Bulletin 205


25 October 2005
Grenoble, France

Dear Colleagues and Friends of CEIMSA,

Our research center has received mail recently commenting on the extremes to which corporate America has gone to maintain a world system based on the private profit motive.

Item A. is an article forwarded to us from our graduate student, Ms Zenib Belarif, who finds disconcerting the ingredients of another universal American commodity, Coca Cola. (Professor Douglas Dowd in his encyclopedic two-volume work, The Broken Promises of America, has reminded us of the serious contribution made in the 1960s by French President Charles De Gaulle who warned that France and the entire world must be on guard against "Coca Colonization" by the United States of America.) Zenib Belarif's message explains why.

Item B. is an historical piece on the CIA by
Steve Weissman, who describes the unexpected consequences of CIA tactics against democratic movements around the world and the "blowback" that is now threatening to eliminate democracy in the United States. (Chalmers Johnson's book, Blowback : The Costs and Consequences of American Empire, which was first published before 11 September 2001, explains the historic consequences of post-World-War-II covert actions.) Since the passage of the CIA Shield Law in 1982 it is a criminal offense to expose the identities of CIA agents. It is precisely this law, passed by the Reagan/Bush-I administration in 1982, which ironically has trapped Bush-II and his anti-democratic cronies in the executive branch of the U.S. government.

Item C. is the transcript of an alternative radio interview with David Barsamian, the founder of Alternative Radio and director of a weekly public affairs radio program that can be heard on community radio stations across North America.
In this interview Barsamian is asked about the historic role of American media in times of war and their role in the world today, when five corporations control what most Americans see, hear, and read.

In item D. Truthout announced a few days ago the grim, but inevitable, news : "NUMBER 2000" has been killed. (Sleep well George, Dick and Ron; they were only the children of American working families, who were hired to butcher  families in Iraq.)

Item E. is an excerpt from Chalmers Johnson's new book, Sorrows of Empire, in which he gives the worst senario of the collapse of democracy in the United States --the proverbial baby out with the bath....

Item F. is an article sent to us by Professor Richard Du Boff, which discusses that "inexplicable phenomenon" of the U.S government loosing its credibility : U.S. control over the Internet is being challenged as never before.

Finally, item G. is an interview by Ralph Nader, who discusses new anti-war movement with long-time war resister, Reverend William Sloane Coffin, a former CIA agent who quite the "company" in the early 1950s, when it became apparent to him that World Democracy had replaced Totalitarianism as the number one enemy of American corporate intertests.

Francis McCollum Feeley
Professor of American Studies/
Director of Research
Université Stendhal-Grenoble III
Grenoble, France

from Zenib Belarif :


from Zenib Belarif :

25 octobre 2005


Professeur Feeley,

Ceci se passe de tout commentaire. C'est pour notre santé....

bien cordialement,



Que boirez-vous : un verre d'eau, de coca...

à moins que vous ne préféreriez un rouge ou une bonne bière ?


Eau :

Un verre d'eau enlève la sensation de faim pendant la nuit pour presque 100% des personnes au régime comme le démontre l'université de Washington.


Le manque d'eau est le facteur N° 1 de la cause de  fatigue pendant la journée.


Des études préalables indiquent que de 8 à 10 verres d'eau par jour pourraient soulager significativement les douleurs de dos et d’articulations pour  80% des personnes qui souffrent de ces maux.


Une simple réduction de 2% d'eau dans le corps humain peut provoquer une incohérence de la mémoire à court terme, des problèmes avec les mathématiques et une difficulté de concentration devant un ordinateur ou une page imprimée.


Boire 5 verres d'eau par jour diminue le risque de cancer du colon de 45 % et  peut diminuer le risque de cancer du  sein de 79% et de 50% la probabilité de cancer à  la vessie.


Buvez-vous la quantité d'eau que vous devriez, tous les jours ?




Dans beaucoup d'états des USA les patrouilles ferroviaires chargent deux galons de Coca Cola dans leur porte-bagages pour nettoyer le sang sur la route après un accident.


Si on met un os dans un container avec du Coca Cola, l'os se dissoudra en 2 jours.


Pour nettoyer le WC : vous versez une canette de Coca Cola et laissez "reposer", ensuite tirez la chasse d’eau.


L'acide citrique du Coca Cola ôte les taches sur la vaisselle.


Pour enlever des taches de rouille du pare-chocs chromé des autos frottez le pare-chocs avec un morceau de feuille d'aluminium détrempée avec du Coca Cola.


Pour nettoyer des objets rongés par des pertes de liquide de batteries d'automobiles, versez une canette de Coca Cola sur la corrosion.


Pour enlever des taches de gras des vêtements verser une canette de Coca Cola dans la machine à laver avec les tissus tachés et ajouter la lessive. Le Coca cola aidera à enlever les taches de gras.


Le Coca Cola aide même à nettoyer le pare-brise des automobiles.


Pour notre information :

Le principe actif du Coca Cola est l'acide phosphorique.


Son PH est 2.8 et dissout un ongle en 4 jours environ.


L'acide phosphorique en outre vole le calcium des os et est la principale cause d'augmentation de l'ostéoporose. Il y à quelques année une étude fut réalisée en Allemagne pour connaître les raisons d'apparition de l'ostéoporose  chez des enfants de  10 ans (pré-adolescents). Résultat : excès de Coca Cola, à cause du manque

de contrôle des parents.


Les camions qui transportent le Coca Cola  sont identifiés avec une étiquette MATÉRIEL DANGEREUX .


Les distributeurs de Coca Cola l'utilisent  pour nettoyer les moteurs de leurs camions de plus de 20 ans.


Encore un détail : le Coca light  est considéré par les médecins et les chercheurs encore plus comme une bombe à retardement à cause du mélange Coca + Aspartame, suspecté d'être la cause du Lupus et des dégénérations  du système nerveux.


Et pour finir, il est conseillé de ne jamais se laver les dents après avoir bu du Coca Cola parce qu'il enlève tout l'émail, et il l'enlève pour  toujours ! Alors, verre d’eau ou de Coca?


N'oubliez pas  d'envoyer ce message à vos AMIS, ils vous remercieront et leurs enfants, plus tard, aussi.


from Tom Englehardt :
October 23, 2005

Outing CIA Agents
Valerie Plame Meets Philip Agee
by Steve Weissman

[Introduction by Tom Engelhardt: As many now know, Patrick Fitzgerald, the Special Counsel in the Plame case, set up an official website last week. Something tells me he isn't planning on going anywhere soon.]

As we approach the week when Special Counsel Patrick Fitzgerald's grand jury will undoubtedly issue indictments against White House officials, the seldom considered 1982 CIA shield law under which the Plame case was first launched deserves some attention. When Karl Rove, I. Lewis Libby, and possibly others decided to reveal the identity of CIA officer Valerie Plame, they clearly wanted to punish her husband, former Ambassador Joe Wilson, for undermining administration claims that Saddam Hussein sought "yellowcake" uranium from Niger to build nuclear weapons. But by publicly ruining Plame's undercover career, they were undoubtedly also sending a very personal message to CIA types and other insiders not to question Mr. Bush's rush to war in Iraq.

As despicable as this White House treachery may have been, those of us who oppose it need to regain some lost perspective. Being bashed by Team Bush does not turn the Central Intelligence Agency into the home team or necessarily make Valerie Plame a modern-day Joan of Arc; nor should her outing stop journalists or anyone else from blowing the cover of her fellow agents when they are found engaging in kidnappings, torture, or attempts to overthrow democratically elected governments.

CIA Torturers

Among its many sins, the CIA has played a central role in the American torture machine. The agency created its "stress and duress" torture methods back in the late 1950s and early 1960s, and then passed the techniques to the Pentagon and client regimes around the world. Now, to complete the circle, CIA squads kidnap those they consider terrorist suspects and secretly disappear them into the prisons and torture chambers of countries like Egypt, Morocco, Syria, Jordan, and Uzbekistan.

The antiseptic name for this outsourcing of torture is "extraordinary rendition," and -- to be fair -- the CIA does not do it on its own say-so. "Renditions were called for, authorized and legally vetted not just by the N.S.C. [National Security Council] and the Justice Department, but also by the presidents -- both Mr. Clinton and George W. Bush," former CIA official Michael Scheuer wrote last March in an op-ed in the New York Times (scroll down). "I know this because, as head of the C.I.A.'s bin Laden desk, I started the Qaeda detainee rendition program and ran it for 40 months."

Author of the best-selling Imperial Hubris, Scheuer has become a leading critic of the war in Iraq, which he rightly sees as counterproductive in the fight against terrorists. Still a spook at heart, though, he rushes to defend the agency's "snatch and grab" program, calling those of us who want to outlaw it either "woefully uninformed" or "horse's asses."

The program was "tremendously successful," he told reporter Randy Hall of Cybercast News. "The amount of information we received that helped us better understand al Qaeda and formulate additional operations against them was invaluable, and the simple fact that, for example, we put one of bin Laden's main procurers of weapons of mass destruction in prison is a good thing."

Yes, jailing terrorists is good, but not by sidestepping formal charges, habeas corpus, independent judges, and fair trials -- and certainly not by using torture. To trash civilization's hard-won legal safeguards and let our secret police become judge, jury, and executioner is to do bin Laden's work for him.

For CIA veterans, the ends too often justify the means, as long as the whole business does not become public (as it now has). The belief that an elite corps of CIA officers -- and they alone -- can keep self-corrupting means both under wraps and in check seems to be part of the job description.

The U.S. Senate appears to agree. In their admirable, bipartisan amendment to stop the American military from using torture, the Senators carefully refrained from extending the ban to cover the CIA, which continues to run its own secret prisons elsewhere . If torture is wrong for uniformed GIs, it should certainly be no less wrong for undercover agents.

But what does all this have to do with Valerie Plame?

I hope nothing at all. The CIA is a sizeable, complex bureaucracy, and only a relatively small number of its employees have anything to do with kidnapping, torture, and the like. The problem is that we know very little about what Ms. Plame did, and she has told us nothing about her views on anything at all. Her supporters -- like former CIA and State Department officer Larry Johnson -- tell us only that she worked undercover to protect Americans from nuclear proliferation.

As it happens, I was chief investigator on the BBC television team that first exposed the world's worst nuclear proliferator, Abdul Qadeer Khan, the father of Pakistan's atomic bomb. We pursued Khan's story back in 1980, and many of our best leads came from intelligence operatives like Ms. Plame -- and not just on the American side.

The information invariably came through "cut-outs," or intermediaries, and we took great pains to check every lead for ourselves, knowing that intelligence agencies miss few opportunities to spread disinformation. After we broadcast our film and published a book called The Islamic Bomb, one of our cutouts passed word from the CIA that our exposad set back the Pakistani nuclear program by three years.

I mention this to make clear how much I value the kind of intelligence work Ms. Plame is said to have done. But there's a dark side to CIA work that none of us should ignore. A significant part of the Agency's recent efforts against proliferation has rightly focused on stopping terrorists from getting nuclear materials. Given the history of the last few years, there can be little doubt that the Agency would be sorely tempted to ship off any credible suspects to be interrogated under torture in some foreign hellhole. As a result, we need to take a long, hard look at anyone who has worked in CIA covert operations, especially in the area of nuclear proliferation.

None of this should weaken our opposition to the way Team Bush has treated Ms. Plame. But eternal suspicion of our legal, military, and intelligence professionals is one of the prices we will increasingly have to pay if our government continues to insist on relying on torture.

Enter Philip Agee

The current scandal over Plame's outing raises an even tougher issue for those of us who work as journalists. Do we have any obligation to refrain from publishing the identity of undercover CIA operatives engaged in such activities? Or, when we write about their dirty work, do we tell the whole story without leaving out the leading characters?

Back in 1975, former CIA officer Philip Agee published Inside the Company: CIA Diary, an international best seller in which he revealed what the CIA was doing, especially in Latin America where he had worked. He also named every CIA officer he knew -- an indication of just how complete a break he had made with the Agency. The contrast with Michael Scheuer or Valerie Plame is obvious.

It was hardly surprisingly, then, that Agee's former comrades saw what he had done as an utter betrayal, much as old lefties viewed the staged performances of those who named names for Senator Joseph McCarthy and other Congressional investigators. (The difference between the two situations was immense, of course, as Agee made his decision to go public without coercion and solely for reasons of conscience.)

A young idealist with a Jesuit education, he had believed all the apple-pie myths of American democracy and had joined the CIA to do what he thought was right. After twelve years "inside the Company," he ended up loathing the dirty work he had seen and did, and so tried to disrupt the Agency's operations by blowing the cover of its operatives. This clearly put CIA officers at increased risk, but -- so he felt -- the more time they had to spend ensuring their own safety, the less time they would have to put other people elsewhere on Earth at risk.

Several journalists in London at the time -- and I was one of the most active -- joined Agee in publishing the names of large numbers of CIA officers in dozens of countries, often as lead stories in widely read newspapers and magazines. Contrary to media accounts, however, Agee did not provide the names, as he had already named everyone he knew. The identifications came from the U.S. government's Foreign Service Lists and its yearly Biographic Registers, using a time-consuming method that former State Department officer John Marks described in the November 1974 Washington Monthly. Marks called his method "How to Spot a Spook."

No midnight mail drops from the Soviet KGB. No whispered messages from some Cuban Mata Hari. Just the hard slog of journalistic investigation.

Then came the crisis. Two days before Christmas in 1975, assassins shot and killed Richard Welch, the CIA station chief in Athens. The agency quickly used the killing to escalate its attacks on Agee, even though he had never known Welch or identified him in his book (or anywhere else). No doubt Agee would have, but he played no part in the outing, as the CIA knew.

His only contact was peripheral. In January 1975, the American magazine CounterSpy identified Welch as the CIA station chief in Lima, and also carried an essay by Agee. But the magazine, which was funded by author Norman Mailer and his Organizing Committee for a Fifth Estate, had found Welch's identity in a Peruvian journal and then confirmed it with the spook-spotting techniques from the Washington Monthly.

Welch's name also appeared in the English-language Athens News in November 1975, along with nine other CIA officers working in Greece. Many months later, the press revealed that the killers had stalked Welch even before the list appeared. The CIA had reportedly warned him not to move into the house which the stalkers knew as the CIA chief's residence. For whatever reason, Welch refused to heed the warning.

But Agee's vindication came nearly twenty years later when former First Lady Barbara Bush repeated the old libel that he had played a role in Welch's death in her memoirs. Agee sued, and Mrs. Bush was forced to remove the passage from the paperback edition of the book. She also had to send him a letter of apology, acknowledging that her accusation had been false.

Now, with the outing of Valerie Plame, many pundits are again blaming Agee for revealing Welch's identity. No doubt, they will check the facts and send their apologies as well.

The CIA Fights Back

In the meantime, the CIA continued to do to Agee far worse than Team Bush has done to Valerie Plame, using his notoriety to turn the spotlight away from the dirty work he was protesting. First they persuaded Britain to deport him; then they convinced France, the Netherlands, Norway, and Germany to keep him on the run. Though Germany later relented and let him live there, none of the countries ever presented a public case with specific charges that Agee could contest.

Then, in 1982, the CIA and its former director George Bush, who was by then Vice President, persuaded Congress to pass the Intelligence Identities Protection Act, one of several laws that the current Bush Administration appears to have broken in outing Valerie Plame. Often called "the Anti-Agee Act," the law targeted those with authorized access to classified information, past or present. It also criminalized journalists and others who showed "a pattern of activities intended to identify and expose covert agents."

Though poorly drafted and hard (but not impossible) for prosecutors to use, the "Anti-Agee law" acts as a gag on whistleblowers, journalists, scholars, and activists who might want to expose covert wrongdoing. Worse, in the wake of the Plame outing, several members of Congress want to extend the law, creating even more of a British-style Official Secrets Act.

Whatever Karl Rove or Lewis Libby did to reveal Plame's identity, they should be punished, as should the President and Vice President they serve. But let's not jump overboard. Making a bad law worse would prove exceedingly shortsighted, especially for anyone who cherishes a free press or fears the unchecked power of the FBI, the CIA, and the Pentagon.

A veteran of the Berkeley Free Speech Movement and the New Left monthly Ramparts, Steve Weissman lived for many years in London, working as a magazine writer and television producer. During that time, he was a close friend and colleague of Philip Agee. Weissman now lives and works in France, where for the last two years he wrote regularly for Truthout.org.

from CKUT Radio, a community radio station in Montreal, Canada :
17 October 2005

Media and Propaganda
(Kasim Tirmizey interviews David Barsamian)
by David Barsamian and Kasim Tirmizey

[David Barsamian is the founder of Alternative Radio, a weekly un-embedded public affairs radio program that can be heard on community radio stations across North America. Some of his books include Imperial Ambitions with Noam Chomsky, Eqbal Ahmad: Confronting Empire, and The Checkbook and the Cruise Missile: Conversations with Arundhati Roy. This interview was taken on a sunny morning in October of 2005 in Montreal.]

KT: I read that you said "When the US marches to war, the media march with it". Could explain broadly how media is often in service of empire?

DB: Well particularly in the United States where five corporations basically control what most Americans see, hear, and read, these corporations have very close economic, political, and I dare say emotional ties with power. They identify with the state, and they subordinate their cameras and their microphones to the interest of the state. Particularly in time of war where there is much jingoistic hysteria, flag waving, and nationalist fervour; the media, much of the media, not all, much of the media see themselves as being instruments of American destiny, whatever that might mean, or American power. We saw that very clearly with Iraq and Afghanistan, but also historically, the Vietnam War, the attacks on Laos and Cambodia, these went unchallenged for years. The media internalized the basic assumptions that are generated by the state, that such and such country is a threat to the United States, that becomes the basis of discussion, and then the dialogue, it is more of a monologue then a dialogue, then occurs between the pundits, between the experts, from these golden rolodexes of intellectuals and favoured thinkers, such as Michael Ignatieff of Canada, David Frum, and others. [The discussion is about] How to implement the policy, so should the US attack Iraq with 200,000 troops or 150,000 troops? Should it invade from Turkey and Kuwait, or just from Kuwait? Should there be a bombing campaign initially, or a land campaign? This is the discourse, so you see how corrupt the situation is in the United States, the media do not challenge the basic assumptions, no one says what right does the United States have in invading any country under international law, its illegal. I will give you an example, the New York Times is considered to be a liberal newspaper, it is all the news that is fit to print, it is kind of the US Global and Mail, the national serious newspaper, it not for common people, it is for the managers and the owners, and the political and cultural elite. From September 11, 2001 until the attack on Iraq in March 2003, the New York Times had 70 editorials on Iraq, in not one of those editorials did they mention the United Nations Charter, or the Nuremberg Tribunals, or the Geneva Conventions. All of which, particularly the United Nations Charter, specifically state that the planning and waging of aggressive war, that is a first strike on a country that is not threatening you, is the supreme international war crime. Now, why didn't they write that, why didn't they inform their readers, maybe they didn't know? That's not plausible, of course they knew, it was deliberately left out so that information would not become part of the political discourse.

KT: Do you see this as something [that happened] in previous empires, that media would also be marching with [empire]?

DB: Well, the history of media as we know it is not that old, we can go back to the birth of propaganda which actually occurs in the World War I period, where the British and Americans launched a sophisticated campaign to demonize the Germans. In the case of the United States, an actual propaganda agency was created by the Woodrow Wilson administration, someone who is considered a liberal in US history. This was the birth of, literally, modern propaganda. Such luminaries as Walter Lippman and Edward Bernays were members of this what was called the Creel Commission, it was designed to whip up support for US entry into World War I. After World War I, in the mid-1920's when Hitler wrote his book Mein Kampf (My Struggle), he pointed out to the fact that Germany actually lost the propaganda war, they held their own militarily, but on the level of propaganda, they were completely overwhelmed and outsmarted by the British and the Americans. And he promised in the next war, that Germany would do things differently, and of course they did do things differently, they setup a Ministry of Propaganda, they had a very clever propagandist as it's director Joseph Gerbils. Propaganda comes into its maturity in the 20th Century. Now in the 21st Century with the expansion of television and electronic media. Prior to this era propaganda was limited to posters and perhaps some hand-outs and a few newspapers. The electronic umbilical cord had not yet developed to the extent that it exists now, particularly with the massive use of television.

KT: I know that you were recently in Turkey attending the World Tribunal on the War in Iraq, it was something that received absolutely no coverage in the west. Maybe you can talk about that and the Tribunal itself.

DB: There was a virtual media white-out or black-out, depending on which color you favour, when I say media I mean the corporate media. There was some coverage in the independent alternative media in the United States. This was an extraordinary event that occurred in Istanbul in the last week of June of 2005. It was the 20th and final session of a series of tribunals that have been held all over the world, New York, London, Rome, and other cities. Meeting on Iraq, and featuring testimonies and presentations, there was a jury in Istanbul featuring Arundhati Roy of India, the brilliant Chandra Muzaffar from Malaysia, Eve Ensler of the United States who is known as the writer of Vagina Monologues, and other people of that calibre, quite impressive. They heard, we heard testimony from a wide range of people, including Samir Amin of Egypt, Denis Halliday of Ireland a former Deputy Security General of the United Nations and one of the administrators of the infamous Food-for-Oil program, he resigned because he said that the sanctions were killing innocent Iraqis. His successor also was there in Istanbul giving testimony Hans Van Sponeck, he too resigned in protest, he said this program is not helping the average Iraqi, it's killing them, he was there testifying. There were many Iraqis who came from Iraq, overland through Turkey. Dahr Jamail was there, a wonderful independent journalist, un-embedded, third-generation Lebanese on his father's side, who decided when the Iraq war began in March of 2003 he was so disgusted and appalled by the coverage, or lack of coverage, in the media in the United States, he decided to go to Iraq. He is not a journalist.

KT: What was his background before that?

DB: He was doing odd-jobs, in fact he had even been in Colorado as a ski instructor, then he went to Alaska to climb mountains, he had been doing odd things. He is a late bloomer, he is in his late 30's, he decide to become a journalist, which I thought was brilliant, it kind of in a way resonated with my own experience, I am kind of a late bloomer, I didn't get started in doing this kind of work until I was into my mid or late 30's, I had been doing other things, playing sitar, teaching English as a second language in the World Trade Center, jobs like that. I found it very admirable that Dahr just got up and went to Iraq and reported on what was going on there. So these were some of the people giving testimony. Haifa Zangana was there, from Iraq. A number of Iraqi women testified as to what was going on, how the war was affecting particularly women. And so the Tribunal met in Istanbul, it was organized by people in Turkey, very well done. I must tell you that the locale of the Tribunal was of significance, it was in the former imperial mint of the Ottoman Sultans in their great palace known as Topkapi. In the Topkapi Palace, which is now a big tourist destination, the imperial mint is falling apart, it hasnt been renovated. Here we were meeting in a building where the paint was peeling and the bricks were crumbling, it was very symbolic because here were the ruins of a former empire, and we are talking now about the depredations of another empire, another empire which will collapse, the US Empire. People could not miss the symbolism of that. The tribunal gave it's final declaration, it found not just the United States guilty of war crimes, but the United Kingdom, the regime of Tony Blair, Berlusconi and Italy, John Howard of Australia, all of the countries that participated in this criminal attack on Iraq, that was kind of to be expected. There were a couple of other judgements that the jury delivered that were quite extraordinary. As far as I know for the first time in history, the media was singled out for culpability, corporate media was held responsible for being an accessory to the war. In what way? They acted as a conveyer belt for the lies that the Howard, Bush, Blair, and Berlusconi governments were generating, and they simply replicated them. They didn't challenge them, they didn't cross-examine them, they didn't interrogate them. And in some cases even journalists were named, like Judith Miller of The New York Times, someone who became a mouth-piece for Ahmed Chalabi, a very wealthy Iraqi, who left Iraq after the 1958 overthrow of the Hashemite kingdom. He was from a very wealthy Shia family, he has lived in exile, and he has had a very corrupt and criminal background, he was sentenced to over 20 years in prison in Jordan, for criminal actions for defrauding and embezzling a bank there in Amman. This is the person that was giving information to Judith Miller about weapons of mass destruction, he hadn't been in Iraq in 50 years, he was literally making stories up. And Miller, to her great discredit and shame, never challenged the information, never asked for subsistent evidence to support these wild allegations. So the media were held culpable, and also corporations such as Halliburton and Bechtel which have profited enormously from the attack on Iraq and the on-going occupation. But also some popular international companies like Pepsi, Nestle, KFC, who have profited from the war. So that was an interesting development, and I think a very important aspect of the World Tribunal on Iraq. People can read about the deliberations and final verdict, there are websites Im sure, if you google World Tribunal on Iraq you can find that information. It was a very depressing event, on one hand, but also very inspiring. People from around the world gathered in Istanbul to deliver justice, as it were, to say that imperialist wars of aggression are not right and we the people of the world oppose it.

KT: I wanted to read something from Hakim Bey from his book Temporary Autonomous Zone, he writes:

"In the East poets are sometimes thrown in prison--a sort of compliment, since it suggests the author has done something at least as real as theft or rape or revolution. Here poets are allowed to publish anything at all--a sort of punishment in effect, prison without walls, without echoes, without palpable existence--shadow-realm of print, or of abstract thought--world without risk or eros.

"So poetry is dead again--& even if the mumia from its corpse retains some healing properties, auto-resurrection isn't one of them."

Poets in the East could shake up people, but over here what would it take to shake up people?

DB: In the United States, it is going to take a kind of rise in consciousness, people there don't have information, they dont know what the government is doing in many cases. It happens over a period of time, I view the possibilities of change, I compare it to a marathon and a sprint. A marathon is a very long race. And a sprint is a very short race that is difficult to win and requires tremendous athletic conditioning and training, and is just 100m let's say. Whereas a marathon is many many kilometres. So we need to develop independent media, we need to develop our own documentary films, which I am happy to say is happening, we do have poets in opposition but they dont have big audiences in the US. I want to give you an example of a very courageous act in the United States, Sharon Olds was recently honoured, she is a New York University professor and poet, she was honoured with the National Book Critics Award, she was invited to Washington DC by Laura Bush to attend a dinner and some ceremonies. She wrote a very eloquent letter saying that 'I would be honoured, I wished I could attend, but the idea of breaking bread with you and sitting at a table with linens and candles and being served by waiters was just too disgusting and appalling, because of what shame you have brought to the United States with the blood on your hands and your husbands hands because of the criminal actions of the regime.' Poets and artists have always been the first line of resistance, that has historically been more true in the East where the oral tradition is very strong, in Arab Middle Eastern countries, in Turkey, in Iran, in Afghanistan, India, Pakistan, Bangladesh, there has been a tradition of poets who speak out against power, who speak truth to power, who interrogate the popular wisdom, conventional thinking, and hegemonic ideas. To develop a culture of resistance requires quite a bit of internal development and societal maturation, which you don't see a lot of unfortunately in the United States, not across the board, there are pockets of resistance in the US, in Berkley, in Madison, where I live in Boulder, in Albuquerque, in different cities around the US. But because of the role of propaganda, the influence of television and mass media, and an educational system that does not really educate, that inculcates rather than educates, that doesn't train students to deconstruct, doesn't train students to develop critical thinking; we have a lot of work to do inside the US in developing a consciousness where we can change the situation there otherwise this is just going to keep repeating itself.

KT: Can you talk more about media as a tool of intifada or media as a tool of resistance.

DB: Well, media is a critical tool of resistance, because without information, and without solidarity that that information provides, then populations are completely vulnerable to exploitation, to domination and to conquest. We need to, we - people in opposition, people in resistance to empire - need to fortify those electronic connections, those wires, we need to build those wires, we need to make those connections between our computers, our minidisks, and our cameras, and our e-mail lists and our websites, to build up an electronic intifada as it were, to fight back the corporate control of media which is trying to establish the legitimacy of empire and domination. We see in different parts of the world, filmmakers operating under the most difficult conditions, radio broadcasters creating community radio, low-power FM radio (that is a very important development), cable access TV, all of these media, newsletters, on-line and off-line zines. The Internet itself has become a great tool, but we need to know how to use it properly, otherwise we could just be buried under e-mails and endless encyclopaedia torrents of information, we need information that can lead to action, that can ignite a resistance in concrete ways. These developments are very very exciting, I am very optimistic, I am very happy to see, I am thrilled to see young people who have mastered the new media and intend to use it in creative ways. For example, the young Egyptian US-citizen Jehane Noujaim, she did a brilliant documentary on Al-Jazeera called Control Room. There are other young [filmmakers], not just in the United States, but let's say Ireland, two young Irish filmmakers made a brilliant documentary on the attempted overthrow of the Hugo Chavez government in Venezuela supported by the US, democratically elected I must say. It is called The Revolution will not be Televised. These are all relatively new developments, there are lots of websites on the Internet that are critically important, where I get a lot of information from. You can learn about what is going on in India in terms of resisting the big dams that the World Banks is trying to impose on that country, the Narmada Bachao Andolan - the NBA - is a very good example of a grassroots organization that is located in central India that has now achieved global visibility because of documentary films, because of the activities of Arundhati Roy and many others, activists from around the world, who are supporting people's resistance against globalization.

KT: Can you talk about how your own political consciousness came about?

DB: Well I can't pinpoint it to any one thing, it wasnt one book, or one demonstration that I went to. I think that my political consciousness is informed by my family background and that is we are Armenians. Historically, we have lived on our land, in what is now south-eastern Turkey for millennia. In 1915 there was a massive genocide carried out by the Turkish government, we lost everything, we were uprooted, our homes were left, our farms, our seminaries, our libraries, our churches, our cultural traditions, we were completely severed from that, and just thrown. In the case of my family, my mother lost many members of her family, we lost everything, and they found themselves in New York as immigrants, my father was a grocer, my mother raised me, I had three other siblings, there were four of us, relatively lower-middle class. I always wanted to know why did that happen, and my family were peasants, they were from a village, they werent sophisticated, they werent educated, they didnt know what happened to them. One day a cyclone occurred, there was a tornado, and they found themselves out of their home. That didnt satisfy me as a kid. I always asking questions: why did the Turks do this? What possessed them? What were the reasons? I wanted to know, and I couldnt get any explanations. And so I started studying, I started reading everything I could get my hands on. I am largely self-educated, I barely graduated from high-school in New York, I hated school, I played hooky most of the time, I would go to the movies instead of going to school, I would play games with my friends, we would never go to school. I did manage to go to college for one year, the same kind of thing, I was bored, I didnt go to classes, and then I dropped out. So I am largely self-educated, which I think in this instance was useful, because I didnt go through the propaganda networks, I didnt go through official training, I didnt get a proper education, I got a very improper education. For the kind of work I am doing, media and creating independent alternative media, I think that is a very plausible and useful way to develop your mind, because I wasnt trying to be, for example, a biochemist or dentist, where I needed very specific technical training. I am doing work in ideology, and this work simply requires common sense, an analytical mind, and a willingness to be fearless, to challenge, to ask questions, and to be skeptical, so when people in power say something you take everything with a grain of salt. Why are they saying that? Whose interests are being served? Whose interests are not being served? Who benefits from this policy? I think my background as a child of refugees, who came to the United States with nothing, who didnt know literally what happened to them, and interrogating that history, finding out what happened, and then my travels really opened up my eyes and awakened me. I had the great good fortune to live in Asia for almost five years, that was kind of like my education. I lived of those five years most of the time in India, in Delhi, where I had the opportunity to study with great master musicians, sitar players. I was exposed to one of the most sophisticated music systems in the world. This helped me politically also, because it trained my mind, it disciplined me, to think in a methodological way, in a chronological way. To be exposed to masters also inspired me to excel. I always tell this, there is a saying in Hindi: if you try and do many things at once you wont do anything well, but if you do one thing well then you can do many things later. There is a lot wisdom in this adage. And I was also exposed to poetry, Urdu poetry, very beautiful, one of the great literary traditions in the world. I was in a culture where people would recite couplets or even entire ghuzals love poems by Ghalib, Mir Taqi Mir, Momin, Iqbal, Faiz Ahmed Faiz, Shamim Jaipuri, and others. This elevated me, in a very positive way. When you are around excellence you internalize some of those things. Thats a very inspiring thing. Even if you were a carpenter, and you learned carpentry from an ustad a master you have developed a certain power, a certain level of excellence that you can then transfer that to do other things. You can even be around master cooks, people who know how to make the most excellent cuisine, this helps you develop in other ways. I was very very lucky, that experience for me was I would say the most enriching and mind expanding of my life.

KT: It was a pleasure talking to you Ustad David Barsamian.

DB: (David laughs) Thank you, Kasim. Bhot bhot shukria apka.

This interview was recorded for CKUT Radio, a community radio station in Montreal, Canada. To listen to the interview, go to: http://www.radio4all.net/proginfo.php?id=14424

from Scott Galindez :
25 October 2005

The 2000 Fallen Are Not Just Numbers

As we mark the sad milestone of the 2000th service member killed in Iraq,  t r u t h o u t  would like to remind everyone that they are not just numbers. They are real people who leave behind families and loved ones. Over the next week, we will present to you interviews from both the families of the fallen and families of those still deployed in Iraq who live with the fear that their loved one will be next.

from Chalmers Johnson :
Information Clearning House
26 October 2005

Sorrows of Empire

Four sorrows ... are certain to be visited on the United States.
Their cumulative effect guarantees that the U.S. will cease to resemble the country outlined in the Constitution of 1787.

        First, there will be a state of perpetual war, leading to more terrorism against Americans wherever they may be and a spreading reliance on nuclear weapons among smaller nations as they try to ward off the imperial juggernaut.

        Second is a loss of democracy and Constitutional rights as the presidency eclipses Congress and is itself transformed from a co-equal 'executive branch' of government into a military junta.

        Third is the replacement of truth by propaganda, disinformation, and the glorification of war, power, and the military legions.

        Lastly, there is bankruptcy, as the United States pours its economic resources into ever more grandiose military projects and shortchanges the education, health, and safety of its citizens."

from Richard Du Boff :
Date:  25 Oct 2005
Subject: Countries question U.S. control of Internet
Wall Street
Journal October 25, 2005  (B1)

Countries Question U.S. Control of Internet

A growing number of countries, including China, Brazil, India and Cuba -- as well as the European Union -- are questioning U.S. control over the Internet.

The Internet is managed by a nonprofit private organization called the Internet Corporation for Assigned Names and Numbers, or Icann, set up by the U.S. Department of Commerce in 1998 and based in Marina del Rey, Calif. Icann has an international advisory body, but the U.S. government retains veto power over all decisions -- such as the creation of new Web domains.
Icann oversees domain names, a database of Web addresses and other standards. Such measures ensure, for example, that a user plugging in a Web address will connect to a single Web site with that name. Though arcane and out-of-view of users, the procedures are critical to making the Internet work.

But several countries, led by developing nations, now argue that since the Internet is a global tool, no one country should control it. They contend that decisions should fall under the jurisdiction of an international body, such as the United Nations. Their argument received an unexpected boost late last month when an EU commissioner proposed removing U.S. oversight of Icann, reversing the EU's support of the current arrangement.

The proposal was met by a storm of criticism from surprised U.S. officials, as well as from some European companies that worried such a change would politicize the Internet, add bureaucracy and hinder its innovative nature. "We look at the Internet's success and want to make sure we keep the recipe for it," said David Gross, the lead U.S. negotiator on the matter, in an interview. "If you modify it, the risk is that you come out with something far worse."

Viviane Reding, the EU commissioner for Internet and media affairs who made the proposal, told the BBC in a recent interview: "There must not be any government involvement in the day-to-day management of the Internet, neither one of the U.S. government nor by any other government."
A U.N. information society summit to take place in Tunis, Tunisia, in mid-November will address the issue.

Experts place the current tiff in the context of other nations' discomfort with the U.S. as the world's only superpower, unafraid of taking unilateral action. In June, the U.S. Department of Commerce released a statement that the U.S. would retain control over the governing of the Internet, at least for the foreseeable future. Previously, the U.S. had indicated that it would sever any government connection to Icann.

The matter intensified in August, when the U.S. government asked Icann to table an initiative to add a new domain name for pornography Web sites. Icann had tentatively approved the new domain name, called .xxx, several months earlier, but at the last moment the Department of Commerce removed its support, after it said it received thousands of letters of complaint from conservative Christian groups and others.

Regardless of the merits of the decision, the move was proof to critics of Icann that it is controlled by the U.S., said Lee McKnight, an associate professor for information studies at Syracuse University. "Until August, the U.S. had not done anything to upset other governments," said Mr. McKnight. "Then just before these meetings, it did do something unilaterally."
The original idea behind Icann was to keep decisions about the Internet's architecture in the private sector and largely free of government meddling. "Governments have not really understood the inner workings of the Internet," said Mr. McKnight. In the past two years, "they have gotten educated and now they want to get their hands on the levers."

Such rethinking about the Internet has arisen in part because of its global growth and growing importance in many areas. Widely available to the public and for commercial purposes only in the past decade or so, the Internet now has close to a billion users, estimates the Paris-based Organization of Economic Cooperation and Development. In that time, the Internet has become a critical means for conducting business, as well as for receiving other services, such as video and phoning.

Few expect any immediate changes to the current structure from the U.N. summit, since the U.S. government would need to approve them.

But as some countries are beginning to understand, they do have some leverage in how the Internet works -- with potentially huge ramifications.

For instance, governments can assert control over the Internet network used in their respective countries, blocking certain types of Web sites and other information. China, for example, has been mostly successful in keeping Web sites advocating democracy, among other topics considered taboo by the Communist Party, off the personal computers of Chinese Internet surfers.

Experts such as Jonathan Zittrain, a professor of Internet governance at Oxford University, fear that if such "cantonization" increases, the value of the Internet as a global, interoperable tool diminishes.

That's because the economic and social strength of the Internet derives from its open and decentralized architecture, enabling access to users anywhere in the world. If governments began to create their own distinct Internets, that would undermine the essence of what makes the Internet so powerful.

"There has been a misconception -- and a helpful one -- among many government bureaucrats that the Internet is a non-geographic phenomenon," said Mr. Zittrain. "But it can be reworked to correspond to national jurisdictions and boundaries."


Wall Street Journal October 25, 2005  (online)

How the Web Was Run
The U.S. and Europe Are at Odds. But There May Yet Be a Way Out 

A new transatlantic conflict has erupted over Americans' continued control of Internet governance. The issue may seem arcane compared with other disputes, namely Iraq. But the two sides of the debate are responding with rancor and the stakes are considerable: How the Internet is managed could affect issues ranging from free speech to business regulation.

As was the case with Iraq, some European Union officials privately accuse Americans of arrogance and unilateralism. Yet unlike Iraq, this time all 25 EU countries have unified behind a position that Washington believes endangers its interests. America and its industry friends worry that Europe's fuzzy-headed multilateralism could endanger one of globe's most valuable resources.

A showdown will come Nov. 16-18 at the United Nations' World Summit for the Information Society1 in Tunis, Tunisia. The outcome won't be binding but will be politically significant. Both sides agree that they must avoid empowering autocratic governments -- which some fear would be the result if Internet governance is spread among multiple governments. The trick will be how to deal with world sensitivities over American oversight without undermining the very success that U.S. control has spawned.

* * *

Bush administration officials blame the European Union's surprise attack on U.S. Internet interests on Viviane Reding2, a 54-year-old former journalist, who is now tiny Luxembourg's only member on a panel of 25 EU commissioners. Her outsized responsibilities reach from digital entertainment and media to telecommunications and the Internet. Even EU officials appeared stunned when their 1 1/2-page proposal3 for a "new international cooperation model" immediately inspired laudatory statements from the undemocratic likes of Cuba, Iran, China and Saudi Arabia.

"Seeing who was supporting [the EU] was a good market-based test for what was going on," says Ambassador David A. Gross4, the senior diplomat leading negotiations. "The EU proposal in my view was historic and shocking." He believes a more multilateral governance system would endanger everything from free expression to innovation. "It was so extraordinarily different than any position they had taken before."

In an interview, Ms. Reding returns volley. She argues nothing has changed in the EU position, which has long endeavored to gradually move the Internet away from U.S. control while preserving its openness. She says it is the Bush administration that has drifted from the Clinton administration's agreement to internationalize the Web. Ms. Reding says she wants the current framework, which gives the Commerce Department ultimate oversight over Internet governance, to be replaced with no government oversight - U.S. or otherwise.

Ms. Reding wants technical management to remain in the hands of California-based Internet Corporation for Assigned Names and Numbers, or Icann, a Commerce Department-sanctioned nonprofit that oversees the address system that helps Web traffic find its destination. Without U.S. oversight, Ms. Reding, says Icann would turn to its Government Advisory Committee5 for advice when it runs into a tricky political situation. And she wants the committee broadened to include more governments as well as representatives from the private sector and nongovernmental organizations.

Critics say the elimination of U.S. oversight would leave the Icann vulnerable. Over time - and with potentially growing influence from the Government Advisory Committee -- Icann could become ensnared in bureaucratic, multilateral oversight. "What is to stop the U.S. or the U.N. or another other group from taking responsibility for operations," says Mr. Gross. "We look at the Internet's success and want to make sure we keep the recipe for it. If you modify it, the risk is that you come out with something far worse."

In any case, he says, the U.S. isn't ready to give up the Internet's holy grail, it's "root zone authoritative file." That is what Icann oversees and what ensures that when Internet users type in a Web address, they end up at the Web site they have in mind - whether they're in Pittsburgh or Pretoria.

Ms. Reding bristles in response. "If I have learned something in 25 years of politics, it is that if you are isolated, the best defense is attack. Today, in a globalized world in which the Internet has become a global resource for freedom of expression and for economic exchange, this monopolistic oversight of the Internet by one government is no longer a politically tenable solution." She argues that larger countries kept out of the governance system will set up their own Internets, which would muddy the online world.

She believes the EU has done the U.S. a favor by drawing unfriendly world governments toward a compromise position. "It is true that some governments outside Europe, particularly in the developing world, have argued that this can best be achieved by creating a formal, treaty-based U.N. organization to supervise the Internet. Europe does not agree. There must not be any government involvement in the day-to-day management of the Internet, neither one of the U.S. government nor by any other government."

Erika Mann, a member of the European Parliament who specializes in such issues, sympathizes with Ms. Redding's arguments but fears the EU has moved forward with inadequate debate, raising an issue in an unconsidered way that could have waited. "One must be very na to argue the way the European Union is doing at the moment," says Ms. Mann. "The moment you talk about replacing the U.S., you have to name who would do it. There's no methodology of how to choose the others."

* * *

So how did we land in this transatlantic mess? The causes are a case study in how Europe and the U.S. often end up in transatlantic dustups where common purpose would better protect democratic interests.
* Rising anti-American resentment and the Bush administration's suspicion of multilateral decision-making have complicated America's defense of its Internet position. A short Commerce Department statement of four principles on Internet governance issued in June fanned the flames by essentially calling for an indefinite continuation of the current system (while increasing international consultation). Mr. Gross argues the statement6 followed intensive consultation with governments and industry, but that didn't lessen the usual charges of American arrogance.
* Commissioner Reding's world view differs from that of her predecessor, Erkki Liikaanen, now Finland's central bank president. U.S. officials believe she is more susceptible to political arguments against American unilateralism and less swayed by practical and technical arguments of how a new system could endanger the Internet's success. She has a doctorate in human sciences from France's Sorbonne and, as a long-time journalist at the Luxembourger Wort, she concedes that she's not a "techie." Mr. Liikaanen7, a political scientist from Nokia's homeland, had close links to business and made frequent trips to Silicon Valley.
* Europe and American have a fundamentally differing philosophies on global governance. Europeans tend to value process more, while Americans prefer results. The EU itself was born out of a process whose aim was to prevent new war in Europe and, thus, the EU is valued for its own sake irrespective of its inefficiencies. Americans find it difficult to love multilateral bodies that don't produce results -- or might endanger achievement.
There still appears room for a solution in Tunis that doesn't endanger the Web, but it will involve getting EU compromise on the U.S. role. Ms. Reding's spokesman Martin Selmayr says the EU could accept a step-by-step process that removes that U.S. role gradually. The U.S. doesn't feel change is necessarily: It would prefer Washington's oversight remain fixed even as an international advisory forum's role expands.
There may be ways to split the difference. For instance, Nominet, which looks after all .uk domain names, backs an Argentine proposal8 rather than the EU stance. The Argentine plan -- one of eight alternative plans that have been floated -- may just work. It satisfies the U.S. desire to retain ultimate oversight, while giving Ms. Reding the kind of world-wide forum she wants to advise Icann. Perhaps Argentina can help save the U.S. and EU from themselves.

Hyperlinks in this Article:
(2) http://europa.eu.int/comm/commission_barroso/reding/profile/index_en.htm
(3) http://www.itu.int/wsis/docs2/pc3/contributions/sca/EU-28.doc
(4) http://www.state.gov/r/pa/ei/biog/46292.htm
(5) http://gac.icann.org/web/index.shtml
(6) http://www.ntia.doc.gov/ntiahome/domainname/USDNSprinciples_06302005.htm
(7) http://www.weforum.org/site/knowledgenavigator.nsf/Content/Liikanen%20Erkki?open
(8) http://www.theregister.co.uk/2005/10/19/nominet_votes_argies/
(9) mailto:fred.kempe@wsj.com
(10) https://users1.wsj.com/pznsetup/sub/email/setup.html
(11) mailto:fred.kempe@wsj.com

from CounterPunch
October 22, 2005

"None of Us Have the Right to Avert Our Gaze"

by William Sloane Coffin and Ralph Nader

Rev. William Sloane Coffin has been a leader against the war in Vietnam, an advocate for civil rights and an opponent of nuclear weapons. Coffin was an Army officer in World War II, acting as liaison to the French and Russian armies. Upon graduating from Yale University in 1949, Coffin entered the Union Theological Seminary until the outbreak of the Korean War when, in 1950, he joined the CIA and spent three years in Germany fighting Stalin's regime. He earned his Bachelor of Divinity degree from Yale in 1956 and was ordained a Presbyterian minister.

Rev. Coffin became Chaplain of Yale University in 1958. Early on he opposed the Vietnam War and became famous for his anti-war activities and his civil rights activism. He had a prominent role challenging segregation in the "freedom rides." Coffin used his pulpit as a platform for like-minded crusaders, hosting the Rev. Martin Luther King, Jr. , South African Archbishop Desmond Tutu and Nelson Mandela, among others. Fellow Yale graduate Garry Trudeau has immortalize Coffin as "the Rev. Sloan" in the Doonesbury comic strip.

By 1967, Coffin increasingly concentrated on preaching civil disobedience and supported the young men who turned in their draft cards. In 1968 Coffin, Dr. Benjamin Spock, Marcus Raskin and others were indicted by a Federal grand jury for conspiracy to counsel, aid and abet draft resistance. All but Raskin were convicted, but in 1970 an appeals court overturned the verdict.

Coffin remained chaplain of Yale until December 1975. In 1977 he became senior minister at Riverside Church in New York City and became a leading activist, meeting with world leaders and traveling abroad to protest U.S. policies. He currently resides in Vermont.

Ralph Nader: With the majority of Americans in poll after poll turning against the U.S. war and occupation in Iraq and with many retired Generals, diplomats and intelligence officials opposed to the invasion in the first instance why is the organized opposition not greater? What can be done to turn this public support into organized opposition?

Rev. William Sloane Coffin: Sacrifice in and of itself confers no sanctity. Even though thousands of Americans and Iraqis are killed and wounded, the blood shed doesn't make the cause one wit more or less sacred. Yet that truth is so difficult to accept when sons and daughters, husbands, friends, when so many of our fellow-citizens are among the sacrificed.

Because her son was killed Cindy Sheehan is not called unpatriotic. What the rest of us have to remember is that dissent in a democracy is not unpatriotic, what is unpatriotic is subservience to a bad policy.

The war was a predictable catastrophe and we've botched the occupation. However, I sympathize with those who are perplexed about what is best now to do. Soon I hope people will heed the call to renounce all American military bases in Iraq and to begin withdrawal of American troops. I think Bush has it wrong: he says: "When Iraqis stand up, Americans will stand down." More likely its: when Americans stand down, then Iraqis will be forced to stand up. The question is, "Which Iraqis and for what will they stand?"

RN: Why do you think most of the anti-war groups stopped their marches in 2004 and became quiescent compared to 2003?

WSC: Wars generally mute dissent, and Bush is given to silence criticism, to keep problems hidden and ignored. Now that such tactics are no longer possible, given the many setbacks to his war aims, the marches will soon begin.

RN: What do you think the churches and the National Council of Churches should be doing that they are not now doing regarding the war-occupation?

WSC: Bob Edgar, the General Secretary of the National Council of Churches, has been an eloquent protester of the war. Local clergy must brave the accusation of meddling in politics, a charge first made no doubt by the Pharaoh against Moses. When war has a bloodstained face none of us have the right to avert our gaze. And it's not the sincerity of the Administration, but its passionate conviction of the war's rightness that needs to be questioned. Self-righteousness is the bane of human relations, of them all-personal and international. And the search for peace is Biblically mandated. If religious people don't search hard, and only say "Peace is desirable," then secular authorities are free to decide "War is necessary."

RN: Any comparisons between the domestic opposition to the Iraq War/Occupation with the domestic opposition to the Vietnam War?

WSC: There are similarities. The Gulf of Tonkin Resolution was based on a lie; so was the charge that Saddam Hussein had weapons of mass destruction. And the lies continued: We were winning the Vietnam War, Iraqi oil would pay for the costs of the war and of the occupation.

I think the absence of a draft has much to do with the present lack of student protest. On the other hand, I think the colossal blunders of the Administration will quicken an antiwar movement faster now than during the Vietnam War. After all, it was only after the Tet Offensive in 1968, not originally in '62,'63 or '64, that the American opposition to the Vietnam War became massive.

RN: What should the U.S. government do now?

WSC: The U.S. government should realize that if we can't defeat the insurgents, we have lost. The insurgents, on the other hand, have only not to lose to declare victory. And to defeat the United States and its allies might go a long way to assuage, to offset the humiliation and rage so many Muslims presently feel. All of which indicates we should start to withdraw our troops. What we shouldn't do is to believe President Bush when he says that to honor those who have died, more Americans must die. That's using examples of his failures to promote still greater failures.

RN: What do you think should be done strategically and tactically by the peace movement?

WSC: I am very much in favor of well thought out non-violent civil disobedience, of occupying congressional offices, telling lawmakers, "You have to stop the slaughter, to admit mistakes and to right the wrong."

Unfortunately, to get media attention, you have to sensationalize the valuable. But town meetings, letters to the editor, flooding Washington with protest letters and marches all that is still very important if the protest continues and gains momentum.

RN: How is Vermont a model in this respect?

WSC: Representative Sanders, Senators Leahy and Jeffords Vermont is well representative by these sensitive, intelligent people. The state is exceedingly environmentally friendly which tends to make people more peace-minded. Actually some Vermonters want to secede from the Union. I'm opposed. Better to stay where the guilt is and try to improve things throughout the country.

RN: What broader advice do you have for strengthening our democracy and confronting the concentration of power and wealth over the life sustaining directions our country (with its impact on the world) needs to take? Please address any specific reforms that demand priority.

WSC: Something happened to our understanding of freedom. Centuries ago Saint Augustine called freedom of choice the "small freedom," libertas minor. Libertas Maior, the big freedom was to make the right choices, to be fearless and selfless enough to choose to serve the common good rather than to seek personal gain.

That understanding of freedom was not foreign to our eighteenth century forebears who were enormously influenced by Montesquieu, the French thinker who differentiated despotism, monarchy, and democracy. In each he found a special principle governing social life. For despotism the principle was fear; for monarch, honor; and for democracy, not freedom but virtue. In The Broken Covenant, Robert Bellah quotes him as writing that "it is this quality rather than fear or ambition, that makes things work in a democracy."

According to Bellah, Samuel Adams agreed: "We may look to armies for our defense, but virtue is our best security. It is not possible that any state should long remain free where virtue is not supremely honored."

Freedom, virtue these two were practically synonymous in the minds of our revolutionary forbears To them it was not inconceivable that an individual would be granted freedom merely for the satisfaction of instinct and whims. Freedom was not the freedom to do as you please but rather, if you will, the freedom to do as you ought! Freedom, virtue they were practically synonymous a hundred years later in the mind of Abraham Lincoln when, in his second inaugural address, he called for "a new birth of freedom." But today, because we have so cruelly separated freedom from virtue, because we define freedom in a morally inferior way, our country is stalled in what Herman Melville call the "Dark Ages of Democracy," a time when as he predicted, the New Jerusalem would turn into Babylon, and Americans would feel "the arrest of hope's advance."

RN: What about the Educational system as it relates to democracy?

WSC: Higher education is doing fairly well. Universities are only too expensive, and do too little to persuade students to make a difference, not money, to be valuable not "successful."

Lower education, on the other hand, particularly for the urban and rural poor, cries for attention. And it's all related inadequate education, housing, jobs, day care, lack of medical assurance. Our children need teachers and doctors, not generals and wars. And they desperately need the incentive only good mentors and a good nation can provide.

RN: Are you writing another book?

WSC: Not that I know of.

To contact Rev. Coffin or Ralph Nader write the Director of Democracy Rising, Kevin Zeese at KZeese@DemocracyRising.US. You can comment on this interview on Ralph Nader's blog at www.DemocracyRising.US.

Francis McCollum Feeley
Professor of American Studies/
Director of Research
Université Stendhal-Grenoble-3
Grenoble, France