Bulletin N°423



5 November 2009
Grenoble, France

Dear Colleagues and Friends of CEIMSA,

I was rereading the Grimm Brothers' story of Hansel and Gretel to my children the other night, when they asked me if this story was true. I replied that there were many Hansels and Gretels in the world, that scarcity and fear often produced cruelty and indifference. They seemed disturbed by this answer but insisted that I read on to the end. They were pleased that the wicked witch got her just deserts, and that the new wealth was redistributed after the stepmother was dead. When I suggested that maybe they could come up with a better ending, they thought a bit and suggested that the Brothers Grimm were maybe prejudice against women, what with the stepmother and the witch both being females. I reminded them that it was Gretel who saved her brother's life and not the reverse. They agreed that that was good, to have a girl save a boy was more realistic, but still the most evil characters in this story were females. To them the story lacked verisimilitude. I replied that the weak father had agreed to kill his children and that this was just as evil or maybe more evil than the desperate stepmother. But Hansel and Gretel forgave their father, both my children reminded me emphatically. Yes, but should they have forgiven him? I replied. A discussion followed, and we agreed to disagree. Must an individual always be held accountable for his actions (or lack of action), or must we forgive after we take into account the extenuating circumstances, the specific context that brought about the event. I thought in this case the father should be held accountable for the attempted homocide; my children believed the opposite, that the complex situation was responsible for his behavior (including the influence of his second wife, who saw each of her stepchildren as nothing more than another mouth to feed) and that the father's redemption was necessary. I sent my children to bed, after promising to read them Rapunzal the next night.

The propaganda of National Socialism, wrote Franz Neumann in his seminal study of the structure and practice of National Socialism, 1933-1944, is far superior to anything that "Democracies" could produce. The reason for this, he explained, is that National Socialism is unencumbered by any concern for the truth or principle. This "pure opportunism" allows it to use notions, concepts, categories, ideas and words in a strictly instrumental way, solely to enhance the opportunities of the moment. National Socialism offers no explanatory theories; it instead relies on a belief in magic, a public pre-disposition which was sustained by the use of terror.

Professor Neumann referred to the writings of French historian, Pierre Janelle*, a student of Roman Catholic England, who had explained the use violence and propaganda in early Renaissance England, at the time of the Reformation.

Henry VIII got rid of the opposition to his claim for royal supremacy by 'violence faite aux âmes, c'est-à-dire propagande.' Propaganda is violence committed against the soul. Propaganda is not a substitute for violence, but one of its aspects. The two have the identical purpose of making men amenable to control from above. Terror and its display in propaganda go hand in hand. That is the theme of the leading theorist of National Socialist propaganda and the dictator of the German radio, E. Hadamovsky (1904-1945).

By itself, propaganda can never change social and political conditions; it acts in conjunction with other, and far more important factors. National Socialist propaganda did not destroy the Weimar democracy. Nor could the best counter-propaganda of the democratic parties and groups have saved the Republic.

. . . .

A democratic movement cannot beat terror by counter-terror; it must rely on the state machine to suppress terror. That the republican leaders did not succeed in inducing the state machine to stop National Socialist terror will remain the most severe indictment of Weimar. The democracy collapsed chiefly because of the ineptness of the democratic movement and the strength of the reaction. More recently, France was not beaten by propaganda. Its collapsed was the result of the disintegration of French morale and of the military superiority of the German army.  . . . .

The superiority of National Socialist over democratic propaganda lies in the complete transformation of culture into salable commodities. A democracy can never completely divorce propaganda from truth because there are competing propaganda machines and they must ultimately prove their value by actual performance in the social life of a nation. National Socialism has no political or social theory. It has no philosophy and no concern for the truth.

. . . .

Such versatility is unattainable in a democracy. National Socialist propaganda will always be superior because National Socialist culture is propaganda and nothing else, while democratic culture is a mixture. National Socialist propaganda cannot be beaten by a democratic super-propaganda, but only by a superior democratic policy that eliminates the soft spots [such as racial and religious antagonisms, clashing economic interests, competing political groups].

Worse still, attempts to fight fascism, primarily by propaganda methods are almost invariably connected with an abandonment of democratic convictions. A recent work by Serge Chakotins (1883-1973) is a case in point. He divides the population into 10 per cent possessing an active attitude and 90 per cent who are 'lazy-minded or tired out or their whole attention is absorbed by the difficulties of every-day life,' and are thus reduced to a mere biological level. Should a democracy remain on this biological level, and the 90 per cent be nothing more than tools to be controlled by propaganda, [then] force and power would be the prerequisite of success. Chakotin admits that. Within Germany proper, National Socialist propaganda has other aims than the mere penetration of 'soft spots' [in the social structure]. Through synchronization of all cultural activities, National Socialism subjects the German people to unceasing tensions.The insistence upon activism in place of thinking means that men shall never have the freedom and time to think for themselves. Action without thought is possible only if it is directed and controlled action, except in short periods of genuine mass spontaneity. Thus controlled it is pseudo-action, for it is not man who acts but a bureaucratic machine. That is the technique of National Socialism --to make the action of an authoritarian apparatus appear as the spontaneous activity of the masses.(pp.436-438)

* Note: Obediance in Chruch and State: Three Political Tracts by Stephan Gardiner (1535), ed. by P. Jannelle (Cambridge, 1930).

Neumann concluded that the only mediation in 1944 between the powerful industrial and political elite and the mass of disorganized German workers and salaried employees was "the ever-increasing number of terrorists and . . .  parasites trading in pull and vice." In the 1920s, Germany was a liberal democratic society which by comparison operated with a minimum of coercion. This class-stratified society was composed of a class-conscious proletariat, and an equally class-conscious ruling elite. Between them existed a large middle class which mediated between these two extremes of the social pyramid. This, Neumann believed, was the first pre-condition for the operation of a liberal democracy. The second pre-condition, he thought, was the existance of an honest civil service that functioned on the basis of "duty" and established "general rules," rather than being expected to obey "arbitrary commands." And finally, there must be a judiciary that is committed to "the preservation of the rights of the individuals --and not service to the state or any alleged community."(p.625)

Under Hitler, The Political Party eventually usurped the powers of the state --from police and school teachers, to Ministers and Judges. It made inroads into the high command of the German armed forces, as well. Of the four original power blocs representing German ruling class interests during the Third Reich, by 1944 only the Industrialists and The Party were politically autonomous entities, immune as they were to fear and resignation induced by terror, and thereby free to make "rational choices" according to their own specific objectives.
National Socialist propaganda is . . . the expression of the same two phenomena that appear in
every aspect of the regime: the destruction of whatever remnants of spontaneity are left and the
incorporation of the population into a super-machine. The super-machine is allegedly driven by
an irresistible force of nature, by providence, or by a fate that is stronger than any individual, any
particular group, or any foreign nation --leading to the ultimate victory of Germany. Magic becomes
the major concern of National Socialist culture. The world can be manipulated by techniques and
formulas; in fact, if properly used these techniques and words automatically change things. And the
secret is in the possession of the National Socialist leadership. Magical ceremonies are celebrated
on many occasions, reminiscent of the practices of primitive tribes.  . . . .
The emphasis on magic has even changed the language. The noun tends to supersede the verb.
Things happen --they are not done. Fate, providence, objective natural forces produce things:
German victories. The loss of man's active role in society is expressed by language that negates
activity and stresses the impersonality of the noun and of the "it."(p.349)

The flight from reason, the willful obedience to authority figures, and conditioned indifference –these were not the effects of Fascism in Germany, but rather its cause. This psychology had already begun to develop under the social conditions of liberal economic consolidation. Fascism was the product of monopoly capital formation in the absence of bourgeois democratic traditions, in a country where the middle class was hungry for advantage and for privilege, and ridiculed all notions of justice and fair play. The German middle class whined for the spoils of conquered territories in Eastern Europe (which were denied them by their industrialists masters), while the working class was brought in tow when The Party shattered their labor unions, closed their press, and illiminated other vital assoications. The former were recycled, many of them into Gestapo police and inspectors; the latter became military cannon fodder for the would-be Empire.

In the 7 items below, CEIMSA readers will recognize some of these elements of Fascism as the political impacts of monopoly capital development in our own lives. Whether far away or close to home, the power elite who make decisions that greatly affect our lives are entirely unaccountable for the damage they inflict on us. Many of us remain stupefied before this fact, so contrary is it to all that we have been taught to believe. Under such circumsances, collaboration seems the only "rational choice," but as a flock of sheep, avoiding the sharp canine teeth of a snarling German shepherd, cannot be said to have made rational decisions, so we must not confuse reason with biological necessity.

Item A. is a link to the video documentary Plan Colombia: Cashing in on the Drug War Failure, Directed by Gerard Ungerman and Narrated by Ed Asner.

Item B., is an interview with Iranian Nobel Laureate Dr. Shirin Ebadi, a prominent human rights lawyer and democracy activist from Iran. She was at Naropa University in Boulder, Colorado, to give the keynote address at a conference on Women's and Human Rights in Islam.

Item C., sent to us by historian Jim O'Brien, representing the Historians Against the War, in which he shares Internet links to articles that provide historical background on HAW-relevant topics. 

Item D. is an audio broadcast from the Council for the National Interest Foundation, featuring "Jerusalem Calling" where radio host Alison Weir and Middle East journalist Jeffrey Blankfort discuss the media's role in the Middle East, focusing on American media propaganda, Israeli-Palestinian peace efforts, and the power structure of the Israel Lobby.

Item E. is the Internet link to Robert Fisk's 2007 award-winning documentary film, Beirut to Bosnia.

Item F. is a report from The Real News by Greg Gordon, an investigative reporter covering Goldman Sachs and the financial elite in the USA.

Item G., sent to us by Electric Politcs, is an audio-recorded interview by George Kenney with former Iranian President Abolhassan Banisadr.

And finally, we conclude this CEIMSA bulletin by offering readers a look at the new November 4 edition of William Blum's

Anti-Empire Report

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

from Information Clearing House :
Date: 3 November 2009
Subject: "Plan Columbia."

Plan Colombia: Cashing in on the Drug War Failure documents what many believe to be dangerous hypocrisy on the part of the American government. The film gives particular attention to the reasons behind the drug trade (Colombia is the world's biggest cocaine exporter), which include illegal trade funded by radicals, the corrupt government, and the simple fact that most farmers harvest coca because they can't survive on the profits of legitimate food crops.

Ungerman also explores the link to America's notorious School of the Americas in Georgia and how targeted aerial fumigation has destroyed perfectly legal natural resources in the mission to eradicate drug crops. The film concludes that the U.S. military-industrial complex is cashing in on the violence they themselves perpetrate, while doing little to actually stem cocaine production.

Plan Colombia: Cashing in on the Drug War Failure
Video Documentary
Narrated By Ed Asner

from Truth Out :
Date: 4 November 2009
Subject: Women and Democracy.

Dr. Shirin Ebadi holds strong views about the vibrancy of the ongoing resistance and movement for democratic rights in her country - views that both the Islamic Republic and the larger mainstream media audience might find stunning. During our talk about the state of the pro-democracy resistance in Iran, Dr. Ebadi told me that the women-led movement in Iran is the strongest in the Middle East and that, despite the regime's claims to the contrary, it is 'invincible.' Although the participation of women in last summer's uprising was self-evident, what was less clear was the role that the underlying women's movement played in animating the events.

Women and the Struggle for Democracy in Iran: A Discussion With a Nobel Laureate
by Cynthia Boaz
Read the Article

from Jim O'Brien :
Date: 21 October 2009
Subject: Links to recent anti-war articles of interest.


To members and friends of Historians Against the War,
This is the fourth biweekly mailing of links to articles that provide historical background on HAW-relevant topics.  Suggestions for inclusion are welcome: they can be sent to jimobrien48@gmail.com.  Members of the working group for this project are listed below.
Matt Bokovoy,
Carolyn (Rusti) Eisenberg
Jim O'Brien
Maia Ramnath

Sarah Shields


1) What the U.S. Military Cant Do :
By Nick Turse, TomDispatch.com, posted October 22
(historically based article on Afghanistan focusing on US militarys inability to seal the deal in previous wars)
2) Lessons from the Long War and a Blowback World :
By Tom Engelhardt, TomDispatch.com, posted October 18

3) Fighting the Taliban: What, Exactly, is Being Fought in Afghanistan? :
By M. Reza Pirbhal, CounterPunch.org, posted October 14
(long article on US involvement in Afghanistan and Pakistan by a Louisiana State U. historian)

4) Left and Right Against War :
By Murray Polner, History News Network 9hnn.com), posted October 12

5) Afghanistan - The Proxy War :
By Andrew Bacevich, Boston Globe, posted October 11

6) Apocalypse Then, Afghanistan Now
By William Astore, TomDispatch.com, posted October 11

7) Obamas Prize, Wilsons Legacy :
By John Milton Cooper, History News Network (hnn.com), Posted October 11

8) War and Peace Prizes :
By Howard Zinn, The Guardian, posted October 9
9) Unintended Consequences in Nuclear Pakistan :
By Fred Branfman, TruthDig.com, posted October 9

10) Honduran Coup Regime in Crisis :
By Greg Grandin, CommonDreams.com, posted October 9

from Council for the National Interest Foundation <cnif@democracyinaction.org> :
Date: 5 November 2009
Subject: CNI: Jerusalem Calling November 5th with political pilgrims from Damascus.


[]Washington DC  (November 4, 2009) --The CNI political pilgrimage group to the middle east will be featured on a special internet world-wide radio program, CNI: Jerusalem Calling, on Thursday, November 5th at 12pm EST. The host will be John Duke Anthony head of the National Council for US-Arab Relations and a long time expert in the area

He will be discussing with members of the tour, who interviewed top-ranking leaders of both the government of Lebanon and members of the Hezbollah coalition in Beirut, the situation for American policy in the Middle East. The group is headed by former Ambassador to the Soviet Union Jack Matlock and Executive Director of CNI Helena Cobban.

Previous hosts of the weekly program have included Ambassador Edward Peck, Alison Weir of If Americans Knew, Anna Baltzer author of Witness in Palestine, and E Faye Williams head of the National Congress of Black Women, Inc.

Listen to the broadcast live at www.wsradio.com/cni. Supporters are encouraged to weigh in on the discussion with questions or comments. Just dial 1-877-474-3302


Dr. John Duke Anthony is the founding President and Chief Executive Officer of the National Council on U.S.-Arab Relations. For the past 35 years, he has been a consultant and regular lecturer on the Arabian Peninsula and the Gulf for the Departments of Defense and State. In addition to heading the National Council on U.S.-Arab Relations, consulting, and lecturing, Dr. Anthony has been an Adjunct Professor at the Georgetown University School of Foreign Service's Center for Contemporary Arab Studies since 2006. There, he developed and continues to teach a course for graduate students on "Politics of the Arabian Peninsula," the first such academic semester-long course to be offered at any American university. During the 2008 Fall semester he was joined by HRH Prince Turki Al Faisal Al Sa'ud as co-teacher of the course. In 2008 he was the Distinguished Visiting Professor at the American University in Cairo's HRH Prince Alwaleed Bin Talal Bin 'Abdalaziz Al-Sa'ud Center for American Studies. Dr. Anthony has recently accepted appointment to the U.S. Department of State's Advisory Committee on International Economic Policy.

Council for the National Interest Foundation
1250 4th Street SW, Suite WG-1 · Washington, DC 20024
800.296.6958 · 202.863.2951 · Fax: 202.863.2952


from Robert Fisk :
Date: 27 August 2007
Subject: "Beirut to Bosnia," documentary film by Robert Fisk.

Why have so many Muslims come to hate the West? In this controversial three-part series filmed in Lebanon, Gaza, Israel, Egypt, and Bosnia, Robert Fisk­award-winning Middle East and Balkans correspondent for the London Independent­reports on Muslim unrest as ideology, religion, history, and geography come into conflict.

Robert Fisk: Beirut to Bosnia (documentary film)

 (3-part series, 52 minutes each)

from The Real News :
Date: 5 November 2009
Subject: How Goldman secretly bet on the U.S. housing crash.

La première banque d'affaires américaine Goldman Sachs a annoncé, jeudi 15 octobre, un bénéfice net trimestriel pratiquement multiplié par quatre par rapport à la même période de 2008 à 3,18 milliards de dollars (2,13 milliards d'euros).

Greg Gordon, an investigative reporter, has spent 30 years uncovering waste, fraud, abuse and misconduct in Washington. Since joining McClatchy’s national staff in 2006, he has helped expose partisanship in the Justice Department and gaps in U.S. homeland security. Earlier,, he spent 13 years with the Minneapolis Star Tribune, covering the prosecution of al Qaida terrorist Zacarias Moussaoui and writing about asbestos in the workplace, money and politics, aviation, law enforcement and the environment. He also worked for The Detroit News and United Press International, where he headed its investigative team and won the 1983 Raymond Clapper award for coverage of an EPA scandal. In 1990, he and co-author Ronald E. Cohen won Sigma Delta Chi's gold medal for their book "Down to the Wire," chronicling UPI's financial collapse. In 2008, he, along with Margaret Talev and Marisa Taylor, won a McClatchy ``President’s Award’’ and Scripps Howard’s Raymond Clapper Memorial Award for Washington reporting for exposing the Bush administration’s politicization of the Justice Department. This is Gordon's second Clapper Memorial Award.

Bénéfice trimestriel multiplié par quatre pour Goldman Sachs

How Goldman secretly bet on the U.S. housing crash
by Greg Gordon

From: George Kenney :
Date: 30 October 2009
Subject: Subject: Podcast interview with former Iranian President Banisadr.

Dear Francis,
You have to be of a certain age to remember Abolhassan Banisadr, the first President of Iran following the 1979 revolution. After a falling out with the clerics in 1981 -- in large part over the hostage crisis -- Banisadr fled for his life, taking political asylum in France. Part of the deal with French authorities, of course, is that he not mess around in Iranian politics. But he's been a little bit more public recently, probably with tacit French blessings, and as it turns out he's got a lot to say. I should note, nevertheless, that he gives interviews only rarely (if you search the web you'll see that this is so), making today's podcast somewhat newsworthy in and of itself.

I talk with President Banisadr through an interpreter, Dr. Mahmood Delkhasteh, a recent Ph.D. from the London School of Economics and a close Banisadr confidant. Although I'm sure that Mahmood gave the best possible translation, on balance I decided that it's best to leave in all the Persian so that Persian speakers can hear Mr. Banisadr for themselves. And although I don't understand a word of it I also think that Mr. Banisadr's voice has sufficiently luminous qualities that listening should not be an undue burden to non-Persian speakers. Hopefully the half that's in English will make it all worthwhile.

As always, if you like the podcast please feel free to redistribute the link.