4 November 2006
Subject: ON MECHANICAL MANIPULATIONS,
EMBRYONIC DIFFERENTIATIONS, AND CAPRICIOUS MUTATIONS
WITHIN THE BODY POLITIC.
Dear Colleagues and Friends of CEIMSA,
One thing that history teaches us is that political repression can
always be refined and improved. The repressive techniques of Tsarist
Russia, for example, were sophomoric compared to those of the Soviet
period, when evasion and escape were made much more difficult. And a
glance at Chechnya today makes repression under Stalin seem
The political "opponents" who have understood the loopholes in the
system are more
efficient when they come to power. They can shut down escape routes
more effectively and regiment society more completely. Diversity
means loss of control, and what person sitting in the driver's seat
wants to loose control. The ends, as usual, are used to justify the
means, and most drivers believe they are heading toward "utopia," or at
least toward a good destination --Bismarck, like Hitler and Stalin; the
Clintons, like Bush and Cheney, are not unlike every other leader with
political ambitions and who necessarily finds him/herself working
constraints of the modern capitalist system.
According to the tenets of split-brain theory, the two spheres
of the human brain have evolved toward two separate states of
specialization. The left sphere
contains the seat of language and also
logic. It is our source of digital rationality
(skilled in making distinctions in the nature of either/or and all-or-none) : The
ways of thinking which are concrete, analytical, propositional,
mathematical, deductive, linear,
literal, explicit, sequential,
and goal-oriented mostly originate with the
activities in our left brain. The right
sphere, according to this
theory, is largely responsible for our analog emotional states
(with the capacity of registering differences like more-or-less and both/and)
: It is visual, intuitive, non-verbal, associative, spontaneous,
artistic, holistic and capable of seeing patterns. Furthermore, this
research reveals that individuals have a tendency to prefer one
side or the other, which affects their approach to life and to work.
The right hemisphere of the brain is more worldly, more conceptual than
the left has been described as "a narrowly programmed linguistic
computer". If the left is a system,
the right is its environment. The right knows what words connote (or
mean), what associations they have, and not simply what they denote (or
signify). It can recognize the ridiculous and the inappropriate because
it is aware that words
and sentences are embedded in a wide matrix of relationships.
(Anthony Wilden, 1987, pp.239 & 241-242)
Brain scientists have developed ways to actually measure specific
thinking activities. The EEG (electroencephalogram) can identify which
side of the brain is in primary use during specific thinking tasks.
This biofeedback research shows how, when, and why shifts
between the hemispheres occur. A recent example of the shift from
right-brain to left-brain thinking occurred the other evening when I
received a phone call from a colleague who wished to tell me that he
was unable to meet the approaching deadline for the publication of a
paper that was to be a chapter in a large anthology of essays I am now
editing on the
history of pacifist movements in the United States and France. He
began by describing the pain he felt in his left shoulder as the result
of a minor accident he had had. The pain in his shoulder became
excruciating, he told me, each time he lifted his arm to type on the
keyboard of his computer to finish the article he had promised to send
me. After evoking strong feelings of empathy in me, he went on to
suggest that it might be realistic to prolong the deadline for a week,
so he would be able to work in comfort and meet our goal by producing a
good 5-to-10-page essay on the influence of religion in American
pacifist thought. My own thinking in this context had moved from
feelings of empathy to goal-oriented logic which would efficiently
satisfy the requirements of our collective strategy. (Another suggested
way of noting this brain-shift is to hold a thermometer
between the fingers of your left hand (controlled by the right brain)
and visualize a hot day on the beach. Or during your next phone
conversation, simply switch the phone's receiver from your right ear to
the left; or close your left nostril and breath through the right for a
few minutes. Feel any differences?)
Such parlor games would be of little interest if it were not for the
fact that social control technologies today make use of a wide range of
scientific discoveries which have been effectively organized in the
service of PPM (the private profit motive). We would be
well-advised to appropriate some of these scientific discoveries and
use them in the service of OOL (our own liberation) from a
system intent on war and exploitation.
The suicide of a ruling class, wrote Ralph
is without precedent, and so is true democracy. How do you protect
people from tyranny if tyrants have convinced them there is no
alternative to the repression they must endure. Empire builders, like
demagogues, protect their power by practicing exchanges, both
real and symbolic. What is always missing in these relationships,
however, is a careful acknowledgment of the larger context in which
these exchanges take place. The exchanges are usually puny, irrelevant
in the larger scheme of things, but for purposes of perception
management they are everything, even something to die for.....
Nevertheless, as Mumia Abu-Jamal has observed from his prison cell on
death row, where he also is struggling for his life :
Years ago mechanical engineers developed the convention
of drawing "black boxes" on their blueprint designs in order to
represent non-essential parts of their picture. They simply shaded
objects of little interest rather than drawing their intricate
functions, while the more important areas of their blueprint depicted
functional aspects in great detail. Thus, for example, the drawing of a
coffee machine in the design of the lobby of a train station might be
shaded black instead of being represented in the drawing as an
intricate mechanism with interrelated parts. More detailed attention
would be paid to the main switches and clocks which governed the train
tracks and to the security system that connects the switches to the
mainframe computer above the lobby. According to this scientific
convention, the non-essential is deliberately ignored and the
"black box" simply represents a physical presence, without reference to
- When a cause comes along and
you know in your bones that it is just, yet refuse to defend it--at
- moment you begin to die. And
I have never seen so many corpses walking around talking about justice.
Mechanical engineering strategies are okay for "closed systems," and
they even have some predictive power. On a billiard table, for example,
such reductionist techniques might be sufficient to develop the
strategy to win a game. But in the complexity of real life, mechanical
calculations with the use of "black boxes" can be very misleading, and
sometimes have catastrophic consequences. By not knowing that
we do not know, we cease asking relevant questions and we no longer can
look for their answers. Instead we fall into what Jacquelyn
Wonder and Priscilla
Donovan have described as "a predominantly left-brain mode of
thinking," i.e.not seeing the forest for the trees, which we continue
relentlessly to count and to measure in order to gather more digital
information, all of which remains entirely divorced from any
recognition of patterns. Thus, we find ourselves lost in the woods, so
to speak, forgetting how we got there, and with no real understanding
of where we are and where we are heading. It is "the enormous now," as
e. e. cummings called it, which absorbs our critical attention to the
maximum --no past, no future; only the present.
There once lived diverse communities of people who participated in a
joyous (bilateral-brain) skepticism and were unwilling to be absorbed
completely into the dominant mainstream of left-brain digital thinking.
They were usually tolerated by the dominant (left-brain) culture;
sometimes, in moments of crisis, they were used as scapegoats, but
by-and-large they existed as "black boxes" on the social landscape.
These nomads were mostly non-essential to the larger society in
which they lived. Situated somewhere between the barbarians,
who were in almost constant conflict, and the civilized, who
were mostly obsessed with order and control, these universal skeptics
--like Hebrews, Gypsies, and Revolutionary Socialists-- developed their
own alternative cultures, parallel and sometimes contrary to the
dominant cultures in their particular regions. Humor was often an
efficient vehicle with which they transmitted their cultural values;
laughter was a sign of recognition.
Today, we live in very sad times, and there is little genuine laughter.
Diversity is drastically reduced as major as well as minor institutions
submit to extreme forms of rationalization. The "black boxes" on the
drawing board have been opened and attempts have been made to integrate
their internal functions into the system of which we all are a part.
Thus, liberals have become conservatives; radicals have transformed
into neoconservatives; Hebrews into ultra-nationalists; Gypsies into
urban welfare recipients; Revolutionary Socialists into the walking
wounded. Social engineering, from a mechanical point of view, seems
near perfection, and its "surplus population" is seen heading toward
However, there is one problem: mechanical knowledge is inadequate. Real
people are neither billiard balls nor "black boxes." There are no
entirely predictable trajectories when individuals are struck by
"outside forces." In fact there are no "outside forces" that can act on
the system in a pre-determined manner. In fact the entire mechanical
paradigm of measuring weight, volume and velocity falls short of
explaining why we behave the way we do. The "black boxes" that have
been opened or crushed in an attempt to secure the system are in fact
human beings mutating in a diversity of ways as a result of
environmental changes, not all of which are for the worse. These
individual and collective changes are often unpredictable, as the
matrix of which we all are a part undergoes significant changes.
Real life is capricious, more like the croquet game in Lewis Carroll's Alice
and Wonderland, where the hedge hog may simply get up and wander
away from the game, instead of simply waiting to get hit by the
Flamingo serving as a mallet, thereby risking the metaphoric loss of a
battle, if not the war.
American fiction writer Kurt Vonnegut, Jr. recently wrote about
political culture in the contemporary U.S. :
This week we recommend the essays of U.S. investigative
reporter, Robert Perry at : http://www.consortiumnews.com/,
- But I know now that there is
not a chance in hell of America becoming humane and reasonable. Because
- power corrupts us, and
absolute power corrupts us absolutely. Human beings are chimpanzees who
- crazy drunk on power. By
saying that our leaders are power-drunk chimpanzees, am I in danger of
- the morale of our soldiers
fighting and dying in the Middle East? Their morale, like so many
- is already shot to pieces.
They are being treated, as I never was, like toys a rich kid got for
and the audio essay by Howard Zinn: "We Live in an Occupied
Country" at : http://www.informationclearinghouse.info/article15479.htm,
and Bill Moyers' essay on the state of urban education
United States at : http://www.tompaine.com/print/america_101.php.
And, as usual, we have selected 8 articles recently received
from our research center associates at CEIMSA :
Item A., from Edward Herman, is a article by Carla
Binion on the dangers looming over the political landscape of
the United States (and therefore the rest of the world).
Item B., from Richard Du Boff, is a reference to some
ugly realities after the U.S. military defeat in Vietnam.
Item C. is a podcast from Information Clearing House by
award-winning film producer Aaron Russo on "the
machinations behind the apparent rise of fascism in the United States".
Item D. is an article by Tony Judt at London
Review of Books on the criminal collaboration with annihilation
politics during the Bush administration and after.
Item E., from the Council for the National Interest
Foundation, is an article describing the religious ideology of Christian
Zionism and the belief in one necessary means to establish a
Christian paradise on earth.
Item F. is an article by Robert Fisk on the Israeli military
arsenal and its crimes against humanity in Lebanon.
Item G., from Greg Palast, is an article on the
psychology of war-nography in the United States.
And finally, item H. is an article by University of Texas professor Robert
Jensen, on "the consequences of the death of empathy" in
Francis McCollum Feeley
Professor of American Studies/
Director of Research
P.S. We have attached with this bulletin an invitation to our
series of local conferences on the theme of warfare and resistance
movements : On Thursday, 16 November, CEIMSA-IN-EXILE will present the
classic Gills Pontecorvo film "The Battle of Algiers" which we
have been told is unavailable for purchase in the United States today.
from Edward S. Herman :
Sent: Monday, October 23, 2006
Subject: Bush's Absolute Power Grab
A strong article on the totalitarian threat we face in the USA.
Bush's Absolute Power Grab
- [Many Americans are in denial about what is
happening to the United States. They don't want to believe that a
totalitarian structure could be put in place in their own country. They
don't want to view the various pieces of George W. Bush's "anti-terror"
system in that broad a context. They hope that someone or something -
the Supreme Court maybe - will strike down the excesses of the
Republican-controlled Congress and the Executive Branch.]
there are still obstacles that stand in Bush's way - the Nov. 7
elections, for instance - America's march down a road to a new-age
totalitarianism has advanced farther than many understand, as freelance
reporter Carla Binion argues in this disturbing guest essay:
On October 17, George W.
Bush signed into law the Military Commissions Act of 2006. This new law
gives Bush power similar to that possessed by Stalin or Hitler, and
grants agencies within the Executive Branch powers similar to those of
the KGB or Gestapo.
Bush justifies this act by claiming he needs it to fight the "war on
terror," but a number of critics, including former counterterrorism
officials, have said the administration has greatly exaggerated the
threat and used illogical methods to combat terrorism. (Examples are
Except for MSNBC's Keith Olbermann, few television news reporters have
bothered to mention that the Military Commissions Act has changed the
justice system and our approach to human rights. As Olbermann said of
the new law on his October 17 Countdown program, the new act "does away
with habeas corpus, the right of suspected terrorists or anybody else
to know why they have been imprisoned."
Jonathan Turley, George
Washington University Constitutional Law Professor, was Olbermann's
guest. Olbermann asked him, "Does this mean that under this law,
ultimately the only thing keeping you, I, or the viewer out of Gitmo is
the sanity and honesty of the president of the
Turley responded, "It
does. And it's a huge sea change for our democracy. The framers created
a system where we did not have to rely on the good graces or good mood
of the president…People have no idea how significant this is. What,
really a time of shame this is for the American system. What the
Congress did and what the president signed today essentially revokes
over 200 years of American principles and values."
Although we have a free press, rather than follow Olbermann's good
example, most television news reporters have responded to this
America's fundamental principles by avoiding
the subject. News networks which voluntarily relinquish their right and
duty to challenge government officials function more as the Soviet
Union's Pravda or Hitler's Nazi press program than as a genuinely free
Just as the mainstream
media failed to adequately question the Bush administration's many
shifting rationales for invading Iraq in the lead-up to the war,
they're now failing to challenge Bush's logic and motives as he
justifies eviscerating the Constitution in the name of his
ever-expanding "war on terror." How realistic is this so-called war,
and is the Bush administration conducting it effectively?
Robert Dreyfuss covers national security for Rolling Stone. He
interviewed nearly a dozen former high-ranking counterterrorism
officials about Bush's approach to the war on terrorism. In his
article, "The Phony War," (Rolling Stone,
says these officials conclude:
Dreyfuss says, "In the
short term, the cops and spies can continue to do their best to watch
for terrorist threats as they emerge, and occasionally, as in
- The war on terror is
bogus. Terrorism shouldn't be treated as if it were a nation to be
battled with the military, but should instead be fought with police
work and intelligence agencies.
- Terrorism is not an
enemy, but a method. Even if the United States were to wipe out
every terrorist cell in the world today, terrorism would be back
- Bush lacks a clear
understanding of the nature of the "enemy" and has no real strategy for
dealing with them.
- The Bush
administration confuses the issue by grouping "Al Qaeda" with
everything from Iraq's resistance movement to states such as
Syria and Iran.
- Today, there's
virtually no real "Al Qaeda threat" to Americans.
- Bush's policies have
spawned a new generation of "amateur terrorists," but there are few of
them, and they're not likely to pose a major threat to the U.S.
- Though Bush has said
he will fight his "war" until every last terrorist is eliminated,
terrorism can never be defeated, merely "contained and reduced."
they will succeed. But they are the first to admit that stopping a plot
before it can unfold involved, more than anything, plain dumb luck."
Not only has the Bush
administration falsely characterized and exaggerated the threat of
terrorism; they have gone out of their way to mislead the public by
claiming credit for preventing attacks. Dreyfuss points out that
although Bush has claimed we've fended off 10 terrorist plots since
9/11, "on closer examination all 10 are either bogus or were to take
Dreyfuss also notes that, although in 2002 the Bush administration
leaked to the press that Al Qaeda had 5,000 "sleepers" in the
there were, in fact, none. (Or, as Dreyfuss says, not a single one has
been found.) If the administration believes the facts bolster their
case for a war on terrorism, why do they find it necessary to leak
The administration has
done little to secure
U.S. borders, ports, airports and nuclear
facilities. What could logically explain their inattention to these
vulnerabilities if they believe a terrorist threat here is likely? Bush
has said he'll do anything it takes in order to protect the American
people. Why hasn't he secured our nuclear facilities?
Exaggerating the terrorist
threat does give the Bush team an excuse to seize more power for the
Executive and shred the Constitution. In an article for Foreign Affairs
(September/October 2006), political science professor John Mueller
supports Dreyfuss's view that the war on terrorism is bogus.
Mueller points out that not only have there been no terrorist incidents
here in the past five years, but there were none in the five years
before 9/11. Mueller asks: "If it is so easy to pull off an attack and
if terrorists are so demonically competent, why have they not done it?
Why have they not been sniping at people in shopping centers,
collapsing tunnels, poisoning the food supply, cutting electrical
lines, derailing trains, blowing up oil pipelines, causing massive
traffic jams, or exploiting the countless other vulnerabilities that,
according to security experts, could be so easily exploited?"
He also bolsters Dreyfuss's conclusion that the Bush administration
can't take credit for the fact that we haven't been attacked again. He
says, "the government's protective measures would have to be nearly
perfect to thwart all such plans. Given the monumental imperfection of
the government's response to Hurricane Katrina, and the debacle of FBI
and National Security Agency programs to upgrade their computers to
better coordinate intelligence information, that explanation seems
Mueller addresses Bush's irrational argument that we're "fighting
Iraq so we don't have to fight them here." He
points out that terrorists with Al Qaeda sympathies have managed to
carry out attacks in a variety of countries (Egypt, Jordan Turkey, the
United Kingdom), not merely in Iraq.
He adds that a reasonable
explanation for the fact that no terrorists have attacked since 9/11 is
that the terrorist threat "has been massively exaggerated." He notes
that "it is worth remembering that the total number of people killed
since 9/11 by Al Qaeda or Al Qaeda-like operatives outside of
Afghanistan and Iraq is not much higher than the number who drown in
bathtubs in the United States in a single year, and that the lifetime
chance of an American being killed by international terrorism is about
one in 80,000 - about the same chance of being killed by a comet or a
Although Bush's justification for the war on terror has been illogical
and deceptive, the administration has used it as an excuse to abuse the
U.S. military in Iraq, tear down our system of government at
home and seize power on his own behalf. As Jonathan Turley told Keith
Olbermann on his October 17th program, with the signing of the Military
Commissions Act, "Congress just gave the president despotic powers…I
think people are fooling themselves if they believe that the courts
will once again stop this president from taking - overtaking - almost
Bush's many power grabs
and refusal to submit to usual constitutional checks and balances
indicates he prefers monarchy or dictatorship to the government set up
America's founders. The framers of our Constitution provided
checks on tyranny by writing into law separation of powers, granting
the legislative and judicial branches of government the ability to curb
abuses by the executive. Today, the Congress has abdicated its
constitutional obligation and serves only as a rubber stamp for the
despotic president, and to date, the courts have done much the same.
Can George W. Bush be
trusted with absolute power? Here are some things he has done with his
- Stolen two
- Exaggerated and
falsely characterized the terrorist threat.
- Misled the country
into war with Iraq.
- Urged the U.S.
intelligence agencies to fix the intelligence around the Iraq war
policy (as confirmed by the Downing Street Memo and other sources) in
order to mislead the Congress and public into supporting war with Iraq.
- Abused human rights
by promoting the use of torture and setting up virtual gulags.
- Suspended habeas
corpus for some.
- Tried to silence
political opposition by pronouncing them "weak on terrorism" or somehow
"with the terrorists," and
- Placed himself above
the law by issuing more legislation-challenging signing statements
(around 800) than all of his predecessors put together.
Iraq alone has cost nearly 3,000 American lives. An
October 11, 2006 article by Greg Mitchell at Editor and Publisher says
that a new study from the Johns Hopkins Bloomberg School of Public
Health, "suggests that more than 600,000 Iraqis have met a violent or
otherwise war-related end since the U.S. arrived in March 2003."
The Bush administration's
policies have not only resulted in high death counts, but also in
widespread, out of control torture. A September 22, 2006 Christian
Science Monitor report says:
"The United Nation's special investigator on torture said Thursday that
torture may now be worse in
Iraq than it was during the regime
of deposed leader Saddam Hussein. The Associated Press reports that
Manfred Nowak, who was making a brief to the United Nations Human
Rights Council about the treatment of detainees at the U.S. prison in
Guantanamo Bay Cuba, said the torture situation in Iraq was 'totally
out of hand.'"
The CS Monitor mentions
the fact that the recent compromise between the Bush White House and
dissident Republicans (including Senator John McCain) allows torture to
continue. The article quotes a Washington Post piece:
"The bad news is Mr. Bush, as he made clear yesterday, intends to
continue using the CIA to secretly detain and abuse certain terrorist
suspects…It's hard to credit the statement by [McCain] yesterday that
'there's no doubt that the integrity and letter and spirit of the
Geneva Conventions have been preserved.' In effect, the agreement means
U.S. violations of international human rights law can
continue as long as Mr. Bush is president, with Congress's tacit
Congress has given
Bush a blank check as he's bulldozed toward an imperial presidency. We
have the outward forms of democratic institutions such as Congress and
a so-called free press. However, the people currently managing those
institutions behave as if they're being forced to serve a totalitarian
A perfect example of this surrender to Bush's virtual despotism is
Congress's and the mainstream media's compliance regarding Bush's
Military Commissions Act. While Keith Olbermann and Jonathan Turley see
the extreme danger posed by Bush's authoritarian moves, Congress has
done little to challenge Bush, and, overall, the press is eerily
In The Rise And Fall Of The Third Reich, William L. Shirer said the
Reich Press Law of
October 4, 1933, ordered editors not to
publish (among other things) anything which "tends to weaken the
strength of the German Reich or offends the honor and dignity of
Germany." According to Shirer, Max Amman, Hitler's top sergeant during
the war and head of the Nazi Party's publishing firm and financial head
of its press said that after the Nazis seized power in 1933, it was "a
true statement to say that the basic purpose of the Nazi press program
was to eliminate all the press which was in opposition to the party."
mainstream press doesn't have to be coerced by a government Press Law
to avoid publicly opposing Bush's most egregious policies. Television
news networks, in particular, have voluntarily held back serious
scrutiny. They have not only failed to discuss the recent Military
Commissions Act at length, but in the run-up to the Iraq war, liberal
talk show host Phil Donahue and comedian Bill Maher were fired for
challenging the White House spin about Iraq and the 9/11 attacks.
Shirer also describes the
ease with which the German Reichstag gave Hitler the power to change
the nature of
Germany's parliamentary democracy. He writes:
"One by one,
most powerful institutions now began to surrender to Hitler and to pass
quietly, unprotestingly, out of existence…It cannot be said they went
down fighting. On May 19, 1933, the Social Democrats - those who were
not in jail or in exile - voted in the Reichstag without a dissenting
voice to approve Hitler's foreign policy."
Shirer concludes: "The
one-party totalitarian state had been achieved with scarcely a ripple
of opposition or defiance, and within four months after the Reichstag
had abdicated its democratic responsibilities."
The U.S. Congress, like the German Reichstag, has abdicated its
democratic responsibilities by granting Bush an inordinate amount of
power - "with scarcely a ripple of opposition or defiance." The
press has abandoned its role as democracy's watchdog by failing to
question this development. Both of these institutions have failed the
Considering Bush is using
the war on terror to justify seizing undue power, both Congress and the
media should question his reasoning and offer opposition. Just as they
didn't effectively challenge the administration's shifting excuses for
Iraq, these institutions haven't scrutinized Bush's
claims about the need for the Military Commissions Act and the
apparently endless war on terrorism.
Among things Congress and
the media should challenge is George W. Bush's false claim that the
States does not torture. In an article published at the
CommonDreams.org site, journalist Molly Ivins reports that in one case
of death from torture by Americans, the military at first said the
prisoner's death was caused by a heart attack. Ivins adds that the
coroner later said the heart attack occurred after the prisoner "had
been beaten so often on his legs that they had 'basically been
She adds that the Bush
administration's officially sanctioning torture "throws out legal and
moral restraints as the president deems necessary - these are
fundamental principles of basic decency, as well as law." Ivins isn't
inclined to hyperbole, yet she says of Americans' passive acceptance of
this new law: "Do not pretend to be shocked when the world begins
comparing us to the Nazis."
As Jonathan Turley said on Olbermann's program, "I think you can feel
the judgment of history. It won't be kind to President Bush. But
frankly, I don't think that it will be kind to the rest of us. I think
that history will ask, 'Where were you? What did you do when this thing
was signed into law?' There were people that protested the Japanese
concentration camps; there were people that protested these other acts.
But we are strangely silent in this national yawn as our rights
Future generations will wonder why the U.S. Congress and mainstream
press helped Bush build up an imperial presidency and eliminate
Constitutional protections. If they're able to sort through the
administration's fallacies and lies and clearly see what went wrong
with America during this time, they'll wonder why there were so few
Molly Ivins's, Keith Olbermann's and Jonathan Turley's.
Coming generations will also ask why by comparison there were so many
who failed to notice the obvious holes in Bush's logic and why so many
turned a blind eye to his numerous false assertions and cruel policies.
They'll wonder why so many supported, whether by direct action or by
silence, the Bush administration's changing the fundamental nature of
the democratic Republic we were given by America's founders, based on
the flimsy excuse of fighting a war on terrorism - a "war" Bush defines
falsely and fights ineffectively.
Generations to come might ask why this president who lied so often,
Iraq and other critical matters, was ever entrusted with
enough power to damage this country's founding principles and wage
endless, unprovoked war on other nations. If Congress and the media
would ask these questions now, they might prevent Bush from doing
further harm. This might save many lives, prevent much unnecessary
suffering and possibly steer this country out of its present darkness.
Carla Binion is a freelance researcher and writer whose essays have
been published at various Web sites.
from Richard Du Boff :
Date: Tue, 24 Oct 2006
Subject: USA doesn't cut and run!
Saigon, 30 April 1975...:
Vietnamese back over the American Embassy wall
from ICH :
26 October 2006
Aaron Russo's "America Freedom to Fascism"
presents startling facts about our laws, raising critical issues that
Americans must consider if they are to be a free people.
from Tony Judt :
25 October 2006
Bush’s Useful Idiots
The Strange Death of Liberal America
by Tony Judt
have American liberals acquiesced in President Bush’s catastrophic
foreign policy? Why have they so little to say about Iraq, about
Lebanon, or about reports of a planned attack on Iran? Why has the
administration’s sustained attack on civil liberties and international
law aroused so little opposition or anger from those who used to care
most about these things? Why, in short, has the liberal intelligentsia
of the United States in recent years kept its head safely below the
It wasn’t always so. On 26 October 1988, the New York Times carried a
full-page advertisement for liberalism. Headed ‘A Reaffirmation of
Principle’, it openly rebuked Ronald Reagan for deriding ‘the dreaded
L-word’ and treating ‘liberals’ and ‘liberalism’ as terms of
opprobrium. Liberal principles, the text affirmed, are ‘timeless.
Extremists of the right and of the left have long attacked liberalism
as their greatest enemy. In our own time liberal democracies have been
crushed by such extremists. Against any encouragement of this tendency
in our own country, intentional or not, we feel obliged to speak out.’
The advertisement was signed by 63 prominent intellectuals, writers and
businessmen: among them Daniel Bell, J.K. Galbraith, Felix Rohatyn,
Arthur Schlesinger Jr, Irving Howe and Eudora Welty. These and other
signatories – the economist Kenneth Arrow, the poet Robert Penn Warren
– were the critical intellectual core, the steady moral centre of
American public life. But who, now, would sign such a protest?
Liberalism in the United States today is the politics that dares not
speak its name. And those who style themselves ‘liberal intellectuals’
are otherwise engaged. As befits the new Gilded Age, in which the pay
ratio of an American CEO to that of a skilled worker is 412:1 and a
corrupted Congress is awash in lobbies and favours, the place of the
liberal intellectual has been largely taken over by an admirable cohort
of ‘muck-raking’ investigative journalists – Seymour Hersh, Michael
Massing and Mark Danner, writing in the New Yorker and the New York
Review of Books.
The collapse of liberal self-confidence in the contemporary US can be
variously explained. In part it is a backwash from the lost illusions
of the 1960s generation, a retreat from the radical nostrums of youth
into the all-consuming business of material accumulation and personal
security. The signatories of the New York Times advertisement were born
in most cases many years earlier, their political opinions shaped by
the 1930s above all. Their commitments were the product of experience
and adversity and made of sterner stuff. The disappearance of the
liberal centre in American politics is also a direct outcome of the
deliquescence of the Democratic Party. In domestic politics liberals
once believed in the provision of welfare, good government and social
justice. In foreign affairs they had a longstanding commitment to
international law, negotiation, and the importance of moral example.
Today, a spreading me-first consensus has replaced vigorous public
debate in both arenas. And like their political counterparts, the
critical intelligentsia once so prominent in American cultural life has
This process was well underway before 11 September 2001, and in
domestic affairs at least, Bill Clinton and his calculated policy
‘triangulations’ must carry some responsibility for the evisceration of
liberal politics. But since then the moral and intellectual arteries of
the American body politic have hardened further. Magazines and
newspapers of the traditional liberal centre – the New Yorker, the New
Republic, the Washington Post and the New York Times itself – fell over
themselves in the hurry to align their editorial stance with that of a
Republican president bent on exemplary war. A fearful conformism
gripped the mainstream media. And America’s liberal intellectuals found
at last a new cause.
Or, rather, an old cause in a new guise. For what distinguishes the
worldview of Bush’s liberal supporters from that of his
neo-conservative allies is that they don’t look on the ‘War on Terror’,
or the war in Iraq, or the war in Lebanon and eventually Iran, as mere
serial exercises in the re-establishment of American martial dominance.
They see them as skirmishes in a new global confrontation: a Good
Fight, reassuringly comparable to their grandparents’ war against
Fascism and their Cold War liberal parents’ stance against
international Communism. Once again, they assert, things are clear. The
world is ideologically divided; and – as before – we must take our
stand on the issue of the age. Long nostalgic for the comforting
verities of a simpler time, today’s liberal intellectuals have at last
discovered a sense of purpose: they are at war with ‘Islamo-fascism’.
Thus Paul Berman, a frequent contributor to Dissent, the New Yorker and
other liberal journals, and until now better known as a commentator on
American cultural affairs, recycled himself as an expert on Islamic
fascism (itself a new term of art), publishing Terror and Liberalism
just in time for the Iraq war. Peter Beinart, a former editor of the
New Republic, followed in his wake this year with The Good Fight: Why
Liberals – and Only Liberals – Can Win the War on Terror and Make
America Great Again, where he sketches at some length the resemblance
between the War on Terror and the early Cold War. Neither author had
previously shown any familiarity with the Middle East, much less with
the Wahhabi and Sufi traditions on which they pronounce with such
But like Christopher Hitchens and other former left-liberal pundits now
expert in ‘Islamo-fascism’, Beinart and Berman and their kind really
are conversant – and comfortable – with a binary division of the world
along ideological lines. In some cases they can even look back to their
own youthful Trotskyism when seeking a template and thesaurus for
world-historical antagonisms. In order for today’s ‘fight’ (note the
recycled Leninist lexicon of conflicts, clashes, struggles and wars) to
make political sense, it too must have a single universal enemy whose
ideas we can study, theorise and combat; and the new confrontation must
be reducible, like its 20th-century predecessor, to a familiar
juxtaposition that eliminates exotic complexity and confusion:
Democracy v. Totalitarianism, Freedom v. Fascism, Them v. Us.
To be sure, Bush’s liberal supporters have been disappointed by his
efforts. Every newspaper I have listed and many others besides have
carried editorials criticising Bush’s policy on imprisonment, his use
of torture and above all the sheer ineptitude of the president’s war.
But here, too, the Cold War offers a revealing analogy. Like Stalin’s
Western admirers who, in the wake of Khrushchev’s revelations, resented
the Soviet dictator not so much for his crimes as for discrediting
their Marxism, so intellectual supporters of the Iraq War – among them
Michael Ignatieff, Leon Wieseltier, David Remnick and other prominent
figures in the North American liberal establishment – have focused
their regrets not on the catastrophic invasion itself (which they all
supported) but on its incompetent execution. They are irritated with
Bush for giving ‘preventive war’ a bad name.
In a similar vein, those centrist voices that bayed most insistently
for blood in the prelude to the Iraq War – the New York Times columnist
Thomas Friedman demanded that France be voted ‘Off the Island’ (i.e.
out of the Security Council) for its presumption in opposing America’s
drive to war – are today the most confident when asserting their
monopoly of insight into world affairs. The same Friedman now sneers at
‘anti-war activists who haven’t thought a whit about the larger
struggle we’re in’ (New York Times, 16 August). To be sure, Friedman’s
Pulitzer-winning pieties are always road-tested for middlebrow
political acceptability. But for just that reason they are a sure guide
to the mood of the American intellectual mainstream.
Friedman is seconded by Beinart, who concedes that he ‘didn’t
realise’(!) how detrimental American actions would be to ‘the struggle’
but insists even so that anyone who won’t stand up to ‘Global Jihad’
just isn’t a consistent defender of liberal values. Jacob Weisberg, the
editor of Slate, writing in the Financial Times, accuses Democratic
critics of the Iraq War of failing ‘to take the wider, global battle
against Islamic fanaticism seriously’. The only people qualified to
speak on this matter, it would seem, are those who got it wrong
initially. Such insouciance in spite of – indeed because of – your past
misjudgments recalls a remark by the French ex-Stalinist Pierre
Courtade to Edgar Morin, a dissenting Communist vindicated by events:
‘You and your kind were wrong to be right; we were right to be wrong.’
It is particularly ironic that the ‘Clinton generation’ of American
liberal intellectuals take special pride in their ‘tough-mindedness’,
in their success in casting aside the illusions and myths of the old
left, for these same ‘tough’ new liberals reproduce some of that old
left’s worst characteristics. They may see themselves as having
migrated to the opposite shore; but they display precisely the same
mixture of dogmatic faith and cultural provincialism, not to mention
the exuberant enthusiasm for violent political transformation at other
people’s expense, that marked their fellow-travelling predecessors
across the Cold War ideological divide. The use value of such persons
to ambitious, radical regimes is an old story. Indeed, intellectual
camp followers of this kind were first identified by Lenin himself, who
coined the term that still describes them best. Today, America’s
liberal armchair warriors are the ‘useful idiots’ of the War on Terror.
In fairness, America’s bellicose intellectuals are not alone. In
Europe, Adam Michnik, the hero of the Polish intellectual resistance to
Communism, has become an outspoken admirer of the embarrassingly
Islamophobic Oriana Fallaci; Václav Havel has joined the
DC-based Committee on the Present Danger (a recycled Cold War-era
organisation dedicated to rooting out Communists, now pledged to
fighting ‘the threat posed by global radical Islamist and fascist
terrorist movements’); André Glucksmann in Paris contributes
agitated essays to Le Figaro (most recently on 8 August) lambasting
‘universal Jihad’, Iranian ‘lust for power’ and radical Islam’s
strategy of ‘green subversion’. All three enthusiastically supported
the invasion of Iraq.
In the European case this trend is an unfortunate by-product of the
intellectual revolution of the 1980s, especially in the former
Communist East, when ‘human rights’ displaced conventional political
allegiances as the basis for collective action. The gains wrought by
this transformation in the rhetoric of oppositional politics were
considerable. But a price was paid all the same. A commitment to the
abstract universalism of ‘rights’ – and uncompromising ethical stands
taken against malign regimes in their name – can lead all too readily
to the habit of casting every political choice in binary moral terms.
In this light Bush’s War against Terror, Evil and Islamo-fascism
appears seductive and even familiar: self-deluding foreigners readily
mistake the US president’s myopic rigidity for their own moral
But back home, America’s liberal intellectuals are fast becoming a
service class, their opinions determined by their allegiance and
calibrated to justify a political end. In itself this is hardly a new
departure: we are all familiar with intellectuals who speak only on
behalf of their country, class, religion, race, gender or sexual
orientation, and who shape their opinions according to what they take
to be the interest of their affinity of birth or predilection. But the
distinctive feature of the liberal intellectual in past times was
precisely the striving for universality; not the unworldly or
disingenuous denial of sectional interest but the sustained effort to
transcend that interest.
It is thus depressing to read some of the better known and more
avowedly ‘liberal’ intellectuals in the contemporary USA exploiting
their professional credibility to advance a partisan case. Jean Bethke
Elshtain and Michael Walzer, two senior figures in the country’s
philosophical establishment (she at the University of Chicago Divinity
School, he at the Princeton Institute), both wrote portentous essays
purporting to demonstrate the justness of necessary wars – she in Just
War against Terror: The Burden of American Power in a Violent World, a
pre-emptive defence of the Iraq War; he only a few weeks ago in a
shameless justification of Israel’s bombardments of Lebanese civilians
(‘War Fair’, New Republic, 31 July). In today’s America,
neo-conservatives generate brutish policies for which liberals provide
the ethical fig-leaf. There really is no other difference between them.
One of the particularly depressing ways in which liberal intellectuals
have abdicated personal and ethical responsibility for the actions they
now endorse can be seen in their failure to think independently about
the Middle East. Not every liberal cheerleader for the Global War
against Islamo-fascism, or against Terror, or against Global Jihad, is
an unreconstructed supporter of Likud: Christopher Hitchens, for one,
is critical of Israel. But the willingness of so many American pundits
and commentators and essayists to roll over for Bush’s doctrine of
preventive war; to abstain from criticising the disproportionate use of
air power on civilian targets in both Iraq and Lebanon; and to stay
coyly silent in the face of Condoleezza Rice’s enthusiasm for the
bloody ‘birth pangs of a new Middle East’, makes more sense when one
recalls their backing for Israel: a country which for fifty years has
rested its entire national strategy on preventive wars,
disproportionate retaliation, and efforts to redesign the map of the
whole Middle East.
Since its inception the state of Israel has fought a number of wars of
choice (the only exception was the Yom Kippur War of 1973). To be sure,
these have been presented to the world as wars of necessity or
self-defence; but Israel’s statesmen and generals have never been under
any such illusion. Whether this approach has done Israel much good is
debatable (for a clear-headed recent account that describes as a
resounding failure his country’s strategy of using wars of choice to
‘redraw’ the map of its neighbourhood, see Scars of War, Wounds of
Peace: The Israeli-Arab Tragedy by Shlomo Ben-Ami, a historian and
former Israeli foreign minister). But the idea of a super-power
behaving in a similar way – responding to terrorist threats or
guerrilla incursions by flattening another country just to preserve its
own deterrent credibility – is odd in the extreme. It is one thing for
the US unconditionally to underwrite Israel’s behaviour (though in
neither country’s interest, as some Israeli commentators at least have
remarked). But for the US to imitate Israel wholesale, to import that
tiny country’s self-destructive, intemperate response to any hostility
or opposition and to make it the leitmotif of American foreign policy:
that is simply bizarre.
Bush’s Middle Eastern policy now tracks so closely to the Israeli
precedent that it is very difficult to see daylight between the two. It
is this surreal turn of events that helps explain the confusion and
silence of American liberal thinking on the subject (as well, perhaps,
as Tony Blair’s syntactically sympathetic me-tooism). Historically,
liberals have been unsympathetic to ‘wars of choice’ when undertaken or
proposed by their own government. War, in the liberal imagination (and
not only the liberal one), is a last resort, not a first option. But
the United States now has an Israeli-style foreign policy and America’s
liberal intellectuals overwhelmingly support it.
The contradictions to which this can lead are striking. There is, for
example, a blatant discrepancy between Bush’s proclaimed desire to
bring democracy to the Muslim world and his refusal to intervene when
the only working instances of fragile democracy in action in the whole
Muslim world – in Palestine and Lebanon – were systematically ignored
and then shattered by America’s Israeli ally. This discrepancy, and the
bad faith and hypocrisy which it seems to suggest, have become a staple
of editorial pages and internet blogs the world over, to America’s
lasting discredit. But America’s leading liberal intellectuals have
kept silent. To speak would be to choose between the tactical logic of
America’s new ‘war of movement’ against Islamic fascism – democracy as
the sweetener for American involvement – and the strategic tradition of
Israeli statecraft, for which democratic neighbours are no better and
most likely worse than authoritarian ones. This is not a choice that
most American liberal commentators are even willing to acknowledge,
much less make. And so they say nothing.
This blind spot obscures and risks polluting and obliterating every
traditional liberal concern and inhibition. How else can one explain
the appalling illustration on the cover of the New Republic of 7
August: a lurid depiction of Hizbullah’s Hassan Nasrallah in the style
of Der Stürmer crossed with more than a touch of the ‘Dirty Jap’
cartoons of World War Two? How else is one to account for the
convoluted, sophistic defence by Leon Wieseltier in the same journal of
the killing of Arab children in Qana (‘These are not tender times’)?
But the blind spot is not just ethical, it is also political: if
American liberals ‘didn’t realise’ why their war in Iraq would have the
predictable effect of promoting terrorism, benefiting the Iranian
ayatollahs and turning Iraq into Lebanon, then we should not expect
them to understand (or care) that Israel’s brutal over-reaction risks
turning Lebanon into Iraq.
In Five Germanys I Have Known, Fritz Stern – a coauthor of the 1988 New
York Times text defending liberalism – writes of his concern about the
condition of the liberal spirit in America today. It is with the
extinction of that spirit, he notes, that the death of a republic
begins. Stern, a historian and a refugee from Nazi Germany, speaks with
authority on this matter. And he is surely correct. We don’t expect
right-wingers to care very much about the health of a republic,
particularly when they are assiduously engaged in the unilateral
promotion of empire. And the ideological left, while occasionally adept
at analysing the shortcomings of a liberal republic, is typically not
much interested in defending it.
It is the liberals, then, who count. They are, as it might be, the
canaries in the sulphurous mineshaft of modern democracy. The alacrity
with which many of America’s most prominent liberals have censored
themselves in the name of the War on Terror, the enthusiasm with which
they have invented ideological and moral cover for war and war crimes
and proffered that cover to their political enemies: all this is a bad
sign. Liberal intellectuals used to be distinguished precisely by their
efforts to think for themselves, rather than in the service of others.
Intellectuals should not be smugly theorising endless war, much less
confidently promoting and excusing it. They should be engaged in
disturbing the peace – their own above all.
1 HarperCollins, 288 pp., $25.95, June, 0 06 084161 3.
2 Weidenfeld, 280 pp., £20, November, 0 297 84883 6.
3 To be reviewed in a future issue.
Tony Judt directs the Remarque Institute at New
York University. He is the author of The Burden of Responsibility:
Blum, Camus, Aron and the French 20th Century and, most recently,
Postwar: A History of Europe since 1945.
from Council for the National Interest Foundation :
1250 4th Street SW, Suite WG-1
Washington, District of Columbia 20024
26 October 2006
Subject: Christian Zionism: An Egregious Threat to U.S.-Middle East
Christian Zionism: An Egregious
Threat to U.S. - Middle East Understanding
Council for the National Interest Foundation
, a belief that paradise for Christians can only be achieved
once Jews are in control of the Holy Land, is gathering strength in the
United States and forging alliances that are giving increasingly weird
shape to American policy toward the Middle East. The nature of
the movement and its detrimental impact on policy was the subject of
Capitol Hill public hearing presented by the
Council for the National Interest yesterday.
A new Zogby
International poll commissioned by the CNI Foundation
shows that 31
percent of those surveyed in the national poll strongly believe or
somewhat believe in the ideas behind Christian Zionism, defined as "the
belief that Jews must have all of the promised land, including all of
Jerusalem, to facilitate the second coming of the messiah."
Other polls bear similar messages, that 53% of Americans believe that
Israel was given by God to the Jews (Pew), and that 59% of the American
public believes the prophecies contained in the Book of Revelations
will come true (CNN/Time.)
The international implications of such beliefs are profound, as an
increasing number of Americans believe that God sets foreign policy
goals. Rev. Robert O. Smith, Lutheran pastor at the University of
Chicago, one of the speakers at the hearing, discussed the development
of this belief that dates to the 19th
century and how it has
received a powerful new impetus with the founding this year of a new
group of the Christian right called Christians United for Israel
(CUFI). And yet while it works closely with Jewish Zionist
organizations in the US, including the American Israel Public Affairs
Committee, to promote the continued occupation of Palestine by the
Israel (land God has given the Jews), it works just as effectively in
dehumanizing the original inhabitants of the Holy Land, both Muslims
Another speaker, Rammy Haija, who teaches at Radford University, drew
attention to the necessity in the Christian Zionist dogma for the
Israelis to retain control not only of the whole of the occupied
territory but also all of Jerusalem. Christian Zionists have pushed the
militarist policies of both Israel and the U.S. in an effort to secure
the Holy Land in preparation for the coming of the "promised
land." As part of this strategy, the U.S. occupation of Iraq is
deemed absolutely necessary.
The irony of the alliance between Christian Zionists and Jewish
Zionists is that the one ideology promotes the ultimate destruction of
the other. As Smith pointed out, the "Christians United for Israel" is
all about Israel, not about the Israelis, and only a little surface
digging into Christian Zionism shows how anti-Semitic it really
is. So much so that Abraham Foxman, the head of the
Anti-Defamation League, one of the ceaseless champions of Zionism in
this country, has called the Christian right one of the direst threats
to American Jews. This has not prevented top Israeli officials
from paying homage to the Christian right, including Ariel Sharon
(before he descended into a comatose state brought on by the withdrawal
of the settlers from Gaza, Pat Robertson opined), the Israeli
ambassador Daniel Ayalon, and Benjamin Netanyahu, and a host of others.
The ability of CUFI and other far right Christian religious leaders
like Jerry Farwell and Pat Robertson to raise money for Israel,
including Israeli settlements, is well documented.
Christian Zionism, Smith concluded, has a fundamental lack of earthly
concerns, is divorced from reality, and undermines the work of
politics. Its practical impact is the killing of people in the Holy
Land. The recent statement by the Christian religious leaders of
Jerusalem that warned against Christian Zionism's policies of racist
intolerance and perpetual war was much needed, but it should have come
from America's religious leaders.
Council for the National Interest Foundation
from Robert Fisk :
October 30, 2006
Mystry of Israel's Secret Uranium
Did Israel use a secret new uranium-based weapon in southern
Lebanon this summer in the 34-day assault that cost more than 1,300
Lebanese lives, most of them civilians?
Alarm over radioactive legacy left by attack on
by Robert Fisk
We know that the Israelis used American "bunker-buster" bombs on
Hizbollah's Beirut headquarters. We know that they drenched southern
Lebanon with cluster bombs in the last 72 hours of the war, leaving
tens of thousands of bomblets which are still killing Lebanese
civilians every week. And we now know -- after it first categorically
denied using such munitions -- that the Israeli army also used
phosphorous bombs, weapons which are supposed to be restricted under
the third protocol of the Geneva Conventions, which neither Israel nor
the United States have signed.
But scientific evidence gathered from at least two bomb craters in
Khiam and At-Tiri, the scene of fierce fighting between Hizbollah
guerrillas and Israeli troops last July and August, suggests that
uranium- based munitions may now also be included in Israel's weapons
inventory -- and were used against targets in Lebanon. According to Dr
Chris Busby, the British Scientific Secretary of the European Committee
on Radiation Risk, two soil samples thrown up by Israeli heavy or
guided bombs showed "elevated radiation signatures". Both have been
forwarded for further examination to the Harwell laboratory in
Oxfordshire for mass spectrometry -- used by the Ministry of Defence --
which has confirmed the concentration of uranium isotopes in the
Dr Busby's initial report states that there are two possible reasons
for the contamination. "The first is that the weapon was some novel
small experimental nuclear fission device or other experimental weapon
(eg, a thermobaric weapon) based on the high temperature of a uranium
oxidation flash ... The second is that the weapon was a bunker-busting
conventional uranium penetrator weapon employing enriched uranium
rather than depleted uranium." A photograph of the explosion of the
first bomb shows large clouds of black smoke that might result from
Enriched uranium is produced from natural uranium ore and is used as
fuel for nuclear reactors. A waste productof the enrichment process is
depleted uranium, it is an extremely hard metal used in anti-tank
missiles for penetrating armour. Depleted uranium is less radioactive
than natural uranium, which is less radioactive than enriched uranium.
Israel has a poor reputation for telling the truth about its use of
weapons in Lebanon. In 1982, it denied using phosphorous munitions on
civilian areas -- until journalists discovered dying and dead civilians
whose wounds caught fire when exposed to air.
I saw two dead babies who, when taken from a mortuary drawer in West
Beirut during the Israeli siege of the city, suddenly burst back into
flames. Israel officially denied using phosphorous again in Lebanon
during the summer -- except for "marking" targets -- even after
civilians were photographed in Lebanese hospitals with burn wounds
consistent with phosphorous munitions.
Then on Sunday, Israel suddenly admitted that it had not been telling
the truth. Jacob Edery, the Israeli minister in charge of
government-parliament relations, confirmed that phosphorous shells were
used in direct attacks against Hizbollah, adding that "according to
international law, the use of phosphorous munitions is authorised and
the (Israeli) army keeps to the rules of international norms".
Asked by The Independent if the Israeli army had been using
uranium-based munitions in Lebanon this summer, Mark Regev, the Israeli
Foreign Ministry spokesman, said: "Israel does not use any weaponry
which is not authorised by international law or international
conventions." This, however, begs more questions than it answers. Much
international law does not cover modern uranium weapons because they
were not invented when humanitarian rules such as the Geneva
Conventions were drawn up and because Western governments still refuse
to believe that their use can cause long-term damage to the health of
thousands of civilians living in the area of the explosions.
American and British forces used hundreds of tons of depleted uranium
(DU) shells in Iraq in 1991 -- their hardened penetrator warheads
manufactured from the waste products of the nuclear industry -- and
five years later, a plague of cancers emerged across the south of Iraq.
Initial US military assessments warned of grave consequences for public
health if such weapons were used against armoured vehicles. But the US
administration and the British government later went out of their way
to belittle these claims. Yet the cancers continued to spread amid
reports that civilians in Bosnia -- where DU was also used by Nato
aircraft -- were suffering new forms of cancer. DU shells were again
used in the 2003 Anglo-American invasion of Iraq but it is too early to
register any health effects.
"When a uranium penetrator hits a hard target, the particles of the
explosion are very long-lived in the environment," Dr Busby said
yesterday. "They spread over long distances. They can be inhaled into
the lungs. The military really seem to believe that this stuff is not
as dangerous as it is." Yet why would Israel use such a weapon when its
targets -- in the case of Khiam, for example -- were only two miles
from the Israeli border? The dust ignited by DU munitions can be blown
across international borders, just as the chlorine gas used in attacks
by both sides in the First World War often blew back on its
Chris Bellamy, the professor of military science and doctrine at
Cranfield University, who has reviewed the Busby report, said: "At
worst it's some sort of experimental weapon with an enriched uranium
component the purpose of which we don't yet know. At best -- if you can
say that -- it shows a remarkably cavalier attitude to the use of
nuclear waste products."
The soil sample from Khiam -- site of a notorious torture prison when
Israel occupied southern Lebanon between 1978 and 2000, and a frontline
Hizbollah stronghold in the summer war -- was a piece of impacted red
earth from an explosion; the isotope ratio was 108, indicative of the
presence of enriched uranium. "The health effects on local civilian
populations following the use of large uranium penetrators and the
large amounts of respirable uranium oxide particles in the atmosphere,"
the Busby report says, "are likely to be significant ... we recommend
that the area is examined for further traces of these weapons with a
view to clean up."
This summer's Lebanon war began after Hizbollah guerrillas crossed the
Lebanese frontier into Israel, captured two Israeli soldiers and killed
three others, prompting Israel to unleash a massive bombardment of
Lebanon's villages, cities, bridges and civilian infrastructure. Human
rights groups have said that Israel committed war crimes when it
attacked civilians, but that Hizbollah was also guilty of such crimes
because it fired missiles into Israel which were also filled with
ball-bearings, turning their rockets into primitive one-time-only
Many Lebanese, however, long ago concluded that the latest Lebanon war
was a weapons testing ground for the Americans and Iranians, who
respectively supply Israel and Hizbollah with munitions. Just as Israel
used hitherto-unproven US missiles in its attacks, so the Iranians were
able to test-fire a rocket which hit an Israeli corvette off the
Lebanese coast, killing four Israeli sailors and almost sinking the
vessel after it suffered a 15-hour on-board fire.
What the weapons manufacturers make of the latest scientific findings
of potential uranium weapons use in southern Lebanon is not yet known.
Nor is their effect on civilians.
from Greg Palast :
26 October 2006
The Guardian (London)
I WANT TO HURT SOMEBODY
by Greg Palast
pure war-nography. The front page of the New York Times today splashed
a four-column-wide close-up of a blood-covered bullet in the
blood-soaked hands of an army medic who'd retrieved it from the brain
of Lance Cpl. Colin Smith.
There was a 40 column-inch profile of the medic. There were photos of
the platoon, guns over shoulders, praying for the fallen buddy. The
Times is careful not to ruin the heroic mood, so there is no photograph
of pieces of corporal Smith's shattered head. Instead, there's an old,
smiling photo of the wounded soldier.
The reporter, undoubtedly wearing the Kevlar armor of the troop in
which he's "embedded," quotes at length the thoughts of the military
medic: "I would like to say that I am a good man. But seeing this
now, what happened to Smith, I want to hurt people. You know what I
The reporter does not bother -- or dare -- to record a single word from
any Iraqi in the town of Karma where Smith's platoon was, "performing a
hard hit on a house."
I don't know what a "hard hit" is. But I don't think I'd want one
"performed" on my home. Maybe Iraqis feel the way I do.
We won't know. The only Iraqi noted by the reporter was, "a woman [who]
walked calmly between the sniper and the marines."
The Times reporter informs us that Lance Cpl. Smith, "said a prayer
today," before he charged into the village. We're told that Smith had,
"the cutest little blond girlfriend" and "his dad was his hero." Did
the calm woman also say her prayers today? Is her dad her hero, too? We
don't know. No one asks.
The reporter and his photographer did visit a home in the neighborhood
-- but only after the "hit" force kicked in the door. I suppose that's
an improvement over the typical level of reporting we get. In
dispatches home by the few US journalists who brave beyond the Green
Zone, Iraqis are little more than dark shapes glimpsed through the
slots of a speeding Humvee.
Last month there was a big hoo-ha over the statistical accuracy of a
Johns Hopkins University study estimating that 655,000 Iraqis have died
as a result of this war.
I doubt the Iraqi who fired that bullet into Lance Cpl. Smith read the
Hopkins study. Iraqis don't need a professor of statistics to tell them
what happens in a "hard hit" on a house. Of civilians killed by the US
forces the Hopkins team found 46% are younger than fifteen years old.
I grieve for Lance Cpl. Smith and I can't know for certain what moved
the sniper to pick up a gun and shoot him. However, I've no doubt that,
like the Marines who said prayers before they invaded the homes of the
terrified residents of Karma, the sniper also said a prayer before he
loaded the 7.62mm shell into his carbine.
And if we asked, I'm sure the sniper would tell us, "I am a good man,
but seeing what happened, I want to hurt people."
Greg Palast is the author of the New York Times bestseller, "Armed
Madhouse" Go to
from Robert Jensen :
4 November 2006
One of the most devastating consequences of
unearned privilege -- both for those of us on top
and, for very different reasons, those who suffer beneath -- is the
death of empathy.