Bulletin N°428



4 December 2009
Grenoble, France

Dear Colleagues and Friends of CEIMSA,
It has been said that good propaganda can make a wolf look like a lamb, and a lamb look like a wolf ; the victim is perceived as the aggressor, and the aggressor as the victim, when it's properly delivered.

In dictatorships, it is the government that monopolies propaganda; while in democracies, propaganda is usually internalized and dispatched by ordinary people: teachers, students, secretaries, lawyers, doctors, shopkeepers, etc., etc..., who have been indoctrinated and wish to share their received ideas with others.

The mass media, of course, plays an essential role in establishing the framework within which the ideas of dominant social class interests are promoted in the guise of debates (however phony) and memorable anecdotes. This pre-existing framework is rarely discussed, but it serves to guarantee that there will be no real debate, nor any real comprehension, of the casino economy that animates most of us --only more of the same, manipulations and, above all, political apathy. Nevertheless, the rewards are real enough, at least for some of us, and for that we tow the line, facing downward and hoping for more. . . .

If it is the function of propaganda to cage people --to limit and control their activies-- then, there is no better contemporary document to parse this political reality than the 2002 BBC documentary film by Adam Curtis, The Century of the Self, Part Four : " Eight People Sipping Wine in Kettering".

This 4th episode of The Century of the Self explains how politicians on the "left," in both Britain and America, turned to the techniques developed by business to read and fulfil the inner desires of the self.
Both New Labour, under Tony Blair, and the Democrats, led by Bill Clinton, used the focus group, which had been invented by psychoanalysts, in order to regain power. They set out to mould their policies to people's inner desires and feelings, just as capitalism had learnt to do with products.
The politicians believed they were creating a new and better form of democracy, one that truly responded to the inner feelings of individual. But what they didn't realise was that the aim of those who had originally created these techniques had not been to liberate the people but to develop a new way of controlling them.

More recently, however, the only "reward" that can be offered to an increasing number of us living in "developed" societies is simply that of not being too badly hurt. Needless to say, this new exchange rate is irritating to many people . . . .

In a remarkable book, entitled The Sources of Social Power (1986),  radical British sociologist Michael Mann reports on his exhaustive research of  the origins of social power. The first part of this projected three-volume study is called "A History of Power from the Beginning to A.D. 1760," and in it Professor Mann critiques various theories in political anthropology, which he classifies into four distinct groups, which he designates as IEMP (standing for ideological, economic, military, and political theories developed to explain power accumulation). Rejecting the conventional monolithic concept of a "society," Mann identifies four principle "sources" of power as being control over ideological, economic, military, and political resources. What commonly passes as "society," he argues, is "a series of overlapping, intersecting power networks," which give rise to "a logistics of power" from which we are able to see how "the flow of information, manpower, and goods is controlled over social and geographical space." He takes us back in time to test different social evolutionary theories which seek to explain how our species has been able to organize itself.

Neither stratification nor the state was an original social form. Gatherer-hunters were egalitarian and stateless. Evolutionists argue that the transition to settled agriculture and herding heralded a slow, prolonged, connected growth in stratification and the state. Four types of evolutionary theory are considered here --liberal, functionalist, Marxist, and militarist. Rightly, they see as connected the two most important and baffling questions: (1) How did some acquire permanent power over the material life chances of others, giving them the capacity to acquire property that potentially denied subsistence to others? (2) How did social authority become permanently lodged in centralized, monopolistic, coercive powers in territorially defined states?

The nub of these issues is the distinction between authority and power. The evolutionary theories offer plausible theories of the growth  of authority. But they cannot explain satisfactorily how authority was converted into power that could be used either coercively against the people who granted authority in the first place or to deprive people of the rights of material subsistence. Indeed, we shall see that these conversions did not happen in prehistory. There we no general origins of the state and stratification. It is a false issue.
Liberal and functional theories argue that stratification and states embody rational social cooperation, and so were originally instituted in a kind of 'social contract.'. . .  Marxists argue that states strengthen class exploitation and thus were instituted by the first property classes.  . . .  Finally militarists theory argues that states and pronounced social stratification originated in conquest and the requirements of military attack and defense. All four schools argue with force, not to say dogmatism.   .  .  .

To keep a surplus, even one individually produced, requires social organization. It requires norms of possession. As these are adhered to imperfectly, it also requires armed defense. Also production is normally not individual but social. Thus the possession, use, and defense of natural resources are greatly affected by even the simplest practices of social organization: Three men (or three women) fighting or working as a team can normally kill or greatly out produce three men acting as individuals, however strong the latter may be as individuals. Whatever the power in question --Economic, Military, Political, or Ideological-- it is conferred overwhelmingly by social organization. Social, not natural, inequality is what matters . . . . (pp. 50-51) 

The chiefs . . . usually enjoyed negligible powers. The term rank society covers a whole phase of general social evolution . . . in which power was almost totally confined to the use of 'authority' on behalf of the collectivity. All this conferred was status, prestige. Elders, 'bigmen,'or chiefs could only with difficulty deprive others of scarce, valued resources, and they could never arbitrarily deprive others of subsistence resources. Nor did they posses great wealth. They might distribute wealth around the group, but they could not retain it. As A. Fried [the author of The Evolution of Political Society (1967)] comments, 'such persons were rich for what they dispensed and not for what they hoarded'(p.118). Clasters, reviewing Amerindians [in his book, Society against State (1977)], denies the chief authoritative decision-making powers: He possesses only prestige and eloquence to resolve conflicts --'the chief's word caries no force of law.' The chief is held 'prisoner' in that confined role (p.175). Collective, not distributive, power is being exercised. The chief is its mouthpiece. This is a functionalist argument. . . .

Collective power antedated distributive power. Rank societies preceded stratified societies --and lasted for an enormous period of time. However, this merely puts forward in time our difficulty in explaining how egalitarian societies became inegalitarian in the distribution of scarce and valued resources, especially material resources.  In later rank societies, according to the theories, how as consent to equality turned into consent to inequality, or alternatively, how was consent overridden?
There is, as Clastres notes (p.172) one answer that seems simple and plausible: Inequality is imposed from outside by physical violence. This is the militarist argument.   .  .  . (p.53)

Liberalism gives a functional explanation in terms of common economic benefits introduced by the state. . . .  [T]he redistributive chiefdom, [is] a clearly functional theory. Here is Malinowski: 'Throughout the world we would find that the relations between economics and politics are of the same type. The chief, everywhere, acts as a tribal banker, collecting food, storing it, and protecting it, and then using it for the benefit of the whole community. His functions are the prototype of the pubic finance system and the organization of state treasuries of today. Deprive the chief of his privileges and financial benefits and who suffers most,but the whole tribe?' (pp.232-233) . . .

None of the four evolutionary theories bridges the gap I set up at the beginning of this section. Between rank and stratified societies, and between political authority and the coercive state, is an unexplained void.  . . .

Let us turn to archaeology, to see that the void existed in prehistory. All the theories are wrong because they presuppose a general social evolution that had, in fact, stopped. . . . Most of the prehistory of society saw no sustained movement toward statification or the state. Movement toward rank and political authority seems endemic but reversable. Beyond that, nothing sustained.

What we have puzzled over is how the people were constrained to submit to coercive state power. They would freely give collective, representative authority, to chiefs, elders, and bigmen for purposes ranging from judicial regulation to warfare to feast organization. Chiefs could thence derive considerable rank prestige. But they could not convert that into permanent, coercive power. Archaeology enables us to see that this was, indeed, the case. There was no swift or steady evolution from rank authority to state power. Such a transition was rare, confined to a very few, unusual cases. The crucial archaeological evidence is time.  .  .  .

[Repeatedly, the choice of authority network undermined the emergence of the social cage represented by civilization, stratification, and the state.(pp.60-69)

Political anthropologist J. Friedman, author of the essay, "Tribes, states and transformations," in Marxist Analyses and Social Anthropology (1975), is quoted by Mann, to support his critique that all social evolutionists are missing an important point: namely, that the dynamic of evolution has been surpassed by history, and that, by definition, all history is local history.

He concludes that evolution is essentially blind and 'catastrophic' --it results from sudden, unanticipated bifurcations. Perhaps it was only in a few accidental bifurcations that the state, stratification, and civilization developed.

If most societies have been cages, the doors have been left unlocked for two main actors. First, the people have possessed freedoms. They have rarely given away power to elites that they could not recover; and when they have, they have had opportunity, or been pressured, to move away physically from that sphere of power. Second, elites have rarely been unitary: Elders, lineage heads, bigmen, and chiefs have possessed overlapping, competitive authorities, viewed one another suspiciously, and exercised those same two freedoms.(p.67)

The 10 items below offer CEIMSA readers insights into the contemporary origins of power in Washington, D.C., the function of propaganda, and the failing distribution of traditional spoils of war. Some of us, old enough to remember, may recall the words George Pompidou (1911-1974), the best poet France has ever elected President, when he confronted President Nixon during the Vietnam War negotiations in Paris (1968-1973), saying in effect : "One cannot militarily invade a country, then turn around and accuse its population of tracheary because they attempt to defend themselves." It was a time when some educated heads of state were still concerned with semantics and verisimilitude.

Item A., is an essay by CEIMSA associate Johns Hopkins University Professor Douglas Dowd, warning us of the impending political crisis brought on by the mismanagement of the prolonged economic crisis that we have been living these past many months. (+ a graphic reminder of how the capitalist political economy really functions.)

Item B., sent to us by Boston area historian against the war, Dr. Jim O'Brien, is a list of important, recently published articles, carefully selected by American intellectuals because they provide an analysis of the evolving situation of militarism in the United States of America and the growing resistance to it.

Item C., from ZNet, is an article by journalist Paul Street on President Obama's December 1 "War Speech" at West Point, setting the record straight . . . .

Item D., sent to us by Annie Bingham, is an article by Paul Craig Roberts, former Assistant Secretary of the Treasury under President Reagan, in which he interprets the "new" U.S.-Israel relations at the start of the Obama administration.

Item E., from NYU Professor Bertell Ollman, is a report on the talk recently given by author Shlomo Sand at NYU on his new book, The Invention of the Jewish People.

Item F., is an article by the University of Illinois College of Law Professor Francis Boyle, defending the semantics of international law against the syntax of jingoism.

Item G., from UCLA Professor Rhonda Hammer, is an updated report on the University of California movement to democratize public education.

Item H., sent to us by UCSD Professor Fred Lonidier, is information on the continuing University of California strike, with graphic analysis of the unequal distribution of public funds for education.

Item I., is the Internet video documentary, produced by Christian Trumble and Stephen Phelps: Killing Without Conscience : Iraq - The Hidden War, which explains "how our news is sanatized to prevent the destruction and suffering created by the U.S. occupation of Iraq from entering our reality."

Item J., sent to us by former Grenoble graduate student, Tatiana Tournier, is an Internet video (in French) of a documentary rapport by Steven Artels' on,  "GI's cauchemars d'Irak," which was recently aired on Swiss television.

And finally, we conclude this CEIMSA bulletin with the GRITtv broadcast of . . .

Turning Pain to Power:
Change in the Congo, Melody Gardot & Indigenous Youth Delegation to Palestine

"A few weeks ago, we spoke with activists around the world who struggle for basic human rights.  Everywhere you turn, the same corporate interests, the same apathetic or outright hostile governments–it’s enough to drive social justice activists to despair. Instead of giving up, though, plenty of people figure out ways to keep going, to draw energy from the oppression and pain and to win victories against incredible odds. Sometimes their work seems overwhelming, but it’s people like them who make us at GRITtv thankful this holiday season. We bring you that show and hope you enjoy another look at these inspiring people.
  Today, we talk to Eve Ensler, founder of V-Day and the activist behind a year long campaign to stop the violence, Rose Mapendo, a survivor of the war who was dubbed UN “humanitarian of the year” this summer for her work with refugees, and Kambale Musavuli, student coordinator for Friends of the Congo.  All three are trying to bring attention to the situation in the Democratic Republic of the Congo, where over five million have died and rape is used as a daily weapon against the people. There’s plenty for you to do in the U.S., since it is in part our demand for Congo’s minerals that keeps funding the violence.
  We also have a performance from Melody Gardot, a Philadelphia jazz singer/songwriter who has struggled with pain after being struck by a car while riding her bike in 2003.  Her music has helped her transcend her pain and inspired her to help others.
  A diverse group of young activists joined us to talk about The Indigenous Youth Delegation to Palestine, which connected Native and immigrant youth from the U.S. with youth in Palestine. Ora Wise of the Palestine Education Project, Ras K’Dee of SNAG Magazine, and hip-hop activists Invincible of Detroit and the Narcicyst talk about the similarities between indigenous and immigrant communities in the U.S. and Canada and the Palestinian movement for self-determination, and how the same bad guys crop up from Detroit to Ramallah."

[Note from our CEIMSA-associated Ph.D. student at Nanterre, Grace Kpohazounde, who is now working in the West African division at the United Nations in New York City.
Dear Professor Feeley,
Thank you for the (GRITtv) link . . . and especially the reports on the situation in the DRC which i find very accurate.
Have a nice day,

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

from Douglas Dowd :
Date: 3 December 2009
Subject: Our need to get more political.

Dear Friends,
I am teaching in Italy and cannot become actively involved in the politics of the US except with writing.  This message is going to about 75 of you, some of whom I have known as close friends in joint political efforts and/or in my classes, others only indirectly; some  know as much or more than I have written. This is  meant to be used as a basis for political work,  "to be passed on" in one way or another by  those who  find it worth forwarding (including publications, for which no payment would be wanted).
Its essence is that to the degree that the Obama administration fails to soon  make substantial progress toward a set of socio-economic reforms at home and peace abroad that the  already strong rightwing movement will move toward always more power.  Although Obama is though --Obama is unusually decent and intelligent for a president-- he must be convinced by us that this is not enough.  To stay in office he must function in response to  the "center-left" rather than, as up to now, to the center-right  regarding both domestic and foreign policies. So far he has been  repeating what FDR did in his first 2-3 years.  As is discussed at length in the article below, however, it was by the mid-1930s that the always-strengthening left of center political efforts had convinced FDR that if he was to be re-elected, he would have to take his orders from others than the rich. Now it's our turn (our need) to do substantial and persisting political work: sooner than later.  The center-right is well-organized and financed, working hard and scarily. 

Some who receive this will be in the political middle, most in one way or another on the left.  All must work together now if we are to have a movement so strong enough to pressure on Congress and Obama to see to it that we move toward a safe and decent nation and world.  The vital issue as this is written is what will happen in the 2010 congressional elections.  Congress is virtually controlled by  lobbyists and campaign financing from three groups:  Wall Street, the health care giants, and the military-industrial complex.  That must not continue, but it  will (and worsen)  unless we do the hard work of  convincing our House and Senate members that they have to pay attention to "us the people" rather than to "them" the wreckers.  If we do what we must, Obama will get the message and become our FDR.  For some, that won't be enough; for all it is absolutely essential for the near future.  Our opponents have the money; we must come alive and defeat them with our sweat and sanity.    Repeat: If those who receive this see it as good sense, please send it to as many "others" as you can, as soon as you can,  and suggest that they do likewise.  All of us MUST become and remain more politically involved than we have been sine the 1970s; our opponents have done a lot and spent a lot against us, and we have let them get away with it.
Doug Dowd


  by Doug Dowd



"Capitalism and Other Kids' Stuff"
by Paddy Joe Shannon

from Jim O'Brien :
Date: 3 December 2009
Subject: HAW Notes (including links to recent articles of interest).

To members and friends of Historians Against the War,
Here are a few notes, followed by the latest in our series of biweekly mailings of links to article of interest.

1. HAW will have a session (details are still being planned) at the AHA convention in San Diego, Saturday, January 9, at 5:30 7:00 pm. It will be in the secondary convention hotel, which is not being boycotted. Margaret Power (power@iit.edu) and Andor Skotnes (skotna@sage.edu) are coordinating plans for the session.

2. Michael Zweig of U.S. Labor Against the War, who has been a strong ally of HAW, is also the coordinator of the How Class Works 2010 conference, June 3-5 at Stony Brook University. The proposals deadline is December 14 and information is at http://www.stonybrook.edu/workingclass/conference/2010/cfp.shtml.
3. Veterans for Peace is looking for an executive director. Information is at http://www.veteransforpeace.org/Position_available_executive_director.vp.html

Links to Recent Articles of Interest :

Obama's Folly
By Andrew Bacevich, War in Context website, from the Los Angeles Times, December 3

The President Has Drawn the Wrong Lessons From His Understanding of the History of War
Interview with Andrew Bacevich on Democracy Now, posted December 2

Obama s Surge: Has the President Been Misled by the Iraq Analogy?
By Juan Cole, Salon.com. posted December 1
A detailed analysis of circumstances that gave the Iraq surge the appearance of success, and of how circumstances in Afghanistan are different.

Afghanistan: The Roach Motel of Empires
By Zoltan Grossman, AfterDowningStreet.com, posted December 2

Afghanistan Fact Sheet: The Numbers Behind the Troop Increase
By the National Priorities Project, posted December 1

A Better Way to Kill? Human Terrain Systems, Anthropologists and the War in Afghanistan
By David Price, CounterPunch.org, posted December 1

It's Obama s War Now
By Gary Leupp, CounterPunch.org, posted November 30
The author teaches history at Tufts University; despite its title, the article is mainly historical.

The Soviet Occupation of Afghanistan Through CIA Eyes: Lessons for the United States Today
By Bennett Ramberg, Huffington Post, posted November 24

Bill Moyers Journal, November 20 on escalation in Vietnam
Public Broadcasting System, November 20
On Lyndon Johnson's decision making on Vietnam in the mid-1960s, using excerpts from President Johnson's taped phone conversations with top advisors. The video of this program can be accessed at http://www.pbs.org/moyers/journal/11202009/watch.html

Why Liberals Kill
By Thad Russell, The Daily Beast, posted October 17
a broad-brush analysis of the liberal foreign policy tradition from a libertarian conservative perspective

from Paul Street :
Date: 3 December 2009
Subject: The Invasion of Afghanistan and U.S. Falsifications.

Obama's West Point War Speech: A Quick Response
by Street, Paul

Like a Judas of old
You lie and deceive...
  You hide in your mansions
While young people's blood
Flows out of their bodies
And gets buried in the mu
 - Bob Dylan, "Masters of War," 1962


War President Barack Obama's Afghan "surge" address from West Point [1] last night was unsurprising, given the fact that, as Alexander Cockburn has noted, "Obama has...surrounded himself with the same breed of intellectuals who persuaded Lyndon Johnson to escalate the [ Vietnam ] war." [2] As Tom Engelhardt has pointed out, Obama's "civilian advisors" on Afghanistan include a large number of military men, all predisposed by career background and philosophy to advocate increased force levels. Did it really make sense to be surprised, Engelhardt wondered more than two months ago, that Obama would opt for more troops, money, and war when the president had "turn[ed] crucial war decisions over to the military...functionally turn[ing] our foreign policy over to them as well?" [3]
The decision to escalate was never much in doubt.
Security Council Trickery
If there was anything surprising about Obama's December 1st address, it was the extent to which he was willing to distort history on behalf of his militaristic policy.  "Just days after 9/11," Obama proclaimed last night (I am writing on the morning of Wednesday, December 2, 2009), "Congress authorized the use of force against al Qaeda and those who harbored them -- an authorization that continues to this day...For the first time in its history, the North Atlantic Treaty Organization invoked Article 5 - the commitment that says an attack on one member nation is an attack on all. And the United Nations Security Council endorsed the use of all necessary steps to respond to the 9/11 attacks. America , our allies and the world were acting as one to destroy al Qaeda's terrorist network and to protect our common security."[4]
Obama clearly meant here to create the false impression that the United Nations Security Council (UNSC) authorized the Bush administration's attack on Afghanistan in October, 2001).  But the UNSC did no such thing since the attack met none of the UN's criteria for legitimate self-defense.  The United States ' attack on Afghanistan met none of the standard international moral and legal criteria for justifiable self-defense and occurred without reasonable consultation with the United Nations Security Council.
As the prominent U.S. legal scholar Marjorie Cohn noted in July of 2008, "The invasion of Afghanistan was as illegal as the invasion of Iraq ."  The U.N. Charter requires member states to settle international disputes by peaceful means.  Nations are permitted to use military force only in self-defense or when authorized by the Security Council. After 9/11, the Council passed two resolutions, neither of which authorized the use of military force in Afghanistan .
Assaulting that country was not legitimate self-defense under article 51 of the Charter since the jetliner assaults were criminal attacks, not "armed attacks" by another country. Afghanistan did not attack the U.S. and 15 of the 19 9/11 hijackers came from Saudi Arabia . Furthermore, there was no "imminent threat of an armed attack on the United States after September 11 or Bush would not have waited three weeks before initiating his October 2001 bombing campaign." As Cohn added, international law requires that "The necessity for self-defense must be 'instant, overwhelming, leaving no choice of means, and no moment for deliberation.' This classic principle of self-defense in international law has been affirmed by the Nuremberg Tribunal and the U.N. General Assembly."[5]
"The World According to Washington"
The suggestion that human civilization ("the world") was united in support for Washington 's attack on Afghanistan is completely incorrect.  An international Gallup poll released after the U.S. bombing began showed that global opposition was overwhelming. In 34 of the 37 countries Gallup surveyed, majorities opposed a military attack on Afghanistan , preferring that 9/11 be treated as a criminal matter rather than as a pretext for war. Even in the U.S. , just 54% supported war. [6] "In Latin America, which has some experience with US behavior," Noam Chomsky noted (in a 2008 column titled "The World According to Washington"), "support [for the U.S. assault] ranged from 2% in Mexico, to 18% in Panama, and that support was conditional on the culprits being identified (they still weren't eight months later, the Federal Bureau of Investigation reported) and civilian targets being spared (they were attacked at once). There was an overwhelming preference in the world for diplomatic/judicial measures, rejected out of hand by [ Washington , claiming to represent] 'the world.'"[7]
"Only After the Taliban Refused to Turn Over bin Laden"
"Under the banner of this domestic unity and international legitimacy - and only after the Taliban refused to turn over Osama bin Laden -- we sent our troops into Afghanistan " [8], Obama said.  This was completely false. In the actual history that occurred, the U.S. refused to respond to the Taliban government's offer to turn bin-Laden over to a foreign government for a trial once elementary evidence pointing to his guilt was presented.  The U.S. deliberately made sure that bin Laden would not be turned over through legal and diplomatic channels because (quite frankly) the Bush administration wanted war and did not wish to follow the UN Charter's requirement that nations pursue "all means short of force before taking military action" (Rahul Mahajan).[9]
"Safe Haven" Mythology
Six times in his war speech Obama used the phrase "safe haven." Afghanistan , Obama wants the American people to think, is a "safe haven" for past and potential future terror attacks on the"homeland." This, too, is deceptive. As Harvard Kennedy School of Government professor Stephen Walt noted in an August 2009 Foreign Policy essay, Obama's "safe haven myth" rests on the fundamentally flawed premise that al Qaeda or its many and various imitators couldn't just as effectively plot and conduct future terror attacks from any of a large number of other locations, including Western Europe and the U.S. itself. At the same time, Walt observed, Obama's expanded engagement in the "ambitious social and political reconstruction and re-engineering of Afghanistan and perhaps even Pakistan, trying, with slight chances of success," to creating a centralized democratic state in the former country, was reinforcing al Qaeda's core claim that the West's and the above all the United States' presence in South Asia was about imperial control.  The more the U.S. is seen as "trying to restructure their societies along lines that we think are appropriate," Walt notes, "the more we play into the narrative that they use to try and attract support and recruit people in Afghanistan itself." [10]
"The United States is Broken...Yet we're Nation-Building in Afghanistan ."
The president said nothing in his address about the tens of thousands of private military contractors deployed by the Pentagon in Afghanistan (57 percent of the U.S. force presence there at the end of last June!) [11] or about the deadly, largely secret Predator drone war he has dramatically escalated against Afghan and Pakistani "terrorists" and civilians [12].
He also failed to mention the absurdity of his decision to spend untold billions more dollars on a futile, massively expensive colonial operation abroad as misery and destitution expanded at home.  The domestic social uplift and opportunity cost of his imperial policy - the twisted misplacement of resources that Martin Luther King, Jr., described in the late 1960s as symptomatic of America's "spiritual death" [13] - is certainly enormous.  By the White House's own  calculations, the Afghan escalation is going to cost $1 million a year per every single new soldier deployed [14] - a giant investment that could be diverted to meet growing unmet social needs across the U.S. 
Echoing Dr. King's late-1960s sermons and speeches against the U.S. military state's "perverted priorities," New York Times columnist Bob Herbert marked the day of Obama's West Point Address with an eloquent lament: 
"the president has arrived at a decision that never was much in doubt, and that will prove to be a tragic mistake. It was also, for the president, the easier option."
"It would have been much more difficult for Mr. Obama to look this troubled nation in the eye and explain why it is in our best interest to begin winding down the permanent state of warfare left to us by the Bush and Cheney regime. It would have taken real courage for the commander in chief to stop feeding our young troops into the relentless meat grinder of Afghanistan, to face up to the terrible toll the war is taking - on the troops themselves and in very insidious ways on the nation as a whole."
"More soldiers committed suicide this year than in any year for which we have complete records. But the military is now able to meet its recruitment goals because the young men and women who are signing up can't find jobs in civilian life. The United States is broken - school systems are deteriorating, the economy is in shambles, homelessness and poverty rates are expanding - yet we're nation-building in Afghanistan , sending economically distressed young people over there by the tens of thousands at an annual cost of a million dollars each." [15]
"A Chance to Shape Their Future"
Of course, "nation-building" is a euphemism for imperial assault and occupation.  Loot at the unimaginable devastation - more than 1 million plus killed before their time, millions more injured and displaced, and massive social and technical infrastructure destroyed - "we" (our unelected agents of Empire) have inflicted on crippled Iraq, about which Obama had the noxious imperial chutzpah to say the following last night: "Thanks to [U.S. troops'] courage, grit and perseverance, we have given Iraqis a chance to shape their future." [16]
Yes, you read that correctly: "we have given Iraqis a chance to shape their future."
Call it Empire and Inequality [17] Re-Branded. Combined and interrelated, mutually reinforcing, and caught up in a dark, dialectically inseparable duet of destruction...the forces of domestic disparity and imperial violence continue their dangerous, viciously circular dalliance of death. "Like Bush's America ," John Pilger notes, "Obama's America is run by some very dangerous people" [18].
Paul Street is a writer, author, activist and speaker based in Iowa City , IA.  He is the author of many books and articles, including Empire and Inequality: America and the World Since 9/11 ( Boulder , CO : Paradigm, 2004) and Racial Oppression in the Global Metropolis ( New York : Rowman & Littlefield, 2007). His  next book Empire's New Clothes: Barack Obama in the Real World of Power, will be released next year. Street will speak next week (twice) in the Twin Cities on the topic "Does Obama Deserve the Nobel Peace Prize?" at 7 pm, December 9 (Wednesday, at Macalester College in St. Paul, MN) and (Thursday) and at 7 pm, December 10, 2009 (at the University of Minnesota). The location for the December 9th event (Macalester) is Humanities Room 226 (map: www.macalester.edu/about/mapbyalpha.html. The location for the December 10th event (U of Minnesota ) is University of Minnesota , West Bank Blegen Hall Room 010 (map: www.umn.edu/twincities/maps/BlegH/index.html)
1. George W. Bush also liked to make militaristic pronouncements from military settings like West Point, Annapolis , the Carlisle War College , and the USS Abraham Lincoln.
2. Alexander Cockburn, "War and Peace," CounterPunch (October 9, 2009), read at http://www.counterpunch.org/cockburn10092009.html
3. Tom Engelhardt, "A Military That Wants its Way," TomDispatch (September 24, 2009), read at, http://www.tomdispatch.com/post/175118
4. "Text of Obama's Speech on Afghanistan " (December 1, 2009), read at
5. Marjorie Cohn, "End the Occupation of Iraq and Afghanistan ," ZNet (July 30, 2008), read at http://www.zcommunications.org/znet/viewArticle/18303.   "Resolutions 1368 and 1373 condemned the September 11 attacks, and ordered the freezing of assets; the criminalizing of terrorist activity; the prevention of the commission of and support for terrorist attacks; the taking of necessary steps to prevent the commission of terrorist activity, including the sharing of information; and urged ratification and enforcement of the international conventions against terrorism."
6. Abid Aslam, "Polls Question Support for Military Campaign, Inter Press Service, October 8, 2001; Gallup International, Gallup International Poll on Terrorism " (September 2001); Edward S. Herman and David Peterson, "' Obama's Foreign Policy Report Card': Juan Cole Grades His President -- and Very Positively," MR Zine (November 9, 2009), read at mrzine.monthlyreview.org/ hp091109.html
7. Noam Chomsky, "The World According to Washington ," Asia Times (February 28, 2008).
8. "Text of Obama's Speech on Afghanistan ."
9. See Rahul Mahajan, The New Crusade: America 's War on Terrorism ( New York : Monthly Review, 2002), 28-31; Noam Chomsky, Hegemony Over Survival: America 's Quest for Global Dominance ( New York : Metropolitan, 2003), 198-202. 
10.  Stephen Walt, "The Safe Haven Myth," Foreign Policy (August 18, 2009), read at http://walt.foreignpolicy.com/posts/2009/08/18/the_safe_haven_myth ; Stephen Walt, interview by Amy Goodman, "Democracy Now," August 25, 2009, read at http://www.democracynow.org/2009/8/25/the_safe_haven_myth_harvard_prof.  See also Paul R. Pillar, "Whose Afraid of a Terrorist Safe Haven?" Washington Post, September 16, 2009, read at www.washingtonpost.com/wp-dyn/content/article/2009/09/15/AR2009091502977_pf.html  "By utilizing networks such as the Internet," Pillar noted, "terrorists' organizations have become more network-like, not beholden to any one headquarters." A significant jihadist terrorist threat to the United States is alive, Pillar argues, but "that does not mean it will consist of attacks instigated and commanded from a South Asian haven, or that it will require a haven at all. Al-Qaeda's role in that threat is now less one of commander than of ideological lodestar, and for that role a haven is almost meaningless." Pillar was deputy chief of the counterterrorist center at the CIA from 1997 to 1999. He is director of graduate studies at Georgetown University 's Security Studies Program
1l. Congressional Research Service, "Department of Defense Contractors in Iraq and Afghanistan : Background and Analysis," CRS Report number R40764, September 21, 2009, http://www.fas.org/sgp/crs/natsec/R40764.pdf
12. For a chilling account see Jane Mayer, "The Predator War," The New Yorker (October 26, 2009).
13. "A nation that continues year after year to spend more money on military defense than on programs of social uplift is approaching spiritual death."  Martin Luther King Jr., "A Time to Break the Silence," Riverside Church , New York City, April 4. 1967
14. Christi Parsons and Julian E. Barnes, "Pricing an Afghanistan Troop Build Up is No Simple Calculation," Los Angeles Times, November 23, 2009.
15. Bob Herbert, "A Tragic Mistake," New York Times, December 1, 2009.
16. "Text of Obama's Speech on Afghanistan "
17. Please see Street, Empire and Inequality: America and the World Since 9/11 ( Boulder , CO : Paradigm, 2004) - written at the height of self-described "war president" George W. Bush's reign, but equally applicable to the first year of the "progressive" presidency of Barack Obama, winner of the Nobel Peace Prize.
18 John Pilger, "Media Lies and the War Drive Against Iran," Pakistan Daily, October 15, 2009, read at http://www.daily.pk/media-lies-and-the-war-drive-against-iran-12189/

from Annie Bingham :
Date: 4 December 2009
Subject: American president is powerless.

Did you read this ?????  Something to ponder...

Obama, Israel's Puppet
by Paul Craig Roberts      


It didn't take the Israel Lobby very long to bring President Obama to heel regarding his prohibition against further illegal Israeli settlements on occupied Palestinian land. Obama discovered that a mere American president is powerless when confronted by the Israel Lobby and that the United States simply is not allowed a Middle East policy separate from Israel's.
Obama also found out that he cannot change anything else either, if he ever intended to do so.
The military/security lobby has war and a domestic police state on its agenda, and a mere American president can't do anything about it.
President Obama can order the Guantanamo torture chamber closed and kidnapping and rendition and torture to be halted, but no one carries out the order.
Essentially, Obama is irrelevant.
President Obama can promise that he is going to bring the troops home, and the military lobby says, "No, you are going to send them to Afghanistan, and in the meantime start a war in Pakistan and maneuver Iran into a position that will provide an excuse for a war there, too. Wars are too profitable for us to let you stop them."
And the mere president has to say, "Yes, Sir!"
Obama can promise health care to 50 million uninsured Americans, but he can't override the veto of the war lobby and the insurance lobby. The war lobby says its war profits are more important than health care and that the country can't afford both the "war on terror" and "socialized medicine."
The insurance lobby says health care has to be provided by private health insurance; otherwise, we can't afford it.
The war and insurance lobbies rattled their campaign contribution pocketbooks and quickly convinced Congress and the White House that the real purpose of the health care bill is to save money by cutting Medicare and Medicaid benefits, thereby "getting entitlements under control."
"Entitlements" is a right-wing word used to cast aspersion on the few things that the government did, in the distant past, for citizens. Social Security and Medicare, for example, are denigrated as "entitlements." The right wing goes on endlessly about Social Security and Medicare as if they were welfare give-aways to shiftless people who refuse to look after themselves, whereas in actual fact citizens are vastly overcharged for the meager benefits with a 15% tax on their wages and salaries.
Indeed, for decades now the federal government has been funding its wars and military budgets with the surplus revenues collected by the Social Security tax on labor.
To claim, as the right wing does, that we can't afford the only thing in the entire budget that has consistently produced a revenue surplus indicates that the real agenda is to drive the mere citizen into the ground.
The real entitlements are never mentioned. The "defense" budget is an entitlement for the military/security complex about which President Eisenhower warned us 50 years ago. A person has to be crazy to believe that the United States, "the world's only superpower," protected by oceans on its East and West and by puppet states on its North and South, needs a "defense" budget larger than the military spending of the rest of the world combined.
The military budget is nothing but an entitlement for the military/security complex. To hide this fact, the entitlement is disguised as protection against "enemies" and passed through the Pentagon.
I say cut out the middleman and simply allocate a percentage of the federal budget to the military/security complex. This way we won't have to concoct reasons for invading other countries and go to war in order for the military/security complex to get its entitlement. It would be a lot cheaper just to give them the money outright, and it would save a lot of lives and grief at home and abroad.
The US invasion of Iraq had nothing whatsoever to do with American national interests. It had to do with armaments profits and with eliminating an obstacle to Israeli territorial expansion. The cost of the war, aside from the $3 trillion, was over 4,000 dead Americans, over 30,000 wounded and maimed Americans, tens of thousands of broken American marriages and lost careers, one million dead Iraqis, four million displaced Iraqis, and a destroyed country.
All of this was done for the profits of the military/security complex and to make paranoid Israel, armed with 200 nuclear weapons, feel "secure."
My proposal would make the military/security complex even wealthier as the companies would get the money without having to produce the weapons. Instead, all the money could go for multi-million dollar bonuses and dividend payouts to shareholders. No one, at home or abroad, would have to be killed, and the taxpayer would be better off.
No American national interest is served by the war in Afghanistan. As the former UK Ambassador Craig Murray disclosed, the purpose of the war is to protect Unocal's interest in the Trans-Afghanistan pipeline. The cost of the war is many times greater than Unocal's investment in the pipeline. The obvious solution is to buy out Unocal and give the pipeline to the Afghans as partial compensation for the destruction we have inflicted on that country and its population, and bring the troops home.
The reason my sensible solutions cannot be effected is that the lobbies think that their entitlements would not survive if they were made obvious. They think that if the American people knew that the wars were being fought to enrich the armaments and oil industries, the people would put a halt to the wars.
In actual fact, the American people have no say about what "their" government does. Polls of the public show that half or more of the American people do not support the wars in Iraq or Afghanistan and do not support President Obama's escalation of the war in Afghanistan. Yet, the occupations and wars continue. According to General Stanley McChrystal, the additional 40,000 troops are enough to stalemate the war, that is, to keep it going forever, the ideal situation for the armaments lobby.
The people want health care, but the government does not listen.
The people want jobs, but Wall Street wants higher priced stocks and forces American firms to offshore the jobs to countries where labor is cheaper.
The American people have no effect on anything. They can affect nothing. They have become irrelevant like Obama. And they will remain irrelevant as long as organized interest groups can purchase the US government.
The inability of the American democracy to produce any results that the voters want is a demonstrated fact. The total unresponsiveness of government to the people is conservatism's contribution to American democracy. Some years ago, there was an effort to put government back into the hands of the people by constraining the ability of organized interest groups to pour enormous amounts of money into political campaigns and, thus, obligate the elected official to those whose money elected him. Conservatives said that any restraints would be a violation of the First Amendment's guarantee of free speech.
The same "protectors" of "free speech" had no objection to the Israel Lobby's passage of the "hate crime" bill, which has criminalized criticism of Israel's genocidal treatment of the Palestinians and continuing theft of their lands.
In less than one year, President Obama has betrayed all of his supporters and broken all of his promises. He is the total captive of the oligarchy of the ruling interest groups.
Unless he is saved by an orchestrated 9/11-type event, Obama is a one-term president.
Indeed, the collapsing economy will doom him regardless of a "terrorist event."
The Republicans are grooming Palin. Our first female president, following our first black president, will complete the transition to an American police state by arresting critics and protesters of Washington's immoral foreign and domestic policies, and she will complete the destruction of America's reputation abroad.
Russia's Putin has already compared the US to Nazi Germany, and the Chinese premier has likened the US to an irresponsible, profligate debtor.
Increasingly the rest of the world sees the US as the sole source of all of its problems. Germany has lost the chief of its armed forces and its defense minister, because the US convinced or pressured, by hook or crook, the German government to violate its Constitution and to send troops to fight for Unocal's interest in Afghanistan. The Germans had pretended that their troops were not really fighting, but were engaged in a "peace-keeping operation." This more or less worked until the Germans called in an air strike that murdered 100 women and children lined up for a fuel allotment.
The British are investigating their leading criminal, former Prime Minister Tony Blair, and his deception of his own cabinet in order to do Bush's bidding and provide some cover for Bush's illegal invasion of Iraq. The UK investigators have been denied the ability to bring criminal charges, but the issue of war based entirely on orchestrated deception and lies is getting a hearing. It will reverberate throughout the world, and the world will note that there is no corresponding investigation in the US, the country that originated the False War.
Meanwhile, the US investment banks, which have wrecked the financial stability of many governments, including that of the US, continue to control, as they have done since the Clinton administration, US economic and financial policy. The world has suffered terribly from the Wall Street gangsters, and now looks upon America with a critical eye.
The United States no longer commands the respect it enjoyed under President Ronald Reagan or President George Herbert Walker Bush. World polls show that the US and its puppet master are regarded as the two greatest threats to peace. Washington and Israel outrank on the most dangerous list the crazy regime in North Korea.
The world is beginning to see America as a country that needs to go away. When the dollar is over-inflated by a Washington unable to pay its bills, will the world be motivated by greed and try to save us in order to save its investments, or will it say, thank God, good riddance.
Paul Craig Roberts was Assistant Secretary of the Treasury during President Reagan's first term.  He was Associate Editor of the Wall Street Journal.  He has held numerous academic appointments, including the William E. Simon Chair, Center for Strategic and International Studies, Georgetown University, and Senior Research Fellow, Hoover Institution, Stanford University. He was awarded the Legion of Honor by French President Francois Mitterrand. He is the author of Supply-Side Revolution : An Insider's Account of Policymaking in Washington;  Alienation and the Soviet Economy and Meltdown: Inside the Soviet Economy, and is the co-author with Lawrence M. Stratton of The Tyranny of Good Intentions : How Prosecutors and Bureaucrats Are Trampling the Constitution in the Name of Justice .

from Bertell Ollman :
Date: 27 November 2009
Subject: Are the Jews "invented"? ...Shlomo Sand (Tel Aviv University)...Boycott Ariel College.

Francis -
     I think you and your readers would very much appreciate the talk Shlomo Sand gave at NYU a few weeks ago on his book, THE INVENTION OF THE JEWISH PEOPLE. See below.

Introduction to Shlomo Sand, The Invention of the Jewish People
by Bertell Ollman
MRZine, 20 Nov, 2009
(You can listen to the talk by Prof. Sand at NYU on October 16, 2009 at the link above.)

he Invention of the Jewish People is divided into two parts.  The first is a long section on the theory of nationalism, whose main characteristic, according
to Sand, is the tendency to invent a past that suits the current needs and goals of the people in question.  This is not a new idea (Benedict Anderson and Ernest
Gellner have presented versions of it), but this is the best account of it that I have read.  Second, there follows a much longer section on Zionism, Judaism,
and Israel in light of the earlier discussion of nationalism.  Most of this long book is devoted to showing with a great deal of evidence and arguments from
several different disciplines that most of Jewish history has been invented.
The turning point is the supposed expulsion of the Jews from Palestine by the Romans after the destruction of the Second Temple in 70 A.D. (apparently, there
is no evidence for this; the Roman's never engaged in such mass expulsions; and most of the Jews in Palestine at the time were peasants living in the
countryside, who would not be directly affected by the destruction of Jerusalem).
This raises two key questions: 1) Where did the large Jewish populations that turn up later throughout the rest of the Middle East and Europe come from, if
they were not descended from people who were expelled from Palestine by the Romans?  Sand's answer is that most of them came from mass conversions of
peoples to Judaism that occurred in at least three different places and times between the destruction of the Second Temple and the early modern period.  (He
also shows that some mass conversions of people to Judaism took place in Palestine even before the destruction of the Second Temple.  So the practice of
converting people, even large groups of people, to Judaism is not as unknown to the history of Judaism as is commonly believed.)
Probably the biggest mass conversion took place in Khazaria, a Turkmen empire between the Caspian and the Black Sea between the 8th and 11th century A.D.,
which was destroyed in the 11th century by attacks from Russians, with most of its Jewish population migrating west into eastern Europe.  Together with a
somewhat later, smaller, more prosperous and more cultured Jewish migration from Western Europe through Germany, they became the future Jews of Poland, Russia,
Hungary, etc.
A second mass conversion in the period after the destruction of the Second Temple took place among several Berber tribes in North Africa in the 6th century
A.D., though many conversions to Judaism occurred in and around what had been Carthage and other coastal towns in North Africa before that.  When the Arabs
brought Islam to these lands a century later, they showed their typical respect for the "people of the book" by not forcing them to adopt their religion.  Then,
when North African Muslims (not Arabs from Arabia) invaded Spain in 711 A.D., Jewish Berbers made up a good part of their army, and included at least one
general.  Many of them settled in Spain, and became the core of what we call the Spanish Jews.  The third big conversion(s) occurred in Yemen, on the southern
tip of the Arabian peninsula, which had a large number of Jews from very early on, including at least one Jewish king in the 6th century A.D., who tried  to
convert his subjects to Judaism.
Granted that some Jews already lived throughout the Middle East and Southern Europe before the destruction of the Second Temple -- but if we add up all the
mass conversions to Judaism that occurred after this event, it appears that the bulk of world Jewry from the early Middle Ages on were descended from people who
never set foot in Palestine.  Which raises, of course, the next key question --what happened to the Jews who were still in Palestine after the destruction of
the Second Temple?  Where did they go?  Sand's answer is that they didn't go anywhere.  They are today's Palestinians, most of whom converted to Islam in the
early years of Islam's expansion into the rest of the Middle East.  These are not unsupported conjectures, for the great strength of Sand's book lies in the
enormous wealth of evidence and careful, scholarly argumentation he offers for each of his claims.
Where does all this leave the central idea that underlies the whole Zionist project -- that Jews everywhere have not only a duty but a right to return to
"their original homeland," Palestine?  I can't think of a more fundamental critique of Zionism and therefore of Israel too than the one found in Sand's
book.  No serious reader who is interested in Zionism or Israel -- whatever their personal views -- can avoid being shaken up "big-time" by Sand's
impressive redrawing of the major religious and "racial" boundaries that are usually taken for granted in most discussion of these subjects.
Shlomo Sand was born in Linz, Austria in 1946, to Jewish-Polish Communist survivors of the Holocaust.  He is professor of history at Tel Aviv University
and author of The Invention of the Jewish People (Verso, 2009). 
Bertell Ollman is professor of politics at New York University and author, most recently, of Dance of the Dialectic: Steps in Marx's Method.  This lecture by Sand was
delivered at the Marxist Theory Colloquium at New York University on 16 October 2009.

Philip Weiss review of Sand's talk has the following conclusion:
Sand challenged every Jew in the room to reimagine the future. "Most of the Jews [in the world today] are a product of conversion... I see the shame. And it is a
shame. If you are born in the 20th century, and we were all born in the 20th century- to base your identity on biology."
I thought as always of the American Jewish project: to end the Israel lobby and to end the myth of Jewish outsiderness. Sand had addressed this too. "The
destiny of Israel. And the destiny of the Middle East depnds a lot on you, Americans." This was a subject for its own lecture. But it was necessary for the
Americans now to "save us from ourselves. I'm not joking about this."
Do you fear for your life? someone asked.
"I'm worried in New York. Not in Tel Aviv. It's not a joke. Really, I'm not joking."

The NYU paper (Washington Square News, Oct. 19, 2009) had the following to say of Prof. Sand's talk:
The book has stirred much controversy since its release. In it, Sand said he believes that the Romans did not expel the Jews from Palestine and that today's
Palestinians are actually partial descendants of Jews. Sand believes the rest of the Middle Eastern and European Jewish population was converted to Judaism,
which directly challenges the Zionist idea that Palestine is the rightful homeland of all Jewish people.
During his lecture, Sand said the Jewish exodus in the first and second centuries did not happen."The Romans didn't exile the Jewish - not in 70, not in
135," Sand said.
At one point during his presentation, Sand discussed the origins of hummus, proclaiming, "It's not really Jewish. We steal it from Palestine like we stole
the land."
The views Sand expressed in his book and during the lecture provoked anger among some audience members.Charles Schaeffer, a first-year Steinhardt graduate
student, believes Sand is a self-hating Jew."You can't be anti-Zionist without being anti-Semitic," Schaeffer said about Sand. "At the end of the day, I would
say he's anti-Semitic."
To refute Sand's arguments, Schaeffer brought paper printouts with information claiming there is indeed a genetic component to being Jewish, as well as a book
by Sander Gilman titled "Jewish Self-Hatred."However, when Schaeffer asked Sand if he thought his ideas were rooted in anti-Semitism and Jewish self-hatred,
Sand denied the relation.
"It's a shame for a Jew that was born in the 20th century to base his identity on biology," Sand said. Some attendees found the lecture enlightening.
"It's really relevant today obviously for debating the existence of an Israeli state vs. a Palestinian state," CAS sophomore Jordan Mylet said. "The idea that
there's really not much separation between them is really remarkable."

Book Calls Jewish People an 'Invention'
by PATRICIA COHEN November 23, 2009, NY Times



Despite the fragmented and incomplete historical record, experts pretty much agree that some popular beliefs about Jewish history simply don't hold up: there
was no sudden expulsion of all Jews from Jerusalem in A.D. 70, for instance. What's more, modern Jews owe their ancestry as much to converts from the first
millennium and early Middle Ages as to the Jews of antiquity......
The Israeli Declaration of Independence states: "After being forcibly exiled from their Land, the People kept faith with it throughout their Dispersion and
never ceased to pray and hope for their return to it." The idea of unjust exile and rightful return undergirds both the Jews' and the Palestinians' conviction
that each is entitled to the land...................


The 'ethnic cleansing' of Palestine, Le Monde Diplomatique
Are the Jews an invented people?
by Eric Rouleau

How the Jewish people were invented, from the Bible to Zionism is the provocative title of the most recent book to be published in Israel by Shlomo
  Sand, a professor at Tel Aviv University (forthcoming in French with Fayard). Sand, one of the "new" historians, attacks what he calls the myth that the Jews
  are the descendants of the Hebrews, exiled from the kingdom of Judaea. He has attempted to show that the Jews are neither a race nor a nation, but ancient
  pagans - in the main Berbers from North Africa, Arabs from the south of Arabia, and Turks from the Khazar empire - who converted to Judaism between the fourth
  and eighth centuries CE. According to Sand, the Palestinians are probably descended from Hebrews who embraced Islam or Christianity.
  Sand doesn't challenge Israel's right to exist or the notion of its sovereignty, but he thinks that sovereignty is undermined by its exclusively ethnic base,
  which stems from the racism of Zionist ideologues. In other words, Israel shouldn't be a Jewish state, but a democratic secular one which belongs to all
  its citizens.
  Quoted in Haaretz on 21 March 2008, Sand was pessimistic about how his work would be received in Israel: "There was a time when anyone who claimed that the
  Jews had a pagan ancestry was accused on the spot of being an anti-semite. Today, anyone who dares suggest that the Jews have never been and still are not
  a people or a nation is immediately denounced as an enemy of the state of Israel."
  Sand may be mistaken. A no less challenging work which presents the Torah as in large part a collection of myths and legends, has been well received by the
  Israeli media and in secular circles.In their book The Bible Unearthed, two eminent Israeli archaeologists, Israel Finkelstein and Neil Asher Silberman,
  present an argument based on excavations and ancient documents which calls into question long-cherished convictions.
An invention called 'the Jewish people'
by Tom Segev (Ha'aretz)

Israel's Declaration of Independence states that the Jewish people arose in the Land of Israel and was exiled from its homeland. Every Israeli schoolchild is
  taught that this happened during the period of Roman rule, in 70 CE. The nation remained loyal to its land, to which it began to return after two millennia of
  exile. Wrong, says the historian Shlomo Zand, in one of the most fascinating and challenging books published here in a long time. There never was a Jewish
  people, only a Jewish religion, and the exile also never happened - hence there was no return. Zand rejects most of the stories of national-identity formation
  in the Bible, including the exodus from Egypt and, most satisfactorily, the horrors of the conquest under Joshua. It's all fiction and myth that served as
  an excuse for the establishment of the State of Israel, he asserts.
  According to Zand, the Romans did not generally exile whole nations, and most of the Jews were permitted to remain in the country. The number of those exiled was at most tens of thousands. When the country was conquered by the Arabs, many of the Jews converted to Islam and were assimilated among the conquerors. It follows that the progenitors of the Palestinian Arabs were Jews. Zand did not invent this thesis; 30 years before the Declaration of Independence, it was espoused by David Ben-Gurion, Yitzhak Ben-Zvi and others.
  If the majority of the Jews were not exiled, how is it that so many of them reached almost every country on earth? Zand says they emigrated of their own
  volition or, if they were among those exiled to Babylon, remained there because they chose to. Contrary to conventional belief, the Jewish religion tried to
  induce members of other faiths to become Jews, which explains how there came to be millions of Jews in the world. As the Book of Esther, for example, notes,"And many of the people of the land became Jews; for the fear of the Jews fell upon them."
  Zand quotes from many existing studies, some of which were written in Israel but shunted out of the central discourse. He also describes at length the Jewish
  kingdom of Himyar in the southern Arabian Peninsula and the Jewish Berbers in North Africa. The community of Jews in Spain sprang from Arabs who became Jews and arrived with the forces that captured Spain from the Christians, and from European-born individuals who had also become Jews.
  The first Jews of Ashkenaz (Germany) did not come from the Land of Israel and did not reach Eastern Europe from Germany, but became Jews in the Khazar Kingdom in the Caucasus. Zand explains the origins of Yiddish culture: it was not a Jewish import from Germany, but the result of the connection between the
  offspring of the Kuzari and Germans who traveled to the East, some of them as merchants.
  We find, then, that the members of a variety of peoples and races, blond and black, brown and yellow, became Jews in large numbers. According to Zand, the Zionist need to devise for them a shared ethnicity and historical continuity produced a long series of inventions and fictions, along with an invocation of
 racist theses. Some were concocted in the minds of those who conceived the Zionist movement, while others were offered as the findings of genetic studies
 conducted in Israel.
  Prof. Zand teaches at Tel Aviv University. His book, "When and How Was the Jewish People Invented?" (published by Resling in Hebrew), is intended to
  promote the idea that Israel should be a "state of all its citizens" - Jews, Arabs and others - in contrast to its declared identity as a "Jewish and
  democratic" state. Personal stories, a prolonged theoretical discussion and abundant sarcastic quips do not help the book, but its historical chapters are
  well-written and cite numerous facts and insights that many Israelis will be astonished to read for the first time.

  [The book was in the best-seller list in Israel for 19 weeks and quickly went to 3 editions when published in French. In France it received the "Aujourd'hui  Award", a journalists' award for top non-fiction political or historical work. In October 2009 it was published in English by Verso.]


Boycott Ariel College
  by Shlomo Sand
  [He opposes boycotts of Israeli colleges on principle but not this one. Since 1982, Sand has taught at Tel Aviv University
as well as at the University of California, Berkeley and the Ecole des hautes études en sciences sociales in Paris. It remains
to be seen whether he will be invited to teach again at any American or Canadian university...not if the Israel Lobby has anything to do with it.]

  .......it is necessary to stress that the government of Israel's upgrading of the College of Judea and Samaria in Ariel into a university might encourage a
  spread of the boycott to other European countries. Ariel's university must be considered an illegal outpost, because it is located in occupied territory that
  has not been annexed to Israel. The people who live in the area, who are not Jewish, have no civil rights and no elementary political rights, and they have
  not been asked whether they want a Jewish college in their environs.
  The fact that an Israeli university like Bar-Ilan is giving sponsorship to this college is a mark of shame on the Israeli academic world. Any other cooperation,
  open or sub rosa, by Israel's universities with this college is illegitimate, and sabotages the status of Israeli academia in the world.

from Francis Boyle :
Date: 3 December 2009
Subject: Learning to look for the truth from George Orwell.

The "Blowhard Zone"
by Francis Boyle

On September 13, I got a call from FOX News asking me to go on the O'Reilly Factor program that night, two days after the tragic events of September 11, to debate O'Reilly on War v. Peace. It is pretty clear where I stood and where he stood. I had been on this program before. I knew what I was getting in to. But I felt it would be important for one lawyer to get up there in front of a national audience and argue against a war and for the application of domestic and international law enforcement, international procedures, and constitutional protections, which I did.

Unfortunately, O'Reilly has the highest ranked TV news program in the country. I thought someone should be on there on September 13. I think most people agree that I beat O'Reilly. By the end of the show he was agreeing with me. But the next night he was saying that we should bomb five different Arab countries and kill all their people. But let me review for you briefly some of the international law arguments that I have been making almost full time since September 13. They are set forth in the introduction in my new book, The Criminality of Nuclear Deterrence.

Terrorism v. War

First, right after September 11 President Bush called these attacks an act of terrorism, which they were under the United States domestic law definition at that time. However, there is no generally accepted definition of an act of terrorism under international law, for reasons I explain in my book. Soon thereafter however and apparently after consultations with Secretary of State Powell, he proceeded to call these an act of war, ratcheting up the rhetoric and the legal and constitutional issues at stake here. They were not an act of war as traditionally defined. An act of war is a military attack by one state against another state. There is so far no evidence produced that the state of Afghanistan, at the time, either attacked the United States or authorized or approved such an attack. Indeed, just recently FBI Director Mueller and the deputy director of the CIA publicly admitted that they have found no evidence in Afghanistan linked to the September 11 attacks. If you believe the government's account of what happened, which I think is highly questionable, 15 of these 19 people alleged to have committed these attacks were from Saudi Arabia and yet we went to war against Afghanistan. It does not really add up in my opinion.

But in any event this was not an act of war. Clearly these were acts of terrorism as defined by United States domestic law at the time, but not an act of war. Normally terrorism is dealt with as a matter of international and domestic law enforcement. Indeed there was a treaty directly on point at that time, the Montreal Sabotage Convention to which both the United States and Afghanistan were parties. It has an entire regime to deal with all issues in dispute here, including access to the International Court of Justice to resolve international disputes arising under the Treaty such as the extradition of Bin Laden. The Bush administration completely ignored this treaty, jettisoned it, set it aside, never even mentioned it. They paid no attention to this treaty or any of the other 12 international treaties dealing with acts of terrorism that could have been applied to handle this manner in a peaceful, lawful way.

War of Aggression Against Afghanistan

Bush, Jr. instead went to the United National Security Council to get a resolution authorizing the use of military force against Afghanistan and Al Qaeda. He failed. You have to remember that. This war has never been authorized by the United Nations Security Council. If you read the two resolutions that he got, it is very clear that what Bush, Jr. tried to do was to get the exact same type of language that Bush, Sr. got from the U.N. Security Council in the late fall of 1990 to authorize a war against Iraq to produce its expulsion from Kuwait. It is very clear if you read these resolutions, Bush, Jr. tried to get the exact same language twice and they failed. Indeed the first Security (OOTC:FRCT)  Council resolution refused to call what happened on September 11 an "armed attack" - that is by one state against another state. Rather they called it "terrorist attacks." But the critical point here is that this war has never been approved by the U.N. Security Council so technically it is illegal under international law. It constitutes an act and a war of aggression by the United States against Afghanistan.

No Declaration of War

Now in addition Bush, Jr. then went to Congress to get authorization to go to war. It appears that Bush, Jr. tried to get a formal declaration of war along the lines of December 8, 1941 after the Day of Infamy like FDR got on Pearl Harbor. Bush then began to use the rhetoric of Pearl Harbor. If he had gotten this declaration of war Bush and his lawyers knew full well he would have been a Constitutional Dictator. And I refer you here to the book by my late friend Professor Miller of George Washington University Law School, Presidential Power that with a formal declaration of war the president becomes a Constitutional Dictator. He failed to get a declaration of war. Despite all the rhetoric we have heard by the Bush, Jr. administration Congress never declared war against Afghanistan or against anyone. There is technically no state of war today against anyone as a matter of constitutional law as formally declared.

Bush, Sr. v. Bush, Jr.

Now what Bush, Jr. did get was a War Powers Resolution authorization. Very similar to what Bush, Sr. got. Again the game plan was the same here. Follow the path already pioneered by Bush, Sr. in his war against Iraq. So he did get from Congress a War Powers Resolution authorization. This is what law professors call an imperfect declaration of war. It does not have the constitutional significance of a formal declaration of war. It authorizes the use of military force in specified, limited circumstances.

That is what Bush, Sr. got in 1991. It was to carry out the Security Council resolution that he had gotten a month and one-half before to expel Iraq from Kuwait. But that is all the authority he had - either from the Security Council or from Congress. And that is what he did. I am not here to approve of what Bush, Sr. did. I do not and I did not at the time. But just to compare Bush, Jr. with Bush, Sr. So Bush, Jr. got a War Powers Resolution, which is not a declaration of war.

Indeed, Senator Byrd, the Dean of the Senate, clearly said this is only a War Powers authorization and we will give authority to the president to use military force subject to the requirements of the War Powers Resolution, which means they must inform us, there is Congressional oversight, in theory, (I do not think they are doing much of it), controlled funding, and ultimately we decide, not the Executive branch of the government - we are the ones who gave the authorization to use force.

Again very similar to what Bush, Sr. got except the Bush, Jr. War Powers Resolution is far more dangerous because it basically gives him a blank check to use military force against any state that he says was somehow involved in the attack on September 11. And as you know that list has now gone up to 60 states. So it is quite dangerous, which led me to say in interviews I gave at the time this is worse that the Tonkin Gulf Resolution. Better from our perspective than a formal Declaration of War, but worse constitutionally and politically than the Tonkin Gulf resolution. But still subject to the control of Congress and the terms of the War Powers Resolution. Indeed you might be able to use that War Powers Resolution and the authorization in litigation that might come up. Keep that in mind.

No War Against Iraq!

For example, on Iraq. Right now they cannot use that War Powers Resolution to justify a war against Iraq. There is no evidence that Iraq was involved in the events on September 11. So they are fishing around for some other justification to go to war with Iraq. They have come up now with this doctrine of preemptive attack. Quite interesting that argument, doctrine was rejected by the Nuremberg Tribunal when the lawyers for the Nazi defendants made it at Nuremberg. They rejected any doctrine of preemptive attack.

Nazi Self-Defense

Then what happened after failing to get any formal authorization from the Security Council, the U.S. Ambassador Negroponte - who has the blood of about 35, 000 people in Nicaragua on his hands when he was U.S. Ambassador down in Honduras - sent a letter to the Security Council asserting Article 51 of the U.N. Charter to justify the war against Afghanistan. And basically saying that we reserve the right to use force in self-defense against any state we say is somehow involved in the events of September 11. Well, the San Francisco Chronicle interviewed me on that and asked what is the precedent for this? I said that the precedent again goes back to the Nuremberg Judgment of 1946 when the lawyers for the Nazi defendants argued that we, the Nazi government had a right to go to war in self-defense as we saw it, and no one could tell us any differently. Of course that preposterous argument was rejected by Nuremberg. It is very distressing to see some of the highest level of officials of our country making legal arguments that were rejected by the Nuremberg Tribunal.

Kangaroo Courts

Now let me say a few words about the so-called military commissions. I have a little handout out there called "Kangaroo Courts." It would take me a whole law review article to go through all the problems with military commissions. I have been interviewed quite extensively. I have some comments on it in my book. Professor Jordan Paust, a friend and colleague of mine at the University of Houston, just published an article in the Michigan Journal of International Law which I would encourage you to read. It goes through the major problems. But basically there are two treaties on point here that are being violated at a minimum.

First, the Third Geneva Convention of 1949. I will not go through all of the arguments here but it is clear that just about everyone down in Guantanamo (not counting the guys who were picked up in Bosnia and basically kidnapped) but all those apprehended over in Afghanistan and Pakistan would qualify as prisoners of war within the meaning of the Third Geneva Convention of 1949, and therefore have all the rights of prisoners of war within the meaning of that convention. Right now however, as you know, all those rights are being denied. This is a serious war crime. And unfortunately President Bush, Jr. himself has incriminated himself under the Third Geneva Convention by signing the order setting up these military commissions. Not only has he incriminated himself under the Third Geneva Convention, but he has incriminated himself under the U.S. War Crimes Act of 1996 or so, signed into law by President Clinton and making it a serious felony for any United States citizen either to violate or order the violation of the Four Geneva Conventions of 1949.

The Federalist Society Cabal

I am not personally criticizing President Bush. He is not a lawyer. He was terribly advised, criminally mis-advised, by the cabal of Federalist Society lawyers that the Bush administration has assembled at the White House and the Department of Injustice under Ashcroft. President Bush, Jr., by signing this order, has opened himself up to prosecution anywhere in the world for violating the Third Geneva Convention, and certainly if there is evidence to believe that any of these individuals have been tortured, which is grave breach, let alone at the end of the day executed. So this is a very serious matter.

I did not vote for President Bush, Jr. But I certainly think it is a tragedy that these Federalist Society lawyers got the President of the United States of America, who is not a lawyer, to sign the order that would incriminate him under the Geneva Conventions and United States Domestic Criminal Law. This is what happened.

Jeopardizing U.S. Armed Forces

Moreover, by us stating we will not apply the Third Geneva Convention to these people we opened up United States armed forces to be denied protection under the Third Geneva Convention. And as you know, we now have U.S. armed forces in operation in Afghanistan, Georgia, the Philippines, in Yemen and perhaps in Iraq. Basically Bush position will be jeopardizing their ability to claim prisoner of war status. All that has to happen is our adversaries say they are unlawful combatants and we will not give you prisoner of war status. The Third Geneva Convention is one of the few protections U.S. armed forces have when they go into battle. Bush, Jr. and his Federalist Society lawyers just pulled the rug out from under them.

U.S. Police State

In addition the International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights clearly applies down in Guantanamo. It applies any time individuals are under the jurisdiction of the United States of America. Guantanamo is a colonial enclave, I will not go through its status any further. But clearly those individuals are subject to our jurisdiction and have the rights set forth therein - which are currently being denied.

If and when many of these Bush, Ashcroft, Gonzalez police state practices make their way to the U.S. Supreme Court, we have to consider that a five to four majority of the Supreme Court gave the presidency to Bush, Jr. What is going to stop that same five to four majority from giving Bush, Jr. a police state? The only thing that is going to stop it is the people in this room.

Mr. Francis A. Boyle is a Professor in International Law.

from Rhonda Hammer :
Date: 24 November 2009
Subject: The California Student/Faculty Strike.

Hi Francis
Some of the best information on the Strike is included in the following blog :  http://changinguniversities.blogspot.com/.

Also, see VIDEO FOOTAGE on UC STRIKE at link below :

And here is one of the best pieces that was written by the President of the Lecturers Union, as I'm sure you heard the UC system is laying off 100's of thousand of its lecturers (me included!).  Here is a piece from blog and some excellent links, especially the democracy now piece.

A Regents Meeting Recap

Monday, November 23, 2009
I want to congratulate all the unions, workers, and students pulling off a great protest under difficult conditions. We had over 2,000 protesters at UCLA, and there were some great actions. Here are a few highlights:

Hundreds of people stopped traffic at one of the main intersections in L.A. and then marched up through the campus.

Over a thousand people participated in a boisterous rally outside the regents meeting (the rally got international coverage). Even though the police tasered and hit several students and workers, we kept coming back for more.

A very surreal moment happened during the public comments period. After extending their bathroom break for an additional thirty minutes, the regents cut off public comments, while several people were still waiting to speak. This is after months of planning and negotiating, and several hours of waiting patiently. When our group at the meeting started to yell, "Let them Speak," not only did the regents declare their own meeting an "unlawful assembly," but they brought up police with guns into their own meeting to arrest the people who wanted to speak.

Another surreal moment occurred earlier on when several of us had to listen to the regents congratulate each other about how great they are and what a great historic day this was because they were agreeing to fund a new hospital project. The self-praising lasted several minutes, but when a mother of two students was later addressing the regents, not only were they not paying attention to her, but they cut her off, while she was delivering a heartbreaking story.

After the vote on the fee increases, the students surrounded the building and locked arms refusing to let the regents leave the building. A tense standoff lasted for several hours, and hundreds of students and workers joined the human chain. On the other side of the building, people were sitting and lying on the ground to prevent anyone from driving out of the building. When they finally brought Yudof out, they had to use tasers in order to clear a way. What message does this send, when you have to use weapons on your own students?

While most of the police did a good job, there were a couple who acted badly, and they should be investigated and disciplined. We will consider asking for a formal investigation into the conduct of the police. The main problem is that some of them took a very hostile stance by sticking guns in students' and workers' faces without any provocation. There are videos on the web showing how the police tasered and beat several students, and this information will not be ignored.

Another group of students occupied a building for a day, and then left peacefully, and hundreds of students participated in a flash mob by pretending to die outside of the regents meeting (this event made for some powerful photos).

We also had an all night camp out and dance party on Wed. night, which highlighted the building of a growing movement.

I did several radio and television interviews, and the press were very surprised to learn how the UC treats its workers. I think this was a historic event for our coalition, but this is not the end: it is only the beginning.

Here are some of the interviews:
Democracy Now!


Posted by Bob Samuels at 4:04 AM 1 comments. Others on web are also excellent and here is another useful blog http://savingucla.ning.com/

Also, here is a great link to videos:


from Fred Lonidier :
Date: 3 December 2009
Subject: So that's where all our money goes!

Over the past decade, the numbers of Administrators in the UC almost doubled, while the number of faculty increased by 25%. The sharpest growth took place among Executives and Senior Managers: 114%. Because Administrators command high salaries and benefits, any increase in their number higher than the expected growth rate for the University results in high costs: rough estimates of the costs of carrying extra administrators at UC range around $800M. While costs spent for administrators have risen sharply, UC faculty salaries have continued to slide in real dollars, with the result that average UC faculty salaries now lag the Comparison 8 Institutions by 14%. Cutting back on the bloated size and salaries of the UC administrative group would permit the University to give the faculty a 4% COLA, which would begin to narrow the gap between UC and comparable institutions. UCLA and UCB faculty perform at the highest levels of teaching, research, and service and make these campuses the highest ranked public universities in the nation. That unique status is imperiled, however, by the state and the University’s continued failure to keep faculty salaries competitive. The Faculty Association at UCLA calls for UC to re-adjust priorities and take steps to bring UC faculty salaries in 2008-09 up to the level of its comparison institutions by formulating and following the simplest and fairest of salary plans: offer an annual COLA of 4% to all faculty.

For some of the best information on the The University of California Strike please visit the blog of Bob Samuels,
President of American Federation of Teachers in California  : 


Hello everyone,
Here is a more elaborate analysis by Akos Rona-Tas (Sociology, UCSD) of the swelling ranks of senior managers (Managers & Senior Professionals); this group doesn't include MSOs (levels 1-3) but it does include Assoc. Directors, Asst. Directors, financial management, administrative, IT, & budget analysts, etc. The full list of positions and the link to the pay-scale are below the charts.

Below is a report on the economic structure and political events which have provoked The University of California strike this year :

Over the past decade, the numbers of Administrators in the UC almost doubled, while the number of faculty increased by 25%. The sharpest growth took place among Executives and Senior Managers: 114%. Because Administrators command high salaries and benefits, any increase in their number higher than the expected growth rate for the University results in high costs: rough estimates of the costs of carrying extra administrators at UC range around $800M. While costs spent for administrators have risen sharply, UC faculty salaries have continued to slide in real dollars, with the result that average UC faculty salaries now lag the Comparison 8 Institutions by 14%. Cutting back on the bloated size and salaries of the UC administrative group would permit the University to give the faculty a 4% COLA, which would begin to narrow the gap between UC and comparable institutions. UCLA and UCB faculty perform at the highest levels of teaching, research, and service and make these campuses the highest ranked public universities in the nation. That unique status is imperiled, however, by the state and the University’s continued failure to keep faculty salaries competitive. The Faculty Association at UCLA calls for UC to re-adjust priorities and take steps to bring UC faculty salaries in 2008-09 up to the level of its comparison institutions by formulating and following the simplest and fairest of salary plans: offer an annual COLA of 4% to all faculty.

For some of the best information on the The University of California Strike please visit the blog of Bob Samuels,
President of American Federation of Teachers in California  : 

The numbers of the senior administration that UCOP reports include two
groups: the Senior Management Group (SMG) and the Management and Senior
Professional (MSP) group.  I have just received an email from UCOP that
says that the SMG group has been fluctuating between 275 and 305. So, it
seems that most of the growth is due to the MSP group. MSPs are no small
fry (most MSOs are not MSPs but Professional and Support Staff or PSSs).
MSPs have a pay-scale that stretches from 100K to 248K (207K if you
exclude Medical Centers), so my guess is that the average MSP pay is
probably above the average pay of the ladder rank faculty (albeit keep
in mind that they are paid on an 11 month schedule).

This MSP group grew faster not just than ladder rank faculty, but faster
than most other categories.  In 1994, systemwide the ratio of
researchers to this group used to be 2 to 1 now it is 3 to 2. The
figures are 10 to 1 vs. 5 to 1 if we take the entire academic staff and
34 to 1 vs 16 to 1 if we take all FTEs.
It is also possible that many of the new MSP positions have been
financed by external funds. The data are there at UCOP but not readily

Yet, according to the last available UC Budget in 2007-08 10% of our
Core funds was spent on "institutional support" (which includes 5 areas:
Executive Management (mostly SMGs), Fiscal Operations, General
Administrative Services, Logistical Services and Community Relations)
compared to 9% on academic support and 5% on student services. The Core
funds expenditures were only 60% of all the money spent on institutional
support. Institutional support might have declined as a percentage of
total expenditure, but as far as I can see, it probably increased as a
percent of our Core fund (because our Core fund is a much smaller
percentage of our total expenditure now). Between 2004-05 and 2006-07
money spent on it grew by 31%.

Source: UCOP
Data: http://www.ucop.edu/ucophome/uwnews/stat/
Definitions: http://hrop.ucop.edu/index.php/staffing/article/senior-management-group/   and
List of Managers & Senior Professionals:

from Information Clearing House :
Date: 25 November 2009
Subject: How our news is sanatized.

How is our news is sanatized to prevent the destruction and suffering created by the U.S. occupation of Iraq from entering our reality?

Iraq: The Hidden Story shows the footage used by TV news broadcasts, and compares it with the devastatingly powerful uncensored footage of the aftermath of the carnage that is becoming a part of the fabric of life in Iraq.

Images of Iraq dominate our TV news bulletins every night but in this film, Channel 4 news presenter Jon Snow, questions whether these reports are sugar-coating the bloody reality of war under the US-led occupation

Killing Without Conscience : Iraq - The Hidden War
(05/29/06 - Run Time 49 Minutes)
Prod/ Dir: Christian Trumble; Exec Prod: Stephen Phelps; Prod Co: Zenith Entertainment Ltd - 2006
- Warning -
This video contains images that should only be viewed by a mature audience

from Tatiana Tournier :
Date: 30 November 2009
Subject: Les cauchermars d'Irak.

Hello Professor,
I hope you're ok.
I just wanted to say hello, and give you the link of a really interesting documentary I saw yesterday on the Swiss TV.
It's "Cauchemars d'Irak" from Steven Artels.  It talks about post-traumatic syndroms and how the GI who went there felt they had been tricked (parallel with the VN war!!!!)

GI's cauchemars d'Irak
Un reportage de Steven Artels
«Qu’il revienne vivant !», c’est la prière que font toutes les familles des GI’s, mobilisés en Irak. Mais une fois la joie des retrouvailles passées, le retour est souvent douloureux. Cauchemars, dépression, voire suicide, les fantômes de l’Irak poursuivent les soldats et leurs familles. Un soldat sur six souffre de troubles psychologiques graves après son retour. Récits de traumatismes et de désillusions.

Take care Professor, and Best wishes,