Subject: ON MILITARISM AND ANTI-MILITARISM IN THE 21ST CENTURY : FROMTHE CENTER
FOR THE ADVANCED STUDY OF AMERICAN INSTITUTIONS AND SOCIAL
MOVEMENTS, GRENOBLE, FRANCE.
22 March 2004
Dear Friends and Colleagues,
Our Grenoble Research Center continues to receive reflections and news items on the growing anti-war movement inside the United States.
Below, item A, sent to us by Professor Ed Herman, is Naomi Klein's recent article on the phony policies of the "Almost-President" Bush, who strives ceaslessly to gain credibility in a nation of doubters.
Item B, sent to us by Professor Richard DuBoff, is a vivid illustration of the unlearned lessons of the Vietnam War, when the U.S. government tried and failed to fight ideology with advanced technology against a determined peasantry. This defeat, it appears to many, has not yet been absorbed by the American ruling class.
And finally item C, from Professor Fred Lonidier,
is a contemporary update on anti-war activism within the American Labor
Movement on the West Coast.
Francis McCollum Feeley
Professor of American Studies/
Director of Research
from Professor Ed Herman
2 March 2004
The Year of the Fake
by Naomi Klein
Don't think and drive.
That was the message sent out by the
FBI to roughly 18,000 law enforcement
agencies on Christmas Eve. The alert urged police pulling over drivers for traffic
violations, and conducting other routine investigations, to keep their eyes open for
people carrying almanacs. Why almanacs? Because they are filled with
facts--population figures, weather predictions, diagrams of buildings and landmarks.
And according to the FBI Intelligence Bulletin, facts are dangerous weapons in the
hands of terrorists, who can use them to "to assist with target selection and
But in a world filled with potentially
lethal facts and figures, it seems unfair to single
out almanac readers for police harassment. As the editor of The World Almanac and
Book of Facts rightly points out, "The government is our biggest single supplier of
information." Not to mention the local library: A cache of potentially dangerous
information weaponry is housed at the center of almost every American town. The FBI,
of course, is all over the library threat, seizing library records at will under the Patriot
The blacklisting of the almanac was a
fitting end for 2003, a year that waged open war
on truth and facts and celebrated fakes and forgeries of all kinds. This was the year
when fakeness ruled: fake rationales for war, a fake President dressed as a fake
soldier declaring a fake end to combat and then holding up a fake turkey. An action
movie star became governor and the government started making its own action
movies, casting real soldiers like Jessica Lynch as fake combat heroes and dressing
up embedded journalists as fake soldiers. Saddam Hussein even got a part in the big
show: He played himself being captured by American troops. This is the fake of the
year, if you believe the Sunday Herald in Scotland, as well as several other news
agencies, which reported that he was actually captured by a Kurdish special forces
It was Britain, however, that pushed
the taste for fake to new levels. "Her main aim is
to meet as many Nigerians as she can," the Queen's press secretary, Penny Russell,
said of the monarch's December trip to Nigeria. But just as Bush never made it out of
the airport bunker in Baghdad, the Queen's people decided it was too dangerous for
her to mingle with actual Nigerians. So instead of the planned visit to an African
village, the Queen toured the set of a BBC soap opera in New Karu, constructed to
look like an authentic African market. During the "fake walkabout," as the Sunday
Telegraph called it, the Queen chatted with paid actors playing regular villagers, while
actual villagers watched the event on a large-screen TV outside the security perimeter.
But 2003 was about more than embracing
fakery and forgery--it was also about
punishing truth-telling. The highest price was paid by David Kelly, the British
government weapons expert who killed himself after he was outed as the source of a
BBC story on "sexed up" security documents. Katharine Gun, a British intelligence
employee, faces up to two years in prison for revealing US plans to spy on UN
diplomats in order to influence the Security Council vote on Iraq. And in the United
States, Joseph Wilson, who told the truth about finding no evidence of Saddam's
alleged uranium shopping trip in Africa, was punished by proxy: His wife, Valerie
Plame, was illegally outed as a CIA operative.
While truth did not pay in 2003, lying
certainly did. Just ask Rupert Murdoch.
According to an October study conducted by the Program on International Policy
Attitudes, when it comes to the war in Iraq, regular watchers of Murdoch's Fox News
are the most misinformed people in America. Eighty percent of Fox News watchers
believed either that weapons of mass destruction have been found in Iraq, that there is
evidence of an Iraq-Al Qaeda link or that world opinion supported the war--or they
believed all three of these untruths.
On December 19 the Federal Communications
Commission gave Murdoch the right to
purchase the top US satellite broadcaster, DirecTV. The FCC vote took place just five
days before the FBI's almanac bulletin, and they can best be understood in tandem: If
books that fill your brain with facts make you a potential terrorist, then media moguls
who fill your brain with mush must be heroes, deserving of the richest rewards.
When Bush came to office, many believed
his ignorance would be his downfall.
Eventually Americans would realize that a President who referred to Africa as "a
nation" was unfit to lead. Now we tell ourselves that if only Americans knew that they
were being lied to, they would surely revolt. But with the greatest of respect for the liar
books (Lies and the Lying Liars Who Tell Them, Big Lies, The Lies of George W.
Bush, The Five Biggest Lies Bush Told Us About Iraq et al.), I'm no longer convinced
that America can be set free by the truth alone.
In many cases, fake versions of events
have prevailed even when the truth was readily
available. The real Jessica Lynch--who told Diane Sawyer that "no one beat me, no
one slapped me, no one, nothing"--has proven no match for her media-military created
doppelgänger, shown being slapped around by her cruel captors in NBC's movie
Saving Jessica Lynch.
Rather than being toppled for his adversarial
relationship to both the most important
truths and the most basic facts, Bush is actively remaking America in the image of his
own ignorance and duplicity. Not only is it OK to be misinformed, but as the almanac
warning shows, knowing stuff is fast becoming a crime.
It brings to mind the story about why
Castilian Spaniards pronounce gracias as
"grathiath." In the seventeenth century, the country was ruled by a monarch with a
severe speech impediment and a fragile ego. To flatter the ruler, it was decreed that
everyone should imitate the king's lisp and mispronounce their c's and s's.
According to all reputable linguists,
the legend is a complete fake. But in Bush's
America that should hardly matter.
from Professor Richard DuBoff
8 March 2004
Didn't they blast loud rock music at Noriega in 1989 until he surrendered? I guess this is the ultimate improvement on that
Los Angeles Times, March 7, 2004
Pentagon's Secret Scream :
Sonic devices that can inflict pain--or even
permanent deafness-are being deployed
(Reproduced courtesy of William B. Arkin)
SOUTH POMFRET, Vt. - Marines arriving in Iraq this month as part of
a massive troop rotation will
bring with them a high-tech weapon never before used in combat - or in peacekeeping. The device is
a powerful megaphone the size of a satellite dish that can deliver recorded warnings in Arabic and, on
command, emit a piercing tone so excruciating to humans, its boosters say, that it causes crowds to
disperse, clears buildings and repels intruders.
"[For] most people, even if they plug their ears, [the device] will
produce the equivalent of an instant
migraine," says Woody Norris, chairman of American Technology Corp., the San Diego firm that
produces the weapon. "It will knock [some people] on their knees."
American Technology says its new product "is designed to determine intent,
change behavior and
support various rules of engagement." The company is careful in its public relations not to refer to the
megaphone as a weapon, or to dwell on the debilitating pain American forces will be able to deliver
with it. The military has been equally reticent on the subject.
And that's a problem. The new sound weapon might, in some scenarios,
save lives. It might provide a
good alternative to lethal force in riot situations, as its proponents assert. But the U.S. is making a
huge mistake by trying to quietly deploy a new pain-inducing weapon without first airing all of the
legal, policy and human rights issues associated with it.
This is a weapon unlike any other used by the military, and it is certain
to provoke public outcry and
the conspiracy theories that often greet new U.S. military technology. If the military feels that its
new-style weaponry brings something important to the battlefield, and if testing has shown it to be
safe, then why not make our reasoning - and research - transparent to the world?
Nonlethal weapons have been promoted by a small circle of boosters for
nearly 15 years as
something increasingly necessary for the U.S. military in its growing peacekeeping, urban-combat and
force-protection missions. Some of the weaponry championed by the group, like rubber bullets,
flash-bang grenades and, more recently, electromuscular disruptive devices, or Tasers, has already
But the more exotic weapons - including acoustic, laser, and high-powered
microwave devices - have
not until now been fielded, held up by legal and ethical questions. Despite intense lobbying, over the
years the Pentagon leadership has been skeptical of such "wonder weapons." In 1995, then-Secretary
of Defense William Perry decided to ban Pentagon development of nonlethal laser weapons intended
to permanently blind. His decision led to a subsequent international ban.
So shouldn't we have a similar discussion about high-intensity sound,
which can cause permanent
hearing loss or even cellular damage? The new megaphone being deployed to Iraq can operate at 145
decibels at 300 yards, according to American Technology, well above the normal threshold for pain.
The company posits a scenario in which Al Qaeda terrorists would run screaming from caves after
being subjected to a blast of high-decibel sound from the devices, their hands covering their ears. But
in Baghdad or other
Iraqi towns, where there are crowds and buildings, the sick and elderly, as well as children, are likely
to be in the weapon's range.
Proponents of nonlethal weapons argue that pain and hearing loss, if
they were to occur, are certainly
preferable to death, which is always possible when lethal force is applied. But this argument ignores
realities on the ground. Last week, as I watched televised images of angry Iraqis pelting U.S. soldiers
with rocks when they arrived to assist those injured in suicide bombings at mosques, I couldn't help
but wonder whether the presence of a sound weapon to disperse those crowds would just escalate
Last month, the Council on Foreign Relations issued a task force report
on nonlethal weapons,
arguing that their widespread availability might have helped in the immediate post-combat period in
Iraq to reduce looting and sabotage. The council threw its weight behind greater investment in these
technologies partly based on a Joint Chiefs of Staff "mission needs statement" signed last December.
"U.S. military forces lack the ability to engage targets located where the application of lethal [weapon
fire] would be counterproductive to overall campaign objectives," the Joint Chiefs concluded.
The Council on Foreign Relations recognized that the effect of nonlethal
weapons is mostly
"psychological - persuading people that they would much rather be someplace else, or on our side
rather than opposing U.S. military forces." It warned that "television coverage of encounters involving
[nonlethal weapons] can still be repugnant, and it would be desirable to provide reliable information to
minimize unwarranted criticism."
Yet after paying lip service to the very psychological and political
fallout that could result from the
employment of novel technologies like acoustic weapons or high-powered microwaves, the council
task force urged that prototype nonlethal weapons - that is, weapons just like American Technology's
new sound weapon - "be placed with our operating forces" to test their efficacy and create greater
demand among combat commanders.
Is actual combat in a foreign country the appropriate place to test a new weapon? Apparently, we are
about to find out.
from Professor Fred Lonidier
Date: Fri, 19 Mar 2004
Longshore Workers to Shut Down All Bay Area and
on March 20 on the Occasion of the Global Day of Action
against the War and Occupation
Their demand: "Bring the Troops Home Now!"
No ships will be loaded or unloaded in Bay Area ports on March 20th, as International Longshore & Warehouse Union Local #10 holds a stop-work meeting to protest the US war and occupation of Iraq.
Longshore workers in Oregon have also refused to move cargo on that
day, in solidarity with the Global Day of Action against war and occupation.
In San Francisco, the ILWU Drill Team and contingent will lead the march
from Dolores Park to Civic Center on Saturday, March 20, 2004. Behind them
will be the rest of the Labor Contingent, which is gathering at 11 a.m.
at Dolores Park (18th St.& Dolores), just uphill from the small building
housing the public rest rooms, in the middle of the park, for the opening
rally. The march steps off about noon from Dolores to a 1 pm rally at Civic
Center, Polk & Grove Streets, San
The ILWU will hold their stop-work meeting at 8 a.m. at their hall at 400 North Point, and school buses will take the ILWU members to Dolores Park for the march. Buses will be driven by school bus drivers from United Transportation Union #1741, who are donating their labor as a contribution to the march and anti-war effort.
The California Federation of Teachers have their annual convention this weekend in Los Angeles, and many of their members from all over the state will be marching in L.A. Saturday against the war and occupation. Last year, as the war in Iraq was beginning, the CFT marched out of their convention onto Market Street to join one of the biggest anti-war marches of 2003.
Francis McCollum Feeley
Professor of American Studies/
Director of Research at CEIMSA
Université de Grenoble-3