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This week on War News Radio: diplomacy and sectarian violence in Syria, a 250-mile human chain in Catalonia, Spain – and more.
WILL SULLIVAN: From War News Radio at Swarthmore College, I’m Will Sullivan. After inching closer to a strike on Syria, President Obama reversed course this week in favor of diplomacy. War News Radio’s Henry Zhang reports.
View the story "U.S. Military Presence in Okinawa: Short Fuses, Getting Shorter" on Storify]
U.S. Military Presence in Okinawa: Short Fuses, Getting Shorter
WNR’s Jay Clayton examines opposition to the deployment of U.S. military aircraft in East Asia and its consequences for the network of U.S. bases in the region in this op-ed.
Storified by · Tue, Oct 02 2012 17:11:07
With all eyes on the Middle East over the past month, little journalistic attention has been paid to the controversy U.S. actions have spurred in other regions of the world.
Recent protests opposing the U.S. military decision to deploy a consignment of its MV-22 Osprey aircraft in Okinawa and Japan
came to a head last week, with demonstrators forcibly removed by Japanese police on Monday, October 1. The strength of these protests, which organizers claim reached over 100,000 participants, was magnified by decades-old opposition to the presence of U.S. military bases in the region, particularly at Futenma, which the U.S. has promised to re-locate elsewhere on the island.
Okinawa, a small island less than five hundred miles south of Japan, is known to most U.S. citizens for its role in the Second World War, where it served as a vital staging ground for U.S. forces after the protracted and bloody Battle of Okinawa in early 1945. Although Okinawa was formally returned to Japanese control in 1972, the U.S. has maintained a military presence on the island ever since. Forty years later, U.S. forces can be found in 32 different military bases on Okinawa. The presence of these bases has been a source of resentment for Okinawans for decades, and sympathy from mainland Japan has increased sharply over the past few years,
The Japan Times reports
. Many citizens continue to question what strategic purpose could require the U.S. to have such a large number of bases on an island roughly one third the size of the state of Rhode Island. Many Okinawans who were previously inclined to oppose U.S. military presence now view the number of bases relative to the size of the island as confirmation of a belief that the presence of the United States is less about military strategy than about empire.
What awaits Okinawa 40 years after reversion? | The Japan Times …May 13, 2012 … On May 15, 1972, Okinawa became a prefecture of Japan once again. Up until then, for 27 years since World War II — whe…
The first signs of large-scale opposition to U.S. military presence on Okinawa came in 1995, after three U.S. servicemen attacked and raped a twelve-year-old schoolgirl. In many host countries around the globe, the U.S. claims extraterritoriality, or exemption from local law, and the accused are tried in U.S. military courts. This extraterritoriality is granted through a Status of Forces Agreement, or SOFA.
As of 2001, the U.S. government admitted to having explicit SOFAs with
. In a report published March of this year, Congressional Research Service Attorney R. Chuck Mason argued that SOFAs and similar agreements totaled more than 100. Although the 1995 rape was one of the most publicized, sexual abuses of civilians by U.S. military personnel is an
. In most of these cases, the U.S. relies upon SOFAs to keep the accused out of host nations’ courts; in 1995, however, the U.S. government agreed to have the servicemen tried in Japanese courts, which many viewed as a crucial step forward in diplomatic relations with Japan and, more specifically, Okinawa.
Status of Forces Agreement (SOFA) – Federation of American …March 15, 2012. Congressional Research Service. 7-5700 www.crs.gov. RL34531 ….. 9 See http://www.state.gov/documents/organization/856…
As with the current protests,
outrage at the rape soon expanded to include other criticisms of U.S. military bases on Okinawa. Many argued that the bases were situated on the most habitable regions of the island, damaging the Okinawan economy. Former president of the Japan Policy Research Institute Chalmers Johnson argued that the U.S. invaded “the choicest 20% of the island,” both in his book
The Sorrows of Empire
and in a
online. Indeed, in the wake of the 1995 rape, the U.S. negotiated with the Japanese government to reduce the amount of land under U.S. control.
All of this brings us back to Futenma, a base the U.S. and Japanese governments agreed to re-locate as part of this 1996 agreement to reduce the land used for U.S. military bases. Sixteen years later, the base is still open; furthermore, in 2009, then-Prime Minister of Japan Yukio Hatoyama promised to move the base not just to another region of Okinawa, but off the island entirely. As the New York Times reports, Hatoyama backed away from this promise after facing pressure from within his government and from the U.S., weakening his support among voters while deepening resentment at what many Okinawans and mainland Japanese view as excessive U.S. influence.
U.S. Military Sends Ospreys to Okinawa, Despite Fierce Opposition …1 day ago … Islanders are worried that the Osprey could crash, a prospect that could threaten … U.S. Sends Aircraft to Okinawa, Des…
The explicit motivation behind the current wave of protests in Okinawa is the deployment of the MV-22 Osprey, a roto-tiller aircraft with vertical takeoff capabilities. Protestors cite the aircraft’s
history of crash risks as reason not to allow the U.S. to deploy it at bases on Okinawa. But it’s clear that the massive opposition to the deployment of the Osprey goes deeper than safety concerns.
Although left-leaning activist organizations have a long history of protesting U.S. military actions on Okinawa, more conservative groups, historically in favor of the U.S.-Japan military alliance, also oppose deploying the Osprey at Futenma. Takeshi Onaga, mayor of the Okinawan capital Naha, argues that the aircraft could be the final straw for many citizens of Okinawa, inciting unprecedented opposition to U.S. military bases on the island. Many of the demonstrators appear to agree, according to a
New York Times report.
Despite these concerns, the United States has gone ahead with the deployment, and the first six Osprey aircraft arrived at Futenma on Monday, October 01, with at least another half-dozen en route.
All clear! Okinawa police remove anti-Osprey protesters, dismantle …1 day ago … <object width="370" height="277"><param name="movie" … allowfullscreen=" tru…
View the story "Viral Content: Free Speech, Hate Speech" on Storify]
Viral Content: Free Speech, Hate Speech
WNR’s Caroline Batten examines free speech, prejudice, and Google censorship in the reaction to the controversial film "Innocence of Muslims" in this op-ed.
Storified by Caroline Batten · Wed, Sep 26 2012 15:58:11
The now-infamous “Innocence of Muslims” video has taken the Internet by storm. The top three versions of the full film and trailer posted on YouTube have garnered over 20 million views altogether as of press time.
Much of the media coverage of the movie is about the protests it’s provoked, from Morocco to Indonesia.
The video is poorly made and woodenly acted, and begins by calling the Prophet Muhammad a bastard. The video then depicts the Prophet as a sex-obsessed buffoon, abetting both child molesters and ethnic violence. The Qur’an is said to be a fabrication by Muhammad’s wife to cover up his unsound mind.
In the comment thread for
this BBC article, dozens of commenters called the offended Muslim protesters “backwards” — those comments, along with the vast majority of comments in the thread, have now been removed by the BBC. Comments that remain call the West “the civilized world” and say that “Islam is welcome to its superstitions.”
Similar comments also appear on YouTube and at the bottom of articles on
CNN and the L.A. Times. Most of the comments vehemently champion the video as an expression of free speech. One tells Muslim protesters: “In modern times, we have free speech. Get with the century.” Many of these comments have been labeled hate speech.
But statements like these point to bigger questions: how does free speech come into play with the “Innocence of Muslims” video and the protests that have followed? Does the American reaction imply that we believe Muslims aren’t “ready” for free speech, even though the protesters are exercising free speech by protesting this video? Why is YouTube refusing to call the video itself hate speech? And who is deciding which viewers can view which content?
These questions lead us into the furor over Google and YouTube’s refusal to remove the video from their sites. Google owns YouTube, where the video was originally posted.
According to the New York Times, Google refused a request from the White House to take the video down completely, saying the video doesn’t violate YouTube’s terms of service banning hate speech.
Google Won’t Rethink Anti-Islam Video’s StatusSAN FRANCISCO – Google said on Friday that it would not comply with a White House request to reconsider the anti-Islam video that has set…
YouTube’s terms of service state,
“We don’t permit hate speech (speech which attacks or demeans a group based on race or ethnic origin, religion, disability, gender, age, veteran status, and sexual orientation/gender identity).”
So why isn’t “Innocence of Muslims” hate speech? The video condemns the entire religion of Islam — but that’s precisely the problem. To qualify as “hate speech,” a statement must be about people who, for example, live in a certain nation, or practice a certain religion, but criticism of that nation or that religion as an
entity is not “hate speech” under YouTube’s definition.
“Sometimes there is a fine line between what is and what is not considered hate speech. For instance, it is generally okay to criticize a nation, but not okay to make insulting generalizations about people of a particular nationality.”
YouTube – Broadcast Yourself.Share your videos with friends, family, and the world
Versions of the trailer and full movie remain available for viewing in the United States, in keeping with Google’s 2007 policy statement that “Google is not, and should not become, the arbiter of what does and does not appear on the Web.”
Official Google Blog: Free expression and controversial content on the webundefined
But Google has, in fact, decided that this content can’t appear on the Web in India, Indonesia, Malaysia, Libya, and Egypt.
Google has blocked the video in India, Indonesia and Malaysia to comply with local laws; the governments of those countries have asked Google to take the video down because, according to the Times, it violates restrictions on “content that provokes enmity.”
As Violence Spreads in Arab World, Google Blocks Access to Inflammatory VideoSAN FRANCISCO — As violence spread in the Arab world over a video on YouTube ridiculing the Prophet Muhammad, Google, the owner of YouTub…
But Google didn’t take the video down in Libya or Egypt to comply with the law; it took the video down because, the corporation stated, the “situation” in those countries is “delicate.”
Despite the extremely offensive content of “Innocence of Muslims,” Google’s selective restriction of the video raises a lot of questions.
If Google is in fact censoring this video in certain countries, why does Google have this power? As both the
New York Times and the Washington Post point out, such an ability is the product of the Internet age: when people across the world are distributing information on sites like YouTube, Facebook, and Twitter, those sites become content curators — as corporations, they have autonomy over what they display.
But when one of the actresses in the “Innocence of Muslims” video sued YouTube and Google, lawyers said that under federal law, neither site is liable for the content they handle. “Hosts,” or sites like Google and YouTube that provide access to other users’ content, are never legally responsible for what they display.
Judge says anti-Muslim clip can stay on YouTubeJASON REDMOND / AP LOS ANGELES – A 14-minute film trailer blamed for protest violence in the Middle East will remain on YouTube, after an…
The consequences of blocking the video could be far-reaching. Google has said they will block the video temporarily, but has not said whether it will be available again. If the video does become available again, is Google qualified to decide when and why?
Does it make a political or cultural statement when a country is deemed unable to view certain online content? Should an American corporation be allowed to say what a viewer in Egypt can watch? In reaction to the protests against “Innocence of Muslims,” many commenters say Muslims are too “backwards” to deal with free speech in the modern world. By selectively censoring the video in some Muslim-majority nations — and saying Egypt and Libya are too “delicate” to have access to full content — YouTube and Google are tacitly agreeing with that prejudice.
The Arab League
decided in an emergency session to suspend Syria’s membership in response to the government’s refusal to stop violent crackdowns on civilian protesters. Syria agreed to an earlier peace plan outlined by the Arab League on November 2nd, but has since failed to end the violence. In the 8 months since the protests started, Human Rights Watch has estimated that over 3,500 civilians and 1,500 security force members have been killed.
The Free Syria Army, a group of defectors from Syrian security forces,
attacked multiple military installations around Damascus. The largest assault occurred when the group fired rocket-propelled grenades on a compound of the Air Force Intelligence directorate, a security branch that dissidents claim is responsible for the suppression of anti-government protesters. Although the Free Syria Army is thought to consist of only a few thousand defectors, the high-profile attack suggests that the group is gaining momentum.
Afghan president Hamid Karzai
addressed the Loya Jirga, the traditional Afghan advisory council, outlining the details of a strategic partnership with the United States.
The International Monetary Fund has pledged a
three year $133.6 million loan for Afghanistan after previously suspending credit to the country over one year ago in the wake of the Kabul Bank scandal.
Pakistan’s Ambassador to the United States, Hussain Haqqani, is
offering his resignation in the face of a controversial memo reportedly asking the United States to help control Pakistan’s military and intelligence in the period following the assassination of Osama Bin Laden. The Pakistani government is still deliberating whether to accept Ambassardor Haqqani’s resignation.
Tunisia’s moderate Islamic party Ennhada and the Congress for the Republic party – or CPR – elected
Moncef Marzouki, a veteran human rights activist, as the country’s interim president in historic Constituent Assembly elections this week.
have been released in Yemen after being held hostage for almost six months. The workers from the French charity Triangle Generation Humanitaire were captured in May by al-Qaeda-linked militants demanding $12 million in ransom.
Three French aid workers
has dismissed a recent report by the International Atomic Energy Agency, the nuclear proliferation watchdog of the United Nations. Iranian officials including the Supremer leader attacked the report that detailed extensive research alleging Iran has advanced its nuclear weapons program for being politically motivated and based on false information.
Former Libyan leader
Moammar Gadhafi was killed Thursday in his hometown of Sirte.
Students who study
Peace and Conflict Journalism at Swarthmore College gathered around the workstations at War News Radio Thursday afternoon and checked up on the first day or reporting on the event.
MiddleEastLive blog at the Guardian had a strong hour-by-hour breakdown of news. NPR producer Grant Clark reported on the celebration in Tripoli in a radio report on . NPR’s news blog
just said “Wow” when she first got the news, while preparing for an interview with CBS. President Obama’s comments were included with several other video reports on CNN‘s “ This Just In” news blog.
Democracy Now had a
live report from Libya and the Washington Post had . The Post is also reporting that Saif Gadhafi is AP‘s video obit and other Gadhafi videos on the run.
NTC spokesman confirmed the death in a on YouTube. More photos, videos and other info were collected at Sky News report ‘s live blog The Telegraph
BBC video describes a man who said he killed Gadhafi. The Daily Mail gathered some of the most graphic images. Al Jazeera linked to a very graphic YouTube video of rebels celebrating with what appears to be Gadhafi’s body.
Facebook post with some graphic images had 123 “Likes” this afternoon, and jokes were beginning to emerge, including one suggesting that Gadhafi was located through the “Find My iPhone” app.
Foreign Policy linked to more reports in “What We Know About Qaddafi’s Death,” while the BBC chronicled Gadhafi’s last hours.
Tweet search results scrolled to quickly to consume completely but were full of conflicting reports and opinions and reminded us that some were in mourning.
War News Radio for more news on the death of Gadhafi in our next program.