Bulletin N° 85



10 July 2003
Grenoble, France

Dear Colleagues and Friends,

Our research center continues to receive mail from a variety of sources,
many expressing rather optimistic views of the future. Below please find
(A.) a message from our research associate in Paris, Professor
Jeanne-Henriette Louis inviting us to correspond with José Bové, who is now
serving a 10-month prison term for destroying a few hundred stalks of
genetically mondified corn during an organized protest movement in southern
France. The second item below (B.) is our invitation to José Bové to join
us in Grenoble next year for a panal discussion with Michael Moore and Jim
Hightower on the positive and negative influences of the United States in
Europe and beyond. Finally item (C.) below is a short essay by Norman
Mailer on the character of the George W. Bush Administration, which was
forwarded to us by our research associate Professor James Stevenson, in
Georgia, USA.

We wish you a refreshing summer, and a resourceful entry in the fall.


Francis McCollum Feeley
Professor of American Studies/
Director of Research

 From Professor Jeanne-Henriette Louis:
24 June 2003

<serge.rivet2@w...> a écrit : José

José Bové
N° d'écrou 22377 Y
Bloc A 07
34753 Villeneuve-les-Maguelone

Ecrivons à José Bové pour le soutenir et éviter qu'il craque :

L'été dernier, les milliers de lettres qui ont franchi les grilles de
la prison lui ont montré combien le combat qu'il mène au sein de la
Confédération paysanne rencontre un large support.
Ecrivons lui à nouveau, chaque lettre, chaque dessin, chaque carte
postale seront autant de signes que la lutte continue et qu'elle

Pour en savoir plus :

Sébastien Godinot

2 B rue Jules Ferry 93100 Montreuil France
Tél direct : +33 (0)1 48 51 18 92

From Professor Francis Feeley:
7 July 2003

Dear José Bové,

I am now rereading the American translation of Marc Bloc's book, "Etrange
Défaite". The massive denial of the catastrophe in 1940 seems in many ways
similar to the denial we see around us today, with the invasion of
totalitarianism at the door.

I am writing you to try once again to lure you to Grenoble, to speak with
students and other citizens about the impact of the United States on Europe.

I came to France after receiving my Ph.D. in history at the University of
Wisconsin at Madison, in 1976, and today I teach American Studies at the
University of Grenoble. I am also the director of a small research center
here at the University.

Last May, Howard Zinn, an old friend of mine from the 1970s, visited
Grenoble with his wife, Roz, and participated in a two-day "Town Meeting"
on American foreign policy since the election of George W. Bush. We had a
total two-day attendance of more than 2,000 people, despite it being an
exam period on campus.

In January 2002, you were unable to come to our first International
Conference, due to previous commitments with your publisher. And now, I
would like to extend to you another invitation with more flexibility, so
you might be able to choose a date that would allow you to come to the
University of Grenoble and speak with us about the influence of the United
States on Europe today.

I  work closely with the radical monthly journal, Le Monde Diplomatique,
and supporters of Le Monde Diplomatique in Grenoble are organizing the
celebration of its 50th anniversary next year. As you know, these
festivities and conferences go on and on. . . , which is to say that you
are invited to participate in Grenoble anytime you choose between January
and May 2004, and, just in case you cannot come to Grenoble during those
months, my research center is again organizing an International Conference
in early December 2004, to which I would like to invite you. These, then,
are the time frames from which we invite you to choose a convenient date to
visit Grenoble.

I have extended the same invitations to Michael Moore, in Michigan, and Jim
Hightower, in Texas. With the help of interpreters, the three of you would
be invited to discuss a variety of subjects dealing with the role of the
United States in the world today and the need for international solidarity
with critics inside and outside America.

It would be wonderful if you could attend one of the international
conferences that we are orgnaizing in 2004. An interest in international
politics is definitely growing in Grenoble, and beyond. French citizens
would gain immeasurably not only from the content of what you said at the
Grenoble conference, but from your unique international experiences and
your ability to interact with critical American culture.

If you agreed to come next year, we would organize an audience of several
thousand to attend. It would be a very positive experience for everyone,
and given the international policies of the US government, this event in
Grenoble, would attract very wide attention, from students in Italy, Spain,
Switzerland, Germany, and America, not to mention the rest of France.

As I've said already, we have been successful in organizing big events,
with the help of "Friends of Le monde diplomatique", "ATTAC," and other
well-known associations in France.

Grenoble has a solid left-wing tradition, not unlike Berkeley, California.
Last December I organized at practically the last minute a carpool with 20
students to drive to Geneva, Switzerland to listen to Noam Chomsky speak
about the "US Media." There were about 3000 students attending. And the
International Colloquium in January 2002, which you were unable to attend,
drew more than 1,200 European and American students who came to listen to
Edward Herman, Michael Parenti, Michael Albert, Susan George, Douglas Dowd,
Bertell Ollman, Richard DuBoff, and about 12 other radical Americans and
Europeans. (This was a more academic affair, with formal presentations of
papers which were translated and published in France. )

What do you think? Will you be able to come to Grenoble in 2004 and
participate in a large International Conference with Michael Moore and Jim
Hightower? Our research center, which is pretty small, would pay for
travel, hotel, and meals. If you can come, it would make a big impression
on European attitudes toward Americans. Please do try to come and join us.

In solidarity,

Francis McCollum Feeley
Professor of American Studies
Director of Research

From Professor James Stevenson:
Date: Tue, 08 Jul 2003 11:59:14 -0400
Copyright © 1963-2003 NYREV, Inc.
Volume 50, Number 11 · July 17, 2003

The White Man Unburdened
By Norman Mailer

Exeunt: lightning and thunder, shock and awe. Dust, ash, fog, fire, smoke,
sand, blood, and a good deal of waste now move to the wings. The stage,
however, remains occupied. The question posed at curtain-rise has not been
answered. Why did we go to war? If no real weapons of mass destruction are
found, the question will keen in pitch.
Or, if some weapons are uncovered in Iraq, it is likely that even more have
been moved to new hiding places beyond the Iraqi border. Should horrific
events take place, we can count on a predictable response: "Good, honest,
innocent Americans died today because of evil al-Qaeda terrorists." Yes, we
will hear the President's voice before he even utters such words. (For
those of us who are not happy with George W. Bush, we may as well recognize
that living with him in the Oval Office is like being married to a mate who
always says exactly what you know in advance he or she is going to say,
which helps to account for why more than half of America now appears to
love him.)
The key question remains—why did we go to war? It is not yet answered. The
host of responses has already produced a cognitive stew. But the most
painful single ingredient at the moment is, of course, the discovery of the
graves. We have relieved the world of a monster who killed untold numbers,
mega-numbers, of victims. Nowhere is any emphasis put upon the fact that
many of the bodies were of the Shiites of southern Iraq who have been
decimated repeatedly in the last twelve years for daring to rebel against
Saddam in the immediate aftermath of the Gulf War. Of course, we were the
ones who encouraged them to revolt in the first place, and then failed to
help them. Why? There may have been an ongoing argument in the first Bush
administration which was finally won by those who believed that a Shiite
victory over Saddam could result in a host of Iraqi imams who might make
common cause with the Iranian ayatollahs, Shiites joining with Shiites!
Today, from the point of view of the remaining Iraqi Shiites, it would be
hard for us to prove to them that they were not the victims of a double
cross. So they may look upon the graves that we congratulate ourselves for
having liberated as sepulchral voices calling out from their tombs—asking
us to take a share of the blame. Which, of course, we will not.
Yes, our guilt for a great part of those bodies remains a large subtext and
Saddam was creating mass graves all through the 1970s and 1980s. He killed
Communists en masse in the 1970s, which didn't bother us a bit. Then he
slaughtered tens of thousands of Iraqis during the war with Iran—a time
when we supported him. A horde of those newly discovered graves go back to
that period. Of course, real killers never look back.
The administration, however, was concerned only with how best to expedite
the war. They hastened to look for many a justifiable reason. The Iraqis
were a nuclear threat; they were teeming with weapons of mass destruction;
they were working closely with al-Qaeda; they had even been the dirty
geniuses behind 9/11. The reasons offered to the American public proved
skimpy, unverifiable, and void of the realpolitik of our need to get a
choke-hold on the Middle East for many a reason more than Israel-
Palestine. We had to sell the war on false pretenses.
The intensity of the falsification could best be seen as a reflection of
the enormous damage 9/11 has brought to America's morale, particularly the
core—the corporation. All the organization people high and low, managers,
division heads, secretaries, salesmen, accountants, market specialists, all
that congeries of corporate office American, plus all who had relatives,
friends, or classmates who worked in the Twin Towers—the shock traveled
into the fundament of the American psyche. And the American working class
identified with the warriors who were lost fighting that blaze, the firemen
and the police, all instantly ennobled.

It was a political bonanza for Bush provided he could deliver an
appropriate sense of revenge to the millions— or is it the tens of
millions?—who identified directly with those incinerated in the Twin
Towers. When Osama bin Laden failed to be captured by the posses we sent to
Afghanistan, Bush was thrust back to ongoing domestic problems that did not
give any immediate suggestion that they could prove solution-friendly. The
economy was sinking, the market was down, and some classic bastions of
American faith (corporate integrity, the FBI, and the Catholic Church—to
cite but three) had each suffered a separate and grievous loss of face.
Increasing joblessness was undermining national morale. Since our
administration was conceivably not ready to tackle any one of the serious
problems looming before them that did not involve enriching the top, it was
natural for the administration to feel an impulse to move into larger
ventures, thrusts into the empyrean—war! We could say we went to war
because we very much needed a successful war as a species of psychic
rejuvenation. Any major excuse would do—nuclear threat, terrorist nests,
weapons of mass destruction —we could always make the final claim that we
were liberating the Iraqis. Who could argue with that? One could not. One
could only ask: What will the cost be to our democracy?
Be it said that the administration knew something a good many of us did
not—it knew that we had a very good, perhaps even an extraordinarily good,
if essentially untested, group of armed forces, a skilled, disciplined,
well-motivated military, career-focused and run by a field-rank and general
staff who were intelligent, articulate, and considerably less corrupt than
any other power cohort in America.
In such a pass, how could the White House fail to use them? They would
prove quintessential morale-builders to a core element of American life—
those tens of millions of Americans who had been spiritually wounded by
9/11. They could also serve an even larger group, which had once been near
to 50 percent of the population, and remained key to the President's
political footing. This group had taken a real beating. As a matter of
collective ego, the good average white American male had had very little to
nourish his morale since the job market had gone bad, nothing, in fact,
unless he happened to be a member of the armed forces. There, it was
certainly different. The armed forces had become the paradigmatic equal of
a great young athlete looking to test his true size. Could it be that there
was a bozo out in the boondocks who was made to order, and his name was
Iraq? Iraq had a tough rep, but not much was left to him inside. A dream
opponent. A desert war is designed for an air force whose state-of-the-art
is comparable in perfection to a top-flight fashion model on a runway. Yes,
we would liberate the Iraqis.
So we went ahead against all obstacles—of which the UN was the first.
Wantonly, shamelessly, proudly, exuberantly, at least one half of our
prodigiously divided America could hardly wait for the new war. We
understood that our television was going to be terrific. And it was.
Sanitized but terrific —which is, after all, exactly what network and good
cable television are supposed to be.

And there were other factors for using our military skills, minor but
significant: these reasons return us to the ongoing malaise of the white
American male. He had been taking a daily drubbing over the last thirty
years. For better or worse, the women's movement has had its breakthrough
successes and the old, easy white male ego has withered in the glare. Even
the consolation of rooting for his team on TV had been skewed. For many,
there was now measurably less reward in watching sports than there used to
be, a clear and declarable loss. The great white stars of yesteryear were
for the most part gone, gone in football, in basketball, in boxing, and
half gone in baseball. Black genius now prevailed in all these sports (and
the Hispanics were coming up fast; even the Asians were beginning to make
their mark). We white men were now left with half of tennis (at least its
male half), and might also point to ice hockey, skiing, soccer, golf (with
the notable exception of the Tiger), as well as lacrosse, track, swimming,
and the World Wrestling Federation—remnants of a once great and glorious
white athletic centrality.
Of course, there were sports fans who loved the stars on their favorite
teams without regard to race. Sometimes, they even liked black athletes the
most. Such white men tended to be liberals. They were no use to Bush. He
needed to take care of his more immediate constituency. If he had a covert
strength, it was his knowledge of the unspoken things that bothered
American white men the most—just those matters they were not always ready
to admit to themselves. The first was that people hipped on sports can get
overaddicted to victory. Sports, the corporate ethic (advertising), and the
American flag had become a go-for-the-win triumvirate that had developed
many psychic connections with the military.
After all, war was, with all else, the most dramatic and serious
extrapolation of sports. The concept of victory could be seen by some as
the noblest species of profit in union with patriotism. So Bush knew that a
big victory in an easy war would work for the good white American male. If
blacks and Hispanics were representative of their share of the population
in the enlisted ranks, still they were not a majority, and the faces of the
officer corps (as seen on the tube) suggested that the percentage of white
men increased as one rose in rank to field and general officers. Moreover,
we had knockout tank echelons, Super-Marines, and—one magical ace in the
hole—the best air force that ever existed. If we could not find our
machismo anywhere else, we could certainly count on the interface between
combat and technology. Let me then advance the offensive suggestion that
this may have been one of the covert but real reasons we went looking for
war. We knew we were likely to be good at it.
In the course, however, of all the quick events of the last few months, our
military passed through a transmogrification. Indeed, it was one hellion of
a morph. We went, willy-nilly, from a potentially great athlete to serving
as an emergency intern required to operate at high speed on an awfully sick
patient full of frustration, outrage, and violence. Now in the last month,
even as the patient is getting stitched up somewhat, a new and troubling
question arises: Have any fresh medicines been developed to deal with what
seem to be teeming infections? Do we really know how to treat livid
suppurations? Or would it be better to just keep trusting our great
American luck, our faith in our divinely protected can-do luck? We are, by
custom, gung-ho. If these suppurations prove to be unmanageable, or just
too time-consuming, may we not leave them behind? We could move on to the
next venue. Syria, we might declare in our best John Wayne voice: You can
run, but you can't hide. Saudi Arabia, you overrated tank of blubber, do
you need us more than ever? And Iran, watch it, we have eyes for you. You
could be a real meal. Because when we fight, we feel good, we are ready to
go, and then go some more. We have had a taste. Why, there's a basketful of
billions to be made in the Middle East just so long as we can stay ahead of
the trillions of debts that are coming after us back home.

Be it said: the motives that lead to a nation's major historical acts can
probably rise no higher than the spiritual understanding of its leadership.
While George W. may not know as much as he believes he knows about the
dispositions of God's blessing, he is driving us at high speed all the same
—this man at the wheel whose most legitimate boast might be that he knew
how to parlay the part-ownership of a major-league baseball team into a
gubernatorial win in Texas. And—shall we ever forget?—was catapulted, by
legal finesse and finagling, into a now-tainted but still almighty hymn:
Hail to the Chief!
No, we will rise no higher than the spiritual understanding of our
leadership. And now that the ardor of victory has begun to cool, some will
see how it is flawed. For we are victim once again of all those advertising
sciences that depend on mendacity and manipulation. We have been gulled
about the real reasons for this war, tweaked and poked by some of the best
button-pushers around to believe that we won a noble and necessary contest
when, in fact, the opponent was a hollowed-out palooka whose monstrosities
were ebbing into old age.
Perhaps he was not that old. Perhaps Saddam made a decision to go
underground with as much wealth as he had spirited away, and would fund
al-Qaeda or some extension of it in a collaboration of sorts with Osama bin
Laden—a new underground team, the Incompatible Terrorist Twins. That is a
hypothesis as mad as the world we are beginning to live in.
Democracy, more than any other political system, depends on a modicum of
honesty. Ultimately, it is much at the mercy of a leader who has never been
embarrassed by himself. What is to be said of a man who spent two years in
the Air Force of the National Guard (as a way of not having to go to
Vietnam) and proceeded—like many another spoiled and wealthy father's
son—not to bother to show up for duty in his second year of service? Most
of us have episodes in our youth that can cause us shame on reflection. It
is a mark of maturation that we do not try to profit from our early lacks
and vices but do our best to learn from them. Bush proceeded, however, to
turn his declaration of the Iraqi campaign's end into a mighty fashion
show. He chose—this overnight clone of Honest Abe—to arrive on the deck of
the aircraft carrier Abraham Lincoln on an S-3B Viking jet that came in
with a dramatic tail-hook landing. The carrier was easily within helicopter
range of San Diego but G.W. would not have been able to show himself in
flight regalia, and so would not have been able to demonstrate how well he
wore the uniform he had not honored. Jack Kennedy, a war hero, was always
in civvies while he was commander in chief. So was General Eisenhower.
George W. Bush, who might, if he had been entirely on his own, have made a
world-class male model (since he never takes an awkward photograph),
proceeded to tote the flight helmet and sport the flight suit. There he was
for the photo-op looking like one more great guy among the great guys. Let
us hope that our democracy will survive these nonstop foulings of the nest.


Francis McCollum Feeley
Professor of American Studies
Director of Research at CEIMSA
Center for the Advanced Study of American
Institutions and Social Movements
University of Grenoble-3