Subject: ON SOWING CHAOS & REAPING PROFITS ON BATTLE FIELDS IN THE WAR AGAINST PRIVATIZATION.
23 November 2007
Dear Colleagues and Friends of CEIMSA,
Another American Thanksgiving has come and gone, as the U.S. military and its junior partners expand chaos across the continents. Behind the scenes, of course, Transnational Corporations (TNCs) are quietly harvesting gargantuan profits for their investors. Meanwhile the steady export of capital continues in the direction of cheap labor markets in exchange for manufactured goods at "firehouse prices." Why even the unemployed can skip a few meals and afford to buy a Dalmatian toy dog manufactured in Vietnam for Christmas !
The steady drain of capital from the former industrialized countries has created a cul-de-sac for governing elites. Lawmakers simply cannot finance traditional social legislation with this flight of capital, and the societies they supposedly represent cannot attract private investment because it is more profitable for private investors to invest their capital abroad, particularly in Asia.
This is not a conundrum. There is a solution, and it is a fairly simple one : the de-privatization of capital. But such a massive transfer from the private sector to the public sector would be met with all kinds of resistance. Nevertheless, it is the opinion of many well-informed scholars that this will happen sooner or later, and better sooner than later. . . . The ideology of Social Darwinism, which is so fashionable once again in Europe and the United States (it was the dominant ideology of the U.S. Republican Party before 1933, under Hebert Hoover --before Franklin D. Roosevelt was elected President-- and it had been popular among the owners of capital before that era, in the 1890s), simply adds insult to injury. This ideology has no explanatory power, and it certainly does not govern capital invest interests. Social Darwinism is merely a rationalization for the mechanism which long ago was set in motion by private greed and the moral acquiescence of political elites (usually in exchange for minor benefits).
However contradictions abound, and among the most important is the fact that there are fewer and fewer assets available to bribe groups into collaborating with this massive theft of human rights and resources. It is not the case that some sort of moral evolution is taking place today; but rather it is simply a fact that many would-be collaborators are not being bought off because the capital is being invested elsewhere, at a higher rate of profit. In other words, Greed is destroying the greedy, and even nationalist revivals are ringing hollow, as the third-word bourgeoisie are perceived today by most ordinary people as being no more than living clones of the First World owners of capital, even though the two groups of capitalists often hate each other.
The 6 items below were sent to us by scholars who have been associated with CEIMSA for many years. Several specialists in American Studies have reminded me that the International Colloquium organized by CEIMSA in January 2002 dealt with many of the economic and political issues that we are facing today. We encourage CEIMSA readers to visit our electronic Publication of the ACTES of this colloquium which is available on the CEIMSA Internet site at the University of California : http://dimension.ucsd.edu/CEIMSA-IN-EXILE/colloques/ACTES.html.
We begin our discussion with the history of Thanksgiving, compliments of Professors Herman and Du Boff :
Item A. is an message from Professor Christian de Montlibert, emeritus Professor of Sociology at Marc Bloch University-Strasbourg.
Item B. is a message from Professor John Gerassi at Queens College in New York City expressing solidarity with the Student Strike in France.
Item C. is an article sent to us by Dahr Jamail on U.S. executions of war criminals in Iraq and the confusion it is causing.
Item D. is an article from Professor Edward S. Herman, emeritus Professor of Finance at University of Pennsylvania, on bipartisan support in the U.S. Government for continued military interventions in the Middle East.
Item E. is an article published in the Lebanese newspaper, Daily Star, describing the economic terrorism of habitual Israeli activities in the Palestinian homeland.
Item F. is a report from the Council for the National Interest Foundation on "Annapolis: What Could Happen?"
And finally, from the November 21 broadcast of Democracy Now! we forward to CEIMSA readers an interview with UNESCO's "Artist for Peace" Ambassador, Marcel Khalife, --the world-renowned Lebanese composer, singer and oud player - discussing his views on Music, War, Censorship, the Palestinian poet Mahmoud Darwish, U.S. interference in his country and much more. Khalife has consistently opposed war, performed in bombed-out buildings during the Lebanese civil war, and passionately defended the rights of Palestinians.
"We Ask the World Not to Help Us" - Acclaimed Lebanese Composer, Singer Marcel Khalife on U.S. interference in Lebanon, War, Censorship and Art
Francis McCollum Feeley
Professor of American Studies
Director of Research
Université Stendhal Grenoble 3
from Christian de Montlibert :
Date: Fri, 23 Nov 2007
Subject: Re: A PUBLIC SERVICE NOTICE FROM THE STUDENT STRIKE AT THE UNIVERSITY OF GRENOBLE.
cher Francis, pourrais-tu me réexpédier (en mél attaché) le texte de mon intervention à grenoble sur la démolition de l'Etat social il est de plus en plus d'actualité! bon combat et solidaire christian
by Ali al-Fadhily
"We Have Some Major Priorities. . . ."
Here are 49 words to inspire dismay and disgust:
"House Speaker Nancy Pelosi, D-Calif., and her lieutenants maneuvered to avoid a floor fight that would have forced Democrats to choose between their liberal base, which might cheer a Cheney impeachment, and a broader electorate, which might view the resolution as a partisan game in a time of war."
I read these words on the fourth page of the front section of the November 7th edition of the Iowa City Press-Citizen. They are part of a story titled "GOP Tries to Outfox Foes: VP's Impeachment Vote Beat Back." They are attributed to the following author: "Washington Post/LA Times."
The story is about how the Republican Party tried to force a vote on progressive Congressman Dennis Kucinich's (D-Ohio) call for the House to pass a resolution to impeach Vice President Dick Cheney for "fabricating a threat of Iraqi weapons of mass destruction" to justify the invasion of Iraq.
House Republican (GOP) leaders knew that the Democrats lack the votes and willpower to work for the impeachment of Cheney and/or Bush. The Republicans wanted to embarrass the Democrats and expose the fissures in their party by forcing a vote on Kucinich's bill.
Pelosi succeeded in defeating the Republicans by getting Kucinich's measure sent to the Judiciary Committee. According to House Majority Leader Steny Hoyer (D-Md.), "impeachment is not on our agenda. We have some major priorities. We need to focus on those."
House Judiciary chair John Conyers agreed, claiming that "let[ting]' this thing" - Kucinich's resolution - "out of the box...could create a split that could affect our productivity for the rest of the Congress."
Hallelujah! The evil Kucinich-Republican impeachment alliance was defeated by the noble forces of Democratic liberalism, whose "major priorities" right now do not include defending the United States Constitution against the abuse of power.
If We Can't Impeach Cheney-Bush...
There are a number of problems with this. I will mention three.
First, there's no point in having the weapon of impeachment on the constitutional books if it can't be wielded against Cheney and Bush. As Glen Ford observed last Spring, "if Cheney-Bush can't be impeached, nobody can."
Let us recall some elementary facts.
The current messianic-militarist White House's invasion of Iraq is not merely a foreign policy "mistake" - a "strategic blunder," as it commonly described by our great liberal saviors in the corporate-imperial Demcoratic Party. It is an ongoing act of high state arch-criminality that has killed more than a million Iraqis as well as nearly 4000 U.S. GIs.
Regarding Iraq and the so-called "war on terror," Cheney and Bush have:
* lied this country into an illegal, unprovoked war of aggression (the supreme crime under Nuremburg principles) with blatantly fraudulent claims about Iraqi weapons of mass destruction.
* fabricated in the minds of the American people false links between Saddam Hussein, al Qaeda, Iraq, and 9/11.
* falsely claimed that the U.S. was engaged in an effort to spread freedom and democracy to Iraq and the Middle East.
* fired generals who told them that their plans for Iraq were seriously inadequate.
* subverted the Constitution, not out of some genuine and sincerely-motivated effort to fight terrorists, but to repress dissent.
* incited fear among the U.S. populace, generating the very terror they claim to fight.
* exploited that unreasoning fear as a political instrument to slander their critics and libel their opponents.
As Elizabeth de la Vega has argued, "the proposition that it is not good political strategy to insist that government official obey the law is highly debatable. More important, strategizing in the face of an ongoing crime is wrong" (Elizabeth de la Vega, United States v. George W. Bush [New York: Seven Stories, 2006], p.19).
"To Rescue the Rule of Law"
What are we saying to future presidencies by not exercising our basic constitutional duty to purge Cheney and Bush? "Impeachment, like all criminal processes," Ford notes, "is designed not just to punish current lawbreakers, but to prevent future criminality. George Bush and his gang have been running a massive criminal enterprise for more than six years, effectively nullifying the Constitution. The Constitution does not automatically come back to life after the two top criminals leave. It must be enforced, or it is just an old, moldy piece of paper. The question is not whether there is time to impeach Bush and Cheney, but whether there is time to rescue the rule of law."
Encoded in Article II, Section 4 of the U.S. Constitution, impeachment is on the books because the United States' "founders" feared the remarkable potential for disastrous abuse of executive branch power the Constitution created. Cheney and Bush have justified that fear like few previous White House occupants. They have committed a vast array of technically impeachable offenses in 12 criminal categories - "not 12 crimes," Ford adds, "but 12 whole categories of crimes, each containing many separate instances and counts of crimes, any one of which is enough to send Bush and Cheney back where they came from before January, 2009."
"If laws can be broken at will," Ford reminds us, "there is no law. Congress may as well stop enacting them, and go home, themselves" (Glen Ford, "If Cheney-Bush Can't Be Impeached, Nobody Can," Black Agenda Report, June 20 2007, read at www.blackagendareport.com/index.php?option=com_content&task=view&id=258&Itemid=4
Currently planning to criminally attack Iran before the end of their second illegally attained terms, Darth Cheney and The Worst President Ever have raised for us the question that Archibald Cox posed in October of 1973 after Richard Nixon fired Cox for his role in investigating the Watergate break-in: "shall we live under a government of laws or a government of men?"
Naked Imperial Aggression: Where's the War?
Second, the notion the United States is experiencing "a time of war" is absurd. Beneath administration and media-fanned rhetoric about the U.S . as "a nation at war" and Bush as "a wartime president," Operation Iraqi Liberation (O.I.L.)  is naked imperial aggression. The "[United States of] American people" are under no attack from Iraq or Iraqis at home or abroad and never have been. We are not dodging Iraqi IEDs and sniper fire on the way to and from our shopping malls, workplaces, and schools. Where's the war?
As most of the morally and politically cognizant planet knows, U.S. soldiers have been sent to Iraq to participate in a brazenly imperialist, monumentally illegal, and inherently mass murderous occupation of a formerly sovereign nation that posed zero threat to the U.S. - an action sold on false and manufactured pretexts. Beneath the official reasons given, the invasion is, in Alan Greenspan's words, "largely about oil." More precisely, O.I.L. is about deepening and sustaining U.S. control of super-strategic Middle Eastern petroleum reserves located in the world's energy heartland.
If we insist on calling this bloody petro-imperialist assault a "war," we should admit that it is a very one-sided U.S. war of colonial aggression. And if the "broader [ U.S.] electorate" actually thinks Americans are currently living under wartime conditions, then it is not being adequately informed to make reasonable distinctions between external imperial violence and the reality of war as actually experienced by its leading victims past and present.
Catch-22: War as the Pardon for War Criminality?
Third, it is ridiculous to claim that we can't properly penalize and remove Cheney-Bush in "a time of war" when the crimes for which they would be impeached are their use of fraudulent and illegal means to put the U.S. into a so-called "wartime" period.
Talk about a self-negating Catch-22: "Gee, we'd like to impeach Cheney-Bush for illegally taking the United States into a criminal 'war,' but we dare not undertake such potentially divisive proceedings during 'a time of war.'"
Yes, the way to avoid prosecution for crimes perpetrated on the way to committing a homicide is to successfully execute the murder.
That's a nice little bit of Orwellian checkmate.
The invasion of Iraq is an ongoing, mass-murderous act of supreme state violence and a crime against humanity. It is a gross violation of international law and civilized norms. Mere impeachment and removal from office are mild penalties compared to what Cheney-Bush deserve for their barbarian Iraq policy. The terrible fact that they are committing their crimes in an age of organized mass murder is no excuse and should offer no pardon.
Paul Street (email@example.com ) is an independent writer, speaker, historian, and policy researcher in Iowa City, IA. He is the author of Empire and Inequality: America and the World Since 9/11 (Boulder, CO: Paradigm Publishers, November 2004); Segregated Schools: Educational Apartheid in the Post-Civil Rights Era (New York, NY: Routledge, 2005); and Racial Oppression in the Global Metropolis: A Living Black Chicago History (New York: forthcoming in 2007).
1. I use "Operation Iraqi Freedom's" initial designation, dropped by the White House and Pentagon because it too blatantly captured the petro-imperialist nature of the invasion. The interesting and darkly humorous fact that "Operation Iraqi Freedom" (O.I.F.) was originally "O.I.L." is NOT an urban myth. See Greg Palast, Armed Madhouse (New York: Plume, 2007), p. 65.
from Edward Herman :
Subject: Palestinian olive harvest
Date: Thu, 15 Nov 2007
The sheer mercilessness of the settlers is remarkable and sickening.
Palestinian olive harvests show marked decline as Israeli settlers 'poach' crops.
A WARTA, Occupied West Bank: The Israeli soldier swings the large metal gate open and an extended family of sun-hardened Palestinian farmers file out, with boys in dusty shirts driving donkeys past snarls of barbed wire. The troops have said they are allowed to return the next day but Mahmoud Qoariq, a family patriarch who at 71 still tends to the gaunt and ancient trees, scoffs at the four or five sacks of olives lashed to the donkeys.
"Before the Intifada we could come and go as we pleased. Every day we would leave with 20 bags, just like these," he says, referring to the period before the latest Palestinian uprising, which erupted in 2000.
But for the last five years this particular grove of 280 olive trees has come between two rings of fencing that encircles the illegal hilltop Jewish settlement of Itamar, which the farmers say has decimated their crop.
The farmers, who are only allowed within the fences for a few days a year, say the settlers steal most of their crop before they arrive, often in plain view on the rocky slope above the fence.
"I was picking olives outside the fence the other day and I saw them picking our olives," says Zuhair Darawshi, 27, whose family plot of some 250 trees has been cut in half by the Israeli-constructed barrier.
Other farmers accuse the settlers of stripping the trees bare and even burning them.
"On a good day I used to come back with four sacks of olives, but today I only have half a sack and there is nothing left to pick. Since they built the fence the settlers have stolen almost everything," Darawshi says.
The centuries-old olive groves that cover the chalk-terraced hills of the West Bank are an almost-sacred symbol of Palestinian nationhood, a livelihood for millions and a frequent casualty of the Middle East conflict.
In past years the annual olive harvest has been marked by widespread settler attacks on Palestinian farmers, with the Israeli troops patrolling the occupied territory frequently turning a blind eye, rights groups say.
In a recent report, local human-rights group Yesh Din accused Israeli forces of failing to protect last year's harvest, adding that the "most serious defects were found in enforcement of the law upon Israeli civilians.
"In all of the cases documented by Yesh Din, in which Israeli civilians used violence against Palestinian harvesters, Israeli troops stood by and did nothing. That behavior is part of a larger pattern of defective enforcement," it said.
The farmers in Awarta say the soldiers do nothing to protect them from the Jewish settlers.
"The settlers throw rocks at us, they curse us, they tell us to get off their land and the army does nothing. Who are they protecting?" Qoariq asks.
As he speaks the soldiers who shut the gate behind him minutes earlier are joined by another man in a green army uniform, a white skullcap and a shaggy beard, with an M-16 assault rifle slung across his shoulder.
"I think it is a disgrace that they were allowed in," the Itamar settler says, refusing to reveal his name. He nevertheless denies that anyone from his small community, a known bastion of extreme-right activists often accused of harassing Palestinian farmers, disturbed the farmers' harvest.
In October, a group of masked settlers ambushed a group of farmers and international human-rights activists outside the town of Tal, near Awarta, pelting them with stones and bloodying the scalp of one of the farmers.
Arik Ascherman, who heads Rabbis for Human Rights, a group that escorts farmers from 30-40 villages, confirmed the attack but said violence has fallen in recent years as rights groups have pressured the army to act.
In 2006, Israel's Supreme Court ruled that security forces must allow the harvest to take place and prevent disruptions.
The overall situation has improved since then, "but the whole case of guarding trees is still dismal," Ascherman says.
The army has refused to act even in cases where ID cards of Jewish settlers were found next to bare trees, he adds.
Decades of illegal settlement growth have etched the stark contours of the Middle East conflict on the land itself, with piney forests plunging down from hilltop enclaves toward the hard scrabble olive groves of the villages.
In a valley a few kilometers away from Awarta, Mohanad Ismail and the women of his family - with scarves wrapped round their faces to shield them from the sun - shake clumps of purple olives onto plastic tarps.
Ismail says he has lost most of his land in recent years to the nearby unauthorized settlement of Elon More and to the construction of a road leading to it.
"The settlers took 35 dunums of land. They destroyed all the olive trees and planted their own trees over them," he says.
Ismail says he does not expect any violence during the harvest, but fears the plowing and planting season in the spring because in past years settlers fired guns in the air to drive him from his land.
Ascherman insists Palestinian farmers across the West Bank will be able to reach their lands for the harvest but warns they are still at risk during the remainder of the year, when they must tend the trees.
"That's the real test - not whether they can harvest but whether they can do the agricultural work that's necessary for a good crop," he says. -
from: Council for the National Interest Foundation <firstname.lastname@example.org>
Date: 22 November 2007
Subject: Annapolis: What Could Happen?
Invitations have gone out to some 50 countries and international agencies involved in the Israeli-Palestinian conflict to attend an international meeting on Israel and Palestine organized by the United States and scheduled to open November 27. The list of invitees remains unknown as of this writing, but it apparently includes Syria and Saudi Arabia, two key countries whose attendance is needed if the meeting is to be a success. It does not include Hamas, the political party in control of Gaza that is also backed by many Palestinians opposed to, impatient with or suspicious of the Palestinian President, Mahmoud Abbas and the never-ending process of peace-making.
Much ink has already been spilt on the possibility of success of such a conference since President Bush first announced it in July. From the beginning, almost everyone was skeptical that, given the poor record of the Israelis in the seven years - the brutal occupation of Palestine, the targeted bombing of Gaza, and the prolonged attack on Lebanon resulting in the death of many civilians - to say nothing of the shameful and murderous occupation of Iraq by the conference hosts, the Israelis or the Americans as "peace brokers" would be in a position to offer anything substantive to the Palestinians and the Arab World that has long championed their cause. A collection of encircled Bantustans for a country is not what Palestinians want -- nor anything their friends want.
Seven or eight trips by the Secretary of State to the region, whipping up support and nudging preliminary meetings and agendas, has failed to inspire confidence about the success of the November meeting (or conference). Reports from Cairo and Tel Aviv and elsewhere in the Middle East continue to be skeptical, even up to this late date. No one is sure of the agenda, no one is sure who will attend, and no one is confident that anything positive can come out of a conference (or meeting, whatever you call it) other than an agreement to meet again.
There are arguments for and against as to whether this in itself is an accomplishment. For those of us who have been waiting for "peace" or the "peace process" to go forward, an agreement to "process peace" is not a forward step. The 2003 Roadmap "signposts" and "benchmarks" - designated steps that must be taken by both sides - failed miserably as a mechanism to move the "process" forward. The Israelis (and therefore the US, and to some extent Europe) habitually found fault with the Palestinians, giving them demerits for not controlling "terrorists" and "terrorist" organizations, while ignoring the fact that the Israelis continued to provoke the Palestinians by harassing them militarily or at checkpoints, to indulge in targeted assassinations, to abscond with Palestinian lands for their colonies and their separation walls, and finally by shutting up 1.5 million of them in a ghetto in Gaza. No one was willing to understand the deep frustration of Palestinians. No one was willing to hold the Israelis accountable. Pushed by the Israel Lobby, Congress held the Palestinians accountable for every little act and gesture.
Therefore, to be able to gather together these untrusting, suspicious parties, along with their neighbors and interested international parties, is - if nothing else - an achievement in brazenness. It asks the Arab World put on hold its feelings after 60 years of diffidence, deliberate neglect, bombings and even bloody invasion, and hasten to Annapolis to listen to President Bush, President Mahmoud Abbas of Palestine and Prime Minister Ehud Olmert of Israel make speeches that will predictably call for peace and cooperation. If they do come, it proves at the very least the optimistic nature of Middle Easterners.
The Israelis and the Americans are now energetically bolstering Mahmoud Abbas, regardless of his lack of popular standing in Palestine, providing him with long-blocked financial aid so that he can beef up his security force. They suddenly realize that the Israeli Defense Forces obliterated the Palestinian Authority's security infrastructure in 2002-2003. Moreover, a few more prisoners have been released, but far short of what was hoped. Close to 12,000 Palestinians are in Israeli jails, many of them on unsubstantiated charges that would never hold up in a court if they had access to the judicial system.
Whatever agreement Abbas is able to make with the Israelis in the next six months or one year - or however long the new "processing" period is to be determined - he will need to convince all the Palestinians this is the best agreement they can make. And it remains uncertain what command he has over the Palestinian electorate. This uncertainty must be a cause for concern of those parties guaranteeing the success of any agreement.
Olmert a few days ago promised to remove "illegal outposts" - some 50 or so trailer parks established on hilltops since March 2001, housing perhaps 1,000 colonists - but this is yet another empty gesture. Nothing has been said about established colonies, even those that are isolated deep within Palestinian territory. Nothing has been said about the wall, or the great core issues of Jerusalem and the refugees' right of return. And they assume that the large blocs of colonists - in which tens of thousands of Jewish colonists live - will become an integral part of Israel in any future agreement. It is difficult to imagine how the Israelis will be able to make further concessions necessary to conclude a satisfactory peace with the Palestinians.
During this conference, Condoleezza Rice could nonetheless make a very positive step in the right direction by recognizing the Arab League, whose recognition the Israelis have long blocked. The League continues to act wisely under the very capable leadership of Amru Moussa. Its late endorsement - due Friday at a meeting of Arab states foreign ministers - of ultimate goals of the Annapolis meeting would not be out of line. It has expended considerable effort to coordinate the desire for peace amongst its membership, and to offer assistance in any number of disputes that have plagued the area. The US recognizes regional entities in Central America, Latin America, Europe, Asia, and Africa, and it is time to recognize the oldest of them all, the League of Arab States. If Annapolis achieves anything, this would be an important step in the direction of peace.