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Managing Consent: The Art of War, Democracy and Public Relations

By RAMZY BAROUD It is Edward Bernays who fine-tuned the art of public relations in the 20th century. Using many of the psychoanalytic theories put forward by his uncle Sigmund Freud, he developed a mastery of public manipulation, suggesting that such manipulation was essential to democracy itself. Bernays strongly believed that people are simply "stupid" […]

A Palestinian Miracle at the UN?

By RAMZY BAROUD For 62 years since the foundation of the United Nations’ Security Council, the Palestinians did not manage to have any kind of sway that would allow them to block or amend a proposed resolution in any meaningful way. But miracles do indeed happen, as, for the first time, and after days of […]

Alberto Gonzales and Coup Against Democracy

By RAMZY BAROUD The name of Alberto Gonzales is rapidly becoming synonymous with all that has gone wrong under the Bush administration. Repeated media discussions of the US Secretary of State in the most contentious tones have served to lay the blame for all the ailments that infected American democracy under Bush squarely on one […]

Bush’s Real Agenda in Palestine

By RAMZY BAROUD The Hamas government crackdown on Mohamed Dahlan’s corrupt security forces and affiliated gangs in the Gaza Strip in June appears to mark a turning point in the Bush administration’s foreign policy regarding Palestine and Israel. The supposed shift, however, is nothing but a continuation of Washington’s efforts to stifle Palestinian democracy, to […]

Bush’s War Policy: When Time Heals Nothing

By RAMZY BAROUD The news of recent weeks emanating from Washington and Baghdad point to one clear, if not final, conclusion: The Bush administration’s adventures in Iraq have been a complete failure. What the media have eagerly dubbed as the Republican Revolt is now reinforced by two of the most distinguished Republican senators: John Warner […]

The Alternative Media: Free Speech is Still Possible

By RAMZY BAROUD To speak of an alternative media is to acknowledge the deficiency of the prevailing media, the mainstream, in addressing the issues, catering to the concerns, and responding to the woes of the general public, the overwhelming majority of people who are almost completely disregarded by the corporate media everywhere. It is disheartening, […]

The Palestinian Left: A Lost Opportunity

By RAMZY BAROUD When Hamas members were elected as the majority bloc of the Palestinian Legislative Council, and as it became apparent that a US-led international embargo would be an adjoining price to that victory, I contacted many intellectuals and writers in Palestine, mostly those who often positioned themselves as part of the Palestinian Left. […]

Finding Lessons in Gaza’s Bloodshed

By RAMZY BAROUD The Hamas-Fatah clash that has culminated into a mini-civil war in recent weeks is both old and new, and while some of its elements are uniquely Palestinian, much of it was manufactured at the behest of US-Israeli intelligence and governments. The tensions between Fatah and Hamas are decades old. Fatah has – […]

Democracy Defeated

By RAMZY BAROUD All my forewarnings have suddenly been actualised, all at once: Gaza has descended into total and utter chaos; Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas has capitulated to Israel and to the United States without a shred of reservation; and the Palestinian democratic experiment, which was until recently an astounding success, has been smashed to […]

War Foretold: Mark Twain and the Sins of Empire

By RAMZY BAROUD When I resorted to Mark Twain’s writings I attempted to escape, at least temporarily from my often distressing readings on war, politics and terror. But his “The Mysterious Stranger”, although published 1916, still left me with an eerie feel. The imaginative story calls into question beliefs that we hold as a “matter […]

Losing Afghanistan: Firepower Doesn’t Always Win Wars

By RAMZY BAROUD In a statement made available through the country’s Foreign Office, Pakistan’s Foreign Minister Khursheed Mahmood Kasuri chastised the “international community” for the “abandonment” of Afghanistan following the withdrawal of Soviet forces in 1989. In his estimation, it was this attitude that created the conditions which eventually culminated in the rise of the […]

For Boycott to Be Effective, an International Coalition Is Indispensable

By RAMZY BAROUD South Africa’s Minister of Intelligence Ronnie Kasrils whispered to me as I sat down following a most enthusiastic speech I gave at a recent conference in Cape Town: "if you want the world to heed to your call for boycotting Israel, the call has to originate from the Palestinian leadership itself." Kasrils […]

Cape of Good Hope: One Apartheid Regime Down; One More to Go

By RAMZY BAROUD I stand at the southernmost corner of Africa, the Cape of Good Hope. The grand mountains underneath and behind infuse a moment of spiritual reflection unmatched in its depth and meaning. Before me is an awe-inspiring view: here the Atlantic’s frigid waters gently meet the warm waters of the Indian Ocean. They […]

From Palestine to Rotterdam: The Perfect PR Disaster

By RAMZY BAROUD In Rotterdam, Holland’s third largest city, thousands of Palestinians gathered on May 5 for the annual Palestinians in Europe conference. I too opted to participate only to witness a PR disaster, which could have not possibly taken place at a more critical time. This article is another attempt at self-critique and reflection, […]

Darfur: The Hourglass of Blood

By RAMZY BAROUD The Darfur crisis in Sudan is perhaps the most politically convoluted conflict in the world today. Its underpinnings involve local, regional and international players, all selfishly vying for power and economic interests. Alliances shift like quicksand, reminiscent of Lebanon. Neither the interest of the people of Darfur, nor the sovereignty of Sudan […]

Mismanaging Iraq: Stealing from the Poor and Giving to the Rich

By RAMZY BAROUD Locating Dartmouth House, where Hans von Sponeck, former UN humanitarian coordinator for Iraq was scheduled to speak in London 18 April, was a challenge. Yet having been lost for an hour in the ever-confusing and expanding city of London was the least of my concerns the moment I slipped quietly into the […]

Freedom for Alan Johnston

By RAMZY BAROUD In Trafalgar Square in London, dozens of journalists representing every major news organisation descended on a designated corner in the tourist infested area in support of Alan Johnston, the BBC correspondent kidnapped in Gaza on March 12, 2006, one month after his ordeal began. Awaiting the arrival of Alan’s family to a […]

A Paradigm Shift: America as Proxy

By RAMZY BAROUD Conflicts in the Middle East are often orchestrated from afar, using proxies — the least risky method to fight and win a war. Despite its geopolitical fragmentation, the Middle East is loosely united insofar as any major event in any given locale can subsequently be felt throughout the region. Thus Lebanon, for […]

Not an Intellectual Squabble

By RAMZY BAROUD In a spacious yet fortified United Nations compound in Rome, members of a Palestine committee at the General Assembly repeated old mantras: vowed support for Palestinians, issued a Press release and went for lunch. The committee consisted of several UN ambassadors; all well-intended, sympathetic and concerned; nonetheless, they also knew too well […]

War Anniversary: Israel, Palestine Links Absent

By RAMZY BAROUD The Stockholm air was too cold, even for the most animated speaker to excite a crowd. But I had little choice: thousands of anti-war protesters had descended on the capital’s main square to show their support of the Iraqi people on the four-year anniversary of the US invasion, and to demand an […]

The Arab Peace Initiative and the Changing Middle East

By RAMZY BAROUD The rapid, almost hasty, developments on the Arab Israeli front, almost immediately following the Saudi sponsored Makkah Agreement on February 2, should be examined in their proper context, as a part and parcel of the regional shifts, exasperated by the US war in Iraq and the dramatic adjustment in Iran’s position vis-à-vis […]

Articulating a Just Peace: Whose Responsibility?

By RAMZY BAROUD [From a speech for Stockholm Conference 16-19 March 2007]  In my speech today, I will refrain from stating the obvious: those who are yet to recognize the injustices committed daily against the Palestinian people, have either succumbed completely to Israel’s propaganda or are simply uninterested in the whole matter. Although confronting both […]

Palestinians Must Redefine Struggle

By RAMZY BAROUD It’s never easy to admit that the Palestinian front, both at home and abroad, remains as fragmented and self-consumed, thus ineffective, as ever before, and got worse during the disastrous post-Oslo period. Such realisation wouldn’t mean much if the inference concerned any other polity; but when it’s made in regards to a […]

Losing Focus: Peace and Justice Movement in Britain at Crossroad

By RAMZY BAROUD Growing up in a Palestinian refugee camp in the Gaza Strip, it was a very familiar encounter: Israeli soldiers storming our house accompanied by shouts of terror and a barrage of insults. Such recollections make me shudder to this day. Just the mere summoning of those memories of my childhood in the […]

A Democracy in Crisis: Who is Really in Control?

By RAMZY BAROUD Years back, an old and astute professor at the University of Washington ended a fascinating lecture to a small group of freshmen with the following contention: "Our country might find itself in a position that could force it to deprive its citizens from certain freedoms to preserve basic rights." The political atmosphere […]

The Final Punch: Removing Iran from the New Middle East Equation

By RAMZY BAROUD The configuration of the New Middle East — as envisaged by US Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice during the Israeli war against Lebanon in July-August 2006, most certainly has no place for more than one regional power broker, namely Israel. Under such an arrangement — subservient Arabs and Iran governed by an […]

The Makkah Agreement: What Should We Expect?

By RAMZY BAROUD The Makkah agreement, signed between rival Palestinian groups, Hamas and Fatah on February 8, under the auspices of the Saudi leadership, was welcomed by thousands of cheering Palestinians throughout the occupied territories, and seen as the closing of a chapter of a bloody and tumultuous period of their history. Officially, although more […]

Countdown for Iran: When Commonsense is Nonsense

By RAMZY BAROUD The relationship between Iran and the United States is one of peculiar temperament: intense but accommodating at times, barefaced and seemingly self-destructive at others. Currently, the latter estimation rings truer: the US naval military build up in the east Mediterranean and the Gulf, conjoined with an intense and sinister propaganda campaign that […]

Shameless in Gaza: Inching Toward a Palestinian Civil War

By RAMZY BAROUD The most recent fighting in the Gaza Strip, which has left many people dead, confirms that the internal strife plaguing the Occupied Territories since the advent of Hamas to power in January 2006 was not entirely the outcome of outside meddling in Palestinian affairs. It is, in most part a violent expression […]

While Going Under: The Things We Take for Granted

By RAMZY BAROUD I opened my eyes to the sound of my children, so innocently unaware of what had befallen their father: "is Daddy going to die?" asked one, in a voice engulfed with a worry that transcended her years; "no, but I think that he will have to use a wheelchair for the rest […]