Liberty & Power: Group Blog
I hope readers will find the article below, from Asian Times of interest. The European analysis appears so much better than the"axis of evil,""war" on Terror, invade Iraq, make the pseudo-intelligence fit, scenarios coming out of Washington, while stone-walling it for over two years on revealing the events around 9/11.
The reaction of so many Americans, over recent events in Spain, and not just the Neocons, reveals the"arrogance" of the Empire view, as understood years ago by some Americans such as J. William Fulbright.
The egocentrism of the British Empire was reflected in the view that"The Sun Never Sets on the Union Jack." Well, it did set, and the same thing can happen to the American Empire, unless we begin to reassess the trend of our actions over the last century.
The galaxy, as Copernicus might have pointed out, does not revolve around the Washington Beltway -- which is, in reality, only the anal sphincter of the Empire.
Asian Times 3/17/04
THE ROVING EYE
The emergence of hyperterrorism
By Pepe Escobar
"If you don't stop your injustices, more blood will flow and these attacks are very little compared with what may happen with what you call terrorism."
- Abu Dujan al-Afghani, purported military spokesman for al-Qaeda in Europe, claiming responsibility on video for the Madrid bombings.
The"al-Qaedization" of terrorism in Europe is a political"big bang". According to intelligence estimates in Brussels, there may be an invisible army of up to 30,000 holy warriors spread around the world, which begs the question: how will Western democracies be able to fight them?
The Madrid bombings have already produced the terrorists' desired effect: fear. Cities all across Europe fear they may be targeted for the next massacre of the innocents. On his October 18, 2003 tape, Osama bin Laden warned that Italy, Britain and Poland, as well as Spain - all staunch Washington allies in the invasion and occupation of Iraq - would be struck. Sheikh Omar Bakri, spiritual leader of the Islamist group al-Mouhajiroun, said in London he"wouldn't be surprised if Italy is the next target".
Social paranoia inevitably will be on the rise - and the main victims are bound to be millions of European Muslims. Racist political parties like Jean Marie le Pen's National Front in France and Umberto Bossi's Northern League in Italy will pump up the volume of their extremely vicious anti-Islamic xenophobia. For scores of moderate European politicians, it will be increasingly difficult to maintain their support for a solution to the Palestinian tragedy - as the Sharon government in Israel spins the line that both Israel and Europe are"victims of terrorism".
This Wednesday, the European Union's foreign policy chief, Javier Solana, will ask the EU to name an expert to be in charge of" coordinating" the action of the 15 countries (soon to be 25). Belgium's Prime Minister Guy Verhofstadt has proposed the creation of a European Intelligence Center to combat terrorism. Currently, each national intelligence service acts on its own, not always connected with Europol, the continent's police body in The Hague. A special cell in Brussels, for instance, conducts its own, separate investigations.
The new al-Qaeda virus
The special cell in Brussels considers that the Madrid bombings required"minute preparations, money, experience and cohesion". This has led European specialists on Islamist movements, like Antoine Basbus, director of the Observatory of Arab Countries, and Olivier Roy, a research director at the French Center of Scientific Research, to agree that al-Qaeda is now operating on three layers: the originals, or Arab-Afghans who were part of the anti-Soviet jihad in the 1980s; the franchised local groups; and the recent" converts" who provide the crucial link between the"base" and the local outfits.
The anti-terrorist experts in Brussels tell Asia Times Online they had known for some time that the original"base" of the al-Qaeda was greatly depleted. After all, Mohammed Atta, the leading military planner, and Mahfouz Ould, one of the leading ideologues, have been killed. Abu Zubaida, in charge of recruiting, and Ibn Sheikh Al-Libi, in charge of training, are in jail. But unlike the Americans roughly a year ago, the experts in Brussels did not assume that al-Qaeda was broken. They stress that al-Qaeda's real danger is"their persistent capacity to incite and collaborate with local groups" - they estimate there may be around 40 of these - to act in their own countries."But we are even more concerned about groups that we don't know anything about."
The Moroccan arm of al-Qaeda, for instance, is the little-known Moroccan Islamic Combatants Group. The experts in Brussels now confirm that Saudis and Moroccans came to Madrid to plan the bombings alongside Islamist residents of Spain. But al-Qaeda is not only active in the Maghreb: it is very well connected in sub-Saharan Africa, in places not yet fully investigated like the Ivory Coast and the Central African Republic.
For months now, ever since the Istanbul bombings in November 2003, different European intelligence services have been afraid they would have to confront a mutated enemy. Most services were in fact sure that Istanbul represented the first attack on Europe. The possibility of further use of chemical and bacteriological weapons, and even nuclear"dirty bombs", was not, and now more than ever is not, discarded.
Roy says that recruiting is now being conducted locally because"mobility is more difficult; there is not a place anymore where one goes to meet the chief or to get training". Recruiting campaigns continue all over the EU. For instance, one of the perpetrators of the bombing of the UN office in Baghdad in August 2003 was recruited in Italy. Other recruits in Spain, Germany and Norway ended up in Iraq via Syria. Global jihad, of which al-Qaeda is the leading exponent, is above all an idea. It thrives on spectacular terrorist attacks. Targets may have no strategic interest: what matters is terror as a spectacle - like bombing a nightclub in Bali. Madrid represented something much more sophisticated because in the Western collective consciousness it was the link between an American ally and the war on Iraq.
Spain may have become a new symbol of the clash between the jihadis' version of Islam and the"Jews and Crusaders". But as far as global jihad is concerned, it doesn't matter whether a European democracy like Spain is governed by conservatives or socialists. Al-Qaeda is an apocalyptic sect betting on the clash of civilizations: Islamic jihadis against"Jews and Crusaders". It is the same with the Bush administration spinning a"war on terror": James Woolsey, a former Central Intelligence Agency head, believes this is the Fourth World War and conservative guru Samuel Huntington bets on, what else, a" clash of civilizations".
Al-Qaeda's biggest problem is that it has no legitimacy in the Middle East as far as the key issues, Palestine and Iraq, are concerned. Osama bin Laden and Ayman al-Zawahiri, al-Qaeda's No 2, were never interested in the Palestinian struggle. In Roy's formula,"Al-Qaeda represents the globalization of Islam, not of the Middle Eastern conflicts."
The Osama factor
Al-Qaeda is a nebula in total dispersion, locally and globally. Take Osama's audio-video productions: they are always delivered to the world via Islamabad, but the distribution chain is so fragmented that no one can go back to the source. Tribal chiefs protect bin Laden all over the Pakistan-Afghan border for two reasons: because he is a Muslim and because he fought in the anti-Soviet jihad in the 1980s. This has nothing to do with September 11 - which for tribal leaders is something akin to a trip to the moon - and it goes beyond the US$25 million bounty on bin Laden's head. Most Afghans don't like Arabs and blame them for every disaster in the last 25 years. But every tomb of an Arab killed by an American bomb in 2001 is honored like a holy place.
The experts in Brussels consider that the possible capture of Osama in the upcoming spring offensive may not change anything, because in the current global jihad modus operandi the"base" retains all the initiative.
Roy insists military muscle simply does not work:"We are able to fight al-Qaeda with police operations, intelligence and justice. On a political level, one must make sure that they don't have a social base: already they don't have a political wing, sympathizers, intellectuals, newspapers or unions. They must be isolated. There's only one way for this to happen: full integration of Muslims," That's the exact opposite of the stigma privileged by conservative governments and racist, xenophobic parties.
According to the experts in the Brussels anti-terrorist cell, proving al-Qaeda's responsibility in the Madrid bombings will lead to three important conclusions:
1. Al-Qaeda is back in the spectacular attack business, even if the attack is perpetrated by affiliates.
2. Cells remain very much active around Europe, and the West as a whole remains a key target.
3. Global jihad has achieved one of its key objectives, which is to strike against one of Washington's allies in Iraq.
The repercussions of all these conclusions are of course immense - from Washington to all major European capitals and spilling to the arc from the Middle East to Central and South Asia.
Brussels also alerts that this happens independently of other al-Qaeda objectives which remain very much in place: the departure of all American soldiers from Saudi soil; the fall of the House of Saud; and the expulsion of Jews from the Middle East. Al-Qaeda's ultimate objective is a caliphate. As far as the absolute majority of Muslims in the world are concerned, the global jihad's most seductive appeal undoubtedly remains its struggle to end the American imperial control of Islamic lands.
Romano Prodi, head of the European Commission, says that force is not working against terrorism:"Terrorism now is more powerful than before." Most European politicians and intellectuals - apart from Blair, Berlusconi, Aznar and their friends - consider that the Bush administration's response to asymmetric warfare has only served to increase the threat. It's a classic reductio ad absurdum. Increasingly lethal American military muscle deployed all over the Islamic world has led to more lethal terrorist attacks, in the Islamic world and also in the West. More muscled defense of hard targets, or strategic targets, has led to more indiscriminate attacks on so-called soft targets (like the Madrid trains). Madrid is a tragic mirror of Baghdad and Karbala: more than 200 innocent workers and students died in Madrid, more than 200 innocent pilgrims died in Iraq.
Not only in Brussels or the European Parliament in Strasbourg is there practically a consensus that the beginning of a solution for the terrorism problem is the end of both the Israeli occupation of Palestine and the American occupation of Iraq. Madrid once again proved that terrorism practices the ultimate in nihilist politics. There's no possible diplomacy. No possible negotiation. It does not bend when attacked by military power. It has no territory and no population to defend, and no military or civil installations to protect. Al-Qaeda is not a Joint Chiefs of Staff: it is an idea. It commands faithful servants, not soldiers. It has nothing to do with war - as the Bush administration insists - and much less with a war on Iraq. One of the reasons invoked for the war on Iraq - the link between Saddam and al-Qaeda - was turned upside down: more al-Qaeda infiltration in the West is a consequence of the war, not less.
In the corridors of Brussels, and in the streets of Madrid, Barcelona, Rome, Milan, London and Paris, Europe was given a rude awakening. All the evidence now screams that reshaping the Middle East from a base in occupied Iraq is not leading to less terrorism: it is leading to hyperterrorism.
So the problem is not so much to make the poor stop envying the rich, it is to make them put aside their envy. Progress towards a more free society would be greatly enhanced if those like my leftist friend Kenny could be made to realize that the problems which concern them so much spring not from Martha Stewart’s wealth but from her prosecutor’s ambition and his willingness to use force to advance that ambition. However, Kenny’s envy and the envy of those who think like him cloud their analysis of the situation. William Marina is right, people will always envy the rich but that does not mean that they must continue to remain blind to where the real threat to their happiness and well-being comes from, the state.
I was pretty impressed with Lynn, as he was one of the few people who interviewed me where it was obvious that he'd actually read my paper.
It was also a long interview, which gave us time to actually delve into the issues, instead of me merely ripping off soundbites.
It's now available online.
Oh, I just cannot resist. I have no willpower at all. From today's New York Times:
Under intense American pressure, Iraq's leaders asked the United Nations on Wednesday to help them form a new government and prepare for nationwide elections.Here's the payoff...but wait for it...wait for it...wait:
Members of the Iraqi Governing Council said they sent a letter to the United Nations after a tense meeting with L. Paul Bremer III, the chief American administrator, who reportedly gave the Iraqi leaders an ultimatum.
In a morning meeting on Wednesday, Mr. Bremer warned the Iraqi leaders that they risked isolating themselves and their country if they continued to snub the United Nations. According to Iraqi and American officials, Mr. Bremer pointedly warned them of a" confrontation" with the United States if the Iraqis failed to invite the organization back.I do so enjoy the thought of all those hawks, who have despised the United Nations so deeply and for so long, just tearing themselves to bits.
Well, that probably gives them more credit than they deserve. After all, they would actually have to connect two discrete pieces of information, and see the irony involved.
That doesn't seem too likely to happen, given the intellectual caliber of most hawks these days.
Still, it's a nice thought to carry into the evening. Just imagine hawk-husband saying to hawk-wife:"But...but Ah, yes. Nice to think about alright. Poor hawks. It's just a tough goddamned world out there, isn't it?
Ah, yes. Nice to think about alright. Poor hawks. It's just a tough goddamned world out there, isn't it?
With so much depressing stuff in the news recently, time for some Spring Break cheer. Check out this piece from The Economist that provides some much needed perspective on the hand-wringing about the US economy (hat tip to Instapundit). One money quote:
Median income of American households, commentators often say, has been stagnant, though census figures give a rise of one-fifth since 1980. Lou Dobbs, on CNN's “Lou Dobbs Tonight”, is just one media fabulist who makes his living by claiming that, as America is being “exported”, so the well-being of middle Americans is in a parlous state.
It is a good story, but false on many levels. For a start, this slow growth in median income overlaps with a scale of immigration into America outpacing all immigration in the rest of the world put together. Many immigrants have come precisely to take up the lowest-paid jobs. As a result, in the 20 years to 1999 some 5m immigrant households were added to those defined as below the poverty level. Yet among native-born Americans, poverty rates have declined steadily since the 1960s. In the case of black families, median incomes have recently been rising at twice the pace for the country as a whole.
Strip out immigrants, and the picture of stagnant median incomes vanishes. Indeed, for the nine-tenths of the population that is native-born, middle-income trends continue their improvement of the 1950s and 1960s. For these people, inequality is not rising, but falling. Gregg Easterbrook cheekily points out in his excellent recent book, “The Progress Paradox” (Random House), that if left-leaning Americans seriously want better statistics about middle-income gains, then they should simply close their borders.
I'm not sure I've ever recommended this book since I've been blogging here, but W. Michael Cox and Richard Alm's Myths of Rich and Poor remains the single best book on this subject written in the last five years. If you want to counter the "decline of American well-being" rhetoric of the left, this is the book to read.
In case you'd forgot, this despot has used threats, intimidation, bribery and military force to fend off legal attempts to have himself removed from office then 1000 miles from U.S soil. The Bush adminstration, obsessed with removing the guy who tried to kill Bush senior, has largely ignored Chavez primarily because he hasn't threatened to cut off the oil we need. The fact that he's invited in THOUSANDS of Cubans to"help" his country is getting virtually no play either among administration officials, conservative political commentators, or the press. It's stunning.
Predictably, the Bush administration proclaims that"Spain would be sending out a `terrible message' if it let terrorists influence its policies." First, terrorists have profoundly influenced policies in Spain, in America and worldwide. The question is merely,"in what way will that influence be manifested?" The Bush people prefer the reactive path they've taken to the path chosen by Jose Luis Rodriguez Zapatero. Second, by an overwhelming majority, the Spanish people want their soldiers out of Iraq; they never wanted to become part of the occupation in the first place. Why should Zapatero be so influenced by terrorists that he dismisses the clear and collective voice of the Spaniards who just elected him? Some leaders take the idea of representing"the people" seriously. Third, the implication is that Zapatero should show machismo and say"Damn the will of the people! Let's kick some sandy Butt!" This may well reflect Bush's own attitude. For the rest of the world, however, machismo resides in standing up to the current foreign policy juggernaut of the United States. Zapatero is actually displaying maraca-sized balls. Fourth, Zapatero is a raging socialist, who heads a nation that has some familiarity with colonialism. To him - and it is a fair analysis -- the occupation of Iraq is nothing more than 21st century colonialism driven by oil and Haliburtonian cronyism. He thinks it is morally wrong. Why should he grant terrorists so much influence that he does what is wrong instead of what is right?
I could run on...but the most interesting aspect of The White House's announcement was the hint that it might propose a fresh resolution on Iraq to the United Nations, thus answering one of Zapatero's major demands. (Hmmm...would the US be sending out a `terrible message' if it let a dissenting foreign leader influence its policies?) Officially, the Bush people are maintaining their SOP bluster with General Sanchez -- the top US general in Iraq - declaring that the lack of the 1,300 Spanish troops would not hurt the coalition. He's right: if you consider the coalition to be solely defined as the physical occupying forces in Iraq, then the absence of Spaniards will not be noticed. If you consider the coalition to consist even partially of international support and goodwill, then Spain's withdrawal could be devastating. Why else is Bush rushing to prop up support from others within the coalition. The New York Times reports,"With the prime minister of the Netherlands beside him, President Bush said today that it was essential that Dutch troops remain in Iraq, both to ensure peace there and to press the campaign against terrorism....Prime Minister Jan Peter Balkenende was cautious in his remarks, about troop commitments and other issues."
An open question:"how angry is the UN at the US?" The answer is important because the level of hostility will impact how co-operative and generous the UN is during negotiations on a new resolution. (And, whatever The White House says, negotiations are underway right now. Bush will not go to the UN without reason to believe he will not be coldly rejected and internationally/domestically embarrassed.) Around the globe, public regard for the US seems to be at low tide. But I do not know if this is an indication of how the UN would respond to Bush. The UN is a political body of non-elected elitists.. Even Tony Blair - who has the corrective feedback mechanism of popular elections - has flaunted the will of those he"represents." It is not clear that the UN will reflect global opinion as opposed to its own perceived interests. The UN has been pushing Bush hard on a number of non-Iraq issues, such as US support for its campaigns on AIDS and"women's reproductive health." Some interesting backroom deals may be on the horizon.
For more commentary, please see McBlog.
About the early part of the twentieth century (from a UPI story excerpted here some months ago):
The general impression one got from their writings, and from the pronouncements of President George W. Bush, Defense Secretary Donald Rumsfeld, his deputy Paul Wolfowitz and the other masterminds of the war was that Iraq, the legendary site of the Garden of Eden, had indeed been one, and that that state of innocence had endured until Saddam and his allies seized power to establish the Second Baath Republic in 1968 or, at least until the pro-Western monarchy with its trappings of parliamentary democracy was destroyed in the bloody coup of 1958.From a short while ago:
But that was not the case.
The history of Iraq before the 35-year-long night of the Baath Republic descended upon it should have provided ample warning that once the lid was lifted off, those long decades of repression, more years of terrorism, assassination and massacre were only too likely to follow. For they were what had gone before. ...
Although Britain came to Iraq as its military conqueror in 1918 with a 300-year long record of imperial conquest and colonial administration unequalled by any other power in modern history, it failed to successfully transplant any of the institutions of freedom and Western democracy there, even though it tried hard to do so for 40 years. And almost as soon as they entered the country, the British faced a ferocious popular uprising of Sunnis and Shiite alike, though dominated by Sunnis, which it mercilessly crushed at the cost of thousands of dead. ...
Friday's frightful bombing in Najaf, coming so soon as it does after the destruction of the U.N. compound in Baghdad and the murder of the chief U.N. envoy within it, serves notice that the bullet, the knife and the bomb are reigning again in Baghdad, just as they did during all those four long decades of supposedly enlightened British rule. U.S. policymakers should cease laboring under the delusion that they are about to change it.
BAGHDAD, Iraq (AP) - A large explosion hit a hotel in central Baghdad on Wednesday night, sending flames shooting into the sky. Witnesses said it was a bomb blast, and that the hotel was destroyed.Many people continue to repeat that"9/11 changed everything," as if saying it often enough and with sufficient insistence will somehow make it true.
Rescuers were seen pulling bodies out of the hotel damaged in blast.
Thick clouds of smoke rose behind a central square from the area of the blast. Trees were on fire, and flames jumped to nearby buildings. Several cars were destroyed. Ambulances headed to the blast site.
The explosion shook the nearby Palestine Hotel, where many foreign contractors and journalists are based.
The explosion occurred behind Firdaus Square, where a bronze statue of Saddam Hussein was felled April 9 with the help of U.S. Marines who had just entered the center of the Iraqi capital.
In fact, if one is concerned with underlying principles, long-range consequences -- and above all, with truth -- it changed precisely nothing.
(Cross-posted at The Light of Reason.)
The Kid was into nuclear reactors!!
from the March 16, 2004 edition - http://www.csmonitor.com/2004/0316/p16s03-bogn.html
The Radioactive Boy Scout The True Story of a Boy and His Backyard Nuclear Reactor, By Ken Silverstein Random House 209 pp., $22.95
The nuclear merit badge
Using common household items, he almost built a breeder reactor
By Tim Rauschenberger
These days, the phrase"nuclear ambitions" is applied ominously to countries or heads of state. Yet it aptly describes an ordinary teenager in suburban Detroit named David Hahn. His experience is a frightening indication of how easily dangerous materials can be acquired - and hidden.
Despite growing up in an era of no-nukes activism, David wanted nothing more than to join the Curies in the annals of atomic history. That the radium they discovered eventually killed the Curies doesn't seem to have muted his enthusiasm.
David's aptitude for science was phenomenal. From a 1960s-era book of chemistry experiments, he quickly gleaned the principles and skills of manipulating reactions, and expanded his capabilities with long hours of research at the library.
His safety record was literally stunning. Taking only the barest precautions, he remained unfazed by accidents that turned his hair green, burned his skin, or knocked him out cold. Larger blunders alarmed his father and stepmother, but he learned to cover up his failures.
At school, he was a poor student and terrible speller (the wall of his potting-shed laboratory carried the admonition:"Caushon"). His occasional claims of chemical and, later, nuclear research were dismissed by parents and teachers as attempts to get attention.
And so it was that with ingenuity and supplemental information from letters to the Nuclear Regulatory Commission, 17-year-old David gathered and refined - mostly from household products - enough radioactive material to make a crude breeder reactor in his backyard.
It was small and would never create an appreciable amount of fissionable fuel, but by the time David disassembled the runaway experiment in 1994, his Geiger counter was detecting radiation from several houses away.
Journalist Ken Silverstein gathered material from extensive interviews with David and his family and from police and EPA reports about this backyard experiment. The story appeared as a Harper's Magazine article in 1998, and now Silverstein has expanded it into some 200 pages.
What emerges in that greater space is that David's pattern of grandiose plans followed by accidents and coverups mirrors the larger history of breeder reactors. In theory, breeders make more fuel than they use. In practice, as Silverstein notes,"the few attempts to build a breeder have resulted in some of the scariest episodes in the nuclear era."
Another problem that's agonizingly apparent is the emotional neglect of David by his family. His father spent time with him only on scouting trips. His adoring mother was too lost in alcohol and mental problems to be supportive. The personal tragedy here sounds as disturbing as the potential public disaster.
Tim Rauschenberger is on the Monitor's Web staff.
Let me offer some comments on Pat Lynch’s thoughts in “More Madrid Madness,” below.
Eighty percent of the Spanish public was against Aznar’s decision to support the US in Iraq. Many Americans, who blather on about our modest immigration appear unaware of Europe’s problems in this regard, just as we have bombed the hell out of various nations -- nukes and otherwise -- during and after WWII, killings hundreds of thousands of civilians, its collaeral damage, you know, old chap, but can become righteously indignant when it was done to us in NYC.
While Europe in general suffers from a low birth rate with immigrants coming in, Spain’s, at 1.12 is now the lowest in the world, having displaced both Germany and Italy in this regard. There has been an effort to induce Spaniards to return from Latin America, and this has worked to some small extent with respect to Cuba, Colombia, and Venezuela, where there are problems. Because of his Spanish father, Fidel Castro, for example, qualifies for a $200 subsidy, and instant citizanship, should he choose to return. Because I have Spanish paternal grandparents, I would have to stay a year before being given citizenship.
Thus, to keep enough workers paying into the system to keep the modest welfare state afloat -- sound familiar, Social Security fans? -- the Spanish are actually trying to lure Muslims back after 500 years and offering land in the process! 200,000 now reside in Spain, with a 100 mosques built in the last ten years.
In short, under such circumstances, with a country in such a population and identity crisis to the extent it must increasingly rely on Muslims from North Africa, Aznar was a damn fool to get into a confrontation in Islamic Iraq just to show his support for Bush.
In their mature phase Empires often show such declines among the old stock that originally created the wealth. Thus, in Rome, as the old Romans' birth rate declined, some have argued due to ingesting lead in their diets, and the Jews (10%) and others came in to join the Legions, etc., Augustus Caesar pleaded with the aristocratic Senate to beget more children. Too busy with the night life of the Gods seems to have been the reply!
Also, while the US has almost totally bought into the centralized, bureaucratic Statism that has been the hallmark of ALL Empires, the Spanish, quite apart from the Basque separatists, who are in a minority even there, have been redeveloping a regionalism that would have been the envy of the early American Confederation. Much of Europe is moving against Brussels centralism.
I guess the Imperialist Intellectual, Samuel P. Huntington, may be correct about Hispanics just not having the right genes for continuing the centralized Empire. My one grandfather was an Asturian anarchist who sold his yacht, with which he had run rum into Florida during Prohibition, in order raise funds to oppose Franco, and my other grandparents, from Alabama, descended from Confederate soldiers.
All I can say is, “Viva España, You all!”
David T. Beito
Yes, David, that is what Senates are for -- well named for their Roman predecessors of the Empire, not the Republic period, who understood the job description, to suck up to Caesar and ratify his wishes.
I found this to be true in the case of my alma mater; see William Marina and Charleton W. Tebeau (my old teacher who did the 50 year history), Rendezvous With Greatness, a 75th anniversary history of the U. of Miami (FL), (2001). and also in my forthcoming Where Tomorrow Began, a forty year history of Florida Atlantic University, where I taught from 1964 (its first year) until retirement last year. You might find the final chapter of interest, â€œThe American University in an Age of Empire.â€
In 1973 I was having lunch with the Chair of the Comm. of Committees of the Senate, which selected all of the folk, in consultation with the Adm., who would be on the various and numerous committees, enough to pretty much dilute power throughout the institution. He informed me, he could get anyone on any committee he wished.
â€How is that?â€ I asked. â€œSimply by suggesting your name,â€ he replied, â€œthe Adm. will accept anybody but you.â€
Why was that? Because in 1969 I had risen in the Senate (all faculty could attend in those days) and given a talk against the Adm.â€™s plan to restructure the whole system, and asked for a secret ballot on the issue. It was the only time, I think, there was ever spontaneous and sustained applause in that â€œaugustâ€ body. In the balloting that followed, the Adm. lost by one vote. The Prez, Provost & their minions were not pleased. I suspect they regreted I had just received tenure. I was fortunate enough 3 years earlier, when several administrators tried to fire me for my civil rights work and anti-Vietnam activities, that I was defended by other adminstrators, who were seeking to oust that group, and used my case as another reason for doing so. My group won, but was not happy with my breaking with them in 1969.
We made peace years later, because they eventually had it their way, and I was bringing in sufficient grant monies (they love that overhead rakeoff), so as to be tolerated for my entrepreneurship, but watched carefully.
Let me know if you ever find a university where these kinds of things are not the norm. We had an excellent president, however, in those early years, and that made all the difference, ultimately. He was not a hater, and appreciated what I had done with student activities despite our disagreements.
That's the source of my positive response. The negative one? Spain is another indication that Europe is shifting toward a pro-socialist, anti-US consensus. Even though I am anti-Bush, I am not anti-American and I cannot applaud the polarization that is occurring between the US and the rest of the world. The US has self-created a new Cold War of us-against-everyone, and the attitude is spilling over from the war to the economy. For example, the hue and cry against outsourcing jobs. If the world responds in kind, then we are headed toward borders that are fortresses and barriers to both freedom and prosperity. My main hope for this not happening resides with individuals acting privately...for example, with the Internet, which respects no boundary. Thank God for technology and the power it gives to the individual.
For more commentary, please see McBlog.
Also, I can't remember if I posted here, but I had a column on FoxNews.com last week about the morass of federal laws and regulations, and burdens of compliance and potential for corruption it imposes on the American people.
That means U.S. taxpayers will foot the bill for damages Janklow inflicted on his victim.
Chris Matthew Sciabarra
As most of you know, I am a staunch supporter of the War on Al Qaeda. I think the US should have staged an all-out campaign to destroy that group 11 years ago, when they first attacked the World Trade Center on US soil in 1993. They have been an imminent threat to US security and should have been squashed. (Of course, I do believe that the history of how that group became an imminent threat is important: for answers to that question, just take a look at the history of US interventionist foreign policy, which is an"incubator" for anti-American terrorism — a history of propping up regimes from the House of Sa'ud to the mujahideen in Afghanistan...)
This said, I have not been a supporter of the War in Iraq, because I believe that Iraq was (a) not an imminent threat to the US; (b) not in possession of imminently-threatening weapons of mass destruction; and (c) not in league with Al Qaeda. If it had been proven to me that the Hussein regime was an imminent threat and in league with Al Qaeda, I would have supported a war against Iraq. But I still would not have supported the Wilsonian"nation-building" campaign that the neoconservatives in the Bush administration have been championing: a campaign to build a political democracy, at the cost of many American lives, and billions of US taxpayer dollars, on the shaky foundation of a culture steeped in internecine tribalist conflict, which has no understanding of individualism or human freedom.
I have expanded on these subjects in at least two articles, and countless posts to the Liberty & Power Group blog. Check out my Not a Blog for a listing of essays, including A Question of Loyalty and Understanding the Global Crisis.
All of this said: IF it should happen that Al Qaeda was, indeed, involved in the bombings in Madrid, what did the War in Iraq do to undermine that group?
If anything, the US toppled a murderous"secular" regime in Iraq that even Osama Bin Laden condemned as a home to"infidels." If anything, the possibilities of an emerging theocratic movement in Iraq have been multiplied. If anything, Al Qaeda is simply using this US occupation as a pretext for recruiting more and more terrorists to its murderous cause.
No, I'm not"implicitly" supporting the return of Saddam Hussein — who, I believe, was being, and could have been fully contained without a US invasion. But I live in the real world as it is, not as I would like it to be. Good riddance to him and his sons and to the Ba'ath killers.
Nevertheless, for those of us who are in support of the war against Al Qaeda, opposition to the Iraq war last winter was not a vote of support for Hussein; it was a strategic decision by some of us who believed that the Iraq war was a diversion from the true sources of Al Qaeda terrorism, with its roots in Saudi Arabia and Pakistan, ironically: two US"allies."
I shudder to think that the Madrid bombings, 2 1/2 years to the day after 9/11, are a prelude to a similar multi-pronged attack on NYC subways in the coming months. If that were to happen during rush hour, Al Qaeda would take out thousands of Americans. They could conceivably cripple the city's underground transportation, destroy underwater tunnels, and fracture the city's infrastructure.
And the Iraq war would have done nothing to stop it.
Just a couple of brief comments on several of the many questions raised by Chris Sciabarra in “Madrid Madness,” below.
1) The kind of “war” initiated in a Unilateralist, State mode, by Bush and his Neocon minions can only help gain more adherents for Al Qaeda. If you have not already done so, I would recommend reading Jonathan Schell’s, The Unconquerable World in this regard.
Where was Woodrow Wilson into the kind of “nation-building” advocated by the Neocons? Those Neocons who have advocated following the Philippine model of the early 1900s such as Max Boot, are almost totally ignorant on the subject. One example: unlike Iraq, the Filipinos lacked weapons after the US was able to halt Japan sending 5,000 rifles etc., to the Insurgents. Some “Savage War!” The letters of American soldiers indicate much of the same shame as did the British soldiers cutting down with Gatling guns the Zulus armed with spears. I should think that would be the kind of contest that would satisfy the blood lust of the”Non-combs,” excuse me, Neocons.
Wilson wanted a coalition of the “Have” powers to confront the challenge of the Bolshevik Revolution (see his 14 Points), and was not really into dismantling Colonialism although he did liberalize what we were doing in the PI a bit. As William Appleman Williams showed years ago, the so-called Isolationist opposition was composed of Unilateralist Imperialists such as H.C. Lodge (the real model for today’s Neocons) and legitimate Anti-Interventionists such as William Borah.
How little is comprehended of this today is evident in Thomas Fleming’s The Illusion of Victory: America in World War I where Borah is mentioned twice in a totally irrelevant way to this question. I still don’t understand how the allegedly anti-interventionist Cato Institute could have made such a big deal of Fleming’s book, hosting it and all of that, since it so badly missed the real issue.
In the 1920s and 1930s, the whole world understood that Borah was THE great American Anti-imperialist with respect to such areas of intervention as China, Nicaragua, Mexico and Cuba. A journalist described, for example, how a letter from Borah took him untouched through the turmoil of the Chinese Revolution. How far do you think you would get in the Iraqi countryside today with a letter from George Bush?
Borah was the ONLY American, due to his stands on Nicargua, Mexico and then Cuba in 1933, whose speeches were translated into Spanish and carried by radio throughout Latin America. Given how FDR was trying to undercut the revolution in Cuba, and then in Mexico, the Latins were not so stupid as to believe that the “Good Neighbor” blather of the Old FireChatter was anything more than Garbled Verbiage or Verbal Garbage!
David T. Beito
David T. Beito
Second, and I believe far more troubling to everyone, is the thought that Iraq, which was never seriously linked with terrorism, may now be used as an excuse for more terror attacks by the very groups that have benefitted from the U.S. invasion.
Anyone who's followed this war knows that Bin Laden and his fellow murderers were overjoyed at the overthrow of a secular regime in the Arab world. Now they not only have that regime removed, they can also use the invasion as a justification to murder hundreds of more innocent people in a nation deeply divided by Bush's adventure.
Third, despite my agreement with a lot of the other members of this blog, I can say with certainty I believe the Spanish people will come to regret their decision yesterday (and not just because socialists are, of course, socialists). Yes, the Iraq war is wrong. Yes, the Spanish support for the war was a mistake. But somewhere in the pit of my stomach doing EXACTLY what Bin Laden wants you to do seems deeply wrong to me. Perhaps I'm not seeing this clearly, and I'm more then willing to be corrected on it, but I'm pretty sure Spain picked the greater of two evils yesterday - Bin Laden over Bush.