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Archive for the ‘Current Affairs’ Category

Tuareg Rebellions

05 Apr

New page online reflecting the ongoing situation in Mali, with the recent Tuareg Rebellion and military coup. See more of the history of Tuareg Rebellions at
http://www.historyguy.com/tuareg_rebellions.htm

Tuareg Warriors in 1916

Tuareg Warriors in 1916

Also, the Serial Wars and Conflicts page has been revamped.  Check it out at: http://www.historyguy.com/serial_wars_and_conflicts.html

 

The Facts on Joseph Kony and the LRA

10 Mar

Joseph Kony Lord's Resistance Army

LRA leader Joseph Kony (in white shirt)

 

The insurgency of the Lord’s Resistance Army (LRA) of Joseph Kony against the government of Uganda began in 1987 in the aftermath of the failed Holy Spirit Movement Rebellion of Alice Auma (also known as Alice Lakwena). After the Holy Spirit Movement lost a major battle against the Ugandan government at th ebattle of Jinja, Alice Auma fled to Kenya while Joseph Kony emerged as the leader of the remaining rebel forces. With Kony’s assumption of power came a shift in the rebels’ strategy and a new name: the Lord’s Resistance Army. Kony declared himself to be a prophet, emerging as a “Spirit Guide,” and inspired his rebel troops to fight the Ugandan government.

Joseph Kony

Joseph Kony, leader of the LRA, and target of the #Kony2012 campaign

In March, 2012, a YouTube video highlighting the crimes of Joseph Kony went viral, with users posting the #Kony2012 hashtag on twitter and other social media to draw attention to Kony’s crimes as the head of the LRA. The Kony 2012 video is a film and campaign by Invisible Children whose goal it is to make Joseph Kony famous, or rather, infamous, in order to raise internatioal support for his arrest and to set a precedent for international justice. Critics of Invisible Children and the Kony 2012 campaign point to several factual errors or ommissions in the video. The video states that Kony currently has an army of some 30,000 child warriors, and that is not true. After the Ugandan Army drove the LRA out of northern Uganda in 2006, Kony’s army has dwindled. Experts now believe that Joseph Kony has only a few hundred fighters still with him. Also, Kony and the LRA have not haunted northern Uganda since being driven out by the Ugandan Army in a 2006 military offensive. Invisible Children argues in favor of international military intervention in bringing Kony to justice. and is raising funds that go for direct support of the Ugandan military. While Kony’s forces have engaged in heinous war crimes for decades, it should be pointed out that the Ugandan military is also accused of criminal behavior, including rape and murder. More information and facts about Joseph Kony and the LRA are at http://www. historyguy.com.

 

Wikigeddon Is Upon Us. Oh My!—What The SOPA/PIPA Controversy May Mean

17 Jan

 

Stop SOPA and PIPA

Stop SOPA and PIPA Logo

Wikigeddon Is Upon Us.  Oh My!—What The SOPA/PIPA Controversy May Mean

By Roger Lee, the History Guy

As the world prepares for Wikigeddon, also known as the “Blackout” of Wikipedia and Reddit, and other, less significant websites over proposed anti-piracy legislation, the question comes up, just what is SOPA and PIPA going to do to the internet if passed by Congress and signed by President Obama?

Depending on what sources you look at, these bills will either wipe out freedom on the internet, including Wikipedia, YouTube, Reddit, and many other popular sites, or, it will merely prevent off-shore websites from selling fraudulent goods by allowing courts to order domain servers to shut down those offending sites.

For proponents of SOPA and PIPA, as well as for their opponents, there appears to be no middle ground.  But what would they do if passed into law?  Not being a lawyer, I daresay I don’t really know, and most of the pundits on the internet do not know either, but they prefer not to admit that uncomfortable truth.  What I DO know about our legal and political system, is that regardless of whatever the law’s proponents say now, only the court system will actually be able to tell us what the consequences may be, and that will only happen after someone, or some internet entity, has suffered actual damages  as a result of SOPA/PIPA enforcement. 

As I sat down to weigh the pros and cons of this blackout set for January 18, I came to the conclusion that from a purely selfish point of view, the Wikipedia blackout could benefit my own website, Historyguy.com, because Wikipedia is one of Historyguy.com’s main competitors for website visitors.  Many of the historyguy.com pages are at or near the top of the Google Search Results Pages, and often, if not for Wikipedia, my pages would get the better ranking.  For example, a Google search for “Gulf War,” puts Wikipedia’s entry as the first search result, and the Historyguy.com page on the Gulf War as the second result.  If, as the naysayers predict, SOPA passes, and sites like Wikipedia are in peril, then logically, the Historyguy.com site, which is 95% original content (the rest being public domain items like the 1707 Act of Union Between England and Scotland), would benefit. 

Despite this supposition, the fact that the internet has grown and developed to the point where it now shapes daily life, lifestyles, news, politics, industry, and so much more, is largely due to the freedom of individuals to experiment, dream, and develop new ideas without fear that the government will shut them down due to a piece of legislation allegedly designed to halt online piracy, theft, and fraud.  Those problems are real, and need to be addressed by legislation designed with a more narrow and specific focus.  Congress should scrap SOPA and PIPA, return to the drawing board, and create new proposals that do not put the fear of authoritarian government crackdowns on those who publish, create, develop new ideas on the internet.  Stop SOPA!

 

 

 

War With Iran? Look at Wars of 1812 and 1912 First

02 Jan

Looking at a possible Iran War in 2012 with a look back at 1812 and 1912

By Roger Lee, The History Guy

New Year’s Day, 2012, opened with Iran’s announcement that Iranian nuclear scientists had produced Iran’s first nuclear fuel rod and that the Iranian navy had test-fired a new medium-range surface-to-air missile.  All this while Iran conducted war games in the Strait of Hormuz designed to test its ability to close those straits to international oil shipping.  All this while the U.S. and the other Western powers continue to declare that they will not allow a disruption to the oil shipping, and Israel watches nervously and prepares for war

Iranian war games in the Strait of Hormuz

Iranian war games in the Strait of Hormuz

As the world seems to quickly slide toward war, n look back at events 200 and 100 years ago seems in order.  2012 marks the bicentennial of the War of 1812, in which the U.S. took on the much more powerful British Empire and managed to survive to talk about it.  In 1912, the world was on the brink of a devastating World War, which was still two and a half years away, but events in 1912 set the stage for a war that everyone thought would be quick and sharp, but proved to be out of everyone’s control as soon as it began.

In 1812, the world was in the throes of an earlier version of world war, with Britain, Russia, Spain, and other nations in a death-match with Napoleon’s French-dominated empire.  The United States did not have a dog in that fight, so to speak, but had long-standing problems with the British.  Ever since the American Revolution, the Americans felt that Britain did not respect the U.S. as a true sovereign nation.  British agents aided the Native Americans who resisted American encroachment along the frontier, and British ships regularly disrespected American shipping on the high seas, leading to violent naval confrontations and the forcible boarding of U.S. ships to “impress,” or illegally (in the U.S. view) draft  sailors into the British navy. The United States basically felt they had to put up or shut up in terms of their problems with Britain.  Also, some expansionist elements in the government and elsewhere eyed the prospect of invading and “liberating” Canada from the British. 

Thus, a somewhat naïve and woefully unprepared America declared war on the most powerful nation on earth and commenced to invade British Canada.  Long story short, the U.S. got it’s rear-end kicked out of Canada and throughout most of the eastern seaboard by the British.  Not until the Battle of New Orleans in 1815, could the U.S. claim any meaningful victory on land.

How does this situation relate to the current tension with Iran?  In this case, in 2012, the smaller nation feeling no respect is Iran, and the most powerful nation in the world is obviously the U.S.  Some analysts, and some Iranian spokesmen themselves, say that if Iran is pushed around too much (sanctions, U.S. drone flights, covert warfare, assassinations, etc.), it may retaliate by closing the Strait of Hormuz to international shipping, which would be a cassus belli for the Western Powers.  Of course, the fact that Iran is clearly pursuing nuclear weapons makes Israel and the West quite nervous, and if Israel truly believes that Iran is close to getting The Bomb, then war is likely inevitable.  One thing about the War of 1812 that applies to this situation is that when the U.S. chose war with Britain (and with Canada), the assumption was that the war would be quick, and that Britain was too distracted by its other wars to put much effort into another war.  Iran may be thinking the same thing, to everyone’s detriment. 

The situation in 1912 was a bit different. The former major power in the eastern Mediterranean region, the Ottoman Empire (also known as Turkey), was fading fast, and the vultures were beginning to gather to pick at the soon to be expired Ottoman carcass.  Italy attacked Ottoman Libya in 1911, and in October, 1912, the Ottomans sued for peace and gave up their last piece of territory in North Africa.  The day following the conclusion of the Italian-Ottoman War, the Balkan alliance of Serbia, Greece, Montenegro, and Bulgaria launched an attack on the Ottoman possessions in Europe.  The Ottomans lost that war, but that First Balkan War, and a Second Balkan War that broke out right after the first one, helped set the stage for World War One, which erupted in the summer of 1914.  In the wars of 1912, we see several smaller nations take on the ancient bogeyman from their past; no longer strong, but feeble and weak.  And the little guys won.  In the modern era, the little guys can be seen as Saddam’s Iraq, Khaddafy’s Libya, Assad’s Syria,  Iran, and North Korea.  They all have a bad history with the Western powers.  They all, at one point or another, had challenged the West, and survived those initial conflicts.  But they took that feeling of victory and invulnerability too far, challenged the West one too many times, or refused to bow down when faced with invasion and war.  Saddam is now dead. Khaddafy is dead.  Assad is under siege, and North Korea is still the great unknown.  Iran is the linchpin.  If they truly see themselves as the relatively small but tough challenger to U.S, and Western influence in the Muslim world, then they may push the envelope enough to cause a military response from either Israel or the U.S.

Unintended Consequences of War:   The British Burn Washington

Unintended Consequences of War: The British Burn Washington

In the 1912 analogy, the smaller nations were victorious initially, but when the big dogs got into the fight beginning in 1914, Serbia, and Montenegro were almost destroyed.  Bulgaria lost even more land.  The war did not go as any of them anticipated, which is usually the way of war.  The same held true in the War of 1812.  The U.S. expected a fairly easy war against the British in Canada, and instead, the Americans saw their own nation invaded and Washington, D.C burned down by the invaders.  In both examples from 100 and 200 years ago, the little guys faced down against the big guys, and once war started, it went in directions no one wanted or anticipated.   If a war with Iran is in store for 2012, the decision-makers on all sides need to keep that historical fact in mind before it is too late.

 

Senegal President Threatens to Send Troops into Gambia

23 Dec
President Abdoulaye Wade of Senegal

President Abdoulaye Wade of Senegal Threatens Gambia

Following the Casamance rebel attack of December 21, 2011, Senegal President Abdoulaye Wade ordered his troops to pursue the rebels, even if that meant entering into neighboring Gambia. President Wade, among others, believes Gambia is a long-time supporter of the MFDC rebels. Prior rebel attacks over the years have resulted in armed incursions by Senegalese forces into The Gambia.

 

Casamance War Heats Up

22 Dec

 

Senegal Map with Casamance in Red

Senegal Map with Casamance in Red

The Casamance region of Senegal is marked in red on this Senegal Map

The Casamance War in Senegal

The ongoing war in the Casamance region of Senegal pits the Jolo people of the Casamance region against the government of Senegal. The rebels, who call themselves the Mouvement des forces démocratiques de la Casamance (MFDC), seek independence for the region. The Jolo are primarily Christian, while the rest of Senegal is primarily Muslim. Despite a cease-fire arranged in 2004, violence has continued on and off ever since. In 2010, an arms shipment from Iran, bound for the Casamance rebels, was intercepted in Nigeria. In December, 2011, rebels attacked the Senegalese Army, resulting in 12 deaths.
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http://www.historyguy.com/casamance_senegal_war.html

 

Profiles of North Korea’s Ruling Kim Dynasty

19 Dec

With the sudden death of North Korean dictator Kim Jong-Il and the apparent succession of his son, Kim Jong-Un, tension in East Asia is on the rise.  Traditionally, when North Korea undergoes a transfer of power, or some other significant change takes place in the leadership, relations between North Korea and her neighbors, especially with South Korea, become more tense and dangerous.  Below are Profiles of the Kim Family of North Korean Dictators.

 

Kim Il-SungKim Il-Sung–Founder of Communist North Korea. Ruled (1948-1994) on the Stalinist model and set up a cult of personality. Passed power on to his son in the first hereditary transfer of power in a Communist system. Started the bloody Korean War in 1950.

Kim Jong-IlKim Jong-Il–Communist dictator of North Korea (1994-2011) Inherited power from his father. Attempted to set up one of his sons to inherit the country upon his passing. Under the Kim Jong-Il, North Korea developed nuclear weapons and engaged in dangerous nuclear diplomacy with the U.S. and neighboring nations, and has engaged in occassional military skirmishes with South Korea, including the bloody attack on Yeonpyeong Island in 2010. Kim Jong-Il died on December 17, 2011

Kim Jong-UnKim Jong-Un–New Communist dictator of North Korea (2011) Inherited power from his father, who died in December, 2011. Upon his introduction as “The Great Successor,” Kim Jong-Un was in his 20s, is known to have been educated in a German boarding school, and is a fan of the Los Angeles Lakers National Basketball Association (NBA) team. It is unknown what the North Korean military thinks of their young, new leader.

 

Iraq War Officially Over For The U.S.

15 Dec

The End of the Iraq War Video

After Eight years and 270 days, the American War in Iraq is now officially over.  Defense Secretary Leon Panetta presided over a ceremony in Baghdad on December 15, 2011.  In reality, this war truly began when the U.S. intervened in what is now known as the First Iraq War (1990-1991), and then continued with the ongoing No-Fly Zone War (1991-2003) against Saddam’s Iraq

See also: http://www.historyguy.com/GulfWar2.html

http://www.historyguy.com/no-fly_zone_war.html

http://www.historyguy.com/GulfWar.html

 

NATO Hits Pakistan Base, Killing 24

26 Nov

Pakistan is once again coming under fire, literally, for serving as a safe haven for Afghan Taliban forces using the ill-defined border region as a base from which they launch attacks on NATO/ISAF/Afghan forces inside Afghanistan. Below are incidents and conflicts involving the NATO/ISAF mission in Afghanistan and Pakistan. See also http://www.historyguy.com/wars_of_pakistan.htm

Video of NATO Raid on Pakistan
U.S. Drone War in Pakistan (2004-Present)–The American Central Intelligence Agency (CIA) uses unmanned Predator drone aircraft to cross the Pakistani border and launch missiles at suspected Taliban and al-Qaida forces and camps. Pakistan repeatedly denounces these attacks as a violation of their sovereignty. Various sources place the number of Pakistani/Taliban/al-Qaida casualties as a result of these attacks at between 1,700 and 2,600 as of November, 2011.

NATO Raid on Pakistan Military Outpost (Sept. 30, 2010)–NATO helicopters attack a border outpost, killing three Pakistani soldiers. Pakistan retaliates by closing the border to NATO supplies for two weeks.

U.S. Navy SEAL Raid on Abbottabad, Pakistan (May 1, 2011)–U.S. Special Forces raided a compound inside Pakistan, killing al-Qaida leader Osama bin Laden.

NATO Raids on Pakistan Military Outposts (Nov. 25, 2011)–NATO aircraft attacked two Pakistani border posts, killing at least 24 Pakistani troops. NATO was attempting to target Taliban forces along the border, in Salala, a village in Pakistan’s Mohmand tirbal area near the border with Kunar Province in Afghanistan. (see Pakistan Border Region Map below).

 

Kenyan Invasion of Somalia Update 10.18.11

19 Oct

al-Shabab War in Somalia Update:

After the disintigration of the Islamic Courts Union (ICU) after the U.S.-aided Ethiopian Invasion of 2006, the al-Shabab militia became the leading Islamist military group. In 2007, Shabab publicly aligned itself with al-Qaida, and has waged a bloody guerrilla war against the TFG government forces and the African Union troops (primarily troops from Uganda and Burundi), in Mogadishu and in southern Somalia. Al-Shabab is considered a terrorist group by Australia, Canada, Norway, Sweden, the United Kingdom, and the United States. (see alsoU.S. Special Forces Attack on al-Qaida in Somalia (September, 2009)

Shabab engaged in a terrorist attack in Uganda in 2010, and in the autumn of 2011, Shabab militants kidnapped several foreigners from Kenyan soil, prompting a Kenyan military intervention in southern Somalia to battle the Shabab fighters. Kenyan government sources claimed that the goal of their invasion was to end the Shabab presence in the southern Somali city of Kismayo.

Witnesses reported seeing 25Kenyan armoured vehicles carrying Kenyan soldiers passing through the Somali town of Dhobley, and there were reports of warplanes bombing two Shabab bases near the border.

According to the BBC, Somali government troops are acting in conjunction with the Kenyan forces ito attack the al-Shabab-controlled areas in southern Somalia. The third day of the Kenyan offensive featured a slowing down of Kenyan forces due to heavy rain and mud in a region with few paved roads.

Map Kenya and Somalia

Map of Kenya and southern Somalia in 2011

http://www.historyguy.com/somalia_conflict_shabab_war.htm