Subject : ON
"BUSINESS AS USUAL" : FROM THE CENTER FOR THE ADVANCED STUDY OF
AMERICAN INSTITUTIONS AND SOCIAL MOVEVMENTS,
25 October 2005
Dear Colleagues and Friends of CEIMSA,
Our research center has received mail recently commenting on the extremes to which corporate
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
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
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
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
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 :
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
from Zenib Belarif :
from Zenib Belarif :
25 octobre 2005
Ceci se passe de tout commentaire. C'est pour notre santé....
Que boirez-vous : un verre d'eau, de coca...
à moins que vous ne préféreriez un rouge ou une bonne bière ?
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 ?
COCA COLA :
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
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.
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
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
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
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 expos頨ad 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
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
His only contact was peripheral. In January 1975, the American magazine CounterSpy identified Welch as the CIA station chief in
Welch's name also appeared in the English-language Athens News in November 1975, along with nine other CIA officers working in
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
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
from CKUT Radio, a community radio station in
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
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
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
KT: I know that you were recently in
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
KT: What was his background before that?
DB: He was doing odd-jobs, in fact he had even been in
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
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
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
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
from Chalmers Johnson :
Information Clearning House
26 October 2005
Four sorrows ... are
certain to be visited on the
Their cumulative effect guarantees that the
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
from Richard Du Boff :
Date: 25 Oct 2005
Subject: Countries question
By CHRISTOPHER RHOADS
A growing number of countries,
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
The proposal was met by a storm of criticism from surprised
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
A U.N. information society summit to take place in
Experts place the current tiff in the context of other nations' discomfort with the
The matter intensified in August, when the
Regardless of the merits of the decision, the move was proof to critics of Icann that it is controlled by the
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
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.
Experts such as Jonathan Zittrain, a professor of Internet governance at
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
By FREDERICK KEMPE
A new transatlantic conflict has erupted over Americans' continued control of Internet governance. The issue may seem arcane compared with other disputes, namely
As was the case with
A showdown will come Nov. 16-18 at the United Nations' World Summit for the Information Society1 in
* * *
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
"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
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
Critics say the elimination of
In any case, he says, the
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
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 naﶥ to argue the way the European Union is doing at the moment," says Ms. Mann. "The moment you talk about replacing the
* * *
So how did we land in this
transatlantic mess? The causes are a case study in how Europe and the
* Rising anti-American resentment and the Bush administration's suspicion of multilateral decision-making have complicated
* Commissioner Reding's world view differs from that of her predecessor, Erkki Liikaanen, now
There still appears room for a solution in
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
Hyperlinks in this Article:
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
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
With the majority of Americans in poll after poll turning against the
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
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
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
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
RN: How is
WSC: Representative Sanders,
Senators Leahy and Jeffords
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
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
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