Bulletin 214


22 November 2005
Grenoble, France

Dear Colleagues and Friends of CEIMSA,

The articles received by CEIMSA this week speak to the issue of basic revisions of social understandings inside the United States, and to the restrictions these revisions inflict on the political forces. The politics of co-optation are abundantly clear throughout U.S. history. To take only a couple of illustrations from the 19th century, the Populist demand for "public ownership and democratic control of the railroad industry" was answered with "free coinage of silver dollars" and little more; the 19th-century Feminist demand for "social equality for women" was answered decades later with women's right to vote. In the 20th century, the Civil Rights demand for "racial equality" was answered with the political appointments of Clarence Thomas, then Condoleezza Rice, and the anti-imperialist demand for "an end to U.S. military aggression in Vietnam" was answered with "CIA covert actions" in Nicaragua and El Salvador, etc., etc. Again and again, the initial intent of democratic movements has been diverted by revisions, sometimes cynical, always disruptive of the original objectives. Thus the intellectual history of the United States can be seen largely as a story of compromise and accommodation to power.

Today, as an intellectual sea-change brings the vessels home, we discover that the mass media have affected a substantial cognitive shift among a great part of the population in the industrialized world, away from seeking understanding of cause and effect, and toward a new political determination to conform to the demands of the harsh climate created by the efforts to save world capitalism from its latest crisis. The aggressively expansionist and militarized political economies that we are witnessing in the industrialized and the industrializing nations of the world will be successful in accumulating great quantities of capital and power only by introducing artificial scarcity --that true-and-tried method for destabilizing and disarming the laboring poor.

Decades of disinformation have taken its toll on the public, and a growing number of people seek leaders instead of wisdom to save them from their "enemies," real and imaginary. Many years ago, Neil Postman warned of this mental deformation in contemporary society. He attributed it to too much TV viewing :

                Television is altering the meaning of "being informed" by creating a species
                of information that might properly be called disinformation... Disinformation
                does not mean false information. It means misleading information - misplaced,
                irrelevant, fragmented or superficial information - information that creates the
                illusion of knowing something, but which in fact leads one away from knowing.
                                                                                --Neil Postman

Whatever the causes, the inability of a social class to recognize what its needs are and to identify those obstacles which must be overcome in order for it to satisfy these needs constitutes a real handicap for developing democratic controls of institutions. By promoting acquisitive individualism and unbridled competition, capitalist culture effectively retards any development of those skills necessary for cooperative community relations. It ravages democracy by the authority of rapport de force.

Below, readers will find five articles which address this subject of revisionism and tactical modifications necessary for political  gains.

Item A. is the formal apology from the London Guardian for publishing its slanderour article against Professor Chomsky, sent to us by Diana Johnstone. (A tactical retreat or a change of heart?)

Item B., sent to us by Grenoble University student Frederic Méni, is the infamous Law of 23 February 2005 requiring that imperialist history be taught in French schools from a positive view point. (Move over Socrates !)

Item C. is a little gallows humor sent to us by Edward Herman to lighten up the tunnel into which we have been led.

Item D. is a New York Times article sent to us by Information Clearling House in which journalist Frank Rich describes tactical adjustments within Republican War Hawks circles in the U.S. Senate, as mid-term election time approaches.

Item E. is an article by Gilbert Achcar (the author of The Clash of Barbarisms and Eastern Cauldron) and Stephen Shalom (author of Imperial Alibis, and Which Side Are You On? An Introduction to Politics) in which they discuss the revisionist thinking of U.S. policy makers aimed to strengthen their grand strategy in western Asia.

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

from Diana Johnstone :
Date: Thu, 17 Nov 2005

Guardian Apologizes to Chomsky, Publishes  Total Retraction of "No Massacre at Srebrenica" Slur
by CounterPunch News Service

The following unusually detailed and categorical apology to Noam Chomsky appears in The Guardian for November 17. The Guardian's "readers' editor", Ian Mayes,  issues this virtually unprecedented climb-down - in effect a savage rebuke to its reporter Emma Brockes - after complaints by Chomsky himself and others,  and by detailed exposes, first by Alexander Cockburn
and then by Diana Johnstone on this site.

The headline and text of The Guardian's retractions follow.

Corrections and clarifications : The Guardian and Noam Chomsky

Thursday November 17, 2005
The Guardian
The readers' editor has considered a number of complaints from Noam Chomsky concerning an interview with him by Emma Brockes published in G2, the second section of the Guardian, on October 31. He has found in favour of Professor Chomsky on three significant complaints.

Principal among these was a statement by Ms Brockes that in referring to atrocities committed at Srebrenica during the Bosnian war he had placed the word "massacre" in quotation marks. This suggested, particularly when taken with other comments by Ms Brockes, that Prof Chomsky considered the word inappropriate or that he had denied that there had been a massacre. Prof
Chomsky has been obliged to point out that he has never said or believed any such thing. The Guardian has no evidence whatsoever to the contrary and retracts the statement with an unreserved apology to Prof Chomsky.

The headline used on the interview, about which Prof Chomsky also complained, added to the misleading impression given by the treatment of the word massacre. It read: Q: Do you regret supporting those who say the Srebrenica massacre was exaggerated? A: My only regret is that I didn't do it strongly enough.

No question in that form was put to Prof Chomsky. This part of the interview related to his support for Diana Johnstone (not Diane as it appeared in the published interview) over the withdrawal of a book in which she discussed the reporting of casualty figures in the war in former Yugoslavia. Both Prof Chomsky and Ms Johnstone, who has also written to the Guardian, have made it clear that Prof Chomsky's support for Ms Johnstone, made in the form of an open letter with other signatories, related entirely to her right to freedom of speech. The Guardian also accepts that and acknowledges that the headline was wrong and unjustified by the text.

Ms Brockes's misrepresentation of Prof Chomsky's views on Srebrenica stemmed from her misunderstanding of his support for Ms Johnstone. Neither Prof Chomsky nor Ms Johnstone have ever denied the fact of the massacre.

Prof Chomsky has also objected to the juxtaposition of a letter from him, published two days after the interview appeared, with a letter from a survivor of Omarska. While he has every sympathy with the writer, Prof Chomsky believes that publication was designed to undermine his position, and addressed a part of the interview which was false. Both letters were published under the heading Falling out over Srebrenica. At the time these letters were published, following two in support of Prof Chomsky published
the previous day, no formal complaint had been received from him. The letters were published by the letters editor in good faith to reflect readers' views. With hindsight it is acknowledged that the juxtaposition has exacerbated Prof Chomsky's complaint and that is regretted. The Guardian has now withdrawn the interview from the website.

from Frederic Meni :
17 November 2005

Bonsoir M. Feeley,
Jai trouvn article traitant de ce qui a
quendredi concernant les bons c�� du colonialisme : http://www.algeria-watch.org/fr/article/hist/colonialisme/peau_dure.htm
MɎI Frric

from Edward Herman :
Sent: Friday, November 18, 2005

from Frank Rich
New York Times

One War Lost, Another to Go

11/20/05 "New York Times" -- -- IF anyone needs further proof that we are racing for the exits in Iraq, just follow the bouncing ball that is Rick Santorum. A Republican leader in the Senate and a true-blue (or red) Iraq hawk, he has long slobbered over President Bush, much as Ed McMahon did over Johnny Carson. But when Mr. Bush went to Mr. Santorum's home state of Pennsylvania to give his Veterans Day speech smearing the war's critics as unpatriotic, the senator was M.I.A.

Mr. Santorum preferred to honor a previous engagement more than 100 miles away. There he told reporters for the first time that "maybe some blame" for the war's "less than optimal" progress belonged to the White House. This change of heart had nothing to do with looming revelations of how the new Iraqi "democracy" had instituted Saddam-style torture chambers. Or with the spiraling investigations into the whereabouts of nearly $9 billion in unaccounted-for taxpayers' money from the American occupation authority. Or with the latest spike in casualties. Mr. Santorum was instead contemplating his own incipient political obituary written the day before: a poll showing him 16 points down in his re-election race. No sooner did he stiff Mr. Bush in Pennsylvania than he did so again in Washington, voting with a 79-to-19 majority on a Senate resolution begging for an Iraq exit strategy. He was joined by all but one (Jon Kyl) of the 13 other Republican senators running for re-election next year. They desperately want to be able to tell their constituents that they were against the war after they were for it.

They know the voters have decided the war is over, no matter what symbolic resolutions are passed or defeated in Congress nor how many Republicans try to Swift-boat Representative John Murtha, the marine hero who wants the troops out. A USA Today/CNN/Gallup survey last week found that the percentage (52) of Americans who want to get out of Iraq fast, in 12 months or less, is even larger than the percentage (48) that favored a quick withdrawal from Vietnam when that war's casualty toll neared 54,000 in the apocalyptic year of 1970. The Ohio State political scientist John Mueller, writing in Foreign Affairs, found that "if history is any indication, there is little the Bush administration can do to reverse this decline." He observed that Mr. Bush was trying to channel L. B. J. by making "countless speeches explaining what the effort in Iraq is about, urging patience and asserting that progress is being made. But as was also evident during Woodrow Wilson's campaign to sell the League of Nations to the American public, the efficacy of the bully pulpit is much overrated."

Mr. Bush may disdain timetables for our pullout, but, hello, there already is one, set by the Santorums of his own party: the expiration date for a sizable American presence in Iraq is Election Day 2006. As Mr. Mueller says, the decline in support for the war won't reverse itself. The public knows progress is not being made, no matter how many times it is told that Iraqis will soon stand up so we can stand down.

On the same day the Senate passed the resolution rebuking Mr. Bush on the war, Martha Raddatz of ABC News reported that "only about 700 Iraqi troops" could operate independently of the U.S. military, 27,000 more could take a lead role in combat "only with strong support" from our forces and the rest of the 200,000-odd trainees suffered from a variety of problems, from equipment shortages to an inability "to wake up when told" or follow orders.

But while the war is lost both as a political matter at home and a practical matter in Iraq, the exit strategy being haggled over in Washington will hardly mark the end of our woes. Few Americans will cry over the collapse of the administration's vainglorious mission to make Iraq a model of neocon nation-building. But, as some may dimly recall, there is another war going on as well - against Osama bin Laden and company.

One hideous consequence of the White House's Big Lie - fusing the war of choice in Iraq with the war of necessity that began on 9/11 - is that the public, having rejected one, automatically rejects the other. That's already happening. The percentage of Americans who now regard fighting terrorism as a top national priority is either in the single or low double digits in every poll. Thus the tragic bottom line of the Bush catastrophe: the administration has at once increased the ranks of jihadists by turning Iraq into a new training ground and recruitment magnet while at the same time exhausting America's will and resources to confront that expanded threat.

We have arrived at "the worst of all possible worlds," in the words of Daniel Benjamin, Richard Clarke's former counterterrorism colleague, with whom I talked last week. No one speaks more eloquently to this point than Mr. Benjamin and Steven Simon, his fellow National Security Council alum. They saw the Qaeda threat coming before most others did in the 1990's, and their riveting new book, "The Next Attack," is the best argued and most thoroughly reported account of why, in their opening words, "we are losing" the war against the bin Laden progeny now.

"The Next Attack" is prescient to a scary degree. "If bin Laden is the Robin Hood of jihad," the authors write, then Abu Musab al-Zarqawi "has been its Horatio Alger, and Iraq his field of dreams." The proof arrived spectacularly this month with the Zarqawi-engineered suicide bombings of three hotels in Amman. That attack, Mr. Benjamin wrote in Slate, "could soon be remembered as the day that the spillover of violence from Iraq became a major affliction for the Middle East." But not remembered in America. Thanks to the confusion sown by the Bush administration, the implications for us in this attack, like those in London and Madrid, are quickly forgotten, if they were noticed in the first place. What happened in Amman is just another numbing bit of bad news that we mentally delete along with all the other disasters we now label "Iraq."

Only since his speech about "Islamo-fascism" in early October has Mr. Bush started trying to make distinctions between the "evildoers" of Saddam's regime and the Islamic radicals who did and do directly threaten us. But even if anyone was still listening to this president, it would be too little and too late. The only hope for getting Americans to focus on the war we can't escape is to clear the decks by telling the truth about the war of choice in Iraq: that it is making us less safe, not more, and that we have to learn from its mistakes and calculate the damage it has caused as we reboot and move on.

Mr. Bush is incapable of such candor. In the speech Mr. Santorum skipped on Veterans Day, the president lashed out at his critics for trying "to rewrite the history" of how the war began. Then he rewrote the history of the war, both then and now. He boasted of America's "broad and coordinated homeland defense" even as the members of the bipartisan 9/11 commission were preparing to chastise the administration's inadequate efforts to prevent actual nuclear W.M.D.'s, as opposed to Saddam's fictional ones, from finding their way to terrorists. Mr. Bush preened about how "we're standing with dissidents and exiles against oppressive regimes" even as we were hearing new reports of how we outsource detainees to such regimes to be tortured.

And once again he bragged about the growing readiness of Iraqi troops, citing "nearly 90 Iraqi army battalions fighting the terrorists alongside our forces." But as James Fallows confirms in his exhaustive report on "Why Iraq Has No Army" in the current issue of The Atlantic Monthly, America would have to commit to remaining in Iraq for many years to "bring an Iraqi army to maturity." If we're not going to do that, Mr. Fallows concludes, America's only alternative is to "face the stark fact that it has no orderly way out of Iraq, and prepare accordingly."

THAT'S the alternative that has already been chosen, brought on not just by the public's irreversible rejection of the war, but also by the depleted state of our own broken military forces; they are falling short of recruitment goals across the board by as much as two-thirds, the Government Accountability Office reported last week. We must prepare accordingly for what's to come. To do so we need leaders, whatever the political party, who can look beyond our nonorderly withdrawal from Iraq next year to the mess that will remain once we're on our way out. Whether it's countering the havoc inflicted on American interests internationally by Abu Ghraib and Guantᮡmo or overhauling and redeploying our military, intelligence and homeland security operations to confront the enemy we actually face, there's an enormous job to be done.

The arguments about how we got into Mr. Bush's war and exactly how we'll get out are also important. But the damage from this fiasco will be even greater if those debates obscure the urgency of the other war we are losing, one that will be with us long after we've left the quagmire in Iraq.

Copyright 2005 The New York Times Company

from Tom Feeley
Information Clearing House

On John Murtha's Position
 by Gilbert Achcar and Stephen R. Shalom

11/21/05 "ICH" -- -- There is much of which to approve in the recent speech of Rep. John P. Murtha, Democrat of Pennsylvania, on Iraq. The hawkish Murtha had been critical of the Bush administration's handling of the war for some time, but until now his solution had been to call for more troops. On November 17, however, he recognized courageously that U.S. troops "can not accomplish anything further in Iraq militarily. IT IS TIME TO BRING THEM HOME."
Murtha pointed out, as the anti-war movement has been pointing out all along, that the U.S. troops in Iraq, rather than adding to stability, "have become a catalyst for violence." He referred to the acknowledgement made by General George W. Casey, commander of the "multinational force" in Iraq, during a hearing before the Armed Services Committee of the U.S. Senate in September 2005, that the presence of "the coalition forces as an occupying force" is "one of the elements that fuels the insurgency."
Murtha pointed out that a recent poll indicated that 80% of Iraqis want the U.S. out. This poll, a secret British defense ministry survey conducted in August 2005, is consistent with earlier polls and several facts: the fact that most slates in the January 2005 election -- including the United Iraqi Alliance (UIA), which won the election -- had in their platform the demand for a timetable for the withdrawal of occupation forces from Iraq; a U.S. military poll in February that found only 23% of urban residents supported the presence of coalition troops, compared to 71% opposed; the statement of 126 members of the Iraqi National Assembly, including a majority of the 140 MPs of the majority UIA, demanding "the departure of the occupation force"; and the request made repeatedly by the National Sovereignty Committee of the Iraq National Assembly for a withdrawal timetable for "occupation troops."
There is no guarantee of what would happen in the event of a U.S. withdrawal, but Murtha noted -- as the anti-war movement has argued since the beginning of the occupation -- that the U.S. presence makes an agreement between contending Iraqi forces and the peaceful unfolding of the political process more difficult. For example, the Association of Muslim Scholars, the most prominent Sunni organization with ties to the armed resistance, has repeatedly declared that it would call for a cessation of all armed action if the U.S. and its allies set a timetable for their withdrawal.
Murtha has submitted a resolution to the House calling for the redeployment of U.S. troops from Iraq. That Murtha, a decorated Vietnam combat veteran and one of the most prominent boosters of the military in the Congress, has had it with the war is a telling sign of how badly things are going for the warmongers, and the more representatives who join the 13 co-sponsors of his resolution, the better. Furthermore, one has to sympathize with Murtha, of course, for the abuse that has been heaped upon him by the Bush administration and rightwing ideologues in Congress and the media.
Nevertheless, the anti-war movement needs to be careful not to confuse Murtha's position with its own.
When Murtha says "redeploy" -- instead of withdraw -- the troops from Iraq, he makes clear that -- despite his rhetoric -- he doesn't want to really bring them home, but to station them in the Middle East. As he told Anderson Cooper of CNN:

 "We ... have united the Iraqis against us. And so I'm convinced, once we redeploy to Kuwait or to the

surrounding area, that it will be much safer. They won't be able to unify against the United States. And then,

if we have to go back in, we can go back in."

Moreover, Murtha's resolution calls for the U.S. to create "a quick-reaction U.S. force and an over-the-horizon presence of U.S. Marines" to be "deployed to the region."
We strongly disagree. The anti-war movement cannot endorse U.S. military intervention in the Middle East, whether over or under the horizon. We don't want U.S. troops remaining in the region and poised to go back into Iraq. They don't belong there, period. Some -- though not Murtha -- suggest keeping U.S. bases within Iraq, close to the oil fields or in Kurdistan, in order to intervene more or less on the pattern of what U.S. forces are doing in Afghanistan. But this is a recipe for disaster, since the Iraqi view that the United States intends a permanent occupation is one of the main causes inciting the insurgency. Moreover, stationing U.S. forces in Kurdistan could only deepen the already dangerous ethnic animosities among Iraqis. In any event, if U.S. troops continue to be used in Iraq -- whether deployed from bases inside the country or from outside -- they will inevitably continue to cause civilian casualties, further provoking violence. Having a U.S. interventionary force stationed in Kuwait or in a similar location will continue to inflame the opposition of Iraqis who will know their sovereignty is still subject to U.S. control. As for the impact of keeping U.S. forces anywhere else in the larger region, it should be recalled that their presence was the decisive factor leading to 9-11 and fuels "global terrorism" in the same way that the U.S. military presence in Iraq "fuels the insurgency" there.
Murtha, we need to keep in mind, is not opposed to U.S. imperial designs or U.S. militarism. He criticizes the Bush administration because its Iraq policies have led to cuts in the (non-Iraq) defense budget, threatening the U.S. ability to maintain "military dominance."
Murtha's resolution calls for redeploying U.S. troops from Iraq "at the earliest practicable date" -- which is reasonable only if it means that the withdrawal should be started immediately and completed shortly after the December elections, with the exact details to be worked out with the elected Iraqi government. In his press conference, however, Murtha estimated it would take six months to carry out the "redeployment," which seems far longer than the "earliest practicable date." (Recall that U.S. troops were withdrawn from Vietnam in 90 days from the signing of the Paris Peace Treaty.) To set such a long time period for the evacuation of Iraq is all the more worrying given that the decision to withdraw the troops is not even being considered yet by the Bush administration or the bipartisan majority of the U.S. Congress.
Congressional Republicans, in a transparent ploy, offered a one-sentence resolution stating that the deployment of U.S. troops in Iraq be terminated immediately. Murtha called this "a ridiculous resolution" that no Democrat would support (Hardball with Chris Matthews, Nov. 18). In point of fact, the resolution was opposed by all of the pro-war Democrats and most of the anti-war Democrats, who (as the Republicans hoped) didn't want to be accused of "cutting and running." But actually the resolution wasn't ridiculous at all understood in the sense we have just explained.
The anti-war movement should and no doubt will relentlessly continue its fight for the immediate, total, and unconditional withdrawal of U.S. troops and their allies from Iraq and the whole region. Its central slogan "Troops Out Now" is more warranted each day and will keep gaining in urgency until victory over the warmongers is achieved.

Gilbert Achcar is the author of The Clash of Barbarisms and Eastern Cauldron, both published by Monthly Review Press. Stephen R. Shalom is the author of Imperial Alibis (South End Press) and Which Side Are You On? An Introduction to Politics (Longman).

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