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02 November 2007

Everything Mukasey Thinks Is Surely Above-(Water-)Board...

I know I labelled this "satire" -- is it, really?

THE INVISIBLE PRIMARY—INVISIBLE NO LONGER: A First Look at Coverage of the 2008 Presidential Campaign

Or: Why Corporate Journalism Insists on Sucking Ass So Consistently. Short answer: serving power and profit. Long answer: click the link above.

Carbon Trading: Practical Solution to Global Warming or Corporate Greenwash? A Debate

01 November 2007

“Islamofascism”: The Failure of a Concept

Dissects the propaganda campaign led by David Horowitz, Ann Coulter, Daniel Pipes, and other people who are the true fascists here.

From the Desk of Donald Rumsfeld . . .

No comment really necessary; just reach for a bucket to throw up in.

In Sometimes-Brusque 'Snowflakes,' He Shared Worldview, Shaped Policy

By Robin Wright
Washington Post Staff Writer
Thursday, November 1, 2007; A01

In a series of internal musings and memos to his staff, then-Defense Secretary Donald H. Rumsfeld argued that Muslims avoid "physical labor" and wrote of the need to "keep elevating the threat," "link Iraq to Iran" and develop "bumper sticker statements" to rally public support for an increasingly unpopular war.

The memos, often referred to as "snowflakes," shed light on Rumsfeld's brusque management style and on his efforts to address key challenges during his tenure as Pentagon chief. Spanning from 2002 to shortly after his resignation following the 2006 congressional elections, a sampling of his trademark missives obtained yesterday reveals a defense secretary disdainful of media criticism and driven to reshape public opinion of the Iraq war.

Rumsfeld, whose sometimes abrasive approach often alienated other Cabinet members and White House staff members, produced 20 to 60 snowflakes a day and regularly poured out his thoughts in writing as the basis for developing policy, aides said. The memos are not classified but are marked "for official use only."

In a 2004 memo on the deteriorating situation in Iraq, Rumsfeld concluded that the challenges there are "not unusual." Pessimistic news reports -- "our publics risk falling prey to the argument that all is lost" -- simply result from the wrong standards being applied, he wrote in one of the memos obtained by The Washington Post.

Under siege in April 2006, when a series of retired generals denounced him and called for his resignation in newspaper op-ed pieces, Rumsfeld produced a memo after a conference call with military analysts. "Talk about Somalia, the Philippines, etc. Make the American people realize they are surrounded in the world by violent extremists," he wrote.

People will "rally" to sacrifice, he noted after the meeting. "They are looking for leadership. Sacrifice = Victory."

The meeting also led Rumsfeld to write that he needed a team to help him "go out and push people back, rather than simply defending" Iraq policy and strategy. "I am always on the defense. They say I do it well, but you can't win on the defense," he wrote. "We can't just keep taking hits."

The only man to hold the top Pentagon job twice -- as both the youngest and the oldest defense secretary -- Rumsfeld suggested that the public should know that there will be no "terminal event" in the fight against terrorism like the signing ceremony on the USS Missouri when Japan surrendered to end World War II. "It is going to be a long war," he wrote. "Iraq is only one battleground."

Based on the discussion with military analysts, Rumsfeld tied Iran and Iraq. "Iran is the concern of the American people, and if we fail in Iraq, it will advantage Iran," he wrote in his April 2006 memo.

Rumsfeld declined to comment, but an aide said the points in that memo were Rumsfeld's distillation of the analysts' comments, though he added that the secretary is known for using the term "bumper stickers."

"You are running a story based off of selective quotations and gross mischaracterizations from a handful of memos -- carefully picked from the some 20,000 written while Rumsfeld served as Secretary," Rumsfeld aide Keith Urbahn wrote in an e-mail. "After almost all meetings, he dictated his recollections of what was said for his own records."

In one of his longer ruminations, in May 2004, Rumsfeld considered whether to redefine the terrorism fight as a "worldwide insurgency." The goal of the enemy, he wrote, is to "end the state system, using terrorism, to drive the non-radicals from the world." He then advised aides "to test what the results could be" if the war on terrorism were renamed.

Neither Europe nor the United Nations understands the threat or the bigger picture, Rumsfeld complained in the same memo. He also lamented that oil wealth has at times detached Muslims "from the reality of the work, effort and investment that leads to wealth for the rest of the world. Too often Muslims are against physical labor, so they bring in Koreans and Pakistanis while their young people remain unemployed," he wrote. "An unemployed population is easy to recruit to radicalism."

If radicals "get a hold of" oil-rich Saudi Arabia, he added, the United States will have "an enormous national security problem."

The memos delve into issues beyond Iraq and terrorism. In a memo to national security adviser Stephen J. Hadley in July 2006, Rumsfeld warned that the United States is "getting run out of Central Asia" by the Russians, who are doing a "considerably better job at bullying" than Washington is doing to "counter their bullying."

As public discontent and congressional questioning grew in 2006, his final year at the Pentagon, a series of snowflakes revealed a man determined to counter the chorus of media criticism in one- or two-line zingers to staff members about specific articles.

"I think you ought to get a letter off about Ralph Peters' op-ed in the New York Post. It is terrible," he writes on Feb. 6, 2006. In a Feb. 2 New York Post column, Peters decried "chronic troop shortages in Iraq" while the Pentagon buys "high-tech toys that have no missions."

On March 10, he commanded J. Dorrance Smith, the assistant defense secretary for public affairs, to craft a "better presentation to respond to this business that the Department of Defense has no plan. This is just utter nonsense. We need to knock it down hard." A Washington Post-ABC News poll that month found that 65 percent of Americans thought that Bush had no plan for victory.

On March 20, Rumsfeld ordered a point-by-point analysis of the seven "mistakes" columnist Trudy Rubin wrote about in the Philadelphia Inquirer and a response to her essay -- which he wanted to see before it was sent out. Rubin wrote that the war had "gone sour."

"Please have someone find precisely when I said 'dead-enders' and what the context was," he ordered Smith in September 2006.

A November 2006 editorial in the New York Times that said the Army was ruined "is disgraceful," Rumsfeld wrote to Smith. The editorial said that "one welcome dividend" of Rumsfeld's departure was that the United States would "now have a chance to rebuild the Army he spent most of his tenure running down."

Rumsfeld later reprimanded his staff, writing, "I read the letter we sent in rebuttal. I thought it rather weak and not signed at the level it should have been." He then instructed staffers to prepare an article about the Army. "We need to get that story out," he wrote on Nov. 28, 2006, a Tuesday. He ordered a draft by Friday.

A Revolution is Just Below the Surface, Interview with Noam Chomsky on Chavez and Venezuela

LobeLog.com: Jim Lobe's Blog

Excellent reporter at IPS; will be put in the Links section.

RIGHTS-SRI LANKA: Civil War Brutality Hits New Lows

A beautiful example of the propaganda system in action: Meyer, Tasing, and the Today Show

Note the difference between the video linked in the article, the interview itself, and the fact that the actual content of the questions are literally not discussed at all by Matt Lauer. Big shock. As long as Andrew Meyer is "sorry" and "not a troublemaker" then everything is all right.

Not one question whatsoever about the Palast book, the charges, the 2004 election, or anything else. That's how you limit debate.

Update: Palast, of course, gets it: it's about the votes, not the volts, as he says.

Degas, The Dance Class (1874)

Monet’s Gare St. Lazare

Two paintings by the Pre-Raphaelite, John Everett Millais

Two excellent mini-vodcasts by the good folks at smARThistory...

Ralph Nader Files Lawsuit Accusing Democratic Party of Conspiring to Block Presidential Run

I know most of my "liberal" friends will find this kind of Rovian tactic just fine, but I don't.

Consumer advocate and three-time presidential candidate Ralph Nader sued the Democratic Party on Tuesday for conspiring to prevent him from running for president in 2004. The lawsuit was filed on behalf of Nader, his vice presidential running mate Peter Miguel Camejo and a group of voters from several states. It names as co-defendants the Kerry-Edwards campaign, the Service Employees International Union, private law firms, and organizations like the Ballot Project and America Coming Together that were created to promote voter turnout on behalf of the Democratic ticket. According to the lawsuit the defendants used “groundless and abusive litigation” to bankrupt Ralph Nader’s campaign and force him off the ballot in 18 states.

We are joined in the firehouse studio here in New York by public interest attorney Carl Mayer, whom the New York Times has described as "a populist crusader and maverick lawyer." We tried reaching the Democratic National Committee and some of the other defendants to invite them to the show but received no response.

Carl Mayer was part of the legal team that filed the lawsuit in Washington, D.C. Tuesday.

  • Carl Mayer. Public interest attorney. He filed a lawsuit Tuesday against the Democratic Party on behalf of former presidential candidate Ralph Nader.

AMY GOODMAN: Consumer advocate and three-time presidential candidate Ralph Nader sued the Democratic Party Tuesday for conspiring to prevent him from running for president in 2004. The lawsuit was filed on behalf of Nader, his vice presidential running mate Peter Camejo and a group of voters from several states. It names as co-defendants the Kerry-Edwards campaign, the Service Employees International Union, private law firms, organizations like the Ballot Project and America Coming Together that were created to promote voter turnout on behalf of the Democratic ticket. According to the lawsuit, the defendants used “groundless and abusive litigation” to bankrupt Ralph Nader’s campaign and force him off the ballot in eighteen states.

We’re joined now here in New York by public interest attorney Carl Mayer, whom the New York Times has described as “a populist crusader and maverick lawyer.” We tried reaching the Democratic National Committee and some of the other defendants to invite them to the show but received no response. Carl Mayer was part of the legal team that filed the lawsuit in D.C. Welcome to Democracy Now!, Carl.

CARL MAYER: Thank you, Amy. Thank you for having me on.

AMY GOODMAN: Why are you suing?

CARL MAYER: To defend democracy. That’s the title of the show -- excuse me, is Democracy Now! And this was the most massive anti-democratic campaign to eliminate a third-party candidate from the ballot in -- probably in recent American history. It is -- not content with having all these laws and statutes on the book that make it difficult for third-party and independent candidates to run, the Democratic Party and their allies in over fifty-three law firms, with over ninety lawyers, were engaged in filing litigation in eighteen states. They were to remove Ralph Nader from the ballot. It was an organized, abusive litigation process.

The core of the lawsuit is that these lawyers, led by Toby Moffett and Elizabeth Holtzman, and something called the Ballot Project, which was a 527 organization, systematically went around the country and filed lawsuit after lawsuit, twenty-four in all, plus five FEC complaints, to try to completely remove the Nader campaign from the ballot and to, in effect, bankrupt the campaign, which they succeeded in doing. Not content with that, one of the defendants, Reed Smith, which is a large corporate law firm in Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania, they are now going after Ralph Nader's personal bank account to make him pay some of the cost of this litigation.

And, understand, despite being outspent by the Democratic Party and its affiliated lawyers, the vast majority of these lawsuits were won by the Nader campaign, which was a largely volunteer effort. And these lawsuits were won across the country, despite this organized effort of intimidation and harassment. It’s basically abusive process and malicious prosecution. Those are common law torts. And it was very clear from the beginning that the Democratic Party was using the legal system for an improper purpose. In fact, Toby Moffett, who’s a former congressman from Connecticut, said directly to The Guardian of London in an interview in December of 2004, this wasn’t about the law. “I’d be less than honest if I said” this was not about the law; this was about getting Ralph Nader off the ballot. And that’s what this effort was about. And it’s a shameful anti-democratic process by a party that claims to be a democratic party.

And on top of that, the Democratic Party, or its allies, filed five FEC complaints against the campaign, alleging improper --

AMY GOODMAN: Federal Election Commission.

CARL MAYER: The Federal Election Commission -- alleging improper funding, improper finances, etc. They were all dismissed by the FEC.

Now, let me tell you how bad it got. There was an organized effort of harassment of petitioners who went around trying to collect signatures for the Nader campaign in Ohio, in Oregon and in Pennsylvania. In Ohio, for example, lawyers were hired to call up petitioners and tell them that if they didn’t verify the signatures on the petition, they would be guilty of a felony. They were called at home by -- and they were, in many cases, visited by private investigators and told -- this is voter intimidation of the worst order.

In the state of Oregon, for example, there was a nominating convention, and you need a thousand signatures at the convention. We have emails from Democratic Party operatives stating, we want our people to go to this convention and then refuse to sign the petition at the convention so Nader will not get enough signatures at the convention to get on the ballot. And they accomplished their goal in Oregon. After the convention, there’s an alternative way of getting on the ballot, which is to collect signatures, and the Nader campaign went about doing that, and during the course of that there was further harassment and intimidation of petitioners by law firms, private investigators, calling up and threatening petitioners that they would be called before a court if they did not certify all the petitions.

AMY GOODMAN: How did the Service Employees International Union fit into this? Why are they being sued?

CARL MAYER: Well, the SEIU very clearly, in emails and on their website, the SEIU had a project, which was called ACT, or Americans Coming Together. There were several 527 groups; these are independent expenditure groups. And the SEIU was involved in them. The SEIU was involved in trying to keep Nader off the ballot by using its members, for example in Oregon, to go into the convention, but in other states -- in other states, to try to actually void petitions by signing in the wrong place. The complaint -- and this is all documented. It’s a seventy-three-page complaint, over 250 paragraphs, chapter and verse, about how, for example, the SEIU came up with the strategy of getting its members to go and write signatures in the wrong place on a petition, on Nader’s petitions, which would then invalidate the entire petition. So this was a coordinated anti-democratic activity, which in my view has little precedent in American history, and any third-party candidate of whatever stripe -- leftwing, rightwing, populist, conservative -- they should be outraged by what occurred in this case.

And we think we have a tremendous case before the D.C. Superior Court and other legal actions we will take, because this conspiracy was so -- they were so adamant and vociferous about it, and the paper trail is very clear. And we’re not even into discovery. We can’t wait to take the depositions of the party activists, Toby Moffett, Terry McAuliffe, Elizabeth Holtzman, etc., who were at the center of this. In fact, the center of this effort was something called the Ballot Project, which was started by Robert Brandon, who’s one of the defendants, and he’s a consultant to the Democratic Party. And he held a meeting at the Democratic Convention in 2004 with Moffett, Holtzman and a group of other high-ranking Democrats, and they said, our purpose is to keep Nader off the ballot. And they went, and they proceeded to do it, spending millions of dollars.

AMY GOODMAN: What impact will all this have on Ralph Nader now? He has said that if Hillary Clinton is the Democratic nominee, he will run for president. It looks like she is the frontrunner right now.

CARL MAYER: Well, in terms of 2008, I can’t speak to 2008. And in politics, things can change quite quickly. I mean, it’s entirely possible that the actual progressive base of the Democratic Party will seek a nominee that reflects their views, which is that America should end this war in Iraq. It hasn’t been the history of the Democratic Party, but it’s way too early to talk about that.

But what this lawsuit will do, and the importance of it is, is to set a precedent so that the two-party monopoly system that shuts out minor parties in a way that other Western democracies never do, that this will set a precedent to prevent this type of intimidation and harassment. That’s the goal of the lawsuit. It doesn’t matter whether it’s Ralph Nader or Michael Bloomberg or any other third-party candidate. The point is, we need as much competition in the political arena as we have in other areas of American life. And it’s time to stop rigging the game.

And what’s unbelievable is that the laws on the books already pose a tremendously high hurdle for third-party candidates. Tens of thousands of signatures, it takes, to get on the ballot in states like Texas and the Carolinas. And there’s no other country where it’s so difficult to get on the ballot. And those laws are passed by the Democrat and Republican Party to preserve their monopoly. So, “democracy now” -- “democracy now” is not even close. We are not close to a state of democracy.

And recall also that in the history of the country, third parties were very important. In the nineteenth century, it was much easier to get on the ballot. The smaller third parties championed first important issues like ending slavery, women’s right to vote, Social Security; those were all first advocated by third parties. And if you exclude third parties from the ballot and from the debate, our democracy withers and atrophies. And it is not at all consistent with the vital democratic traditions of our country.

These third parties were around since the beginning of the Republic. The first third party was really the -- well, in some respects, was the Anti-Federalist Party, but there was also something called the Anti-Freemason Party, which was started in 1800. From the beginning of the Republic, there were important third parties, which raised important issues. And we're now snuffing that out. And unless we fight for this, this country will continue to have essentially a monopolistic position on every issue, from healthcare to the Iraq war to any of the important issues that so many people in this country care about.

AMY GOODMAN: Carl Mayer, we have to leave it there, but we will certainly continue to follow this lawsuit. Carl Mayer is one of the lead attorneys on this lawsuit against the Democratic Party and others who they say conspired to keep former presidential candidate Ralph Nader off of the ballot.

Attacking Iran for Israel? By Ray McGovern

Compare the following public statement by the Israeli ambassador to the US --

The Israeli ambassador to the U.S., Sallai Meridor, let the cat out of the bag while speaking at the American Jewish Committee luncheon on Oct. 22. In remarks paralleling those of Rice, Meridor said Iran is the chief threat to Israel.

Heavy on the chutzpah, he served gratuitous notice on Washington that effectively countering Iran’s nuclear ambitions will take a “united United States in this matter,” lest the Iranians conclude, “come January ’09, they have it their own way.”

Meridor stressed that “very little time” remained to keep Iran from obtaining nuclear weapons.
-- with the following private statement by Israeli Foreign Minister --
Foreign Minister Tzipi Livni said a few months ago in a series of closed discussions that in her opinion that Iranian nuclear weapons do not pose an existential threat to Israel, Haaretz magazine reveals in an article on Livni to be published Friday.

Livni also criticized the exaggerated use that Prime Minister Ehud Olmert is making of the issue of the Iranian bomb, claiming that he is attempting to rally the public around him by playing on its most basic fears. Last week, former Mossad chief Ephraim Halevy said similar things about Iran.

The full article should be in tomorrow's Friday magazine.

To Implement Policy, Bush to Turn to Administrative Orders

Why not just shut down Congress completely? Nah, better to have the appearance of a republic when you're implementing an autocratic revolution; see Syme's The Roman Revolution on Augustus.

30 October 2007

British minister detained at US airport

Still think we're not profiling at the airports? Is anyone stupid enough to think that any terrorist group with any grey matter won't take this into account, and thus what this profiling is for is certainly not to prevent terrorism? For more info, see this typically excellent piece by Chris Hedges.

Britain's first Muslim Minister has decribed his disappointment after he was detained at a US airport, where his hand luggage was analysed for traces of explosive materials.

Shahid Malik, MP for Dewsbury and International Development Minister, was returning to Heathrow after a series of meetings and talks on tackling terrorism, when he was stopped at Dulles Airport in Washington DC yesterday morning.

He was searched and detained by the Department of Homeland Security (DHS) - the same department whose representatives he had been meeting on his visit to the country.

Mr Malik said yesterday: "After a few minutes a couple of other people were also taken to one side. We were all Muslims - the other two were black Muslims, both with Muslim names."

Mr Malik said he was particularly annoyed as a similar thing happened to him last year, when he was detained for an hour at JFK airport in New York by the DHS.

This was despite the fact he was a keynote speaker at an event organised by the department, alongside the FBI and Muslim organisations in New York. ...

29 October 2007

Nuclear Freeze: The Middle East and global arms control, Hans Blix

On Capitalism, Europe, and the World Bank: An interview with Noam Chomsky

OTT: In an interview you quoted Thorstein Veblen, who contrasted “substantial people” and “underlying population.” At a shareholder’s meeting of Allianz AG, major shareholder Hans-Martin Buhlmannn expressed the view that there is only one limit to the increase of the dividend: “The inferiors must not be bled so much that they can no longer consume. They must survive as consumers.” Is this the guiding principle of our economic system? If so, is there any substance to the notion of a “social market economy?”

CHOMSKY: Those are traditional questions in economics. It’s part of Marx’s reasoning about why there’s going to be a continuing crisis of capitalism: that owners are going to try to squeeze the work force as much as possible, but they can’t go too far or there will be nobody to purchase what they produce. It’s been dealt with over and over again in one or another way during the history of capitalism.

So, for example, Henry Ford famously tried to pay his workers a higher wage than the going wage on the grounds that if he didn’t pay his workers enough and other people didn’t pay their workers enough, there would be nobody around to buy his model-T Fords.

Actually that issue came to court in the United States, around 1916 or so, and led to a fundamental principle of Anglo-American corporate law, which is part of the reason why the Anglo-American system is slightly different from the European social market system. There was a famous case called Dodge v. Ford. Some of the stockholders of the Ford motor company, the Dodge brothers, brought Henry Ford to court, claiming that by paying the workers a higher wage and by making cars better than they had to be made, he was depriving them, as stockholders, of their profits because dividends would be lower. They went to court and they won.

The courts decided that the management of a corporation has the legal responsibility to maximize the yield of the profit to its stockholders; that’s its job. Corporations had already been granted the right of persons, which basically says they have to be a certain type of pathological person, a person that does nothing except try to maximize his or her own gain. That’s the legal requirement on a corporation and a core principle of Anglo-American corporate law. So when, say, Milton Friedman points out that corporations have one interest in life, maximizing profit and market share, he is legally correct. The reason the Dodge brothers wanted it was because they wanted to start their own car company—that ended up being Dodge, Chrysler, Daimler-Chrysler, and so on.

There were modifying traditional decisions, which said that a corporation is permitted legally to carry out benevolent activities, like joining the Millennium Fund or something, but only if it improves a corporation’s humanitarian image and therefore increases profits. There’s an important decision by a U.S. court that urges corporations to carry out benevolent activities. It says—and I’m quoting it now—or else “an aroused public” may figure out what corporations are up to and take away their privileges because, after all, they’re just granted by the government, there’s nothing in the Constitution, there’s no legal basis for them, it’s a violation of classical liberal and “free market” principles.

How does the social market system differ? There’s no principle of economics that says corporations should exist. But granting that they do exist, then they should be concerned only with the maximization of gain for their stockholders instead of what’s sometimes called “stakeholders” (the community, the work force, everything else). As far as economics is concerned, a social market system is just another way of running things. The European system to an extent has stakeholder interest. So, Germany has a theoretical form of co-determination—mostly theoretical—but some degree of worker participation in management, acceptance of unions, that’s been a partial move toward stakeholder interest. And governmental social democratic programs are other examples of it.

The United States happens to be pretty much at the extreme of keeping to the principle that the corporate system must be pathological and that the government is allowed to and glad to intervene to uphold that principle. The European system is somewhat different, the British system is in between.

During the New Deal in the United States and in the 1960s, the United States veered somewhat towards a social market system. That’s why the Bush administration, which is extremely reactionary, is trying to dismantle the few elements where the social market still exists. Why are they trying to destroy social security, for example? There’s no serious economic problem, it’s all fraud. It’s in as good fiscal health as it’s ever been, but it is a system that benefits the general population. It is of no use at all to the wealthy. But a very large part of the population, maybe 60 percent or something like that, actually survive on it. So it’s a system that contributes nothing to profit. It has other bad features, like it’s based on the principle that you should care about somebody else. And that’s hopelessly immoral by the moral principles of power and privilege, so you’ve got to knock that idea out of people’s heads and get rid of the social security system. A lot of what’s called—ridiculously—“conservatism” is just pathological fanaticism based on maximization of power and wealth in accord with principles that do now have a legal basis.

But to get back to your original question, these are just choices as to whether corporations should even exist or why they’re even legitimate. They’re tyrannies. Why should tyrannies exist? They are not supposed to exist in the political realm, there’s no reason why they should exist in the economic realm. But if they do, they could be imagined in all sorts of different ways and there’s constant class struggle and pressures that lead to one or another outcome.

The European system developed out of its complex historical background. I’m sure you know the original welfare state was basically Germany in the Bismarckian period—not because Bismarck was a big radical. To an extent, the European system grew out of a feudal system. A feudal system is non-capitalist. In a feudal system everyone has a place—maybe a rotten place, but some place. So serfs have some rights within their place in the system.

In a capitalist system, you don’t have any rights. When modern capitalism developed in the early 19th century—this is post-Adam Smith or anything like that, but with Ricardo and Malthus and so on—their principle was pretty simple: the only rights a person has are what they can gain in the labor market. Beyond that, you’ve no right to live, you’ve no right to survive. If you can’t make out on the labor market, go somewhere else. They could go somewhere else, they could come to America, exterminate the population, and settle here. But in Europe some remnants of the feudal system and conservative structures did lead to some freedom. After all, Europe had huge labor movements; the German social democratic party grew out of very powerful movements and they forced the development of what became social market systems.

World War II had a radicalizing effect and the anti-fascist resistance had plenty of prestige. It was pretty radical; it was calling for radical democracy—it’s sometimes called communism, but it often had nothing to do with that. It’s just very radical democracy, workers’ control, and it was widespread so some kind of settlement had to be made with it.

If anyone were to write an honest history of the post-WWII period, the first chapter would be devoted to how the British and U.S. forces, while “liberating” Europe, one of the first things they did was destroy the resistance, undermine the labor movement, and try to beat back the efforts to create radical democratic programs. It varied in different countries, but happened everywhere. In Italy it started happening in 1943. By the time the British and U.S. forces reached Northern Italy, it had been pretty well liberated by the resistance. They had driven out the Germans, mostly, and had established their own institutions: worker-managed industrial systems and cooperatives. The British and Americans were totally appalled. They had to dismantle the whole thing and restore the rights of owners, meaning restore the traditional fascist system. Italy was the main center of CIA subversion well into the 1970s, but it happened everywhere else, too. In Greece there was a war to destroy the resistance; they killed about 150,000 people and ended up restoring something like the traditional fascist structure.

Not long after the United States strongly supported the first restoration of actual fascism in Europe, and continued to support it, it was overthrown by the Greeks. Elsewhere it took different forms. In England and the United States there were similar things happening. The population was also radicalized and there had to be some adaptation to them so you get the welfare state periods. This is just the constant flux of struggle and conflict internal to hierarchic societies.

What is your view—from the U.S. perspective—on the emerging superpower Europe?

There’s no particular U.S. perspective. There is an American elite perspective, which is not mine. The general idea of European unity is a good idea. I think the world should be federalized in some sense and the erosion of the nation-state system is a good thing. Nation-state systems basically arose in Europe in their modern sense and they’re extremely unnatural social organizations. They had to be imposed on the populations by extreme violence. Just look at the history of modern Europe, it’s a history of savage wars and destruction going back centuries. In the 17th century and the 30 Years War, probably 40 percent of the population of Germany was wiped out.

The only reason it stopped in 1945 is because of a common realization that you can’t do it anymore. The next war is going to destroy everything; we developed means of savagery that are too great to be used.

And then you get steps towards integration. Some of it is healthy, some of it is unhealthy; it’s a mixture. The role of the Central Bank in Europe is very reactionary. Even American conservatives criticize it as granting far too much authority to a wholly undemocratic institution that’s not answerable to the public. That’s a form of autocracy that doesn’t exist in the United States—there’s the Federal Reserve, but it has nothing like the power of the European Central Bank. In principle at least, it’s under some form of democratic control—limited, for all sorts of reasons, but some form. It’s commonly argued by economists that part of the reason for the partial sluggishness of the European economy is that Central Bank decisions tend to discourage growth and they’re not under public control.

A positive aspect is that there’s some erosion of the extremely dangerous nation-state system. One of the consequences, which in my view at least is a healthy one, is a degree of regionalization throughout much of Europe; that is, a revival of a degree of local autonomy, regional cultures, and regional languages. So in Spain there’s a fair amount of autonomy in the Catalan and the Basque areas, there’s similarly in others a revival of the languages. A lot of it is, I think, an extremely healthy development.

I happened to visit Barcelona shortly after the Franco period and then ten years later. The differences were remarkable. For one thing, you heard Catalan in the streets, which you hadn’t heard before. For another thing, there was a revival of cultural practices—people flocking to the main cathedral on Sunday morning, with dancing and traditional singing. That’s all fine. It revives or gives some significance to life. It has its negative aspects, too. It means harsh discrimination against Spanish workers who happen to be working in Catalonia.

But all of these things are happening and some of them are healthy and should be encouraged, others not. I think, say, the French vote on the European constitution was basically a class vote. Working people and peasants could see that the constitution was an instrument of class warfare, which is going to harm them by imposing neo-liberal conditions and undermining the social market from which they benefit.

There were also other elements; there were racist elements. The opposition in continental Europe to bringing in Turkey—you can hide it in all sorts of nice terminology, but it’s fundamentally racist. Germans don’t want to have Turks lurking around in the streets. Europe has quite a tradition of racism, no need to talk about it.

So it’s a complex web of concerns. In general I think that moves towards European integration are a good idea—although extending the union to the East is a complicated matter. U.S. elites are strongly in favor of it, but that’s because they’ve always been concerned that Europe might move off in the wrong direction, out of U.S. control. That’s been a big concern since World War II. Europe’s economy is at least on a par with the United States, it’s an educated population, a larger population. Except in the military dimension, it’s a counterpart or even superior to the United States and so it could move off on its own. Bringing in the peripheral states, the former East European satellites, tends to dilute the strength of the core of the European commercial-industrial economic center, namely France and Germany, and would bring in countries that are more subject to U.S. influence. So it might undermine moves towards European independence.

A lot of the things that are going on in the world are similar. Take the Iraq war. I’m sure that a large part of the purpose of the Iraq war is with an eye on Europe and North East Asia. If the United States can control the world’s energy resources, then it has what George Kennan 50 years ago called “veto power” over what competitors can do. The more astute political analysts, like Zbigniew Brzezinski, have pointed that out pretty openly. He wasn’t particularly in favor of the war, but he said that it would give the United States “critical leverage” over European and Asian competitors.

It’s not too well known, but Clinton’s expansion of NATO to the East was an explicit violation of formal promises made to Gorbachev in, I think, 1990 by George Bush Sr. Gorbachev agreed to the unification of Germany on condition that NATO not expand to the East. For Russia to agree to German unification is a very hazardous step. I don’t have to run through it, but the history of the past century explains why. Clinton quickly backed off on that commitment and did expand NATO to the East, which is a tremendous strategic threat to the Soviet Union. It caused the Russians to change their military doctrines. Russia had previously adopted the NATO doctrine of first strike with nuclear forces, even against non-nuclear states. But in the early 1990s, they dropped it. Once NATO expanded, they reinstated it. So now we have superpowers facing each other with first-strike strategic options and missiles on hair-trigger alert, practically a recipe for global disaster.

Dennis Ott has been an undergraduate student of philosophy and linguistics at Cologne University. He is currently a graduate student in the department of linguistics at Harvard University.

Cold War II, Noam Chomsky

These are exciting days in Washington, as the government directs its energies to the demanding task of “containing Iran” in what Washington Post correspondent Robin Wright, joining others, calls “Cold War II.”

During Cold War I, the task was to contain two awesome forces. The lesser and more moderate force was “an implacable enemy whose avowed objective is world domination by whatever means and at whatever cost.” Hence “if the United States is to survive,” it will have to adopt a “repugnant philosophy” and reject “acceptable norms of human conduct” and the “long-standing American concepts of ‘fair play’” that had been exhibited with such searing clarity in the conquest of the national territory, the Philippines, Haiti, and other beneficiaries of “the idealistic new world bent on ending inhumanity,” as the newspaper of record describes our noble mission. The judgments about the nature of the super-Hitler and the necessary response are those of General Jimmy Doolittle, in a critical assessment of the CIA commissioned by President Eisenhower in 1954. They are quite consistent with those of Truman administration liberals, the “wise men” who were “present at the creation,” notoriously in NSC 68 but in fact quite consistently.

In the face of the Kremlin’s unbridled aggression in every corner of the world, it is perhaps understandable that the U.S. resisted in defense of human values with a savage display of torture, terror, subversion, and violence while doing “everything in its power to alter or abolish any regime not openly allied with America,” as Tim Weiner summarizes the doctrine of the Eisenhower administration in his recent history of the CIA. And just as the Truman liberals easily matched their successors in fevered rhetoric about the implacable enemy and its campaign to rule the world, so did John F. Kennedy, who bitterly condemned the “monolithic and ruthless conspiracy,” and dismissed the proposal of its leader (Khrushchev) for sharp mutual cuts in offensive weaponry, then reacted to his unilateral implementation of these proposals with a huge military build-up. The Kennedy brothers also quickly surpassed Eisenhower in violence and terror, as they “unleashed covert action with an unprecedented intensity” (Wiener), doubling Eisenhower’s annual record of major CIA covert operations, with horrendous consequences worldwide, even a close brush with terminal nuclear war.

But at least it was possible to deal with Russia, unlike the fiercer enemy, China. The more thoughtful scholars recognized that Russia was poised uneasily between civilization and barbarism. As Henry Kissinger later explained in his academic essays, only the West has undergone the Newtonian revolution and is therefore “deeply committed to the notion that the real world is external to the observer,” while the rest still believe “that the real world is almost completely internal to the observer,” the “basic division” that is “the deepest problem of the contemporary international order.” But Russia, unlike third word peasants who think that rain and sun are inside their heads, was perhaps coming to the realization that the world is not just a dream, Kissinger felt.

Not so the still more savage and bloodthirsty enemy, China, which for liberal Democrat intellectuals at various times rampaged as a “a Slavic Manchukuo,” a blind puppet of its Kremlin master, or a monster utterly unconstrained as it pursued its crazed campaign to crush the world in its tentacles, or whatever else circumstances demanded. The remarkable tale of doctrinal fanaticism from the 1940s to the 1970s, which makes contemporary rhetoric seem rather moderate, is reviewed by James Peck in his highly revealing study of the national security culture, Washingtons China.


In later years, there were attempts to mimic the valiant deeds of the defenders of virtue from the two villainous global conquerors and their loyal slaves—for example, when the Gipper strapped on his cowboy boots and declared a National Emergency because Nicaraguan hordes were only two days from Harlingen Texas, though, as he courageously informed the press, despite the tremendous odds, “I refuse to give up. I remember a man named Winston Churchill who said, ‘Never give in. Never, never, never.’ So we won’t.” With consequences that need not be reviewed.

Even with the best of efforts, however, the attempts never were able to recapture the glorious days of Cold War I. But now, at last, those heights might be within reach, as another implacable enemy bent on world conquest has arisen, which we must contain before it destroys us all: Iran.

Perhaps it’s a lift to the spirits to be able to recover those heady Cold War days when at least there was a legitimate force to contain, however dubious the pretexts and disgraceful the means. But it is instructive to take a closer look at the contours of Cold War II as they are being designed by “the former Kremlinologists now running U.S. foreign policy, such as Rice and Gates” (Wright).

The task of containment is to establish “a bulwark against Iran’s growing influence in the Middle East,” Mark Mazzetti and Helene Cooper explain in the New York Times (July 31). To contain Iran’s influence we must surround Iran with U.S. and NATO ground forces, along with massive naval deployments in the Persian Gulf and of course incomparable air power and weapons of mass destruction. And we must provide a huge flow of arms to what Condoleezza Rice calls “the forces of moderation and reform” in the region, the brutal tyrannies of Egypt and Saudi Arabia and, with particular munificence, Israel, by now virtually an adjunct of the militarized high-tech U.S. economy. All to contain Iran’s influence. A daunting challenge indeed.

And daunting it is. In Iraq, Iranian support is welcomed by much of the majority Shi’ite population. In an August visit to Teheran, Iraqi Prime Minister Nouri al-Maliki met with the supreme leader Ali Khamenei, President Ahmadinejad, and other senior officials, and thanked Tehran for its “positive and constructive” role in improving security in Iraq, eliciting a sharp reprimand from President Bush, who “declares Teheran a regional peril and asserts the Iraqi leader must understand,” to quote the headline of the Los Angeles Times report on al-Maliki’s intellectual deficiencies. A few days before, also greatly to Bush’s discomfiture, Afghan President Hamid Karzai, Washington’s favorite, described Iran as “a helper and a solution” in his country. Similar problems abound beyond Iran’s immediate neighbors. In Lebanon, according to polls, most Lebanese see Iranian-backed Hezbollah “as a legitimate force defending their country from Israel,” Wright reports. And in Palestine, Iranian-backed Hamas won a free election, eliciting savage punishment of the Palestinian population by the U.S. and Israel for the crime of voting “the wrong way,” another episode in “democracy promotion.”

But no matter. The aim of U.S. militancy and the arms flow to the moderates is to counter “what everyone in the region believes is a flexing of muscles by a more aggressive Iran,” according to an unnamed senior U.S. government official—“everyone” being the technical term used to refer to Washington and its more loyal clients. Iran’s aggression consists in its being welcomed by many within the region, and allegedly supporting resistance to the U.S. occupation of neighboring Iraq.

It’s likely, though little discussed, that a prime concern about Iran’s influence is to the East, where in mid-August, “Russia and China today host Iran’s President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad at a summit of a Central Asian security club designed to counter U.S. influence in the region,” the business press reports. The “security club” is the Shanghai Cooperation Organization (SCO), which has been slowly taking shape in recent years. Its membership includes not only the two giants Russia and China, but also the energy-rich Central Asian states Kyrgyzstan, Uzbekistan, Kazakhstan, and Tajikistan. Hamid Karzai of Afghanistan was a guest of honor at the August meeting. “In another unwelcome development for the Americans, Turkmenistan’s President Gurbanguly Berdymukhammedov also accepted an invitation to attend the summit,” another step in its improvement of relations with Russia, particularly in energy, reversing a long-standing policy of isolation from Russia. “Russia in May secured a deal to build a new pipeline to import more gas from Turkmenistan, bolstering its dominant hold on supplies to Europe and heading off a competing U.S.-backed plan that would bypass Russian territory.”


Along with Iran, there are three other official observer states: India, Pakistan, and Mongolia. Washington’s request for similar status was denied. In 2005 the SCO called for a timetable for termination of any U.S. military presence in Central Asia. The participants at the August meeting flew to the Urals to attend the first joint Russia-China military exercises on Russian soil.

Association of Iran with the SCO extends its inroads into the Middle East, where China has been increasing trade and other relations with the jewel in the crown, Saudi Arabia. There is an oppressed Shi’ite population in Saudi Arabia that is also susceptible to Iran’s influence—and happens to sit on most of Saudi oil. About 40 percent of Middle East oil is reported to be heading East, not West. As the flow Eastward increases, U.S. control declines over this lever of world domination, a “stupendous source of strategic power,” as the State Department described Saudi oil 60 years ago.

In Cold War I, the Kremlin had imposed an iron curtain and built the Berlin Wall to contain Western influence. In Cold War II, Wright reports, the former Kremlinologists framing policy are imposing a “green curtain” to bar Iranian influence. In short, government-media doctrine is that the Iranian threat is rather similar to the Western threat that the Kremlin sought to contain, and the U.S. is eagerly taking on the Kremlin’s role in the thrilling new Cold War.

All of this is presented without noticeable concern. Nevertheless, the recognition that the U.S. government is modeling itself on Stalin and his successors in the new Cold War must be arousing at least some flickers of embarrassment. Perhaps that is how we can explain the ferocious Washington Post editorial announcing that Iran has escalated its aggressiveness to a Hot War: “the Revolutionary Guard, a radical state within Iran’s Islamic state, is waging war against the United States and trying to kill as many American soldiers as possible.” The U.S. must therefore “fight back,” the editors thunder, finding quite “puzzling...the murmurs of disapproval from European diplomats and others who say they favor using diplomacy and economic pressure, rather than military action, to rein in Iran,” even in the face of its outright aggression. The evidence that Iran is waging war against the U.S. is now conclusive. After all, it comes from an Administration that has never deceived the American people, even improving on the famous stellar honesty of its predecessors.

Suppose that for once Washington’s charges happen to be true, and Iran really is providing Shi’ite militias with roadside bombs that kill U.S. forces, perhaps even making use of some of the advanced weaponry lavishly provided to the Revolutionary Guard by Ronald Reagan in order to fund the illegal war against Nicaragua, under the pretext of arms for hostages (the number of hostages tripled during these endeavors). If the charges are true, then Iran could properly be charged with a minuscule fraction of the iniquity of the Reagan administration, which provided Stinger missiles and other high-tech military aid to the “insurgents” seeking to disrupt Soviet efforts to bring stability and justice to Afghanistan, as they saw it. Perhaps Iran is even guilty of some of the crimes of the Roosevelt administration, which assisted terrorist partisans attacking peaceful and sovereign Vichy France in 1940-41, and had thus declared war on Germany even before Pearl Harbor.

One can pursue these questions further. The CIA station chief in Pakistan in 1981, Howard Hart, reports that “I was the first chief of station ever sent abroad with this wonderful order: ‘Go kill Soviet soldiers.’ Imagine! I loved it.” Of course “the mission was not to liberate Afghanistan,” Tim Wiener writes in his history of the CIA, repeating the obvious. But “it was a noble goal,” he writes. Killing Russians with no concern for the fate of Afghans is a “noble goal,” but support for resistance to a U.S. invasion and occupation would be a vile act and declaration of war.

Without irony, the Bush administration and the media charge that Iran is “meddling” in Iraq, otherwise presumably free from foreign interference. The evidence is partly technical. Do the serial numbers on the Improvised Explosive Devices really trace back to Iran? If so, does the leadership of Iran know about the IEDs, or only the Iranian Revolutionary Guard. Settling the debate, the White House plans to brand the Revolutionary Guard as a “specially designated global terrorist” force, an unprecedented action against a national military branch, authorizing Washington to undertake a wide range of punitive actions. Watching in disbelief, much of the world asks whether the U.S. military, invading and occupying Iran’s neighbors, might better merit this charge—or its Israeli client, now about to receive a huge increase in military aid to commemorate 40 years of harsh occupation and illegal settlement, and its fifth invasion of Lebanon a year ago.

It is instructive that Washington’s propaganda framework is reflexively accepted, apparently without notice, in U.S. and other Western commentary and reporting, apart from the marginal fringe of what is called “the loony left.” What is considered “criticism” is skepticism as to whether all of Washington’s charges about Iranian aggression in Iraq are true. It might be an interesting research project to see how closely the propaganda of Russia, Nazi Germany, and other aggressors and occupiers matched the standards of today’s liberal press and commentators.

The comparisons are of course unfair. Unlike German and Russian occupiers, American forces are in Iraq by right, on the principle, too obvious even to enunciate, that the U.S. owns the world. Therefore, as a matter of elementary logic, the U.S. cannot invade and occupy another country. The U.S. can only defend and liberate others. No other category exists. Predecessors, including the most monstrous, have commonly sworn by the same principle, but again there is an obvious difference: they were wrong and we are right. QED.

Another comparison comes to mind, which is studiously ignored when we are sternly admonished of the ominous consequences that might follow withdrawal of U.S. troops from Iraq. The preferred analogy is Indochina, highlighted in a shameful speech by the president on August 22. That analogy can perhaps pass muster among those who have succeeded in effacing from their minds the record of U.S. actions in Indochina, including the destruction of much of Vietnam and the murderous bombing of Laos and Cambodia as the U.S. began its withdrawal from the wreckage of South Vietnam. In Cambodia, the bombing was in accord with Kissinger’s genocidal orders: “anything that flies on anything that moves”—actions that drove “an enraged populace into the arms of an insurgency [the Khmer Rouge] that had enjoyed relatively little support before the Kissinger- Nixon bombing was inaugurated,” as Cambodia specialists Owen Taylor and Ben Kiernan observe in a highly important study that passed virtually without notice, in which they reveal that the bombing was five times the incredible level reported earlier, greater than all allied bombing in World War II. Completely suppressing all relevant facts, it is then possible for the president and many commentators to present Khmer Rouge crimes as a justification for continuing to devastate Iraq.

But although the grotesque Indochina analogy receives much attention, the obvious analogy is ignored: the Russian withdrawal from Afganistan, which, as Soviet analysts predicted, led to shocking violence and destruction as the country was taken over by Reagan’s favorites, who amused themselves by such acts as throwing acid in the faces of women in Kabul they regarded as too liberated, and who then virtually destroyed the city and much else, creating such havoc and terror that the population actually welcomed the Taliban. That analogy could indeed be invoked without utter absurdity by advocates of “staying the course,” but evidently it is best forgotten.

Under the heading “Secretary Rice’s Mideast mission: contain Iran,” the press reports Rice’s warning that Iran is “the single most important single-country challenge to...U.S. interests in the Middle East.” That is a reasonable judgment. Given the long-standing principle that Washington must do “everything in its power to alter or abolish any regime not openly allied with America,” Iran does pose a unique challenge, and it is natural that the task of containing Iranian influence should be a high priority.

As elsewhere, Bush administration rhetoric is relatively mild in this case. For the Kennedy administration, “Latin America was the most dangerous area in the world” when there was a threat that the progressive Cheddi Jagan might win a free election in British Guiana, overturned by CIA shenanigans that handed the country over to the thuggish racist Forbes Burnham. A few years earlier, Iraq was “the most dangerous place in the world” (CIA director Allen Dulles) after General Abdel Karim Qassim broke the Anglo-American condominium over Middle East oil, overthrowing the pro-U.S. monarchy, which had been heavily infiltrated by the CIA. A primary concern was that Qassim might join Nasser, then the supreme Middle East devil, in using the incomparable energy resources of the Middle East for the domestic population. The issue for Washington was not so much access as control. At the time and for many years after, Washington was purposely exhausting domestic oil resources in the interests of “national security,” meaning security for the profits of Texas oil men, like the failed entrepreneur who now sits in the Oval Office. But as high-level planner George Kennan had explained well before, we cannot relax our guard when there is any interfence with “protection of our resources” (which accidentally happen to be somewhere else).

Unquestionably, Iran’s government merits harsh condemnation, though it has not engaged in worldwide terror, subversion, and aggression, following the U.S. model—which extends to today’s Iran as well, if ABC news is correct in reporting that the U.S. is supporting Pakistan-based Jundullah, which is carrying out terrorist acts inside Iran. The sole act of aggression attributed to Iran is the conquest of two small islands in the Gulf—under Washington’s close ally the Shah. In addition to internal repression—heightened, as Iranian dissidents regularly protest, by U.S. militancy—the prospect that Iran might develop nuclear weapons also is deeply troubling. Though Iran has every right to develop nuclear energy, no one—including the majority of Iranians—wants it to have nuclear weapons. That would add to the threat to survival posed much more seriously by its near neighbors Pakistan, India, and Israel, all nuclear armed with the blessing of the U.S., which most of the world regards as the leading threat to world peace, for evident reasons.


Iran rejects U.S. control of the Middle East, challenging fundamental policy doctrine, but it hardly poses a military threat. On the contrary, it has been the victim of outside powers for years: in recent memory, when the U.S. and Britain overthrew its parliamentary government and installed a brutal tyrant in 1953, and when the U.S. supported Saddam Hussein’s murderous invasion, slaughtering hundreds of thousands of Iranians, many with chemical weapons, without the “international community” lifting a finger—something that Iranians do not forget as easily as the perpetrators. And then under severe sanctions as a punishment for disobedience.

Israel regards Iran as a threat. Israel seeks to dominate the region with no interference, and Iran might be some slight counterbalance, while also supporting domestic forces that do not bend to Israel’s will. It may, however, be useful to bear in mind that Hamas has accepted the international consensus on a two-state settlement on the international border, and Hezbollah, along with Iran, has made clear that it would accept any outcome approved by Palestinians, leaving the U.S. and Israel isolated in their traditional rejectionism.

But Iran is hardly a military threat to Israel. And whatever threat there might be could be overcome if the U.S. would accept the view of the great majority of its own citizens and of Iranians and permit the Middle East to become a nuclear-weapons free zone, including Iran and Israel, and U.S. forces deployed there. One may also recall that UN Security Council Resolution 687 of April 3, 1991, to which Washington appeals when convenient, calls for “establishing in the Middle East a zone free from weapons of mass destruction and all missiles for their delivery.”

It is widely recognized that use of military force in Iran would risk blowing up the entire region, with untold consequences beyond. We know from polls that in the surrounding countries, where the Iranian government is hardly popular—Turkey, Saudi Arabia, Pakistan—nevertheless large majorities prefer even a nuclear-armed Iran to any form of military action against it.

The rhetoric about Iran has escalated to the point where both political parties and practically the whole U.S. press accept it as legitimate and, in fact, honorable, that “all options are on the table,” to quote Hillary Clinton and everybody else, possibly even nuclear weapons. “All options on the table” means that Washington threatens war.

The UN Charter outlaws “the threat or use of force.” The United States, which has chosen to become an outlaw state, disregards international laws and norms. We’re allowed to threaten anybody we want—and to attack anyone we choose.

Washington’s feverish new Cold War “containment” policy has spread to Europe. Washington intends to install a “missile defense system” in the Czech Republic and Poland, marketed to Europe as a shield against Iranian missiles. Even if Iran had nuclear weapons and long-range missiles, the chances of its using them to attack Europe are perhaps on a par with the chances of Europe’s being hit by an asteroid, so perhaps Europe would do as well to invest in an asteroid defense system. Furthermore, if Iran were to indicate the slightest intention of aiming a missile at Europe or Israel, the country would be vaporized.

Of course, Russian planners are gravely upset by the shield proposal. We can imagine how the U.S. would respond if a Russian anti-missile system were erected in Canada. The Russians have good reason to regard an anti-missile system as part of a first-strike weapon against them. It is generally understood that such a system could never block a first strike, but it could conceivably impede a retaliatory strike. On all sides, “missile defense” is therefore understood to be a first-strike weapon, eliminating a deterrent to attack. A small initial installation in Eastern Europe could easily be a base for later expansion. More obviously, the only military function of such a system with regard to Iran, the declared aim, would be to bar an Iranian deterrent to U.S. or Israel aggression.

Not surprisingly, in reaction to the “missile defense” plans, Russia has resorted to its own dangerous gestures, including the recent decision to renew long-range patrols by nuclear-capable bombers after a 15-year hiatus, in one recent case near the U.S. military base on Guam. These actions reflect Russia’s anger “over what it has called American and NATO aggressiveness, including plans for a missile-defense system in the Czech Republic and Poland, analysts said” (Andrew Kramer, NYT).

The shield ratchets the threat of war a few notches higher, in the Middle East and elsewhere, with incalculable consequences, and the potential for a terminal nuclear war. The immediate fear is that by accident or design, Washington’s war planners or their Israeli surrogate might decide to escalate their Cold War II into a hot one—in this case a real hot war.


An interesting, witty, and ultimately frightening film...

Intellectual terrorism, Ghada Karmi

From The Guardian; as far as this disgusting -- and truly dangerous -- intellectual disease goes (an acute phase of chronic neoconservatism?), Karmi has got the diagnosis, prognosis, and cure precisely correct, whatever you think of a one-state solution.

The newest and least attractive import from America, following on behind Coca-Cola, McDonald's and Friends, is the pro-Israel lobby. The latest target of this US-style campaign is the august Oxford Union.

This week, two Israeli colleagues and I were due to appear at the union to participate in an important debate on the one-state solution in Israel-Palestine. Also invited was the American Jewish scholar and outspoken critic of Israel, Norman Finkelstein. At the last minute, however, the union withdrew its invitation to him, apparently intimidated by threats from various pro-Israel groups.

The Harvard Jewish lawyer and indefatigable defender of Israel, Alan Dershowitz, attacked the topic of the debate as well as the Oxford Union itself. In an article headlined "Oxford Union is dead", he accused it of having become "a propaganda platform for extremist views", and castigated its choice of what he termed anti-Israel and anti-semitic speakers.

Yet Dershowitz could have restored the balance as he saw it; he was the first person invited by the Oxford Union to oppose the motion but he declined due, as he put it, to "the terms of the debate and my proposed teammates".

Dershowitz's article attacking the Oxford Union appeared in the Jerusalem Post in Israel and Frontpage magazine in the US. [Because of British defamation laws Cif has been advised not to provide a link - Ed.] [Here's the link; I don't live in Britain. "Cif," by the way, stands for "Comment is free," the title of this section of The Guardian online.]

Dershowitz and Finkelstein were protagonists in a much-publicised academic row in the US, though it is unclear whether this has any relevance to the Oxford Union spat.

In solidarity with Finkelstein and to oppose this gross interference in British democratic life, the three of us on the "one state" side - myself, Avi Shlaim, of St Anthony's College, Oxford, and the Israeli historian Ilan Pappe - decided to withdraw from the debate. This was not an easy decision, since the topic was timely and necessary given the current impasse in the Israeli-Palestinian peace process, where innovative solutions are in short supply.

Dershowitz and the other pro-Israel activists may rejoice at their success in derailing an important discussion. But it is of little comfort to those of us who care about freedom of speech in this country. Last May, Dershowitz interfered in British academic life when the University and College Union voted overwhelmingly to debate the merits of boycotting Israeli institutions. He teamed up with a British Jewish lawyer, Anthony Julius, and others, threatening to "devastate and bankrupt" anyone acting against Israeli universities.

In another example of these bullying tactics, the Royal Society of Medicine, one of Britain's most venerable medical institutions, came under an attack this month, unprecedented in its 200 year history. It had invited Dr Derek Summerfield, a psychiatrist (who has also documented Israelıs medical abuses against Palestinians in the Occupied Territories), to its conference on Religion, Spirituality and Mental Health. The RSM was immediately bombarded with threats from pro-Israel doctors demanding Dr Summerfield's removal on the grounds that he was Èpoliticalı and biased, and that the RSM's charitable status would be challenged if he remained. Intimidated, the RSM asked Dr Summerfield to withdraw, although they later reinstated him.

The power of the Israel lobby in America is legendary. It demonstrates its influence at many levels. Campus Watch is a network that monitors alleged anti-Israel activity in US academic institutions. The difficulties of promotion in the US for scholars deemed anti-Israeli are notorious. The notable Palestinian academic, Edward Said, was subjected to an unrelenting campaign by pro-Israel groups at Columbia University with threats on his life. His successor, Rashid Khalidi, is the current object of the same campaign of vilification and attack. Finkelstein himself has been denied tenure at his university and everywhere else. The authors of a recent study of the Israel lobby's influence on US foreign policy have been called anti-semites and white supremacists. Former president Jimmy Carter's book, Palestine: peace not apartheid, has earned him the label of "Jew-hater" and Nazi sympathiser. The British publisher, Pluto Press, is likely to be dropped by its American distributors, the University of Michigan Press, because pro-Israel groups accuse it of including "anti-Semitic" (ie pro-Palestinian/critical of Israel) books on its list.

Such activities are familiar in the US. People there are hardened or resigned to having their freedom of expression limited by the pro-Israel lobby, and the threats of Dershowitz would cause no surprise to anyone. But Britain is different, naively innocent in the face of US-style assaults on its scholars and institutions. No wonder that those who have been attacked give in so quickly, nervous of something they do not understand. The UCU leadership, shocked and intimidated by the ferocious reaction to the boycott motion from pro-Israel groups, resorted to legal advice to extricate itself and announced in September that a call to boycott Israeli institutions would be "unlawful". The Oxford Union jettisoned one of its participants rather than stand up to the threats of its critics. The RSM tried to distance the offending speaker from its conference to protect itself from abuse.

All this is understandable, but it is exactly the wrong response. Appeasing bullies like Dershowitz will not stop them. It will rather encourage them to go further. The question is, do we in this country want a McCarthyite witch hunt? If not, then we must confront the bullies and expose them for the intellectual terrorists they are, bent on destroying the values of a free society. To do otherwise will invite the fate of all repressed people, cowed and intimidated, hating their tormentors, but too afraid to say so.

28 October 2007

FEMA Stages Press Conference: Staff Pose As Journalists And Ask ‘Softball’ Questions

And now, one of those staffers caught posing as a journalist has resigned. No shit, you say, right? Caught in the act; forced to resign.

Not so fast: he's accepted a job to head public affairs for the Director of National Intelligence.

That's how these scumbags roll.

Update: Democracy Now's report.