Bulletin N°315




21 August 2007
Grenoble, France

Dear Colleagues and Friends of CEIMSA,
Anyone who has attempted to teach U.S. students the history of the Vietnam war period knows the practico-inert that awaits them when they attempt to correct the misinformation and misunderstandings propagated by sources like the Hollywood film industry, television and radio stations, and most of the mainstream print media outlets. The misinformation on this subject that has been poured into the minds of people has, in effect, laid a solid foundation for the social construction of a mythological appreciation of the Vietnam war era, excluding such inconvenient truths as the Geneva Accords of 1954, the Tonkin Bay Incident of 1964, the Mai Lai Massacre of 1968, the CIA's Phoenix ( assassination) Program, and a host of other events such as the activities of COINTELPRO against the U.S. anti-war movement, the Kent State massacre (May 4, 1970), the Jackson State massacre (May 14, 1970), the liquidation of the Black Panther Party (by 1972), etc., etc....

Mass communication, with its good-guy/bad-guy Hollywood films and mainstream "news" coverage, has not prepared us for democratic participation in policy matters. Instead we perceive a one-dimensional political landscape much like the script of a B-grade movie. The scenario that follows is simple and mostly predictable. William Golding captured these dynamics in his classic book which years ago was on the required reading list at orientations for entering freshmen at every reputable American university. His Lord of the Flies depicts the mass psychology of political organization on the cheap: "Yes, Piggy must die!" --this demand served to galvanize the group behind the strongest urges of the gang leader who sought simply to maintain his authority over the others. Wilhelm Reich's books on the psychology of fascism, The Mass Psychology of Fascism and Listen Little Man, speak eloquently to this social phenomenon of domination/subjugation in its modern social context.

For many years now, we at CEIMSA have been inspired by the intellectual courage and honesty of intellectuals like Edward Herman, Noam Chomsky, Bertell Ollman, Michael Parenti, Michael Albert, and Fred Lonidier --to name only a few of the specialists in American social criticism with whom we are proudly associated.

Today we are witnessing historic shifts in the political landscape of the United States. The national security state has entered a new phase, and the violence necessary to hold it together also generates new and attractive investment opportunities. For many of us, these developments constitute a spiral downward toward an ever poorer quality of life, where repressive tolerance and silent collaboration with tyranny is rewarded with a greater variety of cheaper commodities. Social alienation today has never been more palpable, and while the communication revolution we are living today has raised the consciousness of millions of citizens who find themselves increasingly alarmed at the institutional deterioration, the social control mechanisms which prevent real democratic reforms from ever challenging the corporate seizure of control over public institutions seem to be more effective than ever. Certainly these control mechanisms are more visible that ever before in American society.

In her book, The Shock Doctrine: The Rise of Disaster Capitalism, Naomi Klein describes this new phase of capitalist development, in all its digital complexity. The private profit motive is, indeed, ingenious. It's hard to imagine more lucrative short-term profit opportunities than what the Bush administration has already afforded international capital over the past several years. All signs seem to indicate that this phase, which she calls disaster capitalism, is far from over. A careful calculation of possible "winners" and "loosers" promises to fill the ranks with new recruits to serve in the army of ideologues who are necessary to make virtual prosperity seem real and to make real inequalities and injustices appear as only imaginary.

We urge CEIMSA readers to look at the August 10 issue of William Blum's Anti-Empire Report for a concise summary of what those of us who wish positive change are up against. By many accounts, market democracy may be with us to the bitter end, simply because, as George Orwell reminded us long ago, "Those who control the present control the past, and those who control the past control the future." Or, in the modern-day language of Gore Vidal, the "historical concrete" that is being poured today is composed with information concocted by those with access to the most influential mass media outlets.

Or, again, in the graphic language of economic historian Douglas Dowd, capitalism will continue to have its cheerleaders long after it is dead, like a snail moving across an arid landscape, its life and death will become indistinguishable, and long after it has dried up to the existence of a sun-bleached shell, some will see signs of life and continue to cheer it on. The end will come "not with a bang, but a whimper."

The 7 items below were received during our 4000 kilometer trek through "la France profonde" this summer. We emerged from this investigation with new hope and a thirst for international news. The following series of messages, mostly from our associate, Professor Edward Herman, offers an oasis of information, reintroducing us to the reality we need to know, if we are to make sense of our lives. We feel privileged to share these articles with the readers of CEIMSA and we hope you will find them as useful as we have.

Item A. is an article sent to us by Edward Herman, which lists the "50 religious insights" shared by George Bush.

In item B. Edward Herman introduces us to an article by Gareth Porter on neo-con war preparations against Iran, before the next presidential elections.

Item C., is an article by Professor Herman, analyzing the function of "market democracy" in our period of late capitalism.

Item D., is a report on the successful censorship of Professors John Mearsheimer and Stephen Walt by the Executive Board of the Chicago Global Affairs Council, in response to Zionist pressures.

Item E. is a description by Marc W. Herold of civilian casualties at the Baghran marketplace bombing by the U.S. armed forces on 2 August in Afghanistan.

Item F. is description from Dahr Jamail on the deaths caused by water shortages in Iraq.

Item G. is an interview with Al Jazeera English language reporter, Dave Marash, by George Kenney at Electric Politics.

Finally, we invite readers to watch the Democracy Now! pod cast of August 3, to get a fuller understanding of Malcolm X's warning, "the chickens come home to roost"."In Search of John Doe No. 2 : The Story the Feds Never Told About the Oklahoma City Bombing"

And, as always, we urge readers to visit Information Clearing House , for a great diversity of current reports on the effects of the U.S. political economy at home and abroad.

Francis McCollum Feeley
Professor of American Studies
Director of Research
Université Stendhal Grenoble 3


from Edward Herman :
Sent: Monday, August 13, 2007

Subject: 50 religious insights from George Bush.



George W. Bush talks to God but he also talks about God. Here are his top 50 quotes about religion, the Almighty, and putting words into God's mouth.

The Word according to Dubya: 50 religious insights from George Bush


1. I am driven with a mission from God. God would tell me, 'George go and fight these terrorists in Afghanistan'. And I did. And then God would tell me 'George, go and end the tyranny in Iraq'. And I did. Sharm el-Sheikh August 2003

2. I trust God speaks through me. Without that, I couldn't do my job.
Statement made during campaign visit to Amish community, Lancaster County, Pennsylvania, Jul. 9, 2004

3. I'm also mindful that man should never try to put words in God's mouth. I mean, we should never ascribe natural disasters or anything else to God. We are in no way, shape, or form should a human being, play God. Washington, D.C., Jan. 14, 2005

4. God loves you, and I love you. And you can count on both of us as a powerful message that people who wonder about their future can hear. Los Angeles, California, Mar. 3, 2004

5. I tell people all the time, you're equally American if you're a Christian, Jew, or Muslim. You're equally American if you believe in an Almighty or don't believe in an Almighty. That's a sacred freedom.
Washington, D.C., Mar. 10, 2006

6. Well, first of all, you got to understand some of my view on freedom, it's not American's gift to the world. See, freedom is God -- is God given. Interview with TVR, Romania, Nov. 23, 2002

7. I'm sure there is some kind of heavy doctrinal difference, which I'm not sophisticated enough to explain to you. Explaining the issues involved in his switching from attending an Episcopal church to attending a Methodist one, (date is approximate:), Jul. 1, 1994

8. I don't think you order suiciders to kill innocent men, women, and children if you're a religious person. Fond Du Lac, Wisconsin, Jul. 14, 2004

9. And there's nothing more powerful in helping change the country than the faith -- faith in Dios.
National Hispanic Prayer Breakfast, Washington, D.C., May 16, 2002

10. We believe in an Almighty, we believe in the freedom for people to worship that Almighty. They don't. Martinsburg, West Virginia, Jul. 4, 2007


11. The spirit of our people is the source of America's strength. And we go forward with trust in that spirit, confidence in our purpose, and faith in a loving God who made us to be free.
5th anniversary of the Sep. 11 attacks, White House, Sep. 11, 2006

12. Churches all across the country are reaching out -- synagogues, people from different faiths understand that it makes sense to help their parishioners realize the benefits of this plan.
Sun City Center, Florida, May 9, 2006

13.We can never replace lives, and we can't heal hearts, except through prayer.
Enterprise, Alabama, Mar. 3, 2007

14. God bless the people of this part of the world. Minneapolis, Minnesota, Aug. 4, 2007

15. I believe there's an Almighty, and I believe the Almighty's great gift to each man and woman in this world is the desire to be free. This isn't America's gift to the world, it is a universal gift to the world, and people want to be free. Manhattan, Kansas, Jan. 23, 2006

16. I couldn't imagine somebody like Osama bin Laden understanding the joy of Hanukkah
White House, Dec. 10, 200117.

17. I see an opportunity at home when I hear the stories of Christian and Jewish women alike, helping women of cover, Arab American women go shop because they're afraid to leave their home.
Washington, D.C., Oct. 4, 2001

18. It's a sign from above. Comment made when television light caught fire above crowd, Sioux Falls, South Dakota, Mar. 9, 2001

19. I did denounce it. I de- I denounced it. I denounced interracial dating. I denounced anti-Catholic bigacy... bigotry. Responding to attacks on his visit to ultra-conservative Bob Jones University, Greenville, South Carolina, Feb. 25, 2000

20. We are grateful for the freedoms we enjoy, grateful for the loved ones who give meaning to our lives, and grateful for the many gifts of this prosperous land. On Thanksgiving we acknowledge that all of these things, and life itself, come not from the hand of man, but from Almighty God.
Washington, D.C., Nov. 30, 2002

21. We say in our country, everybody matters, everybody is precious in the sight of an Almighty.
Northern State University, Aberdeen, South Dakota, Oct. 31, 2002

22. We love the fact that people can worship an almighty God any way they see fit here in America.
Phoenix, Arizona, Sep. 28, 2002

23. And I just -- I cannot speak strongly enough about how we must collectively get after those who kill in the name of -- in the name of some kind of false religion.
Press appearance with King Abdullah of Jordan, Aug. 1, 2002

24. We are commanded by God and called by our conscience to love others as we want to be loved ourselves. Ohio State University, Jun. 14, 2002

25. By being active citizens in your church or your synagogue, or for those Muslims, in your mosque, and adhering to the admission to love a neighbor just like you'd like to be loved yourself, that's how we can stand up.
Remarks to the cattle industry annual convention and trade show, Denver, Colorado, Feb. 8, 2002

26. And we base it, our history, and our decision making, our future, on solid values. The first value is, we're all God's children. Washington, D.C., Jul. 16, 2003

27. One of the great things about this country is a lot of people pray. Washington, D.C., Apr. 13, 2003

28. And there's no doubt in my mind, when the United States acts abroad and home, we do so based upon values -- particularly the value that we hold dear to our hearts, and that is, everybody ought to be free. I want to repeat what I said during my State of the Union to you. Liberty is not America's gift to the world. What we believe strongly, and what we hold dear, is liberty is God's gift to mankind. And we hold that value precious. And we believe it is true. White Sulphur Springs, West Virginia, Feb. 9, 2003

29. This great, powerful nation is motivated not by power for power's sake, but because of our values. If everybody matters, if every life counts, then we should hope everybody has the great God's gift of freedom. Grand Rapids, Michigan, Jan. 29, 2003


30. The short-term objective of this country is to find an enemy and bring them to justice before they strike us. The long-term objective is to make this world a more free and hopeful and peaceful place. I believe we'll succeed because freedom is the Almighty God's gift to every man and woman in this world.
Portsmouth, Ohio, Sep. 10, 2004

31. And if you choose to -- if you believe in the Almighty, you can -- you're equally an American. If you're a Jew, Christian or Muslim or Hindi or whatever. It is one of the great traits and traditions of our country, where people can worship the way you see fit. Interview on Larry King Live (CNN),, Aug. 15, 2004

32. By the way, to whom much has been given, much is owed. Not only are we leading the world in terms of encouraging freedom and peace, we're feeding the hungry. We're taking care of, as best as we possibly can, the victims of HIV/AIDS. Cedar Rapids, Iowa, Jul. 20, 2004

33. Faith-based is an important part of my life, individually, but I don't -- I don't ascribe a person's opposing my nominations to an issue of faith. Prime time press conference, White House, Apr. 28, 2005

34. I believe liberty is universal. I don't believe it is just for the United States of America alone. I believe there is an Almighty, and I believe the Almighty's gift to people worldwide is the desire to be free. Fort Irwin, California, Apr. 4, 2007

35. What a powerful statement to the world about the compassion of the American people that you're free to choose the religion you want in our country. Washington, D.C., Sep. 29, 2006

36. The United States of America must understand that freedom is universal, that there is an Almighty, and the great gift of that Almighty to each man and woman in this world is the desire to be free.  Nashville, Tennessee, Aug. 30, 2006

37. Tonight I ask you to pass legislation to prohibit the most egregious  abuses of medical research. ...Human life is a gift from our Creator -- and that gift should never be discarded, devalued or put up for sale.  2006 State of the Union Address, Jan. 31, 2006

38. One of the most -- I think one of the most important and interesting  domestic initiatives, which I agree has created an interesting philosophical debate, is to allow faith-based programs and community-based programs to access federal money in order to achieve the results we all want. I mean, for example, if you're trying to encourage people to quit drinking, doesn't it make sense to give people somebody an alternative -- he can maybe go to a government counselor? Or how about somebody who calls upon a higher being to help you quit drinking? All I care about is the results. Sterling, Virginia, Jan. 19, 2006

39. Every new citizen of the United States has an obligation to learn our    customs and values, including liberty and civic responsibility, equality under God and tolerance for others, and the English language. Tucson, Arizona, Nov. 28, 2005

40. We have a calling from beyond the stars to stand for freedom, and America will always be faithful to that cause. Washington, D.C., Jan. 19, 2005

41.Secondly, it's really important, Pete, that people not think government is a loving entity. Government is law and justice. Love comes from the hearts of people that are able to impart love. And therefore, what Craig is doing is -- he doesn't realize it -- he's a social entrepreneur. He is inspiring others to continue to reach out to say to somebody who is lonely, I love you. And I'm afraid this requires a higher power than the federal government to cause somebody to love somebody.

42. We don't believe that freedom is America's gift to the world. We believe freedom is the God Almighty's gift to each and every person in the world. California, Oct. 15, 2003

43. I believe that, as I told the Crown Prince, the Almighty God has endowed each individual on the face of the earth with -- that expects each person to be treated with dignity. This is a universal call. Sharm el-Sheikh, Egypt, Jun. 3, 2003

44. All of you -- all in this generation of our military -- have taken up the highest calling of history. You're defending your country, and protecting the innocent from harm. And wherever you go, you carry a message of hope -- a message that is ancient and ever new. In the words of the prophet Isaiah, "To the captives, 'come out,' -- and to those in darkness, 'be free.' Aboard the U.S.S. Abraham Lincoln, a couple of miles away from San Diego May 1, 2003

45. It's so inspirational to see your courage, as well as to see the great works of our Lord in your heart. Nashville, Tennessee, Feb. 10, 2003

46. As Dick mentioned, we mourn the loss of seven brave souls. We learned a lot about them over the last couple of days, and Laura and I learned a lot about their families in Houston, because we met with them. My impressions of the meeting was that there was -- that Almighty God was present in their hearts. Washington, D.C., Feb. 6, 2003

47. It's also important for people to know we never seek to impose our culture or our form of government. We just want to live under those universal values, God-given values. Washington, D.C., Oct. 11, 2002

48. Yet we do know that God has placed us together in this moment, to grieve together, to stand together, to serve each other and our country. Ellis Island, New York, Sep. 11, 2002

49. The reason I'm -- asked [these AmeriCorps workers] to join us here is because I want you to know, America can be saved one person at a time. Green Tree, Pennsylvania, Aug. 5, 2002

50. Government can hand out money, but it cannot put hope into people's hearts. It cannot put faith into people's lives. West Ashley High School, Charleston, South Carolina, Jul. 29, 2002

Source www.dubyaspeak.com

Posted by Joanna Sugden on August 9, 2007 in George Bush | Permalink | Comments (22) | TrackBack (0) | Email this post

from Edward Herman :
Sent: Saturday, August 18, 2007
Subject: porter on Iran war conspiracy

Cheney, Lieberman and the Iran War Conspiracy


Cheney, Lieberman and the Iran War Conspiracy
(Neocons beat the drums for another war)
 By Gareth Porter

from Edward Herman:
Date: 13 August 2007
Z Commentary


How Market-Democracy Keeps the Public and “Populism”  At Bay
Edward S. Herman

It was interesting to see the New York Times editorialize against the growing role of money in elections, pointing to  “the sheer volume of money it [the current election campaign] is generating,” and the “ludicrously premature handicapping of the race based on the ability to raise cash” (ed., “Running for Dollars,” April 5, 2007). The editors note that the “political industry” is “ordaining  mega-fund raising as the sine qua non of a credible candidacy,” when “in principle” a political race should be a “competition…if not of ideas, then at least of personalities and positions.”

But it is even more interesting to observe how the New York Times falls in line with the standards of  the “political industry” in their treatment of  potential candidates and thrusts aside the “principles” that would give weight to  “positions” and perhaps even “ideas” as well as personalities.  Day after day the paper features Hillary Clinton and Barack Obama, with lesser attention to John Edwards, including their history, fund-raising achievements, political strategies, and swipes at one another, with minimal attention to their “positions” or “ideas.”  And there has been minimal attention to how their fund-raising  is related to their “positions” currently or  possibly in the future. The Times is hardly unique in  featuring the candidates that have the bucks, marginalizing both their positions and ideas, and paying negligible attention to the candidates who are not raising much cash,  but the paper is notable for  pointing out the principles being sacrificed as it sets them aside and joins the media crowd in following the money! 

So the process of  selecting leaders via supposedly democratic elections in the United States starts with the flow of  money to candidates--and the size and direction of that flow depends on who has the money and uses it to fund election campaigns. In this country, with a highly developed and profitable corporate community, the money comes disproportionately from Wall Street and a broad array of business interests. Enormous sums are needed these days as TV ads are expensive and necessary and the competition among candidates for the necessary funds is intense­many candidates who are already in office have complained about the great proportion of  their time they need to devote to just raising money.

Those that provide the money are investors in candidates and elections, and credible theories have been developed on the extent to which the parties serve particular investor groups who focus heavily on particular parties, though almost always hedging their bets and building good will with the less favored party. (See Thomas Ferguson, Golden Rule: The Investment Theory of Party Competition and the Logic of Money-Driven Political Systems [Chicago: University of Chicago Press, 1995]). The investor-businesses must consider this use of capital a profitable one, with rates of return high enough to justify this form of investment. The payoffs may be specific and large, as where the investment helps bring with it a large government contract, or it may just be a broadly based but still substantial payoff in reduced tax rates, eased environmental constraints,  benefits from reduced or impaired regulation, wars and rising military budgets, and other payoffs.  Market-based democracy has proven to be very profitable in recent years.

Clearly, if  the relative size of the  flow of funds from investors to candidates defines election “credibility,” the investors effectively  vet the candidates before the voting public has any say in the matter, vetoing those who they disapprove, and exercising a huge influence on the success of those who pass through the vetting filter. The investors also operate indirectly through funding party bosses, party thinktanks, and party activities, as in the case of the Democratic Leadership Council and Progressive Policy Institute, whose officials strongly influence the selection and advance of  candidates within their own party--candidates who must be acceptable to the underlying investor community.  AIPAC and other organizations and investors focused on support of Israel are reputed to provide  40 percent or more of  Democratic Party  election funds, and are therefore a highly important investor block who represent only a subset of  the U.S. Jewish community, which in total constitutes something like 2 percent of the population.

The vetting and support power of  election investors means that a market democracy is not a real democracy as the public participates only indirectly in choosing their leaders, and their choices are restricted to the set approved by the monied elite. In economics terminology, voters have free consumer choice but not consumer sovereignty in the electoral process, the latter resting with the party leaders and, most importantly, their funders in the investor community.   This also means that extremely well qualified potential candidates, and candidates running on minor party tickets, will not be able to compete with the vetted “credible” candidates for lack of  money. Thus, by this selection process improper “ideas” and “positions” either won’t make it into the serious election competition (e.g., Kucinich and Gravel), or as minor party candidates will be underfunded and underreported (e.g., Nader in 2000 and 2004).

The electoral process would not work in this highly undemocratic fashion without the full cooperation of the mainstream media in allowing financial support to define credibility and determine coverage, as the New York Times does in contradiction with its editorial admonitions on the importance of have competition based on substance other than money support. The media do this because they are part of the same corporate community as the election investor-funders: their owners are rich, their advertisers have strong pro-business political interests, their leading sources are members of  the government, the flak they worry about is from powerful people and the rightwing, and they work on the basis of establishment ideology. They accept or are frightened into cooperation with the pro-Israel donors and organizations. Their editors, having internalized all of these considerations, gravitate to allowing money flows to dominate, with a focus on the horse-race, and, importantly eschewing tendencies toward “populism,” which is generally anathema to the investor community.   

It may be argued that the public’s sentiments are really tapped ex ante because the vetted candidates pulling in the money usually have high poll ratings, which they must have­along with the money­to stay in the competition. This misses two important points. One is that high poll ratings are strongly related to media attention and media spin, so that money, the associated credibility and substantial media coverage, mean good poll ratings, assuming a positive or at least neutral spin. Another point is that the vetted and credible candidates quickly become “electable,” whereas those poorly funded and not credible are soon seen, even by those who prefer them in substance, as not electable. The non-electables lose poll status for those anxious that their party win, even with a second- or third-best candidate.

Investors don’t like populists who, by definition, want to serve popular forces rather than elite interests. Populists are likely to seek more progressive taxes­and higher taxes for the election investors--support for labor organization, more money for education and infrastructure improvement, a building up of the sagging benefits of  the welfare state, and  a sharp cutback in resources for the warfare state and “security.” (The latter are the elite’s preferred form of  resource waste and “make work”­and in contrast with, say, the New Deal’s WPA, derided at the time by the elite but which built huge numbers of schools, roads, dams and museums­in fact the last major surge of infrastructure construction in this country-- the elite’s preferred form of waste produces only debt, fear, and dead and mangled bodies.)

Paralleling the elite’s dislike of populism is that of the elite representatives or proxies in the mainstream media. This is  reflected in the media’s regular hostility to populist candidates, their frequent claims that the Democrats have lost elections because of  populist tendencies and a failure to attract centrist independents, and their regular suggestions that the Democrats  must combat their lack of adequate attention to “national security.”  In a classic illustration, the New York Times defended the exclusion of  Ralph Nader from the 2000 pre-election debates on the grounds that the two major candidates provided adequate options (editorial, “Mr. Nader’s Misguided Crusade,” June 10, 2000). Both candidates called for more arms and neither featured any items on the populist agenda. In the present campaign, it has been noted that the media are already impatient with the inclusion of  populists like Kucinich and Gravel in organized debates, while at the same time they laud the “diversity” in Republican debates that include marginal candidates (see Peter Hart, “Clear the Stage,” EXTRA!,” July/August 2007). An exception: the pundits are furious at the lesser-known Republican contender Ron Paul,  an antiwar candidate!

With both the money flows and media bias hostile to populism, the “credible” candidates start out with or quickly learn the formulas:  steer clear of  any firm commitment reorienting taxes, helping labor organization, or spending large sums on infrastructure and welfare, but make clear your financial support of  the national security state and your commitment to Israel and the active pursuit of  the leading foreign targets (today, Iran and a recalcitrant Pakistan, along with Chavez and Venezuela). For the Democrats, given their mass base, it is common for one or more of the credibles to make populist gestures in the primary competititon, but these are usually not very specific, and whether general or specific are likely to be ignored following the election in a process of  social-democratic betrayal that has become global (see Edward Herman, “Democratic Betrayal: A Standard Form,” Z Magazine, January 2007; http://www.zmag.org/ZMagSite/Jan2007/herman0107.html).

The growth of inequality and the weakening of  the union movement, with the associated concentration of  economic power, has increased the election vetting power of  a  tiny elite. The increased concentration of  control of the media has had the same effect, and the two factors reinforce one another­that is,  they both contribute to a political shift to the right, which produces tax, labor  and other policies that increase inequality and that facilitates media concentration, both of which contribute to a further shift to the right, and so on. The vetting process becomes even more built-in, and the same is true of the  media’s  acceptance and normalization of  the link between money flows to candidates, their associated credibility, and the attention given to them as opposed to impoverished candidates. There is even reinforcement from court appointments by rightwing politicians, with the help of  the vetted Democrats, who make sure that there are no residual “checks and balances” to the triumph of  rightwing ideology, including the right of money to “free speech” and electoral domination. 

So the system is working well for the investors in the market democracy, even if poorly  for the general electorate, and the efforts at mass mobilization in the public interest have  made little headway so far in stopping let alone reversing the trend, at least in the United States and other “developed” countries.

from Edward Herman:
Date: 15 August 2007
Subject: [AcademicsforJustice] The Censorship of Walt and Mearsheimer

A dramatic illustration of  the steady move toward a closed society.
Ed Herman


'This One Is So Hot': The Censorship of Walt and Mearsheimer

I now have a copy of the letter John Mearsheimer and Stephen Walt sent to the board of the Chicago Global Affairs Council after it cancelled their September appearance there under political pressure. The letter follows, below.

A couple of comments. This is a sad business. Two distinguished profs who have both spoken at the Council before are disinvited regretfully/squeamishly by a respected professional friend, and informed that they might only speak if someone else comes to counter their statements. The old "context" argument used against Rachel Corrie and everyone else. Your views are too toxic to be heard unless we "balance" them.

Walt and Mearsheimer point out that Michael Oren spoke at the Council earlier this year on Middle East matters without "context." Oren is a neoconservative who made aliyah to Israel in the 70s and who served as an officer in the Israeli army. John Mearsheimer served as an officer in the United States Air Force. Let us be very clear about this: A former officer in the Israeli Army who lives in Israel (and has lately served in the Israeli Reserves) may hold forth about our policy in the Middle East, but a former officer in our Air Force has no place to do the same. You don't have to be a nativist to find this mindboggling. Mearsheimer and Walt are all for Oren speaking, they just want to be able to speak too. And just compare the literary and analytical work of Oren and Mearsheimer; there is no comparison. Oren is a polemicist, Mearsheimer a serious student of American policy. Deeply dispiriting. Where is Alan Dershowitz, to decry the censorship?

I'm upset. I tell myself that this just shows how afraid the other side is of the truth, but face it, they're winning. Last night my wife said at dinner that I am "paying a price" for my views on the Middle East. I have a long career as a journalist. I lost a blog-job earlier this year over these issues, I can't get paying assignments to write about these matters; and they are all that I care about, as my country fumbles through the aftermath of 9/11 and Iraq. I sense some of that same sorrow in the Walt and Mearsheimer letter that follows. At the peaks of their careers, they have devoted themselves to these policy issues out of some sense of duty; and they're not being allowed to speak. It appears from the letter that a friendship has ended: the authors' with Marshall Bouton. How long before the country wakes up from this madness?


August 5, 2007

[Addressed, individually, to board members of the Council, and to members of Council committees]

We are writing to bring to your attention a troubling incident involving the Chicago Council on Global Affairs. We do so reluctantly, as we have both enjoyed our prior associations with the Council and we have great respect for its aims and accomplishments. Nonetheless, we felt this was an episode that should not pass without comment.

On September 4, 2007, our book The Israel Lobby and U.S. Foreign Policy will be published by Farrar, Straus & Giroux, one of the most highly respected publishers in the United States. Through our publisher, the Council issued an invitation for both of us to speak at a session on September 27, 2007. We were delighted to accept, as each of us had spoken at the Council on several occasions in the past and knew we would attract a diverse and well-informed audience that would engage us in a lively and productive discussion.

On July 19, while discussing the details of our visit with Sharon Houtkamp, who was handling the arrangements at the Council, we learned that the Council had already received a number of communications protesting our appearance. We were not particularly surprised by this news, as we had seen a similar pattern of behavior after our original article 'The Israel Lobby' appeared in the London Review of Books in March 2006. We were still looking forward to the event, however, especially because it gave us an opportunity to engage these issues in an open forum.

Then, on July 24, Council President Marshall Bouton phoned one of us (Mearsheimer) and informed him that he was cancelling the event. He said he felt "extremely uncomfortable making this call" and that his decision did not reflect his personal views on the subject of our book. Instead, he explained that his decision was based on the need "to protect the institution."  He said that he had a serious "political problem," because there were individuals who would be angry if he gave us a venue to speak, and that this would have serious negative consequences for the Council. "This one is so hot," Marshall maintained, that he could not present it at a Council session unless someone from "the other side," such as Abraham Foxman of the Anti-Defamation League was on stage with us. At the very least, he needed to present "contending viewpoints."  But he said it was too late to try to change the format, as the fall schedule was being finalized and there would not be sufficient time to arrange an alternate date. He showed little interest in doing anything with us in 2008 or beyond.

Several comments are in order regarding this situation.

First, since the publication of our original article on the Israel lobby, we have appeared either singly or together at a number of different venues, including Brown University, the Council on Foreign Relations, Columbia University, Cornell University, Emerson College, the Great Hall at Cooper Union, Georgetown University, the National Press Club, the Nieman Fellows Program at Harvard University, the University of Montana, the Jewish Community Center in Newton, Massachusetts, and Congregation Kam Isaiah Israel in Chicago. In all but one of these venues we appeared on our own, i.e., without someone from the "other side."  As one would expect, we often faced vigorous questions from members of the audience, which invariably included individuals who disagreed in fundamental ways with some of our arguments. Nevertheless, the back-and-forth at each of these events was always civil, and quite a few participants said that they benefited from listening to us and to our interlocutors.

Second, the Council has recently welcomed speakers who do represent a "contending viewpoint," and they have appeared on their own. Consider the case of Michael Oren, an Israeli-American author, who appeared at the Council on February 8, 2007, to talk about 'The Middle East and the United States: A Long and Complicated Relationship'.  Oren has a different view of U.S. Middle East policy than we do; indeed, he gave a keynote address at AIPAC's annual policy conference this past spring that directly challenged our perspective. We believe it was entirely appropriate for the Council to have invited him to speak, and without having a representative from an opposing group there to debate him. The Council has also welcomed a number of other speakers on this general topic in recent years, such as Dennis Ross, Max Boot and Rashid Khalidi, and none of their appearances included someone representing a "contending view."

One might argue that our views are too controversial to be presented on their own. However, they are seen as controversial only because some of the groups and individuals that we criticized in our original article have misrepresented what we said or leveled unjustified charges at us personally, such as the baseless claim that we (or our views) are anti-Semitic. The purpose of these charges, of course, is to discourage respected organizations like the Council from giving us an audience, or to create conditions where they feel compelled to include "contending views" in order to preserve "balance" and to insulate themselves from external criticism.

In fact, our views are not extreme. Our book does not question Israel's right to exist and does not portray pro-Israel groups in the United States as some sort of conspiracy to "control" U.S. foreign policy. Rather, it describes these groups and individuals, both Jewish and gentile, as simply an effective special interest group whose activities are not substantially different from groups like the NRA, the farm lobby, the AARP, or other ethnic lobbies. Its activities, in other words, are as American as apple pie, although we argue that its influence has helped produce policies that are not in the U.S. national interest. We also suggest that these policies have been unintentionally harmful to Israel as well, and that a different course of action would be better for both countries. It is not obvious to us why such views could not be included in the Council's schedule.

Although we find it somewhat unseemly to refer to our own careers, it is perhaps worth noting that we are both well-established figures with solid mainstream credentials. We are fortunate to occupy chaired professorships at distinguished universities, and to have been elected members of the American Academy of Arts and Sciences. We have both held important leadership positions at Chicago or Harvard, each of us serves on the editorial boards of several leading foreign policy journals (such as Foreign Affairs and Foreign Policy), and we have both done consulting work for U.S. government agencies. Given our backgrounds, the idea that it would be inappropriate for us to appear on our own at a Council session seems far-fetched.

Finally, and most importantly, we believe that the decision to cancel our appearance is antithetical to the principle of open discussion that underpins American democracy, and that is so essential for maximizing the prospects that our country pursues a wise foreign policy. In essence, we believe this is a case in which a handful of people who disagree with our views have used their influence to intimidate Marshall into rescinding the Councilâ?Ts invitation to us, so as to insure that interested members will not hear what we have to say about Israeli policy, the U.S. relationship with Israel, and the lobby itself. This is not the way we are supposed to address important issues of public policy in the United States, and it is surely not the way the Council normally conducts its business. This is undoubtedly why Marshall, who is a very smart and decent man, felt so uncomfortable calling us to say that the event had been cancelled. He knew this decision was contrary to everything that the Council is supposed to represent.

The Chicago Council is obviously under no obligation to grant us a venue, and we are not writing in an attempt to reverse this decision. But given the importance of the issues that are raised in our book, we are genuinely disappointed that we will not have the benefit of open exchange with the Council's members, including those who might want to challenge our arguments or conclusions. The United States and its allies, including Israel, face many challenging problems in the Middle East, and our country will not be able to address them intelligently if we cannot have an open and civilized discussion about U.S. interests in the region, and the various factors that shape American policy there. Regrettably, the decision to cancel our appearance has made that much-needed conversation more difficult.


John J. Mearsheimer

R. Wendell Harrison Distinguished Service Professor of Political Science University of Chicago

Stephen M. Walt
Robert and Renee Belfer Professor of International Affairs Harvard University
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from Edward Herman:
Date 15 August 2007


This article on a bombing event in Afghanistan written by Marc Herold is painful but worth a close reading. For years  Herold has been documenting  the U.S. bombing of Afghanistan, and he has shown repeatedly that the Pentagon kills civilians on a large scale, often uses new barbaric weapons in areas where civilians are numerous, and regularly lies about it. They are using Afghanistan with especial ruthlessness and as a weapons experimental zone, because it is far away and out of media sight, so that they can get away with it. But the immorality involved here is staggering. If pictures like those shown here by Herold were available to the U.S. public this murderous policy would come to a screeching halt. But the media protect the Pentagon. This recalls to my mind the fact that the Pentagon only used napalm in South Vietnam during the Vietnam war, not North Vietnam, although we were allegedly saving the south from aggression. The reason for this was that napalming the North would have led to global publicity of this ugly method of warfare­but in South Vietnam the US was an occupying power and had a puppet government, as in Afghanistan, and the media here kept quiet on this matter.


PS: Herold tells me that his work is published widely abroad, but not in the US.

“The Bomb Drop was reported to have Good Effects” by the U.S. Air Force: Bombing a Village Market in Baghran, Helmand on August 2, 2007 
by Marc W. Herold
Dept. of Economics
Whittemore School of Business & Economics
University of New Hampshire
Durham, N.H. 03824

he “August 2: Airpower Summary” posted on the official website of the United States Air Force (USAF) announced, “An Air Force B-1B Lancer dropped guided bomb unit-31s on enemies hiding in a tree line near Baghran. The bomb drop was reported to have good effects.”[1] But, on the ground, reality was rather different: Gul Wali, 18, was among the wounded. “Bombs were falling everywhere from the sky into the trees, and I saw pieces of flesh and bone. These were villagers. They were innocent people. They had just come to the mela [outdoor traditional weekly market] to buy food for their families. Instead, they ended up looking for their loved ones among piles of bodies.” In the absence of normal shops, most communities mount a weekly trade fair, bringing handicrafts, livestock, farm produce and clothing along to barter or sell. The mela was located close to the holy shrine of Ibrahim Shah Baba. Wali’s reference to a line of trees corresponds perfectly with the account given in the US Air Force’s Airpower Summary. The luckier ones ended up in a hospital, as this young 10-year old boy with abdominal shrapnel wounds and whose leg needed to be amputated:


Photo from Emergency Hospital in Lashkar Gah, at
For its part, the U.S. military in Bagram released an official statement proclaiming,
During a sizable meeting of senior Taliban commanders, coalition forces employed precision-guided munitions on their location after ensuring there were no innocent Afghans in the surrounding area.[2]
This type of statement is intended to “grab the news headlines” before any contrary account gets publicly offered, a deliberate ploy of the US/NATO militaries.[3] The corporate mainstream media from the New York Times to Britain’s Telegraph and Xinhuanet dutifully reproduced the pronouncement. Faced with contradicting information from the bombed region, the militaries respond with a sequence of tactics: stonewall and cordon-off the bomb site; admit civilians might have been killed, adding contrived tales (Taliban were hiding amongst civilians or bombed must have really been Taliban because no female casualties), and then simply wait for the story to go away.[4]
If there were no civilians, then how to explain wounded such as in these photos? Reporters haven’t been permitted to talk to the injured and they are under heavy guard as part of news management in order to prevent them making known the truth of this slaughter. Moreover, the truth is prevented by a geographic isolation: the U.S. bombing often takes place in rugged, isolated regions, largely inaccessible or only at great risk. Hence, the U.S. and NATO feel much freer to bomb indiscriminately and answer questions later.[5]
Fifty percent of the GBU-31 (Mark 84) bombs dropped upon Bughni are estimated to fall within a 13 meter radius of the target; and the lethal blast or fragmentation range radius out from the point of impact is 400 yards (or 366 meters). Dropping such munitions upon a village area is guaranteed to cause death and injury. Listen to an official description,

Dropped from a plane and hurtling toward its target at 300 mph, the 14-foot steel bomb uses small gears in its fins to pinpoint its path based on satellite data received by a small antenna and fed into a computer.  Just before impact, a fusing device triggers a chemical reaction causing the 14-inch-wide weapon to swell to twice its size. The steel casing shatters, shooting forth 1,000 pounds of white-hot fragments traveling at speeds of 6,000 feet per second. The explosion creates a shock wave exerting thousands of pounds of pressure per square inch (psi). By comparison, a shock wave of 12 psi will knock a person down; and the injury threshold is 15 pounds psi. The pressure from the explosion of a device such as the Mark-84 JDAM can rupture lungs, burst sinus cavities and tear off limbs hundreds of feet from the blast site, according to trauma physicians. When it hits, the JDAM generates an 8,500-degree fireball, gouges a 20-foot crater as it displaces 10,000 pounds of dirt and rock and generates enough wind to knock down walls blocks away and hurl metal fragments a mile or more. "There is a very great concussive effect. Damage to any human beings in the vicinity would be pretty nasty," said Rob Hewson of Jane's. "A 2,000-pound bomb has an effective damage radius of at least 800 meters (about 2,600 feet)." [6]

The 1,000kg Mark 84 Joint Direct Attack Munition (J-DAM) generates a massive fireball and shockwave which also unleashes nearly 500kg of superheated steel fragments, killing anyone within 120 meters and causing injuries out to 1,000 meters. When the US/NATO drops such a bomb upon a populated area, the killing is intentional, that is, it is murder, putting the lie to the oft-repeated assertion that while Taliban kill “intentionally”, the occupiers kill civilians “unintentionally.” Moreover, haven’t the Taliban warned people to stay away from occupation army bases, patrols, and employment?



  On that fateful afternoon of August 2nd, hundreds of people had gathered for the traditional weekly market (or ‘mela’) in Bughni (or Bagh-e-Nahi) where local people trade everything from carpets, foods, clothes, to cows. Market day there falls on Thursday, the start of Afghanistan’s weekend. Then, suddenly, the U.S. Boeing-made GBU-31, GPS-guided 2,000 pound bombs fell from the blue sky.

Panic erupted. Many villagers said they lost fathers, brothers, and children in the inferno. Others ferried their wounded to hospitals in the province, providing concrete evidence that simple civilians had been injured and massacred. Some injured were transferred to a clinic in Musa Qala, 100 kms away from Bughni; others were taken to Kandahar, 150 kms away; and yet others were brought to Lashkar Gah, 200 kms away.


Eyewitnesses told gruesome tales of headless bodies piled high in Bughni waiting for identification. A resident, Hafizullah, said, “It was a day of blackness. Almost everyone had lost someone. People did not know where their family members were. I saw people just sitting on the ground, staring at nothing. There was mourning everywhere.” Another resident added, “We grew tired of collecting the dead.”


At least 20 civilians (including an 8-yr-old boy) with shrapnel wounds were brought to the main Bost hospital in Lashkar Gah, the provincial capital. Three of the injured men died there. Helmand's police chief, Mohammad Hussein Andiwal said. "I can confirm there were heavy bombardments," Andiwal told Reuters by phone. "We have heard of heavy casualties too and have sent a team to investigate this." A provincial lawmaker in Kabul, Mohammad Anwar, also received reports of high civilian casualties. In the Lashkar Gah hospital, Shokhi Khan, a relative of one of the wounded, said several hundred civilians were killed or wounded in the strikes. He said people had gathered for picnics and to go to a shrine in Baghran district north of Lashkar Gah on Thursday when the raids started. Twelve wounded men were brought to a hospital in the main southern city of Kandahar, said Sharifullah Khan, a doctor there. Nasibullah, one of the wounded men in Kandahar hospital, said the bombs hit a market. He claimed there were no Taliban there at the time of the attack. An Afghan Defense Ministry said some 40 men had also been brought to hospital in the main southern city of Kandahar. Other injured persons were brought to hospitals in Sangin and Musa Qala districts.


Abdul Karim, a resident of Baghran, recounted, “Many died on the way. One of my sons is in Bost Hospital. I don’t think he will survive. Two other sons are in Musa Qala. Two of my cousins were killed and two more were injured.”


When the claim that no civilians had been bombed could no longer be sustained, a back-up lie was floated by the military, playing upon general public ignorance. Charlie Mayo was the carrier. "It is interesting there were no females," said British Lieutenant-Colonel Charlie Mayo in Helmand Province, suggesting the wounded adult males may have been Taliban fighters. "We are very confident we hit a large meeting of Taliban and they are very sore about it."
But the village of Bughni has long been a Taliban-controlled area where no doubt Sharia prevails and women simply do not attend public gatherings or go out shopping (hence no female victims). Who are you fooling, Lt-Col. Charlie Mayo?

The local (Afghan) attempt at obfuscation was a little less subtle. General Zahir Azimy of the Afghan Defense Ministry put forth the U.S-pleasing lie – no evidence whatsoever offered - that a large gathering of Taliban attending a public execution had been bombed, killing over 100 Taliban and three senior commanders including Commander Mansoor Dadullah. Azimy added, "According to our sources, there were 150 people killed, maybe less, but not more," he told a news conference. "If there were civilian casualties, they were very limited and should not exceed 10."[7] Since the attack, Mansoor Dadullah has given several media interviews. The evidence of very high civilian casualties is incontrovertible now. How many more accounts from residents are needed? How many more gruesome photos of injured young boys and old men? The general needs to go back to the drawing boards (or U.S. tutorials).


Are these persons Taliban?


Image  Image




Several family members who accompanied the bombing victims seeking treatment gave accounts describing their personal situation. Haji Hakim Jan, 27, said the U.S. bombs killed four of his brothers. Jan added, “I had another brother of mine and an eight-year-old sister wounded in the bombing.” He said that such deaths alienate civilians from Western troops and make people join the Taliban resistance.[8]

The attention by the mainstream corporate media to twenty-one captured South Korean evangelists as compared to the Afghan civilians slaughtered in Helmand is revealing. The villagers of Bagh-e-Nahi are indeed very sore in ways more than one about what happened between 3-4 P.M. on August 2nd. But then, of course, Afghan civilians killed by the US/NATO are bad bodies, unlike dead South Korean civilians who are good bodies. The U.S. Pentagon, the U.S. corporate press, and Human Rights Watch only “see” and count good bodies.

[1] at http://www.af.mil/news/story.asp?id=123063263
[2] Emphasis added by the author.
[3] Something I have explored in my essay, ““Grab News Headlines, Isolate Bombed Area and Stonewall:  U.S. Military’s Virtual Reality about Afghan Civilian Casualties. A Case Study of the U.S. Assault upon Hajiyan” (May 28, 2006) at: http://www.traprockpeace.org/marc_herold_hajiyan_24may06.pdf
[4] I examined earlier U.S. operations in Baghran in “Et Plus Ca Change…Patterns of Death and Deceit in Afghanistan,” Cursor.org (March 10, 2003) at http://cursor.org/stories/morethingschange.htm
[5] U.S. and NATO bombs rained down before upon civilians in Baghran in February 2003 (see my “A Rain of Bombs,” in Frontline at http://www.hinduonnet.com/fline/fl2319/stories/20061006000306100.htm ) and in June 2006 (see http://pubpages.unh.edu/~mwherold/GuAhmadmotherandfather.htm ).
[6] Mark Sauer, “Precision JDAMs Can Pack Big Punch: On-Board Systems Guide Air-to-Surface Weapons,” San Diego Tribune (March 21, 2003) at http://www.globalsecurity.org/org/news/2003/030321-jdam01.htm
[7] Hamid Shalizi, “Few Civilian Deaths from Afghan Bombing – Officials,” Reuters (August 4, 2007) at http://www.reuters.com/article/worldNews/idUSISL7315720070804?feedType=RSS

[8] Abdul Qodus, ”Afghans Check Reports of Civilian Bombing Deaths,” Reuters (2:23 PM EDT August 3, 2007)

from Dahr Jamail :
Date: 18 August 2007
Subject: Water crisis is killing untold numbers in Iraq.
(c)2007 Dahr Jamail.

Between the Two Rivers, Lack of Water Kills

by Ali al-Fadhily

[BAGHDAD, Aug 17 (IPS) - The collapse of Iraq's infrastructure has created a worsening water crisis that is killing untold numbers of Iraqis.]

raq, with its famous Tigris and Euphrates rivers that run the length of the country, is now unable to provide drinking water to most of its people.

"The two rivers are still there, great as they always were, and flowing all through the year," chief engineer Ahmad Salman of the Baghdad Water Authority told IPS. "Yet Iraqis are thirsty, and we are ashamed of being engineers in the service. We have simply failed to provide our people with half of the drinking water they need."

Much of the country is suffering severe lack of water, and the small quantities supplied are not good for human use.

"I analysed the water supplied by the water authority, and the result was shocking," Dr Ibrahim Ali, a laboratory owner in Baghdad told IPS. "It is definitely not good for human consumption, and every time we analyse it we find something new that might, in time, cause death."

The doctor added, "Various kinds of bacterial pollution and germs we are finding can be as dangerous as biological weapons."

Iraqi hospitals are full of people with illnesses due to the unsafe water. Doctors at several hospitals confirmed to IPS that water is one of the worst causes of diseases, especially among children, and that some of children had died of water-borne diseases compounded by a severe lack of medicines.

These problems are exacerbated during the summer when both the quantity and quality of water are at their lowest.

"One of the reasons for this lack of water is lack of electric power and fuel for generators," a member of a local municipal council in Baghdad, speaking on condition of anonymity, told IPS. "We have got tired of raising our needs for the water stations because our ministers and their leaders are busy fighting over chairs so that they make as much money as possible before they are thrown away."

U.S. ambassador to Iraq Ryan Crocker acknowledged to reporters Jul. 19 that Baghdad residents were receiving on average only one hour of electricity a day. Before the U.S.-led invasion, Baghdad residents received 16-24 hours of electricity daily. Without electricity, water cannot be pumped to homes.

A report released Jul. 30 by the international agency Oxfam and NCCI, a network of aid organisations working in Iraq, said that eight million Iraqis, nearly one in three, were in dire need of emergency aid.

The report, 'Rising to the Humanitarian Challenge in Iraq' said that 70 percent of Iraqis are without adequate water supplies, compared to 50 percent in 2003, the year the U.S.-led invasion of Iraq was launched. About 80 percent of Iraqis lack effective sanitation, the report said.

According to the Oxfam report, "child malnutrition rates have risen from 19 percent before the U.S.-led invasion in 2003 to 28 percent now." Lack of potable water is at the root of most such conditions.

"It is corruption more than anything else," an engineer at the Baghdad Water Authority, who did not wish to be named, told IPS. "The authority is full of corruption from bottom to top, and there is no way to improve the situation unless the political situation is improved by removing these corrupt officials."

An IPS correspondent was advised not to go to the Iraqi Ministry of Water Resources in the face of a danger of being kidnapped by security men at the ministry.

"It is another weapon that the Americans are killing us with," 62-year-old Abu Mahmood, a carpenter from Baghdad told IPS. "No water means diseases that lead to slow, but certain death. They did it to us at the time of sanctions and now it is their chance to do it again without firing bullets and making scandals."

Few Iraqis see hope under the present government. "The problem is that we do not have a government like any other country," Baghdad resident Nabhan Mukhlis told IPS. "We should just stop complaining and surrender to the death penalty that was issued the day Americans decided to invade our country."

(*Ali, our correspondent in Baghdad, works in close collaboration with Dahr Jamail, our U.S.-based specialist writer on Iraq who travels extensively in the region.

from George Kenney :
Date: 17 August 2007
Subject: Podcast Conversation with Dave Marash of Al Jazeera.

Dear Francis,
     It's a pity that the US cable market refuses to carry Al Jazeera English language television news. Probably that will change eventually, but it's just another indication of how cut off the US has become from the rest of the world. Ironically so, because from its US reporting Al Jazeera provides better public diplomacy and a more human face for America than anything produced at the State Department.
     For a sense of how one of Al Jazeera's Washington anchors thinks about things I talk in the podcast with my friend Dave Marash. He's an original, independent thinker and always interesting.
     If you enjoy the show, please feel free to redistribute the link. Total runtime an hour and five minutes.