Bulletin N°323



21 October 2007
Grenoble, France

Dear Colleagues and Friends of CEIMSA,
I was invited a couple of weeks ago to the birthday party of an old friend who lives in a small village in southern France. Georges was a goat herder who retired only a few years ago, and this day he was celebrating his 80th birthday with about a hundred friends and family members. When I arrived at the farmyard an outdoor banquet awaited us. Tables were set with food, flowers and wine, and musicians were playing in a nearby garden. Georges was walking around the yard in a black tee shirt chatting with friends. On the front of his tee shirt were the words, in white lettering: YOUR GOD IS NOT MINE.This notification caused some reflections and at times a little uneasiness among some of his guests, but music and dance soon dissolved the discomfort and we soon found ourselves having a very good time.

Later, I congratulated my friend for his insistence upon introducing more cultural diversity at his party. Most of those present were activists in the Confédération Paysanne. Many had militated for years to protect agricultural diversity in France against the corporate/state push for the dreaded homogeneity of genetically modified crops (GMOs).

Indeed, diversity seems to be the very enemy of corporate despotism which has left many casualties and which promises to create many more. The walking wounded serve as living testimonies to the relentless violence behind corporate greed. The nature of this modern variety of  despotism deserves to be studied. . . .

During the past era of liberal capitalism, the concept of liberty received much academic attention, and from a variety of ideological perspectives; but antithetical concepts, like tyranny, autocracy, absolutism, dictatorship, totalitarianism, and despotism have been much less studied.

According to Webster's Third New International Dictionary, the first definition of despotism is "a perversion of sovereignty in which the interests of a governing class usurp the place belonging to the general interests."

The etymology of this term stems from the ancient Greek word, despotes, the root meaning of which was either "the head of a family" (père de famille) or "the master of slaves." As a political term it was extended to cover a certain form of government whose essence was indistinguishable from the master-slave relationship. Aristotle (384-322 B.C.) wrote in Politics (350 B.C.) that "the authority of the statesman (politikos) is exercised over men who are by nature free; that of the master (despotes) over men who are by nature slave." Both slavery and despotism were human relationships perceived as being inappropriate to communities of free men. According to Greek ideology, all non-Greeks were barbarians, and all barbarians were by nature slaves governed by despots.

A brief and admittedly incomplete historiography of the western use of this concept could look something like this:

In the Middle Ages, William of Ockham (1287-1347) classified governments into several different types, including kingship in the common interest which he called royal monarchy, where subjects enjoyed natural liberties, such as the redress of grievances, a limited freedom of speech, and the right to form associations. Another kind of kingship was despotic kingship, which was exercised over men who are slaves by consent and in accordance with the law. In contradistinction to despotism is tyranny, which Ockham describes as the type of government by which subjects are governed against their will, albeit sometimes in their best interests.).

In the historical context of the Later Middle Ages, the dispute between the Church and State (particularly the French Crown) over spiritual and temporal power (i.e. the right of taxation without representation) led to a confrontation between Philippe IV of France (1285-1314) and Pope Boniface VIII (1294-1303). At issue was the question of the universal authority of the Church. In 1302, Pope Boniface VIII  issued the Bull, Unam Sanctum, which has been described by historians as "the most absolute statement of papal supremacy ever made": "It is necessary to salvation," declared the Pope, "that every human creature be subject to the Roman pontiff." This was the beginning of what became known in Catholic Church history as the "Babylonian Captivity." Pope Boniface VIII died at the age of 86 the following year, after being captured by French forces at his vacation villa in Anagni, outside of Rome. (Rumors circulated that he had become Pope, in 1295, by convincing his politically inept predecessor to resign within a year of his election and subsequently having him murdered.) It was said at the time of his death that Boniface VIII "had entered the papacy like a fox, reigned like a lion, but died like a dog."

After "the Crime of Anagni" (the expression is Italian) French dominion over the Church was established, but, for security reasons, the new French Pope, Clement V, preferred not to live in Rome. Over the next 70 years, the period of the "Babylonian Captivity,"  the majority of Cardinals and all 6 Popes were French. They resided in splendor in Avignon, from 1305 to 1377, with the support of the French monarchy.

In 1377, the unexpected return to Rome by the aged French Pope Gregory XI led to what is known in Catholic Church history as "The Great Schism." This Pope died within a year of this historic return to Rome, and a new Italian Pope, Urban VI, was chosen by the College of Cardinals, with the understanding that this man of peasant origins was of inferior social status and would obey the Cardinals and their wish to return the papacy to Avignon. When it was discovered that he was filled with resentment, suspicion, and bitter jealousy against the privileged Cardinals who had selected him, and that he had no intention of returning to Avignon, the Cardinals tried to annul their first choice. In 1378, the French College of Cardinals had returned to Avignon and elected Cardinal Robert of Geneva (a.k.a. "the Butcher of Cesena") as  Pope Clement VII. He was immediately supported by the French Monarch Charles V, but resisted by all of Italy for his role in the massacre of thousands of unarmed townspeople after closing the city gates at Cesena in February 1377, in an effort to reconquer the Papal States for Pope Gregory XI. The French Cardinals did not succeed in dislodging Urban VI from the papacy in Rome in 1378, and for the next forty years the head of the French Roman Catholic Church was known in much of Europe as "the Anti-Pope."

King Charles V (1338-1380) of France, at this moment of the Great Schism (1378-1417), used the concept of despotism in his propaganda to discredit the authority claimed by the Italian Pope "in all matters spiritual and temporal." Because of excessive obedience on the part of Christians, the French king argued, and because of the falsehoods put together by certain clerics, Pope Urban VI  exerted an "unjust despotism" over Christian believers. Influenced by the recent translation of Aristotle's Politcs, the analogy was made in France with the Italian Church in control of those "slavish barbarians" in Europe who obeyed its authority.

In 1378, Catherine of Siena expressed the Italian reaction toward the two despots who headed the different factions of the Catholic Church, each claiming to be Pope:

Oh, unhappy men! You who were to nourish yourselves at the breast
of the Church, to be as flowers in her garden, to shed forth sweet perfume,
to be as pillars to support the Vicar of Christ and his bark, as lamps for the
enlightenment of the world and diffusion of the faith . . . you who were
angels upon earth, have turned to the way of devils . . . . What is the cause?
The poison of selfishness destroys the world!
(Barbara Tuckman (1978), p.351.)
Later, in the first period of early modern European history, the concept of despotism was used most often to describe Asian governments and "Oriental practices." The "servile nature of Orientals" was described by Montesquieu (1689-1755) in his famous Persian Letters and contrasted to the freedom of "proudly independent Europeans." An irony of history is that the self-appointed European "champions of freedom" repeatedly used this rationale to mobilize the conquest and domination by those "with a tradition of liberty" over those others who have never enjoyed that happy condition. Thus, in history we see the "champions of liberty" becoming tyrants and sometimes despots. Thomas Hobbes (1588-1679) derived the theory that despotism originated legitimately in the submission of the conquered to the conqueror. In his classic work, The Leviathan (1651), Hobbes celebrates despotism for its positive accomplishments, i.e. delivering the rule of "law and order" to a mankind whose natural state in life is, "solitary, poor, nasty, brutish and short" . . . a "war of all against all!"

Distinct from the modern concept of totalitarianism, despotism represents ownership of people and not just the appropriation of property. John Locke (1632-1704) defined despotical power as "an Absolute, Arbitrary Power one Man has over another to take away his Life, whenever he pleases." In the 17th Century, the seat of oriental despotism was the Ottoman Empire. In France, resistance to the crown's usurpation of political power by the aristocracy and, after the revocation of the Edict of Nantes (1685), by the Huguenots led to polemics comparing the absolutism of King Louis XIV (1643-1713) to that of an Ottoman Sultan: the king had replaced the state; the Church, the parliaments and the nobility; the cities were oppressed by an arbitrary power just as despotic as the Grand Seigneurs of Ottoman Empire (1281-1923).

Montesquieu (1689-1755) wrote in De l'esprit des lois (1748) that a tyrannical government was less dangerous than one that was despotic. For a tyranny is temporary and is limited to the individual deviation of a ruler, but a despotic government is more permanent, a system, once found only among Orientals, but now becoming established in France. Its subjects are "in a condition of servitude, they own nothing, their property and their lives, are always up in the air, depending upon the caprice of a single man." Passive obedience presupposes education of a kind peculiar to despotism: the subject must be ignorant, timid, broken in spirit, requiring little legislation. Social relations must also follow this pattern: in a despotism, every family is, as a matter of policy, isolated from every other. Montesquieu develops the psychological dimensions of despotism, as well: Fear is identified as the essential passion underlying despotism. But this System of Fear, which cultivates feelings of jealousy and mutual suspicion, he believed, gives birth to an ultimate paradox: the master class is incapable of enforcing or enjoying its unlimited power; its members cannot satisfy themselves.

The endemic insecurities created by such a system give rise to doctrines of cultural exclusiveness. This is by no means a new tactic in the service of group formations:  By producing a negative characterization of "The Other" we reproduce a positive image of ourselves, and collective discipline is maintained by continually threatening exclusion from this collective identity. "The barbarians are at the door!" is a call for military discipline and, if necessary, self-sacrifice.

Such mechanisms feeding feelings of cultural exclusiveness were discussed by the philosopher, Martin Buber (1878-1965), in Paths in Utopia (1949). He was influenced by Ahad Ha'am (1858-1927), who wrote in his famous article, "Truth from the Land of Israel" (published in 1891), that "we are accustomed to believing that the Arabs are all wild beasts of the desert, a people akin to jackasses," and he warned "this is a great mistake. . . .

We could certainly learn from our past and present history how . . . cautious we
have to be in our behavior toward a non-Jewish people among whom we are coming
to live once more, to treat these people with love and respect and --it goes without
saying-- with justice and respect for the law. And what are our brethren in Palestine
doing? The exact opposite! They were slaves in the land of their exile and suddenly
they found themselves in the midst of unlimited freedom . . . . This sudden change
has produced in them a tendency to despotism, which always happens when " a
slave becomes a king." They treat the Arabs with hostility and cruelty, trespassing
on their territory unjustly, beating them shamefully without any valid reason and
then boasting about it. No one is calling a halt to this contemptible and dangerous
trend. . . . [T]he Arab may keep silent and exercise restraint for a long period, but in
his heart he will cherish animosity and harbor vengeance.
(cited by L.S. Stavrianos,
in Global Rift, The Third World Comes of Age, p.545)

In his new book, What We Say Goes: conversations on US power in a changing world (2007), Noam Chomsky is interviewed by David Barsamian, director of Alternative Radio in Boulder Colorado. In one of these conversations Chomsky distinguishes between the "narrow definition" of the Israel Lobby and a "broad definition." In the most narrow terms, this lobby represents loyal associates living in every congressional district of the United States. (There are 435 congressional districts in the USA.) These members of the Israel Lobby are selflessly prepared to campaign, and to spend hours on the telephone, and, if necessary, to visit the homes of voters in their district and to donate money to political candidates in order to defeat "the enemies of Israel" within the United States. Every U.S. politician is sensitive to this highly organized political force in American politics, and most candidates act in accordance to the wishes of the Israel Lobby, whenever they can.

By contrast the "broad definition" of the Israel Lobby is cultural rather than political in nature. Instead of focusing on the tactics of punctual political mobilization to influence congressional voting, the broader definition involves a cultural identity which excludes most people living outside a particularly virulent species of the Judeo-Christian tradition. The exclusive membership to this warrior-like culture is guarded by a class of intellectuals, whose grand strategy is not necessarily rational, and whose tactics include rumors, slander, character assassination, and other activities harmful to democracy, but essential  to despotism. The "ownership" of people, not property, remains the essence despotism, and legal compliance to the private interests of despots appears as "voluntary" and not coerced. This form of despotism is an element of the broad definition of the Israel Lobby, a culture that can be found, according to my reading of Chomsky, in faculty clubs on university campuses across the North America.(p.135)

In his conversations with David Barsamian, Chomsky discusses What is an intellectual? and What is an American Jewish intellectual? In the new political climate of corporate despotism, Chomsky observes that : "... the Christian evangelicals ... may be anti-Semites, but they're strongly in support of anything Israel does because that's God's will." The Israel Lobby's activities represent only one small part of the American corporate power structure. "The importance of the intellectual community --the media, the journalists, a lot of scholarship, the framework in which people perceive things-- is very much underestimated." For example, he continues, "AIPAC [the American Israel Public Affairs Committee] didn't stop the Rachel Corrie play. Though they would like to, they don't have economic power over the media. Surely they have an influence on Congress, but if you look at their influence on Congress, a lot of it is symbolic. It's very easy for Congress to pass resolutions that they know will not be implemented but will pick up support. Almost annually Congress votes to move the U.S. embassy to Jerusalem. They know it's not going to happen. The consequences would be unacceptable. But they can vote for the bill, announce it from the floor of Congress, and pick up campaign contributions." (pp.132-133)

If the political activities of the Israel Lobby were as influential as is commonly believed, Chomsky remarks, "I would be overjoyed. I wouldn't have to bother writing articles, giving talks, being vilified. I would drop the whole business. I would put on a jacket and a tie, go visit Warren Buffet and the corporate headquarters of Lockheed Martin, Intel, and ExxonMobil, and explain to them patiently that their interests are being harmed by a lobby they can put out of business in thirty seconds with their political clout and economic power. ... But nobody pursues that tactic, and for a good reason, because ... the principle architects of [this] policy are doing just fine. ... Warren Buffet has just bought up a big industry in Israel. Intel has major facilities there. We can go on through the list. They're doing fine. It's not harming their interests."(p.134)

Chomsky goes on to warn that "U.S. policies toward Israel are very harmful to American people and to future generations. But that's not what determines policy. ...  [I]f we want to estimate the influence of groups like AIPAC  [the American Israel Public Affairs Committee] and others, we have to look at the cases where those policies diverge. So where does U.S. state policy diverge from Israeli government policy? Those are the cases we should look at to see how influential the lobby is. The cases where they conform don't tell you anything. ... There are cases, and they're interesting. ..." (pp.134-135) A recent example of this divergence of interests between Israel and the United States surfaced in 2005, when the Bush administration stopped cold Israel's high-priority attempt to repair the high-tech antiaircraft missiles it had sold to China, despite Israel's adamant insistence.  When Israeli officials were publicly humiliated by the Bush administration and even forced to fire one of their main spokesmen, the Israel Lobby remained silent, "because they knew better than to confront power."(136)

For further discussions of the Israel Lobby and the diversity of roles played by American Jewish intellectuals in America's political culture, see Lenni Brenner's article in the 2003 issue of Counter Punch: "The Demographics of American Jews: 'My People are American. My Time is Today'."



Item A. is an article by Dave Lindorff on the historic crimes against humanity conducted by the United States and its allies in Iraq.

Item B. is an article by Amira Hass, sent to us by Professor Edward Herman on Israeli genocide in Gaza, as the world sleeps.

Item C. is an article by Professor Noam Chomsky on "The Bush administrations Imperial Grand Strategy."

Item D.  is an article sent to us by Grenoble graduate student Grace Kpohazounde, whose master's thesis, "Liberation Theology: A Product of the Cold War," was published this fall by CEIMSA at The University of California Internet site.

Item E. is a series of urgent messages forwarded to us by Dr. Jim O'Brien, representing Historians Against War.

Item F. includes three articles by Mahmood Mamdani discussing genocide in Africa.

Item G. is a documentary film by the award-winning film make, John Pilger, on the historic mass murders of children by the U.S. government and its allies in Iraq.

And finally, we recommend CEIMSA supporters to read Dr. Joel Kovel's new book, Overcoming Zionism (2007), published by Pluto Press.

Francis McCollum Feeley
Professor of American Studies/
Director of Research
Universit Stendhal - Grenoble 3

from Information Clearing House:
Date: 15 October 2007
Subject: The Slaughter of Innocents.

The truth is we are conducting a slaughter of innocents in Iraq that is as bad as anything the Nazis did in their Eastern Front campaign.

Slaughter of the Innocents

 Something is Rotten in Iraq and the Pentagon

 by Dave Lindorff


from Edward Herman
Subject: Hass- Israel has turned Gaza into a zoo.
Date: Tue, 16 Oct 2007

I believe a very strong case can be made that Israel should now be regarded as a genocidal state.  This would be supported by the collected columns of Amira Hass alone.
Ed Herman

Israel Has Turned The Gaza Strip Into A Zoo
by Amira Hass
Since 1991, Israel has been using the partial or total imprisonment of the Gazans in their cage, for longer or shorter periods, as a political strategy: Sometimes it is depicted as punishment, sometimes as a deterrent action and always as a preface to a political plan. Until not long ago, it seemed as though the terms of imprisonment could not be any worse. The past four months have proven that there is always "worse."

From Noam Chomsky :
Date: 16 October 2007
Subjet: The Bush administrations Imperial Grand Strategy.

Dominance and Its Dilemmas
(The Bush administrations Imperial Grand Strategy)
by Noam Chomsky


The past year has been a momentous one in world affairs. In the normal rhythm of political life, the pattern was set in September of 2002, a month marked by several important and closely related events. The most powerful state in history announced a new National Security Strategy, asserting that it will maintain global hegemony permanently: any challenge will be blocked by force, the dimension in which the United States reigns supreme. At the same time, war drums began to beat to mobilize the population for an invasion of Iraq, which would be the first test [of the doctrine], not the last, the New York Times observed after the invasion, the petri dish in which this experiment in pre-emptive policy grew.1 And the campaign opened for the midterm congressional elections, which would determine whether the administration would be able to carry forward its radical international and domestic agenda.

The basic principles of this new imperial grand strategy, as it was aptly termed at once by John Ikenberry, trace back to the early days of World War II and have been reiterated frequently since. Even before the United States entered the war, planners and analysts concluded that in the postwar world it would seek to hold unquestioned power, acting to ensure the limitation of any exercise of sovereignty by states that might interfere with its global designs. They outlined an integrated policy to achieve military and economic supremacy for the United States in a Grand Area to include at a minimum the Western Hemisphere, the former British empire, and the Far East, later extended to as much of Eurasia as possible when it became clear that Germany would be defeated. 2

Twenty years later, elder statesman Dean Acheson instructed the American Society of International Law that no legal issue arises when the United States responds to a challenge to its power, position, and prestige. He was referring specifically to Washingtons postBay of Pigs economic warfare against Cuba, but he was surely aware of Kennedys terrorist campaign aimed at regime change, a significant factor in bringing the world close to nuclear war only a few months earlier and a course of action that was resumed immediately after the Cuban missile crisis was resolved.

A similar doctrine was invoked by the Reagan administration when it rejected World Court jurisdiction over its attack against Nicaragua. State Department Legal Adviser Abraham Sofaer explained that most of the world cannot be counted on to share our view and often opposes the United States on important international questions. Accordingly, we must reserve to ourselves the power to determine which matters fall essentially within the domestic jurisdiction of the United Statesin this case, the actions that the Court condemned as the unlawful use of force against Nicaragua; in lay terms, international terrorism.

Their successors have continued to make it clear that the United States reserves the right to act unilaterally when necessary, including unilateral use of military power to defend such vital interests as ensuring uninhibited access to key markets, energy supplies and strategic resources. 3

Even this small sample illustrates the narrowness of the planning spectrum. Nevertheless, the alarm bells sounded in September 2002 were justified. Acheson and Sofaer were describing policy guidelines, within elite circles. Other cases may be regarded as worldly-wise reiterations of the maxim of Thucydides that large nations do what they wish, while small nations accept what they must. In contrast, Cheney-Rumsfeld-Powell and their associates are officially declaring an even more extreme policy. They intend to be heard, and took action at once to put the world on notice that they mean what they say.

That is a significant difference.

The imperial grand strategy is based on the assumption that the United States can gain full spectrum dominance through military programs that dwarf those of any potential coalition and that have useful side effects. One is to socialize the costs and risks of the private economy of the future, a traditional contribution of military spending and the basis of much of the new economy. Another is to contribute to a fiscal train wreck that will, it is presumed, create powerful pressures to cut federal spending, and thus, perhaps, enable the administration to accomplish its goal of rolling back the New Deal,4 a description of the Reagan program that is now being extended to far more ambitious plans.

As the grand strategy was announced on September 17, the administration abandoned an international effort to strengthen the Biological Weapons Convention against germ warfare, advising allies that further discussions would have to be delayed for four years.5 A month later, the U.N. Committee on Disarmament adopted a resolution that called for stronger measures to prevent militarization of space, recognizing this to be a grave danger for international peace and security, and another that reaffirmed the 1925 Geneva Protocol prohibiting the use of poisonous gases and bacteriological methods of warfare. Both passed unanimously, with two abstentions, the United States and Israel. U.S. abstention amounts to a veto: typically, a double veto, banning the events from the news record and from history.

A few weeks later, the Space Command released plans to go beyond U.S. control of space for military purposes to ownership, which is to be permanent, in accord with the Security Strategy. Ownership of space is key to our nations military effectiveness, permitting instant engagement anywhere in the world. . . . A viable prompt global strike capability, whether nuclear or non-nuclear, will allow the United States to rapidly strike high-payoff, difficult-to-defeat targets from stand-off ranges and produce the desired effect . . . [and] to provide warfighting commanders the ability to rapidly deny, delay, deceive, disrupt, destroy, exploit and neutralize targets in hours/minutes rather than weeks/days even when U.S. and allied forces have a limited forward presence, 6 thus reducing the need for overseas bases that regularly arouse local antagonism.

Similar plans had been outlined in a May 2002 Pentagon planning document, partially leaked, which called for a strategy of forward deterrence in which missiles launched from space platforms would be able to carry out almost instant unwarned attacks. Military analyst William Arkin comments that no target on the planet or in space would be immune to American attack. The U.S. could strike without warning whenever and wherever a threat was perceived, and it would be protected by missile defenses. Hypersonic drones would monitor and disrupt targets. Surveillance systems would provide the ability to track, record and analyze the movement of every vehicle in a foreign city.7 The world is to be left at mercy of U.S. attack at will, without warning or credible pretext. The plans have no remote historical parallel. Even more fanciful ones are under development.

These moves reflect the disdain of the administration for international law and institutions and for arms control measures, dismissed with barely a word in the National Security Strategy. They illustrate a commitment to an extremist version of long-standing doctrine.

Since the mid-1940s, Washington has regarded the Persian Gulf as a stupendous source of strategic power, and one of the greatest material prizes in world historyin Eisenhowers words, the most strategically important area of the world because of its strategic position and resources. Control over the region and its resources remains a policy imperative. After taking over a core oil producer, and presumably acquiring its first reliable military bases at the heart of the worlds major energy-producing system, Washington will doubtless be happy to establish an Arab faade, to borrow the term of the British during their day in the sun. Formal democracy will be fine, but if history and current practice are any guide, only if it is of the submissive kind tolerated in Washingtons backyard.

To fail in this endeavor would take real talent. Even under far less propitious circumstances, military occupations have commonly been successful. It would be hard not to improve on a decade of murderous sanctions that virtually destroyed a society that was, furthermore, in the hands of a vicious tyrant who ranked with others supported by the current incumbents in Washington, including Romanias Ceausescu, to mention only one of an impressive rogues gallery. Resistance in Iraq would have no meaningful outside support, unlike in Nazi-occupied Europe or Eastern Europe under the Russian yoke, to take recent examples of unusually brutal states that nevertheless assembled an ample array of collaborators and achieved substantial success within their domains.

The new grand strategy authorizes Washington to carry out preventive war. Whatever the justifications for pre-emptive war may sometimes be, they do not hold for preventive war, particularly as that concept is interpreted by its current enthusiasts: the use of military force to eliminate an invented or imagined threat, so that even the term preventive is too charitable. Preventive war is, very simply, the supreme crime condemned at Nuremberg.

That is widely understood. As the United States invaded Iraq, Arthur Schlesinger wrote that Bushs grand strategy is alarmingly similar to the policy that imperial Japan employed at Pearl Harbor, on a date which, as an earlier American president said it would, lives in infamy. FDR was right, he added, but today it is we Americans who live in infamy. It is no surprise that the global wave of sympathy that engulfed the United States after 9/11 has given way to a global wave of hatred of American arrogance and militarism and to the belief that Bush is a greater threat to peace than Saddam Hussein. 8

For the political leadership, mostly recycled from more reactionary sectors of the ReaganBush I administrations, the global wave of hatred is not a particular problem. They want to be feared, not loved. They understand as well as their establishment critics that their actions increase the risk of proliferation of weapons of mass destruction (WMD) and terror. But that too is not a major problem. Higher on the scale of priorities are the goals of establishing global hegemony and implementing their domestic agenda: dismantling the progressive achievements that have been won by popular struggle over the past century and institutionalizing these radical changes so that recovering them will be no easy task.

It is not enough for a hegemonic power to declare an official policy. It must establish it as a new norm of international law by exemplary action. Distinguished commentators may then explain that law is a flexible, living instrument, ensuring that the new norm is available as a guide to action. It is understood that only those with the guns can establish norms and modify international law.

The selected target must meet several conditions. It must be defenseless, important enough to be worth the trouble, and an imminent threat to our survival and ulitimate evil nature. Iraq qualified on all counts. The first two conditions are obvious. For the third, it suffices to repeat the orations of Bush, Blair, and their colleagues: The dictator is assembling the worlds most dangerous weapons [in order to] dominate, intimidate or attack; and he has already used them on whole villages leaving thousands of his own citizens dead, blind or transfigured. . . . If this is not evil then evil has no meaning.

President Bushs eloquent denunciation surely rings true. And those who contributed to enhancing evil should certainly not enjoy impunity: among them, the speaker of these lofty words, his current associates, and those who joined them in the years when they were supporting the man of ultimate evil long after he had committed these terrible crimes and won the war with Iran, with decisive U.S. help. We must continue to support him, the Bush I administration explained, because of our duty to help U.S. exporters.

It is impressive to see how easy it is for political leaders, while recounting the monsters worst crimes, to suppress the crucial words with our help, because we dont care about such matters. Support shifted to denunciation as soon as their Iraqi friend committed his first authentic crime: disobeying (or perhaps misunderstanding) orders by invading Kuwait. Punishment was severefor his subjects. The tyrant escaped unscathed, and his grip on the tortured population was further strengthened by the sanctions regime then imposed by his former allies.

Also easy to suppress are the reasons why Washington returned to supporting Saddam immediately after the Gulf War as he crushed rebellions that might have overthrown him. The chief diplomatic correspondent of the New York Times explained that the best of all worlds for Washington would be an iron-fisted Iraqi junta without Saddam Hussein, but since that goal seems unattainable, we must be satisfied with the second best. The rebels failed because Washington and its allies held that whatever the sins of the Iraqi leader, he offered the West and the region a better hope for his countrys stability than did those who have suffered his repression. 9 All of this is suppressed in the commentary on the mass graves of the victims of Saddams U.S.authorized paroxysm of terror, crimes that are now offered as justification for the war on moral grounds. 10 It was all known in 1991 but ignored for reasons of state: successful rebellion would have left Iraq in the hands of Iraqis.

Within the United States, a reluctant domestic population had to be whipped into a proper war fever, another traditional problem. From early September 2002, grim warnings were issued about the threat Saddam posed to the United States and about his links to al Qaeda, with broad hints that he was involved in the 9/11 attacks. Many of the charges dangled in front of [the media] failed the laugh test, the editor of the Bulletin of the Atomic Scientists, Linda Rothstein, commented, but the more ridiculous [they were], the more the media strove to make wholehearted swallowing of them a test of patriotism.

As has often happened in the past, the propaganda assault had at least short-term effects. Within weeks, a majority of Americans came to regard Saddam Hussein as an imminent threat to the United States. Soon almost half believed that Iraq was behind the 9/11 terror. Support for the war correlated with these beliefs. The propaganda campaign proved just enough to give the administration a bare majority in the midterm elections, as voters put aside their immediate concerns and huddled under the umbrella of power in fear of the demonic enemy.

Despite its narrow successes, the intensive propaganda campaign left the public unswayed in more fundamental respects. Most continue to prefer U.N. rather than U.S. leadership in international crises, and by two to one prefer that the U.N., rather than the United States, should direct reconstruction in Iraq.11

When the occupying army failed to discover WMD, the administrations stance shifted from absolute certainty that Iraq possessed WMD to the position that the accusations were justified by the discovery of equipment that potentially could be used to produce weapons. Senior officials suggested a refinement in the concept of preventive war that entitles the United States to attack a country that has deadly weapons in mass quantities. The revision suggests instead that the administration will act against a hostile regime that has nothing more than the intent and ability to develop [WMD]. 12 The bars for resort to force are significantly lowered. This modification of the doctrine of preventive war may prove to be the most significant consequence of the collapse of the declared argument for the invasion.

Perhaps the most spectacular propaganda achievement was the lauding of the presidents vision to bring democracy to the Middle East in the midst of a display of hatred and contempt for democracy for which no precedent comes to mind. One illustration was the distinction between Old and New Europe, the former reviled, the latter hailed for its courage. The criterion was sharp: Old Europe consists of governments that took the same position as the vast majority of their populations; the heroes of New Europe followed orders from Crawford, Texas, disregarding an even larger majority in most cases. Political commentators ranted about disobedient Old Europe and its psychic maladies while Congress descended to low comedy.

At the liberal end of the spectrum, Richard Holbrooke stressed the very important point that the population of the eight original members of New Europe is larger than that of Old Europe, which proves that France and Germany are isolated. So it does, if we reject the radical left heresy that the public might have some role in a democracy. Thomas Friedman urged that France be removed from permanent membership on the Security Council because it is in kindergarten and does not play well with others. It follows that the population of New Europe must still be in nursery school, judging by polls.13

Anger at Old Europe has much deeper roots than contempt for democracy. The United States has always regarded European unification with some ambivalence because Europe might become an independent force in world affairs. Thus senior diplomat David Bruce was a leading advocate for European unification in the Kennedy years, urging Washington to treat a uniting Europe as an equal partnerbut following Americas lead. He saw dangers if Europe struck off on its own, seeking to play a role independent of the United States. 14 In his Year of Europe address 30 years ago, Henry Kissinger advised Europeans to keep to their regional responsibilities within the overall framework of order managed by the United States. Europe must not pursue its own independent course based on its Franco-German industrial and financial heartland.

In the tripolar world that was taking shape at that time, these concerns extend to Asia as well. Northeast Asia is now the worlds most dynamic economic region, accounting for almost 30 percent of global GDP (far more than the United States does) and holding about half of global foreign exchange reserves. It is a potentially integrated region with advanced industrial economies and ample resources. All of this raises the threat that it, too, might flirt with challenging the overall framework of order, which the United States is to manage permanently, by force if necessary, Washington has declared.

Violence is a powerful instrument of control, as history demonstrates. But the dilemmas of dominance are not slight.<

Noam Chomsky, professor of linguistics at MIT, is author most recently of Understanding Power, Middle East Illusions, and Hegemony or Survival (forthcoming).


1 David Sanger and Steven Weisman, New York Times, 10 April 2003.

2 Memorandum of the War and Peace Studies Project of the Council on Foreign Relations, with State Department participation, 19 October 1940. Laurence Shoup and William Minter, Imperial Brain Trust (Monthly Review Press, 1977), 130ff.

3 Dean Acheson, American Society of International Law Proceedings 13, 14 (1963); Abraham Sofaer, U.S. Department of State Current Policy 769 (December 1985); President Bill Clinton, address to the U.N., 1993; Secretary of Defense William Cohen, Annual Report, 1999.

4 Thomas Ferguson and Joel Rogers, Right Turn (Hill and Wang, 1986). On Clintons contribution see Michael Meeropol, Surrender: How the Clinton Administration Completed the Reagan Revolution (University of Michigan Press, 2000; updated 2003).

5 Peter Slevin, Washington Post, 19 September 2002.

6 Air Force Space Command Strategic Master Plan (SMP) FY04 and Beyond, 5 November 2002.

7 William Arkin, Los Angeles Times, 14 July 2002; Michael Sniffen, Associated Press, 1 July 2003.

8 Los Angeles Times, 23 March 2003.

9 Thomas Friedman, New York Times, 7 June 1991. Alan Cowell, New York Times, 11 April 1991.

10 Thomas Friedman, New York Times, 4 June 2003.

11 Program on International Policy Attitudes (PIPA), University of Maryland, 1822 April 2003.

12 Dana Milbank, Washington Post, 1 June 2003. Guy Dinmore and James Harding, Financial Times, 34 May 2003.

13 Lee Michael Katz, National Journal, 8 February 2003. Friedman, New York Times, 9 February 2003.

14 Frank Costigliola, Political Science Quarterly (Spring 1995).

from Grace Kpohazounde :
15 October 2007
Subject: African Veterans recruited for Iraq&Afghanistan!

Hello Professor Feeley,
I just read this information about an American firm recruiting Namibian Veterans to combat in Iraq and Afghanistan. The firm is called: SOC-SMG (Special Operations Consulting-Security Management).
The Namibian Government expelled the National representative, Paul Grimes, and Frederick Piry, the chief of operations. The firm will be closed.
have a good evening!

  The full article is on this link:

from Jim O'Brien :
Date 13 October 2007
Subject: HAW notes

Historians Against the War has received several messages from members in the past few days asking for mailings to be sent to the HAW-Info listserv. In an effort not to overuse the listserv, we are giving essential information (and links) in the following compressed form: 

1.  Renate Bridenthal forwarded a message from Howard Zinn about the danger that the University of Michigan Press will cancel its distribution contract with London-based Pluto Press as a result of outside pressure focused on Prof. Joel Kovel's recent Pluto Press book, Overcoming Zionism.  The press's board, at its meeting October 19, will discuss its arrangement with Pluto.  Zinn gives addresses to which letters and messages can be addressed.  Here is a link to Zinn's message: http://www.monthlyreview.org/mrzine/zinn061007.html

2.  In response to the stopping of US peace activists Medea Benjamin and Ann Wright at the Canadian border on October 4, which we wrote about last week, Code Pink and Global Exchange are circulating a petition (at http://salsa.democracyinaction.org/o/424/petition.jsp?petition_KEY=741 , which also gives background on the case) calling on the FBI and Canadian authorities to stop including minor offenses such as civil disobedience in a database meant for serious crimes.

3.  Jeff Shutts, a HAW member who teaches at Douglas College outside Vancouver, wrote to say that his wife, Michelle Mason, made a documentary film about the plight of GIs who are in Canada seeking sanctuary from the war in Iraq, which just had its US premiere at the San Francisco Documentary Festival.  DVDs can be obtained via the website of the National Film Board of Canada, at http://www.nfb.ca/collection/films/fiche/?id=53833 .

4.  Amanda Plumb sent a message publicizing the Union Semester program in New York City, an intensive internship and academic program offering 16 undergraduate credits or 12 graduate credits from CUNY.  The web site is http://www.unionsemester.org .

We will send a separate mailing about the anti-war demonstrations being planned for Saturday, Oct. 27 in eleven cities nationwide (the web site is http://www.oct27.org) , sponsored by the broad anti-war coalition United for Peace and Justice, to which HAW belongs.

From Mahmood Mamdani :
Date 1 July 2007
Subject: Genocide.




from John Pilger :
Date: 15 October 2007
Subject: Killing the Children.

 Sanctions enforced by the UN on Iraq since the Gulf War have killed more people than the two atomic bombs dropped on Japan in 1945, including over half a million children - many of whom weren't even born when the Gulf War began.

Least We Forget :

Paying The Price: Killing The Children Of Iraq

(A documentary film by John Pilger)