Bulletin N° 249


1 August 2006
Grenoble, France

Dear Colleagues and Friends of CEIMSA,
Some might believe that the nerve endings of Western civilization have been severed, that the body politic is numb, that no feelings register in the 300 million Americans and the 7 million Israelis who are now engaged either directly or indirectly in the murderous destruction in the Middle East, that they feel nothing for the hundreds of thousands of Muslim victims they have created --innocent men, women and children whom they have helped to torture and destroy.

Like their bovine counterparts in the Alpine meadows above my home, western man, the argument goes, has been reduced to a consumer: eating, ruminating and shitting are his primary preoccupations. This, others would argue, is a slander against cows, who after all don't kill calves and other animals and who also produce dairy products for the benefit of all humankind. Surely they do not suffer hebephrenia....

We should be shaken to the core by the events of these past few days. The fact that many of us are not is due either to an ontological breakdown for which we will suffer severely or because of a willful insolation so successful that nothing seems to matter outside our immediate confines. This will require constant maintenance before it falls into disrepair. (Dick Cheney is reported to have already built the ultimate "gated community", a world-class bomb shelter for his family beneath their home in Georgetown, DC.)

The Trauma...
If the Israelis really think of themselves as Western imperialists conquering Indian lands, or as landlords exterminating cockroaches, as has been reported, they are engaging in a serious epistemological error, mistaking the symbolic for the real. The geopolitical changes which they imagine that they are effecting, the "birth pangs" that Condaleezza Rice glibly refers to, is an awkward ahistorical reference to centuries of imperialist conquest, the full impact of which has not yet been registered. It is one thing to see yourself as an historical agent working within recognized historical constraints, but it is an altogether different matter to mistake yourself as the historical process itself; this is to confuse structure with function, and, as Whitehead and Russell observed, a classification cannot be a member of itself. The bogus dialectics of confronting, removing, and replacing an entire nation of people in their homeland is an imaginary notion of progress, and a delusion. The reality is more complex: there is no power without purpose, and in this case the context has changed, and this change has transformed the "agent" into an "object," poisoned by an environment of his own making. The structural changes of evolution take place independently of individual or collective will, they are not to be confused with the functional changes of the organism which seeks purposefully to adapt to its environment. This is the difference between society and nature --society must live within nature, but nature does not need society to survive--; it is also the difference between the symbolic and the real.

and the Hope....
Our Center for the Advance Study of American Institutions and Social Movements has periodically sent out Bulletins such as this one over the past several years. All of these Bulletins are now part of our archives on the CEIMSA internet site, which since September 2004 has been located on the University of California server.

Visit the Archives of CEIMSA : http://dimension.ucsd.edu/CEIMSA-IN-EXILE/archives/

Concerning our hope for a better world, there is much to draw from. Everyday, in practically every community, there are glimpses of the future, potentials not yet developed. We should take inspiration from these modest struggles for justice and for life, sometimes barely visible, and we should try to nurture them despite the context of real constraints that surround them, for they represent the beginnings of the best parts of our future.

One example of hope for the future is the courageous scientific work of Edward Herman, who attended our 2002 Colloquium in Grenoble on "The Impact of American Transnational Corporations," and who continues to produce unalienated intellectual labor with CEIMSA, work that is direct, honest and helpful.

        Visit CEIMSA archives to see Professor Edward S. Herman on "ISRAEL'S APPROVED ETHNIC CLEANSING" :



Another example of profound comradery in the struggle against deceit and disinformation are Richard Du Boff's communications to CEIMSA over the past many years.

        See Professor Richard Du Boff on Israeli anti-war organizations .

And a third example is the inimitable Bertell Ollman, professor of Politics at NYU, who has been a constant source of joy and hope at CEIMSA in these times of palpable political repression.

        Read Professor Bertell Ollman's rejection of identity politics published by CEIMSA as : " LETTER OF RESIGNATION FROM THE JEWISH

We have received over the years many other signs of hope and evidence of a nascent future struggling beneath the surface of bitter repression, to arrive at the light of day in full bloom. Two recently released documentary films by
Robert Greewald again offer reasons for hope in the dark days ahead.


Iraq For Sale: the War Profiteers

As usual, we include with this Bulletin the below items which we recently received and which give a voice to the horror we feel over the slaughter of innocent civilians by American-Israeli bombers over these past days.

Item A. is an attempt, forwarded to us by Bertell Ollman, to make sense out of the irrational and self-destructive path taken by the Israeli political elite.

Item B. is a report by Dahr Jamail from Lebanese village of Qana on the unprovoked attack on civilians by the IDF.

Item C. is a page from the Rachael Corrie Memorial that reminds us that her love for life was inclusive, feelings that constitute the very matrix of humanity.

Item D. is an article by New York Professor of Politics, Zillah Eisenstein, on Condi and Hillary and what they represent in male-dominated society today.

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

from Bertell Ollman :
31 July 2006
Date: Mon, 31 Jul 2006 
Subject: This is an intelligent insightful article on the Pathology of Israeli Power.

Hi Francis -
   Here's one worth adding to your mailings. I'm usually critical of psychological portraits of my opponents. Tends to trivialize and even dismiss other key elements of history, context, interests, etc. But individuals and groups have psychologies, and as long as we're careful to contextualize it and not overdo its explanatory role, it's something we need to know. And, given the usual qualifications, this piece, written on 17 July by Issa Khalaf, makes a good start in presenting the frame of mind of most Israeli Zionists.

The Pathology Of Israeli Power
By Issa Khalaf

As we witness the unfolding spectacle of ferocious, indiscriminate violence, destruction, and brutality in Gaza and Lebanon, it’s difficult to resist the conclusion that there is something terribly wrong with the Israeli state and society.
It’s as though all moral and psychological constraints and boundaries have been breached, deviancy normalized.
Not that state terrorism, deliberate aggression, extreme disproportionate force, and massive violations of international humanitarian law are new to the Israeli state: from 1948, the list is long, the evidence widely available. And anyway, in this case, disproportionality­a concept actually inapplicable to the evil being rained on defenseless Lebanon or the genocide in Palestine­implies that Israel is reacting to others’ provocations and acts of aggression, as if the Palestine problem began with Hamas and Hizballah’s capture of Israeli soldiers, or as if only Israel has the right to use force to defend itself while its enemies do not, a concept apparently supported by the West, never mind the slavish idiocy of Bush administration pronouncements.
The Israeli self-image of rationality, self-confidence, restraint, pragmatism, and marshal moral superiority are delusions and myths, constructed to protect the Israeli psyche, manipulated by the state to keep alive the specter of existential terror in the Israeli public and to disguise the state’s raison d’etre, expansion and ethnic cleansing in Palestine, and maintain the deeply sociologically and institutionally entrenched Israeli military, increasingly blurring the lines between a civilian and military state.
In the past five years, one can observe and feel a qualitative change for the worse in Israeli Jewish political psychosis, a turn to the acute.
How does one explain the copiously routine, feral, violently racist and bigoted language of Israeli leaders, politicians, bureaucrats, settlers, rabbis, and even academics? The profoundly disturbing disregard for innocent “Arab” life, including children, among Israeli soldiers and the military? The polls that consistently, bizarrely reveal a majority of the Israeli Jewish citizens repelled at living next to or befriending “Arabs”? The rising voices advocating “transfer” of Israeli Arabs or expulsion of the Palestinians? The crazy, unpredictable military rage and terrorism directed at Arab populations? The extremist, self-destructive right-wing drift of Israeli politics?
The Zionist state of Israel seems to be in moral, political, and psychiatric free fall.
Unfortunately, its self-imploding, overweening arrogance and terrifyingly dangerous actions are supported by an equally militant government in Washington and a Western world intent on accommodating its violent delusions, not to mention the growing extremism among the organized American Jewish community in support of Israel. This at a time when the principal Arab states and the Palestinians are seeking peace, stability and coexistence, the former’s feebleness and inability to defend their people leaving the door open to Islamo-nationalist non-state actors and terrorists.
Those without power increasingly revert to rationality while those with power increasingly rationalize it.
Rational people assume that Israel’s behavior, its “strategy,” can be apprehended through reason and political analysis, though its actions in Gaza and Lebanon, apparently meant to cause maximum death and destruction, defy rationality, including when measured against Israel’s self-interest. Sure, its actions can be better understood in the context of Zionism’s grand design for a Palestinian-free Jewish state in control of maximum territory and its attendant goal (in concert with the Bush administration) of destroying all indigenous resistance and populist, democratic opposition to Israeli military hegemony in the region.
In Lebanon, the apparent objective is to directly destroy Hizballah, or turn the Lebanese against them, or weaken and politically fragment Lebanon through civil war, or install a collaborative Lebanese government.
The Lebanon invasion and destruction was planned long ago. Unfortunately, Hizballah, whatever one ascribes to its motives, gave the Israeli military its pretext.
Anyone familiar with the region’s politics and political movements and Israeli recklessness understands the folly of it all. Israeli actions are wildly, characteristically disproportionate to the challenges, excluding the peaceful, rational, measured use of instruments for resolving disputes or crises. This has been the story since before 1948. The fury against Lebanon, as in the reaction in Gaza, lacks sensibility, strategic coherence or even calculated utilitarian self-interest, obvious to everyone except those who run the state of Israel, creating the conditions for consequences that Israel cannot control.
The fundamental Israeli goal in laying waste to, and socially and politically fragmenting, Palestine and Lebanon (now that Iraq has been taken care of) is to encourage Islamist extremism in the region and thereby gain Western support in the fight against Islamic terror. While an apparent strategic reason or rationale, it remains fundamentally self-defeating in the long run, contrary to a rational state’s calculations for peace, stability, and security for its citizens. Its logic ultimately leads to continual wars and the eventual destruction of Israel itself.
Thus Israel’s Palestine-Lebanon (and wider regional) goals are inherently irrational, representing a distorted rationalization (or in the words of Israeli novelist David Grossman, “mutation”) of power­a distortion of rationality­whose application has become a mechanism for its own, nihilistic ends, overturning the modern western assumption that rationality is universal and constant. This state of affairs obscures, renders fuzzy and indistinct, the domains between reality and fantasy.

And that’s where Zionism resides, in states of fantasy, paranoia, denial, schizophrenia, displacement, underlain by absolute power gone amuck.
For a time it was fashionable to delineate decades of war, continual states of emergency and existential fear as causes of hate and violence toward Palestinians and Arabs generally. No doubt this is so.
But the problems lie deeper, with a “mutated” power wielded by a narcissistic people with a keen historical sense of both specialness and victimhood, now inheritors of a powerful, exclusionary nation-state, founded through colonial means, predicated on eradication of another nation.
Israel is an ethnic state, with an ethno-religious-nationalist-messianic ideology, based on group identity, not individual rights, whose institutionalized preference is for Jewish superiority, disallowing the possibility of equality for a systematically and sophisticatedly excluded and discriminated against Arab minority. This is far from the system of majority rule based on the principle of moral individual equality, protected through minority rights, rule of law, and civil rights generally found in Western democracies.

Michel Warschawski suggests that these contradictions are dealt with through, one, “denial” leading to schizophrenia (Ilan Pappe also refers to the psychological “mechanism of denial” permeating Israeli society), manifested by the racism and violence and ethnic cleansing and torture and collective punishment of Palestinians and by their general invisibility within Israeli society itself; and two, through “personalized legislation,” that is, the malleability, in the absence of a constitution, of easily changeable electoral and other laws in the “absence of the concept of rights” in Israel.
Power and its corollary, violence, both physical and psychological, are institutionalized in Israeli state and society. The military, that is, the distorting effect of a culture of militaristic nationalism and the cozy and symbiotic relationship between military and political institutions and leadership of state, has been pointed to by Uri Avnery, Ran HaCohen, Pappe, and Warschawski, who concludes that :
“The new ideology combines four main elements:
1. a nationalist militarism more or less associated with religious fundamentalism;
2. avowed racism;
3. a die-hard spirit impregnated with messianism;
4. a willingness to question every democratic norm.
Put together, these elements help shape a generalized paranoia, which leads Israelis to view the whole world as an existential threat to Jewish survival in the Middle East or anywhere else. This new ideology’s first and doubtless most perverse effect is acceptance of the domestic state of siege and normalization of death.” (Michel Warschawski, “Israeli Democracy,”)
A state cannot have apparently liberal minority rights while insisting on the separation of peoples and the institutionalized inferiority of one to the other, a condition similar to Jewish life in Russia of a century ago. Jewish schizophrenia has been transposed onto the Palestinians. Now Israeli Jews are white and European and civilized, keeping at bay genetically and culturally defective and shifty and violent dark skinned Arabs.

The pathological tension between absolute, unconstrained power, aggressiveness, defiance and victimhood, existential fear, and insecurity, produce the violence inherent in the Israeli state. On one level, the stubborn presence of the Palestinians challenges the denial mechanisms and leads to the drive to extirpate the cultural, political, and physical presence of the Other so as not to be reminded of oneself, one’s humanity.
Israelis are conscious of the fact that their state was created at the original and continuing expense of the Palestinians, through force, but react to this psychosis by denial and violence. Haim Hanegbi expresses the Israeli condition this way:
“I am not a psychologist, but I think that everyone who lives with the contradictions of Zionism condemns himself to protracted madness. It's impossible to live like this. It's impossible to live with such a tremendous wrong. It's impossible to live with such conflicting moral criteria. When I see not only the settlements and the occupation and the suppression, but now also the insane wall that the Israelis are trying to hide behind, I have to conclude that there is something very deep here in our attitude to the indigenous people of this land that drives us out of our minds.
“There is something gigantic here that doesn't allow us truly to recognize the Palestinians, that doesn't allow us to make peace with them. And that something has to do with the fact that even before the return of the land and the houses and the money, the settlers' first act of expiation toward the natives of this land must be to restore to them their dignity, their memory, their justness.
“But that is just what we are incapable of doing. Our past won't allow us to do it…Even if Israel surrounds itself with a fence and a moat and a wall, it won't help. Because…Israel as a Jewish state will not be able to exist.” (Ari Shavit interview, in Ha’aretz, with Haim Hanegbi and Meron Benvenisti, August 28, 2003, found on Znet)
On another level, brutality and ruthlessness against the Palestinians is the displacement of the unconscious response to the suffering and humiliation and persecution of Jews and their determined, God-defying, refusal to lament or mourn their fate.
It is formidable anger and rage that will not be quieted, for to do so is to submit to meekness and impotence and sacrifice, as in Jews proceeding orderly and sheepishly to the slaughter in Nazi Germany.
It’s as if there is no middle ground for Zionism, no doubt, no introspection: it’s our existence or theirs.
This psychopathology is made all the more palpable because of the intense moral contradictions: while it has accomplished impressive things, including “Jewish democracy,” a place for some Jews to take refuge or to find pride, survival at all odds, and economic and technological development, Israel is a colonial settler society in origin as much as Zionism is also a variant of Jewish nationalism; it is both non-democratic in its exclusion of non-Jews and democratic for its Jewish majority.
Regardless of how one sees it, the end result is, as Israeli observers themselves have commented, a barbarization, moral decline or debasement, of Israeli society. How could it be otherwise, what with a Zionist ideology that, from its origin, treated the Palestinians with cruelty, disdain, violence, and loathing, traits common to all colonial-settler societies. And with the state since 1948 having so thoroughly indoctrinated Israeli society, through wars and manipulation of existential fears, occupation and relentlessly violent oppression. And with a racist educational system­which portrays the “Arabs” as inferior, lazy, fatalistic, dirty, easily inflammable, violent, bloodthirsty­and socialization of superiority and separation and alienation of Jews from non-Jews, in cities and neighborhoods, on Jewish owned lands and public domains.

The pathological nature of this indoctrination is illustrated by the cold-blooded October 2004 murder of the 13-year schoolgirl, Iman al-Hams, by a “Captain R,” who was subsequently acquitted and promoted. 
After shooting her twice in the head, he walked away then turned around and emptied the entire magazine of his automatic rifle, 17 bullets, into her to “confirm the kill.” The captain, on tape, “clarifies” why he killed Iman:

“This is commander. Anything that’s mobile, that moves in the [security] zone, even if it’s a three-year-old, needs to be killed.” (See Chris McGreal, Guardian, Nov. 16, 2005) Journalists and human rights organizations have documented countless cases of Israelis killing children, even for sports and game. Notice, here, the captain’s language: "Anything that’s mobile…needs to be killed." Not anyone who is mobile. Palestinian children are like animals, like anything moving, they, it, need(s) to be killed.

Captain R turns out to be a Druze, a powerful telling of the sick success of Israeli socialization and indoctrination. This Druze, historically the marginal outsider in mainstream Islamic society, internalized Israel’s ethnic/racial pecking order­its colonially inherited psychopathology in which the indigenous become animals­therefore violently displacing his inferiority, as Mizrahi Jews do, onto the Palestinians. Dehumanizing, hating and killing Palestinians is the ultimate, disturbed act of belonging and loyalty to a society accustomed to its influential members referring to Palestinians as beasts, two-legged animals, cockroaches and worms, unaware of their own degradation and dehumanization in the process.
This state of acute political and social psychosis, manifested by power’s irrational application and self-dehumanizing behavior, betrays a deep-seated fear: while Israel possesses unequaled, sanctimonious power and its political/military class was historically confident of its ability to militarily prevail against Arab armies, the country is unceasingly, silently, troubled by the possibility of one day being abandoned by the United States. Without its patron, its power is as nothing, not necessarily militarily, but emotionally and psychologically.
Awesome military might and the myth of invincibility is a tenuous psychological condition, masking Israelis’ deepest existential fears that the millions they’ve dispossessed, killed, and continue to torment cannot ultimately be silenced and will come back to haunt them. But Israel’s current elites seem unable to transcend their psychological paralysis: they resist abandoning, even self-critically reflecting on, their worn-out ideological, expansionist aspirations yet desire acceptance of the surrounding peoples, to whom they relate only in the language and logic of absolute violence.
The Israeli/Zionist condition, unchanged, is a sure recipe for widespread regional annihilation.
© Issa Khalaf. (Written on 7/17/06)

from Dahr Jamail :
Date: Tue, 01 Aug 2006
Subject: Iraq Dispatches: 'No Hezbollah Rockets Fired from Qana'

'No Hezbollah Rockets Fired from Qana'
by Dahr Jamail

QANA, Aug 1 (IPS) - Red Cross workers and residents of Qana, where Israeli bombing killed at least 60 civilians, have told IPS that no Hezbollah rockets were launched from the city before the Israeli air strike. *

The Israeli military has said it bombed the building in which several people had taken shelter, more than half of them children, because the Army had faced rocket fire from Qana. The Israeli military has said that Hezbollah was therefore responsible for the deaths.

"There were no Hezbollah rockets fired from here," 32-year-old Ali Abdel told IPS. "Anyone in this village will tell you this, because it is the truth."

Abdel had taken shelter in a nearby house when the shelter was bombed at 1 am. When the bombings finally let up in the morning, he went back to the bombed shelter to search for relatives.

He found his 70-year-old father and 64-year-old mother both dead inside.

"They bombed it, and afterwards I heard the screams of women, children, and a few men -- they were crying for help. But then one minute after the first bomb, another bomb struck, and after this there was nothing but silence, and the sound of more bombs around the village."

Masen Hashen, a 30-year-old construction worker from Qana who lost several family members in the air strike on the shelter, said there were no Hezbollah rockets fired from his village. "Because if they had done that now, or in the past, all of us would have left. Because we know we would be bombed."

Qana had been a shelter because no rockets were being fired from there, survivors said. "When Hezbollah fires their rockets, everyone runs away because they know an Israeli bombardment will come soon," Abdel said. "That is why everyone stayed in the shelter and nearby homes, because we all thought we'd be all right since there were no Hezbollah fighters in Qana."

Lebanese Red Cross workers in the nearby coastal city of Tyre told IPS that there was no basis for Israeli claims that Hezbollah had launched
rockets from Qana.

"We found no evidence of Hezbollah fighters in Qana," Kassem Shaulan, a 28-year-old medic and training manager for the Red Cross in Tyre told IPS at their headquarters. "When we rescue people or recover bodies from villages, we usually see rocket launchers or Hezbollah fighters if they are there, but in Qana I can say that the village was 100 percent clear of either of those."

Another Red Cross worker, 32-year-old Mohammad Zatar, told IPS that "we can tell when Hezbollah has been firing rockets from certain areas, because all of the people run away, on foot if they have to."

While IPS was interviewing people in Qana at the site of the shelter Monday, Israeli warplanes roared overhead. Vibrations from nearby bombing rattled many buildings. At least three villages in southern Lebanon were attacked in Israeli air strikes Monday.

Following the international outcry over the air strike, Israel declared a 48-hour cessation of air strikes in order to carry out a military probe into the Qana killings.

Despite the false Israeli statement that it was halting its air strikes, Israeli Justice Minister Haim Ramon told Army Radio that the stoppage "does not signify in any way the end to the war."

Israel has rejected mounting international pressure to end the 20-day-old war against Hezbollah. The United Nations has indefinitely postponed a meeting on a new peacekeeping force for southern Lebanon.

While defending the Israeli air strike on the civilians in Qana, Israel's ambassador to the United Nations Dan Gillerman told the UN Security Council that Qana was "a hub for Hezbollah", and said that Israel had urged villagers to leave.

Israeli Deputy Prime Minister Shimon Peres said in reply to questions in New York Monday that the bombing was "totally, totally its (Hezbollah's) fault."

from The Rachel Corrie Memorial :
30 July 2006

from: Zillah Eisenstein
Date: 1 August 2006

hi francis
i thought you might want to distribute this on your mailing list.
best, zillah

U.S. Warrior Princesses Condi and Hillary
 Zillah Eisenstein
Professor of Politics
Feminist Author
Ithaca New York

[Please see my SEXUAL DECOYS; GENDER, RACE AND WAR IN IMPERIAL DEMOCACY (Zed Books, London; Palgrave, New York, forthcoming, January, 2007) for a fuller accounting of these arguments.]
            Condoleezza Rice refers to the unrelenting bombing in Lebanon as “the birth pangs” of a new democratic middle east.  But these bombs create lasting damage and devastation, and are not fleeting pangs of any sort.  And they birth nothing but rather kill, maim and destroy everything in their path.  The only thing birthed here are new hatreds and horror. The war in Lebanon is a miscarriage of justice, a still-birth.  Do not use the language of female bodies to camouflage this atrocious war.
Hillary Clinton has spoken in support of Israel defending itself against Hezbollah and says that the U.S. will continue to stand behind Israel because it stands for American values.  Since when is the wanton destruction of civilian communities, and the killing of sixty innocents as in Qana, Lebanon an American value that any of us would want to make claim to?  How can we abide turning Lebanon into a country of refugees and displaced persons and call this American?

Condoleezza Rice has orchestrated the war in Iraq for Bush and Hillary has given her support for this reckless war and continues to do so.  Most recently she has said that enforcing a pull out date in Iraq would be counter productive. Both Condi and Hillary are doing the scut work for a hyper-militarized government that makes war across the globe.  As such they stand as sexual decoys for democracy.  They play a role of deception and lure us into a fantasy of gender equity rather than depravity.
 A decoy is a misrepresentation­one thinks one sees something that is not really there.  If gender were not malleable in the first place, it could not be used as a decoy as readily.  Gender here applies to the cultural construct of woman; as distinguished from biological sex as in female.  So Hillary and Condi are female, but don’t confuse this with women’s rights or democracy of any sort. Condi jets around the world meeting with dignitaries and Hillary’s senate coffers are filled and over-flowing.  They are both monied power-houses.  But their agendas are masculinist, militarist, and neo-liberal. 

Hillary will win her Senate seat again.  Supposedly this is because she moved herself to the center and has been moving from the center towards the right ever since.   This is partly wrong, and partly right.  She did not have to move towards the center from the left because neither she nor Bill was elected in `92 as old liberals.  It was the Democratic Leadership Council (DLC) that she and Bill were beholden to.  They were  `new’­leaner and meaner--Democrats at the start; better known as neo-liberals who argued that the global economy required a heightened competitiveness and competition. 

Hillary’s health care initiatives failed not because she was too radical, but because she was not radical enough.  She never seriously backed single payer health coverage even though universal health coverage had been promised to the electorate. She had a centrist politics then, and it wasn’t very feminist, even if she said she didn’t want to make chocolate chip cookies.  And it wasn’t very liberal as she sat on Wal-Mart’s board and remained silent about worker’s rights and the minimum wage. Both she and Bill endorsed the limited status of abortion as needing to be “safe, legal, and rare”.  Notice there is no mention of availability. 

More recently as senator from New York she was asked by the Pentagon to join a select panel that is considering improving military readiness.  Given her voting record she ranks among the dozen most conservative Democrats in the Senate.  She is the perfect sexual decoy.  She is depicted as too liberal, too feminist, too critical of women who bake cookies. In the process she de-sexes gender while re-gendering sex.  And so does Condoleezza Rice.  Thinking of either of these women as feminist or as icons of democracy makes about as much sense as the wars they authorize.

The Bush administration has other decoys in place as well like Karen Hughes as ambassador to the Muslim east, and Meghan O’Sullivan, the 36 year old national security adviser for Iraq and Afghanistan.  Bush’s cow-girls orchestrate his war time strategies.  They live a life that is beholden to earlier struggles of sexual equality and civil rights, while they disclaim connection to these movements.  Condi Rice says she has gotten where she is because she was brought up to depend on herself and work hard.  At the same time she acknowledges the civil rights movement when she tries to gain acceptance for the continuance of the Iraq war.  In these instances she readily uses the civil rights movement as proof of how hard it is to build democracy; that even the U.S. had a long process of struggle to achieve democracy for all its citizens.  And she offers herself as an example of the success of democracy. She speaks about her childhood, defined by racism, in Alabama to celebrate how far she and the U.S. have come from all this.  She nudges fledgling-democracies to work hard, like we have, to make it work.

She has sacrificed family to be counted as a loyal player even if sometimes in neo-mammy form. She occupies a space close to the President without creating racial or sexual discomfort; she either remains the child, or the mammy, and he the father or the son.  She is called the warrior princess and replaced Colin Powell, who was deemed too much of a girlie-man. She is described as both dominatrix in her military coats and high boots; and also prudish as well as diplomatic in her pumps and pearls. Other times she is outspokenly militarist as she continued to defend the newest forms of “extreme interrogation” in spite of the horrors at Abu Ghraib and Guantanamo.

Obviously, females can make war, just like men; or maybe not just like men, but like manly women.  Meanwhile 22-year-old Suzanne Swift is AWOL and under arrest after refusing to return to her sexually abusive military superiors in Iraq and Hillary and Condi have nothing to say.  They do not speak on behalf of female soldiers, or against their sexual harassment or for peace.  Then again, sex harassment is a sticky point for Hillary given Bill. Condi just turns her face elsewhere.

Comparisons are regularly drawn between Condi and Hillary.  Some have even speculated that they might run against each other in the 2008 Presidential election.  Both present a variety of genders; sometimes stiff and pert and de-sexualized; other times not.  Condi has no husband in sight at present and Hillary has a husband who is a known misogynist of long standing. The nation is just asked to forget his forays and pretend that marriage works.

Condi and Hillary wield power, but not as women­whatever this might mean today­and not for women and their rights­but for an imperial democracy that destroys women’s equality and racial justice.  Imperial democracy mainstreams women’s rights discourse into foreign policy and militarizes women for imperial goals. Imperial feminists speak on behalf of the U.S. but in particular militarist voices. Women’s rights rhetoric is used to manipulate and disguise war making in the name of democracy.  No one’s rights­especially not women’s­are ever recognized in war.

Sexual decoys are females in drag and the drag allows us to think that they represent the best of democracy when they don’t.  Politics is image and mirage.  But politics and war is also incredibly and unforgettably real especially if you happen to have to pay the consequences up front, with hunger, and pain, and death, and yearnings for peace.  So for the thousands of people dying and being maimed in the imperial wars of this century I cannot abide the decoy politics that allows female bodies to be used to cover over the insanity. 

We need a politics where gender is not defined by one’s biological body. But given that we are nowhere close to this I at least don’t want a female body used as a decoy for fascistic democracy.  Nor do I want women’s rights rhetoric to be used to wrap the bombs of war as was done in Afghanistan and Iraq.  Even though Saddam Hussein is under arrest, and the Taliban though gaining power is still not fully back in control, women’s lives are no better in these so-called new democracies.  Wars rage and people cannot find electricity, food, hospitals, roads, and so forth. 

The people of Lebanon, Syria, Israel, Iraq, and Afghanistan desperately want peace.  Without peace, democracy, whatever its form, has no meaning. These countries don’t need the U.S. imperial democracy in female drag.  This is in no one’s interest, especially not the women of Iraq, Afghanistan, Lebanon, and Israel.  And it is not in the interest of women in the United States.  So to Condi and Hillary we must say: NOT IN OUR NAME.