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Listen to Joy Gordon speak about her book “Invisible War – The United States and the Iraq Sanctions”

Neda Agha-Soltan was 27 when she was shot dead in the streets of Tehran on June 20th, 2009. Watch a touching and powerful documentary about a courageous, lively and beautiful woman and her struggle against theocratic rule and gender apartheid in Iran.

For Neda

(also available in Farsi or Arabic)

Listen to Iranian dissident Akbar Ganji speak at the Cato Institute – from which he received the “Milton Friedman Prize for Advancing Liberty 2010” – about the liberation struggle against the theocracy and the great dangers of military intervention.

Political scientist Robert Pape has a clear and simple answer to this question, which will surprise only those who blame Islam. Watch him explain his theory and his latest research on Iraq and Afghanistan at the New America Foundation:

The Rise of Suicide Terrorism

(I couldn’t find the first part, but I don’t believe there is anything of great importance missing.)

Watch Matthew Hoh, a former Marine Corps Captain in Iraq and Foreign Service Officer in Afghanistan, explain why he resigned in protest over the war in Afghanistan:

Leaving Afghanistan

Dissidents and human rights activists from China, Tibet, Vietnam, Burma, North Korea, Indonesia, Iran, Afghanistan, Azerbaijan, Sudan, Zimbabwe, Cuba and Venezuela gathered in Geneva, Switzerland on March 8-9, 2010 for the Geneva Summit for Human Rights, Tolerance and Democracy.
Here you can watch videos of all the debates and speeches.

In this short video experts from Freedom House explain how the Iranian theocracy is trying to censor the Internet – and what dissidents can do
about it. If you know someone in Iran, this may be a help… Good luck!

The necon hawks want to cripple the Iranian economy with massive sanctions or even go to war. Most of their opponents prefer to simply ignore the realities in Tehran. Is there a better way? Can we avoid a terrible war without giving in to a brutal theocracy?

Watch and listen to a very informative debate between Jacqueline Shire, a senior analyst at the Institute for Science and International Security and well-known expert on Iran’s nuclear program, and Richard Parker, founder of the American Foreign Policy Project, at Bloggingheads.TV:

Worldwise: Iran and the Bomb

Also watch the video of a conference by the Cato Institute on How to Deal with Iran: Options for Today and for the Future

After decades of suffering under brutal Soviet occupation and no less brutal Taliban rule, the people of Afghanistan deserve freedom, dignity and prosperity. We should do all we can to help them build a stable democratic system and a modern market economy. But we need a serious debate about the right means to achieve these goals – and we need it now!

Watch these two equally impressive, informative and important documentaries about war and everday life in the graveyard of empires:


Brave New Foundation: Rethink Afghanistan

Watch political scientist Robert Pape, author of Dying to Win: The Strategic Logic of Suicide Terrorism, explain why he is convinced that they do not hate us for what we ARE, bot for what we DO:

Conversations with History: Robert Pape

I don’t know, nobody does. But Bruce Bueno de Mesquita is convinced that he is pretty close to knowing. Watch him explain at the Ted Talks how mathematics and game theory can be used to predict the most likely outcome of a political power struggle like the one in Iran:

Bruce Bueno de Mesquita predicts Iran’s future

Let’s hope and pray that his computer is right about the bomb!

I am glad the Washington Post is so clear on this:

This Is For Real

“What’s happening on the streets of Tehran is a lesson in what makes history: It isn’t guns or secret police, in the end, but the willingness of hundreds of thousands of people to risk their lives to protest injustice. That is what overthrew the shah of Iran in 1979, and it is now shaking the mullahs. This is politics in the raw — unarmed people defying soldiers with guns — and it is the stuff of which revolutions are made. Whether it will succeed in Iran is impossible to predict, but already this movement has put an overconfident regime on the ropes.”

An Iranian student tries to put into words how this latest freedom movement started:

New York Times: A Different Iranian Revolution

“The truth is, it wasn’t supposed to happen this way. The open-air parties that, for one week, turned Tehran at night into a large-scale civic disco, were an accident. People gathered by the tens of thousands in public squares, circling around one another on foot, on motorcycle, in their cars. They showed up around 4 or 5 in the afternoon and stayed together well into the next day, at least 3 or 4 in the morning, laughing, cheering, breaking off to debate, then returning to the fray. A girl hung off the edge of a car window “Dukes of Hazzard” style. Four boys parked their cars in a circle, the headlights illuminating an impromptu dance floor for them to show off their moves.
Everyone watched everyone else and we wondered how all of this could be happening. Who were all of these people? Where did they come from? These were the same people we pass by unknowingly every day. We saw one another, it feels, for the first time. Now in the second week, we continue to look at one another as we walk together, in marches and in silent gatherings, toward our common goal of having our vote respected. No one knew that it would come to this.”

Watch Ted Galen Carpenter and Ian Vásquez of the Cato Institute explain why we should end the international War on Drugs as soon as possible:

Is It Time to End the International War on Drugs?

“Since President Nixon launched the War on Drugs in 1971, its escalating direct and indirect costs have become increasingly apparent. As we have seen over the decades in Colombia, Mexico, Afghanistan, and other drug-source countries, banning the drug trade creates economic distortions and an opportunity for some of the most unsavory elements to gain tenacious footholds. Drug prohibition inevitably leads to an orgy of corruption and violence.”

Walid Shoebat became a member of the Palestinian Liberation Organization as a young man, commited acts of terror and violence against Israelis and was imprisoned in an Israeli jail. Today he is an outspoken critic of any sort of antisemitism, antizionism, terrorism and religious extremism. Watch him speak at the University of California:

Confessions of a PLO Terrorist: Walid Shoebat

Feminist Muslim Irshad Manji supported the military intervention in Afghanistan from the beginning – and she did so mainly because of one simple reason: human rights. But now she has doubts, if the West will really be able to bring liberal democracy to Afghanistan: Tribalism triumphs in Afghanistan

Listen to her debate the issue with Nelofer Pazira, an Afghan Canadian journalist, who defends the war as necessary and moral:

The Current – Afghan Moral Mission

Paul Collier is Professor of Economics at Oxford University and Department Director of the Centre for the Study of African Economies.

Watch him speak about his book “The Bottom Billion: Why the Poorest Countries are Failing and What Can Be Done About It”, in which he “outlines four traps that the poorest countries in the world can find themselves in: the trap of civil war, the trap of being landlocked, the trap of having abundant natural resouces, and the trap of having a bad government” and explains how they can escape these traps:

Foreign Policy Magazine – Paul Collier

Watch Larry Diamond, a senior fellow at the Hoover Institution and co-editor of the Journal of Democracy, debate his book The Spirit of Democracy – The Struggle to Build Free Societies Throughout the World, which I very strongly recommend to anyone interested in the science of democracy and democracy movements, with some researchers from Freedom House at the Carnegie Council for Ethics in International Affairs:

The Spirit of Democracy – Carnegie Council, New York

Watch Daoud Sultanzoy, Chairman of the Economic Committee of the Afghan Parliament, talk about “the current economic and business conditions in Afghanistan and the links between sustained economic growth and democratic institutions” at the Center for International Private Enterprise (CIPE):

Building Democracy and a Market Economy in Afghanistan Part 1 /2

Also watch this short, but very interesting documentary about Tashabos (the Dari and Pashto word for “entrepreneur”), a CIPE program  “to teach high school students the basics of economics and finance. Tashabos tells the story of a married couple that capitalize on the weaving and design skills of the wife to establish a knitwear business that – by the course’s completion – expands into a full-scale manufacturing enterprise”:

Tashabos – Entrepreneurship Education in Afghanistan

Salman Rushdie is an atheist, Irshad Manji a muslim. But they have a lot in common. They both have tons of courage, are open minded and freedom loving. And they both haven’t lost their sense of humour…

Enjoy watching them debate the importance of free speech and the power of fear over people’s minds:

Salman Rushdie and Irshad Manji at the 92nd Street Y

Watch Phyllis Chesler, Emerita Professor of Psychology and Women’s Studies at City University of New York and author of The Death of Feminism: What’s Next in the Struggle for Women’s Freedom, speak out against gender apartheid in the islamic world and the silence of feminism at the Barnes & Noble Booksellers in New York:

Chesler: The Death of Feminism

Watch Amal Elsana Alh’jooj, director of the Arab-Jewish Center for Equality, Empowerment and Cooperation, explain at the World Affairs Council how she got to be the first bedouine feminist – and what feminism is or should be all about:

Amal Elsana Alh’jooj at the WAC

“Amal was born in Laqiya, an Arab Bedouin village in the northeastern Negev, to a family with 13 children. At the age of 17 she established the first Arab Bedouin women’s organization. Amal is one of the key shapers of public opinion in the Arab community regarding the status of the Arab minority and the status of women in Israel.”

…it’s a good time to remember why and how it was used to torture and mistreat people:

The Road to Guantanamo

Targeting civilians – like most terrorist groups do – is of course one of the very worst human rights violations. And every state has the right and the duty to defend its citizens. In fact, defending human life is every state’s most important right and duty.

But overreaction to terrorism not only leads to human rights violations – making us more like them! -, but  plays directly into the hands of terrorists by giving them the special attention they crave for and creating the grievances they can use for propaganda purposes.

This is always important to keep in mind, even if you believe that a tough response may sometimes be necessary.

Watch and listen to some of the leading terrorism and counterterrorism experts debate these issues at a special two-day conference at the Cato Institute:

Shaping the Obama Administration’s Counterterrorism Strategy

“With a new administration in the White House, January 2009 will be the starting point for a new approach to U.S. counterterrorism efforts. This conference presents solid, immensely practical analyses of strategic counterterrorism policies based on the lessons and experiences of the past eight years and earlier, and on what proven strategies will yield the most beneficial results for the United States. In addition, the conference focuses on defining realistic objectives and allocating military, federal and state government expenditures according to these goals. To accomplish this, an outstanding group of national and global experts has been assembled to share their insights, accomplishments, and strategic recommendations for the coming administration.”

It’s really hard to explain what the Copenhagen Consensus Center is trying to do. In their own words: “Through the commissioning and conveying of research, we work to improve the prioritizing between various efforts to mitigate the consequences of the world’s biggest challenges. In particular we focus on the international community’s effort to solve the world’s biggest challenges and on how to do this in the most cost-efficient manner.”

Sounds weird? In a way it is. But if you give it a chance, you will learn a lot about our world’s biggest problems and what to do about them.
But you better be open minded…

Watch the Copenhagen Consensus 2008 Opening Speech and the Final Results Presentation by its founder Björn Lomborg.

Also watch videos of all the presentations, in which experts present “the latest research on every challenge and also put forward solutions to the challenge, including benefit and cost estimates”. It’s really worth it!

WADI asks for your help:

Stop Female Genital Mutilation in Iraqi-Kurdistan: Appeal for Donations

“We invite you to take part in social change in the making. Over the past four years, Female Genital Mutilation (FGM) in Iraqi-Kurdistan has ceased to be a practice protected by the silence of strict social taboo. FGM is now the topic of open public debate, with growing active support to ban it by law and combat against it through social, medical and educational action. This remarkable change has been made possible by a group of local activists, working across Iraqi-Kurdistan in WADI’s various projects and initiatives for women’s rights and equality.”

Watch this new documentary on the struggle for an uncensored internet in Egypt.

Irshad Manji is a faithful muslim and a radical – a radical supporter of secularism, individualism, pluralism, reason, science, modernity, universalism, liberal democracy, private property… and mocca coffee!

Watch her speak her free mind at the GoogleTalks:

Authors@Google: Irshad Manji

God bless this brave woman!