18 Janvier 2003
Dear Colleagues and Friends,
We have repaired our email system -for at least the present moment- and we take this opportunity to send our reflections on what many believe to be the imminent war in the Middle East.
(Please see below the important article on Iraq and the Bush administration sent to us by our research associate Michael Parenti, at Berkeley.)
Fragments from A Reflection on War
by Francis Feeley
Classic military science teaches
that there are essentially four types of
war: a) wars of national independence, b) imperialist wars of expansion, c)
wars of national self-defense, and d) civil wars between social classes.
In American history, the War of Independence
(1776-83) represents the first
type. The subsequent 19th-century conquest of Indian lands, the Mexican
War, the U.S. conquest of Cuba and the Philippines are illustrations the
second type of war. An example of the third type of war in U.S. history is
World War II (AKA "the Good War"), which is represented as a war against
The fourth type of war, Civil War,
is problematic in American history: Some
historians argue that beginning in 1860 a new industrial capitalist class,
in alliance with western farmers, gained political power, via the New
Republican Party, in Washington, D.C. and went to war against the
reactionary, slave-owning agrarian class in the southern states, which had
controlled, through the Democratic Party, the three branches of government
in Washington for the past decades. The ascendancy of this new political
party, with its specific social class interest was incompatible with
southern Democratic interests, and the definitive defeat of southern
aristocratic control of the state quickly released the forces of rapid
industrial expansion in late 19th-century America.
Other historians have argued that
the so-called Civil War was more
accurately a "War of Secession," or a "War between the States," fought
between regional factions for national self-defense, i.e. to preserve the
union of the United States of America against regional separatism. Either
way, no less than 2% of the total U.S. population ended up dead before this
war was over.
Another observation from classic
military science is that open conflict is
preceded by a period of preparation that includes psychological warfare.
Wars, in other words, usually begin long before the actual confrontation
Today, modern science permits virtual
wars to be fought. The author George
Orwell suggested in his book 1984, such "wars" are perpetuated to
strengthen popular allegiance to the state. A post-Orwellian strategy used
by the United States military is to hide the evidence of criminal
activities in the "killing fields" during war by preventing reporters and
cameraman from visiting sites until the destruction and the mass burial of
the evidence has been achieved. This "sanitized" version of war is more
like a "Covert Action," where U.S. agents are sent to the hospitals and
morgues of suppress evidence, and burial brigades spend hours, if not days,
burning and hiding dead bodies. Thus it would seem that modern military
science teaches a pre-war strategy of psychological terror and a post-war
tactic of hiding the evidence of destruction, in order to control descent.
("What's all the fuss about, anyway?)
For more on new techniques employed
by the state to hide the costs of war
from public view, please see the "Reporters without Borders" trilingual
(French/English/Spanish) web site:
The ease with which the American
ruling class manipulates the feelings and
perceptions of the American public is cause for alarm in distant places.
Today's friends could quickly appear on tomorrow's "enemy list" in a world
where capitalist competition reigns and where real communities have been
subverted and replaced by an imaginary sense of community that is promoted
and paid for by commercial interests. Many years ago, William Appleman
Williams observed that what we as a nation share in common has been reduced
to a desire to consume and a fear of communism.
The latter notion of an "indispensable
enemy" is not new, but Lewis Carroll
reminds us that any conflict, even one which evokes the most bitter
feelings, can be transcended by the perception of a GREATER DANGER: "just
then flew down a monstrous crow, as black as a tar barrel, which frightened
both the heroes so they quite forgot their quarrel."
Professor/Director of research