SUBJECT: ON AMERICAN PACIFISTS ("MY
TORTURER, MY BROTHER") : FROM THE CENTER FOR THE
ADVANCED STUDY OF AMERICAN INSTITUTIONS AND SOCIAL MOVEMENTS,
Dear Colleagues and Friends of CEIMSA,
A month ago, on May 13, I was invited to moderate a debate between Paul Allies (of Montpellier) and Jean-Louis Quermonne (of Grenoble), two French law professors who were addressing the up-coming referendum on the European constitution. M. Allies eloquently advocated a No Vote to promote industrial democracy in Europe and to force greater participation and discussion before the adoption of a better constitution, and M. Quermonne with equal eloquence argued that this constitution was a Lesser Evil and that any delay would have dire political consequences in the future for a united Europe.
I, of course, being an
American and the moderator, assumed the formal role of "neutral
party". My function was to call on people in the audience for questions
and to organize rules by which some limits were placed on ensuing monologues.
It was a rather successful exercise in democracy --first on the
At the start of the afternoon meeting on campus, before introducing the jurists, I decided to discuss the sociological concept developed by Barrington Moore, Jr., in his book, Injustice: The Social Bases of Obedience and Revolt. What (I asked the audience) are the social origins of obedience and political apathy? Can we determine why, at specific historic moments, large numbers of people collaborate with their own oppression and thereby dismiss (or never even consider) alternative modes of action which might lead to disobedience and revolt and ultimately a better life with better social policy? Is it legitimate for the majority of "non-specialists" to reject the political solutions of the "specialists" and to insist that they go back to the drawing board and propose something better. In a word, must we keep our veto power over the political and corporate elite who govern our institutions and our society, and insist on our right to urge the specialists toward better policies which better meet our collective needs, the knowledge of which we alone are the experts to whom the specialists must listen?
By obeying the "ill-will" of officially designated authorities, rather than recognizing and acting on their genuine collective interests, large majorities of people throughout history and in societies across the world, according to Barrington Moor, Jr., have again and again tolerated abuse at the hands of remarkably small numbers of people. In order to analyze this phenomenon, Professor Moore closely examines in great detail selected case studies taken from comparative world history, and he tries to answer the question: "How did this small group maintain control over that large number of people at this specific moment in history ?" As a good social scientist Moore is not out to discover an absolute cosmology or some universal "iron law" of human behavior, but rather he offers us some new tools and techniques of analysis so that we too can examine a selected historical moment and derive a satisfactory answer to his important question as it pertains to the specific social context that might be of interest.
Good social scientific writing should serve as an inspiration and a model for all of us --both inside and outside the academy.
Below, are four items we received recently on the all-too familiar subject of REPRESSION.
Item A. is an historical reminder by John Gerassi of what society can look like when capitalism enters a prolong and worsening crisis. It is not the first time, and there are lessons to be learned from the past . . . .
Item B. is an essay by Michael
Parenti who explains why there are simply no easy solutions to the problems
President Hugo Chavez of
Item C. is a reminder from Professor Edward Herman of the vicious bigotry that nationalist indoctrination reproduces, sometimes leaving the victimizers the greatest victims of their dogma, forcing on them at times a life worse than death.
Item D. arrived at CEIMSA via Michael Moore, and is a discussion of a recent attempt to return to the era of red-baiting, which today has adopted a post-modern ruse called : The Student Bill of Rights.
And finally, item E. is an article sent to us
Francis McCollum Feeley
Professor of American Studies/
Director of Research
from John Gerassi
The fact that you all seemed not to have received the original gave me a chance to add a few sentences to this revised
Empire means Repression
by John Gerassi
Throughout history, no empire has survived if
it tolerated dissent. From the day that
again, it did so slowly, within its potential. It went to war against
many of the idiotic Republicans never understood that Franklin Roosevelt was
saving their capitalism for them, it was he who set up the machinery of state
to crush serious dissent in
Joseph McCarthy's "anti-Communist" crusades did them a disservice for
a while by overdoing it, causing some newsmen (Edward R. Morrow) and academics
(Harvard President Pusey) to fight back, especially after two more
rank-and-filer dissidents, in this case the Communists Rosenbergs, were executed. But
II's infamous "if you're not with us you're against us" is not new to
poor country can develop its infrastructure, build low-cost housing, hospitals,
universities, self-defense force without capital accumulation. No poor country
can achieve such accumulation by allowing foreign companies to run its
utilities, its banks, its
the average American know any of this? Does the mainstream
media report any of these facts? No wonder then that when a Latino
rebels or a Shiite blows himself up with a few
of the people of the world (not in the US) know that it was the US which
started the Cold War, by violating the Berlin treaty whereby each of the
victorious powers would rule the city together, backed by a currency defended
by the four. But the
get the American public to buy
would Americans react if, on the guise of helping the
any one who looks Moslem could now be jailed. And any foreigner the
Some of that information is now known to the average American. But not all. Not enough, thanks to a pliable media, for average-Joe to understand that the FBI, CIA, DIA, NSA, and most local US police corps are today no better than the Gestapo or the KGB goons. And to make sure that average Joe does not get to know the extent of US atrocities, the government is now trying to silence even defense lawyers.
for you and me, who don't look Moslem or Latino or Hindu or Apache, beware: one wrong word and we
will face the charge of aiding and abetting the terrorists. And we will find it
harder and harder to find a lawyer willing to defend us, that is if we are not
simply "disappeared" to
We have about 50 percent of the world's wealth, but only 6.3 percent of its population. In this situation we cannot fail to be the object of envy and resentment. Our real task in the coming period is to devise a pattern of relationships that will permit us to maintain this position of disparity. To do so we will have to dispense with all sentimentality and daydreaming and our attention will have to be concentrated everywhere on our immediate national objectives. We should cease the talk about vague, unreal objectives, such as human rights, raising of living standards and democratization. The day is not far off when we are going to have to deal in straight power concepts. The less we are hampered by idealistic slogans, the better.
from Michael Parenti
Please use this article as you wish.
Good Things Happening in
by Michael Parenti
before I arrived in
conversation moved along famously until we got to the political struggle going
herself owns an upscale women’s fashion company with links to prominent
firms in the
Other critics I encountered in Venezuela shared this same mode of attack: weak on specifics but strong in venom, voiced with all the ferocity of those who fear that their birthright (that is, their class advantages) was under siege because others below them on the social ladder were now getting a slightly larger slice of the pie.
Far from ruining the country, here are some of the good things the Chavez government has accomplished:
A land reform program designed to assist small farmers and the landless poor has been instituted. Just this month (March 2005) a large landed estate owned by a British beef company was occupied by agrarian workers for farming purposes.
Education is now free (right through to university level), causing a dramatic increase in grade school enrollment.
The government has set up a marine conservation program, and is taking steps to protect the land and fishing rights of indigenous peoples.
Special banks now assist small enterprises, worker cooperatives, and farmers.
Attempts to further privatize the state-run oil industry---80 percent of which is still publicly owned---have been halted, and limits have been placed on foreign capital penetration.
Chavez kicked out
“Bolivarian Circles” have been organized throughout the nation, neighborhood committees designed to activate citizens at the community level to assist in literacy, education, vaccination campaigns, and other public services.
The government hires unemployed men, on a temporary basis, to repair streets and neglected drainage and water systems in poor neighborhoods.
Then there is the health program. I visited a dental clinic in Chavez’s home state of Barinas. The staff consisted of four dentists, two of whom were young Venezuelan women. The other two were Cuban men who were there on a one-year program. The Venezuelan dentists noted that in earlier times dentists did not have enough work. There were millions of people who needed treatment, but care was severely rationed by the private market, that is, by one’s ability to pay. Dental care was distributed like any other commodity, not to everyone who needed it but only to those who could afford it.
When the free clinic in Barinas first opened it was flooded with people seeking dental care. No one was turned away. Even opponents of the Chavez government availed themselves of the free service, temporarily putting aside their political aversions.
the doctors and dentists who work in the barrio clinics (along with some of the
clinical supplies and pharmaceuticals) come from
That low-income people are receiving medical and dental care for the first time in their lives does not seem to be a consideration that carries much weight among the more “professionally minded” practitioners.
I visited one of the government-supported community food stores that are located around the country, mostly in low income areas. These modest establishments sell canned goods, pasta, beans, rice, and some produce and fruits at well below the market price, a blessing in a society with widespread malnutrition.
Popular food markets have eliminated the layers of middlemen and made staples more affordable for residents. Most of these markets are run by women. The government also created a state-financed bank whose function is to provide low-income women with funds to start cooperatives in their communities.
There is a growing number of worker cooperatives. One in
Surprisingly, many Venezuelans know relatively little about the worker cooperatives. Or perhaps it’s not surprising, given the near monopoly that private capital has over the print and broadcast media. The wealthy media moguls, all vehemently anti-Chavez, own four of the five television stations and all the major newspapers.
most responsible for
In the Nation (6 May 2002), Marc Cooper---one of those Cold War liberals who nowadays regularly defends the U.S. empire---writes that the democratically-elected Chavez speaks “often as a thug,” who “flirts with megalomania.” Chavez’s behavior, Cooper rattles on, “borders on the paranoiac,” is “ham-fisted demagogy” acted out with an “increasingly autocratic style.” Like so many critics, Cooper downplays Chavez’s accomplishments, and uses name-calling in place of informed analysis.
Other media mouthpieces have labeled Chavez “mercurial,” “besieged,” “heavy-handed,” “incompetent,” and “dictatorial,” a “barracks populist,” a “strongman,” a “firebrand,” and, above all, a “leftist.” It is never explained what “leftist” means. A leftist is someone who advocates a more equitable distribution of social resources and human services, and who supports the kinds of programs that the Chavez government is putting in place. (Likewise a rightist is someone who opposes such programs and seeks to advance the insatiable privileges of private capital and the wealthy few.)
“leftist” is frequently bandied about in the
Chavez’s opponents, who staged an illegal and unconstitutional coup in
April 2002 against
When one of these perpetrators, General Carlos Alfonzo, was hit with charges for the role he had played, the New York Times chose to call him a “dissident” whose rights were being suppressed by the Chavez government. Four other top military officers charged with leading the 2002 coup were also likely to face legal action. No doubt, they too will be described not as plotters or traitors who tried to destroy a democratic government, but as “dissidents,” simple decent individuals who are being denied their right to disagree with the government.
President Hugo Chavez whose public talks I attended on three occasions proved to be an educated, articulate, remarkably well-informed and well-read individual. Of big heart, deep human feeling, and keen intellect, he manifests a sincere dedication to effecting some salutary changes for the great mass of his people, a man who in every aspect seems worthy of the decent and peaceful democratic revolution he is leading.
Millions of his compatriots correctly perceive him as being the only president who has ever paid attention to the nation’s poorest areas. No wonder he is the target of calumny and coup from the upper echelons in his own country and from ruling circles up north.
charges that the
Michael Parenti's recent books include Superpatriotism (City Lights) and The Assassination of Julius Caesar (New Press) which won Book of the Year Award, 2004 (nonfiction) from Online Review of Books. His latest work, The Culture Struggle , will be published by Seven Stories Press in the fall of 2005. For more information visit his website: www.michaelparenti.org.
from Ed Herman
Subject: Erasing the Past in
You can read this sad story about ultra-ethnic cleansing in the Israeli press, but not in the NYT or Philadelphia Inquirer.
Shards of memory
by Gideon Levy
This is the most Arab-free area in
settlers of the Gush Katif bloc from the Gaza Strip are to be brought here. In a bitterly ironic jest of fate, the settlers who sowed ruin and destruction in the Gaza Strip will now live on the ruins of the homes of the residents who were their invisible neighbors in the
Again they will see nothing. From Gush Katif they saw nothing of the devastation that was wrought in Khan Yunis and in its refugee camp; and in the Nitzanim region they will see nothing of the rich fabric of life that existed here and was destroyed. It was all erased
from the face of the earth (eternity is only dust and earth). Only the skeletons of a few beautiful homes, which somehow still stand, and the piles of stones, the orchards and the natural fences made of sabra bushes remain as mute testimony among the eucalyptus groves, the new settlements and the orchards that were planted on the sites of the destruction. From the Ashdod-Ashkelon road it is possible to see a few of the ruins, but who pays attention? Who asks himself what these houses are, what used to be here and where the former residents are as he shoots past on the highway?
There is no memorial and no
monument. No signpost and no sign of the dozens of villages that were razed. In
Moshav Mavki'im, on the ruins of the
In the center of Kibbutz Zikim from the left-wing Kibbutz Haartzi movement a sign stands next to a ruined Palestinian mansion: "Danger, dangerous building. Keep away." An illustration showing a skull and crossbones embellishes the sign, so threatening is the memory. In Mavki'im the last vestiges are being leveled. This week the industrious tractors already removed a few piles of
stones that were once homes. Thus the final remnants of the indigenous people, the previous residents of the land, are being erased. In a country that has a law mandating "rescue digs," a country that delays and sometimes prevents construction wherever archaeological remnants of its ancient past are found, the near past is being trampled into dust.
Only in one place was it decided to be considerate of the past. Three kilometers south of the community of Nitzan, in the orchards of the Mehadrin Company, whose chairman is the head of the Disengagement Administration, in a place where settlers will also be
moved under the plan of the Housing
Ministry, it was decided not to touch the land on which the center of the
construction, but not Palestinian ruins. But this lovely region also has a near past which is a bleeding present in the refugee camps, and no heavy engineering equipment will be able to erase the memory.
We drove like detectives across the dunes, between the natural brush, the fruit groves, the garbage dumps and the local communities, hunting for any sign of earlier life. In one orchard we found an old faucet, in another the remnants of a millstone. We entered every ruin, turned over almost every stone. In the second part of the journey to uncover what is hidden from the eye we
were joined by the director of the
Farjun can not only identify every rare plant and the footprints of every deer that has trod here, he can also relate the history of every ruin. Now he shrinks at the sight of every bulldozer that slashes into the soil so the settlers' new homes can be built. There are
bulldozers aplenty here. Earth-moving contractors again have more work than they can handle, the whole coastal plain is inundated with heavy equipment. It is the unfolding of the country's history in metal: the equipment that once built the Bar-Lev Line and then the settlements line and then the separation wall is now building these new communities.
About a kilometer south of the Ad Halom junction, on Highway 4, the remnants of a fence surround a mosque, two homes and the sabra fence that contains a secret. There were sabra fences around every village, and now they are living fences of dead villages. This was the site of the town of Isdud, 4,910 residents in the years 1944-1945 - 4,620 Palestinians and 290 Jews - according
to the historian Walid Khalidi's book "All That Remains." In a field of withering hummus, which looks as though it was only recently abandoned, behind an electrified fence on which are signs warning against entry and hunting, another handsome home stands on a
limestone hill, defying the attempt to erase everything.
East of the road, behind a sign inviting local residents to a performance by the singer Zehava Ben in the "Queen's Courtyard," located in the Kanot industrial zone, a splendid house of arches is perched atop a lofty hill amid a dump of building refuse. "1948
will return to the Muslims," declares graffiti on the peeling wall, and also "Man, you stole." Rusty iron cables dangle from the high ceilings, all that's left of the lights in the Isdud house. On the southern wall someone has drawn an Israeli flag in blue and white.
This is the battle for home. The carcass of a sheep is lying next to the balcony which is covered with arches. There are few architects in Israel today who could build such a beautiful house. The tiles in the next-door house, a one-room place, still preserve vestiges of their turquoise glory. On the cracked wall is an empty clothes hanger.
The double-decker red train from Ashkelon to Tel Aviv passes by quickly. It would be interesting to know if any of the passengers turn to look at the remains of the school which is hiding in the shade of the giant ficus tree, west of the road and east of the tracks.
Some of the schools were not demolished, Farjun explains, because they were built by the British and Ben-Gurion was afraid that they would be angry, just months after their departure from the country. This was a small educational center: a few classrooms, arches and a well in the courtyard. An empty Bamba bag lies in the yard. Where are the children who went to school here and played in the shade of the tree? On the house closest to the highway, on its very edge, by the road that goes to Emunim and Azrikim, someone has written "Isdud" in Hebrew. On the side is a call to place the Oslo criminals on trial. On the fence is a sign:
"Private property. Kibbutz Hatzor." It too belongs to Hakibbutz Haarzti.
About a kilometer to the south the earth-moving trucks of Zalman Barashi spread locust-like over the dunes. Soon expanded Nitzan will arise here, that is, the new Neveh Dekalim. The bulldozers of Haim Yisraeli & Sons roll across the fields of Mavki'im, namely the
Palestinians' Barbara. All that remain here are piles of stones from a village with a population of 2,410, according to Walidi. Mavki'im was founded in January 1949 on the southern lands of Barbara, to block the return of refugees from Gaza to the village. It is a
meager-looking moshav, without even one upgraded house, its economic situation gloomy, awaiting the bonanza that is perhaps closer than ever. The restaurant that serves bland Hungarian goulash in the gas station at the entrance to the moshav stands on the ruins of the school of Barbara.
The bulldozers are hard at work to the west of the moshav houses, removing the last piles of stones that stand for Barbara. In 1949, after demolishing the schools, the workers of the Jewish National Fund pushed aside the ruins and unwittingly created mute monuments in the form of these piles of stones among the eucalyptus trees they planted on the ruins. Barbara was abandoned between the 4th and 5th of November 1948 during Operation Yoav, which was carried out by the Givati Brigade under the command of Yigal Allon, who left no Arab population in any of the areas he conquered - in Operation Yiftah, in Operation Dani and finally in Operation Yoav, which was originally called "Operation 10 Plagues." It was perhaps the case that even without Allon saying anything specific, "[his] officers knew what he wanted," Benny Morris notes in "The Birth of the Palestinian Refugee Problem,
Abed, a construction worker from Gaza, who was originally from Barbara and built the houses of Nitzan on the land of his lost village, told Farjun that his father said on his deathbed that the family had fled and not been expelled and that he never forgave himself for the hasty decision. "We saw everyone running away, so we ran too," the old man told his son apologetically. They were convinced that when the fighting abated they would be able to return. But whether they fled or were evicted, they were never
allowed to return. Now an Arab driver from
Kibbutz Zikim is also expanding. The
expansion, which was originally earmarked for the private market but did not
succeed, will probably now be sold to the state to house the settlers (in
nearby Carmiya another 53 homes are being built for them, on the land of the
within the framework of `50 settlement and revival sites.'" This building was in fact bought from its owner, the Effendi Surkaji, in 1942.
The zoologist Dr. Michael Satner sits in Farjun's office, exhausted from a day of searching and extremely worried. "You are destroying the last habitat of the gray force in the coastal plain," furious researchers from around the world are writing to him in the wake of the construction project for the settlers, on the eve of a major international conference on the gray force due to be held in Bonn. Gray force? The Hebrew word for force - koach [see Leviticus ] - turns out to have another meaning: the monitor lizard. A great daytime predator, Satner explains, sandals and canteen in a sheath-like holder. He spent the whole day under the broiling sun looking for footprints of monitor lizards in the sands of Nitzan and barely found four. His master's thesis was on the monitor lizard in the dunes of Nitzan and his doctoral dissertation on the snakes in Hadera. Before Zionism there were apparently more of these lizards here. Satner is worried that the lizards that already leave footprints are all elderly. The Latin name of the lizard, Veranus, derives from Arabic, he notes.
Farjun, from the Society for the
Protection of Nature, looks the part. A hero of the Yom
Kippur War in the fighting on the
knowledgeable expert who speaks fluent Arabic. "In terms of the Zionist ethos, the best work was done in the south. If not for that work, Ahmed and Mustafa would now be holding a discussion about us, and I prefer me holding a discussion about Ahmed and
Mustafa." That is the gist of his Zionism. "Anyone who tells you that there was no ethnic cleansing here will be lying, and anyone who tells you that without the ethnic cleansing Israel would have been established will also be lying."
We travel on a dirt road, but an
amazingly beautiful one, to Hamama; this was once the service road of the
farmers between Majdal [today's
7 June 2005
t r u t h o u t | Perspective
What's behind the Student Bill of Rights?
By David Bacon
Today, witchhunts seem once again on the rise. The latest attempt to return to the era of red-baiting is called, ironically, the Student Bill of Rights. That has a fine, democratic ring to it. The phrase, however, is being used to restrict the ability of teachers to introduce controversial or provocative ideas into their classrooms. The argument goes like this: Conservative students are offended when "liberal" faculty try to force them to consider ideas with which they don't agree. Political science or sociology instructors, for instance, who support the benefits of minimum or living wage ordinances for workers, should be prevented from advancing such liberal biases in class.
If this sounds far-fetched, consider the fact that 13 states have introduced legislation that would prohibit such "indoctrination." These bills, a project of ultra-conservative ideologue David Horowitz, aren't aimed at the many prestigious business schools around the country. There, instructors not only teach students that making profit is necessary and virtuous, but insist students learn to do so as efficiently as possible. Instead, these measures are directed against teachers who question such established ideas.
This spring in
On February 25, leaflets quoting Section 51530 of the Education Code
were anonymously posted on the doors of ten faculty members at
A subsequent press release by the Santa Rosa Junior College Republicans
claimed responsibility. "We did this because we believe certain
instructors at SRJC are in violation of
In a letter to the campus newspaper, the Oak Leaf, the president of the SRJC College Republicans, Molly McPherson, explains that "The instructors I 'targeted' were not selected at random ... There have even been accounts of JC teachers openly advocating Communist and Marxist theories ... [which have] been outlawed in the classrooms of a country with the strongest free speech rights in the world."
When the campus Republicans found it hard to document the massive teaching of communism at the junior college, they retreated to general complaints of "leftist bias" by faculty members. Evidence to support charges of biased teaching seemed just as scarce. In a forum discussing the flyer, student trustee Nick Caston pointed out, "I have been on the Board of Review (the last step of the grievance process) for three years and have never heard a complaint about bias in the class room."
"I've never even talked with any of the students who were involved in this," commented red-starred professor Marty Bennett. "But I do teach a lot of labor history in my social sciences classes, and I'm identified in the community as someone involved in the labor movement. That's probably why I was chosen." Other instructors also had had little or no contact with the young Republicans. Bennett says that because of the incident, "some teachers were reluctant to take up more controversial subjects. But it pushed others towards an activism they might not have considered before."
On her organization's website, McPherson says the flyering was "just in time for one of our senators introducing the academic bill of rights in April." That bill, SB 5, introduced by Sen. Bill Morrow, R-San Juan Capistrano, says, "faculty shall not use their courses or their positions for the purpose of political, ideological, religious or anti-religious indoctrination."
David Horowitz' website warns that "while a professor is on campus or in an academic setting, he or she has professional responsibilities that make partisan political action unacceptable," and that "all too frequently, professors behave as political advocates in the classroom, express opinions in a partisan manner on controversial issues irrelevant to the academic subject." In an era in which Governor Schwarzenegger has gone to war with the state's teachers, Horowitz's admonitions would silence protest against him. On April 20, SB 5 failed to pass the Senate Education Committee. McPherson and her clubmates fared equally poorly in late April student body elections at SRJC, when the slate they supported lost by a 2-1 majority.
Nevertheless, bills similar to Morrow's have been introduced into 13 other states this year. Defending one in the Columbus Dispatch, Ohio State Senator Larry Mumper warned that "card-carrying Communists," whom he defined as "people who try to over-regulate and try to bring in a lot of issues we don't agree with," are teaching at universities.
Isn't that what the free market in ideas is all about?
David Bacon is a California
photojournalist who documents labor, migration and globalization. His book The
Children of NAFTA: Labor Wars on the US/Mexico Border was published last year
Subject: Fw: A HUGE VICTORY for Pablo Paredes! Navy Judge Finds War Protest Reasonable
I was a warm body at some of the support demos for him and contributed a bit to his defense fund. This is not what many people expect of a military judge in the heart of the empire. Do you know Marjorie?
Also, guess what, I finally got a copy of the Marcuse video, "Herbert's Hippos" along with the panel discussion at UCSD that included both Angela Davis and former Chancellor McGill. What address do you want it mailed
Navy Judge Finds War Protest Reasonable
by Marjorie Cohn
t r u t h o u t | Report
"I think that the government has
successfully proved that any service member has reasonable cause to believe
that the wars in
In a stunning blow to the Bush administration, a Navy judge gave Petty Officer 3rd Class Pablo Paredes no jail time for refusing orders to board the amphibious assault ship Bonhomme Richard before it left San Diego with 3,000 sailors and Marines bound for the Persian Gulf on December 6th. Lt. Cmdr. Robert Klant found Pablo guilty of missing his ship's movement by design, but dismissed the charge of unauthorized absence. Although Pablo faced one year in the brig, the judge sentenced him to two months' restriction and three months of hard labor, and reduced his rank to seaman recruit.
"This is a huge victory," said Jeremy Warren, Pablo's lawyer.
"A sailor can show up on a Navy base, refuse in good conscience to board a
ship bound for
Pablo maintained that transporting Marines to fight in an illegal war,
and possibly to commit war crimes, would make him complicit in those crimes. He
told the judge, "I believe as a member of the armed forces, beyond having
a duty to my chain of command and my President, I have a higher duty to my
conscience and to the supreme law of the land. Both of these higher duties
dictate that I must not participate in any way, hands-on or indirect, in the
current aggression that has been unleashed on
Pablo said he formed his views about the illegality of the war by reading truthout.org, listening to Democracy Now!, and reading articles by Noam Chomsky, Chalmers Johnson, Naomi Klein, Stephen Zunes, and Marjorie Cohn, as well as Kofi Annan's statements that the war is illegal under the UN Charter, and material on the Nuremberg and Tokyo tribunals.
I testified at Pablo's court-martial as a defense expert on the legality
of the war in
I noted that the Uniform Code of Military Justice requires that all
military personnel obey lawful orders. Article 92 of the UCMJ says, "A
general order or regulation is lawful unless it is contrary to the
Constitution, the laws of the
I concluded that the
On cross-examination, Navy prosecutor Lt. Jonathan Freeman elicited
testimony from me that the
The Navy prosecutors asked the judge to sentence Pablo to nine months in the brig, forfeiture of pay and benefits, and a bad conduct discharge. Lt. Brandon Hale argued that Pablo's conduct was "egregious," that Pablo could have "slinked away with his privately-held beliefs quietly." The public nature of Pablo's protest made it more serious, according to the chief prosecuting officer.
But Pablo's lawyer urged the judge not to punish Pablo more harshly for
exercising his right of free speech. Pablo refused to board the ship not, as
many others, for selfish reasons, but rather as an act of conscience,
"Pablo's victory is an incredible boon to the
anti-war movement," according to
The night before his sentencing, many spoke at a program in support of
Pablo. Mejia thanked Pablo for bringing back the humanity and doubts about the
war into people's hearts. Sheehan, whose son, K.C., died two weeks after he
Aidan Delgado, who received conscientious objector status after spending
nine months in
Pablo's application for conscientious objector status is pending. He has
one year of Navy service left. If his C.O. application is granted, he could be
released. Or he could receive an administrative discharge. Worst case scenario,
he could be sent back to
For more on Pablo's trial and his statement of conscience, go to:
First they ignore you.
Then they laugh at you.
Then they fight you.
Then you win.
Francis McCollum Feeley
Professor of American Studies/
Director of Research at CEIMSA-IN-EXILE