Roundup: Historian's Take
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.
The communities described in this article, filled with fatherless families, male unemployment rates of over 65 %, and young men who see prison as an inevitability and a rite of passage, would have been unimaginable to people who grew up in the South Bronx 50 years ago. In those neighborhoods, poor as they may have been, a strong adult male presence was still visible, in families, in the church, in schools and recreation programs, and this influence helped shape a whole generation of successful black male professionals. Without this cohort of leaders and visionaries, the research project I direct would simply not exist in its current form! < SPAN style="mso-spacerun: yes"> When we began our Oral History Project in the spring of 2003, it was a group of African American men who grew up in the Patterson Houses in the South Bronx, led by a teacher and social worker named Nathan Dukes, who drove our research forward and insisted that the story of African American in the Bronx had to be told. Among that initial group were Adrian Best, an ABC cameraman, Arnold Melrose, a T-Mobile executive, Michael Singletary, a CBS news producer and world famous artist, Joel Turner a retired IBM executive, Allen Jones a banker and radio personality in Luxembourg, and Jack Smith a lawyer and executive for PBS. All of these remarkable men grew up in public housing, and wanted to tell the world that a community largely composed of Black and Puerto Rican working class families could be safe, cohesive, nurturing and supportive of econom ic and educational achievement among its children.
What has happened between then and now? Why are so many inner city African American communities so fragmented and impoverished, and why are so many young African American men resigned to a life dominated by the underground economy and the prison industrial complex?
There is no easy answer to this question. Suburbanization and desegregation, changes in the job market and gender roles, wars, drug epidemics, and immigration, have all contributed to making inner city neighborhoods of today very different from the inner city neighborhoods of 50 years ago.
But while globalization and market forces have contributed to the tragic atmosphere in low income black communities, and hip hop culture has documented, commodified and romanticized it, social policy has also played a major role in this poisonous mix. Because of regressive taxation and privatization of public services, young people growing up in the South Bronx have far less in the way of cultural and recreational opportunities than they did fifty years ago.
When people in the Patterson Houses talk about the influences that shaped them in their childhood years, they not only talk about the parents and neighbors who watched out for them, but about the round the clock recreation programs they had access to and the mentors who guided them there. These included after school and night centers in the public schools- whose doors were open 3-5 PM and 7-9 PM every day of the week ;
organized recreation programs in schoolyards and parks, who had recreation leaders on staff as well as cleaners; and free summer day camps run out of community centers, YMCA's and boys and girls clubs. Every person from Patterson we interviewed has mentioned some recreation supervisor or teacher- many of them African American men- who played major roles in their lives during their formative years.
Tragically, most of these programs, along with the great music programs in the local public schools, were eliminated during the fiscal crisis of the 70's and so today, young people in the South Bronx have far less access to adult supervised recreation and with it, adult male mentoring, than their counterparts did 50 years ago. Instead of compensating for cultural and economic changes which have undermined the adult male presence in black working class families, we have, in the name of privatization, actually taken away opportunities for mentoring that once existed in free sports and music programs in recreation centers and the public schools.
It's time to reverse the cycle. Bring back the music! Bring back the after school and night centers! Bring back the "parkies" who ran sports leagues and made sure that kids were safe! Make every community center and summer camp in the inner city, along with museums and zoos and beaches, free for everyone who can't afford to pay.
Such reforms may not produce a revolution in family structure and academic achievement, but they will help give guidance, hope and inspiration to young people- especially young men- who now see the underground economy as their only option and prison as their destiny.
Posted on: Monday, March 20, 2006 - 16:40
SOURCE: TomDispatch.com (3-19-06)
As readers flee news on the printed page for an on-line life and classified ads head out the door for Craigslist and points west, the Washington Post became just the latest major newspaper to announce significant staff cuts. With fourth-quarter revenue down 3% from the previous year, eighty jobs -- 9% of the Post's newsroom –- are to be shed in the next twelve months. According to the New York Times, Post Executive Editor Leonard Downie, Jr. "said other cost savings could come from having foreign correspondents cover broad topics -- terrorism, say -- rather than cover specific countries, thus allowing for the elimination of some [Post] foreign bureaus."
This, of course, is the route that the TV news followed long ago, shedding foreign bureaus like so much flaky skin. Anyone who loves his or her daily dose of news in print should be dismayed at the thought of news bureaus abroad closing. It's just another way in which American isolation is likely to increase, as our bubble world, so prized by the Bush administration, continues to morph into something more permanent.
On the brighter side, though, assigning more reporters to "broad topics" might have an unexpectedly salutary effect. After all, one of the strangest aspects of the news in the Bush years has been its unwillingness to connect regional or global dots. In most cases, foreign reporting has consisted of stories about only one country (at most two) at a time.
Not so long ago, we lived in a world that the media regularly told us was being connected in ever more complex ways -- think of all that reporting on globalization in the 1990s. But for the last several years, "just disconnect" might have been the reigning news motto. If you read about the Iraq War, you get Iraq, and generally little else. No Turkey, no Israel, few Syrians, no Saudis, nor Egyptians. Reports on our little Afghan war give you Afghanistan, but certainly nothing about the fighters that, according to Syed Saleem Shahzad of Asia Times on-line, the resurgent Taliban, based in Pakistani border areas, has been sending to Iraq for training in the new ways of guerrilla warfare. (Think: IEDs and car bombs.) You would never know from stories in the American press that Iran bordered Afghanistan, or that both India and Russia have complex interests and connections there. And forget about the ‘Stans of Central Asia.) Why exactly this has been so, I leave others to analyze. That it has left our major papers strangely demobilized when it comes to offering us a picture of our world and so in an unequal contest with the Bush administration is hard to deny.
After all, the administration's top officials have had a vision of American geopolitical dominance that has been nothing if not grandly global in nature. In their version of the Great Game, they seldom even bother to deal with one country at a time -- often, as in Iraq, to their detriment. It wasn't by happenstance that they named their "war" of choice the Global War on Terror (GWOT) or that they regularly label the Iraq War not a war at all but a "theater" in their GWOT. In military, political, or energy terms, they have never hesitated to connect the dots in a vast region they once termed the "arc of instability" -- basically, the planet's oil heartlands -- into patterns of imperial dominance.
Where newspaper reporting saw individual countries that happened to have enormous oil or natural gas reserves, this administration has, from the beginning, seen global energy flows. In many ways, Bush's top officials seemed to recognize no traditional boundaries at all. No wonder they were surprised by an insurgency largely based on gut feelings about national sovereignty.
As we now know, they hit Iraq running in March 2003. They were determined to make it to Baghdad without looking back; leave their prize Iraqi, Ahmed Chalabi, in charge; and turn their attention elsewhere, especially to Syria and Iran. When it came to those two countries, they were ready to connect the dots in person and, if need be, by force of arms. They thought they could make "regime change" a regional, and then global, way of life.
Okay, it didn't quite work out. Instead, they ran into a three-year-going-on-endless roadblock. But they've never stopped thinking in these terms. The invasion of Iraq was a stunning gamble. There's no reason to believe that, in a pinch, an administration still made up of many of the same figures wouldn't take another.
Bush administration planners framed that initial gamble brilliantly, in part by moving assertively into the vacuum of non-connection that was then our mainstream media. With their own propaganda organs like Fox News and right-wing talk radio in tow, they began to connect the dots as they pleased and very publicly. There were those lines drawn between, say, the 9/11 attackers and Saddam Hussein, or weapons of mass destruction and an Axis of Evil, or Saddam's supposed WMD arsenal, African "yellowcake" uranium, and possible future mushroom clouds rising over American cities -- but this part of the story you all remember well. In doing so, they largely determined the limits of, and nature of, what "debate" there was in our media from September 12, 2001 to March 20, 2003.
Déjà Vu All Over Again in Ira…
They were of course ascendant in that period, which would seem to explain a lot. But here's the strange thing: The Bush administration is now in the dumps and the President's ratings again heading for something like freefall. The latest Pew poll gives him a 33% approval rating, leaving him heading for depths of unpopularity previously reached only by Richard Nixon in his pre-Watergate moment. And that's not the worst of it. The President's strongest suit, handling terror, has plummeted as well to 42%, an 11 point drop since January; while his once cherished trustworthiness sits at a paltry 40%. In the most recent Wall Street Journal/NBC News poll, Americans say they "prefer Democratic control of Congress after the mid-term elections" by a 50-37% margin; and, perhaps more strikingly, "a congressional candidate urging the withdrawal of all US troops from Iraq within a year would gain favor by a 50-35 percent margin, while one advocating staying ‘as long as necessary' would lose favor by 43-39 percent." And it's not as if matters are going peachily elsewhere either. In Iraq, for instance, everything seems to be plummeting (except civilian death tolls) -- and that includes, for instance, electricity availability and oil production.
And yet, give this administration credit. By connecting those dots (while the media generally doesn't), they have been able, despite their position of increasing weakness, to continue to frame, and so drive, the debate, such as it is, in this country. Under the circumstances, this is nothing short of miraculous -- the latest example being the way they have both escalated and contextualized the nuclear crisis with Iran (with a goodly helping hand from that country's fundamentalist President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad) simply by following -- almost without contradiction in the press -- a well-trodden Iraqi path.
On a visit to Washington recently, Sergei Lavrov, the Russian Foreign Minister, remembering the run-up to the invasion of Iraq in 2003, commented: "It looks so déjà vu, you know. I don't believe we should engage in something which might become self-fulfilling prophecy."
What's déjà vu, of course, is the way the administration has been assertively connecting its chosen Iranian dots to other dots of its choice. In the first of a new wave of Iraq speeches (before the hawkish Foundation for the Defense of Democracies), the President spoke of how the Iranians were sending the makings for advanced IEDs (roadside explosives) into Iraq to kill Americans. ("Some of the most powerful IEDs we're seeing in Iraq today includes components that came from Iran. Our Director of National Intelligence, John Negroponte, told the Congress, ‘Tehran has been responsible for at least some of the increasing lethality of anti-coalition attacks by providing Shia militia with the capability to build improvised explosive devises' in Iraq.) Secretary of Defense Donald Rumsfeld accused the Iranians of "dispatching the Al-Quds Division of its Revolutionary Guard to ‘stir trouble inside Iraq.'" Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice declared Iran the "central banker for terrorism" in the Middle East as well as the single most dangerous threat to the United States on the planet. And just last week, the administration released its latest version of the U.S. National Security Strategy, reiterating its belief in "preventive war," threatening a future Iran/U.S. "confrontation," and ramping up that relatively impoverished, fractious, mid-sized regional power with enormous oil and natural gas reserves, into a near Cold War-level public enemy number one. Its key line was, "We may face no greater challenge from a single country than from Iran," and Secretary of State Rice began running with it instantly.
Every one of these statements, as well as a drumbeat of others in recent weeks, is at best questionable; a number like the IED charges are probably ludicrous. (For those wanting to understand why, don't miss Juan Cole's recent piece at Truthdig.comin which he writes, "The guerrillas in Iraq are militant Sunnis who hate Shiites, and it is wholly implausible that the Iranian regime would supply bombs to the enemies of its Iraqi allies.") But every one of these claims and assertions has one thing in common -- a familiar ring to it from the run-up to the invasion of Iraq. This is especially true, of course, of the various charges about Iran's nuclear program (which Cole also handles superbly).
When it comes to Iranian WMDs, no serious analyst claims that the country could possibly produce a nuclear weapon for, at best, years; yet at this moment we find ourselves in a crisis leading, many signs indicate, to the possible launching of a massive "preventive" American air attack on Iranian nuclear facilities, some in heavily populated urban areas, and undoubtedly Iranian air defenses as well, later this year or early in 2007. For those in the media who claim that the U.S. military is too overstretched for such a campaign, think again. This is true only of the Army, which probably would not be used. Despite a recent upsurge in air attacks in Iraq, the Air Force and especially the Navy are quite underutilized right now and reputedly raring to show their stuff. On the other hand, unlike Iraq, which was in 2003 a toothless, fifth rate power incapable of harming Americans, the Iranians do have a multitude of ways of striking back -- including at the 130,000 American troops just across the border in tumultuous Iraq.
When it comes to the Iranian nuclear program in particular, the Bush administration has been nothing short of brilliant in connecting only those dots that put it in the worst possible light, while isolating it from every other nuclear program on Earth, from what Jonathan Schell has dubbed our global "atomic archipelago." At this, top administration officials continue to prove themselves unbelievably competent; in part because, without those Downie-esque "broad topics" to cover, the press -- with rare honorable exceptions like a recent Peter Baker and Glenn Kessler Post piece, U.S. Campaign Is Aimed at Iran's Leaders -- has proved so abysmally incompetent in creating more reasonable patterns on its own.
But let's, for a moment, imagine a Washington Post reporter taken from the South Asia bureau and assigned to an overarching global nuclear beat. Let's imagine that he or she started with India, a country which, unlike Iran, would be in thorough violation of the Nuclear Non-Proliferation Treaty (NPT), had it ever signed on. With a major military program and now nuclear-armed, it has come to the brink of nuclear war more than once with its nuclear-armed neighbor Pakistan. Our President, of course, just visited India and offered it a non-proliferation-whacking sweetheart deal on nuclear fuel and technology. Next door, of course, is nuclear-armed Pakistan, a shaky military regime and U.S. ally that has lost control of some of its border regions to the Taliban, elements of al Qaeda, and a growing fundamentalist opposition which, should it ever come to power, would find itself instantly in possession of a full-scale nuclear arsenal.
Skip Afghanistan (nothing but warlords and opium) and you've made it to Iran, whose nuclear program, begun with American help back in the days of the Shah and continued with secret aid from our ally Pakistan, is now in question. Then jump over to Israel, which, like India, has never signed on to the NPT and possesses (but refuses to publicly acknowledge) a near-civilization busting arsenal of 200-300 nuclear weapons. You can read the American press for months at a time without the slightest mention of the Israeli nuclear arsenal, though the as-yet-nonexistent Irani dominates the front-page day after day.
Finally, that Post reporter might take a glance at the country charging Iran with nuclear crimes worthy of a future full-scale assault, the U.S. (You can also hunt our press practically in vain for any discussion of the Iranian nuclear "arsenal" in the context of the American one.) In fact, the Bush administration has been intent on expanding and "modernizing" our already staggering nuclear arsenal of almost 10,000 weapons, while putting new nuclear weapons on the drawing board and dreaming about how to use "tactical nukes" in future "rogue wars" against countries like Iran. Meanwhile, the Soviet arsenal decays and the relatively small Chinese one remains fairly stagnant. According to scholars Keir A. Lieber and Daryl G. Press in the latest issue of Foreign Affairs magazine ("The Rise of U.S. Nuclear Primacy"), the administration has by now come close to achieving a Cold War dream state: nuclear dominance. "Today, for the first time in almost 50 years," they write, "the United States stands on the verge of attaining nuclear primacy. It will probably soon be possible for the United States to destroy the long-range nuclear arsenals of Russia or China with a first strike." When you try to connect a few of these dots, a possible future Iranian "bomb," while still unpalatable, takes on a somewhat different look and you have to wonder about the administration's threats of war.
Or let's imagine a reporter from some other downsizing newspaper being pulled from the disappearing Paris bureau and given the History-of-the-Bush Administration-in-the-Middle-East archival beat. Might not that broad-topic journalist pull together the déjà-vu-all-over-again aspect of our present Iran build-up and, connecting just a few dots, make something of it? In fact, Robert Dreyfuss has already done this chillingly at Tompaine.com, pointing out everything from the "brand-new Office of Iranian Affairs at the State Department, which looks suspiciously like a step toward creating the Iraq war planning office at the Pentagon called the Office of Special Plans" to the Chalabi-like Iranian exiles gathering in Washington and the new talk of a "coalition of the willing."
That former Paris bureau reporter might even have noticed a déjà vu that Dreyfuss missed: These days, as in the run-up to the Iraq war, there is much connect-the-dots analysis (and some reporting)that steps outside the administration-defined Iranian box, but it's almost all on the Internet, and so, as in 2002-03, when it comes to Iran, most Americans see little of it. (Just to offer a few examples in addition to Cole and Dreyfuss, there was Ira Chernus at Commondreams.org, writing on Dubai as an administration "home base" for a new cold war against Iran; Ian Williams at the invaluable Asia Times on-line, considering the "slippery slope" to war; Ehsan Ahrari, also at Asia Times, on "Iran's turn for a ‘coalition of the willing'"; and Tom Porteous at Tompaine.com on the return of "regime change.")
It's an indication of the administration's success in driving the media before it and making its Iran agenda our agenda that, in a recent poll (as Inter Press Service reporter Jim Lobe pointed out), "Some 27% of respondents cite Iran as Washington's greatest menace -- three times the percentage who ranked it at the top of foreign threats just four months ago." A recent Zogby poll revealed that, while surprising numbers of Americans are now thoroughly sick of George Bush's war in Iraq, 47% of Americans nonetheless favor some kind of military action, "preferably along with European allies, to halt Iran's nuclear program."
Call it connecting the dots -- yet again -- Bush-administration style. It's sobering that the media learned so little from the last major round of this back in 2002-2003 and is reporting the Iran crisis only within the bounds of what the administration cares to have debated, while Bush, Cheney, and associates let the UN process on Iran play itself out over the coming months and prepare (possibly along with the Israelis) for a major military strike that could lead the planet into energy (and economic) chaos.
The Irrationality Factor
If this administration's top officials have proven to be dreamers on a planetary scale and immensely competent at setting the terms for debate in this country, they are in so many other ways utter incompetents. If we want to use that increasingly common term for them, however, we have to think a little about what it really means. At the most basic level, inside their bubble world these insular beings and their remarkably insulated President undoubtedly believe that they are ready to correct for errors and apply lessons learned in Iraq to the Iran crisis, but there is one lesson they are guaranteed not to have learned, the simplest but most difficult one of all: Know thyself.
In fact, their inability to gain any perspective on themselves guarantees their dangerous incompetence in the Iran crisis to come. Imagine, for instance, that their second leading diplomat, UN ambassador John Bolton, recently offered this assessment of the prospect of negotiations with Iran: "I don't think we have anything to say to the Iranians." His statement -- and it could be multiplied by so many others from Donald Rumsfeld, Dick Cheney, and associates -- represents one aspect of their incompetence: hubris (or call it arrogance). To that should be added a profound belief -- on this they are the ultimate fundamentalists -- in preponderant American power, especially in its military guise, as well as in their ability to wield it with precision and invariably to their advantage.
Throw in the fact that they are not only the greatest gamblers in our history, but also control freaks of the first order, and you already have a combustible meld of "incompetence" factors. If they do move against Iran, they will surely be blinded by their arrogance, overly impressed by the power they think they wield, and ridiculously sure of the plans they have made for various contingencies to come.
And yet the single thing that can be guaranteed about any air assault on Iran is that, whatever anybody's plans may be, events will quickly spin out of control -- and that they will then be stunned and unprepared to deal. The result will be the "incompetence" for which they are already well known as well as disaster for us all.
At least one more factor should be added to the mix: irrationality. This is not a word we usually associate with the United States government. It's the sort of term normally left for Arabs who are, of course, known to be overemotional, closer to those more primitive, "tribal" emotions, and consequently deeply irrational. (In the American context, by the way, Iranians should be thought of as Arabs, even though they aren't.) Whatever our flaws and mistakes, we tend to assume that we are civilized and reasonably rational. This is why we don't worry enormously about our own singular nuclear arsenal. We know that, unlike the many revenge-bound, irrational, rogue regimes out there, not even the Bush administration would, in the end, use such weapons -- even though, of course, the U.S. is the only country to do so to date.
While the Bush administration may have incredibly destructive military powers at its command, it's worth remembering that its officials are anything but supermen and women. Don't imagine them simply as Machiavellian manipulators of the rest of us. They are instead blunderers like the rest of us -- only more so. We already know from reports seeping out of Washington that the administration is "riven by divisions" over, and confusions about, its Iran policy. The box its officials have been intent on creating to lock in the international community, the Iranians, and the American public may, sooner or later, come to feel like a kind of prison to them as well from which the only release, many months down the line, could appear to involve the mad act of pulling the superpower trigger. In other words, they may find themselves backed into a corner of their own making.
What we face, in fact, are two fundamentalist regimes, American and Iranian -- each in the process of overestimating the hand it is playing; each underestimating its enemy; each in the grip of a different kind of irrationality. It's a frighteningly combustible mix. All those people who believe that the administration's Iran approach is just so much saber-rattling and bluster, part of a reasonably rational plan to create bargaining chips, or force the Iranians to the table on more favorable terms, should divest themselves of such fantasies. We are on the path to madness, which also happens to be the path to $100 a barrel oil and possibly some kind of economic meltdown. Then again, dreams of riches have often gone hand-in-hand with madness. Why not now?
[Note to readers: Let me recommend The Global Beat, a website which I mined heavily for this piece (as I often do). A project of Boston University, it is compiled by Tony Karon of Time magazine and bills itself as offering "resources for the global journalist." You don't have to be a journalist or even a student of journalism, however, to benefit from its superb once-a-week run-downs of crucial news articles on and analyses of foreign-policy crisis points (with extremely useful links). Check it out and take a look as well at Karon's always fascinating, periodically updated blog, Rootless Cosmopolitan.]
Posted on: Monday, March 20, 2006 - 16:13
SOURCE: London Review of Books (3-23-06)
Stephen Walt is the Robert and Renee Belfer Professor of International Affairs at the Kennedy School of Government at Harvard. His most recent book is Taming American Power: The Global Response to US Primacy.]
For the past several decades, and especially since the Six-Day War in 1967, the centrepiece of US Middle Eastern policy has been its relationship with Israel. The combination of unwavering support for Israel and the related effort to spread ‘democracy’ throughout the region has inflamed Arab and Islamic opinion and jeopardised not only US security but that of much of the rest of the world. This situation has no equal in American political history. Why has the US been willing to set aside its own security and that of many of its allies in order to advance the interests of another state? One might assume that the bond between the two countries was based on shared strategic interests or compelling moral imperatives, but neither explanation can account for the remarkable level of material and diplomatic support that the US provides.
Instead, the thrust of US policy in the region derives almost entirely from domestic politics, and especially the activities of the ‘Israel Lobby’. Other special-interest groups have managed to skew foreign policy, but no lobby has managed to divert it as far from what the national interest would suggest, while simultaneously convincing Americans that US interests and those of the other country – in this case, Israel – are essentially identical.
Since the October War in 1973, Washington has provided Israel with a level of support dwarfing that given to any other state. It has been the largest annual recipient of direct economic and military assistance since 1976, and is the largest recipient in total since World War Two, to the tune of well over $140 billion (in 2004 dollars). Israel receives about $3 billion in direct assistance each year, roughly one-fifth of the foreign aid budget, and worth about $500 a year for every Israeli. This largesse is especially striking since Israel is now a wealthy industrial state with a per capita income roughly equal to that of South Korea or Spain.
Other recipients get their money in quarterly installments, but Israel receives its entire appropriation at the beginning of each fiscal year and can thus earn interest on it. Most recipients of aid given for military purposes are required to spend all of it in the US, but Israel is allowed to use roughly 25 per cent of its allocation to subsidise its own defence industry. It is the only recipient that does not have to account for how the aid is spent, which makes it virtually impossible to prevent the money from being used for purposes the US opposes, such as building settlements on the West Bank. Moreover, the US has provided Israel with nearly $3 billion to develop weapons systems, and given it access to such top-drawer weaponry as Blackhawk helicopters and F-16 jets. Finally, the US gives Israel access to intelligence it denies to its Nato allies and has turned a blind eye to Israel’s acquisition of nuclear weapons.
Washington also provides Israel with consistent diplomatic support. Since 1982, the US has vetoed 32 Security Council resolutions critical of Israel, more than the total number of vetoes cast by all the other Security Council members. It blocks the efforts of Arab states to put Israel’s nuclear arsenal on the IAEA’s agenda. The US comes to the rescue in wartime and takes Israel’s side when negotiating peace. The Nixon administration protected it from the threat of Soviet intervention and resupplied it during the October War. Washington was deeply involved in the negotiations that ended that war, as well as in the lengthy ‘step-by-step’ process that followed, just as it played a key role in the negotiations that preceded and followed the 1993 Oslo Accords. In each case there was occasional friction between US and Israeli officials, but the US consistently supported the Israeli position. One American participant at Camp David in 2000 later said: ‘Far too often, we functioned . . . as Israel’s lawyer.’ Finally, the Bush administration’s ambition to transform the Middle East is at least partly aimed at improving Israel’s strategic situation.
This extraordinary generosity might be understandable if Israel were a vital strategic asset or if there were a compelling moral case for US backing. But neither explanation is convincing. One might argue that Israel was an asset during the Cold War. By serving as America’s proxy after 1967, it helped contain Soviet expansion in the region and inflicted humiliating defeats on Soviet clients like Egypt and Syria. It occasionally helped protect other US allies (like King Hussein of Jordan) and its military prowess forced Moscow to spend more on backing its own client states. It also provided useful intelligence about Soviet capabilities.
Backing Israel was not cheap, however, and it complicated America’s relations with the Arab world. For example, the decision to give $2.2 billion in emergency military aid during the October War triggered an Opec oil embargo that inflicted considerable damage on Western economies. For all that, Israel’s armed forces were not in a position to protect US interests in the region. The US could not, for example, rely on Israel when the Iranian Revolution in 1979 raised concerns about the security of oil supplies, and had to create its own Rapid Deployment Force instead.
The first Gulf War revealed the extent to which Israel was becoming a strategic burden. The US could not use Israeli bases without rupturing the anti-Iraq coalition, and had to divert resources (e.g. Patriot missile batteries) to prevent Tel Aviv doing anything that might harm the alliance against Saddam Hussein. History repeated itself in 2003: although Israel was eager for the US to attack Iraq, Bush could not ask it to help without triggering Arab opposition. So Israel stayed on the sidelines once again....
Posted on: Friday, March 17, 2006 - 15:23
SOURCE: Sandstorm (blog) (3-17-06)
This newest article, obviously the work of Walt more than Mearsheimer, cobbles together a lot of half-truths and untruths that have been out there on the far fringe, and gives them"academic respectability" (which, as I have shown time and again, is usually a contradiction in terms when it comes to the Middle East). In particular, the authors have put together an"unedited version," in which the notes are as long as the text, and which carries the title of a Kennedy School of Government"Faculty Research Working Paper." This is presumably intended to make the study appear even more"academic." But it's really a piece of journalistic sensationalism, reminiscent of the 1987 book The Lobby by Edward Tivnan. The Washington correspondent of Haaretz called the new article"academic garbage" in his blog this morning, and offered it as an example of"the decline of academic values and the misuse of academic titles by contemporary American pseudo-scholars." That it is, but it's got plenty of competition.
Back in the fall, a donor to Harvard asked me to counter Walt's argument that Israel is a liability. So I wrote a short rebuttal, sent it off, and filed it away. I have no idea whether it went any further, or whether it reached Walt himself. But now seems a perfect moment to resurrect it, so here it is, just as I wrote it in October. It doesn't address all the arguments made in the new essay, because Walt didn't make all those arguments in his book. But it will do for now.
Fortunately we do not live in Stephen Walt's world, where shared values with others are meaningless, and cerebral mandarins make foreign policy by fiat. We live in a real world, where real people respond to other real people who share history and values, and where foreign policy is the result of a tumultuous interaction of interests, ideas, and emotions. Walt would have the United States make its foreign policy like Syria and Egypt do. It's not going to happen.
But let's enter Walt's World, and accept its presumptions, for argument's sake—and for the sake of an argument about Israel. Let's set aside the claim that Israel and the U.S. share democratic values, rooted in a common tradition. Let's set aside the fact that the American public has a genuine regard for Israel, shown in poll after poll, which prevents it from ever seeing Israel as one more Norway. (Walt: if Israel tries to impose an"unjust solution" on the Palestinians, the United States should reduce its support for Israel to"the same way that we support a Norwegian state.") Let's just ask his simple question: is Israel a strategic asset or a strategic liability for the United States?
To recap: Walt thinks that by any objective measure, U.S. support for Israel is a liability. It causes Arabs and Muslims to hate America. Since he thinks the United States should disengage from the Middle East, and follow a policy of"offshore balancing," he believes America needs to cultivate a sense of shared purpose with Arabs and Muslims, many of whom detest Israel or its policies or both. The less the United States is identified as a supporter and friend of Israel's five million Jews, the easier it will be for the United States to find local proxies and clients to keep order among the billion or so Muslims. And the only thing that has prevented the United States from seeing this clearly is the pro-Israel lobby, operating through fronts as diverse as AIPAC, The Washington Institute, and—yes—even the Brookings Institution. Have I simplified Walt's argument? Probably not as much as you might think.
To answer Walt's simple argument, I'll respond with a simple question. If you need an ally somewhere, don't you want it to be the smartest, most powerful, and most resourceful guy on the block, who also happens to admire you? And what is the point of having an ally who's backward, weak, irresolute, and thinks in his heart of hearts that you're his enemy? That's the choice the United States faces in the Middle East.
It took the United States some twenty years to figure this out. Between 1948 and 1967, it believed in Walt's zero-sum concept of the Middle East. The United States recognized Israel in 1948, but it didn't do much to help it defend itself, for fear of alienating Arab monarchs, oil sheikhs, and the"Arab street." That was the heyday of the sentimental State Department Arabists and the profit-driven oil companies.
So Israel went elsewhere. It got guns from the Soviet bloc, and fighter aircraft and a nuclear reactor from France. It even cut a deal with old adversary Britain at the time of the Suez adventure. Israel wasn't in the U.S. orbit, and it didn't get significant American aid, but it grew ever stronger. It even became a nuclear state. Then came June 1967, and Israel showed its stuff. In October 1973, it achieved what military analysts have called an even greater victory, repulsing and reversing a surprise attack that might have overwhelmed a less determined and resourceful people.
It was then that the United States began to look at Israel differently: as a potential ally. The fact that the United States hadn't backed Israel before 1967 didn't prevent key Arab capitals from falling into the Soviet orbit. To the contrary: along with Nasser, they tried to play Washington off Moscow, with a preference for Moscow since it made policy by uncomplicated diktat. America's Arab allies were in a precarious position, and in 1958 it had to send the Marines to Lebanon to bail some of them out.
In 1967, Israel showed itself to be stronger than the whole lot of its neighbors, transforming U.S. perceptions. Israel looked to be the strongest, most reliable, and most cost-effective ally against Soviet penetration of the Middle East, because it could defeat any combination of Soviet clients on its own. It could humiliate them, and in so doing, humiliate the Soviet Union and drive thinking Arabs out of the Soviet camp. That worked: expanded U.S. support for Israel persuaded Egypt to switch camps, winning the Cold War for the United States in the Middle East. Egypt thus became an American ally alongside Israel, not instead of Israel, and became integrated into an overall Pax Americana. The zero-sum theory of the Arabists—Israel or the Arabs, but not both—collapsed. U.S. Middle East policy underwent its Copernican revolution.
Before 1973, the Arab states thought they might defeat or destroy Israel by some stroke of luck, and they tried their hand at it in 1948, 1967, and 1973. Since 1973, the Arab states have understood not only that Israel is strong, but that the United States is Israel's guarantor. As a result, there have been no general Arab-Israeli wars, and Israel's Arab neighbors have either made peace with it (Egypt, Jordan), or keep their borders quiet (Syria, Lebanon). The Levant corner of the Middle East, for all the saturation coverage it gets from an overwrought media, has not been a powder keg, and its crises haven't required direct American military intervention. This is due to U.S. support for Israel—a support that appears so unequivocal to Arabs that they have despaired of overturning it.
United States support for Israel has enhanced its standing in another way, as the only force, in Arab eyes, that can possibly persuade Israel to cede territory it has occupied since 1967. In a paradoxical way, the United States has been a major beneficiary of the Israeli occupation of Arab territories: Arab leaders who wish to regain lost territory must refashion themselves to pass an American test. When they do, the United States sees to it that they are rewarded, and the result has been a network of U.S.-endorsed agreements based on U.S.-mediated Israeli concessions.
It is this"peace process" that has turned even revolutionary Arab leaders into supplicants at the White House door. They would not be there if a strong Israel didn't hold something they want, and if the United States, Israel's ally, were not in a position to deliver it. Walt's notion that Israel has enjoyed total and unqualified support from the United States blinds him to the ways the United States has leveraged its support for Israel into Israeli concessions that are the bedrock of the Pax Americana in the Levant. (It could even be argued—just to be mischievous—that the U.S. interest is best served by a perpetual"peace process," fed by slow and incremental Israeli concessions.)
Compare this to the situation in the Gulf, where U.S. allies are weak. There, the absence of a strong ally has wreaked havoc with U.S. policy, and forced the U.S. to intervene repeatedly. The irresolute Shah, once deemed a U.S."pillar," collapsed in the face of an anti-American upsurge, producing the humiliation of the embassy seizure and a hostile, entrenched, terror-sponsoring regime still bent on driving the United States out of the Gulf. Saddam Hussein, for some years America's ally, launched an eight-year bloody war against Iran that produced waves of anti-U.S. terror (think Lebanon), only to turn against the United States by occupying Kuwait, and threatening the utterly defenseless Saudi Arabia. Absent a strong ally in the region, the United States has had to deploy, deploy and deploy again. In the Kuwait and Iraq wars, it has put something like a million sets of boots on the ground in the Gulf, at a cost that surely exceeds a trillion dollars.
It's precisely because the Gulf doesn't have an Israel—a strong, capable local ally—that Walt's offshore balancing act can't possibly succeed. If the United States is not perceived to be willing to send in troops there—and it will only be perceived as such if it sometimes does send them—then heavily populated and technologically advanced states like Iran and Iraq will attempt to gobble up the smaller Arab Gulf states, which have the bigger reserves of oil. In the Gulf, the United States has no allies. It has only dependencies, and their defense will continue to drain American resources, until the day Americans give up their SUVs.
In Israel, in contrast, the U.S. is allied to a militarily adept, economically vibrant state that keeps its part of the Middle East in balance. The U.S. has to help maintain that balance, with road maps and diplomatic initiatives, but this is at relatively low cost, and many of the costs flow back to the U.S. in the form of arms sales, useful Israeli technological innovations, etc.
In the overall scheme of the Pax Americana, then, U.S. policy toward Israel and its neighbors over the past thirty years has been a tremendous success. Has the U.S. brought about a final lamb-lies-down-with-lion peace? No; the issues are too complex. Are the Arabs happy about U.S. support for Israel? No; they still dream of pushing Israel off the map. But any time U.S. interests are upheld without the dispatch of U.S. troops, it's a success. That Walt can't see this suggests that his own vision is marred by a bias against Israel, the depth of which only he knows.
Walt's notion that U.S. support for Israel is the source of popular resentment, propelling recruits to Al-Qaeda, is of a piece with his argument that the United States is hated for what it does (its detested policies), and not what it is (its admired values). In fact, America isn't hated for what it does or what it is. It's hated because of what they can't do, and what they aren't. They can't accumulate power, and they can't handle modernity, and they resent anyone who reminds them of it. How would U.S. abandonment of Israel alleviate this inferiority complex, which has been centuries in the making?
And is it not actually better for the United States to signal the Arabs that until they change, Israel will remain America's favorite son? Would this not be doubly so in Walt's preferred scenario of"offshore balancing," in which America would drop its active democratizing altogether? What lever would remain to encourage progressive change in the Arab world, if the United States were to back away from the one democratic, modern, and pluralistic society in the Middle East—the most persuasive and proximate argument made to the Arabs, for the empowering and overpowering might of Western democracy and Western modernity? Would the atrophy of such an Israel not fill the ranks of extremists, much as the sacrifice of Czechoslovakia to Hitler did?
Indeed, for argument's sake, let's imagine that we have followed Walt's policy—that we have somehow tumbled back to the pre-Copernican policy. The United States has decided that Israel should"go it alone," since Israel isn't willing to concede all things to the insatiable Arab appetite for Israeli concessions. How long would it be before the Arabs would revert to their pre-1967 fantasy of defeating or destroying Israel? (The medieval-minded Islamists have never abandoned it.) How long would it be before Israel felt compelled, as it did in 1967, to launch a preemptive strike against Egypt, with its massive conventional force, or Iran, which even now rattles a nuclear saber against Israel? Remember, pace Walt, Israel isn't Norway: it can and will defend itself against threats, be they real or perceived, present or anticipated. It is populated by the remnant of a people that was nearly obliterated in the twentieth century, and that's unlikely to take chances in the twenty-first. Less American support would mean less American restraint, less Israeli maneuverability, and a quicker Israeli finger on the trigger.
How long would it be before the United States would have to pull out all the stops to defuse gigantic crises, or clean up the mess in the aftermath of another war? How long would it be before the United States would have to deploy forces—to save an Arab regime that didn't join the frenzied free-for-all, or to position peacekeeping forces between hostile armies, or to reassure Israel to keep its nukes in the silos? Why would any serious policymaker even contemplate exchanging the present stability—and the situation is stable—for these uncertainties and imponderables? And for what? Some boost for America in Arab public opinion polls, which seem to have Walt all twisted in knots of anguish?
In short, the Levant in Walt's World would become a far more dangerous place than it is now, for Israelis, for Arabs, and ultimately for Americans. Without a strong Israel, buttressed by the United States, it might begin to look like it did before 1967, or as the Gulf has looked over the last three decades. Why anyone would imagine this to be a feasible U.S. policy option—even at Harvard—is a mystery.
Posted on: Friday, March 17, 2006 - 15:20
SOURCE: LAT (3-13-06)
The outside world is under the impression that one of two things has happened at Harvard: Either a reactionary despot has been deposed by faculty freedom fighters, or a bold reformer has been thwarted by vested interests. Most revolutions get written up in these contrary ways.
In reality, revolutions usually begin with rather obscure disputes, like how to pay for a standing army in the colonies. They burst out of political channels only when the grievances against the monarch reach a critical mass and the monarch alienates one too many of his own supporters.
Thus it was at Harvard. The question I found myself pondering last week was whether the same thing is happening in Washington. Could the next president to fall victim to an unruly representative body be George W. Bush?
Like Harvard's Larry Summers, Bush is a president with a bold vision. Summers wanted to move Harvard science to Allston; Bush wanted to bring freedom to the Middle East. But, also like Summers, Bush has a style problem. Not the abrasive contrariness that alienated professors but a reserve verging on introversion that has cut him off from his own party in Congress.
Ten days ago, I paid a visit to the imposing Russell Building on Capitol Hill, where senators have their offices. What I saw there was a timely reminder of just how much power the Constitution vests in the legislative branch. The senators I spoke with made it abundantly clear that Bush's political capital — about which he boasted after securing reelection — is all used up. The phrase I kept hearing was lame duck....
Members of Congress should beware of underestimating this president, as others have done in the past. They should remember that a second-term president is not necessarily a lame duck — he is also a man with nothing to lose.
So my guess is that Bush is going to bite back. And the obvious way for him to do this is over Iran. Last Tuesday, Vice President Dick Cheney declared: "We will not allow Iran to have a nuclear weapon." Remind you of anything? It was Cheney who set the pace four years ago as the administration prepared to confront Iraq, insisting that Saddam Hussein possessed weapons of mass destruction. And the same sequence of events now looks set to replay itself. The U.S. is going to ask the U.N. Security Council to impose sanctions if Iran does not halt its program of uranium enrichment. The other permanent members won't agree. And then….
Well, when those missiles slam into the Iranian nuclear facilities, don't say I didn't warn you. In academic politics, the stakes are relatively low. But where the stakes are high — and they don't get any higher than American national security — the presidents are harder to roll over. The next time you hear the word "duck" in Washington, my advice would be to do just that.
Posted on: Wednesday, March 15, 2006 - 19:38
SOURCE: Chronicle of Higher Education (3-15-06)
We find ourselves at a moment when Americans are bitterly divided on the question of the constitutional limits of presidential power. It is certainly not the first time in our nation's history when the issue has presented itself. From Andrew Jackson's "war" on the Bank of the United States to Abraham Lincoln's suspension of habeas corpus during the Civil War to Franklin D. Roosevelt's attempt to pack the Supreme Court to Harry S. Truman's attempted seizure of the country's steel mills to Richard M. Nixon's incursions on civil liberties in the name of "national security," we have a long history of American chief executives' seeking to expand their powers in the name of the "public good."
I am old enough to have lived through the last two of those presidential controversies, and I will confess that the current controversy over presidential power whether over the ability of the president to issue "signing statements" that allow him to implement only selected parts of a bill enacted by Congress or the legality of ordering electronic surveillance on his authority alone — seems to me both more serious and more seriously compromised by partisanship on both sides than anything I have experienced in my lifetime. In this climate of confusion and consternation, perhaps an appeal to the wisdom of the founding fathers might provide us with some perspective.
In fact, the task of discerning the "original intent" of the 55 men who took part in the framing of the U.S. Constitution is tricky business indeed. Not only did the delegates disagree on virtually every important subject that came before them, but they also frequently shifted their positions on those issues over the course of the convention. Nor is the task of discerning the "original meaning" of the words finally inscribed on the final draft of the Constitution, signed by 39 of the delegates on September 17, 1787, much easier. Such was the experimental nature of the new government that emerged from the convention that concepts so central to our contemporary understanding of the Constitution — "federalism," "commerce," "necessary and proper" — were subject to a multitude of meanings among those who were asked to add their assent to the document. In no case is this uncertainty and confusion more evident than in the matter of "executive power."
The first sentence of Article II of the Constitution is both remarkably simple and maddeningly vague. "The executive Power shall be vested in a President of the United States of America." But what did "executive power" mean? James Wilson and Gouverneur Morris, of Pennsylvania, were outspoken in support of a strong executive capable of giving "energy, dispatch, and responsibility" to the government. Toward that end, they urged their fellow delegates to give the president an absolute veto over Congressional legislation. At the other end of the spectrum, Roger Sherman, of Connecticut, spoke for many delegates when he declared that the "Executive magistracy" was "nothing more than an institution for carrying the will of the Legislature into effect." This led Sherman to the conclusion that the president could be removed from office "at pleasure," any time a majority of members of the legislature disagreed with him on an important issue.
There were other issues that divided the delegates. Many wanted not a single but a plural executive; Edmund J. Randolph, of Virginia, believed that a single, powerful president would constitute "the foetus of monarchy," and he, along with his Virginia colleague George Mason, refused ultimately to sign the Constitution, in part because of their fear of excessive executive power. Still others thought the executive should be elected by the state legislatures or by the governors of the states, a mode of election that would have made the president a broker among the varying interests of the state governments.
James Madison kept changing his mind. His initial version of the "Virginia Plan" called for the president to be elected by and answerable to the national legislature. Although supposedly one of the foremost proponents of the doctrine of separation of powers and checks and balances, he muddled things by proposing a merging of the executive and judicial powers in a "Council of Revision," composed of both the president and a "convenient number of the National Judiciary" and empowered to "examine every act of the National Legislature before it shall operate." Madison gradually came around to the idea that the executive and judicial functions should be separated, but he continued to argue in favor of some form of presidential election by the Congress up until the final days of the convention. After reading Madison's notes on the debates in the convention, one gets the sense that his eventual acquiescence to the idea of an electoral college as the method of presidential election was marked as much by weariness as by enthusiasm....
It may not be possible to discern with precision either the "original intent" of the founding fathers or the precise "original meaning" of the words on the document they crafted, but if we are seeking to comprehend their general understanding of the limits of executive power, then it is best to regard Hamilton as an exception to be avoided, not an authority to be cited in defense of extraordinary uses of presidential power. As George W. Bush ponders his place in the history of the American presidency, he might be better served if he paid less attention to the words of Hamilton, an avowed admirer of monarchy, and more attention to the overwhelming majority of founding fathers who greatly feared the evils of an "elective monarchy."
Posted on: Wednesday, March 15, 2006 - 19:35
SOURCE: Philadelphia Inquirer (3-15-06)
With several state supreme courts due to rule on suits from same-sex couples demanding access to marriage, conservatives must be delighted to have a Justice Samuel Alito. During his confirmation hearings, Alito argued that judges should interpret the Constitution based "on the meaning that someone would have taken from the text... at the time of its adoption."
But if courts had held fast to the meaning of marriage as it was in the days of our country's founding, marriage would still be based on the legal, political and sexual subordination of women.
When Abigail Adams suggested that her husband, the future President John Adams, write protections for women in the Constitution, he replied that the very thought made him laugh. Husband and wife "are accounted one person," said prevailing opinion, "and he hath power over her person as well as estate." In 1861, the New Jersey Supreme Court ruled: "The husband is entitled not only to all the personal property which the wife owns at the time of her marriage, but to all that she acquires by her skill or labor" during the marriage.
As late as 1911, the U.S. Supreme Court invalidated a statute that allowed wives in the District of Columbia to sue for damages on their own behalf. A lower court had interpreted this statute as permitting a battered wife to sue her husband. The Supreme Court majority indignantly dismissed the "revolutionary" idea that wives had such individual legal rights.
However, as the 20th century progressed, courts increasingly found it necessary to reject many traditions. In 1954, the New York Court of Appeals ruled that it "would not be consonant with our present social concepts of husband and wife" to continue denying that spouses had separate identities. In 1967, the U.S. Supreme Court ruled against laws banning interracial marriage.
The New Jersey Supreme Court rejected the legal doctrine of wifely subordination as "anachronistic" in 1980. These activist judges said the law must recognize that wives were now "their husbands' partners, not their servants." By the mid-1980s, courts also were reversing the long-standing legal principle that a man could not be convicted of rape for forcing himself upon his wife.
All these interpretations radically challenged the intent of the framers of the Constitution. But the courts that updated and democratized marriage did not suck these new ideas out of their thumbs. They were responding to new social realities as men and women became more equal in public and private life. What are often called activist judges and courts might be better termed reactive....
Posted on: Wednesday, March 15, 2006 - 14:15
SOURCE: TruthDig.com (3-13-06)
Bush’s allegations about the Iranians providing improvised explosive devices to the Iraqi guerrilla insurgency are bizarre. The British military looked into charges of improvised explosive devices coming from Iran, and this past January actually apologized to Tehran when no evidence pointed to Iranian government involvement. The guerrillas in Iraq are militant Sunnis who hate Shiites, and it is wholly implausible that the Iranian regime would supply bombs to the enemies of its Iraqi allies.
Although Bush charges Iran with “support for terrorism,” he seems unable to name any international terrorist incident of the past six years that can unambiguously be attributed to Iran.
His baldfaced accusation that Iran is in “pursuit of nuclear weapons” is, as we will see below, not proved either.
Bush’s vendetta against Iran is all the more invidious in light of the sweetheart deal he recently offered India, which never signed the Nuclear Non-Proliferation Treaty. A recent United Nations report says that India has been less than forthright about its enrichment programs, and that its procedures are inadequate to deter further proliferation. India dismisses the report. The Bush administration nevertheless has proposed changing U.S. law to permit the sale of nuclear technology to India.
Iran threatened last week to use the oil weapon if the United Nations Security Council imposes sanctions on the country because of its nuclear research program, promising “harm and pain” to the United States. In addition to consumer anxieties about oil prices, rumors of a planned U.S. or Israeli airstrike on Iran keep flying, and neighboring Iraqi Shiites have threatened reprisals if that is done to their brethren. What is driving the crisis between the Bush administration and Iran and ratcheting up the rhetoric?
Iranian Interior Minister Mostafa Pour-Mohammadi said on Friday, “If sanctions are imposed, we will definitely use the oil tool and other tools and we will stop at nothing.” The regime is clearly fearful of an international economic boycott, but feels it has its own advantages in the struggle. With increasing demand from India and China and instability in Nigeria and Iraq, Iran’s crude oil exports are important in maintaining an affordable price, especially in the winters. In some ways, by invading Iraq and destabilizing it, as well as fostering the rise of Shiite religious parties in Baghdad, the Bush administration has inadvertently strengthened Shiite Iran’s hand.
Although the doubling of petroleum prices in the past two years has so far been absorbed by the world economy, many analysts are convinced that if the price went up to $75 a barrel and stayed there for two years, it would add significantly to the underlying rate of inflation and begin subtracting 2.5% a year from world growth. President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad chimed in with regard to the American threats: “They know that they are not capable of causing the least harm to Iranian people. They will suffer more.”
Iran is a mid-size country of some 70 million, with a per capita income of only about $2,000 a year. It has no weapons of mass destruction, and its conventional military forms no threat to the United States. From an Iranian point of view, the Americans are simply being unreasonably aggressive. Supreme Jurisprudent Ali Khamenei has given a fatwa or formal religious ruling against nuclear weapons, and President Ahmadinejad at his inauguration denounced such arms and committed Iran to remaining a nonnuclear weapons state.
In fact, the Iranian regime has gone further, calling for the Middle East to be a nuclear-weapons-free zone. On Feb. 26, Ahmadinejad said: “We too demand that the Middle East be free of nuclear weapons; not only the Middle East, but the whole world should be free of nuclear weapons.” Only Israel among the states of the Middle East has the bomb, and its stockpile provoked the arms race with Iraq that in some ways led to the U.S. invasion of 2003. The U.S. has also moved nukes into the Middle East at some points, either on bases in Turkey or on submarines.
Iran is a signatory of the Nuclear Non-Proliferation Treaty and has allowed the International Atomic Energy Agency to inspect and monitor its nuclear energy research program, as required by the treaty. It raised profound suspicions, however, with its one infraction against the treaty--which was to conduct some secret civilian research that it should have reported and did not, and which was discovered by inspectors. Tehran denies having military labs aiming for a bomb, and in November of 2003 the IAEA formally announced that it could find no proof of such a weapons program. The U.S. reaction was a blustery incredulity, which is not actually an argument or proof in its own right, however good U.S. Ambassador to the United Nations John Bolton is at bunching his eyebrows and glaring. ...
Posted on: Wednesday, March 15, 2006 - 12:33
SOURCE: Progressive (3-14-06)
I believe there are two reasons, which go deep into our national culture.
One is an absence of historical perspective. The other is an inability to think outside the boundaries of nationalism.
If we don't know history, then we are ready meat for carnivorous politicians and the intellectuals and journalists who supply the carving knives. But if we know some history, if we know how many times presidents have lied to us, we will not be fooled again.
President Polk lied to the nation about the reason for going to war with Mexico in 1846. It wasn't that Mexico "shed American blood upon the American soil" but that Polk, and the slave-owning aristocracy, coveted half of Mexico.
President McKinley lied in 1898 about the reason for invading Cuba, saying we wanted to liberate the Cubans from Spanish control, but the truth is that he really wanted Spain out of Cuba so that the island could be open to United Fruit and other American corporations. He also lied about the reasons for our war in the Philippines, claiming we only wanted to "civilize" the Filipinos, while the real reason was to own a valuable piece of real estate in the far Pacific, even if we had to kill hundreds of thousands of Filipinos to accomplish that.
President Wilson lied about the reasons for entering the First World War, saying it was a war to "make the world safe for democracy," when it was really a war to make the world safe for the rising American power.
President Truman lied when he said the atomic bomb was dropped on Hiroshima because it was "a military target."
And everyone lied about Vietnam -- President Kennedy about the extent of our involvement, President Johnson about the Gulf of Tonkin and President Nixon about the secret bombing of Cambodia. They all claimed the war was to keep South Vietnam free of communism, but really wanted to keep South Vietnam as an American outpost at the edge of the Asian continent.
President Reagan lied about the invasion of Grenada, claiming falsely that it was a threat to the United States.
The elder Bush lied about the invasion of Panama, leading to the death of thousands of ordinary citizens in that country. And he lied again about the reason for attacking Iraq in 1991 -- hardly to defend the integrity of Kuwait, rather to assert U.S. power in the oil-rich Middle East.
There is an even bigger lie: the arrogant idea that this country is the center of the universe, exceptionally virtuous, admirable, superior....
Posted on: Tuesday, March 14, 2006 - 15:58
SOURCE: NY Sun (3-14-06)
"Individual Islamists may appear law-abiding and reasonable, but they are part of a totalitarian movement, and as such, all must be considered potential killers." I wrote those words days after September 11, 2001, and have been criticized for them ever since. But an incident on March 3 at the University of North Carolina in Chapel Hill suggests I did not go far enough.
The Pit at the University of North Carolina in Chapel Hill, the pedestrian area where Taheri-azar struck.
That was when a just-graduated student named Mohammed Reza Taheri-azar, 22, and an Iranian immigrant, drove a sport utility vehicle into a crowded pedestrian zone. He struck nine people but, fortunately, none were severely injured.
Until his would-be murderous rampage, Mr. Taheri-azar, a philosophy and psychology major, had a seemingly normal existence and promising future. In high school, he had been student council president and a member of the National Honor Society. The Los Angeles Times writes that a number of UNC students found him"a serious student, shy but friendly." One fellow student, Brian Copeland,"was impressed with his knowledge of classical Western thought," adding,"He was kind and gentle, rather than aggressive and violent." The university chancellor, James Moeser, called him a good student, if"totally a loner, introverted and into himself."
In fact, no one who knew him said a bad word about him, which is important, for it signals that he is not some low-life, not homicidal, not psychotic, but a conscientious student and amiable person. Which raises the obvious question: Why would a regular person try to kill a random assortment of students? Mr. Taheri-azar's post-arrest remarks offer some clues.
- He told the 911 dispatcher that he wanted to"punish the government of the United States for their actions around the world."
- He explained to a detective that"people all over the world are being killed in war and now it is the people in the United States' turn to be killed."
- He said he acted to"avenge the deaths of Muslims around the world."
- He portrayed his actions as"an eye for an eye."
- A police affidavit notes that"Taheri-azar repeatedly said that the United States government had been killing his people across the sea and that he decided to attack."
- He told a judge,"I'm thankful you're here to give me this trial and to learn more about the will of Allah."
In brief, Mr. Taheri-azar represents the ultimate Islamist nightmare: a seemingly well-adjusted Muslim whose religion inspires him, out of the blue, to murder non-Muslims. Mr. Taheri-azar acknowledged planning his jihad for more than two years, or during his university sojourn. It's not hard to imagine how his ideas developed, given the coherence of Islamist ideology, its immense reach (including a Muslim Student Association at UNC), and its resonance among many Muslims.
Were Mr. Taheri-azar unique in his surreptitious adoption of radical Islam, one could ignore his case, but he fits into a widespread pattern of Muslims who lead quiet lives before turning to terrorism. Their number includes the hijackers responsible for the attacks of September 11, the London transport bombers, and the Intel engineer arrested before he could join the Taliban in Afghanistan, Maher Hawash.
A Saudi living in Houston, Mohammed Ali Alayed, fit the pattern because he stabbed and murdered a Jewish man, Ariel Sellouk, who was his one-time friend. So do some converts to Islam; who suspected a 38-year-old Belgian woman, Muriel Degauque, would turn up in Iraq as a suicide bomber throwing herself against an American military base?
This is what I have dubbed the Sudden Jihad Syndrome, whereby normal-appearing Muslims abruptly become violent. It has the awful but legitimate consequence of casting suspicion on all Muslims. Who knows whence the next jihadi? How can one be confident a law-abiding Muslim will not suddenly erupt in a homicidal rage? Yes, of course, their numbers are very small, but they are disproportionately much higher than among non-Muslims.
This syndrome helps explain the fear of Islam and mistrust of Muslims that polls have shown on the rise since September 11, 2001.The Muslim response of denouncing these views as bias, as the"new anti-Semitism," or"Islamophobia" is as baseless as accusing anti-Nazis of"Germanophobia" or anti-Communists of"Russophobia." Instead of presenting themselves as victims, Muslims should address this fear by developing a moderate, modern, and good-neighborly version of Islam that rejects radical Islam, jihad, and the subordination of"infidels."
This article is reprinted with permission by Daniel Pipes. This article first appeared in the New York Sun.
Posted on: Tuesday, March 14, 2006 - 13:48
SOURCE: Christian Science Monitor (3-14-06)
But as Mr. Summers must have known, mere exhortation will never change university teaching. Although we all give lip service to classroom instruction, there's simply no reward in it. Teaching doesn't advance your career....
How did we arrive at this strange state of affairs? The story begins about a century ago, with the creation of the modern American research university. Modeled largely after German universities, where many leading American educators had studied, these new institutions privileged original scholarship over teaching."It is to the discoverers, in far greater measure than the transmitters, that the world is under obligation," declared a professor of Latin at the University of Chicago in 1902.
Some proponents stressed the social utility of new knowledge, which would help the United States improve health, housing, transportation, and more. Others celebrated scholarship for its own sake, not for any practical application."Remember the research ideal, to keep it holy!" intoned another Chicago professor, echoing the sacred Jewish injunction about the Sabbath.
But to attract students - and to pay the bills - scholars were still required to teach. Some professors happily accepted this duty; more often than not, however, they downplayed or ignored it. Asked what he would do with the undergraduates who had gathered in his laboratory for instruction, one Johns Hopkins University professor quipped,"I shall neglect them."
He was joking, of course, but only in part. And the joke will continue until we devise new ways to evaluate and reward teaching. As my New York University colleague Ken Bain has written, all professors should have to" construct an argument" for their teaching - just as they do for their scholarship. This argument would explain the objectives of their courses, the classroom strategies they use, the ways they measure student learning, and so on. Like any good argument, it would draw from evidence gathered during the course: syllabi, tests, and student comments.
Second, tenure committees need to make such evaluations matter. In my 15 years as a professor, I've met many good teachers who were denied tenure for lack of scholarship. But I've never encountered a good scholar who didn't get tenure because he or she couldn't teach....
Posted on: Tuesday, March 14, 2006 - 12:33
After history comes theology from Byassee: "But church influence on politics is fickle. Give to Caesar what is Caesar's, and to God what is God's"; and "the last people who want to be caught dead pledging allegiance to the wrong Lord ought to be evangelicals" -- but then he documents the way many are now doing just that.
Next, a bit of twitting: "I know you are used to being a persecuted minority, but isn't it time to drop the inferiority complex, rule graciously, and love your enemies, even if they are liberal?" Byassee continues: "Do you really want to be allied with foul-mouthed know-it-alls on AM radio or with politicians who don't care a lick about Jesus?" He quotes C. S. Lewis's Screwtape advising young devil Wormwood: "Once you have made the world an end and faith a means ..." (you can guess the rest). Back to mainliners: "We're so far out of political power now that we're remembering the first task of the church is to be the church, not to play chaplain to a political party or nation ... [or] to trade fidelity for influence." Advice: "Enjoy your time at the top," for "political power is a good deal more transient than the things we both hold most dear." Your moment will pass; how are you acting?
Let me supplement Byassee's history and theology lesson with a longer look. To review: Gone are European Christendom ("dom" = domain); the Holy Roman Empire; the American colonial establishment, a Congregational-Presbyterian-Episcopalian nexus; the Enlightenment religion, the Deist friendly-to-Christianity faith of the "fathers and founders" in the time of the Declaration and the Constitution -- they were almost instantly replaced by revivalists who helped bring in what I called the "Righteous Empire," which lasted almost to the era about which Byassee writes. Also insert recall of a period when American Catholics "ran" most northern cities. These are mostly gone, all of them generally overlooked by the media.
A few words in Byassee's editorial deserve notice. The "monuments" -- he does not mean buildings and tombstones -- "from a more triumphant age" are "places that still do fine ministry." Could it be that, disencumbered of the imperial-dominion burdens that some Protestant conservatives now seek, mainline members are more free to remember that "the first task of the church is to be the church," while many in the religious right coalition that now owns the religious rights to the three branches of government and a good deal of the market are less free?
Byassee offers this: "When the powers that be are done with you, we mainline liberals will have a rocking chair for you at the retirement home of the formerly religiously important," ready to sit and be brothers and sisters. I hope they don't only rock!
Posted on: Monday, March 13, 2006 - 18:01
SOURCE: dissidentvoice.org (3-11-06)
"The problem of the Iranian regime has become entrenched over the course of an entire generation,” Undersecretary of State for Political Affairs Nicholas Burns told the House International Relations Committee March 8. “It may require a generational struggle to address it, but we have no choice but to do so.” As the International Atomic Energy Agency -- heavily pressured by the U.S. to condemn Iran -- was meeting to finalize a report to the UN Security Council about the country’s nuclear program, Burns (the number three man in the State Department) left little doubt as to Washington’s ultimate intentions. “We must defeat Iran in its pursuit of nuclear weapons and its sponsorship of terrorism and its subjugation of the people of Iran.”
He might as well have just said, “We must defeat Iran” and left it at that. The nuclear weapons, terrorism and repression issues are all pretexts for regime change, just as they were with Iraq. If Burns were more candid, less Straussian, he might say something like the following:
“The Iranian regime, which emerged after a popular uprising toppled our puppet the Shah in 1979, has been able to survive these many years. That’s a damned shame, because from 1953 to 1979 the U.S. called the shots in that populous, petroleum-rich, strategically located country which we’d placed on a par with NATO allies by the 1970s. It was an incalculable loss -- we’re still not reconciled to it -- made all the worse because we couldn’t just dismiss it as an anti-American plot by anyone in particular. The uprising was so huge and inclusive, involving the revolutionary left, progressive democrats, various Islamists and pretty much everybody. The fact is, it happened because our Shah had subjugated the people of Iran, just as we accuse the present government of doing, and the people rebelled as subjugated people tend to do.
“What we could do was use the ‘hostage crisis’ (that occurred after we refused to hand over the Shah for trial) to encourage anti-Iranian feeling and aggressive nationalism here in the U.S. back in the Carter and Reagan years. In a country burned by the Vietnam War and beset by the pacifistic ‘Vietnam Syndrome,’ the outpouring of bloodlust was a comforting sign that Americans might once again unite behind a ‘good war’ against dehumanized others. But the regime became entrenched, despite the Iraqi war of aggression against it in the 1980s -- which we supported, of course -- and our tireless efforts to undermine it.
“But since 9-11 we’ve found that we can manipulate public opinion against any Muslim target, by raising fears of terrorist attacks and mushroom clouds over New York. Fortunately, Iran supports Palestinian and Lebanese organizations that we, for our own and Israel’s reasons, list as ‘terrorist.’ Fortunately, many Americans are willing to believe that all the Muslim ‘terrorist’ groups are somehow linked to those who attacked the U.S. four and a half years ago. They’re altogether willing to believe they’re all linked -- if only through the presence of Evil in the cosmos -- to al-Qaeda. So we can tell them that Iran is trying to build nukes, and repeat that again and again. Inclined to believe the worst about Muslims, they’ll buy our claims. Of course we don’t really know what Iran’s up to, and the scientists tell us that Iran is years away from having the ability to produce nukes. We just assume, anyway, that any government leading a big self-respecting country like Iran -- which is surrounded by nuclear China, India, Pakistan, Russia and Israel and targeted for overthrow by our nuclear selves -- probably does want to have nuclear weapons someday. So what we need to say is, they’re definitely working on nukes, right now, and even though of course an Iran with nukes would no more threaten the U.S. than (say) Pakistan, we can throw down the gauntlet on this issue.
“So when we say ‘we have no choice’ but to ‘address’ the ‘Iranian problem’ and ‘defeat it,’ we don’t really mean we feel any actual necessity to smash Iran to defend the U.S. (We don’t even think we need to do it to defend Israel, although of course Iran’s a much bigger threat to Israel than to us, and we need to emphasize that issue -- as the president has -- before some audiences more than others. It gets a bit tricky, because on the one hand you want to gather support from AIPAC and other groups who’ve been calling the Iranian government an “existential threat” to Israel and desperately promoting a U.S. attack on Iran as the preferred alternative to an Israeli one. On the other, you don’t want people saying, ‘Bush wants to attack Iran just to help Israel.’ You want to kind of downplay that aspect, and if people start playing it up in the wrong way, you need to accuse them of anti-Semitism and make them shut up.)
“The real necessity we feel here, ladies and gentlemen, is the need to compete with other imperialist countries for geopolitical position in this post-Cold War era, especially in this region overflowing with oil. Used to be that if we wanted to attack one of these countries we’d have to deal with the Soviet Union! But here nowadays we have this huge chunk of real estate stretching from Central Asia to the Mediterranean, this slough of nasty Muslim states that’s up for grabs. If we control it, through puppet regimes, dot it with military bases, capitalize its development, control the flow of petroleum products from it -- well, then, we’ll be well-positioned to take on any emerging rivals. We’ll have Europe and Japan and China over a barrel. We have no choice but to seize the opportunity to build empire -- or risk decline vis-à-vis our friendly and less friendly contenders in what we intend to make the ‘New American Century.’
“Now, we can’t put it in those terms for public consumption, because normal Americans don’t think empire-building’s worth the lives of their kids. But just between you and me, Congressmen and Congresswomen, if we’re going to pull this off we have to use ‘noble lies’ to scare the masses and make them think we must defeat Iran. Any attack on Iran in the near future will be entirely a war of choice. But we must say in public the exact opposite to obtain our goals. We really have no choice but to say we have no choice in order to take advantage of the opportunities.”
Posted on: Sunday, March 12, 2006 - 19:48
I agree that people from the Civil Rights Generation must try to reach out to young people and try to understand their music and the experiences that music reflects, even when it makes us uncomfortable. I also agree that it is entirely appropriate for a major cultural institution like the Screen Actors Guild to honor the hip hop tradition in its song of the year category.
But as a historian of hip hop, and someone who thinks hip hop has been an outlet for extraordinary musical an lyrical creativity among young people for over 30 years, I think that the Screen Actors Guild chose the wrong song, and, especially, the wrong group, for this signal honor.
Here's why. Hip hop has been an important part of movies dealing with urban life since the release of "Wild Style" in 1982. Not only has it been a fixture of party movies like "House Party" or comedies like "Widcats," it has provided the soundtrack to powerful urban dramas like "Kiing of New York" "Juice" "Boys in the Hood" "Menace to Society" and "Paid in Full." Among the hip hop artists whose m usic has been featured in major films have been brillliant poets and social commentators like Grandmaster Flash, Public Enemy, Tupac Shakur, Biggie Smalls,Nas KRS-!, and more recently Mos Def, Talib Quali, Eninem, Common and Kanye West.. If the Academy had honored one of these artists, I would have been the first to celebrate their gesture as a recognition of Hip Hop's cultural significance. But choosing "Three Six Mafia" as the group to bestow this honor upon sends a very disturbing message. First of all, the song "It;s Hard Out Here for a Pimp" gives implicit legitimacy to an activity which exploits the pain and desparation of working class and poor women and which is still very much with us. As journalist Kit Roane pointed out in her article "Gangs Turn to New Trade; Young Prostitutes" (NY Times, July 11, 1999) "gang pimping" has become a huge and growing industry in inner city neighborhoods, rivalling drug selling as a source of revenue. I wonder what people who work with teenage sex workers must have thought when they watched the Oscars. I doubt if they were uplifted or amused.
Secondly, the entire career of Three Six Mafia has been built around songs degrading women in the crudest, most graphic fashion. Would you give the "song of the year" award to a group that built it's career around insulting Blacks, Jews, or Muslims, even if that group wrote a catchy tune that was part of a good movie? Then why would you give it to a group that makes sexually abusing and exploliting women it's stock in trade. If you think I am exagerrating, look at the titles of the 3-6 Mafia's greatest hits, which I got off the internet, or, if you have the stomach for it, download their lyrics from list .
Look, I would like nothing better than to see Hip Hop given an honored place in modern American Cultural History. But when a group like the Screen Actors Guild chooses to give their highest honor to one of the least talented, and most crudely sexist, representatives of the Hip Hop tradition, one has to wonder about their motives.
I would like to attribute the movie industry's gesture to ignorance, or laziness, but I think the motive is more venal- they want to attract revenue dollars from the hip hop loving younger generation ( most of whom by the way, are white suburbanites!) and don't care how they do it
In that sense, the Screen Actors Guild and 3-6 Mafia are partners in crime- they are all about the C.R.E.A.M.
To quote Wu Tang Clan, one of my favorite hip hop groups, who understand American capitalism better than any economist
"Cash rules everything around me, CREAM get the money, dollar dollar bill, y'all
Posted on: Friday, March 10, 2006 - 17:19
SOURCE: Nation (2-13-06)
Galvanized by a sense that the Iraq War represents a catastrophic policy based on an illegal set of political and military ends, historians and activists will convene in Austin, Texas, this weekend to explore what historical analysis and understanding can contribute to efforts to bring the war to an immediate end.
Advance registration indicates that activists so far outnumber academics at the conference, sponsored by Historians Against the War (HAW). The organization was formed at an emotional ad hoc meeting at the 2003 convention of the American Historical Association in Seattle. HAW's founders wanted to make their voices heard in opposition to the impending US invasion of Iraq.
"We felt that solid understanding of the history of the region, of the history of American foreign policy, even of the history of warfare and occupation itself, all suggested the folly of the course of action that the Bush Administration was taking," says Ben Alpers, who teaches in the Honors College at the University of Oklahoma and is currently a co-chair of HAW.
More than 1,800 historians have signed an HAW statement, issued in September 2003, calling for an end to the current occupation and "the restoration of cherished freedoms in the United States."
The Austin conference features keynotes by historian-activists like retired Boston University professor Howard Zinn and Andrea Smith of the University of Michigan. Four panels, followed by an evening plenary, will feature two Middle East experts, Rashid Khalidi of Columbia University and Irene Gendzier of Boston University. A roundtable discussion titled "What Can Historians and Activists Learn From Each Other?" concludes the program on Sunday.
As antiwar historians take their message public, two themes are in tension. One is the continuity that many historians see between George W. Bush's Iraq adventure and previous American foreign policy. But other historians see the Iraq War as a critical turning point in American history and culture.
"Bush Policies: Change or Continuity?" includes a presentation on war and profiteering from Vietnam to Iraq by James Carter, of the University of Houston, and an examination by Paul Atwood of the University of Massachusetts, Boston, of the way notions of war and empire have long permeated the American experience.
In response, Peter Dimock, who edits history books for Columbia University Press, argues that the Iraq War constitutes a "point of no return" in American history and culture. He suggests that mainstream historians have "tried to reconcile empire and democracy through narratives of progress, but that the Iraq War poses "a crucial moment of crisis--a point of American historical 'no return' for democratic possibility at home linked to the militarized pursuit of 'full-spectrum dominance' abroad."
However the war is viewed by activist historians, there is consensus on the need to speak up. Margaret Power, an HAW co-chair and Latin America specialist at the Illinois Institute of Technology, calls "absurd" the idea that historians can "stay removed from the political currents that swirl around us, ensconced in some ivory tower.... As people who have the time and opportunity to study and learn," she says, "we also have the responsibility and the ability to speak out. Our voice matters, and we have been far too silent."
Reprinted with permission from the Nation. For subscription information call 1-800-333-8536. Portions of each week's Nation magazine can be accessed at http://www.thenation.com.
Posted on: Thursday, March 9, 2006 - 20:42
SOURCE: Middle East Quarterly (Spring 2006) (3-9-06)
Starting with a single office in 1994, CAIR now claims thirty-one affiliates, including a branch in Canada, with more steadily being added. In addition to its grand national headquarters in Washington, it has impressive offices in other cities; the New York office, for example, is housed in the 19-story Interchurch Center located on Manhattan's Riverside Drive.
But there is another side to CAIR that has alarmed many people in positions to know. The Department of Homeland Security refuses to deal with it. Senator Charles Schumer (Democrat, New York) describes it as an organization "which we know has ties to terrorism." Senator Dick Durbin (Democrat, Illinois) observes that CAIR is "unusual in its extreme rhetoric and its associations with groups that are suspect." Steven Pomerantz, the FBI's former chief of counterterrorism, notes that "CAIR, its leaders, and its activities effectively give aid to international terrorist groups." The family of John P. O'Neill, Sr., the former FBI counterterrorism chief who perished at the World Trade Center, named CAIR in a lawsuit as having "been part of the criminal conspiracy of radical Islamic terrorism" responsible for the September 11 atrocities. Counterterrorism expert Steven Emerson calls it "a radical fundamentalist front group for Hamas."
Of particular note are the American Muslims who reject CAIR's claim to speak on their behalf. The late Seifeldin Ashmawy, publisher of the New Jersey-based Voice of Peace, called CAIR the champion of "extremists whose views do not represent Islam." Jamal Hasan of the Council for Democracy and Tolerance explains that CAIR's goal is to spread "Islamic hegemony the world over by hook or by crook." Kamal Nawash, head of Free Muslims Against Terrorism, finds that CAIR and similar groups condemn terrorism on the surface while endorsing an ideology that helps foster extremism, adding that "almost all of their members are theocratic Muslims who reject secularism and want to establish Islamic states." Tashbih Sayyed of the Council for Democracy and Tolerance calls CAIR "the most accomplished fifth column" in the United States. And Stephen Schwartz of the Center on Islamic Pluralism writes that "CAIR should be considered a foreign-based subversive organization, comparable in the Islamist field to the Soviet-controlled Communist Party, USA."
CAIR, for its part, dismisses all criticism, blaming negative comments on "Muslim bashers" who "can never point to something CAIR has done in its 10-year history that is objectionable." Actually, there is much about the organization's history that is objectionable—and it is readily apparent to anyone who bothers to look.
Part of the Establishment
When President George W. Bush visited the Islamic Center of Washington several days after September 11, 2001, to signal that he would not tolerate a backlash against Muslims, he invited CAIR's executive director, Nihad Awad, to join him at the podium. Two months later, when Secretary of State Colin Powell hosted a Ramadan dinner, he, too, called upon CAIR as representative of Islam in America. More broadly, when the State Department seeks out Muslims to welcome foreign dignitaries, journalists, and academics, it calls upon CAIR. The organization has represented American Muslims before Congress. The National Aeronautics and Space Agency hosted CAIR's "Sensitivity and Diversity Workshop" in an effort to harmonize space research with Muslim sensibilities.
Law-enforcement agencies in Florida, Maryland, Ohio, Michigan, New York, Arizona, California, Missouri, Texas, and Kentucky have attended CAIR's sensitivity-training sessions. The organization boasts such tight relations with law enforcement that it claims to have even been invited to monitor police raids. In July 2004, as agents from the FBI, Internal Revenue Service, and Homeland Security descended on the Institute of Islamic and Arabic Sciences in America, a Saudi-created school in Merrifield, Virginia, a local paper reported that the FBI had informed CAIR's legal director, Arsalan Iftikhar, that morning that the raid was going to take place.
CAIR is also a media darling. It claims to log five thousand annual mentions on newspapers, television, and radio, including some of the most prestigious media in the United States. The press dutifully quotes CAIR's statistics, publishes its theological views, reports its opinions, rehashes its press releases, invites its staff on television, and generally dignifies its existence as a routine part of the American and Canadian political scenes.
CAIR regularly participates in seminars on Islamic cultural issues for corporations and has been invited to speak at many of America's leading universities, including Harvard, Stanford, Johns Hopkins, and Columbia. American high schools have invited CAIR to promote its agenda, as have educationally-minded senior citizens.
Terrorists in Its Midst
Perhaps the most obvious problem with CAIR is the fact that at least five of its employees and board members have been arrested, convicted, deported, or otherwise linked to terrorism-related charges and activities.
Randall ("Ismail") Royer, an American convert to Islam, served as CAIR's communications specialist and civil rights coordinator; today he sits in jail on terrorism-related charges. In June 2003, Royer and ten other young men, ages 23 to 35, known as the "Virginia jihad group," were indicted on forty-one counts of "conspiracy to train for and participate in a violent jihad overseas." The defendants, nine of them U.S. citizens, were accused of association with Lashkar-e-Taiba, a radical Islamic group designated as a foreign terrorist organization by the U.S. Department of State in 2001. They were also accused of meeting covertly in private homes and at the Islamic Center in Falls Church to prepare themselves for battle by listening to lectures and watching videotapes. As the prosecutor noted, "Ten miles from Capitol Hill in the streets of northern Virginia, American citizens allegedly met, plotted, and recruited for violent jihad." According to Matthew Epstein of the Investigative Project, Royer helped recruit the others to the jihad effort while he was working for CAIR. The group trained at firing ranges in Virginia and Pennsylvania; in addition, it practiced "small-unit military tactics" at a paintball war-games facility in Virginia, earning it the moniker, the "paintball jihadis." Eventually members of the group traveled to Pakistan.
Five of the men indicted, including CAIR's Royer, were found to have had in their possession, according to the indictment, "AK-47-style rifles, telescopic lenses, hundreds of rounds of ammunition and tracer rounds, documents on undertaking jihad and martyrdom, [and] a copy of the terrorist handbook containing instructions on how to manufacture and use explosives and chemicals as weapons."
After four of the eleven defendants pleaded guilty, the remaining seven, including Royer, were accused in a new, 32-count indictment of yet more serious charges: conspiring to help Al-Qaeda and the Taliban battle American troops in Afghanistan. Royer admitted in his grand jury testimony that he had already waged jihad in Bosnia under a commander acting on orders from Osama bin Laden. Prosecutors also presented evidence that his father, Ramon Royer, had rented a room in his St. Louis-area home in 2000 to Ziyad Khaleel, the student who purchased the satellite phone used by Al-Qaeda in planning the two U.S. embassy bombings in East Africa in August 1998. Royer eventually pleaded guilty to lesser firearms-related charges, and the former CAIR staffer was sentenced to twenty years in prison.
A coda to the "Virginia jihad network" came in 2005 when a Federal court convicted another Virginia man, Ahmed Omar Abu Ali, of plotting to kill President Bush. Prosecutors alleged that Abu Ali participated in the Virginia jihad network's paintball games and perhaps supplied one of his fellow jihadists with an assault rifle. Royer's possible role in Abu Ali's plans are unclear.
Ghassan Elashi, the founder of CAIR's Texas chapter, has a long history of funding terrorism. First, he was convicted in July 2004, with his four brothers, of having illegally shipped computers from their Dallas-area business, InfoCom Corporation, to two designated state-sponsors of terrorism, Libya and Syria. Second, he and two brothers were convicted in April 2005 of knowingly doing business with Mousa Abu Marzook, a senior Hamas leader, whom the U.S. State Department had in 1995 declared a "specially designated terrorist." Elashi was convicted of all twenty-one counts with which he was charged, including conspiracy, money laundering, and dealing in the property of a designated terrorist. Third, he was charged in July 2004 with providing more than $12.4 million to Hamas while he was running the Holy Land Foundation for Relief and Development, America's largest Islamic charity. When the U.S. government shuttered Holy Land Foundation in late 2001, CAIR characterized this move as "unjust" and "disturbing."
Bassem Khafagi, an Egyptian native and CAIR's onetime community relations director, pleaded guilty in September 2003 to lying on his visa application and passing bad checks for substantial amounts in early 2001, for which he was deported. CAIR claimed Khafagi was hired only after he had committed his crimes and that the organization was unaware of his wrongdoing. But that is unconvincing, for a cursory background check reveals that Khafagi was a founding member and president of the Islamic Assembly of North America (IANA), an organization under investigation by the U.S. Department of Justice for terrorism-related activities. CAIR surely knew that IANA under Khafagi was in the business of, as prosecutors stated in Idaho court papers, disseminating "radical Islamic ideology, the purpose of which was indoctrination, recruitment of members, and the instigation of acts of violence and terrorism."
For example, IANA websites promoted the views of two Saudi preachers, Salman al-Awdah and Safar al-Hawali, well-known in Islamist circles for having been spiritual advisors to Osama bin Laden. Under Khafagi's leadership, Matthew Epstein has testified, IANA hosted a conference at which a senior Al-Qaeda recruiter, Abdelrahman al-Dosari, was a speaker. IANA disseminated publications advocating suicide attacks against the United States, according to federal investigators.
Also, Khafagi was co-owner of a Sir Speedy printing franchise until 1998 with Rafil Dhafir, who was a former vice president of IANA and a Syracuse-area oncologist convicted in February 2005 of illegally sending money to Iraq during the Saddam Hussein regime as well as defrauding donors by using contributions to his "Help the Needy" charitable fund to avoid taxes and to purchase personal assets for himself. Dhafir was sentenced to twenty-two years in prison.
Rabih Haddad, a CAIR fundraiser, was arrested in December 2001 on terrorism-related charges and deported from the United States due to his subsequent work as executive director of the Global Relief Foundation, a charity he cofounded which was designated by the U.S. Treasury Department in October 2002 for financing Al-Qaeda and other terrorist organizations.
Siraj Wahhaj, a CAIR advisory board member, was named in 1995 by U.S. attorney Mary Jo White as a possible unindicted coconspirator in the plot to blow up New York City landmarks led by the blind sheikh, Omar Abdul Rahman. In defense of having Wahhaj on its advisory board, CAIR described him as "one of the most respected Muslim leaders in America." In October 2004, he spoke at a CAIR dinner.
This roster of employees and board members connected to terrorism makes one wonder how CAIR remains an acceptable guest at U.S. government events—and even more so, how U.S. law enforcement agencies continue to associate with it.
[To continue reading this article please click on the SOURCE link above.]
Posted on: Thursday, March 9, 2006 - 20:11
SOURCE: Sandstorm (blog) (3-8-06)
Almost a millennium later, Muslim leaders and clerics are using the same language to stir the Muslim masses. They accuse the godless West of defiling the Prophet of God. Khaled Mashal, the leader of Hamas abroad, has demanded that Europe repent for the Danish cartoons. "Tomorrow, our nation will sit on the throne of the world. . . . Apologize today, before remorse will do you no good. . . . Since God is greater, and He supports us, we will be victorious." Iranian President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad struck the same note, in a speech marking the 27th anniversary of Iran's revolution: "The Iranian nation is telling you now that although you have Mammon, you do not have God. But God is with us."
"A race utterly alienated from God"--this is how Pope Urban II demonized the Muslims in the 11th century. This is exactly how Islam's leaders are demonizing the West in the 21st. The secular West had flattered itself, believing it had pulled the Muslim world into modernity. Yes, Islam has sent forth suicide bombers and terrorist insurgents. But they and their sympathizers were in the minority--so the pollsters and analysts told us: "Don't judge Islam by the acts of a misguided few." This faith in the pragmatic Muslim majority has underpinned every Western policy, from the Israeli-Palestinian "peace process" to the Bush administration's democracy promotion. The Muslim masses, the assumption goes, will choose peace and freedom, if given the chance. But they haven't. 9/11 could be attributed to a fanatic minority. Not so the Danish cartoon protests: Millions have taken part.
What about the Iranians who elected a president openly bent on confrontation with the West? What of those Egyptian voters who gave the Muslim Brotherhood a stunning success in parliamentary elections? And what about the supposedly secular Palestinians, who have swept Hamas into power? A poll conducted last year showed that 60 percent of Jordanians, Egyptians and Palestinians want Islamic shari'a law to be the sole source of legislation.
The experts resort to political and socioeconomic explanations: Syria incites proxies to punish Europe for its support of the U.S. over Lebanon. Iran stirs things up to escape possible sanctions over its nuclear program. Muslim minorities in Europe are protesting against racism and exclusion. Palestinians voted not for Islam, but against corruption.
There are plenty of inequalities in the world that cut against Muslims--enough to explain any outburst. This is the default analysis, reassuring us that there isn't a "clash of civilizations," only a clash of interests. These analyses have their place, but they're not sufficient. The clash goes beyond differing interests. Hundreds of millions of Muslims who live alongside us and among us inhabit another mental world.
Ahmadinejad feels the presence of the Mahdi, Islam's promised messiah. Hamas, according to its charter, believes that the Jews have fomented every upheaval in the world since the French Revolution. Muslim opinion-makers deny the thoroughly documented Nazi Holocaust, but accept the patently fraudulent Protocols of the Elders of Zion as an indisputable fact.
The present Muslim campaign has its share of opportunists. But it is also driven by a religious fervor. At some point, a Muslim equivalent of Pope Urban II could appear. This time, the crusade would be a Muslim one. Its advance scouts are already at work in Europe.
The West (and Israel) have mocked the prophet--not Muhammad, but Samuel Huntington, author of The Clash of Civilizations. Our elites have spent a decade denying the truth at the core of his thesis: that the Islamic world and the West are bound to collide. Even now, we glibly predict that possession of political power and nuclear weapons will make Islamists act predictably. It all makes perfect sense--to us. But the cartoon affair and the Hamas elections are timely reminders that our perfect sense isn't theirs.
Fortunately, it isn't too late. There is a clash of civilizations, but there isn't yet a war of the worlds. "You do not have God," they say. "God is with us." That is their prayer. But they lack power, resources and weapons. Today they burn flags; a united West can still deny them the means to burn more. It can do so if it acts swiftly and resolutely, to keep nuclear fire out of Iran's hands, and to assure that Hamas fails.
Posted on: Wednesday, March 8, 2006 - 18:19
SOURCE: TomDispatch.com (3-7-06)
We already have "stealth" aircraft, but what about a little of the stealth that only nature can provide?
Navy Seals, move over -- here come the Navy sharks. According to the latest New Scientist magazine, the Defense Advanced Research Projects Agency or DARPA, the blue-sky wing of the Pentagon, has set yet another group of American scientists loose to create the basis for future red-in-tooth-and-maw Discovery Channel programs. In this case, they are planning to put neural implants into the brains of sharks in hopes, one day, of "controlling the animal's movements, and perhaps even decoding what it is feeling." In their dreams at least, DARPA'S far-out funders hope to "exploit sharks' natural ability to glide quietly through the water, sense delicate electrical gradients and follow chemical trails. By remotely guiding the sharks' movements, they hope to transform the animals into stealth spies, perhaps capable of following vessels without being spotted."
So far they've only made it to the poor dogfish, "steered" in captivity via electrodes keyed to "phantom odors." As it happens though, DARPA-sponsored plans are a good deal lustier than that: Next stop, the blue shark, which reaches a length of 13 feet. Project engineer Walter Gomes of the Naval Undersea Warfare Center in Newport, Rhode Island claims a team will soon be putting neural implants "into blue sharks and releas[ing] them into the ocean off the coast of Florida." To transmit signals to the sharks, the team will need nothing less than a network of signaling towers in the area. This has "anti-ballistic shark system" written all over it.
Actually, it's not the first time the military has invested in shark technology. As Noah Shachtman of DefenseTech.org pointed out last July, "The Navy has tapped three firms to build prototype gadgets that duplicate what sharks do naturally: find prey from the electric fields they emit." One of them, Advanced Ceramics Research, Inc., limned the project's potential benefits this way: "If developed, such a capability might allow for the detection of small, hostile submarines entering a seawater inlet, harbor or channel, or allow objects such as mines to be pinpointed in shallow waters where sonar imaging is severely compromised." And then there's that ultimate underwater dream, the Microfabricated Biomimetic Artificial Gill System, that could lead to all sorts of Navy breakthroughs, perhaps even -- if you'll excuse a tad of blue-skying on my part -- blue shark/human tracking teams, or if not that, then lots of late-night-TV Aquaman jokes.
Of course, the Navy has been in nature's waters in a big way for a while with its Marine Mammal Program in San Diego. There, it trains bottlenose dolphins as "sentries" and mine detectors. Such dolphins were "first operationally deployed" in Vietnam in 1971 and a whole Dolphin patrol (like, assumedly, the shark patrol to come) is now on duty in the Khor Abd Allah waterway, Iraq's passageway into the Persian Gulf. To the embarrassment of the Navy, a dolphin named Takoma even went "AWOL" there in 2003, soon after the invasion of Iraq began.
As Nick Turse has pointed out, DARPA funds research into weaponizing creatures that inhabit just about any environmental niche imaginable -- including bees capable of detecting explosives; "eyes" patterned after those of flies that might someday make "smart" weaponry even smarter; gecko wall-climbing and octopi concealment techniques; and electrode-controlled rats capable of searching through piles of rubble. In addition, between nature and whatever the opposite of nurture may be, there's been an ongoing military give-and-take. Consider, for instance, BigDog, highlighted in the same issue of New Scientist. Compared to a pack mule, goat, or horse, this "robotic beast of burden" is being developed by Boston Dynamics to haul over rough terrain at least 40 kilograms of supplies soldiers won't need to carry, while being able to take a "hefty kick" in the legs without crumpling to the ground.
From sharks to robots, from hacking into your nervous system to manipulating the weather, the Pentagon seems determined to exert "full spectrum dominance" especially over that top of the line primate, us. To achieve this, it sponsors blue-sky thinking with a vengeance. Nothing that moves or breathes on the planet, it seems, is conceptually beyond conscription by Uncle Sam into possible future-war scenarios.
This is undoubtedly what happens when you have an administration that considers the Pentagon the answer to all our problems and gives it a $439.3 billion budget to play with -- and that's exclusive of actual war-fighting money (which, for Iraq and Afghanistan, at an estimated $120 billion for the year, will come in supplemental requests to Congress). And remember as well that the fiscal 2007 Pentagon budget does not include the $9.3 billion the Department of Energy will put into nuclear weapons or a host of veterans-care benefits, all of which bring the budget at least close to the $600 billion range. Analyzing the 2006 budget, economist Robert Higgs estimated that all military-related outlays -- that is, the real Pentagon budget -- totaled closer to $840 billion dollars.
Even taken at face value, the 2007 budget accounts for more than half of the $873 billion in federal discretionary spending -- the funds that the President and Congress decide to spend each year. For 2007, education, the second largest discretionary budget item, amounts to just over $50 billion, a piddling sum by comparison. But there is probably no way to put any version of the Pentagon's finances into perspective. Militarily speaking, it throws other military spending on the planet into the deepest shadow. As Frida Berrigan, senior research associate at the World Policy Institute's Arms Trade Resource Center and co-author of Weapons at War 2005, points out, "The Pentagon accounts for about half the world's total military expenditures of $1.04 trillion, spending alone what the 32 next most powerful nations spend together."
The United States is also by far the planet's largest exporter of weapons and military hardware. An annual Congressional Research Service report found that, in 2004, global weapons deliveries totaled nearly $37 billion -- with the United States responsible for more than 33% of them, or $12.4 billion, and it hasn't gotten better since.
No other country puts anything like such effort, planning, and dreaming into the idea of projecting planet-spanning military power, caught so grimly in that phrase, "full spectrum dominance." To Pentagon minds this seems to mean: from 20,000 leagues down to 20 miles up (and everything that creeps, crawls, swims, or flies in between). The phrase first gained attention with the release in 2000 of the Air Force's Joint Vision 2020 statement -- a supposed look into a future world of American war-making. It's one of those terms that sticks with you -- and not just because of the full-spectrum weaponry that's now on the drawing boards, ranging from hypervelocity rod bundles meant to penetrate underground bunkers from outer space (ominously nicknamed "rods from god") to the Common Aero Vehicle (CAV), "an unmanned maneuverable spacecraft that [by 2010] would travel at five times the speed of sound and could carry 1,000 pounds of munitions, intelligence sensors or other payloads" anywhere on the planet within two hours, or that permanent base on the moon the Bush administration has called for by 2020 (and the array of Star Wars-style space-based weaponry that would ring it).
Full-spectrum dominance turns out to include even the United States where, in 2002, the Bush administration established the United States Northern Command or Northcom whose website at present has the following from a visit by Assistant Secretary of Defense for Homeland Defense Paul McHale as its reassuring quote of the week: "I'm leaving with a clear sense of confidence in the vision and planning of NORTHCOM to deal with any emerging threat, whether an occurrence of pandemic flu, a 2006 hurricane ... or a terrorist attack still being planned by our adversaries."
While the Pentagon quietly begins to take over tasks that once were delegated to civilian agencies, its blue-sky weapons planning extends into the distant future. Take, for instance, the Air Force Futures Game 05, held for several days last October in the Dulles, Virginia office of consultants Booz Allen Hamilton. The exercise was dedicated to "looking at scenarios for the year 2025," especially one in which a nuclear weapon is loose in a "Middle Eastern country" and a major war is in the offing. Like many other Pentagon war-gaming exercises, this one was largely committed to confirming the usefulness of as yet nonexistent or hardly existent weaponry, especially in the areas of "space access" and "electronic warfare." According to Col. Gail Wojtowicz, Air Force division director of future concepts and transformation, the gamers were "also looking at one of the trickiest issues the Air Force or another service may have to face: what the Pentagon can do on American soil." Indeed.
Military analyst William Arkin wrote about these particular Air Force games, meant to boost "laser, high-powered microwaves, and acoustic weapons," at his Washington Post Early Warning blog. Such blue-sky exercises, he explained, advance new weapons systems (and their corporate sponsors) "along the familiar development path of boosters and patrons feeding information to war gamers who feed study participants who feed researchers who feed manufacturers. At the end of the day, it is hard to tell whether high powered microwaves and laser came into being because someone conceived it out of need or because its existence in the laboratory created the need."
To support letting inventive minds roam free outside normal frameworks is in itself an inspired idea. But I bet there's no DARPA-like agency elsewhere in the government funding the equivalent for education 2025 or health 2025 or even energy independence 2025. To have this happen, I'm afraid, you would have to transform them into Northcom war games.
Now it's true that much blue-skying may never come to be. Those U.S. Navy stealth sharks may not patrol our coasts and a good, swift enemy kick to some unexpected spot on BigDog's anatomy may fell the "creature," if budgetary or high-tech wrinkles don't do the trick first -- just as an unexpected series of low-tech blows to our full-spectrum military has left the Pentagon desperate and the Army unraveling in Iraq.
Wouldn't it be nice, though, if official blue-sky thinking didn't always mean mobilizing finances, scientists, corporations, and even the animal kingdom in the service of global death. Wouldn't it be nice to blue sky just a tad about life?
[Note: Special thanks for Pentagon facts and figures in this piece go to Frida Berrigan of the World Policy Institute's invaluable Arms Trade Resource Center. To keep up with the latest Pentagon full-spectrum dominance projects, be sure to check out Noah Shachtman's entertaining as well as useful DefenseTech website, heavily mined for this piece, and William Arkin's Washington Post Early Warning blog.]
This article first appeared on www.tomdispatch.com, a weblog of the Nation Institute, which offers a steady flow of alternate sources, news and opinion from Tom Engelhardt, a long time editor in publishing, the author of The End of Victory Culture, and a fellow of the Nation Institute.
Posted on: Tuesday, March 7, 2006 - 22:05
SOURCE: NY Sun (3-7-06)
Michael Jackson, the king of pop, is"on the verge" of converting to Islam, CBS News reported last week. If that's true, it fits into a recurring and important African-American pattern.
Rumors of Mr. Jackson's conversion first surfaced in November 2003, a month after his arrest on child-molestation charges. Saeed Shabazz, a reporter for the Nation of Islam's publication, The Final Call, announced that Mr. Jackson had joined the organization. He added that NoI's leader, Louis Farrakhan,"sees a lot of spirituality in Michael." But the Nation of Islam denied this connection and the topic quickly faded.
It resurfaced only after Mr. Jackson's acquittal of the molestation charges in June 2005. By October he had moved to Bahrain, living in a spare palace belonging to Crown Prince Salman ibn Hamed Khalifa. Mr. Jackson's lawyer described him as"living permanently" in the tiny Persian Gulf island state with just 363,000 Bahraini subjects and half again as many foreigners.
In November came the news of Mr. Jackson donating"a huge amount of money" to build a mosque near his new residence. The Khaleej Times newspaper explained that the mosque"would be designated for learning the principles and teachings of Islam as well as teaching of English language, for which high-standard teachers would be brought from United States under his personal supervision."
Michael Jackson in Muslim women's clothing
In January, a Bahraini business, AAJ Holdings, announced it had hired Mr. Jackson as an entertainment consultant. In addition, Mr. Jackson was spotted leaving a Bahraini shopping mall wearing a black veil, black gloves, and a black robe (called the abaya). To avoid publicity, in other words, he dressed like an Islamist woman.
Given Mr. Jackson's famous eccentricities, it is unclear what his Bahraini venture amounts to, but if he does convert to Islam, he will be following a path in place since the late 1940s, of African-Americans under stress turning to some form of Islam. Their ranks include some notable high-profile cases:
- Malcolm X: the Nation of Islam leader converted while serving time in prison in 1948.
- Tawana Brawley: the much-publicized hoaxer converted after the exposure of her claim of being gang raped by white men.
- Benjamin Chavis: the head of the National Association for the Advancement of Colored People converted after his scandal-ridden eviction.
- John Allen Muhammad: the Beltway Sniper converted after a bruising divorce.
- Henry Tillman: the Olympic gold-medal heavyweight boxing medalist converted while in prison on charges of murder.
- Mike Tyson: the heavyweight boxing champion converted while in prison, serving time for rape.
- James Ujaama: the celebrated community activist who had battled drugs and prostitution converted to Islam at a time of career problems; he later pleaded guilty of conspiring to help the Taliban.
Also, O.J. Simpson, the football star accused of murdering his wife, recalls,"when I was incarcerated I read the Koran," but he apparently did not go on to convert.
Mr. Farrakhan has won himself much attention by ostentatiously backing well-known American blacks who find themselves in trouble, such as he did for Michael Jackson after the 2003 arrest. Other figures include:
- Marion Barry, the mayor of Washington, convicted for illegal drug consumption.
- Alcee Hastings, an impeached Federal judge in Florida.
- Gus Savage, a U.S. congressman from Illinois, charged with sexual harassment.
- George Stallings, a Catholic priest accused of child molestation.
Also, during the high-profile 2004 trial of Lionel Tate, then the youngest-ever American sentenced to life in prison without parole (for killing a little girl when he was 12 years old), the Nation of Islam (according to the Palm Beach Post) stationed about 20"black men dressed in sleek suits and bow ties" in the courthouse. Their leaders"spoke with the teen's attorneys, offering advice on security."
These and other examples establish Islam – in both its normative and Nation variants – as a leading solace for African-Americans in need. That helps explain why the United States has by far the largest Muslim convert population in the Western world (about 750,000 adherents). Each black public figure who converts to Islam or accepts Nation of Islam support creates an added impetus for other blacks to change religions, a pattern that has also emerged in other Western countries.
Thus do the actions of an erratic celebrity in distant Bahrain have significant consequences.
This article is reprinted with permission by Daniel Pipes. This article first appeared in the New York Sun.
Posted on: Tuesday, March 7, 2006 - 21:49
SOURCE: Juan Cole's Blog (Informed Comment) (3-3-06)
"Iraq now 'Less Safe'. Oh, I'd say so.
"Pentagon Dismisses US Troop Poll". A Pentagon spokesman actually said,"It shouldn't surprise anybody that a deployed soldier would rather be at home than deployed . . ."
Is that what Bush has been saying? "It is also important for every American to understand the consequences of pulling out of Iraq before our work is done. . . We would undermine the morale of our troops by betraying the cause for which they have sacrificed."
Now it turns out the troops think the US should get out within a year.
"Iran to Invest $1 Billion in Iraq"
"Late 30s aren't Too Late to Enlist". Jonah Goldberg, Michael Rubin and Dan Senor alert.
Fox News asks,"Could All-Out Civil War in Iraq be a Good Thing?" You can't make this stuff up.
Followed by: "Iraq Civil War: Made up by the Media?".
Posted on: Friday, March 3, 2006 - 18:56