Thursday, September 13, 2012

Embassy attacks

The cheap propaganda movie that became part of the story of attacks on American Embassies this week in Egypt and Yemen and on a consulate in Libya may be lousy film-making. But I'll bet some screenwriter is already sketching out a movie or TV script based on the story.

Here's a bio from the UC-Berkeley Public Affairs Department on Christopher Stevens, who was killed in the Libya consulate attack; he was a Cal graduate: Slain ambassador remembered as a man of peace with a big heart 09/12/2012. Here's another from John Wildermuth et al, Libyan ambassador kept 'human touch' 09/13/2012.

Ambassador Christopher Stevens, killed in Libya consulate attack

The attacks got instantly translated into Presidential campaign and culture war terms. ("Obama weak! Islam evil!")

But it would be nice to think that the Congressional Foreign Relations Committees would use the occasion to ask some serious questions, beginning with the level of Embassy/consulate security in high-risk regions. And including what role US military actions in Libya and Yemen the last few years may have had in the planning and timing of such attacks. What looks in the short term like great success sometimes has very long-term implications. We're still dealing with the blowback of one of the CIA's great covert-ops success stories, the overthrow of the Iranian government in 1953.

Mohammed Ghobari and Edmund Blair, U.S. embassies attacked in Yemen, Egypt after Libya envoy killed Reuters 09/13/2012

Robert Fisk, The provocateurs know politics and religion don't mix The Independent 09/13/2012

With the help of our wonderful new technology, however, it only needs a couple of loonies to kick off a miniature war in the Muslim world within seconds. I doubt if poor Christopher Stevens – a man who really understood the Arabs as many of his colleagues do not – had ever heard of the ‘film’ that unleashed the storming of the US consulate in Benghazi and his own death. It’s one thing to witlessly claim that the US would go on a “crusade” against al-Qaeda – thank you, George W. Bush – but another to insult, quite deliberately, an entire people. Racism of this kind stirs many a crazed heart.

And what a strange character the guy behind the film turns out to be! Here are two reports on him:

Noah Shachtman with Robert Beckhusen, Anti-Islam Filmmaker Went by 'P.J. Tobacco' and 13 Other Names Danger Room 09/13/2012

Max Blumenthal, Inside the strange Hollywood scam that spread chaos across the Middle East Guardian 09/13/2012

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