Subject: ON "THE BIG LIE" AND "THE MOMENT OF TRUTH": FROM THE CENTER
FOR THE ADVANCED STUDY OF AMERICAN INSTITUTIONS AND SOCIAL MOVEMENTS.
22 July 2003
Dear Friends and Colleagues,
It is a Marxist axiom that each of us is the embodiment of what we do
everyday life to maintain our livelihood. The notion is not new that we act
more or less consciously within the framwork of our social class interests,
and that occasionally our activities bring us into serious conflict with
the interests of other social classes, who might find our interets
inconvenient for their own objectives. In a word, conflits of interests,
according to social science research, do not always end in major
confrontations, but when this happens there is little that an individual
can do to avoid this showdown, and ther is much he/she can gain by being
aware that it is happening.
American soldiers in Iraq today are discovering that they are "in the
place at the wrong time." Perceived by the rest of the world as an
occupying army, they are unwittingly creating new enemies every day. The
men and women who sent these youth in harms way are beyond shame, and the
most an intellectual can do in this dark hour is use his/her skills and
knowledge appropriately, to uncover the hypocracy, the lies, the
disinformation, and the contempt for democracy that today passes as normal.
Fear runs deep and silent, and overtakes its victim unexpectedly. Today,
there are precious few people in a position to see clearly what is
happening to us --to look outside the box, so to speak, and explain how we
got into this situation.
The purpose of our Research Center in Grenoble is to encourage scientific
investigations into questions related to contemporary American insitutions
and social movements. My own research in the field of American domestic
policy during the Second World War, and of the anti-war movement in France
during the First World War offer many historical lessons into the terrible
costs of war --not the least of which are the many self-deceptions and the
paralyzing effect they have on personal relationships. Scholarship on the
subject of war and repression is not lacking and will no doubt attract new
interest. Ultimately, what will be tested is the courage of convictions and
the willingness to seek true explanations for the real phenomena around us.
It is the responsibility of any intellectual to remain well informed
not to participate in the disinformation that circulates freely, with the
effect of neutralizing critical thought and obfuscating important information.
We invite readers to participate in our inquiries into the NEW WORLD
that has descended upon us and to cast a critical eye on the received ideas
that pass as "democratic consensus" in times of war.
Below, are two short essays that our Research Center received: the first
(item A), sent to us by Professor DuBoff, is a description of the "reality
on the ground" in Iraq; the second (item B), sent to us by Benoit Monange,
concerns "The Big Lie" and why the Bush Administration is getting away with it.
As usual, we invite responses to the essays that our center circulates,
and, of course, if you wish to be removed from our mailing list simply
state this wish by return mail.
Francis McCollum Feeley
Professor of American Studies/
Director of Research
From: Professor Richard DuBoff
by Tom Lasseter & Drew Brown
copyright July 16, 2003, Philadelphia Inquirer.
"Marooned soldiers": 'Our morale is gone' As their tours of duty go
overtime, troops say the higher-ups don't understand their plight.
by Tom Lasseter and Drew Brown
FALLUJAH, Iraq. Pvt. Matthew Davis looked at the ground and shook his
"It feels like we died and this is our hell," he said.
Davis is stuck in Iraq.
The 20-year-old from Omaha, Neb., is one of more than 2,000 soldiers
Third Infantry Division's Second Brigade who were told Saturday that they
and the division's First Brigade are staying put.
The mixture of disgust, sadness and anger they expressed yesterday was
profound. Pfc. Anthony Mondello said, "Our morale is gone, it really is."
L. Paul Bremer, the American official in charge of reconstruction, would
not give a timetable yesterday for when U.S. forces might be able to withdraw.
Last week, Secretary of Defense Donald H. Rumsfeld, who long argued
more U.S. troops were needed in Iraq, told Congress that the Second Brigade
"would return in August" and the First "is scheduled to return in
September." This week he reversed himself and said that, in fact,
additional soldiers may be coming as well.
Meanwhile, the troops stew in the desert, where temperatures rise to
degrees and AK-47 fire is part of the landscape.
Said one Second Brigade officer, who asked not to be identified: "It
doesn't seem like anybody higher up cares to realize what these soldiers
have been through, or what they're going through on a daily basis. I can
guarantee you they've never stood out in a checkpoint in the heat of the
day, day after day, full battle rattle, always wondering if today's the day
somebody's going to shoot me. Do they even care?"
Soldiers in the Third Infantry Division's Second Brigade were shipped
Kuwait in September, fought some of the war's bloodiest battles, and now
are stationed in Fallujah, a cauldron of anti-American feeling.
Attacks on troops throughout Iraq still average about a dozen a day,
Iraqi men in Fallujah frequently vow to kill U.S. soldiers if they remain
in the city. American troops began pulling out of the city's police station
Friday after more than 20 Iraqi police officers marched on the mayor's
office, saying the U.S. presence made them a target. Afraid for their
lives, the officers said they would quit unless the soldiers became less
"They are very, very upset people," said Spec. Scott Vasquez, an Arabic
linguist. Every time he goes into town, Vasquez said, people shout at him
about the lack of water and electricity. The hostility makes it all the
harder to cope with the fact that he had to cancel his planned April
wedding, he said.
The Second Brigade soldiers, who were among those who took Baghdad,
were told they would head home May 1. Instead, they were shipped to
Fallujah. Word came that they would be gone July 1. Didn't happen. Then
July 18 was the date to circle. Then Aug. 1.
Finally, on Saturday the division's commander, Maj. Gen. Buford C. Blount
III, said that while the Third Brigade and some other elements would leave
soon, the First and Second would stay, to maintain current force levels
"due to the uncertainty of the situation in Iraq and the recent increase in
attacks on the coalition forces." A terse statement last night from the
Army's Central Command said the whole Third Infantry Division would return
home by September - probably.
"As always," the statement cautioned, "the security situation could
deployments and redeployments."
Back in Fallujah, "it feels like we're forgotten," said Spec. Sean
Gilchrist. "Like we fell off the planet."
From: Benoit Monange
"Pattern of Corruption"
by Paul Krugman
copyright July 15, 2003, The New York Times.
Pattern of Corruption
by Paul Krugman
More than half of the U.S. Army's combat strength is now bogged down
Iraq, which didn't have significant weapons of mass destruction and wasn't
supporting Al Qaeda. We have lost all credibility with allies who might
have provided meaningful support; Tony Blair is still with us, but has lost
the trust of his public. All this puts us in a very weak position for
dealing with real threats. Did I mention that North Korea has been
extracting fissionable material from its fuel rods?
How did we get into this mess? The case of the bogus uranium purchases
wasn't an isolated instance. It was part of a broad pattern of politicized,
corrupted intelligence. Literally before the dust had settled, Bush
administration officials began trying to use 9/11 to justify an attack on
Iraq. Gen. Wesley Clark says that he received calls on Sept. 11 from
"people around the White House" urging him to link that assault to Saddam
Hussein. His account seems to back up a CBS.com report last September,
headlined "Plans for Iraq Attack Began on 9/11," which quoted notes taken
by aides to Donald Rumsfeld on the day of the attack: "Go massive. Sweep it
all up. Things related and not."
But an honest intelligence assessment would have raised questions about
we were going after a country that hadn't attacked us. It would also have
suggested the strong possibility that an invasion of Iraq would hurt, not
help, U.S. security.
So the Iraq hawks set out to corrupt the process of intelligence
assessment. On one side, nobody was held accountable for the failure to
predict or prevent 9/11; on the other side, top intelligence officials were
expected to support the case for an Iraq war.
The story of how the threat from Iraq's alleged W.M.D.'s was hyped is now,
finally, coming out. But let's not forget the persistent claim that Saddam
was allied with Al Qaeda, which allowed the hawks to pretend that the Iraq
war had something to do with fighting terrorism.
As Greg Thielmann, a former State Department intelligence official,
last week, U.S. intelligence analysts have consistently agreed that Saddam
did not have a "meaningful connection" to Al Qaeda. Yet administration
officials continually asserted such a connection, even as they suppressed
evidence showing real links between Al Qaeda and Saudi Arabia.
And during the run-up to war, George Tenet, the C.I.A. director, was
willing to provide cover for his bosses - just as he did last weekend. In
an October 2002 letter to the Senate Intelligence Committee, he made what
looked like an assertion that there really were meaningful connections
between Saddam and Osama. Read closely, the letter is evasive, but it
served the administration's purpose.
What about the risk that an invasion of Iraq would weaken America's
security? Warnings from military experts that an extended postwar
occupation might severely strain U.S. forces have proved precisely on the
mark. But the hawks prevented any consideration of this possibility. Before
the war, one official told Newsweek that the occupation might last no more
than 30 to 60 days.
It gets worse. Knight Ridder newspapers report that a "small circle
senior civilians in the Defense Department" were sure that their favorite,
Ahmad Chalabi, could easily be installed in power. They were able to
prevent skeptics from getting a hearing - and they had no backup plan when
efforts to anoint Mr. Chalabi, a millionaire businessman, degenerated into
So who will be held accountable? Mr. Tenet betrayed his office by tailoring
statements to reflect the interests of his political masters, rather than
the assessments of his staff - but that's not why he may soon be fired.
Yesterday USA Today reported that "some in the Bush administration are
arguing privately for a C.I.A. director who will be unquestioningly loyal
to the White House as committees demand documents and call witnesses."
Not that the committees are likely to press very hard: Senator Pat Roberts,
the chairman of the Senate Intelligence Committee, seems more concerned
about protecting his party's leader than protecting the country.
"What concerns me most," he says, is "what appears to be a campaign
press leaks by the C.I.A. in an effort to discredit the president."
In short, those who politicized intelligence in order to lead us into
at the expense of national security, hope to cover their tracks by
corrupting the system even further.
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