph Over Corruption and Retaliation at the EPA. As senior policy analyst for the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency, she became a whistleblower when the EPA ignored her complaints about a U.S. company harming the environment and human health in its vanadium mining in South Africa. Denied promotion, she sued and won a jury verdict finding EPA guilty of discrimination. Coleman-Adebayo is a founder of the No FEAR Coalition and EPA Employees Against Racism. Under her leadership No FEAR organized a grassroots campaign that won passage of the “Notification of Federal Employees Anti-Discrimination and Retaliation Act.” Coleman-Adebayo serves on the board of directors of the National Whistleblower Center and was inducted into the Project on Government Oversight’s Hall of Fame. She is an editor and columnist for the Black Agenda Report.
Announcing its intention to “shed light on concealed activities that are relevant to human rights, corporate malfeasance, the environment, civil liberties and war,” the ExposeFacts organization launched on Wednesday with a news conference in Washington and the debut of its website declaring “Whistleblowers Welcome.”
The ExposeFacts.org site will feature the “SecureDrop” whistleblower submission system, provided by the Freedom of the Press Foundation. “At a time when key provisions of the First, Fourth and Fifth Amendments are under assault,” ExposeFacts said in a statement, “we are standing up for a free press, privacy, transparency and due process as we seek to reveal official information — whether governmental or corporate — that the public has a right to know.”
Speakers at the Washington news conference included National Security Agency whistleblowers William Binney and J. Kirk Wiebe as well as Environmental Protection Agency whistleblower Marsha Coleman-Adebayo.
On The Monitor this week:
- Repression and Politics in Egypt – An interview with Stephen Zunes
- Why oil drilling in Ecuador is ‘ticking time bomb’ for planet – An interview with Antonia Juhasz
More about this week’s guests:
Dr. Stephen Zunes is a Professor of Politics and International Studies at the University of San Francisco, where he serves as coordinator of the program in Middle Eastern Studies. Recognized as one the country’s leading scholars of U.S. Middle East policy and of strategic nonviolent action, Professor Zunes serves as a senior policy analyst for the Foreign Policy in Focus project of the Institute for Policy Studies, an associate editor of Peace Review, a contributing editor of Tikkun, and co-chair of the academic advisory committee for the International Center on Nonviolent Conflict.
He is the author of scores of articles for scholarly and general readership on Middle Eastern politics, U.S. foreign policy, international terrorism, nuclear nonproliferation, strategic nonviolent action, and human rights. He is the principal editor of Nonviolent Social Movements (Blackwell Publishers, 1999), the author of the highly-acclaimed Tinderbox: U.S. Middle East Policy and the Roots of Terrorism (Common Courage Press, 2003) and co-author (with Jacob Mundy) of Western Sahara: War, Nationalism and Conflict Irresolution (Syracuse University Press, 2010.)
We talk about his three most recent articles on events in Egypt:
- Repression, paranoia increases in Egypt
- Egyptian Junta Claims U.S. Conspiracy While Accepting U.S. Support
- How to discredit your democratic opponents in Egypt
Antonia Juhasz, an energy and oil industry analyst, is the author of several books, including “Black Tide” and “The Tyranny of Oil.” Juhasz received a Levinson Family Foundation grant in 2013 to support ongoing work in investigative journalism in the oil and energy sectors. Juhasz was a 2012-2013 Investigative Journalism Fellow at the Investigative Reporting Program of the Graduate School of Journalism at the University of California, Berkeley. She investigated the role of oil and natural gas in the Afghanistan war. Juhasz recently completed work for The Nation magazine with funding provided by The Investigative Fund of The Nation Institute. Her work has also appeared in Rolling Stone, Harper’s Magazine, and The Atlantic’s website.
Her recent article Why oil drilling in Ecuador is ‘ticking time bomb’ for planet states: “Experts believe that in order to avoid the worst of a future climate change catastrophe, most of the planet’s fossil fuels must be left in the ground. Ecuador’s ambitious Yasuni-ITT Initiative, launched in 2007, was hailed as a landmark plan to keep oil exploration out of one of the most biologically diverse places left on earth and to preserve the homes of indigenous tribes living there. But Ecuador abandoned the plan last year, and drilling could now begin any time. In November I traveled to the Yasuni National Park in northeastern Ecuador, marveling at its beauty and the richness of the lives of those who live there. But the once global struggle to secure the Yasuni-ITT Initiative has now largely fallen on the shoulders of a few indigenous tribal communities who have pledged to fight, some to the death, to keep oil companies out of their communities and their oil in the ground.
“Will the world back them up? It is a question with significance far beyond Yasuni National Park. The age of ‘easy oil,’ if it ever existed, is over. What is left is in places like the Yasuni, previously deemed too sensitive, valuable, or risky to drill. The cost to both the planet and local people of pursuing such oil grows in tandem with the difficulty of extracting it. The Yasuni presents a critical opportunity to demonstrate that a different path is possible, though fortunately it is not the only place where the effort to leave our ‘oil in the soil’ has taken root.
“Across the U.S. and world, communities are voting to ban oil and natural gas development. These efforts come from a growing realization that we are all now ultimately on the front lines of the battle over what is to be done with the world’s remaining fossil fuels.”
Sherif Samir, writing from Egypt
In the past year, during the rule of the Muslim Brotherhood, when the darkness of fanatical Muslims beset Egypt, and when it seemed that the spirit of resistance was fading, and people were giving up, I was observing women, wondering how the new situation was affecting their looks, their clothes, and their make-up, and I kept hope as long as women kept wearing tight pants, and lipstick, as long as I saw girls and boys walking together and laughing out loud “Fanatical groups will never own the heart of Egypt,” I thought to myself, “as long as women in tights are guarding the spirit of life.” And I was right.
You know that women are half of the human race, and they can change the future by raising a free new generation. Now you might be saying “Nonsense” – women in the west wear hot shorts but people there are still suffering under capitalism. Right, but remember, I’m Egyptian. The majority of women here are told to cover all their bodies all the time. Many are treated as though they are nothing but a piece of meat, and taught that they hold the honour of men between their legs. Religion sees women as a threat, dictatorship sees women as a threat, and parents see their daughters as a threat. Husbands see their wives as threat, and treat them as property with support from religion, law, and masculine society. They see in women a dangerous revolutionary potential. Sadly, almost 99%of Egyptian women face this oppression.
You see the point here? Women have got to realise how important and effective a free woman is. The reality now is, however, a sad one: many women ironically defend the misogynous values of masculine society. Even educated women still expect to be owned by men and to cultivate in their children the same beliefs that oppress women today. That’s how women are supposed to be in a devout Islamic country. So, I’m looking up to Egyptian women, wanting them to revolt, to change their destiny and thereby help change the world.
Dr Hakim, writing from Afghanistan
Once, her eyeliners darker than usual, she complained indignantly about a girl who had misquoted her,” Ei…ei…either she..she goes, or I go!”
She works hard, weighing out the synthetic wool which 60 Afghan ladies use to make winter duvets. Her movements are more determined than that of most men. She is as ready to agree as she is to disagree.
One afternoon in Afghanistan, where music was once banned, she attended a music program. Two professional Afghan singers were invited, a Hazara and a Pashtun, both male. There were about 20 girls and just as many boys in the medium-sized, L-shaped room, the singers at the corner, and the girls on rows of duvets placed on the short arm of the L.
“Would anyone in the audience like to sing?”
Heads turned away. Eyes gazed down. Then…”Me!” she gestured. Her mouth wasn’t smiling. Her face was looking quite serious.
She took the microphone. A Pashtun music enthusiast, a drummer boy, sat down near her with the Afghan drum, the ‘dol’.
From outside, like a cloak, conservative public opinion seemed to weigh down on the roof, and to push against the windows : Patriarchs ask, “ A girl singing?”. The religious council delivers an edict stating that women are second to men. Over the airwaves, a conservative American militarist proclaims, as if in jest, that the most powerful army in the world is here to protect the rights of Afghan women like her, while more than 2500 women had committed suicide in a year.
She took the microphone, which was larger than her hand. Her eyelids were half-drawn, in momentary meditation, with a slight rhythm swaying in her neck.
She took the microphone…
The room paid attention. The audience hesitated. The ‘dol’ and the ‘dambura’ ( an Afghan two-stringed, banjo-like instrument ) were played by two men, as accompaniment.
With a scattering of tone-deaf notes, but with no stammers, she sang!
It appeared to me that the whole world broke out clapping.
Sherif Samir is an Egyptian writer and an Arabic teacher. He was the 2012 winner of the International Contest of Microfiction, awarded by Museo de la Palabra in Spain
Hakim, ( Dr. Teck Young, Wee ) is a medical doctor from Singapore who has done humanitarian and social enterprise work in Afghanistan for the past 9 years, including being a mentor to the Afghan Peace Volunteers, an inter-ethnic group of young Afghans dedicated to building non-violent alternatives to war. He is the 2012 recipient of the International Pfeffer Peace Prize.