Saturday, June 14, 2014

Iraq War Phase II: The Rise of ISIS

11 months ago, I wrote an article -- 11 Car Bombs for Baghdad -- discussing the ramifications of the escape of top Al-Qaeda guys from Abu Ghraib prison. Hundreds of top-level fighters managed to escape the prison last July, after a coordinated series of attacks that signaled to the Iraqi government and the world just how vulnerable of a nation America had left behind. Worse, the attack was an inside job, highlighting the extent to which the Iraqi government had been infiltrated by radical Sunni separatists.

At the time, I wrote: "250 Al-Qaeda guys is more than many other Arab countries have, and their escape signals the beginning of the next phase in the American-led offensive to topple President Assad in Syria... unless Iraq breaks up into separate Sunni and Shia states, Western powers will not be able to topple him [Assad.] The only way to bring down Assad is by breaking up Iraq, creating a Sunni state near his borders with a population sympathetic to the Free Syrian Army. At this point, there is no stopping the break up of Iraq; it was written in the pages of destiny the minute Bush and Rumsfeld decided to disband the largely-Sunni Iraqi army, and empower the Shia majority. The prison break at Abu Ghraib will only serve to speed up the inevitable.
The coming insurgency in Iraq will be far-worse than the previous."

11 months later, it appears as if American foreign policy has seen proof of its failure, but the reality is that our government's objectives have been fully met. Though the attacks of September the 11th gave us impetus for toppling our enemies in the Middle East, the US military could not directly and simultaneously engage in a war against enemies stretching from the Mediterranean to the Federally Administered Tribal Areas of Pakistan; just engaging against the Iraqi and Pashtun insurgents was extremely taxing for the Pentagon. To destabilize our enemies, we needed to create an arc of instability dab-smack in the middle of our enemies' territory.

As General Wesley Clark famously revealed, elements within the upper echelons of the American politico-military establishment drafted a "Seven-countries memo," where the framework was developed to take down seven regimes considered hostile to the US: "starting with Iraq and then Syria, Lebanon, Lybia, Somalia, Sudan, and finishing off Iran."

To indirectly accomplish the goal of taking out multiple governments, the US government agitated relations between Sunnis and Shias, creating a climate that would succeed in plunging the Syrians and Iranians into a protracted war of attrition against Sunni forces. Just hours ago, London's The Guardian published an article -- US and Iran to join fight against Sunni Jihadis of Isis in Iraq. 

The Iranians, for the time being, have no choice but to fight against an enemy created thanks to America's intervention, and with America's indirect help. ISIS has looted the Iraqi army's Pentagon-hand-me-downs, so it is with American weapons that Iraqi Shiites, Syrian Alawites, and Iranians will battle against their enemy. No one will question how Sunni rebels have accrued such an arsenal of US weapons; stolen from bases in Nineveh province, the Pentagon will argue.

Monday, May 19, 2014

Monkey Black Laid to Rest Amidst Drunken Mob, Shootout, Promises of Retaliation

Eighteen days after being brutally stabbed in a bar in Catalunya, the famous Dominican rapper Monkey Black was laid to rest in his native Dominican Republic yesterday Sunday. The body of Leonardo Flores, as he was legally known in life, was held in Spain until just this past weekend pending a still-ongoing investigation into his murder, but two individuals of Gitano/Roma origin were fingered as the culprits.

During the time that it took for Monkey Black's body to be examined by the forensic police, and before it was cleared for transport pending no further studies, a 60 year-old Gitano man in Baladona, Spain was ruthlessly stabbed by a young Dominican male. Gangs often need little catalyst before they unleash a wave of violence, so it is quite worrying that a Tupac-like status has been placed over the deceased rapper.

The public imagination tends to make idols of artists who die brutally at a young age, and it appears that Monkey Black has managed to cement his legacy more through his exit from the global stage than through his performance on it. If anyone doubted the authenticity of the streets in Monkey Black's mambo, his death erased all of it. When his body arrived in the Caribbean island of under ten million citizens, his father made a plea that no alcohol, drugs, or weapons be brought to Monkey Black's funeral.
The pleas by Mr. Flores that his son be laid to rest in a traditional service went completely unheeded. Members of the Dominican police tried to keep the peace, but it was impossible given the magnitude and nature of the crowd. An overwhelming number of motorcycles tried, despite protests from the police, to enter the cemetery in Los Minas -- a neighborhood of the Dominican capital, where Monkey Black was born.
Before the issue of who could enter the cemetery to view the body was settled, shots had been fired. The police used tear gas to subdue the crowd, and miraculously no one was shot. Nonetheless, the cemetery was overwhelmed by fans of the deceased rapper. One individual was taken to the hospital for stitches after receiving a blow to the head with a rum bottle.

Dominican rap -- locally called "merengue urbano" -- is a genre know for espousing the "alofoke" philosophy. From the English "fuck it," alofoke is a philosophy which promotes the hedonistic side of life, the way of the bottle, the gun, and the short life. It is a philosophy which promotes the idea of a global stage, one where an individual must perform even in death.

Though merely an artist to many, Monkey Black is really a fallen idol to a new culture. Whether the culture of hedonism and death prevails remains to be seen, but it appears that the genre speaks to some core elements of Dominican culture, in the same way that rock and rap speak to certain elements of American culture.

Tuesday, May 13, 2014

Tip to White Americans: Don't Drink Around Minorities, Don't Share Photographs of Your Parties in Places Where They Could be Viewed by Minorities

So you want to "drink tequila on a Monday morning" and wear a silly hat? I don't blame you, I also enjoy wearing a silly hat while drinking in the morning every once in a while. I went to Oktoberfest last year and also the year before that, taking ample time to wear a Bavarian hat while sipping on my 3rd liter of beer by 10am. I also attended King's Day this year, and Queen's Day last year, making sure to wear an orange hat all the while gorging on Heineken and inhaling what Amsterdam's trees have to offer. 

As a brown man, I can use and appropriate symbols of white culture because there's no such thing as reverse racism. However, because of the traditional power structures which are secretly operating behind the scenes unbeknownst to most whites, when whites get drunk and wear the cultural symbols of another culture, it's: cultural appropriation -- a very evil thing.

As oppressive to the Latino man as overpriced tequila
There are certain types of hats which white people simply should not don. In fact, I highly recommend against the donning of any item which cannot be acquired at a local Abercrombie & Fitch store. Each culture has the right to determine that certain dresses and costumes are such an integral part of their culture, that another culture cannot adopt them as their own. If a brown person in Latin America were to dress as a cowboy, start gun-slinging and drinking on a Monday morning, it would not be offensive because artifacts and elements of white culture, by virtue of belonging to a dominant culture, cannot be appropriated. 

You see, us minorities are extremely weak and our feelings can be easily hurt. White people already stole a lot of what we had -- such as our land -- and therefore the few things that we can still call our own -- our traditional hats and ponchos, for example -- should not just be casually stolen from us by white people. If whites make a habit of wearing the religious and spiritual dresses of our culture, it could become ingrained in white culture, robbing us of what little we have left.

Now, I know that Americans like to believe that they live in a free country. If they want to have a special day where they can drink and wear the hats of the people whose land they stole, they should do so in private. If I don't learn about your wearing of my beloved Latino hats and shirts, there's no way for me to get offended. So, white people: stop inviting minorities to your parties, stop drinking in places where you could be seen by minorities, and stop taking pictures, it can only bring us emotional pain to see white people drinking and making it seem as if it's a casual everyday thing for anyone but themselves.