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This is where we place excerpts by historians writing about the news. On occasion this page also includes political scientists, economists, and law professors who write about history. We may from time to time even include English profs.
Richard Pipes, in the NYT (Sept. 9, 2004):
The terrorist attack in Beslan in Russia's North Caucasus was not only bloody but viciously sadistic: the children taken hostage by pro-Chechen terrorists were denied food and drink and even forbidden to go to the bathroom, then massacred when the siege was broken. It is proper for the civilized world to express outrage and feel solidarity with the Russian people. But to say this is not necessarily to agree with those - including President Bush and President Vladimir Putin of Russia - who would equate the massacre with the 9/11 attacks and Islamic terrorism in general.
In his post-Beslan speech, Mr. Putin all but linked the attack to global Islam: "We have to admit that we have failed to recognize the complexity and dangerous nature of the processes taking place in our own country and the world in general." Reports that some of the terrorists were Arabs reinforce that line of thinking. But the fact is, the Chechen cause and that of Al Qaeda are quite different, and demand very different approaches in combating them.
Terrorism is a means to an end: it can be employed for limited ends as well as for unlimited destructiveness. The terrorists who blew up the train station in Madrid just before the Spanish election this year had a specific goal in mind: to compel the withdrawal of Spanish troops from Iraq. The Chechen case is, in some respects, analogous. A small group of Muslim people, the Chechens have been battling their Russian conquerors for centuries.
At the close of World War II, Stalin had the entire Chechen nation exiled to Kazakhstan for alleged collaboration with the Nazis. Khrushchev allowed them to return to their homeland but they continued to chafe under Russian rule. Because Chechnya, unlike the Ukraine or Georgia, had never enjoyed the status of a nominally independent republic under the Communists, the Chechens were denied the right to secede from the Russian Federation after the collapse of the Soviet Union. And so they eventually resorted to terrorism for the limited objective of independence.
A clever arrangement secured by the Russian security chief, Gen. Alexander Lebed, in 1996 granted the Chechens de facto sovereignty while officially they remained Russian citizens. Peace ensued. It was broken by several terrorist attacks on Russian soil, which the authorities blamed on the Chechens (although many skeptics attributed them to Russian security agencies eager to create a pretext to bring Chechnya back into the fold). A second Chechen war began in 1999, of which there seems no end in sight.
This history makes clear how the events in Russia differ from 9/11. The attacks on New York and the Pentagon were unprovoked and had no specific objective. Rather, they were part of a general assault of Islamic extremists bent on destroying non-Islamic civilizations. As such, America's war with Al Qaeda is non-negotiable. But the Chechens do not seek to destroy Russia - thus there is always an opportunity for compromise.
Unfortunately, Russia's leaders, and to some extent the populace, are loath to grant them independence - in part because of a patrimonial mentality that inhibits them from surrendering any territory that was ever part of the Russian homeland, and in part because they fear that granting the Chechens sovereignty would lead to a greater unraveling of their federation. The Kremlin also does not want to lose face by capitulating to force.
The Russians ought to learn from the French. France, too, was once involved
in a bloody colonial war in which thousands fell victim of terrorist violence.
The Algerian war began in 1954 and dragged on without an end in sight, until
Charles de Gaulle courageously solved the conflict by granting Algeria independence
in 1962. This decision may have been even harder than the choice confronting
President Putin, because Algeria was much larger and contributed more to the
French economy than Chechnya does to Russia's, and hundreds of thousands of
French citizens lived there....
Ronald Steel, in the Nation (Sept. 2004):
It did not take long for a term that not long ago was slanderous to become a cliche. Suddenly everyone has discovered, and accepts as a commonplace, that the United States possesses an empire. For some our newly acknowledged imperial status is a source of celebration, for others of lamentation, but it is in any case something that cannot be denied. It is no longer even a choice, but rather a simple reality.
Of course the United States is an empire, and in most respects the most powerful that the world has ever seen. Given the current global balance of power--where the only serious rival has self-destructed, and aspirants to the title have a long way to go before being considered seriously--there is nothing else that it can be. Even an American government that tried to practice restraint, self-denial and mutuality would still be the dominant factor in any political equation. It sets the agenda even by its absence. Consider the cases of Bosnia, where the bloodshed did not end until the United States intervened, and Rwanda, and today Sudan, where it continued unabated because the United States chose to stand aside....
Our sense of aggrieved innocence usefully masks the violence of our own history and the motivations for many of our foreign wars. But this is not generally taught in our textbooks. Some argue, as does British economic historian Niall Ferguson in Colossus, his rhapsody to the imperial tradition, not merely "that the United States is an empire but that it has always been an empire." He rightly observes that the American nation was no sooner founded than its leaders embarked on an energetic program of expansion that--through diplomacy, conquest and theft from its original inhabitants--brought into the ever-expanding Union all the lands east of the Mississippi, then the vast territories of Louisiana, followed by Texas and a third of Mexico, the Pacific Northwest, Alaska, Caribbean and Pacific islands seized from Spain, and the once-independent kingdom of Hawaii. Not to mention the informal economic empire in Latin America, about which a US secretary of state declared in 1895, "today the United States is practically sovereign on this continent, and...its fiat is law upon the subjects to which it confines its interposition."
Our empire did not become global until 1945, when the defeat and the ensuing political and economic collapse of the great imperial powers--Germany, Britain, France and Japan--shattered the existing global balance. The United States emerged from World War II with overwhelming power and an expansive self-confidence. It had grown enormously richer during the war, shedding the self-doubt and overcoming the economic depression of the 1930s. Backed by a triumphant military machine, it had the capacity and the self-awareness to advance its interests and its values around the globe.
The awareness of the new role that the United States could play was vividly expressed in early 1941 by Henry Luce, months before the Japanese attack on Pearl Harbor brought the nation into a two-front war. Americans, wrote the publisher of Time and Life magazines in an essay he modestly titled "The American Century," must "accept wholeheartedly our duty and our opportunity as the most powerful and vital nation in the world, and in consequence exert upon the world the full impact of our influence, for such purposes as we see fit and by such means as we see fit." Even George W. Bush would not have expressed the sentiment so baldly.
The project was not only political but also territorial, and it took shape, geographer Neil Smith powerfully argues in American Empire: Roosevelt's Geographer and the Prelude to Globalization, as part of a comprehensive global vision dating back to the early decades of the twentieth century. "The American Century, understood as a specific historical period," Smith demonstrates, "was built with an equally specific but largely unseen geography." In this geography of history, he examines the construction of the imperial space through the influence of Isaiah Bowman, the influential geographer who mapped out for Woodrow Wilson the new boundaries of post-World War I Europe, and for Franklin Roosevelt the American presence in post-World War II Europe and its colonies. More than a biography, this is an intellectually invigorating challenge to the assumption that globalism is a process that can be divorced from specific territorial and political objectives.
If the emerging American empire was not based on the formal acquisition of territory, a territorial concept was inherent in the construction of economic and political control. This was the continuation and expansion of the prewar pattern. Following World War I the United States--unlike its French, British and Japanese allies--claimed no spoils from those it had defeated. Instead it focused on economic expansion (and continued suzerainty over Latin America). Its goal then, and now, was a global Open Door for American trade and investment....
George W. Bush may be more crude in his language and his methods than previous Presidents, but he is following the same road map. It will take more than exhortation to persuade him or his successors to do otherwise.
Indeed, it will be extremely difficult, if even possible, to behave dramatically differently. Style is one thing, substance another. Bush offends by his style. He enjoys confrontation and the humiliation of those opposed to his will. Consider his treatment of old allies like the French and Germans in the run-up to the Iraq war. Another President, like John F. Kennedy, would have put the mailed fist in a smooth glove. Yet this, with more nuance, will likely be the path pursued by John Kerry should he succeed Bush. Both his campaign speeches and his choice of advisers reaffirm an imperial role. The difference is a matter of style.
The United States today is what it is, and has been at least since 1945: a great imperial power with global interests to protect and advance. George W. Bush strikes a discordant key. Yet in most respects he sings the familiar tune, and it is unlikely to change in any major way, regardless of who occupies the White House, until the tectonic plates of the global power equation have moved into a new alignment. In the meantime, what we may have most to fear is not major war or crippling terrorist attacks but, as Brzezinski has warned, whether "global hegemony could endanger American democracy itself."
... Thirty years ago, when the terrorism debate got underway, it was widely asserted that terrorism was basically a left-wing revolutionary movement caused by oppression and exploitation. Hence the conclusion: Find a political and social solution, remedy the underlying evil — no oppression, no terrorism. The argument about the left-wing character of terrorism is no longer frequently heard, but the belief in a fatal link between poverty and violence has persisted. Whenever a major terrorist attack has taken place, one has heard appeals from high and low to provide credits and loans, to deal at long last with the deeper, true causes of terrorism, the roots rather than the symptoms and outward manifestations. And these roots are believed to be poverty, unemployment, backwardness, and inequality.
It is not too difficult to examine whether there is such a correlation between poverty and terrorism, and all the investigations have shown that this is not the case. The experts have maintained for a long time that poverty does not cause terrorism and prosperity does not cure it. In the world’s 50 poorest countries there is little or no terrorism. A study by scholars Alan Krueger and Jitka Maleckova reached the conclusion that the terrorists are not poor people and do not come from poor societies. A Harvard economist has shown that economic growth is closely related to a society’s ability to manage conflicts. More recently, a study of India has demonstrated that terrorism in the subcontinent has occurred in the most prosperous (Punjab) and most egalitarian (Kashmir, with a poverty ratio of 3.5 compared with the national average of 26 percent) regions and that, on the other hand, the poorest regions such as North Bihar have been free of terrorism. In the Arab countries (such as Egypt and Saudi Arabia, but also in North Africa), the terrorists originated not in the poorest and most neglected districts but hailed from places with concentrations of radical preachers. The backwardness, if any, was intellectual and cultural — not economic and social.
These findings, however, have had little impact on public opinion (or on many politicians), and it is not difficult to see why. There is the general feeling that poverty and backwardness with all their concomitants are bad — and that there is an urgent need to do much more about these problems. Hence the inclination to couple the two issues and the belief that if the (comparatively) wealthy Western nations would contribute much more to the development and welfare of the less fortunate, in cooperation with their governments, this would be in a long-term perspective the best, perhaps the only, effective way to solve the terrorist problem.
Reducing poverty in the Third World is a moral as well as a political and economic imperative, but to expect from it a decisive change in the foreseeable future as far as terrorism is concerned is unrealistic, to say the least. It ignores both the causes of backwardness and poverty and the motives for terrorism. ...
Herbert Bix, at Japan Focus (Sept. 2004):
[Herbert Bix is a professor of history and sociology at the State University of New York at Binghamton. He is the author of Hirohito and the Making of Modern Japan (HarperCollins, 2000), which won the Pulitzer Prize. This is a revised and expanded version of an essay that first appeared in Z-Magazine, Vol. 17, Nos. 7/8 (July-August 2004).]
In the second year of the U.S. occupation of Iraq many people in the U.S. still cling to a political tradition that confuses actually existing American society"with the ideal society that would fulfill human destiny."1 They tend to think of the United States not as the polyarchy and global empire that it is, but as the incarnation of"freedom and democracy," or at least the closest approximation to the democratic ideal that exists. Whatever their assessment of current U.S. foreign policy, they regard their country as the Promised Land, the embodiment of Western virtue, the deliverer of freedom to oppressed peoples.
Many see it, too, as the only national state that wages perpetual war for the global good. From starting a war to setting aside the prohibitions of international law and morality, the U.S. is entitled to do, beyond its borders, what it wants when it wants, provided the action can be justified in utilitarian terms of saving American lives and the U.S. Congress goes along with it.2
Whether we call this absolute veneration of"America" national essentialism or millennialism, whether we see it as the outlook of a superpower or the prerogative of a self-designated Chosen People, at its root lies"the belief that [American] history, under divine guidance, will bring about the triumph of Christian principles" and eventually the emergence of"a holy utopia."3 Such faith in the unique moral destiny of the United States may be held independently of Christian beliefs. Its historical origins, however, trace back to colonial New England, and beyond that to the Bible; and it is omnipresent in every part of the country, even though its strongest regional base presently lies in the South and West.
Long before the birth of the Republic, ideas of chosenness have been at the heart of a complicated ideology of rule that has resonated powerfully in American society.4 Both the Puritan Calvinists of the Massachusetts Bay Colony and the Protestant millenarians of the early 19th century conceived of the United States as an exceptional nation, chosen by God to be the acme of freedom and to redeem humankind. As historian Ernest Tuveson observed during the Vietnam War-era, the idea of the"redeemer nation" through which God operates is also the foundation of the notion of continuous warfare between 'good' and 'evil' people.5 Virtually every politician who exploits the religious emotions of people in the U.S. for the purpose of waging war draws on these ideas and images, embodied in religious and secular texts.
Today no single millenarian ideology exists, but rather a spectrum of religious and secular thought in which biblical ideas of a" conquering Chosen People" and visions of the United States as God's model of the world's future appear prominently.6 Just as in the past, these ideas link directly to the apocalyptic"defining moment," in which a small group of leaders at the top of society summon the people to fulfill some sacred mission of redemption, or to play a new global role for the sake of humanity.7
Usually, the decisive moments occur when the president announces the mission or proclaims the godly mandate, regardless of whether the community is actually under threat. At such times, secular and religious millenarianism can generate support for policies of imperialism and war, or for advancing democratic ideals in the process of overcoming enemies.
In the 18th and 19th centuries, politicians repeatedly used different forms of this messianic national faith to justify killing Indians and acquiring their land, conquering Mexicans, and taking over the continent. In the 20th century they used it to establish a foothold in Cuba, take control of Puerto Rico, colonize the Philippines, overcome"isolationism," and construct a global empire of a new kind.
Economic greed, racial superiority, the blind ambition of leaders, and their desire to dominate other lands and peoples remained their own justifications for killing, but invariably the civil religion concealed these baser motives. Through over two-hundred years of expansion, belief in Americans as the Chosen People, morally superior to others, has reigned, enabling U.S. political leaders to repeatedly wage war more or less at will. That same belief in Americans as the Chosen People and the U.S. nation-state as God's"redeemer nation" (Tuveson) is the basis for their intense righteousness in threatening others, yet never"allow[ing] others to call them to account."8
For the past four years President George W. Bush has followed a line of chief executives who, for reasons of power and dominion, harkened back to the Old Testament theme of the Chosen People. But few earlier presidents made a Zen-like claim to"moral clarity" their guide for policy, or acted on the world scene with such open contempt for international law and democracy. Bush and his top ideologues have carried religious Manicheanism and the powers of the imperial presidency to new levels. In the process, they have not only violated international law but trampled on the U.S. Constitution, and turned America's procedural democracy in a more authoritarian, repressive direction.9
Neither religious conviction nor bigotry drove them to these acts. But for reasons for domestic politics and their (Congressionally unsupervised) control of huge military forces, Bush and his cohorts chose to do them while posturing about God, American values, and the unique American mission to lead the world. Right after a group of radical Islamic killers attacked the United States, Bush went out of his way to make gestures of tolerance toward"good" (non-Christian hating) Muslims and to deny that his"war on terrorism" was a crusade or a holy war. These acts were designed to allay fear in the Muslim community while insulating him from liability based on the speech and actions of subordinates who would have de facto authority for actually waging the holy crusade. Bush's public posturing right after 9/11, in short, illustrated the double message that his administration sent out for the remainder of his term: formally endorse one set of rules, values, and policies for the record; secretly establish different norms, values, and policies for daily operations.
Millenarianism in the G.W. Bush era is an essential part of U.S. domestic politics. It denotes the vision that rationalizes aggression in Iraq while overlooking the geopolitical objectives -- control of energy resources and bases -- for which the war was undertaken. Millenarianism is also the rhetoric that renders publicly acceptable rabid global-interventionism as well as isolationism, which for many Republicans and Democrats are merely two sides of the same coin -- inverted forms of a simplistic, crusading approach to the world.58 Above all, millenarianism is the historic expression of a resurgent U.S. imperialism asserting its Puritan and Evangelical Christian roots while struggling to extend its hegemonic leadership. Bush-style millenarian politics, on the other hand, is hypocritical posturing about God, the patriarchal family, and"values" by calculating"realists," right-wing militarists, and Christian rightists, all bent on assuring American dominion.
During the presidency of George W. Bush the neo-conservative quest for global domination through unprovoked, preventive war found its stride. Government attention turned away from real problems of worsening global and domestic poverty, environmental havoc, and proliferating weapons of mass destruction. Bold assertions of U.S. military power and dishonest claims of moral authority to tell others how to behave followed. In less than a year, the Bush administration set an example of lawlessness for governments around the world, affording them a new justification for unleashing a dynamic of repression against their own people. Thereafter the administration spread chaos and devastation in Iraq, and instability throughout the Middle East. It also secretly authorized the U.S. armed forces to use torture (as had been done in Vietnam) knowing that it was a criminal offense under law.
If Hiroshima and Nagasaki, My Lai and Abu Ghraib, did not dent, let alone shatter, the conquering Chosen People ideology, what chance is there that U.S. failure in Iraq will? As long as U.S. political and economic institutions elude thoroughgoing reform, and American officials at the highest level enjoy total immunity for their crimes, the historic cycle will recur. Another group of privileged elites will take charge of this imperial republic and, shielded by the U.S. system of political non-accountability, skillfully manipulate the national faith to justify perpetual war.
Larry Schweikart, at freerepublic.com (Sept. 3, 2004):
It took a while to sink in, I have to admit. I didn't like the speech much---the content was fine, but Bush came across as flat compared to the Zell Milller/Arnold Schwartzenegger stemwiders.
But something gnawed at me. Bush's theme---one that he has allueded to in many contexts---emerged with momentous clarity. Hold on to your hats: Bush has reversed 70 years' worth of American political discourse. This is something even the Gipper didn't quite do, and, to be fair, he had to play Gen. John Buford to Bush's Gen. George Meade, holding the line until the reserves came up.
Still, what we witnessed last night (and forget the delivery for a moment) constituted a conceptual roll-back of the New Deal. I know. Some of you are thinking,"Huh? He spoke of expanding school programs and funding rural medical clinics." I know. But those were filler lines demanded by the realities of American life in the 21st century. It was like Lincoln throwing in a few comments about temperance before getting to the hthick meat of anti-slavery.
What made this speech a watershed was that Bush used the words"liberty,""freedom,""free," or"liberate" more than 25 times!!. (In contrast, in one of Bill Clinton's memorable 1992 speeches, he used a phrase like"family values" 11 times---but did not say the word"liberty" once!).
Those obsessed with next year's budget deficit or with the foolish Medicare prescription drug expansion are looking at the wrong thing. In Democracy in America, Alexis de Tocqueville wrote that America was based on two principles, liberty and equality, but that the former had to remain preeminiment for the latter to succeed. Ever since the New Deal, the political theme in the United States, through Republican and Democratic administrations alike, has been that of equality. This was the essence of debates over busing, the Equal Rights Amendment, affirmative action, and, most recently,"gay marriage." Every one of these focused solely on equality, and ignored liberty.
As Inspector Clouseau said after smashing a piano and being told,"That was a priceless Steinway,"
. . ."Not any more."
Bush's transformation of political discourse, beginning first with discussions of spreading liberty abroad by citing Iraq, Afghanistan, and more broadly the entire Middle East, was tied to the"ownership society." It is so remarkable a change that I guarantee you many pundits simply won't see it for years. This is partly true because to many of them, the word"liberty" has little meaning.
How dramatic was Bush's shift? Consider: in his 2000 acceptance speech, Al Gore mentioned the"environment" at least four times, and used the words"equal" or"equality." But liberty was a no-show."Free,""freedom,""liberate," and"liberty" together were mentioned fewer times than"Global Warming," which is to say, they were not mentioned once.
This is significant, and reflects a massive shift in the thinking of Americans. The New Deal is dead, finally. Tocqueville's dictum that a society that elevates liberty ahead of equality with have a great deal of both is again a governing principle in the United States.
There is one more conceptual shift yet to make, and it's too much to expect Bush to pull this off. Notice how no speaker on the Republican platform referred to"United States." Instead, it is always"America." This, too, is significant, because it reflects an ignorance of the principles of federalism that undergird our nation. But I believe we'll get to the point that even that changes. As the President said, the forces of liberty are on the march.
Daniel Pipes, in the NY Sun (Sept. 7, 2004):
"I know it when I see it" was the famous response by a U.S. Supreme Court justice to the vexed problem of defining pornography. Terrorism may be no less difficult to define, but the wanton killing of schoolchildren, of mourners at a funeral, or workers at their desks in skyscrapers surely fits the know-it-when-I-see-it definition.
The press, however, generally shies away from the word terrorist, preferring euphemisms. Take the assault that led to the deaths of some 400 people, many of them children, in Beslan, Russia, on September 3. Journalists have delved deep into their thesauruses, finding at least twenty euphemisms for terrorists:
- Assailants - National Public Radio.
- Attackers – the Economist.
- Bombers – the Guardian.
- Captors – the Associated Press.
- Commandos – Agence France-Presse refers to the terrorists both as"membres du commando" and" commando."
- Criminals - the Times (London).
- Extremists – United Press International.
- Fighters – the Washington Post.
- Group – the Australian.
- Guerrillas: in a New York Post editorial.
- Gunmen – Reuters.
- Hostage-takers - the Los Angeles Times.
- Insurgents – in a New York Times headline.
- Kidnappers – the Observer (London).
- Militants – the Chicago Tribune.
- Perpetrators – the New York Times.
- Radicals – the BBC.
- Rebels – in a Sydney Morning Herald headline.
- Separatists – the Christian Science Monitor.
And my favorite:
- Activists – the Pakistan Times.
The origins of this unwillingness to name terrorists seems to lie in the Arab-Israeli conflict, prompted by an odd combination of sympathy in the press for the Palestinian Arabs and intimidation by them. The sympathy is well known; the intimidation less so. Reuters' Nidal al-Mughrabi made the latter explicit in advice for fellow reporters in Gaza to avoid trouble on the Web site www.newssafety.com, where one tip reads:"Never use the word terrorist or terrorism in describing Palestinian gunmen and militants; people consider them heroes of the conflict."
The reluctance to call terrorists by their rightful name can reach absurd lengths of inaccuracy and apologetics. For example, National Public Radio's Morning Edition announced on April 1, 2004, that"Israeli troops have arrested 12 men they say were wanted militants." But CAMERA, the Committee for Accuracy in Middle East Reporting in America, pointed out the inaccuracy here and NPR issued an on-air correction on April 26:"Israeli military officials were quoted as saying they had arrested 12 men who were ‘wanted militants.' But the actual phrase used by the Israeli military was ‘wanted terrorists.'"
(At least NPR corrected itself. When the Los Angeles Times made the same error, writing that"Israel staged a series of raids in the West Bank that the army described as hunts for wanted Palestinian militants," its editors refused CAMERA's request for a correction on the grounds that its change in terminology did not occur in a direct quotation.)
Metro, a Dutch paper, ran a picture on May 3, 2004, of two gloved hands belonging to a person taking fingerprints off a dead terrorist. The caption read:"An Israeli police officer takes fingerprints of a dead Palestinian. He is one of the victims (slachtoffers) who fell in the Gaza strip yesterday." One of the victims!
Euphemistic usage then spread from the Arab-Israeli conflict to other theaters. As terrorism picked up in Saudi Arabia such press outlets as The Times (London) and the Associated Press began routinely using militants in reference to Saudi terrorists. Reuters uses it with reference to Kashmir and Algeria.
Thus has militants become the press's default term for terrorists.
These self-imposed language limitations sometimes cause journalists to tie themselves into knots. In reporting the murder of one of its own cameraman, the BBC, which normally avoids the word terrorist, found itself using that term. In another instance, the search engine on the BBC website includes the word terrorist but the page linked to has had that word expurgated.
Politically-correct news organizations undermine their credibility with such subterfuges. How can one trust what one reads, hears, or sees when the self-evident fact of terrorism is being semi-denied?
Worse, the multiple euphemisms for terrorist obstruct a clear understanding of the violent threats confronting the civilized world. It is bad enough that only one of five articles discussing the Beslan atrocity mentions its Islamist origins; worse is the miasma of words that insulates the public from the evil of terrorism.
David Ekbladh, in the Wilson
Quarterly (Winter 2004):
[David Ekbladh is a visiting scholar at the Johns Hopkins University School of Advanced International Studies. He is currently completing a history of modernization as an instrument of U.S. foreign relations during the 20th century.]
It was a grim autumn. The United States was trapped in an increasingly unpopular conflict, with much of the nations military strength committed to a grinding, seemingly endless struggle. America was confronted by a dangerous new enemy in the world, but critics on both sides of the political spectrum argued that the current battleground was far from the best theater in which to confront it. At the United Nations, the Security Council was in gridlock as other powers stymied U.S. initiatives. Americas allies, including the British, whose troops were fighting beside the Americans, were growing more and more uncomfortable with Washingtons bellicose rhetoric, worrying that the Americans loud talk would inflame the entire region. The United States could reassure itself with the thought that it headed an international coalition, but this was cold comfort when the U.S. Treasury was paying most of the bills for the foreign troops and local forces. There was no easy way out. Americans realized that military action had committed them inescapably to a prolonged effort to reconstruct and modernize a distant land. To abandon a country shattered by war and decades of authoritarian rule would be a poor advertisement for the type of political and economic system the United States wanted to promote.
But the situation in South Korea would improve the following year. Events in 1953 would diminish, to some extent, the anxieties that had marked the end of 1952. Exhaustion on both sides of the conflict brought a tenuous truce. Joseph Stalins death in March prompted changes in Soviet strategy. In Washington, Dwight D. Eisenhower took office, bringing with him a fresh approach to the Korean conflict, and in New York a new UN secretary general, Dag Hammarskjöld, began to revive the organizations reputation, which had declined under his predecessor, Trygve Lie. But even as the military side of the conflict lurched to a conclusion with the signing of an armistice in July 1953, and a degree of equilibrium returned to international politics, the United States was forced to confront once again its seemingly open-ended commitment to building a modern nation-state in South Korea.
That commitment had begun suddenlyalmost accidentallyin 1945. Weve forgotten today just how deep it has been and how much it has cost in blood and treasure. By 1980, the Republic of Korea had received $6 billion in nonmilitary aid from the United States, much of it during 20 years of intensive effort in South Korea between 1945 and 1965. But the development programs werent about dollars only. America aimed to remake many aspects of South Korean life in order to lay the foundation for a modern society on a Western model. It was a process subject to constant alteration, negotiation, and opposition.
American involvement in Korea began in the backwash of World War II, but it
took on increasing significance as the global Cold War evolved. Success in Korea
would allow the United States to prove to the world the superiority of its approach
to development. After Japans defeat in World War II, American and Soviet
troops rushed into the power vacuum that had been created in northeastern Asia.
Korea was abruptly freed from the colonial rule to which it had been subject
since annexation by Japan in 1910. A hasty decision in August 1945 split the
peninsula into a Soviet sphere of influence in the North and an American zone
in the South. In a late-night meeting at the State Department, Americans suggested
the 38th parallel as the boundary between the twoand were surprised when
the Soviets accepted. They should not have been. The demarcation resembled an
agreement made some 50 years earlier between Japan and tsarist Russia when both
were vying for dominance in Korea. ...
[John Prados is a senior analyst with the National Security Archive in Washington, D.C., and editor, with Margaret Pratt-Porter, of the book Inside the Pentagon Papers (University of Kansas Press).]
To suggest that John Kerry lied in describing American atrocities when he returned home from Vietnam, a number of conservative commentators have noted that he relied on the testimony of the Winter Soldier Investigation, a meeting of antiwar vets that took place in 1971. Last week, National Review editor Rich Lowry described the investigation as a "since-discredited project that gathered first-person accounts of alleged atrocities from American vets." Earlier this month, Eric Fettman wrote in The New York Post that the investigation was hatched by a "conspiracy crackpot" and later exposed as a "mass of fabrications." And a host of conservative websites piled on, explaining to readers that the winter soldiers had long since been exposed as frauds.
The problem with this line of analysis is that the Winter Soldier Investigation was never discredited. A handful of individual stories may have been called into question, but the main thrust of the soldiers' testimonies--that American atrocities were widespread in Vietnam--is today beyond dispute. Indeed the emergence of new evidence during the last 30 years has only solidified the winter soldiers' overall case.
The Winter Soldier Investigation took place in Detroit in 1971. For three days, beginning on January 31, members of Vietnam Veterans Against the War (VVAW) related their personal experiences of events that constituted war crimes or violations of international law. VVAW had carefully prepared this public testimony, asking speakers only to relate events of which they had direct knowledge. Veterans wrote preliminary accounts of their testimonies on questionnaires; VVAW staff then went through huge numbers of these questionnaires before selecting the individuals who would be asked to present evidence. Every veteran who presented in Detroit had to show a copy of his military papers (the military form known as DD-214) to demonstrate that he had actually been present at the places and times he was speaking about. The papers of VVAW today contain boxes upon boxes of the questionnaires and records of this event. They show not only that the testimonies were prepared meticulously, but that the evidence actually presented in Detroit in early 1971 represented only a small percentage of the total number of questionable events these soldiers witnessed in Vietnam.
The veterans who appeared at the Winter Soldier Investigation included both officers and enlisted men--more than a hundred in all--with service dates from 1963 through 1970. They represented a wide array of units: the Special Forces (Green Berets); the 1st and 3rd Marine Divisions; the 1st Cavalry Division; the 101st Airborne Division; the 173rd Airborne Brigade; the 4th 9th, 25th, and Americal Infantry Divisions; and other units as well. Soldiers in Detroit testified to civilians killed in "reconnaissance by fire," that is, gunfire aimed at a village before troops entered it; brutal interrogations; people's heads or ears cut off to frighten others; villagers forcibly relocated and their homes destroyed; prisoners mistreated; and numerous other abuses.
Later that year, John Kerry carried these stories to the public in both his congressional testimony and in his public appearances. The allegations were hotly disputed at the time by veterans such as John O'Neill, who has now resurfaced as a leader of the anti-Kerry group Swift Boat Veterans for Truth. O'Neill and Kerry debated each other on the "Dick Cavett Show" on June 30, 1971, with O'Neill demanding that the winter soldiers give "depositions" in order to prove the veracity of their allegations.
But the current claim by conservatives that the Winter Soldier Investigation was discredited can be most directly traced to a 1978 book by Guenther Lewy called America in Vietnam, which attempted an early form of the argument that the U.S. won the Vietnam war. In the main, Lewy merely reprised John O'Neill's objections from the "Dick Cavett Show." Lewy's primary evidence consists of noting that VVAW members refused to give depositions. When the Naval Investigative Service tried to pull VVAW members into an inquiry, it found one Marine who either could not or would not give details of what he had seen and allegedly located several other veterans who said they had never gone to Detroit. (O'Neill had cited this same information in his televised debate with Kerry.) But even if true, these incidents were far too limited to establish anything in particular about the Winter Soldier Investigation; the fact that some of the winter soldiers declined to give depositions does not prove or disprove the legitimacy of the entire project. The VVAW leadership left it up to individual members to decide how to respond to requests for depositions. And veterans had good reasons to decline. For one thing, they argued that their purpose was to protest U.S. policy, not to draw attention to individual soldiers. What's more, with the VVAW under direct assault from the Nixon administration, it's understandable that the group's members were loathe to cooperate with government investigators.
The remaining plank in Lewy's case against the winter soldiers consists merely of noting the participation in Detroit of JFK assassination conspiracy theorist Mark Lane. And even in attempting to cast doubt on the veracity of the winter soldiers' allegations, Lewy also wrote that "incidents similar to some of those described at the VVAW hearing undoubtedly did occur"; that policies such as the military's emphasis on "body count" certainly "created an atmosphere conducive to atrocities"; that in 1967 Vietnam field commander General William Westmoreland had to issue orders prohibiting cutting ears or fingers off the bodies of the dead; and that the conduct of a war without fronts "created a setting especially conducive to atrocities."
Other claims put forward at the Winter Soldier Investigation--such as an allegation that the Marines made an incursion into Laos (Operation Dewey Canyon) that was illegal under U.S. law--were later shown to be true. And in the years since the winter soldiers convened in Detroit, the general premise of their gathering has been validated: American soldiers did indeed commit atrocities in Vietnam; the most famous, the My Lai massacre of March 1968, was merely the starting point. The names of villages like Son Thang and Thanh Phong, locales of other acknowledged atrocities, are now burned into the memory of historians. The actions of Tiger Force of the 327th Airborne Infantry in the Central Highlands in 1967 are still today under investigation as war crimes. (Indeed veterans of Tiger Force have acknowledged the atrocities and have appeared on television to describe their roles and remorse.) And the Phoenix Program led to thousands of deaths despite efforts by the CIA's William Colby to impose legal strictures on program activities....
[Zainab Bahrani is professor of ancient near eastern art history and archaeology, Columbia University.]
The destruction of the Bamiyan Buddhas by the Taliban was met with an outcry in the United States, Britain and the countries that form the coalition in Iraq. Yet the coalition forces can now claim, among other things, the destruction of the legendary city of Babylon.
Ironically, the bombing campaign of 2003 had not damaged archeological sites. It was only in the aftermath, during the occupation, that the most extensive cultural destruction took place. At first there was the looting of the museums under the watch of coalition troops, but that was to be followed by more extensive and active destruction.
Active damage of the historical record is ongoing at several archeological sites occupied as military camps. At Babylon, I have seen the continuing construction projects, the removal of and digging into the ancient mounds over the past three months, despite a coalition press release early in June stating that work would halt, and the camp would be removed.
A helicopter landing zone, built in the heart of the ancient city, removed layers of archeological earth from the site. The daily flights of the helicopters rattle the ancient walls and the winds created by their rotors blast sand against the fragile bricks. When my colleague at the site, Maryam Moussa, and I asked military personnel in charge that the helipad be shut down, the response was that it had to remain open for security reasons, for the safety of the troops.
Between May and August, the wall of the Temple of Nabu and the roof of the Temple of Ninmah, both sixth century BC, collapsed as a result of the movement of helicopters. Nearby, heavy machines and vehicles stand parked on the remains of a Greek theatre from the era of Alexander of Macedon. The minister of culture has asked for the removal of military bases from all archeological sites, but none has yet been relocated.
Iraq is ancient Mesopotamia, otherwise called the" cradle of civilisation". It has more than 10,000 listed archeological sites, as well as hundreds of medieval and Ottoman Muslim, Christian and Jewish monuments. The coalition did not establish a means of guarding the sites, though they would be protected in any other country rich in antiquities. As a result, archeological sites are being looted to an extent previously unimagined.
The looting supplies the appetites of an international illicit trade in antiquities, and many objects end up in places like Geneva, London, Tokyo and New York. The lack of border controls has only added to the ease with which the illegal trade in Mesopotamian artefacts functions. The looting leaves the sites bulldozed and pitted with robber holes. Ancient walls, artefacts, scientific data are all destroyed in the process.
Juan Cole, at his blog (Aug. 24, 2004):
QUESTION: You’re not going to Athens this week, are you?
BUSH: Athens, Texas?
QUESTION: The Olympics in Greece.
BUSH: Oh, the Olympics. No, I’m not.
QUESTION: Have you been watching?
BUSH: Yes. It’s been exciting.
QUESTION: Did a particular moment stand out?
BUSH: A particular moment?
I liked the -- let’s see -- Iraqi soccer. I liked seeing the Afghan woman carrying the flag coming in.
I loved our gymnasts. I have been watching the swimming. I have seen a lot.
He had earlier said,
BUSH: . . . You know, we’ve got a great record when you think about it. Led the world in the war on terror. The world is safer as a result of the actions we’ve taken. Afghanistan is no longer run by the Taliban. Saddam Hussein sits in a prison cell. Moammar Gadhafi has gotten rid of his weapons. Pakistan is an ally in the war on terror.Bush in these remarks continued to try to exploit the presence of Afghanistan and Iraq at the Olympics for his presidential campaign. The problem is, he has a different definition of"freedom" than do the people of whom he is speaking.
There’s more work to be done in fighting off these terrorists. I clearly see that. I understand that we’ve got to use all resources at our disposal to find and bring these people to justice.
The Bush campaign is defining freedom as the absence of indigenous tyranny. Thus, they claim to have liberated 50 million persons (25 each in Afghanistan and Iraq) since September 11, insofar as they overthrew the Taliban and Saddam Hussein.
But to date, no one in either country has been freely and openly elected by the popular electorate. The US has more or less appointed the governments of both countries (in consultation with other international actors). Even one Iraqi cabinet minister admitted last spring that the then Interim Governing Council was no more representative than had been the Baath government.
The Western press often confuses a government that reflects the composition of the country with a"representative" one. Thus, the Interim Governing Council had and the new national advisory council has representatives from all over Iraq, and some journalists have said the council is the most representative body Iraq has had since 1958. But this allegation ignores the undemocratic way in which it was chosen.
As for Afghanistan, the Bush administration simply turned it back over to the pre-Taliban warlords who had fought the Soviets in alliance with the US and then had fallen to squabbling when the US walked away, reducing much of the country to rubble. Herat province is ruled by Ismail Khan, Mazar by Abdul Rashid Dostam, etc., etc. Even really bad guys like Abu Sayyaf have their fiefdoms in the Pushtun areas (although he broke with the Taliban, it would be hard to distinguish his ideas and style of ruling from theirs). This is not to mention the revival of the poppy trade, which fuels heroin smuggling to the tune of $2 billion a year, nearly half Afghanistan's gross national product.
The parliamentary elections scheduled for summer, 2004, in Afghanistan have been postponed until at least spring, 2005. Presidential elections are to be held this fall, but American-installed Hamid Karzai has enormous advantages of incumbency. These advantages recently spurred his 23 rivals to call for his resignation, threatening a boycott of the elections if he declines. There is widespread voter registration fraud.
The human rights situation is infinitely better now than under the Taliban, but the Bush administration has reneged on its pledge of a new Marshall Plan and massive reconstruction in Afghanistan. What little economic progress there has been has mostly derived from individual entrepreneurs, and some of it derives from smuggling and drugs (which have a way of backfiring as economic engines of growth because they cause so many other problems.) Getting rid of the Taliban is not the same as bringing democracy to Afghanistan. We have yet to see if that is even feasible.
Most Iraqis would define liberation as the end of the American military occupation and their ability to choose a government of their liking. It seems highly likely that the Iraqi elections scheduled for January 2005 will be postponed for a good long time, allowing caretaker Prime Minister Iyad Allawi to consolidate his power (though whether the ongoing resistance to the occupation will allow him to do so is in doubt).
Liberation as self-determination is not in evidence in either Afghanistan or Iraq. That is why the Iraqi soccer team spoke out against Bush. Samples:
' Talking to Sports Illustrated, Iraqi midfielder Salih Sadir expressed dismay at being used in Bush's re-election propaganda:"Iraq as a team does not want Mr. Bush to use us for the presidential campaign. He can find another way to advertise for himself."
"My problems are not with the American people; they are with what America has done in Iraq: destroy everything," Coach Adnan Hamad added."The American Army has killed so many people in Iraq. What is freedom when I go to the [national] stadium and there are shootings on the road?"
Ahmed Manajid, whose cousin was an insurgent killed by US soldiers, went even further, saying he would"for sure" be fighting the occupation as a member of the Iraqi resistance were he not playing soccer. '
' One of the team's midfield players, Ahmad Manajid, accused Mr Bush of"slaughtering" Iraqi men and women."How will he meet his God having slaughtered so many? I want to defend my home. If a stranger invades America and the people resist, does that make them a terrorist?" he said. 'and
' Hamad said:"One cannot separate politics and sport because of the situation in the country right now."So, the Bush definition of"liberated" and the Iraqi definition are two entirely different things.
He said the violence which continues to afflict Iraq, more than a year after Bush declared major combat there was over, meant the team could not fully enjoy its success.
"To be honest with you, even our happiness at winning is not happiness because we are worried about the problems in Iraq, all the daily problems that our people face back home, so to tell you the truth, we are not really happy," he said. '
Given that the Bush administration has turned Iraq into a failed state and a country in flames, the condition of which is far worse than the US public is allowed to know, it is quite outrageous that Bush should be trumpeting Iraq as an achievement. That he is doing so in connection with the Olympics is just tacky and probably illegal.
Will any of the Iraqi soccer players get interviewed on US television?
Mackubin Thomas Owens, in the Weekly Standard (Sept. 6, 2004):
[Mackubin Thomas Owens is professor of national security at the Naval War College. He led a Marine infantry platoon in Vietnam in 1968-69.]
We will not quickly join those who march on Veterans' Day waving small flags, calling to memory those thousands who died for the"greater glory of the United States." We will not accept the rhetoric. We will not readily join the American Legion and the Veterans of Foreign Wars--in fact, we will find it hard to join anything at all and when we do, we will demand relevancy such as other organizations have recently been unable to provide. We will not take solace from the creation of monuments or the naming of parks after a select few of the thousands of dead Americans and Vietnamese. We will not uphold the traditions which decorously memorialize that which was base and grim. . . . We are asking America to turn from false glory, hollow victory, fabricated foreign threats, fear which threatens us as a nation, shallow pride which feeds of fear.
John F. Kerry
Epilogue to The New Soldier (1971)
WHEN THE VIETNAM VETERANS' MEMORIAL was unveiled in Washington, D.C., in the 1980s, there was a great deal of talk about"healing" the divisions of the Vietnam war. The controversy generated by the anti-Kerry book Unfit for Command and ads run by an organization called Swift Boat Veterans for Truth criticizing John Kerry's record in Vietnam and his actions after he returned indicates that there is still a lot of"healing" to do. Indeed, the divisions over the Vietnam war may well never heal as long as those who fought it and those who protested it are still alive. This is because the very act of remembering Vietnam places one in the midst of a culture war.
On the one side in this culture war are those who believe that Vietnam wasn't very different from other wars. The cause was just, but it was as affected by ambiguities as any other war, including World War II. In the end, the U.S. defeat was the result of strategic failure, not moral failure. Those who fought it were doing their duty as they saw it, just as their fathers and grandfathers had done theirs when the times demanded it of them.
On the other side are those for whom the Vietnam war represented the very essence of evil. The United States had no business fighting this war and could never have won it. It was not like other wars. All it did was wreck lives, American and Vietnamese. It was one continuous atrocity. War crimes were par for the course. Those who fought it were different from those who fought the"good war." They returned home psychologically if not physically crippled--homeless, drug addicted, and likely to commit suicide....
During his presidential campaign, John Kerry has sought to portray himself as a member of the first group--a veteran proud of his service in Vietnam. In his remarks on July 25 at the Democratic National Convention, Kerry said,"We [veterans] fought for this nation because we loved it. . . . I defended this country as a young man and I will defend it as president." But this sentiment is completely at odds with his infamous testimony before the Senate Foreign Relations Committee on April 22, 1971, wherein he said he and those he spoke for were"ashamed of and hated what we were called on to do in Southeast Asia. . . .And to attempt to justify the loss of one American life in Vietnam, Cambodia, or Laos by linking such loss to the preservation of freedom . . . is to us the height of criminal hypocrisy." ...
The fact is that most Americans have no idea how radical Kerry's views on Vietnam were. His April 1971 Senate testimony (reprinted in full on pages 9-12) could have been written by Chomsky or Franklin. But the larger reality is even more troubling.
In his indispensable America in Vietnam, Guenter Lewy notes the establishment of a veritable war-crimes industry, supported by the Soviet Union, as early as 1965. As Ion Mihai Pacepa, a former Romanian intelligence chief, has recounted, the Soviets set up permanent international organizations--including the International War Crimes Tribunal and the Stockholm Conference on Vietnam--"to aid or to conduct operations to help Americans dodge the draft or defect, to demoralize its army with anti-American propaganda, to conduct protests, demonstrations, and boycotts, and to sanction anyone connected with the war."
Pacepa claims to have been responsible for fabricating stories about U.S. atrocities in Vietnam and"flacking" them to Western news organizations. Lewy writes that"the Communists made skillful use of their worldwide propaganda apparatus . . . and they found many Western intellectuals only too willing to accept every conceivable allegation of [American] wrongdoing at face value." The Vietnam Veterans Against the War (VVAW), a small, radical group that never exceeded a membership of 7,000 (including John Kerry) from a pool of nearly 3 million Vietnam (and 9 million Vietnam-era) veterans, essentially"Americanized" Soviet propaganda. When he testified before the Senate in 1971, Kerry was merely repeating charges that had been making the rounds since 1965.
Kerry also claimed that containing communism was no reason to fight in Vietnam.
In our opinion, and from our experience, there is nothing in South Vietnam, nothing which could happen that realistically threatens the United States of America. . . . I want to relate to you the feeling that many of the men who have returned to this country express because we are probably angriest about all that we were told about Vietnam and about the mystical war against communism.
We found that not only was it a civil war, an effort by a people who had for years been seeking their liberation from any colonial influence whatsoever, but also we found that the Vietnamese whom we had enthusiastically molded after our own image were hard put to take up the fight against the threat we were supposedly saving them from.
We found most people didn't even know the difference between communism and democracy.
Perhaps this perspective explains the fact that John Kerry, as he proudly told the Senate, met with the North Vietnamese and Vietcong delegations in Paris in May 1970. According to his testimony, he discussed the peace proposals advanced by the North Vietnamese--especially the eight points of Madame Binh. This all took place while Americans were still fighting and dying in Vietnam. Shortly before Kerry's Senate testimony, other representatives of the VVAW met with the North Vietnamese and VC delegations in Paris.
MANY OF KERRY'S DEFENDERS contend that anti-Kerry veterans have no right to criticize his speaking out against the war, especially in view of his service in that war. But it is not his protests against the war that anger veterans so much as his method of doing so. In a recent NPR editorial, James Webb, a genuine hero of the Vietnam war (Navy Cross), the author of Fields of Fire, the best novel about Vietnam, and secretary of the Navy during the Reagan administration, observed:
For most veterans it was not that Kerry was against the war, but that he used his military credentials to denigrate the service of a whole generation of veterans. The Vietnam Veterans Against the War was a very small, highly radical organization. Their stories of atrocious conduct, repeated in lurid detail by Kerry before the Congress, represented not the typical experience of the American soldier, but its ugly extreme. That the articulate, urbane Kerry would validate such allegations helped to make life hell for many Vietnam veterans, for a very long time.
There were many individuals who returned from Vietnam troubled about the war. Some were critical of U.S. strategy, operations, and tactics in Vietnam. Others came to believe the war was wrong on moral grounds. But most did not slander their comrades using language that mirrored Soviet or Vietnamese Communist propaganda. Most did not consort with the enemy in a time of war. It was possible to oppose the war without doing what Kerry did....
I will not question Kerry's record in Vietnam. But his actions after the war are a different matter. After all, his radical views regarding Vietnam are not simply of historical interest. As the Wall Street Journal recently observed, Kerry's denunciation of the United States in 1971"presaged a career in which he has always been quick to attack the moral and military purposes of American policy--in Central America, against the Soviet Union, and of course during the current Iraq war that he initially voted for."
Did American soldiers killed and maimed in Iraq and Israeli soldiers killed and maimed in Gaza and the West Bank die for nothing? Americans are dying now because of ideologues and zealots. Israeli soldiers are dying for settlements and unattainable goals. Both are trapped.
Take the U.S. for example, bogged down in a war and occupation that should never have happened. The Bush administration and its amateurish, rigidly ideological neoconservatives and Christian Right, have recklessly dug a dark, apparently inescapable pit. The astute military analyst of the Center for Strategy and International Studies, Anthony Cordesman, in his oral testimony to the U.S. Senate Foreign Relations Committee in mid-May, put it perfectly when he condemned the “illusions” of the influential and incompetent neoconservative living room warriors who listened to no one but themselves. And much as the arrogant neoliberals of the sixties brought us Vietnam and all those war dead and wounded in body and mind, ardently pro-Likud neoconservatives have now gotten us into a lethal and unwinnable situation.
Armed with scads of money from ultra-rightwing billionaires, neocons believe they alone possessed the absolute truth. Long before 9/11 they urged an invasion of Iraq, spread fabrications about Saddam's possession ofWMDs and his alleged connection to Al Qaeda rather than looking soberly at the true source of terror, namely 0sama’s fanatics. So sure of themselves, without so much as a fleeting doubt, neocons famously believed the pending invasion and subsequent occupation would be a “cakewalk” and invading troops as sure to be greeted with cheers and flowers. Dissenters were denounced as virtual traitors and un-American. The unreflecting Bush bought their line and his father’s conservative skeptics like Brent Scowcroft were shown the door. No one paid attention to warnings that the war and its attendant resentments and hatreds might create a thousand more clones of Bin Laden.
The Israel - Palestine conflict is, however, quite another thing. Despite Israel’s intimate ties with the White House and neoconservatives, their war remains a mutual tragedy of disastrous proportions since whole populations are endangered. Its legacy will fuel and sustain Palestinian hatred of Israel and Jews for generations.
Israel’s vaunted military is as frustrated and stymied as America’s, trapped in a cycle of tit for tat violence with no end. Its politicians as impotent as America’s. Indeed, the recent savagery in Gaza may be among the worst. “Pointless destruction,” a Ha’aretz editorial said when news of the brutalizing of the people of the Rafeh refugee camp arrived. Children were killed and wounded in the assault, innocent people saw their homes smashed and then left homeless, and even the tiny Gaza zoo, once a haven for kids, was wrecked, because of weapons supposedly being shipped through tunnels and the suddenly discovered need to widen the Philadelphi Route dividing Palestine Gaza from Egypt. Meanwhile, the murders go on.
“Death and destruction and more death and destruction,” rightly says the Israeli Gershon Baskin, co-director of the Israel-Palestine Center for Research and Information. “Palestinians kill Israelis and Israelis kill Palestinians and no end in sight.”
Shouldn’t we ask Israelis if there are no limits to cruelty against the innocent even when you say you are defending yourself? The same question needs to be asked of Arafat and Hamas, both seeking revenge rather than justice or a solution.
Both sides assert a claim of moral legitimacy but only on their own terms. Neither deals with the carnage brought about by their actions. Asserting the right of self-defense and liberation, each is blind to the other. This mutual madness goes on, resisted, thankfully, by Israel’s best-- resisting reservists and pilots, high school students, conscientious objectors, and the more than 150,000 Israelis who recently turned out in Tel Aviv to cry out, “Enough.”
0f course, it would be wonderful if more Palestinians also said “Enough,” but the fourth most powerful military state in the world is the occupying power, with its conscript army, sophisticated weaponry, and store of nuclear arms. Genuflecting mainstream American Jewish organizational bureaucrats are mute, fearful of offending Bush’s Washington or having its wealthy donors snubbed by whoever is in power in Jerusalem. And opportunistic and pusillanimous American politicians, who rarely fail to flaunt their everlasting and profound “love” for Israel, are afraid to speak publicly about the latest outrage against Palestinian innocents. Heaven forbid there should ever be a searching, even heated public debate about the U.S.-Israeli-Palestinian relationship in the Congress and White House without organized Jewry charging critics with anti-Semitism.
Since both sides are ensnared in their mutual fear and loathing, there is no way out but painful compromise. And that will never happen unless the United States – despite its failures in Iraq -- under a new, more realistic presidential administration, begins playing the central role as a trusted, impartial neutral, shepherding a reasonably fair agreement favoring neither side. Of course it won’t be easy. It may even be impossible. But the alternative is to maintain the status quo and continue endlessly with killing and revenge killing. Tit for tat.
Stanley Kutler, in the Chicago Tribune (Aug. 27, 2004):
The Vietnam War lies like an angry scar across America. Sen. John Kerry's presidential candidacy provides yet another occasion for renewed skirmishes.
The "First Vietnam War" resulted from a futile French attempt to restore their Indochina empire from 1945 until their defeat at Dien Bien Phu in 1954. The United States then provided substantial economic aid and military guarantees to the newly created Republic of South Vietnam. When the North Vietnam government resumed hostilities--following our broken promise to allow free elections--we actively intervened with our longest war, ending in our withdrawal in 1973 and the collapse of the puppet government two years later. Following that, we embarked on the "Third Vietnam War," a new American civil war, in which we furiously debated the propriety of the war, demonize the 1960s, haggle over our posture toward the Vietnamese government, or insist that every aged Frenchman or drug addict spotted in Vietnam was a prisoner of war.
Finally, in 1994, President Bill Clinton, with considerable aid from Sen. John McCain (R-Ariz.) and Sen. John Kerry (D-Mass.), normalized relations, essentially making Vietnam safe for American investment. When John Laurence, a former CBS reporter, returned to Vietnam, an American official ruefully rather than ironically remarked, "You know, it would have been a lot easier if they had just let us win the war." Make no mistake: Twenty years have passed since Vietnam was unified, but our bitterness lingers. When Clinton announced he would send low-level envoys to Vietnam, Rep. Henry Hyde (R-Ill.), the then new Republican chairman of the House International Affairs Committee, denounced him for having "broken trust" with the American people.
We are just over two months away from a presidential election, one that offers a referendum on a sitting president. This time the incumbent has shifted American policy in significant new directions, with a doctrine of pre-emptive war and a revised version of wars of national liberation, yet one that carefully avoids conflict with formidable enemies. Vietnam has considerable usefulness as a practical lesson against such notions, but that is not what the current discussion is all about. Instead, a group of embittered partisans, substantially aided by legal and financial advice from President Bush's supporters, has generated an astounding array of charges questioning the Democratic candidate's war record. The media, apparently deciding that Iraq, the economy, the politicization of scientific research, prescription drug care, the prospect for privatization of social security, energy policy and the fiscal policies of the government are of no moment, have provided abundant space and legitimacy for our newfound fascination with the saga of swift boats. Why are we in the Vietnam quagmire once again?
Memories linger and corrode our politics. The "Bloody Shirt" prevailed in 10 presidential elections after the Civil War. Democrats ran against Herbert Hoover and the Great Depression for nearly 30 years. Republicans for the past 30 years have channeled their dissatisfaction with the 1960s transformation of the culture and "values" into monumental struggles over abortion, stem-cell research and capital punishment. Mercifully, long hair is no longer fighting ground.
The war on the 1960s is couched very much in macho terms. The assault on American foreign and military policies, critics charge, resulted in a lingering defeatism and paralysis for the United States. The permissiveness spawned in the 1960s arises, it is said, from both weakness and lack of principle. House Republican leader Tom DeLay has provided a new twist. If George W. Bush had been president in the 1960s, he has said, we would have won the Vietnam War.
John Kerry volunteered for Vietnam. His shipmates have testified to his bravery and his saving some of their lives. By official accounts, he served with distinction, even heroically. His detractors have offered us absolutely no credible evidence to belittle his war record, except to raise doubt if he actually was in Cambodian waters. One prominent Republican veteran remarked that he does not recall any directional signs stating, "Welcome to Cambodia."
Kerry's detractors have diverted their attention to his anti-war record. And now the cat is out of the bag. Kerry's turn against the war struck at their conscious images of their own efforts, however heroic or ordinary. A wrong war? One with unnecessary American brutalities and war crimes? Those who complain about Kerry and others who pointed to atrocities on both sides in the Vietnam conflict have forgotten not only My Lai but Abu Ghraib--not to mention acts of unnecessary cruelty by Americans and their enemies in other wars....
The war becomes ever more murky and ambiguous in American minds as time recedes. The astonishing irony is that the blame cannot all fall on Kerry's detractors. Lyndon Johnson, Richard Nixon, Henry Kissinger and Ronald Reagan insisted that Vietnam was a "noble crusade." The nation never really bought into that dubious proposition, freighted as it was with self-serving political calculations. But nobility apparently is now fashionable.
President Bush has called Kerry's service noble. And as journalist Christopher Hitchens recently observed, Kerry's brandishing of his military record, coupled with the Democrats' loyal backing of him, has unintentionally bestowed on the Vietnam War what even Ronald Reagan couldnot: nobility.
The Swiftboat vet story is now in day 23 and counting, with no indication whatsoever
of disappearing anytime soon. The fact that Unfit for Command has now reached
#1 on the bestseller lists is itself a fact to be reckoned with. But there are
larger currents swirling around the swiftboat controversy---currents that go straight
to the heart of a liberal---and arrogant---media.
Evan Thomas has flatly admitted the "mainstream" media is on board Kerry's little boat. Except there is a problem: both Kerry and his media buddies suffer from the same condescending, know-it-all, smug, arrogance that makes them loathe to accept advice or seek help from anyone. This means that, unlike what the Kerry campaign is whining about with the Swiftboat vets and the Bush campaign, there was in fact probably very little collaboration between Kerry and his media buddies. There didn't need to be: they have a "conspiracy of shared values." This, however, meant that when the media leaped to Kerry's defense, first by trying to tar all the fine vets in the book, then next by trying to tie Bush and Rove to the ads, they inadvertently poured nitroglycerin on a small fire that now none of them can put out.
It works like this. When you were in school, perhaps playing softball, and were called out at second, you complained that the second baseman cheated. He "got in my way." The teacher's ruling stands, and you are out. But you continue to complain, and whine, and become obnoxious. The teacher's decision never changes----but the rest of the classmates' opinion of you does! Kerry's initial whining, now picked up by the liberal media, is slowly convincing millions of Americans that he is not a leader, and, for at least some who hear about the controversy, they now say, "what ads? What book? Why is he unfit?" Increasingly, it may not be that people even believe the evidence in the Swiftboat vets' book (which, if I may say, is incredibly powerful and damning). But that's irrelevant: it has now erased two years' worth of Democratic ground-laying with the 9/11 commission and the "Bush lied about WMDs" claims. In just over three weeks, Kerry and the media have leveled the playing field, at the same time removing Kerry's only serious credential for arguing that he would wage an effective war on terror.
The most amazing thing is that even today, the media is back at it, covering the Max Cleland fiasco and Kerry's latest legal maneuvers. This was to be expected when an arrogant press allies with an arrogant candidate. Polls out this week show Kerry getting hammered across the board---everywhere from state polls in OH, FL (where he now trails), MI (where his lead is down to 3%), IA and WI (where he is only tied or trails), and AZ (where he is on the verge of being blown out. Investor's Business Daily has analyzed the strength of his support, and found that his "strong" support is only 2/3 that of Bush's, meaning these "voters" ain't gonna be there on election day. Now, today, the LA Times (which has undersampled Republicans even in this poll) and, a few days ago, Gallup both have Kerry down by 3% nationally.
And the best news is that two other unintended consequences have come, or will come, out of the Swiftboat ads: 1) We are finally debating the justification of the Vietnam war and the rationale for opposing communism (and Kerry's position is losing once again); and 2) the media has suddenly decided that campaign finance reform isn't so great. Look for Congress to reassess CFR, and possibly repeal it next year, after Bush wins handily.
Daniel Pipes, in the NY Sun (Aug. 27, 2004)
It's not every day that the U.S. Department of Homeland Security revokes a visa issued to a Swiss-national scholar scheduled to teach at one of America's premier universities. But this has just happened, and it's a good thing too.
The Swiss scholar is Tariq Ramadan. He is Islamist royalty – his maternal grandfather, Hasan al-Banna, founded the Muslim Brotherhood, probably the single most powerful Islamist institution of the twentieth century, in Egypt in 1928. Tariq is a Swiss citizen because his father, Sa‘id Ramadan, also a leading Islamist, fled from Egypt in 1954 following a crackdown on the brotherhood. Sa‘id reached Geneva in 1958, where Tariq was born in 1962.
Thanks to his pedigree and his talents, Tariq has emerged as a significant force in his own right. Symbolic of this, Time magazine in April named him one of the world's top hundred scientists and thinkers. And so, when Notre Dame University went looking for a Henry R. Luce professor of religion, conflict and peacebuilding, it unsurprisingly settled on Mr. Ramadan.
Its offer was made and accepted by the beginning of 2004; a work visa followed in February. Mr. Ramadan bought a house, found schools for his four children, and dispatched his personal effects to South Bend, Ind. He was supposed to start teaching a few days ago.
But on July 28, just nine days before the Ramadans were to leave for America, Mr. Ramadan was informed that the Department of Homeland Security had revoked his work visa. A DHS spokesman, Russ Knocke, later explained this had been done in accord with a law that denies entry to aliens who have used a"position of prominence within any country to endorse or espouse terrorist activity." The revocation, Mr. Knocke added, was based on"public safety or national security interests.
What's up? The DHS knows much more than I do, but it is not talking. A review of the press, however, gives an idea of what the problem is. Here are some reasons why Mr. Ramadan might have been kept out:
- He has praised the brutal Islamist policies of the Sudanese politician Hassan Al-Turabi. Mr. Turabi in turn called Mr. Ramadan the"future of Islam."
- Mr. Ramadan was banned from entering France in 1996 on suspicion of having links with an Algerian Islamist who had recently initiated a terrorist campaign in Paris.
- Ahmed Brahim, an Algerian indicted for Al-Qaeda activities, had"routine contacts" with Mr. Ramadan, according to a Spanish judge (Baltasar Garzón) in 1999.
- Djamel Beghal, leader of a group accused of planning to attack the American embassy in Paris, stated in his 2001 trial that he had studied with Mr. Ramadan.
- Along with nearly all Islamists, Mr. Ramadan has denied that there is"any certain proof" that Bin Laden was behind 9/11.
- He publicly refers to the Islamist atrocities of 9/11, Bali, and Madrid as"interventions," minimizing them to the point of near-endorsement.
And here are other reasons, dug up by Jean-Charles Brisard, a former French intelligence officer doing work for some of the 9/11 families, as reported in Le Parisien:
- Intelligence agencies suspect that Mr. Ramadan (along with his brother Hani) coordinated a meeting at the Hôtel Penta in Geneva for Ayman al-Zawahiri, deputy head of Al-Qaeda, and Omar Abdel Rahman, the blind sheikh, now in a Minnesota prison.
- Mr. Ramadan's address appears in a register of Al Taqwa Bank, an organization the State Department accuses of supporting Islamist terrorism.
Then there is the intriguing possibility, reported by Olivier Guitta, that Osama bin Laden studied with Tariq's father in Geneva, suggesting that the future terrorist and the future scholar might have known each other.
Ramadan denies all ties to terrorism, but the pattern is clear. As Lee Smith writes in The American Prospect, he is a cold-blooded Islamist whose" cry of death to the West is a quieter and gentler jihad, but it's still jihad."
These reasons explain why Americans should thank DHS for keeping Tariq Ramadan out of America.
But the story is not over: the State Department has in effect encouraged Ramadan to reapply for a different type of visa, making the recent developments probably just round one of a drawn-out match.
Niall Ferguson, in the WSJ (Aug. 27, 2004)
It is doubtless not the most tactful question to ask on the eve of the Republican convention, but might it not be better for American conservatism if George Bush failed to win a second term?
Yes, I know, the official GOP line is that nothing could possibly be as bad for the U.S. as a Kerry presidency. According to the Bush campaign, John Kerry's record of vacillation and inconsistency in the Senate would make him a disastrously indecisive POTUS -- an IMPOTUS, as it were. By contrast, they insist, Mr. Bush is decisiveness incarnate. And when this president makes a decision, he sticks to it with Texan tenacity (no matter how wrong it turns out to be).
It is a mistake, however, to conceive of each presidential contest as an entirely discrete event, a simple, categorical choice between two individuals, with consequences stretching no further than four years.
To be sure, there are many tendencies in American political life that will not be fundamentally affected by the outcome of November's election. For example, contrary to what Mr. Kerry claimed in his convention speech, there are profound structural causes for the widening rift between the U.S. and its erstwhile allies on the European continent that no new president could possibly counteract. And regardless of whether Mr. Bush or Mr. Kerry is in the White House next year, the U.S. will still be stuck with the dirty work of policing post-Saddam Iraq with minimal European assistance other than from Britain -- which, by the same token, will remain America's most reliable military ally . . . regardless of whether Mr. Bush or Mr. Kerry is in the White House.
Nor would the election of Mr. Kerry have the slightest impact on the ambition of al Qaeda to inflict harm on the U.S. Even if Americans elected Michael Moore as president, Osama bin Laden would remain implacable.
In geopolitical terms, at least, what happens on Nov. 2 will change very little indeed. Yet in other respects -- and particularly in terms of party politics -- the election's consequences could be far-reaching. It is not too much to claim that the result could shape American political life for a decade or more....
In my view, the Bush administration, too, does not deserve to be re-elected. Its idée fixe about regime change in Iraq was not a logical response to the crisis of 9/11. Its fiscal policy has been an orgy of irresponsibility. Given the hesitations of independent voters in the swing states, polls currently point to a narrow Bush defeat....
But then what? The lesson of British history [--a flawed John Major won election, which led to the demise of the Tories for seven years and counting--]is that a second Bush term could be more damaging to the Republicans and more beneficial to the Democrats than a Bush defeat. If he secures re-election, President Bush can be relied upon to press on with a foreign policy based on pre-emptive military force, to ignore the impending fiscal crisis (on the Cheney principle that "Deficits don't matter") and to pursue socially conservative objectives like the constitutional ban on gay marriage. Anyone who thinks this combination will serve to maintain Republican unity is dreaming; it will do the opposite. Meanwhile, the Dems will have another four years to figure out what the Labour Party finally figured out: It's the candidate, stupid. And when the 2008 Republican candidate goes head-to-head with the American Tony Blair, he will get wiped out.
The obvious retort is that American politics is not British politics. No? Go back half a century, to 1956, and recall the events that led up to the re-election of another Republican incumbent. Sure, Eisenhower didn't have much in common personally with George W. Bush, except perhaps the relaxed work rate. But Ike was no slouch when it came to regime change. In 1953 a CIA-sponsored coup in Iran installed as dictator Mohammed Reza Shah. In 1954 Ike enunciated the "domino theory," following the defeat of France in Vietnam and invaded Guatemala to install another pro-American dictator. In 1955 he shelled the Chinese isles of Quemoy and Matsu.
Yet Eisenhower's refusal to back the Anglo-French-Israeli invasion of Egypt following Nasser's nationalization of the Suez Canal, and his acquiescence in the Soviet invasion of Hungary, should have alerted American voters to the lack of coherence in his strategy. Predictably, Ike's re-election was followed by a string of foreign-policy reverses -- not least the overthrow of the Hashemite monarchy in Iraq, Castro's takeover of Cuba and the shooting down of Gary Powers's U-2 spy plane over the Soviet Union. These were the setbacks that lent credibility to JFK's hawkish campaign in 1960: And Kennedy's victory handed the rest of the decade to the Democrats.
Like Adlai Stevenson before him, Mr. Kerry has an aura of unelectability that may yet prove fatal to his hopes. But a Stevenson win in 1956 would have transformed the subsequent course of American political history. Conservatives may ask themselves with good reason whether defeat then might ultimately have averted the much bigger defeats they suffered in the '60s. In just the same way, moderate Republicans today may justly wonder if a second Bush term is really in their best interests. Might four years of Mr. Kerry not be preferable to eight years or more of really effective Democratic leadership?
John Steele Gordon, in the WSJ (Aug. 25, 2004):
Tort lawyers and their political minions never tire of lauding the virtues of the American legal system, especially the so-called American rule (where each side of a case pays its own costs regardless of outcome) and the election of judges. Their arguments, and the counterarguments, are well known to the readers of this page. But here's another counterargument, one that might be called the argument of the marketplace.
Good ideas tend to spread through the human universe for precisely the same reason that good genes spread through a population: They yield a benefit to those who possess them. A new technology, for instance, only succeeds in the marketplace if it is better or cheaper (or both) than the technology it replaces. Really good ideas quickly become universal.
While the U.S. has produced more than its share of good technological and commercial ideas, it has been equally fecund of good ideas for organizing and governing society. Modern democracy itself, of course, first appeared in the U.S. and has now spread to all but a few benighted corners of the globe. Even the Constitution of the Fifth French Republic states that its principle is "gouvernement du peuple, par le peuple et pour le peuple."
Or take dollars and cents. In the 1780s, Thomas Jefferson devised the world's first decimal currency system. He even coined the word dime for the 10-cent coin. Less than 200 years later, Jefferson's good idea (perhaps his only one when it comes to financial matters) had spread to every country on earth.
American law has also produced ideas that quickly spread. In the 1840s, a New York lawyer named David Dudley Field wrote a new code of civil procedure to replace the endless complexities of the common law that were so savagely depicted by Charles Dickens in "Bleak House." The Field code was quickly adopted or adapted by the other states and the federal government. In 1873, Britain used it as the basis for reforming civil law in that country and it spread from there throughout the British Empire. Today, whether you're in Boston, Brisbane or Bangalore, the code devised by a great New York lawyer is the basis of civil law.
So, if the American rule (which dates to the 1790s) and the election of judges (which dates from 1812, when Georgia first provided for the election of some judges) are such good ideas, as the tort lawyers claim, why has neither spread beyond the borders of the U.S.? The alternative to the American rule, where the loser pays the costs of both sides, is usually called the English rule, but it would much more accurately be called the rest-of-the-world rule. Of all major countries, only Japan uses the American rule. And in Japan's confrontation-aversive legal system, getting into court at all is very difficult. As for the election of judges, there is not another country on the planet that chooses judges that way.
It is hard to escape the conclusion that other countries have looked at the U.S. to see what happens when each side pays its own court costs (a lot of dubious law suits get settled because it's cheaper than defending them) and judges are elected (a lot of clubhouse pols and lawyer-friendly judges sit on the bench).
Having seen, they said, "No thanks!"
Daniel Pipes, at frontpagemag.com (Aug. 25, 2004):
In the early morning on July 9, 2004, a fire burned much of the Continental Spices Cash & Carry, a grocery store in Everett, Washington, specializing in Pakistani, Indian and Middle Eastern groceries. The fire caused an estimated $50,000 in damages but no injuries. On putting out the fire, police and firefighters found a gasoline can, a spray-painted obscenity against Arabs and a spray-painted white cross. Rupinder Bedi, the proprietor of a 7-Eleven next door, told the Seattle Times how he found Continental Spices' manager, Mirza Akram, 37 and a Pakistani, crying and telling him"he had been harassed by some customers earlier this summer [and that] the verbal slurs didn't stop until he threatened to call police."
Further, the Everett Herald reports,
The morning of the fire, the store manager told investigators he feared the fire had been set in retaliation for attacks on Americans in the Middle East. He claimed that the month before, two white men came to the store and became upset when they learned he had been born in Pakistan. They left the store angry.
That was the story. On August 19, however, the police arrested Akram in his store on a federal arson warrant. He stands accused of setting fire to the store to collect insurance on the building and its contents. U.S. attorneys explained in court that mounting financial losses led Akram to stage an arson and then make it look like a hate crime.
Specifically: Akram was in the process of buying Continental Spices from the Z.A. Trading Corp. of Seattle; having already paid $52,800, he owed at least another $32,200. But gross sales at Continental Spices dropped from almost $11,000 a month in 2003 to less than $3,000 a month just prior to the fire, a decline in revenues that apparently made it impossible to make the monthly purchase payment of $640 and rent payment of $1,200.
Wrongly thinking Z.A. Trading Corp.'s insurance policy covered the store, Akram allegedly schemed for months to burn it down. (Ironically, the store was not on the policy.) On the evening of July 8. he met with an unnamed male friend (who has since turned state's evidence) at his home and told the friend how he had poured gasoline inside the store and lit incense above the gasoline, expecting the incense would ignite the gasoline.
Akram allegedly had the friend drive to the store in the early morning of the 9th to see if it was on fire. He called Akram and reported that is was not. Then, about 4 a.m. on July 9, the friend entered the store and dropped burning incense into the gasoline, causing a fire to erupt so fast that it burnt the friend's trousers. He"narrowly escaped" the building without injury.
Phone records obtained by investigators show 11 calls between Akram and his friend between midnight and 4 a.m. on the day of the fire. If convicted of arson, Akram faces up to 20 years in prison.
While Akram is presumed innocent until proven guilty, this tale points once again to (1) the need to treat claims of"hate crimes" with less than total credulity and (2) the unreliability and poor judgment of the Council on American-Islamic Relations. Immediately on July 10, CAIR rushed a press release out the door,"Arsonist Torches Muslim Store in Washington," calling on"local and national leaders to address the issue of growing Islamophobic prejudice following an arson attack on a Muslim-owned business in Washington State."
That mainstream organizations persist in treating CAIR as a serious" civil rights" group baffles this observer. What more must CAIR do to make them realize what it is?
[James E. McWilliams is an assistant professor of history at Texas State University at San Marcos.]
For better or worse, election years lure many members of my profession out of the ivory tower and into the real world. As political events heat up, historians are summoned to illuminate the political landscape for a wide audience that suddenly craves the insights our expertise supposedly qualifies us to deliver. Generally the appeals flatter, and generally we descend and comply.
Traditionally, the most conspicuous obstacle to our effectiveness as public intellectuals has been the idea that we're all radical lefties marching in lockstep with the Democratic platform. But this stereotype is woefully inaccurate. In reality, academics -- especially middle-aged and older ones -- are just as likely to be libertarians or conservatives as they are woolly minded liberals. In point of fact, our most skewed collective bias is something more disturbing: We're pathologically close-minded.
It's an intellectual habit that we cultivate. Starting as early as graduate school (which I recently finished), future academics are forced to pursue the most minuscule topics through needlessly esoteric methods. The ultimate goal is to become an authority on a subject matter that nobody else has explored.
The problem with this expectation is that universities churn out thousands of PhDs every year, thereby slicing the available pie of thesis possibilities into ever more abstruse slices. The typical newly minted PhD about to teach his first survey course can tell you everything there is to know about, say, gender identity among poor Dutch women in colonial New York from 1700 to 1708, but have trouble recalling who was president in 1846.
Add to this hyper-specialization the professional requirement that historians usually take one intellectual stance and promote it for the duration of their careers. The few history PhDs who manage to land full-time academic jobs quickly learn that the easiest way to become distinguished in the profession is through a lifetime of scholarly dedication to a single, defining and often very small idea -- one that usually has no bearing on contemporary events. That's precisely how to"make a contribution" -- the be-all and end-all for a serious academic. More often than not, though, that contribution is to our own job security and status within a small club rather than to a public debate badly in need of a broader historical perspective.
Adding to our professional insularity is the quiet (and usually inadvertent) disdain we harbor for"the masses" we're asked to enlighten. This is a sensitive issue. The disdain mainly manifests itself in a couple of ways. First, a liberal (slightly Marxist) suspicion of market-driven writing prevents professors who otherwise have deep sympathy with"the common folk" from writing books that appeal and relate to those very people (on this score Marx could have taught them a thing or two). Authors such as the late Stephen Ambrose and David McCullough garner little respect among professional historians, largely because they stoop to write books geared for the madding crowd and -- gasp! -- make money doing it....