Wadah Khanfar on Change that Comes Without Foreign Intervention


Al Jazeera Director General Wadah Khanfar gave a stirring tour de force of authoritarian control, conflict and change in the Middle East at the TED 2011 meeting in Long Beach which I attended this past week. He said that a new generation inspired by universal values and global understanding has created a dynamic changing the entire region.
One of the lines from his TED talk was the importance of this change being authentically rooted in the citizens of these countries. He said that this needs to be “change that comes without foreign intervention.”
No fly zones are complicated and could easily create a backlash from those the West is trying to support. I myself am ambivalent about no fly zones — seeing their value in protecting Libya’s population from Gaddaffi’s heinous assaults from the air but also knowing that a strong NATO or American presence on the military side of this equation could spin out of control and animate anti-American, anti-Western sentiments in this fluid political situation.
Khanfar’s comments above are important to hear. He had an enormous ovation at TED.
— Steve Clemons


19 comments on “Wadah Khanfar on Change that Comes Without Foreign Intervention

  1. Cee says:

    I have to ask who is killing Coptics now.
    Docs: Egypt Security Bombed Churches, Resort
    Collection of Official Docs Reveals Various Mubarak-Era Crimes
    by Jason Ditz, March 08, 2011
    Just days after the Egyptian protesters attacked the state


  2. Kotzabasis says:

    “The principle of non-intervention, very convenient in itself, and very appropriate to a given circumstance, becomes very little better than an absurdity, when regarded as an absolute and when it is desired to apply it under conditions widely different. This principle is a matter of judgment , when to set it aside, and when to apply it.” Charles Maurice Talleyrand


  3. PissedOffAmerican says:

    “You will see justice being done — she is turning into an old hag before our very eyes!”
    Well, you might consider that “justice”, but unfortunately my house is equipped with the usual amount of mirrors, so my mornings start out with a vivid reminder that we ALL are subject to what you choose to call “justice”. Time marches on, whether we like it or not.


  4. Cee says:

    And people wonder why I keep asking questions.
    The Guardian reports that this very odd


  5. questions says:

    And real “foreign” intervention that might also not be really foreign…. We don’t have clean boundaries around “foreign” or “outsider” or “carpetbagger” when you get down to it.
    h/t themonkeycage
    Americans went to war against Franco under the guise of the Lincoln Brigade. Solidarity in anti-fascism, I guess.
    Pan-Islamists go to war against some perceived enemy:
    “A salient feature of
    armed con


  6. questions says:

    This is just beautiful, from a kos diarist and teacher who is getting some national attention quite suddenly for describing beautifully what it means to be a teacher and why it’s getting awfully unpleasant to stay in that job anymore:
    “In order to win the future, it is my belief as a self-stated expert that ALL depositors must hit certain benchmarks by 2014. Your bank will be monitored for progress towards these goals.
    Here are the benchmarks:
    By 2011, 60% of your depositors must have at least $100,000 in their savings accounts.
    By 2012, 75% of your depositors must have at least $500,000 in their savings accounts.
    By 2013, 90% of your depositors must have at least $750,000 in their savings accounts.
    By 2014, 100% of your depositors must have at least $1,000,000 in their savings accounts.
    We believe these are reasonable benchmarks that will ensure all depositors our constitutional right to life, liberty, and the pursuit of happiness. We the people standing in line at the bank reserve the right to increase these benchmarks any time we feel we don’t have enough money.”
    The parallel between someone who stands in line at a bank and thus KNOWS banking to someone who has been in school and therefore KNOWS teaching is beautifully drawn.
    Hope Arne Duncan reads this one. Maybe he’ll take a sec. to think.
    And Bill Gates, too, come to think of it!


  7. rc says:

    And POA, depending on when you read this, go to the http://english.aljazeera.net/ front page and see Hillary’s picture under “Highlights” (Losing the information war).
    You will see justice being done — she is turning into an old hag before our very eyes!


  8. questions says:

    “Walker: keeps saying that


  9. questions says:

    And in the US, there’s fear of another kind of foreign intervention — STUDENTS — head for the hills! The students might vote! Oh no, ban the suckers:
    “”Voting as a liberal. That’s what kids do,” he added, his comments taped by a state Democratic Party staffer and posted on YouTube. Students lack “life experience,” and “they just vote their feelings.” ”
    “”Election policy debates like photo ID and same-day registration have become so fierce around the country because they are founded more on passionate belief than proven fact,” said Doug Chapin, an election-law expert at the Pew Center on the States. “One side is convinced fraud is rampant; the other believes that disenfranchisement is widespread. Neither can point to much in the way of evidence to support their position, so they simply turn up the volume.” ”
    “An analysis by the North Carolina State Board of Elections showed that any new law requiring a state-issued ID could be problematic for large numbers of voters, particularly African Americans, whose turnout in 2008 helped Obama win the state. ”
    Brad DeLong has an answer for all of this — never, just never, vote for a Republican for anything.
    Of course, DeLong doesn’t quite “get” it — the Republican instinct doesn’t mind disenfranchisement, a tanking economy, gross inequality in wealth or income, vast unemployment, or any of the stats below:
    “We’re still No. 1 in total gross domestic product at $14.62 trillion. For 60 years, that was true in per capita terms, too. Now, however, we are No. 10.
    We’re tied for 22nd on literacy.
    We’re No. 17 in childhood poverty, according to a study of 21 nations of the Organization for Economic Cooperation and Development. One in five U.S. children is born poor.
    We come in at No. 42 for income inequality, as measured by the Gini Index.”
    And the Front Page at kos has a nice piece on fire codes and big fires that killed a lot of people and the way that big bad gov’t responded by telling PRIVATE PROPERTY OWNERS how their doors should swing, how their exit signs needed to be hung and lighted and obvious, how many people they could stuff into a single space, how they needed sprinkler systems, and the like. OOOOHHHH that can make a Republican angry to be told what to do with his property. The free market would take care of this kind of problem in an instant — the dumb fucks who live, work, or play in a dangerous space would simply burn to death in the occasional fire and that would be that. The proprietor of such a space would eventually lose his reputation, and other firms would advertise their relative fire safety and voila, some dead, some living, and FREEDOM to burn people who are stuck with workplace and living space and playing space disasters.
    No concern about asymmetries of information regarding fire safety, or asymmetries of power regarding how little workers, livers, and players really can demand.
    The gov’t is a pushback, and we need it.
    The Republicans who don’t want 21 year olds to vote because they vote their feelings, while RATIONAL REPUBLICANS vote their rational interests regarding the evils of gov’t intrusion into their private spaces, private properties, private dealings, private privacy, ability to let people burn, starve, die from untreated disease, ability to pollute, damage, profit from misery…well, yeah. Vote your interests, and do away with your feelings of fellowship. This isn’t a SOCIETY we live in, it’s an agglomeration of private interests that exists merely to funnel wealth to the wealthy and let the rest of us die in the streets. But our deaths will be better for the gene pool. Or something.
    Besides, if you’re a Republican, you automatically have a Get Out of Fire Free card, so you’ll escape just fine with an in-swinging door, or only revolving doors — imagine the evacuation of a high rise with only 3 sets of revolving doors! How many would burn to death or die from smoke inhalation in the lobby standing in line, waiting to escape. Hmmm. Of course, the Republicans would be the first in line and they’d all get out, not a hair displaced, no smoke on the suit, all fine! And the Dems would burn in the hell fires, because they just vote their feelings. Dumb fucks.
    Good lord, whatever are we doing to one another.


  10. rc says:

    “Gates is due to meet Hamid Karzai one day after the Afghan president said an apology from General David Petraeus, the commander of US and NATO forces in the country, over a string of recent accidental civilian killings was “not enough”.
    The issue of civilian casualties has clouded the relationship between Kabul and its allies, taking attention away from transition plans.
    Karzai will soon unveil a timetable for the beginning of the gradual handover of security responsibility from foreign forces to Afghans. The process is to begin in July to be completed by 2014.” (http://english.aljazeera.net/news/asia/2011/03/20113761614567225.html )
    Well now that President Obama has the blood of nine innocents on his hands, perhaps it is time he, as head of the armed military industrial complex, apologized to the Afghan people.
    No point trying to hide behind a stooge like Karzai. Obama does not need Rupert Murdoch’s media empire or Tel Aviv’s permission. Just put a big “SORRY” up on his Facebook would do fine.
    And perhaps a few words about what he’s going to do about it. Ban kids picking up firewood in their back yards?
    He is the top man in the military. The Big Guy, the Buck Stops Here type guy! Or does the Chicago school of politics have a different approach to accountability?
    Perhaps his young daughters could add their little pictures and ‘get well’ cards as well?
    “From Russia …oppps, I mean America with Love!”


  11. Martha Nakajima says:

    If there ever was a time to go full throttle into a crash program to emancipate the US from dependance on foriegn oil, this is it. Friedman recently wrote a piece to this effect. Couldn’t agree more with him.


  12. JohnH says:

    British special forces already captured in Libya–by rebels who want no part of foreign meddling! Seems like you can’t teach colonial governments new tricks, particularly when their military establishments are so lavishly funded.


  13. Carroll says:

    Never fear fellow Americans, if the WSJ can be believed we still have our up is down, black is white, lip service only policy for ME democracy and human rights.
    You need not worry about the US invading a country for it’s oil and taking it away from it’s people, we already have taken it away from their people by supporting their kings and autocrats.
    But you can worry about US intervention if by some miracle a popular revolt dethroned the Saudis or the Bahrain royalty or other favorite.
    Then we would have to interfere,invade, kill all the rebels and plunk the despots back on their thrones.
    So don’t let the thought of US interference, oil stealing or military intervention keep you up at night unless of course the wrong ruler gets overthrown…then by God for the sake of humanatarain concerns for rulers fates and “Stability” it would be Shock and Awe to the rescue.
    MARCH 5, 2011.
    U.S. Wavers on ‘Regime Change’


  14. PissedOffAmerican says:

    “Two craters in the sand. Let’s put Kerry in one and McCain in the other, and fill ’em in up to their chins”
    Can we put ’em in upside down??? Then we’d only have to fill it in up to their necks. Less work.


  15. Don Bacon says:

    US politicians (especially Senators Kerry & McCain) are desperate for a way to get their mitts on that Libya oil. The rebels have made it clear that they don’t want any assistance because such aid would pervert their cause and give the aiders a foot in the door. But the armchair warriors persist.
    What has been the result of these air strikes that have gained the attention of the top US warmongers?
    Libya, Mar 6, 2011 — A warplane struck the rebel-held Libyan oil town of Ras Lanuf Sunday, leaving two craters in the sand near a checkpoint on the eastern edge, witnesses and AFP reporters said. “There were two rockets. There are no injuries, no damage,” said Abdal Sharif, one of the rebels fighting the regime of Libyan leader Moamer Kadhafi.
    Two craters in the sand. Let’s put Kerry in one and McCain in the other, and fill ’em in up to their chins.


  16. PissedOffAmerican says:

    Well, considering that the “leaders” of these regimes will simply say that the US is meddling in their affairs, (true or not), and OUR “leaders” here at home will simply say we aren’t meddling, (true or not), we really don’t have an effin’ clue what the truth really is, do we? Nor do the citizens of the countries discussed. We can’t trust the media, oviously, nor can we trust the “leaders”.
    Truth is, you and I, (Joe Citizen), are just along for the ride, and the only thing we can claim with any certainty is that we don’t know shit.


  17. paul lukasiak says:

    Steve —
    Re: no fly zones. Considering how much hardware (including planes and helicopters) we’ve give countries in that region like Saudi Arabia, why not get them to enforce a no-fly zone in Libya?


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