Dear Colleagues and Friends,
There has been much discussion about the nature of American power at
center recently. Competing definitions of power and the modalities of power are age-old
topics in western civilization. At the start of the 16th Century, Machiavelli, for example,
urged his Prince to take into account that "the nature of peoples is fickle, and it is easy to
persuade them of something but difficult to keep them in that persuation. And so it is
best to have matters ordered in such a way that when people no longer believe in the
innovation they can be compelled to believe by force." (from The Prince, 1513)
In the middle of the next century, immediately following the Puritan
Revolution and the
execution of King Charles I of England for treason, Thomas Hobbes defined power in the
following manner : "The power of man, to take it universally, is his present means, to
obtain some future apparent good; and is either original or instrumental. [The first] is the
eminence of the faculties of body, or mind; as extraordinary strength, form, prudence,
arts, eloquence, liberality, nobility. [The second] are those powers, which acquired by
these, or by fortune, are means and instruments to acquire more: as riches, reputation,
friends, and the secret working of God, which men call good luck. For the nature of
power is ... like the motion of heavenly bodies, which the further they go, make still more
"The greatest of human powers," this 17th-century conservative observed,
"is that which
is compounded of the powers of most men, united by consent, in one person ... that has
the use of all their powers depending on his will; such as the power of a commonwealth:
or depending on the wills of each particular; such as the power of a faction or of divers
factions leagued. Therefore to have servants, is power; to have friends, is power: for
they are strengths united.
"Also riches joined with liberality, is power;" Hobbes writes, "because
friends, and servants: without liberality, not so; because in this case they defend not;
but expose men to envy, as a prey. ....(from Leviathan, 1651)
In twenty-first-century America, such concepts of power concern tens
of millions of
citizens, who are facing charges of collaborating with the murderous alliance between
Zionists and the Republican Party, and the illiberal alliances between the U.S. Congress
and monopoly corporations.
Below, item A., is an article sent to us by our research associate
Ed Herman, from a progressive
Christian group concerned with resisting the violence against millions of Palestinians. The
analogy of reservation politics used against tens of thousands of native American Indians in the
past centuries is explicit in the Israeli strategy, which is to take more and more Palestinian lands.
For a description of repression against progressive Jewish resistance in Israel, also please visit the web site : <http://www.haaretz.com/hasen/spages/388532.html>.
The second item, B., looks at the opposition to President Bush
in almost Foucaultian terms,
seeing the ousting of the Republicans, in the next election, as the possible beginning of a deeper
crisis, which might spawn new bases for further alienating social power. The Howard Dean Hype,
an article sent to us by Mary Lagos, is a warning that electoral politics is no more than one tactic
for social change, and that other tactics must be developed as well, if the institutions which
govern the lives of Americans are to be democratized, and American citizens empowered to make
the necessary alliances to liberate themselves from the narrow corporate interests that set the
agenda of U.S. policies at home and abroad.
Francis McCollum Feeley
Professor of American Studies/
Director of Research
from Ed Herman :
Tuesday, January 27, 2004
To: Academics for Justice; firstname.lastname@example.org
Subject: [AcademicsforJustice] Israeli Apartheid: Jewish settlers' ethnic 'purification' of Hebron
CPTnet (Christian Peacemaker Teams)
January 26, 2004
HEBRON: The fence beside our door
by Art Gish
Just over a year ago, on Christmas day, 2002, Israeli soldiers constructed
high fence and gate on our street right beside our door in Hebron, cutting
off access to Shuhada Street for us and everyone else in the Chicken Market.
We then had to walk two blocks north to get to Shuhada Street and come
down the street to walk south on that street from our apartment.
Members of our Christian Peacemaker Team wondered what the meaning of
barrier was in the larger picture of what was happening in Hebron.
Now we have a clearer understanding. That tall fence and gate
door is part of the wall being built all around the West Bank, walling in
(imprisoning) most of the Palestinian people into small areas (cantons or
reservations), and at the same time taking about half of the West Bank. The
Palestinian land on the outside of the wall is becoming Israeli land.
Slowly, the streets on the other side of the wall in Hebron becoming
available for Jews only. Settlers here say those streets have now been
Increasingly Israeli soldiers are stopping us on the street and asking
identify our religion. How we answer that question determines which streets
we are allowed to walk on.
Ever since first coming to Hebron in 1995, I have been disturbed by
evidences of racism embedded in the occupation. Apartheid, the separation of
peoples, is becoming more and more stark. This year I have little contact
with Israeli settlers, because we are separated by the fence, the wall.
As a believer in the oneness of God, the oneness of creation, the oneness
humanity, I find that apartheid wall deeply offensive. It contradicts
everything I hold dear and sacred. It must be stopped. But sadly, it is
being subsidized by U.S. taxpayers via the loans and aid the U.S. gives
Israel.. I wonder why.
People have built many walls of separation throughout history. Every
them has fallen, and every one of them now looks foolish. This wall will
also come down someday.
I wonder, however, how many more people on both sides will have to die
before we learn that we must either live together or die together.
from Mary Lagos
Write: Box 3486, Merchandise Mart, Chicago, IL 60654
Phone: 773-227-4066 Fax: 773-227-4497
Howard Dean Hype
The Pro-War Views of an "Anti-War" Candidate
Revolutionary Worker #1225, January 18, 2004
Millions of people simply can't stand George W. Bush. The mainstream
media has been calling
this "the hate factor." Lots of people think this White House is a scary and arrogant place, packed
with corporate madmen who are screwing up the world. And they really think such people should
be kept far away from power. And of course, they have good reasons for thinking that.
And many of these same folks have been furious at the "me too" Democratic
establishment--which has done as little as possible to actually oppose the heavy moves of the
Bush administration. And they are right here too.
After 9/11, after the White House declared endless war and permanent emergency, the
Democratic Party (with very few exceptions) basically saluted and fell in line--sometimes mumbling
a few feeble complaints. And this included most of today's Democratic Presidential contenders,
including Senators John Kerry, Joe Lieberman, John Edwards and General Wesley Clark.
The Democrats in Congress voted heavily to give George Bush war powers
to attack Iraq. They
voted heavily for the Patriot Act that has torn huge holes in civil liberties within the U.S. They went
along when the White House launched a predatory war based on a cascade of crude and flimsy
Millions of people, including a huge chunk of the Democratic Party base, feel robbed of a way to
speak out against everything Bush now represents.
This angry mood has give a huge boost to the campaign of Governor Howard
Dean of Vermont,
who is emerging as a front-runner on the eve of the coming New Hampshire primary and Iowa
Dean's Record in Vermont
Politically, Dean has always been a conventional and rather conservative Democrat with some liberal stands on
important social issues.
Dean comes from a prominent family of Wall Street stockbrokers. His
administration in Vermont was known as
"pro-business"--Green Party activists there list ways in which Dean supported new suburban and tourist-based
"sprawl" in the Green Mountains. As governor, he was known for opposing environmental regulations on issues
like mining and poultry mega-farms. He opposed the Kyoto Accords for limiting greenhouse gas emissions.
Dean has been a strict "lock 'em up" politician who cut funding for public aid lawyers. He strongly supports the
"war on drugs" and continued criminalization of drugs. He even opposes allowing marijuana use for medicinal
As governor, he supported the state law legalizing gay civil marriages
in the face of a rightwing hysteria. Dean is
a doctor who supports keeping the current legal status of abortion-with-restrictions. His opponents in both the
Democratic and Republican parties are scrambling to uncover whether Dean ever, personally, helped women by
performing abortions. (The fact that this is considered an automatic disqualification for office tells a lot about the
power of reactionary politics in both of the official political parties.)
Pandering to Racism
On the campaign trail, Dean portrayed himself as a man willing to talk about the tough issues--saying he is the
only Democrat who dares to "speak about race to white people." He then went on to say that he wanted the vote
of Southern white guys who display the confederate flag on the back of their pickup trucks.
Well, this way of "speaking about race to white people" is not a new one!
Though Dean later said he was misunderstood. His explanation was that he believes the Democratic Party should
focus on things that even racist white people could unite with (meaning issues like "jobs").
Running for governor Dean opposed the death penalty, but now, running for president, he is for state executions,
saying, "When someone gets put to death for a heinous crime, I don't feel the least bit conflicted about that." This
seems to ignore that poor and Black people often get convicted of such crimes by a racist and rigged court
Radicals in Vermont remember well how he denounced demonstrators against
the execution of Mumia
Abu-Jamal as "a bunch of hoods running around our streets."
Built into all of this is the current Democratic Party gospel that the
issues of equality and anti-racism in modern
America should be shoved permanently to the back burner.
Dean's reference to slavery's flag is often described as a "gaffe"--but
there is no reason to suspect that it was not
a very calculated move. Dean is facing crucial primary races in Southern states like South Carolina (where Bush
also made hay by upholding the confederate flag)--and Dean is operating within a political system that demands
that its presidential candidates (especially the Democrats) prove publicly that they are not "panderers" to the
interests of Black people.
Governor Clinton made a point of publicly slapping down Black rapper
Sister Souljah in his 1992 race for
president--and Dean has now had his own defining "Souljah Moment."
Dean's remark on the Dixie flag, and his later explanations represent
a demand that everyone accept (coexist
with and "pander" to) extreme and reactionary politics on the oppression of Black people--all, naturally, in the
name of "beating Bush" at the ballot box.
Some Questions: What are the chances of carrying out real change through
a political system that is
constructed to require such "Souljah Moments" from those seeking top power?
And if progressive people accept Dean's logic (in the name of "beating
Bush") what injustices would they be
accepting with their silence?
In the name of bourgeois political alliances with corporate business
and racist Southern "Bubbas"--what more
important alliances and possibilities would all this be betraying?
Dean on How to Win the War He Doesn't Like
On the campaign trail, Howard Dean denounces George W. Bush for the way Bush launched war against Iraq.
Dean points out that Bush and his circle lied, crudely, to justify this war. And Dean points out that the war is not
going well. And these criticisms have helped Dean leapfrog over the other Democrats.
But a close look shows that Dean denounces the way this war was planned
and launched--but not the war itself.
Senator John Kerry (a Dean rival) has recently been reminding the world that on October 6, 2002, Dean endorsed
the Biden-Lugar Senate proposal granting Bush war powers to attack Iraq. (This is not the proposal that was
ultimately passed and which Kerry voted for.)
In a typical speech Dean now says (Dec. 15, 2003),
"The difficulties and tragedies we have faced in Iraq show that the administration launched the war in the wrong
way, at the wrong time, with inadequate planning, insufficient help, and at unbelievable cost. An administration
prepared to work with others in true partnership might have been able, if it found no alternative to Saddam's
ouster, to then rebuild Iraq with far less cost and risk."
Now Dean continually calls for continuing this war to victory over any
On July 2, National Public Radio's Bob Edwards asked Dean: "What would you be doing differently in postwar
Howard Dean answered:
"Now that we're there we can't leave. We cannot allow chaos or a fundamentalist regime in Iraq because it
could be fertile ground for al Qaida. First thing I would do is bring in 40 to 50,000 other troops. I'd look to Arab
countries, Islamic countries who are our allies, NATO, the United Nations. General Shinseki, before we went in,
said that we did not have enough troops. The administration ignored that advice. It turned out to be true. It was
a bad thing the administration ignored their own military expertise. We need those troops. We're not keeping
order in Iraq. And it seems to me that what we need is some expertise from people who know how to police
countries that are in some chaos and who understand how to administer and build the institutions of
democracy. We're going to be there for a long time in Iraq. We can't leave."
Dean repeatedly says "Our troops need to come home" but adds "We can't
pull out responsibly."
This means Dean's "exit strategy" is essentially the same as the one advocated by President Bush or General
Wesley Clark: replace some of the U.S. troops by Iraqi and allies' troops under U.S. command. And since no else
one is expected send troops to fight a losing war--this approach inevitably means using U.S. troops first to crush
the Iraqi resistance to occupation.
Dean's plan for Iraq is to dig in for a long time, send in more troops,
defeat the Iraqi resistance, strengthen the
U.S. occupation, and impose a pro-U.S. government.
This is a stand that says launching the war was a mistake for U.S. imperial
interests, but that those same interests
now demand staying and winning the war.
This is not an anti-war stand. It is a pro-war stand--even if it comes
along with angry and mocking denunciations of
Dean on How to Best Run an Empire
"I seek to restore America's rightful place in the world and its moral leadership in world affairs. We remain the
sole superpower in the world..Our foreign and military policy must be about the notion of America leading the
world, not America against the world."
Howard Dean, policy statement on campaign website
"Dean suggested that on some issues, the difference between Bush and
himself was more of tone and
Washington Post , December 14, 2003
On a fundamental and defining level, Dean supports expanding and exercising
U.S. domination over other
countries in the world--including by force. His critique of the Bush clique is that they have pursued this goal badly,
leaving the U.S. more isolated in the world, instead of more dominant.
In his December 15 speech (and in many others) Dean lists how he supported
all the recent wars launched by the
U.S., including the first Gulf War, the NATO war on Yugoslavia, and Bush's invasion of Afghanistan.
In June 1998, he also defended then-President Clinton's unilateral bombing of Iraq saying, "I don't think we could
have built an international coalition to invade or have a substantial bombing of Saddam."
Dean adds that "As president, I will never hesitate to deploy our armed
forces to defend our country and its allies,
and to protect our national interests."
He supports the concept of "preemptive attack," saying on his campaign
website, "There is also no doubt that a
sovereign state has a right to fight a preemptive war against an imminent threat to its vital national security
interests." His critique of the Bush Doctrine is that it extends this "right" to wage "preemptive war" to include
cases of more distant potential threat.
In a major foreign policy statement ( Washington Post , December 21,
2003) Dean said he supported making
demands on North Korea in talks "backed by the threat of force." Dean opposes ending the cruel embargo on
In the details of his online position papers, Dean opposes cutting the U.S. military budget (which has swollen to
truly grotesque and criminal proportions in order to threaten the world with military superiority). And Dean
proposed increasing the budget for "Homeland Security," which brings the promise of increased surveillance,
border militarization, police activity and "security" hysteria in our lives. At the same time, he calls for
reconsideration of some provisions of the Patriot Act that gives sweeping new police powers to federal agents.
In many ways, what stands out is how little his positions differ from the Bush policies:
Dean strongly supports Israel, and says that his views on Palestine
are closest to the America-Israel Public
Affairs Committee (the conservative Zionist lobbying group close to Israel's rightwing expansionist Prime Minister
Dean supports Israel's death squad attacks on Palestinian forces. "I've
been very clear: I support the targeted
assassinations," he said. "These are enemy combatants in a war; Israel has every right to shoot them before they
can shoot Israelis." He denounces countries like Iran for "supporting Palestinian terrorism."
Dean added he supports the Israeli move to fence off Palestinian areas
on the West Bank, based on "the original
maps of the fence I saw when I was over there a year and a half ago.I think the fence is a security matter."
Dean supports U.S. and Israeli moves to depose Arafat as Palestinian leader and president. "I do not think we
will get to peace in the Middle East as long as Arafat is in power," Dean said, "This is an area I agree with the
President on." ( Jewish Week , October 2003)
The differences are so small that Dean lavishes praise on Bush's Secretary
of State Colin L. Powell (a prominent
architect of the war on Iraq). Dean's aides even talk of keeping Powell as Secretary of State in a Dean White
Dean does of course have a criticism. He says ( Washington Post , Dec.
21) "I believe the United States must
exercise leadership by working with allies and partners to advance common interests, rather than advancing our
power unilaterally. My program is clear. First, we must strengthen our military and intelligence, ensure that our
troops have the best training and equipment and keep our promises about pay and benefits. Second, we must
rebuild our alliances, badly damaged by the current administration."
It is important to understand what this means, and what it doesn't mean.
This does not mean that Dean rejects all unilateral military attacks, or thinks that the U.S. should subordinate itself
to international alliances or institutions. It means that he, like many throughout the U.S. ruling class, think that the
U.S. has been unnecessarily isolated by its recent moves.
Dean and the rest of the Democratic Party are generally calling for
a more "muscular multi- laterialism"--where the
U.S. finds the ways to get other powers more actively involved in imposing and maintaining a U.S-dominated
world order. Dean (and most other Democrats) argue that the U.S. needs to find more ways of shifting and
sharing the burden of war and empire by making some accommodations. Dean's arguments bring to mind the
Soviet observation before World War 2 that U.S. and British ruling classes always want someone else to "pull the
chestnuts out of the fire for them."
Meanwhile, powerful parts of the Bush team have insisted that the U.S.
military superiority is great enough that the
U.S. does not need to make any significant accommodation to other world powers.
This is a debate among imperialists over how best to rule their empire.
Possibilities of Resistance and Co-optation
Fred Barnes, one of those cold-blooded Republican attack dogs on TV, recently wrote that 2004 will be a year
where "the war on terrorism, and the outcome in Iraq, hang in the balance." The worst thing of all, he writes, would
be if this coming year were "brimming with bitter assaults on the very idea of an assertive, morality-based
American role in the world." Barnes openly calls on the whole political establishment (including the Clintons, who
Barnes hates) to help prevent this from happening.
This gives a sense of the fear, in powerful places, of what could happen
in the months ahead.
Official American politics encourages everyone to project their views and hopes on one or another candidate.
And some people have come to imagine Dean's campaign as a way to oppose the war in Iraq and stand against
the aggressive policies of the U.S. government. Dean has obviously encouraged this, portraying himself as a
fighter with angry criticisms of the Bush regime.
But there is an old Maoist saying to be careful you don't climb onboard
a pirate ship, just because it is flying a
New Republic columnist Franklin Foer wrote (December 23, 2003): "Talk
to sensible Howard Dean supporters
these days, and they'll tell you that the former governor's campaign to date has been a grand sleight of hand.
Sure, it has harnessed Bush hatred and antiwar fervor. But the real Dean isn't a frothing lefty like his supporters;
he's a closet centrist. Once he finishes exploiting the left's anger to seal the nomination, he will reveal his true self,
elegantly pivoting to the middle."
If a President Dean replaced a President Bush--the heights of U.S. power
would still be dedicated to empire and
military domination, and they would even still be committed to some of the specific aggressive and unjust policies
involved in conquering Iraq and waging an endless war on the world (in the name of a "war on terrorism").
A question: What would it mean--to the growth of a powerful resistance movement in the months ahead--if the
energies and resources of antiwar forces get subordinated to a Democratic electoral program that is so
fundamentally pro-war and pro-imperialist?
Francis McCollum Feeley
Professor of American Studies/
Director of Research at CEIMSA
Université de Grenoble-3