Bulletin N°337


11 January 2008
Grenoble, France

Dear Colleagues and Friends of CEIMSA,

It has been argued that Free Market colonization and the concomitant weakening of the modern nation state is causing the third-worldization of all nations. Today, the sheer force of transnational corporate penetration into societies around the world and their relentless quest for greater private profits is rapidly impoverishing the vast majority of the world's population, not to mention the global environment as a whole. This is the palpable reality of billions of people on our planet, and not just a metaphysical speculation. We can expect capitalist opportunists to spin this fact to further their own strategies for still higher rates of private profit in the immediate future. The myriad of private corporations servicing the  law-and-order industry is a case in point.

In her remarkable history of contemporary capitalism, The Shock Doctrine: The Rise of Disaster Capitalism (November 2007), investigative reporter Naomi Klein reminds us that the owners of capital are a very, very small class of people (of many different national origins), and that these people operate from the rather simple (digital) logic of either-them-or-us, in a mathematically driven pursuit to compete for increased returns from private capital investments. (This competition is essentially an aggression against social forms of cooperation, and it comes at the high cost of not satisfying the real needs of ordinary people.)

The leadership of this new capitalist tactic, which Klein calls "disaster capitalism," originates from the United States of America. The "Washington Consensus" refers to the application of the neo-liberal triumvirate: privatization, deregulation/free trade, and drastic cuts in government spending that was concocted beginning in the 1950s by Milton Friedman and his "Chicago Boys."

The living social laboratories of Free Market colonialism  ---from post-Allende Chile (1973 - ), and post-Tiananman-Square China (1989 - ), to post-Apartheid South Africa (1994 - ), and post-Saddam Hussein Iraq (2003 - )-- are covered with Friedman's fingerprints. And the effects of these large-scale experiments are increasingly felt inside the former empires of western Europe and North America, as well as in other third world societies. This new imperialism is a unified field theory for social control --spiritual, intellectual, and economic/financial controls-- which is achieved by eliminating government social services, reducing taxes, and privatizing all state enterprises. The result is that privately owned corporations are effectively taking over ownership of society, and they are doing their best to make this new relationship of corporate control irreversible.(163)

One example of how this is done can be seen in the recent history of South Africa, where the African National Congress (ANC) gave away South Africa's economic independence to Corporate entities, all governed by the "laws of the free market economy." Very few of those present even recognized the significance of what was being done during the negotiations for political independence and majority rule. Political debate had been cleverly separated from economic negotiations, and the ANC allowed themselves to be trapped in a network of laws and technical regulations that would allow "political freedom" without economic independence. In other words, the ANC was allowed to govern what was left of the body politic, after it had been greatly reduced due to the loss of economic independence, and furthermore there seemed no way to take back these losses, as ANC leadership had been effectively bought off by a vested interests in corporate growth.

Naomi Klein explains how the Apartheid government of de Klerk successfully retained control of the South African economy despite the transfer of political power to the black majority :

In these talks, the de Klerk government had a twofold strategy. First, drawing on the ascendant Washington Consensus that there was now only one way to run an economy, it portrayed key sectors of economic decision making --such as trade policy and the central bank-- as "technical" or "administrative." Then it used a wide range of new policy tools --international trade agreements, innovations in constitutional law and structural adjustment programs-- to hand control of those power centers to supposedly impartial experts, economists and officials from the IMF, the World Bank, the General Agreement on Tariffs and Trade (GATT) and the National Party-- anyone except the liberation fighters from the ANC. It was a strategy of balkanization, not of the country's geography (as de Klerk had originally attempted) but of its economy.(200)

William Gumede, a third-generation ANC activist, who was a leader of the student movement during the transition told Klein, that the prevailing feeling of the ANC leadership was, "We are going to be the government --we could fix it later."(205)

But it was not fixed later, instead "Rational Choice", with a Benthamite punctuality in the administration of pain and pleasure, assured that Free Market forces would punish the new South African government each time it even considered implimenting reforms that corresponded to the principles contained in its original Freedom Charter --principles that largely contradicted market values. One reason for their abeyance, remarked ANC writer Ashwin Desai, who had spent time in jail during the liberation struggle, is found in the psychology of prisoners.

In prison, if you please the warden more, you get a better status. And that logic obviously transported itself into some of the things that South African society did. They did want to somehow prove that they were much better prisoners. Much more disciplined prisoners than other countries, even.(210)
Leaders like Nelson Mandela and Thabo Mbeki grew to fear alienating corporations by even mentioning references to the original ANC Freedom Charter, which called for nationalization of all major industries in South Africa, and an egalitarian redistribution of South African wealth. "Corporations are like animals that cannot be domesticated," explained London-educated Mbeki; "they can only be fed!"

The result of the economic defeat of the ANC is apparent in South Africa today, where since 1994, the year the ANC took power, the number of people living on less than $1 a day has doubled, from two million to four million in 2006, where the unemployment rate has more than doubled between 1991 and 2002, from 23 percent to 48 percent, and where the average life expectancy had fallen, since 1994, by no less than 13 years.(215)

Experiencing economic growth without economic development, this is the nightmare society that now exists in South Africa, where more than one in four blacks live in shacks located in informal shantytowns. When the final report of South Africa's "Truth and Reconciliation Commission" was published in March 2003, the commission's chairman, Archbishop Desmond Tutu, reminded journalists that justice in South Africa had been delayed :
Can you explain how a black person wakes up in a squalid ghetto today, almost 10 years after freedom? Then he goes to work in town, which is still largely white, in palatial homes. And as the end of the day, he goes back home to squalor? I don't know why those people don't just say, "To hell with peace. To hell with Tutu and the truth commission.(211)
The victims and families of victims of apartheid killings and torture would not be compensated by the rich corporations that profited from the repressive social order maintained by the de Klerk government and his predecessors for generations. Instead, the ANC government was required to divert its limited funds from its own social programs in order to pay the victims. And a much larger amount is paid out by the ANC government each year in the form of large government pensions to former apartheid officials who are now retired. In the first year after the handover, the new government paid $4.5 billion just to service the old apartheid government debts, while a paltry $85 million was paid to the more than nineteen thousand victims. Forty percent of the government's annual debt payments go to the country's massive pension fund, where the great majority of beneficiaries are former apartheid employees.
The white businesses that reaped enormous profits from black labor during the apartheid years [paid] not a cent in reparations, but the victims of apartheid [continue] to send large checks to their former victimizers. And how do they raise the money for this generosity? By striping the state of its assets through privatization . . . .(213)
Another example of "disaster capitalism" at work is the political economy of post-9/11 policies in the United States, demonstrating how a small international bourgeoisie --the owners of great capital and their shrinking army of defenders-- can come to stabilize capital investments by destabilizing the social environment in which these investments are made.
The social equivalent of E=MC² (indeed !)
That great theoretician Donald Rumsfeld, mulit-millionaire protégé of Professor Milton Freedman and twice a former Secretary of the U.S. Defense Department (1975-77 and 2001-2006), had formulated the new science of Transformation this way:

In the twenty-first century we are going to have to stop thinking about things, numbers of things, and mass, and think also and maybe even first about speed and agility and precision..(285)

On 10 September 2001, Rumsfeld declared war against the U.S. Defense Department, announcing his intention to cut its staff by 15 percent and to replace government personnel with "lean-and-mean" contractual labor from the private sector of the economy. In less than 24 hours after Ru\msfeld made his declaration at a "town hall meeting" of upper-level Pentagon officials, a group of Kamikaze tacticians reduced the number of Pentagon staff by 125 killed and 110 seriously wounded.(287) In the midst of this crisis Rumsfeld went oneliminate 55,000 jobs in the Department of Defense and the Department of Veterans Affairs in the first year of the Iraq deployment. As Iraq spiraled into turmoil, private investors in the war industry, operating with "cost-plus" contracts began to make huge profits by replacing military personnel, including those offering medical treatment for returning soldiers at the Walter Reed Army Medical Center in Washington, D.C., where professional service greatly deteriorated.(378)

Another social science Einstein is Paul Bremer, the Bush-appointed Director of the occupation authority in Iraq, who was accountable to Secretary of Defense Rumsfeld. In October 2001, Bremer opened a counter-terrorism company, which he called Crisis Consulting Practice, and in November he wrote a policy paper for his clients explaining why transnational corporations faced new dangers.
Free trade, he wrote, has led to "the creation of unprecedented wealth," but this has many "immediate negative consequences." It "requires laying off workers. And opening markets to foreign trade puts enormous pressure on traditional retailers and trade monopolies." These changes lead to "growing income gaps and social tensions," which can lead to attacks on U.S. firms, including terrorist attacks.(360-361)
Bremer's experiences in the homeland security industry after 9/11 qualified him for leading the Reconstruction in Iraq. "Getting inefficient state enterprises into private hands," explained Bremer, "is essential for Iraq's economic recovery."(345) To accomplish this, he lowered Iraq's corporate tax rate from 45 % to a flat 15 %, and wrote new economic laws for Iraq allowing foreign companies to own 100 % of Iraqi assets, and investors to take 100 % of their profits out of the country --thus the owners of capital in Iraq would not me taxed and they would not be required to reinvest. His objective was obviously to create an investor frenzy, and his methods were straight out of the Milton Friedman textbook on the "free market economy." Bremer's  reconstruction commission was a staff of 1,500 people attempting to govern 25 million Iraqis. The "blowback" came when he fired about 500,000 state workers in Iraq, including around 400,000 soldiers. (351-352) Many of the newly unemployed joined resistance movements. Bremer's next step was the plan to privatize Iraq's 200 state-owned companies, and thereby fire perhaps as many a two-thirds of these state employees in order "to make these companies attractive to foreign investors." This plan also created new enemies.(353)

The above examples are but two instances of a whole series of corporate global strategies in the decades of economic warfare discussed by Naomi Klein. Her descriptions of virtual battle fields, tactics, and logistics in this prolonged economic war against ordinary people can help us understand the real context in which political decisions that effect all of us are made by a self-serving political and corporate elites.

In the 6 items below CEIMSA readers are invited to evaluate the evidence of neo-colonialism in contemporary social relations and to identify those behavior patterns which might prove advantageous for the construction of more just and creative societies in the future.

Item A. is an article by Al Burke, founder of Nordic News Network (NNN), on Philip Agee, the disloyal CIA agent whose exposés of CIA criminal activities in the 1970s caused an international reevaluation of the real meaning of the "Cold War".
Item B., from ZNet, is an article my Chalmers Johnson, on the Hollywood amnesia factory at work in defense of Empire.
Item C., from UCLA Professor Rhonda Hammer, is a student project in communication theory, identifying new forms of cultural resistance.
Item D., also from Al Burke, is an article first published in NNN suggesting that a veiled death threat was issued to Swedish journalist Dick Emanuelsson from Colombian "diplomat" Ernesto Yamhure, accusing him of being a "terrorist" and therefore "an enemy combatant."
Item E. from ZNet, an article by Jonathan Cook on the Israeli Kamikaze tactics of permanent warfare which is applauded by U.S. corporate interests.
Item F. from Professor John Gerassi, of the Queens College (CUNY), on the state of social consciousness in Hawaii.

And finally, from Democracy Now ! we offer CEIMSA readers a podcast exposé on "the good behavior" of U.S. presidential candidates who are seek political continuity by hiring "atrocity-linked" U. S. officials from past administrations to pilot their campaigns in the up-coming elections.

Vote for Change?
Atrocity-Linked U.S. Officials Advising Democratic, GOP Presidential Frontrunners


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

from Al Burke :
Date: Thu, 10 Jan 2008
Subject: In praise of Philip Agee









Philip Agee, as he appeared when he was
"on the run" from the CIA


Philip Agee (1935-2008)

    Let Us Now Praise an (In)famous Man
by Al Burke
Box 1181
S-18123 Lidingö
E-mail: editor@nnn.se
Internet: http://www.nnn.se


10 January 2008 (NNN) -- Philip Agee, former agent of the CIA, died in Havana, Cuba, on 8 January 2008 at the age of 72. He was the first agent to leave "The Company" and reveal its dirty secrets, having become disillusioned with its appalling practices in Latin America.

I had the pleasure and privilege of meeting Philip on three occasions in Stockholm, and he once confided that he was a distant relation of author James Agee,whose best-known work is probably Let Us Now Praise Famous Men-- a book-length reportage on the desperately grim lives of dirt-poor farmers in the U.S. South during the 1930s' Great Depression. It is an apt reference, as it was Philip's eye-opening encounter with the desperate conditions of South America's impoverished masses-- and his growing insight into the central role played by U.S. foreign policy in perpetuating their misery-- which led to his resignation from the CIA and the disclosure of its criminal activities in the political and literary bombshell, Inside the Company: CIA Diary.

That process and the very high price it entailed, including the inevitable cries of "traitor!" and the CIA snapping at his heels as he sought refuge in several European countries, are recounted in Philip's memoir, On the Run.

Inside the Company
, though published in 1975, remains a basic reference on the methods and procedures by which the United States pursues and maintains its interests in the countries it seeks to control. In fact, I happened to be re-reading it a few years ago as Venezuela was being subjected to a classic destabilization campaign whose evident purpose was to soften up the country for the coup against President Hugo Chávez which in due course took place a few months later.

The basic procedure was all laid out in Philip's book: One could read his detailed account of how he and his colleagues had organized the downfall of Ecuador's President Velasco in 1961, and in the daily news follow the same tactics and procedures as they were being applied in Venezuela forty years later. Then as now, the mainstream media played a central role in creating the necessary pre-coup atmosphere of diffuse anxiety, widespread malaise, and seething rebellion against a "dictator" who happened to be democratically elected.

Now as then-- despite the numerous subsequent revelations of Philip and others who have followed his example-- the same media have divulged little or nothing about the shadowy figures and agencies that orchestrate such processes. For the most part, the CIA and other instruments of U.S. domination continue to operate behind a media smokescreen of willful neglect and obfuscation.

These and related matters were the focus of a speech by Philip in Stockholm on 24 September 2001, just thirteen days after the revenge attacks against symbols of U.S. economic and military might. A soft-spoken and unfailingly courteous man, he was also a captivating speaker who held the rapt attention of a large audience as he outlined the history and methods of the CIA, its long involvement in international terrorism, and with characteristic foresight analysed the likely consequences of the terror attacks in New York and Washington. Here are a few excerpts:

Untold history of U.S. terrorism

"There has been some reporting, but not very much, about the fact that Osama bin Ladin [chief organizer of the terror attacks on the U.S.] is a product of the United States. He is a creature of the CIA, having gone to work for the it in Afghanistan. It was the largest operation ever carried out by the CIA, and its purpose was to bleed the Soviet Union.

"Bin Ladin was one of thousands who volunteered to fight with the mujihadin against the Soviets. As I recall, there were seven different groups. All seven were basically fundamentalist Islamic forces, who felt that the Soviet invasion defiled an Islamic country. Bin Ladin was among those who did not stop fighting after the Soviets were expelled. In fact, he started laying plans for the future while the war against the Soviet Union was still going on. He was able to develop a world-wide network which today is operating in sixty countries or more.

"Very little of this background on bin Ladin as a creation of the United States has been brought to public attention during the past two weeks. Most of what we have seen and heard is related to the 'solution', which is war. How much have we read or heard about those voices calling for alternative solutions to the problem of international terrorism? How much reporting have we seen on analyses of what has driven these people to such desperation that they carried out those attacks on September 11th?

"… Since the attacks on September 11th, I do not believe there has been any serious effort by the U.S. mainstream press to review the history of U.S. involvement in and support of terrorism. The news is monopolized by those who want to go to war.
"For that reason, I do not think it will be very easy to avoid this 'war on terrorism'. The U.S. media are so powerful, and they fill our minds every day with what they think we should know and how we should interpret it. They are working hand-in-hand with the government, and they share the same values. This is what makes it possible for them to earn a lot of money by selling advertising. After all, these are privately-owned institutions whose capital is supposed to yield a return for stockholders. They have to keep this constantly in mind, like any other corporation, and so they go along with the government.

"… Journalists are also very important to the CIA for non-journalistic activities. They serve as very convenient agents of access for the Agency. Particularly since they come from a country with a neutral tradition, Swedes in general have always been of great interest to the CIA. This is because they do not carry a lot of political baggage, as do people from most other countries. I am aware of the ongoing debate here concerning just how neutral Sweden has or has not been. But in the rest of the world, the neutrality of Sweden has created a special attraction for U.S. intelligence agencies, because Swedes have readier access to certain target individuals than, say, an American or a German would.

Persistent dualism

"[The current attitude] is pretty much the attitude we had in the CIA during the 1950s. When we analysed the operational climate and all the political forces in any given country, we had our friends and we had our enemies. There was no one in between. The friends were centre and right-wing social democrats, conservatives, liberals, in some cases all the way over to neo-fascists. The enemies were left-wing social democrats, socialists, communists, all the way to those advocating armed struggle.

"This is the way we saw the world. It was a strictly dualistic view of the political climate in any given country where we were operating. It was very much like what we are hearing today from Washington.

"It was not until I got down to Latin America that I began to get a political education. Whatever my ideas when I went down there, I saw things around me every day that influenced me. I saw the terrible economic and social conditions, and the injustices that could not be ignored.

"… The aim of our programmes was to support the status quo, to support the oligarchies of Latin America. These are the power structures that date back centuries, based on ownership of the land, of the financial resources, of the export-import system, and excluding the vast majority of the population. With all of our programmes, we were supporting these traditional power structures. What first caused me to turn against these people were the corruption and the greed that they exhibited in all areas of society. My ideas and attitudes began to change, and eventually I decided to resign from the CIA.

"… I was myself involved in some of these activities. I worked, for example, with the police in Latin American countries, and they were often involved in torture. I remember one Sunday morning in the office of the chief of police during a state of siege in Montevideo. My boss, the CIA chief of station in Uruguay was present, along with the local army colonel in charge of anti-riot forces.

"We began to hear a low moaning coming through the walls and, at first, I thought it was a street vendor outside. But then it became clear that it was someone being tortured in another part of the building. As this horrible sound became louder and louder, the police chief told the colonel to turn up a radio in order to drown out the groans and screams.

"There is no end to such examples, and Latin America was one of the places where the worst offences occurred. But it was not just Latin America. Remember Greece under the military junta, which was urged by the CIA to prevent the election of Georgios Papandreou. That began seven years of severe political repression by this fascist regime.

"So it does not have to be in a Third World region like Latin America. It can happen right in Western Europe.

New and better threat

"…  Since the events of two weeks ago, there has been much comment and speculation about the new era we may now be entering. Looking back, there was a long Cold War that had already begun during World War II. An important turning point occurred in 1950, when it was decided to start an arms race that would serve the dual purpose of forcing the Soviet Union into bankruptcy while stimulating the U.S. economy. Since the Soviet Union was still recovering from the devastation of World War II, it would never be able to catch up; but it would be compelled to make the effort, nevertheless. Meanwhile, military spending in the U.S. would keep going up and up, which in turn would stimulate the U.S. economy through a sort of 'military Keynesianism'. This continued through the Reagan administration of the 1980s.

"But in the decade since the end of the Cold War until September 11th, the U.S. security establishment-- the political class, the CIA, the people who fought the Cold War-- had no real enemy to focus on. True, they had Saddam Hussein for awhile, and they might have had a minor enemy here, another one there. But there was no real worldwide threat similar to that of the Cold War. Well, now it seems that they have one again.

"What this means is that the United States is going to be in this for quite some time. I have feeling that it is going to go on for ten or fifteen years, because they are not going to wipe out international terrorism or something like bin Ladin’s group overnight. During this period, they are going to be doing the same things they did in the Cold War. We can already here it in such expression as, 'Whoever is not with us is against us.'  They are going to be trying to use every bit of power they have to bring countries in line behind the United States.

"It also means important changes within the United States, because the war on terrorism will serve as the justification for restraints on civil liberties. They are building a huge crisis in the United States. They are building the psychological climate for broad-based acceptance of an ongoing war, for which there will be no quick resolution. There will be no great battles, either.

"During this period, there will be very little room for alternative views and alternative solutions in U.S. news media. What are the alternatives? Well, one is obviously to address the question of why these people are doing these things: What are the roots of international terrorism? How does U.S. foreign policy create this type of reaction? How does U.S. support of everything that Israel does, including the oppression of the Palestinian people, influence fundamentalist Islamic groups?

"…Unfortunately, I suspect that there will be greater self-censorship by U.S. media in order to line up behind the government, however its policy of war may turn out. There is already talk of a personal identification system of some kind for the entire country, together with large-scale surveillance of the population-- especially immigrants, and Muslim immigrants in particular. There will be some opposition to this; but historically, the courts have usually gone along with the government, even though they are theoretically supposed to be the guarantors of civil liberties. For example, the courts went along with the internment of Japanese-Americans during World War II. So, it will be possible to restrict, and even infringe upon, civil liberties and human rights in the U.S.

"It is early days to draw any conclusions about how all this is going to develop, since it is still in the planning stage. But in my opinion, if they carry out this military solution-- with an attack or a series of attacks, or the establishment of military bases in Islamic countries-- they will be doing exactly what bin Ladin wants them to do. It would turn more and more people to fundamentalism and to his organization.

"… Certainly, the CIA and the other components of the U.S. intelligence apparatus will be using all available technical means to locate and attack these groups, wherever they may be. They should certainly know where all the training bases are located, since they were established by the CIA, itself. But that will not be nearly enough."
Al Burke
Nordic News Network
10 January 2008

Other web resources :
For the complete text of Philip's Stockholm speech, see "Appendix E" at:

Duncan Campbell's obituary in The Guardian provides a concise summary of Philip's life and work:  http://www.guardian.co.uk/obituaries/story/0,,2238063,00.html

"Terrorism and Civil Society" by Philip Agee
Review of U.S. aggression against Cuba and other Latin American countries

from Chalmers Johnson :
Date: January 06, 2008
Subject: Another Hollywood rewrite of history.

Imperialist Propaganda
Second Thoughts on Charlie Wilson's War

by Chalmers Johnson

I have some personal knowledge of Congressmen like Charlie Wilson (D-2nd District, Texas, 1973-1996) because, for close to twenty years, my representative in the 50th Congressional District of California was Republican Randy "Duke" Cunningham, now serving an eight-and-a-half year prison sentence for soliciting and receiving bribes from defense contractors. Wilson and Cunningham held exactly the same plummy committee assignments in the House of Representatives -- the Defense Appropriations Subcommittee plus the Intelligence Oversight Committee -- from which they could dole out large sums of public money with little or no input from their colleagues or constituents.

Both men flagrantly abused their positions -- but with radically different consequences. Cunningham went to jail because he was too stupid to know how to game the system -- retire and become a lobbyist -- whereas Wilson received the Central Intelligence Agency Clandestine Service's first "honored colleague" award ever given to an outsider and went on to become a $360,000 per annum lobbyist for Pakistan.

In a secret ceremony at CIA headquarters on June 9, 1993, James Woolsey, Bill Clinton's first Director of Central Intelligence and one of the agency's least competent chiefs in its checkered history, said: "The defeat and breakup of the Soviet empire is one of the great events of world history. There were many heroes in this battle, but to Charlie Wilson must go a special recognition." One important part of that recognition, studiously avoided by the CIA and most subsequent American writers on the subject, is that Wilson's activities in Afghanistan led directly to a chain of blowback that culminated in the attacks of September 11, 2001 and led to the United States' current status as the most hated nation on Earth.

On May 25, 2003, (the same month George W. Bush stood on the flight deck of the U.S.S. Abraham Lincoln under a White-House-prepared "Mission Accomplished" banner and proclaimed "major combat operations" at an end in Iraq), I published a review in the Los Angeles Times of the book that provides the data for the film Charlie Wilson's War. The original edition of the book carried the subtitle, "The Extraordinary Story of the Largest Covert Operation in History -- the Arming of the Mujahideen." The 2007 paperbound edition was subtitled, "The Extraordinary Story of How the Wildest Man in Congress and a Rogue CIA Agent Changed the History of Our Times." Neither the claim that the Afghan operations were covert nor that they changed history is precisely true.

In my review of the book, I wrote,

"The Central Intelligence Agency has an almost unblemished record of screwing up every 'secret' armed intervention it ever undertook. From the overthrow of the Iranian government in 1953 through the rape of Guatemala in 1954, the Bay of Pigs, the failed attempts to assassinate Fidel Castro of Cuba and Patrice Lumumba of the Congo, the Phoenix Program in Vietnam, the 'secret war' in Laos, aid to the Greek Colonels who seized power in 1967, the 1973 killing of President Allende in Chile, and Ronald Reagan's Iran-Contra war against Nicaragua, there is not a single instance in which the Agency's activities did not prove acutely embarrassing to the United States and devastating to the people being 'liberated.' The CIA continues to get away with this bungling primarily because its budget and operations have always been secret and Congress is normally too indifferent to its Constitutional functions to rein in a rogue bureaucracy. Therefore the tale of a purported CIA success story should be of some interest.

"According to the author of Charlie Wilson's War, the exception to CIA incompetence was the arming between 1979 and 1988 of thousands of Afghan mujahideen ("freedom fighters"). The Agency flooded Afghanistan with an incredible array of extremely dangerous weapons and 'unapologetically mov[ed] to equip and train cadres of high tech holy warriors in the art of waging a war of urban terror against a modern superpower [in this case, the USSR].'

"The author of this glowing account, [the late] George Crile, was a veteran producer for the CBS television news show '60 Minutes' and an exuberant Tom Clancy-type enthusiast for the Afghan caper. He argues that the U.S.'s clandestine involvement in Afghanistan was 'the largest and most successful CIA operation in history,' 'the one morally unambiguous crusade of our time,' and that 'there was nothing so romantic and exciting as this war against the Evil Empire.' Crile's sole measure of success is killed Soviet soldiers (about 15,000), which undermined Soviet morale and contributed to the disintegration of the Soviet Union in the period 1989 to 1991. That's the successful part.

"However, he never once mentions that the 'tens of thousands of fanatical Muslim fundamentalists' the CIA armed are the same people who in 1996 killed nineteen American airmen at Dhahran, Saudi Arabia, bombed our embassies in Kenya and Tanzania in 1998, blew a hole in the side of the U.S.S. Cole in Aden Harbor in 2000, and on September 11, 2001, flew hijacked airliners into New York's World Trade Center and the Pentagon."

Where Did the "Freedom Fighters" Go?

When I wrote those words I did not know (and could not have imagined) that the actor Tom Hanks had already purchased the rights to the book to make into a film in which he would star as Charlie Wilson, with Julia Roberts as his right-wing Texas girlfriend Joanne Herring, and Philip Seymour Hoffman as Gust Avrakotos, the thuggish CIA operative who helped pull off this caper.

What to make of the film (which I found rather boring and old-fashioned)? It makes the U.S. government look like it is populated by a bunch of whoring, drunken sleazebags, so in that sense it's accurate enough. But there are a number of things both the book and the film are suppressing. As I noted in 2003,

"For the CIA legally to carry out a covert action, the president must sign off on -- that is, authorize -- a document called a 'finding.' Crile repeatedly says that President Carter signed such a finding ordering the CIA to provide covert backing to the mujahideen after the Soviet Union invaded Afghanistan on December 24, 1979. The truth of the matter is that Carter signed the finding on July 3, 1979, six months before the Soviet invasion, and he did so on the advice of his national security adviser, Zbigniew Brzezinski, in order to try to provoke a Russian incursion. Brzezinski has confirmed this sequence of events in an interview with a French newspaper, and former CIA Director [today Secretary of Defense] Robert Gates says so explicitly in his 1996 memoirs. It may surprise Charlie Wilson to learn that his heroic mujahideen were manipulated by Washington like so much cannon fodder in order to give the USSR its own Vietnam. The mujahideen did the job but as subsequent events have made clear, they may not be all that grateful to the United States."

In the bound galleys of Crile's book, which his publisher sent to reviewers before publication, there was no mention of any qualifications to his portrait of Wilson as a hero and a patriot. Only in an "epilogue" added to the printed book did Crile quote Wilson as saying, "These things happened. They were glorious and they changed the world. And the people who deserved the credit are the ones who made the sacrifice. And then we fucked up the endgame." That's it. Full stop. Director Mike Nichols, too, ends his movie with Wilson's final sentence emblazoned across the screen. And then the credits roll.

Neither a reader of Crile, nor a viewer of the film based on his book would know that, in talking about the Afghan freedom fighters of the 1980s, we are also talking about the militants of al Qaeda and the Taliban of the 1990s and 2000s. Amid all the hoopla about Wilson's going out of channels to engineer secret appropriations of millions of dollars to the guerrillas, the reader or viewer would never suspect that, when the Soviet Union withdrew from Afghanistan in 1989, President George H.W. Bush promptly lost interest in the place and simply walked away, leaving it to descend into one of the most horrific civil wars of modern times.

Among those supporting the Afghans (in addition to the U.S.) was the rich, pious Saudi Arabian economist and civil engineer, Osama bin Laden, whom we helped by building up his al Qaeda base at Khost. When bin Laden and his colleagues decided to get even with us for having been used, he had the support of much of the Islamic world. This disaster was brought about by Wilson's and the CIA's incompetence as well as their subversion of all the normal channels of political oversight and democratic accountability within the U.S. government. Charlie Wilson's war thus turned out to have been just another bloody skirmish in the expansion and consolidation of the American empire -- and an imperial presidency. The victors were the military-industrial complex and our massive standing armies. The billion dollars worth of weapons Wilson secretly supplied to the guerrillas ended up being turned on ourselves.

An Imperialist Comedy

Which brings us back to the movie and its reception here. (It has been banned in Afghanistan.) One of the severe side effects of imperialism in its advanced stages seems to be that it rots the brains of the imperialists. They start believing that they are the bearers of civilization, the bringers of light to "primitives" and "savages" (largely so identified because of their resistance to being "liberated" by us), the carriers of science and modernity to backward peoples, beacons and guides for citizens of the "underdeveloped world."

Such attitudes are normally accompanied by a racist ideology that proclaims the intrinsic superiority and right to rule of "white" Caucasians. Innumerable European colonialists saw the hand of God in Darwin's discovery of evolution, so long as it was understood that He had programmed the outcome of evolution in favor of late Victorian Englishmen. (For an excellent short book on this subject, check out Sven Lindquist's "Exterminate All the Brutes.")

When imperialist activities produce unmentionable outcomes, such as those well known to anyone paying attention to Afghanistan since about 1990, then ideological thinking kicks in. The horror story is suppressed, or reinterpreted as something benign or ridiculous (a "comedy"), or simply curtailed before the denouement becomes obvious. Thus, for example, Melissa Roddy, a Los Angeles film-maker with inside information from the Charlie Wilson production team, notes that the film's happy ending came about because Tom Hanks, a co-producer as well as the leading actor, "just can't deal with this 9/11 thing."

Similarly, we are told by another insider reviewer, James Rocchi, that the scenario, as originally written by Aaron Sorkin of "West Wing" fame, included the following line for Avrakotos: "Remember I said this: There's going to be a day when we're gonna look back and say 'I'd give anything if [Afghanistan] were overrun with Godless communists'." This line is nowhere to be found in the final film.

Today there is ample evidence that, when it comes to the freedom of women, education levels, governmental services, relations among different ethnic groups, and quality of life -- all were infinitely better under the Afghan communists than under the Taliban or the present government of President Hamid Karzai, which evidently controls little beyond the country's capital, Kabul. But Americans don't want to know that -- and certainly they get no indication of it from Charlie Wilson's War, either the book or the film.

The tendency of imperialism to rot the brains of imperialists is particularly on display in the recent spate of articles and reviews in mainstream American newspapers about the film. For reasons not entirely clear, an overwhelming majority of reviewers concluded that Charlie Wilson's War is a "feel-good comedy" (Lou Lumenick in the New York Post), a "high-living, hard-partying jihad" (A.O. Scott in the New York Times), "a sharp-edged, wickedly funny comedy" (Roger Ebert in the Chicago Sun-Times). Stephen Hunter in the Washington Post wrote of "Mike Nichols's laff-a-minute chronicle of the congressman's crusade to ram funding through the House Appropriations Committee to supply arms to the Afghan mujahideen"; while, in a piece entitled "Sex! Drugs! (and Maybe a Little War)," Richard L. Berke in the New York Times offered this stamp of approval: "You can make a movie that is relevant and intelligent -- and palatable to a mass audience -- if its political pills are sugar-coated."

When I saw the film, there was only a guffaw or two from the audience over the raunchy sex and sexism of "good-time Charlie," but certainly no laff-a-minute. The root of this approach to the film probably lies with Tom Hanks himself, who, according to Berke, called it "a serious comedy." A few reviews qualified their endorsement of Charlie Wilson's War, but still came down on the side of good old American fun. Rick Groen in the Toronto Globe and Mail, for instance, thought that it was "best to enjoy Charlie Wilson's War as a thoroughly engaging comedy. Just don't think about it too much or you may choke on your popcorn." Peter Rainer noted in the Christian Science Monitor that the "Comedic Charlie Wilson's War has a tragic punch line." These reviewers were thundering along with the herd while still trying to maintain a bit of self-respect.

The handful of truly critical reviews have come mostly from blogs and little-known Hollywood fanzines -- with one major exception, Kenneth Turan of the Los Angeles Times. In an essay subtitled "'Charlie Wilson's War' celebrates events that came back to haunt Americans," Turan called the film "an unintentionally sobering narrative of American shouldn't-have" and added that it was "glib rather than witty, one of those films that comes off as being more pleased with itself than it has a right to be."

My own view is that if Charlie Wilson's War is a comedy, it's the kind that goes over well with a roomful of louts in a college fraternity house. Simply put, it is imperialist propaganda and the tragedy is that four-and-a-half years after we invaded Iraq and destroyed it, such dangerously misleading nonsense is still being offered to a gullible public. The most accurate review so far is James Rocchi's summing-up for Cinematical: "Charlie Wilson's War isn't just bad history; it feels even more malign, like a conscious attempt to induce amnesia."

Chalmers Johnson is the author of the Blowback Trilogy -- Blowback (2000), The Sorrows of Empire (2004), and Nemesis: The Last Days of the American Republic (paperbound edition, January 2008).

[This article first appeared on Tomdispatch.com, a weblog of the Nation Institute, which offers a steady flow of alternate sources, news, and opinion from Tom Engelhardt, long time editor in publishing, co-founder of the American Empire Project and author of The End of Victory Culture (University of Massachusetts Press), which has just been thoroughly updated in a newly issued edition that deals with victory culture's crash-and-burn sequel in Iraq.]

from Rhonda Hammer :
Subject: Student projects in Communication at UCLA, Fall Semester 2007.
Date: Mon, 31 Dec 2007

Hi Francis

Here is a description of what I am doing with the class and there should be a link to the student videos. If you can’t get them from there, I’ve added another link which should take you directly to them..  The students have no professional experience before the course, but I think that their projects are pretty good given this. http://www.womensstudies.ucla.edu/u_spotlight.html http://www.sscnet.ucla.edu/07W/womencm178-1/studentprojects2007.php

Happy new year


from Al Burke :
Date: Thu, 03 Jan 2008
Subject: "Diplomat" threatens Swedish lives.

Colombian "Diplomat" Threatens Lives
Of Regime Critics and Swedish Journalist
A Swedish journalist with long experience of Latin America is the primary target of thinly veiled death threats from the former head of intelligence at Colombia's Stockholm embassy.
Writing in the leading Colombian weekly El Espectador, Ernesto Yamhure has accused reporter Dick Emanuelsson of being, among other things, "the FARC guerrillas' representative in Europe" and "one of FARC's more important ambassadors in Europe". Similar accusations have also been aimed at Swedish and Colombian parliamentarians, and two solidarity organizations based in Sweden.
In the past, such accusations have often been followed by the torture and murder of the accused. Over 120 journalists are known to have been murdered in Colombia during the past twenty years, while others have fled into exile, sought safety in self-censorship or switched to less deadly occupations.
"Of course, there is not an ounce of truth in the absurd statements of Yamhure," says Dick Emanuelsson, whose reporting has been a source of irritation to brutal regimes in Latin America for over a quarter-century. "This is just one more example of the Uribe government and its henchmen attempting to frighten journalists and others into silence."

The reaction of the Swedish government has not been especially visible or robust, reflecting the transformation that the country has undergone since the assassination of Olof Palme in 1986-- from widely respected, independent voice of reason in world affairs to just another vassal-state within the U.S. empire.

Details in  PDF document at:  http://www.nnn.se/nordic/colombia.pdf
Note:  PDF documents require the program, Adobe Reader, which is included in most computers.
Otherwise, it is available free of charge at:  http://www.adobe.com/downloads

Al Burke
Box 1181
S-18123 Lidingö
E-mail: editor@nnn.se
Internet: http://www.nnn.se
Tel. +46/(0)8 - 731 9200

from ZNet :
Subject: Israeli War Crimes in Lebanon.
Date: 4 January 2008

Evidence of Israeli 'cowardly blending' comes to light

by Jonathan Cook

(Nazareth) It apparently never occurred to anyone in our leading human rights organisations or the Western media that the same moral and legal standards ought be applied to the behaviour of Israel and Hizbullah during the war on Lebanon 18 months ago. Belatedly, an important effort has been made to set that right.

A new report, written by a respected Israeli human rights organisation, one representing the country’s Arab minority not its Jewish majority, has unearthed evidence showing that during the fighting Israel committed war crimes not only against Lebanese civilians -- as was already known -- but also against its own Arab citizens. This is an aspect of the war that has been almost entirely neglected until now.

The report also sheds a surprising light on the question of what Hizbullah was aiming at when it fired hundreds of rockets on northern Israel. Until the report’s publication last month, I had been all but a lone voice arguing that the picture of what took place during the war was far more complex than generally accepted.

The new report follows a series of inquiries by the most influential human rights groups, Amnesty International and Human Rights Watch, to identify the ways in which international law was broken during Israel’s 34-day assault on Lebanon. However, both organisations failed to examine, except in the most cursory and dismissive way, Israel’s treatment of its own civilians during the war. That failure may also have had serious repercussions for their ability to assess Hizbullah’s actions.

Before examining the report’s revelations, it is worth revisiting the much-misrepresented events of summer 2006 and considering what efforts have been made subsequently to bring the two sides to account.

The war was the culmination of a series of tit-for-tat provocations along the shared border following Israel’s withdrawal from its two-decade occupation of south Lebanon in 2000. Almost daily for those six years Israel behaved as though the occupation had not ended, sending war planes into Lebanese air space to create terrifying sonic booms and spy on the country. (After the war, it resumed these flights almost immediately.)

In response Hizbullah, a Shia militia that offered the only effective resistance during Lebanon’s period of occupation, maintained its belligerent posture. It warned repeatedly that it would capture Israeli soldiers, should the chance arise, in the hope of forcing a prisoner exchange. Israel had held on to a handful of Lebanese prisoners after its pullback.

Hizbullah also demanded that Israel complete its withdrawal from Lebanon in full by leaving a fertile sliver of territory, the Shebaa Farms. Israel argues that the area is Syrian territory, occupied by its army along with the Golan Heights in 1967, and will be returned one day in negotiations with Damascus. UN catrographers disagree, backing Hizbullah’s claim that the area is Lebanese.

The fighting began with a relatively minor incident (by regional standards) and one that was entirely predictable: Hizbullah attacked a border post, capturing two soldiers and killing three more in the operation. Hizbullah’s leader Hassan Nasrallah proposed a prisoner swap. Israel declared war the very same day, unleashing a massive bombing campaign that over the next month killed nearly 1,200 Lebanese civilians.

An editorial in Israel’s leading newspaper Haaretz noted again this week that, by rejecting Hizbullah’s overtures, “Israel initiated the war”.

In the last days of the fighting, as a UN-brokered ceasefire was about to come into effect, Israel dropped more than a million cluster bombs on south Lebanon, of which several hundred thousand failed to detonate. Since the end of the war, 39 Lebanese civilians have been killed and dozens more maimed from these small landmines littering the countryside.

Israel’s own inquiry into its use of the cluster munitions wrapped up last month by exonerating the army, even while admitting that many of the bombs had been directed at civilian population centres. In Israel’s books, it seems, international law sanctions the targeting of civilians during war.

Veteran Israeli reporter Meron Rapoport recently noted that his newspaper, Haaretz again, has evidence that the army’s use of cluster munitions was “pre-planned” and undertaken without regard to the location of Hizbullah positions. The only reasonable conclusion is that Israel wanted south Lebanon uninhabitable at any cost, possibly so that another ground invasion could be mounted.

Human Rights Watch, which has carried out the most detailed examination of the war, was less forgiving than Israel’s own investigators -- as might have been expected in the case of such a flagrant abuse of the rules of war. Still, it has failed to condemn Israel’s actions unreservedly. In a typical press release it noted the wide dispersal of cluster bombs over civilian areas of south Lebanon but concluded only that their use by Israel “may violate the prohibition on indiscriminate attacks contained in international humanitarian law”.

In this and other respects, HRW’s reports have revealed troubling double standards.

During the war two charges were levelled against Hizbullah, mainly by Israel’s supporters, and investigated by the human rights group: that the Shia militia fired rockets on northern Israel either indiscriminately or in a deliberate attempt to target civilians; and that it hid its fighters and weapons among its own Lebanese civilians (thereby conveniently justifying Israel’s bombing of those civilians).

Hizbullah was found guilty of the first charge, with HRW arguing that it was irrelevant whether or not Hizbullah was trying to hit military targets in Israel as its rockets were not precision-guided. All its rockets, whatever they were aimed at, were therefore considered indiscriminate by the organisation and a violation of international law. Worthy of note is that HRW expressed certainty about the impermissibility of Hizbullah firing imprecise rockets but not about Israel’s use of even less precise cluster bombs.

On the second charge Hizbullah was substantially acquitted, with HRW failing to find evidence that, apart from in a handful of isolated instances, the militia hid among the Lebanese population.

Regarding Israel, the human rights organisations investigated the charge that it violated international law by endangering Lebanese civilians during its bombing campaigns. Given that Israel’s missiles and bombs were supposed to have pinpoint accuracy, the large death toll of Lebanese civilians provided indisputable evidence of Israeli war crimes. HRW agreed.

Strangely, however, after submitting both Israel and Hizbullah to the same test of whether their firepower targeted civilians, HRW deemed it inappropriate to investigate Israel on the second allegation faced by Hizbullah: that it committed a war crime by blending in with its own civilian population. Was there so little prima facie evidence of such behaviour on Israel’s side that the organisation decided it was not worth wasting its resources on such an inquiry?

HRW produced two lengthy reports in August 2007, one examining events in Lebanon and the other events in Israel. But the report on what happened inside Israel, “Civilians under Assault”, failed to examine Israel’s treatment of its own civilians and focused instead only on proving that Hizbullah’s firing of its rockets violated international law.

HRW did made a brief reference to the possibility that Israeli military installations were located close to or inside civilian communities. It cited examples of a naval training base next to a hospital in Haifa and a weapons factory built in a civilian community. Its researchers even admitted to watching the Israeli army firing shells into Lebanon from a residential street of the Jewish community of Zarit.

This act of “cowardly blending” by the Israeli army -- to echo the UN envoy Jan Egeland’s unwarranted criticism of Hizbullah -- was a war crime. It made Israeli civilians a potential target for Hizbullah reprisal attacks.

So what was HRW’s position on this gross violation of the rules of war it had witnessed? After yet again denouncing Hizbullah for its rocket attacks, the report was mealy-mouthed: “Given that indiscriminate fire [by Hizbullah], there is no reason to believe that Israel’s placement of certain military assets within these cities added appreciably to the risk facing their residents.”

In other words, Israel’s culpability in hiding its war machine inside civilian communities did not need to be assessed on its own terms as a violation of international law. Instead Israel was let off the hook based on the assumption that Hizbullah’s rockets were incapable of hitting such positions. It is dubious, to put it mildly, whether this is a legitimate reading of international law.

An additional criticism, one that I made on several occasions during the war, was that Israel failed to protect its Arab communities from rocket attacks by ensuring they had bomb shelters or early warning systems -- unlike Jewish communities. On this issue, the HRW report had only this to say: “Human Rights Watch did not investigate whether Israel discriminated among Jewish and Arab residents of the north in the protection it provided from Hezbollah attacks.”

Of Hizbullah’s indiscrimination, HRW was certain; of Israel’s discrimination, it held back from judgment.

Fortunately, we no longer have to rely on Human Rights Watch or Amnesty International for a full picture of what took place during what Israelis call the Second Lebanon War. Last month the Arab Association for Human Rights, based in Nazareth, published its own report, “Civilians in Danger”, covering the ground its much bigger cousins dared not touch.

The hostile climate in Israel towards the fifth of the population who are Arab has made publication of the report a risky business. Azmi Bishara, Israel’s leading Arab politician and a major critic of Israel’s behaviour during the Lebanon war, is currently in exile under possible death sentence. Israel has accused him of treason in helping Hizbullah during the fighting, though the secret services have yet to produce the evidence they have supposedly amassed against him. Nonetheless they have successfully intimidated most of the Arab minority into silence.

Also, much of the report’s detail, including many place-names and maps showing the location of Hizbullah rocket strikes, has had to be excised to satisfy Israel’s strict military censorship laws.

But despite these obstacles, the Human Rights Association has taken a brave stand in unearthing the evidence to show that Israel committed war crimes by placing much of its military hardware, including artillery positions firing into Lebanon, inside and next to Arab towns and villages. These were not isolated instances but a discerible pattern.

The threat to which this exposed Arab communities was far from as theoretical as HRW supposes. Some 660 Hizbullah rockets landed on 20 Arab communities in the north, apparently surprising Israeli officials, who believed Hizbullah would not target fellow Arabs. Of the 44 Israeli civilians killed by the rockets, 21 were Arab citizens.

Israel has cited these deaths as further proof that Hizbullah’s rocket fire was indiscriminate. The Human Rights Association, however, reaches a rather different conclusion, one based on the available evidence. Its research shows a clear correlation between an Arab community having an Israeli army base located next to it and the likelihood of it being hit by Hizbullah rockets. In short, Arab communities targeted by Hizbullah were almost exclusively those in which the Israeli army was based.

“The study found that the Arab towns and villages that suffered the most intensive attacks during the war were ones that were surrounded by military installations, either on a permanent basis or temporarily during the course of the war,” the report states.

Such findings lend credibility to complaints made during the war by Israel’s Arab legislators, including Bishara himself, that Arab communities were being used as “human shields” by the Israeli army -- possibly to deter Hizbullah from targeting its positions.

In early August 2006, Bishara told the Maariv newspaper: “What ordinary citizens are afraid to say, the Arab Knesset members are declaring loudly. Israel turned the Galilee and the Arab villages in particular into human shields by surrounding them with artillery positions and missile batteries.”

Such violations of the rules of war were occasionally hinted at in reporting in the Israeli media. In one account from the front line, for example, a reporter from Maariv quoted parents in the Arab village of Fassuta complaining that children were wetting their beds because of the frightening bark of tanks stationed outside their homes.

According to the Human Rights Association’s report, Israel made its Arab citizens vulnerable to Hizbullah’s rockets in the following ways:

* Permanent military bases, including army camps, airfields and weapons factories, as well as temporary artillery positions that fired thousands of shells and mortars into southern Lebanon were located inside or next to many Arab communities.

* The Israeli army trained soldiers inside northern Arab communities before and during the war in preparation for a ground invasion, arguing that the topography in these communities was similar to the villages of south Lebanon.

* The government failed to evacuate civilians from the area of fighting, leaving Arab citizens particularly in danger. Almost no protective measures, such as building public shelters or installing air raid sirens, had been taken in Arab communities, whereas they had been in Jewish communities.

Under the protocols to the Geneva Conventions, parties to a conflict must “avoid locating military objectives within or near densely populated areas” and must “endeavour to remove the civilian population … from the vicinity of military objectives”. The Human Rights Association report clearly shows that Israel cynically broke these rules of war.

Tarek Ibrahim, a lawyer and the author of the Association’s report, says the most surprising finding is that Hizbullah’s rockets mostly targeted Arab communities where military installations had been located and in the main avoided those where there were no such military positions.

“Hizbullah claimed on several occasions that its rockets were aimed primarily at military targets in Israel. Our research cannot prove that to be the case but it does give a strong indication that Hizbullah’s claims may be true.”

Although Hizbullah’s Katyusha rockets were not precision-guided, the proximity of Israeli military positions to Arab communities “are within the margin of error of the rockets fired by Hizbullah”, according to the report. In most cases, such positions were located either inside the community itself or a few hundred metres from it.

In its recommendations, the Human Rights Association calls for the removal of all Israeli military installations from civilian communities.

(Again noteworthy is the fact that Israel has built several weapons factories inside Arab communities, including in Nazareth. Arab citizens are almost never allowed to work in Israel’s vast military industries, so why build them there? Part of the reason is doubtless that they provide another pretext for confiscating Arab communities’ lands and “Judaising” them. But is the criticism by Arab legislators of “human shielding” another possible reason?)

The report avoids dealing with the wider issue of whether the Israeli army located in Jewish communities too during the war. Ibrahim explains: “In part the reason was that we are an Arab organisation and that directs the focus of our work. But there is also the difficulty that Israeli Jews are unlikely to cooperate with our research.”

Israel has longed boasted of its “citizen army”, and in surveys Israeli Jews say they trust the military more than the country’s parliament, government and courts.

Nonetheless, the report notes, there is ample evidence that the army based itself in some Jewish communities too. As well as the eyewitness account of the Human Rights Watch researcher, it was widely reported during the war that 12 soldiers were killed when a Hizbullah rocket struck the rural community of Kfar Giladi, close to the northern border.

A member of the kibbutz, Uri Eshkoli, recently told the Israeli media: “We deserve a medal of honor for our assistance during the war. We opened our hotel to soldiers and asked for no compensation. Moreover, soldiers stayed in the kibbutz throughout the entire war.”

In another report, in the Guardian newspaper, a 19-year-old British Jew, Danny Young, recounted his experiences performing military service during the war. He lived on Kibbutz Sasa, close to the border, which became an army rear base. “We were shooting missiles from the foot of this kibbutz,” he told the paper. “We were also receiving Katyushas.”

So far the Human Rights Association’s report has received minimal coverage in the Hebrew media. “We are facing a very difficult political atmosphere in Israel at the moment,” Ibrahim told me. “Few people inside Israel want to hear that their army and government broke international law in such a flagrant manner.”

It seems few in the West, even the guardians of human rights, are ready to hear such a message either.

Jonathan Cook is a journalist and writer based in Nazareth, Israel. His latest book, “Israel and the Clash of Civilisations: Iraq, Iran and the Plan to Remake the Middle East”, is published by Pluto Press. His website is www.jkcook.net

from John Gerassi :
Date: 7 January 2008
Subject: "This is Hawaii."

Hi Francis:
Thought you might be interested in the op-ed piece I wrote and sent to the NYTimes, and which of course the Times did not print.
Best regards, and happy 2008.

At the student lounge at the University of Hawaii (at Manoa) the other day while resting from my research during my sabbatical from Queens College, CUNY, I saw a student toss the whole Sunday issue of the Honolulu Star-Bulletin into a waste basket, obviously unread. “May I ask you why?” I asked. “Did you see the cover of its magazine, Parade?” When he realized that I had not, he dug it out of the bin and showed it to me (Dec, 30, 07) “Look at that disgusting picture,” he said. I was a full shot of a smiling George W. Bush supplanted with the headline: “What Made My Year Special.” Can you find any acceptable excuse for such an insult  to the almost 4,000 Americans he sent to their deaths in Iraq?” Added another student: “Not to mention the half million Iraqi kids. Saddam never killed anyone under eleven.”  A third: “that’s why they have to give that paper away. But then our whole media loves this liar.”

            Well, I thought immediately, this is Hawaii from where many of the soldiers, stationed on its huge bases, have been shipped to and died in Iraq. And true, the Star-Bulletin [which is given away free at coffee shops] is one of the most conservative papers in America, and Parade has long been downright reactionary. But such anger, such hatred . So I decided to ask the other students in the lounge what they thought of our media. Unfortunately, I used the phrase “free press.” That made then jump even more. “Free? Ha!” was their united reaction. “The TV media is much worse. We can’t look at TV news anymore.”  Concluded still another student: “We have no free press or free media in America, just mouth-pieces for their corporate owners.”

            Okay Hawaii is, after all, solidly Democratic and pretty liberal. The Star-Bulletin, which carries George Will regularly, plastering his picture in the center of its editorial page, has probably never heard of [liberal Times columnist] Krugman. So I decided to find out how other students think. Not my own, back at Queens; they would certainly agree with their Manoa colleagues. But everywhere else. So I called my research team back in New York and asked them to carry out a little poll, not scientific to be sure, but a fair indication nonetheless.

            This is what we decided: my students would call ten students who watched TV news in ten cities in ten different states, their the numbers obtained through the internet, mostly Google's college websites, and only the ten in each city who said they did watch the news were asked the following questions. (Their answers below are in bold)

Do you watch the evening news (1) regularly or (2) occasionally? 

            `           1:80;  2:20

When Pres. Bush appears on the screen, do you 1. listen to what he has to say? 2. Ignore

            it? 3. Switch channels? 4. Turn it off?

                        1: 8;  2: 12;  3: 72; 4: 8

If you switch channels or turn off the TV (80), why?

            1. Because you think the TV anchormen are too pro-Bush?

            2. Because you hate Bush?

            3. Because you think he will just say another lie?

            4. Because you cannot stand looking at his face any more?

            5. Because all of the above?

                          5: 80

What is your assessment of the media?

1.      Fair? 2. Prejudiced?

1: 0;  2:80

If prejudiced, why?

            1. Too influenced by their corporative bosses?

            2. Too conscious of the programs’ advertisers?

            3. Both

                        3: 80

If you blame the advertisers, what do you do about it?

            1. Nothing?

            2. Boycott all their products?   

                        1: 74;  2: 6

Do you watch the PBS evening news? Yes: 28

            1. Do you consider it politically biased?

2. Is it fairer than CBS, NBC or ABC?

            3. Do you send PBS money?

                                    1. 27

2: NO: 22; SAME: 6 

3: NO: 27

4. If not do not give PBS money, why not?

                        a. I am too poor

                        b. I prefer giving to better causes

c. I hate its corporate sponsors.

                                     a: 0;   b: 7;  c: 21

If you hate the corporate sponsors, do you

1.      Do nothing about it

2.      Boycott their products       

1.      27

2.      3    (The corporations are still winners)