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.
SOURCE: TomDispatch.com (4-30-06)
It's the perfect day for a march. Sunny, crisp, clear, spring-like. The sort of day that just gives you hope for no reason at all, though my own hopes are not high for New York's latest antiwar demonstration. I haven't received a single email about it. Many people I know hadn't realized it was happening. I fear the outreach has been minimal and despite all the signals of danger (of another war, this time with Iran) and of possibility (nosediving presidential approval polls, an administration in disarray, and the Republican Party in growing chaos), I approach this 30 block march with something of a sinking heart.
This is only reinforced by the scene that meets the full staff of Tomdispatch.com -- Nick Turse and me -- as we leave the subway at 18th street and head east about an hour before the demonstrators are to step off. The streets are still largely empty of all but the police, gathered in knots at every corner. Their blue sawhorses ("police line do not cross") rim the sidewalks seemingly to the horizon and everywhere you can see stacks of the metal fencing with which the NYPD has become so expert at hemming in any demonstration. None of this inspires great confidence.
Sometimes, though, surprise is a wonderful thing. Who would have guessed that several hours later I would be standing on Broadway and Leonard Street looking back at perhaps 20 packed blocks of demonstrators -- bands, puppets, signs by the thousands, vets by the hundreds (if not the thousands), huge contingents of military families, congeries of the young, labor, women, the clergy, university and high school students, raging grannies, radical cheerleaders, and who knows who else -- an enormous mass of humanity as far as the eye can see and probably another 10 to 15 blocks beyond that. It was enough to make the heart leap. I had no way of counting, no way of knowing whether what I saw was the 300,000 the organizers claimed or merely the vague"tens of thousands" mentioned in most media reports. It was, to say the least though, a lot of people, mobilized on limited notice.
As someone who lived through the era of Vietnam protests, this demonstration had quite a different feel to it, and not just because of all the military families (and the surprising number of people I talked with who knew someone, or were related to someone, who had served in our all-volunteer military in Iraq), but because no one in this demonstration had the illusion that the White House was paying the slightest bit of attention to them. The same, by the way, might be said of the mainstream media. On the ABC and NBC prime time news this night, the reports on this huge demonstration, sandwiched between what would be billed as major stories, would zip by in quite literally a few seconds each. In each case, if you hadn't been there, it would be easy to believe from the reporting that this event had essentially never occurred.
As I often do, I spent as much time as I could prowling the crowd, talking to as many protesters as possible. A demonstration of this size is a complex beast, one I would hesitate to characterize. I've tried instead to offer below some of the voices I ran across -- or at least as much of each of them as my slow hand could madly scribble on a pad of paper. As modest as the cross-section I encountered was, I had the feeling that, while the march was calm, lively, and upbeat, many of the demonstrators had no illusions about what the future might hold. The ones I met were almost uniformly disappointed in, or disgusted with, the Democratic"opposition," fearful of a new war in Iran, realistic about how hard it will be to get the President's men (and so our troops) out of Iraq, and yet surprisingly determined that those troops should be brought home as soon as humanly possible.
Perhaps such demonstrations are now not for the Bush administration, nor really for the mainstream media either, but only for us. Perhaps they are a reminder to all those who attend and to those numbering in their hundreds of thousands, if not millions, on the political Internet that we are here, alive, and humming. That is reason enough to demonstrate.
Throughout these years, signs -- individually made, hand-lettered, sometimes just scrawled (not to speak of masks, puppets, complex theatricals, elaborate visuals of every sort suitable for a world of special effects) -- are the signature aspect of such demonstrations. Here are some of the signs that caught my eye, not necessarily the wildest among them, but ones that give something of the flavor of the event:
"From Gulf to Gulf, George Bush, a category 5 disaster"
"Drop Bush, Not Bombs."
"Fermez La Bush"
"No ProLife in Iraq."
"1 was too many, 2400 is enough"
"War is terrorism with a bigger budget"
"Axis of Insanity" (with George, Condi, Don, and Dick dressed as an Elmer Fudd-style hunter)
"One Nation under Surveillance"
"G.O.P. George Orwell Party"
"How Many Lives per Gallon?"
"War Is Soooooo 20th Century"
"Civil War Accomplished in Iraq-Nam"
"Give Impeachment a Chance"
"I'm Already Against the Next War"
"Expose the lies, half-truths, cut and paste rationales for going to war"
"Mandatory Evacuation of the Bush White House"
And here are some of the voices that go with such signs:
The Soldier and the Machine
Demond Mullins is a 24 year-old student at Lehman College in New York. A handsome young man in wrap-around shades, he wears a desert camo jacket with Iraq Veterans Against the War (IVAW) on it. He tells me he was an infantryman in the Baghdad area from September 2004 to September 2005, part of a National Guard unit attached to the First Cavalry. He will be among a relatively modest IVAW group of perhaps 20 to 30 young men who will lead this demonstration.
"What got me here? I had just returned home and was having a lot of trouble transitioning back into civilian life. Then one day, a professor of mine gave me an email for an IVAW event. I met the vets against the war and it was my first time talking about my experience there. I felt easy with them.
"I lost friends over there. Here's a bracelet." He briefly brings his wrist up so that, for a moment, I can see the black band, one of several bands."Your unit makes these and the whole unit wears them. In my battalion, we lost twenty-five guys, but I wear this one because he was my closest friend there and he died six days before my birthday."
I ask him to let me have a closer look. On it, the band has rank, name ("I don't want you to use his name..."), and"December 1, 2004, KIA, Baghdad, Iraq" as well as the phrase,"Something to believe in."
"I ran all those missions and I don't know why. I don't know what their lives and the lives of Iraqi nationals were spent for. I thought they showed a blatant disregard for human life. I was just tired of being part of a machine destroying the Earth -- and I'm speaking of the military-industrial complex. I wanted to be part of a force saving the Earth."
"My Nephew Died for This?"
Like so many people on this brilliant day, she's wearing sunglasses. She stands behind the IVAW contingent, part of the startlingly large group of military families against the war that are leading off this demonstration. She's Missy Comley Beattie -- she spells it out carefully for me -- a member of Gold Star Families for Peace."My nephew was killed on August 6, 2005 in al-Amariyah. He was a Marine."
She comes from red-state Kentucky, but now lives in New York. She's wearing a tiny gold peace sign around her neck and a Code Pink T-shirt."I write like three articles a day. It's an obsession. I was told recently that I'm an embarrassment to my [Kentucky] community for my stance on the war. I won't tell you who said that. But I have my brother's support. It was his son who died. My mother's a former chair of the local Republican Party. Now, she's a screaming progressive. Actually, my mother tells me that things are beginning to change in Kentucky. She sees a lot more anti-Bush letters-to-the-editor in the papers than she used to.
"I think that people in the red states are increasingly opposed to Bush. But to be honest, I suspect it's the rising costs at the pump, not the human costs that are doing it. It's also that so many people just don't pay attention and the death rates are always submerged beneath the Ken- and Barbie-like TV anchors as they talk about the crime of the week. And keep in mind that Bush doesn't allow people to see the bodies come home.
"When my nephew was little we were close, but now I live here. I talked to him before he joined the Marines and urged him not to do so. Then I urged him to join something like the Coast Guard, but he was attracted to the bravado of the Marine Corps. He'd say to my father, ‘Why settle for second best when you can be best?' I even tried to convince him to go AWOL.
"Cindy [Sheehan] and I were arrested on March 6, seven months to the day after my nephew died, and the reason I sat down with the others was this: My nephew actually went to Iraq because he thought he was fighting for our freedom. I never believed that, but I sat down because the police wouldn't even let us walk on the sidewalk to give our petition to the U.S. Mission to the UN. I thought: My nephew died for this? So I sat down, spent twenty-two hours in jail, and now here I am."
Released (and Still Raging) Granny
She's 78, has four grandchildren, and was once a preschool teacher. She's wearing a straw hat covered with flowers and dripping with buttons ("Granny Peace Brigade,""He lied, they died,""Weapons of Mass Deception,""Keep America Safe and Free"). She has on a"Make Levees, Not War" T-shirt and she's one of the 18 members of the Granny Peace Brigade, who protested at a military recruitment center in New York's Times Square, were arrested, brought to trial for"disorderly conduct," and just this week found not guilty by a judge. A hand-made sign she's carrying says,"Now we're all safe. The grannies were acquitted!"
The eighteen are awaiting their moment as part of the lead contingent in this antiwar march. She's standing as I approach her and agrees to talk, but says,"Let me sit down first," and lowers herself gently into the wheelchair I hadn't noticed right behind her."I'm a member of the raging grannies," she begins and then has the urge to explain the wheelchair."I had a hip replacement. That's why I'm in a chair. I can walk a little ways, but not two miles!"
Her name, she tells me, is Corinne Willinger, and she wants the Iraq War over yesterday."How do we do it? We get out. I don't see that we're doing any good there. We haven't prevented a civil war, we've fomented it!
"I think that the Bush administration is one big mistake and I hope the people will correct the error as soon as possible. Whatever this administration touches, they turn it into s-h-i-t. The Yiddish expression is drech. That includes the aftermath of Katrina, the push to go into Iran, the treatment of the Palestinians, the fact that the rich in this country are getting richer and the poor poorer."
She pauses a moment."There's lots more, but I can't think of any of it right now." And she laughs in a warm, friendly way.
As for her recent trial, she says,"For me, it was nerve-wracking. Others took it better. I felt we were doing the right thing and I thought it important to get as much publicity as possible, but -- I'll be honest -- I got very nervous. We had heard the judge was fair, but a stickler for the law and you never know what a verdict is going to be."
I ask about her hopes for the future and she responds, simply enough,"I hope that we will not have to see any other wars like the ones we've conducted even before Vietnam -- and all in countries very different from us. Why do we have to travel to foreign countries to get involved in business that's not ours in the first place? There has to be a way for the American people to live without war. We're now so involved in this war in Iraq and the possibility of going into Iran that we can't solve our own problems."
Books Not Bombs
The Grannies are just behind us, singing"God Help America," their version of God Bless America, as we set off with nineteen year-old Aaron Cole, in a green shirt over blue jeans, carrying a sign that reads"Books Not Bombs" and another,"Join the Campus Antiwar Network," that he tells me is his friend's. ("I'm just holding it for her.") He's here, he says,"on behalf of the hip-hop caucus RYSE," and when I look bemused, he adds,"Basically, it's my friends over here," and he indicates two young men with him."They started the organization at the University of Maryland. I go to City College, but I'm helping out on their caucus.
"Young people in many ways have the most power to change the country because, literally, we are its future. It's young people who are being killed in Iraq and locked up in large numbers in jails here. The fact that there's such a lack of awareness and radical activity is a sign that, as young people, we're not taking responsibility for the country we're inheriting, or shaping the destiny of our people."
Behind us, the Grannies have just launched another song with the lines,"We're the Raging Grannies, we're as mad as mad can be…"
"Activism on campus is too low," he continues.
I ask why he thinks this might be.
"Apathy," he says.
"Television," mutters one of his friends.
"To a large extent, it's pop culture, the images the media offers, bombarding people with values destructive to their well being."
Are his friends here?
"Some are, but a lot of young people won't come to something like this. There has to be more of an incentive to come down than just an antiwar protest. That's the truth of it. It can't just be a cause. For whatever reason, they're not going to come out and show their numbers unless there's a concert or some kind of entertainment. If it's just going to be standing around or walking in the street, they're not as likely to do it. Unfortunately, they'd rather stay home, get high, and watch TV."
She's holding the end of a large banner:"Military Families Speak Out, Chicago, Illinois." The person at the other end of the banner has directed me to her. When I approach Ginger Williams and ask if she'd consider a brief interview, she replies with spirit,"Bring it on!" And then goes:"Whoops! Maybe that's the wrong thing to say…"
She's 54, wearing a black U.S. Army baseball cap, a Support-Our-Troops T-shirt and button, and a black backpack. When asked what she does, she replies,"I'm a nurse, homemaker, mother, protester, whatever you got."
Her son returned from his first tour of Iraq only three days earlier."Sean was at Notre Dame and volunteered for Army ROTC after September 11th. He's been in two years, a first lieutenant with the 101st Airborne. He just served eleven months in Iraq where he commanded convoys that guarded trucks that are mainly owned by Halliburton. He wasn't wounded, thank God. We had a lot of sleepless nights.
"I was against the war from the start. My husband was an infantryman, a Vietnam Vet. He was strongly against it. But my son believes in the mission. He believes he's there to bring peace and stability to the region. We disagree but we get along. We raised him to think for himself -- and he did. He says he's going to volunteer to go back.
"I hope that my son's right, but I think the only chance that things will end in Iraq is if we get out. We're just inflaming matters by being there.
"I've been to Fayetteville, to Washington, to Camp Casey. Everywhere I go, I keep thinking this is going to be the turning point. That march on Washington in September, then when John Murtha came out against the war -- Marine, congressman, purple-heart winner. I thought that would be it. Now, I'm kind of pessimistic really. It doesn't seem to matter what we do. And you know what I'm really upset with -- all the Democratic leaders who won't take a stand!
"I confronted [Illinois Senator] Barack Obama at a town-hall meeting and asked him what he wants us to do. He buys into the idea that there'll be a slaughter if we get out. I think there's a slaughter now. So I'm disappointed in him."
I wonder whether anything gives her hope."Let me think. That's a tough one." There's a long silence."Yes, the fall elections. If the Democrats can win and make Nancy Pelosi speaker, maybe she'll put the war and withdrawal on the agenda."
Carrying the Flag
Andy Hadel, 47, is in a grey t-shirt, brown slacks, and sandals. He's carrying an American flag over his shoulder on a silver pole. He identifies himself as a designer and design teacher.
"There are two reasons I carry the flag. First, one of the principles our nation was founded on is to dissent when things aren't working. To speak out is a patriotic function, a high-level of citizenship. Second, re-appropriating this symbol for those who are antiwar is important. When you look at Fox News, when you see President Bush, you always see them wearing American flag lapel pendants. It's become a traditional image by now to think the flag means pro-war patriotism, so what I'm trying to do is take the symbol back. I pay taxes. I'm a citizen. In the act of dissention I believe I'm fulfilling my highest level of citizen's responsibility.
"I don't know where I got this flag. I've had it for years. I think I bought it at a flag store. Believe it or not, you don't need a card from the Republican Party to do that!"
Raising the Dead
The photos -- striking faces, each with a rank, a name, and a place -- are mounted on a cord that stretches for blocks. Almost 2,400 photos means many, many blocks, and so that cord is held up by scores of people strung out along its length, living faces to go with the dead ones. Hermon Darden, pastor of King's Highway United Methodist Church in Brooklyn, is among them. He's in clerical black and wearing his white collar. He introduces me to three other men."He's from Maryland and they're from southern New England, also from the United Methodists."
Are the holders of this exhibit of the dead all Methodists, I ask, and the next holder down promptly clears his throat and shows the pin he's wearing:"Another Quaker for peace."
Darden speaks in the inspiring rhythms of a minister. He's got short, black hair, and a tiny black mustache flecked with grey. He was lost and now is found.
"I came looking for the clergy contingent but couldn't find it and these people welcomed me. They took me in and this is good enough for me, holding up these names. Probably there is no greater statement that can be made than to lift up the pictures of these children killed by an unjust war. Did you know that most of those who died were under twenty-five. They were the young. A generation is being decimated for a war that has no foundation or ethical justification. We're simply fighting to secure oil when we could secure alternative means of energy.
"What we need to do is ensure that our votes actually count. And our votes cannot count if we can't be sure the machinery used is validated. We deserve a paper trail and, it seems, neither the Democrats, nor the Republicans have taken a serious stance about voting machines.
"And then we have to have some honest folk running for office who will put an end to corporate hustling and exploitation. Halliburton and Bechtel have been doing this for generations. This is not new. And you know what else we need? We need more people to take to the streets.
"I also think the media, which is owned by just a few companies, has kept a lid on protest information. They have not adequately reported what people such as ourselves feel about the war.
"At my church in Brooklyn, we announced this demonstration for several Sundays and it was at our [United Methodist] conference website as well."
"You know," he concludes,"I participated in the Vietnam protests and unfortunately this is just déjà vu."
The Lieutenant from Okinawa
Ed Bloch ("And don't reverse the first and last names!") at 82 is undoubtedly not the oldest veteran to be in this demonstration, but he may be the oldest one walking its length. He wears his soft, khaki campaign cap and his old Marine officer's jacket, cinched at his waist with a belt. It has his battle stars and his first lieutenant's bars from World War II. ("I was a rifle platoon leader in the battle for Okinawa.")
When I ask whether this could possibly be his wartime jacket, he replies,"They made the damn uniform of such great material in those days. It's 61 years old."
It fits him amazingly, though he assures me that a friend"moved the buttons for me."
The executive director of the Interfaith Alliance of Albany (New York), he is accompanied by younger friends, but he walks as if alone in this vast crowd. His step, strangely enough, is both halting and steady. He progresses at an even pace. He stands ramrod straight, a bearing that could only be called military and, as it turns out, he carries a burden.
"After the war against Japan ended," he tells me,"the First Marine Division was sent into China, right into the middle of their civil war, to work with the Japanese and the Chinese puppets and hold down the territory for the arrival of Chiang [Kai-shek]'s troops. While I was there, I committed atrocities. I committed atrocities with the Japanese on a small Chinese town."
He walks on, his pace never breaking, while I consider this.
Then he says, in a segue that makes great sense if you think about it:"The reason that [Senator] Ted Kennedy is more honest than most of them down there is Chappaquiddick. It moved him in the direction of remorse. It made him understand."
On Iraq, he's clear as day."Everything I believe screams out that there is no substitute for peace in a nuclear age. For certain, this continued war is bringing up the fundamentalists all around the world to do the suicide attacks and everything else. Our attacks just confirm what their leaders have told them."
I ask him what he might tell George Bush and his top officials if he had the chance.
"My immediate instinct is to say,"Drop dead," but I don't think that sounds very good. The fact is we just have to get out right now. We have to remove those young people like the ones with whom I served from harm's way in an imperialist war for oil."
And he walks on alone in the crowd.
Bring My Dad Home
He is eleven years old -- with a friend and the friend's mother. He stops shyly for just a moment at my request. He is carrying a sign he's made that says,"Bring My Dad Home. Stop the War."
He admits that this is his first demonstration. ("It feels pretty cool.") His father, he tells me, in as few words as possible, is somewhere outside of Baghdad and in the Army Reserves. When asked about the war his father is fighting, he says:"I think we need to stop the war because there's no need for it. Oil's not worth blood."
I wonder how his dad feels about this."I never really asked him," he replies and heads off with his friend.
Hoosiers for Peace
The three university students have bused in from Indiana for this demonstration, their first big one. He's in a white T-shirt and a jean jacket. He carries a"Hoosiers for Peace" sign and a small American flag. The last thing he expects is to be interviewed and he's hesitant -- both with his name,"Dave," and with his words. His decision to come was"a moral stance against the war." No more need be said.
What does he think will happen in this country?"I think George Bush is going to ride out his term without any kind of consequences," he replies and stops. Then, after a moment's thought, he adds,"But it's good to be here to support democracy, to support the right to dissent."
An awkward silence descends as he and his friends fidget, unsure what to do next. Finally, he adds another thought:"My father's a Vietnam vet and I'm against war altogether. My father went to the original Gulf War protests [in 1990] and I'm here now because of the things he's taught me and for the guys my age who are out there."
Another silence with the hum of the crowd and distant drums behind us. Finally I ask whether he knows anyone who's actually gone to Iraq."I know three guys who were in Iraq."
And what, I wonder, did they tell him about their experiences.
"I never asked them about it, but if it was anything like Vietnam, I'm sure they don't want to talk about it."
"We Remember Vietnam"
Behind the huge Vietnam Veterans Against the War (VVAW) banner, the large contingent of vets, with the signature somewhat disheveled look of their generation, are chanting,"Hey, hey, Uncle Sam, We remember Vietnam, We don't want your Iraq War, Bring our troops back to our shore." Bill Perry of Levittown, PA, who anchors one end of the enormous banner, is wearing a t-shirt and black vest with military unit patches all over it. He digs into a wallet and hands me his card, which indicates that he's the National Coordinator of the VVAW.
"I was a paratrooper with the 101st Airborne Division in 1967-68 during the Tet Offensive just as the mood of the country was beginning to swing big time. It became quite clear then that the Vietminh -- the Vietcong the Americans called them -- had the support of the people in the countryside. Leaving aside the strategic arguments, the economic arguments, the moral arguments, if the people don't want you and the people don't need you, there's no need to be there and we're approaching that moment in Iraq now."
He promptly offers me a micro-history and analysis of the various Shia, Sunni, and Kurdish groups in fragmenting Iraq."The whole purpose of going over there was to break up the country into three countries -- leaving the middle part, where most of the people are, without oil and making sure the Iraqis more generally lose control over their oil."
What exactly would he do about Iraq, I ask.
"I would immediately withdraw and let the Arab League and the U.N. sort it out because there's much less animosity against them. Eighty percent of Iraqis dislike us. Eighty percent of Iraqis are Arabs. That's why the Arab League makes sense. The Kurds are the twenty percent that embrace globalism and capitalism. Condi and Rumsfeld want them to succeed.
"I think eventually things will play out, but the problem is the U.S. wants to retain those fourteen permanent bases of ours in Iraq to control everything from the Caspian oil that can be pumped to China and India to the Middle Eastern sources that supply Europe."
The Other Engelhard(t)
I approach the two mothers, each with children in strollers and ask the nearest if I can interview her. She agrees, but then the other leans closer, reads the press pass hanging around my neck ("Tom Engelhardt, Tomdispatch.com"), and says,"I'm an Engelhard too, just without the final T." So I interview the other Engelhard -- Margaret known as Meg -- at this rally. She's 42, from South Orange, New Jersey. She's with son Cory ("almost three" and on his father's shoulders) and Jasper, who rises from his stroller to tell me proudly,"I'm four and a half, almost five!"
I wonder whether this is Jasper's first demonstration. No, Meg tells me, she went out with him when we began bombing Afghanistan back in 2001 and that, she adds, was"his first demonstration -- externally."
She tells me she knew someone who died in Iraq. I ask whether she has hopes for the political future."That's a tough question," she says."I'm very worried about increased aggression toward Iran. I'm happy Bush's approval ratings have fallen so low. I feel like less of a minority than I did three years ago.
"What I hope for is that we would get Democrats elected in the mid-term elections and so, some sort of resolution from Congress to withdraw. I can't imagine more than that."
Pink Slipping Bush
She's at the front of the vigorous, dancing, chanting Code Pink contingent, all of whom wear something pink, including in some cases day-glo pink wigs. She's holding high a frilly, full-length pink slip on a pole topped by the sign,"Give Bush a Pink Slip." She herself wears a pink feathered hat and pink camo-style pants. ("We've done a lot of counter-recruiting actions.") She's Courtney Lee Adams, a 43 year-old musician and copyeditor, who first got involved with the group at the time of the Republican National Convention in New York.
"I was worried that this demonstration wasn't going to be well attended, so I'm relieved. I was at an event last night and a lot of people didn't even know this was happening, so I expected the worst.
"Maybe I'm crazy, but I feel encouraged. There's much more mainstream opposition out there than there was. I'm still immensely disappointed in the Democrats. I don't understand why they're not riding this momentum when it's so obviously out there. But to hell with them! Seriously, we're not waiting for them to act.
"In New York, Code Pink is very focused on pressuring Hillary Clinton. Bird-dogging her is what we call it. After all, she's our senator. We want to see the troops come home now, no permanent bases, true reconstruction, no invasion of Iran. And I'd like to see Bush impeached. There's another case where there isn't much support among Democrats in Congress, but there's lots of support for it out there. Isn't it strange, actually, that it seems like there's more opposition from old-fashioned conservative Republicans than liberal Democrats?
"The big thing is: No permanent bases in Iraq. This is going to be a tough one. I'm sure they're going to try to pull some troops out, do the old bait-and-switch, getting our position in Iraq off the PR screen and hanging on to those bases. I fear that's going to prove to be a long, hard fight."
He's right at the end of the march, among the last demonstrators. He's wearing a grey, winter knit cap over his long hair, perhaps fitting for someone from the chilly state of Vermont. He's 15 years old with a sweet, open face. His name is Jacob. He's bused down with his older brother, part of the Central Vermont Peace and Justice contingent and, though everywhere around him noise wells up and instruments are being played, he has two large earphones clamped over his ears. When I stop him for an interview, he's initially unsure, but his friends encourage him.
It's his first large demonstration."I came to protest against the war. I've participated in a bunch of small demonstrations [in Vermont] and I wanted to go to a major one. It's been fun, exhilarating.
"My second cousin has just gone into the Marines, but I want to get our troops out as quickly as possible after stabilizing the country first, because otherwise the lives there would have been lost fully in vain."
As for his thoughts on the Bush administration,"They need complete reform."
As he's ready to leave, I ask what he's been listening to. He shows me the CD and says,"It's Oriental Sunshine. I think it's a band from the seventies, kind of underground music. It has," he says with awe,"a sitar player."
Copyright 2006 Tom Engelhardt
Posted on: Sunday, April 30, 2006 - 20:02
SOURCE: Foreign Policy Research Institute (FPRI) (4-28-06)
Can democracy be imposed on societies from the outside? Current debates tend to focus on immediate aims without clarifying the terms for discussing them. A historically grounded definition provides a starting point for these discussions. Experience indicates that democracy requires a particular combination of institutions and informed public opinion. Outside efforts to impose change typically bring unforeseen consequences that may result in neither stability nor democracy. Indeed, a comparative overview of the history of democracy points towards a reassessment of current U.S. policy, to bring ends and means in line.
Studies focusing on the historical development of democracy typically compare Great Britain and Germany. The German Sonderweg, or special path, toward authoritarianism thus offers a cautionary tale of how modernization can go wrong, but two world wars and the Nazi era make this an emotionally charged analogy. Its focus on the emergence of German liberalism in the mid nineteenth century, followed by its suppression under Otto von Bismarck and later revival during Konrad Adenauer’s post-1945 ascendancy, imposes a relatively narrow frame of reference. Looking instead to Britain and France, two countries identified as democratic, highlights the impact of public opinion and representative government on democracy while taking a much longer view of how the system emerged. The Anglo-French comparison also engages the way in which institutions stabilize or destabilize countries where the political order must expand to accommodate a larger portion of society. Samuel Huntington set out the problem with reference to the developing world in Political Order in Changing Societies (1968), and recent academic literature on the “institutional deficit” plaguing failed states reflects its ongoing importance. The fundamental question connecting these issues to the wider debate is whether and how democracy can provide a stable framework for governing.
Current debate over democratization as a foreign policy objective reflects two conflicting views of democracy with deep roots in American thinking on international relations. Advocates of spreading democracy connect their agenda with a global order favorable to American interests. September 11 shifted the Bush administration toward a more aggressive policy that invoked the memory of Woodrow Wilson. Containment and deterrence had failed to block terrorism, and Bush’s second inaugural speech cast spreading democracy as a moral obligation that would secure domestic peace against tyranny overseas. His rhetoric paralleled Wilson’s request to Congress for a declaration of war against Germany in April 1917, which argued that only regime change could end the threat Germany’s government posed. Despite the different context for the speeches, both describe tyranny as an aggressive threat to the United States to be countered by spreading democracy.
Liberal, representative democracy, where political parties mobilize and focus public opinion and alternate in power to provide regular accountability, provides the only example of a stable democratic order. It combines institutions with a reinforcing political culture that guarantees the rule of law and ensures that policy follows the considered opinion of the people expressed over time. Other models either mimic some attributes of democracy or simply lapse into anarchy or authoritarianism. Truly democratic institutions and political cultures engage public opinion within a framework of checks and balances that limits both majority rule and government power. Representative bodies oversee executive government, with control over taxation and budgets as leverage. Transparency in public business and debate characterizes liberal regimes. Stable, periodic transfers of power ensure accountability while limiting the costs to those who lose the political contest at any given point. Representative democracy allows people to rule themselves in polities beyond the smallest communities by enabling leaders to mobilize opinion, facilitate consensus, and develop policies they can implement. Democracy works as both a political culture for regulating behavior and governing institution
Democracy grew organically within societies in response to challenges, and parliamentary liberalism as it emerged in nineteenth-century Britain embodies the liberal, representative order that brought stability during a painful transition. It created a system within which potentially incompatible interests—whether classes, nationalities or sects—accepted an overarching code of law that guaranteed each a wide variety of liberties. The combination of representative government and public opinion that formed parliamentary liberalism in Britain provides the archetype for true democracy, but other countries took different paths toward modernization. A comparative historical view sharpens definitions while engaging problems connected with imposing democracy from the outside.
Absolutist France and the Ancien Régime
France’s history from the sixteenth through eighteenth centuries demonstrates how institutions fail when they prove unable to manage conflicts or adapt to pressures. Religious disputes from the Reformation, social and economic changes, and external military pressures challenged regimes across Europe. France under Cardinal Richelieu and Louis XIV responded by developing a centralized royal bureaucracy to mobilize resources and concentrate authority. War had already expanded the responsibilities of royal officials France at the expense of both local institutions and the old military classes, while failure of the Fronde revolt in the 1750s left no alternate authority. Absolutism met challenges that had undermined the older partnership between rulers and social estates, and it worked well enough to provide an appealing model of rational, efficient royal governance that other European rulers copied. Representative government seemed backward and an impediment to progress when measured against the modernizing efforts to absolutist regimes. The fragility of the absolutist state only became apparent as financial crises and forceful popular resistance to state policy emerged during the 1780s.
Financial crisis undermined absolutism in France, but the relationship between public opinion and the state played a crucial role in the government capacity to mobilize resources. French rulers declined to call an Estates General between 1614 and 1789 because such assemblies inevitably led to trouble. While some provincial estates and judicial parlements advised the crown and occasionally acted as a venue for expressing public opinion, these bodies’ narrow focus limited their impact. Public opinion thus emerged as a political category in France from the gap created when representative institutions failed to provide an outlet of criticism and discontent. It acted as an abstract category of authority invoked to give positions the legitimacy that an absolutist political order could not provide. Because only the king could legitimately decide questions on behalf of the community, absolutism precluded a public politics beyond the court. The notion of government as private royal business made unauthorized discussion illegal, but the French crown failed to stop debate, and political contestation forced the government to argue its own case. If French rulers minded public opinion for lack of an alternative, they failed to give it a stabilizing institutional role. Political culture in eighteenth-century France and other absolutist states therefore tended towards polarization. Disengaged from practical concerns and lacking a political role, public opinion under absolutism fostered a culture of critique that turned on society itself.
British Institutions and Parliamentary Liberalism
Britain offered a very different model from France and other ancien régime states in continental Europe. Representative government in England withstood the challenges that marginalized it elsewhere, and an effective partnership between elites and the Crown through parliament defined eighteenth-century British political culture. Britain became a fiscal military state after 1688 as a parliamentary regime able to secure resources through consensual taxation and long-term loans guaranteed by parliament. National politics focused on parliament and the capital, with a parallel local politics operating at the level of parliamentary constituencies that gave politicians at Westminster prestige to bolster their national standing. Constituency politics largely emphasized local concerns before 1812 as rival interests competed for popular support. Elaborate rituals connected with mediated relations between elites and population in a way that shows the limits of authority, and elections tested the standing of candidates or their patrons. The whole process tied local constituencies with the political contest at Westminster, but provincial and national politics remained separate outside those rare occasions when general elections focused on a single issue. Public opinion also played a very different role in Britain’s political culture than under French-style absolutism. Newspapers covered parliamentary debates closely from the mid-eighteenth century, and printing the proceedings tied parliament into a broader discourse that extended beyond the elite or educated classes. Public discussion of affairs in Britain had an accepted place that emphasized specific issues over abstract speculation.
Britain entered the general European crisis of the late eighteenth century with a stronger, more flexible system than most of its counterparts. Representation followed older patterns that did not account for industrialization and demographic change, and the provincial groups demanded a greater voice in policy from the 1780s. Political reforms that recast the constitutional order between 1828 and 1832 followed from confrontations that set the Tory government against a Whig opposition that revived itself through an alliance with provincial interest groups. Where Edmund Burke had constructed a justification for party activity in the 1770s, Henry Brougham applied the concept and extended it beyond Westminster to create an expanded political nation. Brougham, a Whig barrister and politician, mobilized opinion beyond the capital to give his party leverage in parliamentary debates, and his efforts transformed the Whigs into a viable governing party that dominated British politics through 1886. They also expanded the political nation to encompass a wider range of provincial interests and integrate constituency politics with the party contest. Parliamentary liberalism in Britain marked an institution that more effectively linked government with the governed.
Challenges to Parliamentary Liberalism
The need to reconcile competing groups defined Victorian parliamentary liberalism. Where appropriate, the political nation could expand to accommodate new interests. Lord John Russell had equated “the people” with the middle classes in 1831, but by 1861 he expanded its scope to include the respectable working classes. Benjamin Disraeli realized that a wider suffrage would add ballast to the political order by enfranchising working men with conservative sentiments. The writer William Lecky described extended suffrage as reaching “below the regions where crotchets and experiments and crude utopias prevail” to an industrious working class of settled habits and “the deep conservative instincts of the nation.” Broadening the basis of consent could improve stability.
If extending the political nation built a sustainable democratic order, at least in nineteenth-century Britain, failure to accommodate groups threatened it. Parliamentary liberalism broke down when it could not reconcile difference within a framework of law. When the Irish Nationalist party led by Charles Stuart Parnell forced its agenda by obstructing parliamentary business, the political system lacked recourse beyond changing its rules to prevent them being used against it. Irish home rule split William Gladstone’s government in 1886 and ended the Liberal ascendancy, but it also showed that parliamentary government required acceptance of rules, written or otherwise. Stretching the system beyond its breaking point curtailed minority rights and stifled debate. George Dangerfield described the turbulent years in Britain from 1910 to 1914 when suffragettes, trade unions, and Ulster Protestants forced their demands with extra-constitutional as the “death” of liberal England. The period shows how democracy could falter, but in Britain it marked a departure from general patterns of stability.
Historical challenges to parliamentary liberalism highlight a contrast between liberal and illiberal democracy that is very relevant today. Liberal democracy allows for the expression of public opinion and reconciling competing interests with the rule of law; illiberal democracy preserves institutional forms while hollowing out the substance of representation and accountability. Parliamentary liberalism’s democratic order did not offer the only solution to political transformation. Louis Napoleon established the French Second Empire in 1852 through a plebiscite, a different path toward establishing a national politics with institutional legitimacy. He carefully appealed to the French peasantry over elites that might check his power. Representation meant embodying the nation rather than providing voice to its citizens. Decades later, Henry Cabot Lodge would remark that “[Woodrow] Wilson’s comprehension of government is that of the third Napoleon, an autocrat to be elected by the people through a plebiscite and no representative bodies of any consequence in between.” Lecky concluded from the French case that plebiscitary despotism was “just as natural a form of democracy as a republic”, and he warned that “some of the strongest democratic tendencies are distinctly adverse to liberty.”
Populism and the managerial state provide two sides to the authoritarianism that reacted to parliamentary liberalism’s perceived inadequacy. They have a symbiotic relationship. Populist challenges prompt elites to restrict public opinion’s impact, and the consequent lack of accountability may spark a backlash. Populism covers a range of movements that challenged the existing representative order as corrupt and oligarchic while demanding a more direct voice for the people. Far from empowering people, populism typically strengthens leaders claiming to embody the people in their struggle against elites. While challenging some elites, it also helps others manipulate politics in their favor.
Managerialism solves political deadlock by redefining major decisions as problems for experts rather than the political process. Business administration in large corporations provided a model, and, like populism, the managerial state grew from the perceived failure of representative government. Crises brought by World War I and the Great Depression raised its appeal. Karl Lowenstein argued that democracy must become “the application of disciplined authority by liberal minded men, for the ultimate end of liberal government: human dignity and freedom.” Planning defined the new liberalism after World War II and the view that benevolent elites with expertise and vision would give the people what the elites thought best for them shaped policy in the United States and Europe. Resistance grew, however, with the failure of grand projects that cost institutions and elites their legitimacy. A populist backlash where voters use radical parties as a vehicle for protest has marked European politics since 2001, and it reflects the political establishment’s failure to address key issues. A system intended to defuse conflict now promotes it, raising the specter of populism and the managerial state working in a fundamentally anti-democratic cycle.
Promoting Democracy? Civil Society and Group Competition
Democracy cannot be transferred as a package because it developed organically and requires a supportive political culture to operate effectively. Institutions must run along the grain of societies rather than cutting across or against them. A long view suggests that few countries will create sustainable liberal democratic regimes. Copying superficial aspects of democracy typically brings either illiberal or simply unsustainable outcomes. Some countries, like Singapore, sustain a relative liberal order without complete democracy. Other authoritarian regimes in Egypt, Morocco, and Jordan restrict their population’s opportunity for political activity while limiting the scope of state intervention in personal or economic life. Rather than an absolute polarity between democracy and despotism, politics operates at different levels with a variety of systems adapted to particular contexts.
No easy path exists to national cohesion and democratic institutions in developing nations. Forcing democratization’s pace risks unrest, particularly where deep fault lines exist within societies. Sectarian differences and opposing economic interests can both work against the basic level of consensus that democracy requires, and ethnic conflict introduces another volatile factor that often combines with religion and economic disparities. Rapid change and competition for power within a society exacerbate preexisting ethnic tensions, as seen in post-1989 conflicts from Yugoslavia to Rwanda. Populists from the late Slobodan Milosovic to Robert Mugabe and Hugo Chavez seize upon ethnic resentment as a populist tool for maintaining their power as leaders of populist movements operating behind a quasi-democratic façade. Whether conflict derives fundamentally from ethnic differences or economic conflict matters less than its impact on stability. Civic patriotism cannot establish a demos without social cohesion and a general agreement on rules for public behavior. Public opinion driven by demagogues or ideology exerts a destructive force. Forced democratization that unleashes such forces defeats its own aims, and fosters a backlash that can make the United States less secure.
Current efforts to promote democracy uncannily echo the global meliorism that brought profound disillusionment when it failed during the Vietnam era. Indeed, the Bush administration has backtracked as questions arose regarding the specific policies that would follow from the president’s rhetoric. While the United States prefers democracy over authoritarianism, it also values gradual change over stasis and, above all, friends over adversaries. The present debate offers a reprise of earlier tensions between realist and idealist perspectives. Such cycles typically end with frustrated idealism giving way to a cautious realist focus on stability and protecting American interests. Not only does attempting to export democracy usually fail, but the endeavor distracts resources and attention from other pressing challenges. A more reasonable guide to managing political change involves adapting existing structures in target societies and securing a rough balance among competing groups to provide the order necessary for promoting the growth of civil society. Such an approach fits the means and objectives of American foreign policy more realistically than the grand strategy of promoting democracy in countries where it has no roots.
Posted on: Friday, April 28, 2006 - 19:05
SOURCE: dissidentvoice.org (4-20-06)
Dreyfuss notes that the OVP is “very difficult for journalists to penetrate” because of its extraordinary, unprecedented degree of secrecy. Even so, “a Prospect investigation shows that the key to Cheney’s influence lies with the corps of hard-line acolytes he assembled in 2001. They serve not only as his eyes and ears, monitoring a federal bureaucracy that resists many of Cheney’s pet initiatives, but sometimes serve as his fists, too, when the man from Wyoming feels that the passive-aggressive bureaucrats need bullying.”
Among key staff members, Dreyfuss lists the disgraced Lewis “Scooter” Libby, formerly Cheney’s chief of staff and top national security adviser; current top security adviser John Hannah; current chief of staff David Addington; national security advisers Eric Edelman and Victoria Nuland (wife of neocon heavy Robert Kagan); Middle East specialists William J. Luti, and David Wurmser; and Asia hands Stephen Yates and Samantha Ravich. He also lists an array of technocrats, lobbyists, domestic policy gurus and communications directors. (For an official enjoying about 18% approval, Cheney has a large PR staff.)
Dreyfuss describes how on numerous occasions one of Cheney’s “acolytes” has intervened to overturn decisions made by the State Department, CIA or other government bodies to produce the result Cheney desires. For example, while on a visit to Washington in February 2005, King Abdullah of Jordan urged the U.S. to bolster Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas, the Fatah leader, to counter the power of the new popularly elected Hamas administration. The State Department was inclined to agree, but Hannah stepped in, arguing Cheney’s view that the entire Palestinian Authority was now irrelevant. (Washington has since cut nearly all ties to the Palestinian Authority.)
Cheney consistently gets his way, controlling what information reaches President Bush, who has little interest in details. An “insider deeply involved in U.S. policy toward North Korea” described the decision-making process. “The president is given only the most basic notions about the Korea issue. They tell him, ‘Above South Korea is a country called North Korea. It is an evil regime.’ … So that translates into a presidential decision: Why enter into any agreement with an evil regime?”
Lawrence Wilkerson has referred to the Vice President’s office as the center of a “cabal” that pressed for war on Iraq and built the case by cherry-picked dubious intelligence. That it’s a powerful nest of neoconservatives intent on “regime change” in Syria and Iran is no news. That the simple-minded, bellicose president leans on Cheney for advice and thereby empowers an alliance of aggressive nationalists and neoconservatives to set foreign policy is no news either. But Dreyfuss sheds new light on Cheney’s perception of the world, and the role that China plays within it.
Cheney’s leading China specialist, Stephen Yates, and several other staffers (including Libby) worked for California Congressman Christopher Cox in the 1990s during the investigation into Chinese political influence in the U.S. that followed allegations of Beijing contributions to the Clinton-Gore presidential campaign. The long report they produced maintains that China is a looming threat and rival, with its rapacious need for Middle East oil and designs on Taiwan. Charles W. Freeman, a former U.S. ambassador to China who has known him many years says that Yates, as well as neocons Paul Wolfowitz and Douglas Feith, formerly top officials in Donald Rumsfeld’s Defense Department, “all [see] China as the solution to ‘enemy deprivation syndrome.’” (You need some unifying enemy after the collapse of the Soviet Union.)
I’ve hesitated about whether to apply the word “neoconservative” to persons like Bush, Cheney and Rumsfeld. I tend to follow the Christian Science Monitor list. Paul Wolfowitz, Libby, Douglas Feith, Richard Perle, Richard Bolton, and Elliott Abrams are intellectuals absorbed in the project of using U.S. military power to remake the Middle East to improve Israel’s long-term security interests. (Hannah, David Wurmser, Eric Edelman, and other White House staffers not on the Monitor’s dated list also fall into this category.) Ultimate decision-makers Bush, Cheney and Rumsfeld on the other hand are sometimes referred to as “aggressive nationalists.” They are no doubt Christian Zionists, but they are probably most interested in transforming the “Greater Middle East” in the interests of corporate America in an increasingly competitive world. They’re probably more concerned about the geopolitics of oil and the placement of “enduring” military bases to “protect U.S. interests” than the fate of Israel.
Dreyfuss’ article suggests that Cheney (and thus, the administration) sees China as the biggest long-term threat to those interests. If conflict with China is inevitable, it makes sense to have U.S. bases in Afghanistan, Kyrgyzstan, Iraq and maybe Iran and Syria. If China is dependent on Middle East oil, it makes sense for the U.S. to be able to control how and where it flows from the Caspian Sea and Persian Gulf oil fields. It makes sense to cultivate an alliance with India, risking the accusation of nuclear hypocrisy in doing so. It makes sense to ratchet up tensions on the Korean Peninsula, by linking North Korea to Iran and Iraq, calling it “evil,” dismissing South Korea’s “sunshine diplomacy” efforts and encouraging Japan to take a hard line towards Pyongyang. It makes sense to get Tokyo to declare, for the first time, that the security of the Taiwan Straights is of common concern to it and Washington. It makes sense to regain a strategic toehold in the Philippines, in the name of the War on Terror, and to vilify the growing Filipino Maoist movement. It makes sense for a man like Cheney, who decided on Bush’s staff in late 2000, to seed the cabinet with strategically placed neocons who have a vision of a new Middle East. Because (1) that vision fits in perfectly with the broader New World Order and U.S. plans to contain China, and (2) the neocons as a coordinated “persuasion” if not movement, with their fingers in a dozen right-wing think tanks, and the Israel Lobby including its Christian Right component, and the academic community, are well-placed to serve as what Dreyfuss calls “acolytes.”
They are equipped with a philosophical outlook that justifies the use of hyped, imagined threats to unite the masses behind rulers’ objectives and ambitions, to suppress dissent and control through fear. They’re inclined to identify each new target as “a new Hitler,” and to justify their actions as “an answer to the Holocaust.” They have served Cheney well, and he them so far. They’re all being exposed, maybe weakened. But as Dreyfuss states at the end of his article, “The true measure of how powerful the vice president’s office remains today is whether the United States chooses to confront Iran and Syria or to seek diplomatic solutions. For the moment, at least, the war party led by Dick Cheney remains in ascendancy.”
Posted on: Friday, April 28, 2006 - 19:02
SOURCE: dissidentvoice.org (4-26-06)
Secretary of State Colin Powell and his deputy Richard Armitage were inclined to accept the offer. Vice President Cheney, soon to declare, “We don’t negotiate with evil, we defeat it,” was not. Nor was Undersecretary of Defense for Policy Douglas Feith and his Office of Special Plans. Indeed, Cheney and his neoconservatives had the State Department rebuke the Swiss intermediary as they began to ratchet up the tension level between the countries to its present near-breaking point.
This is the extraordinary narrative provided in large part by a highly reliable source, Powell’s former chief of staff, Colonell Lawrence Wilkerson. He minces no words. “The secret cabal got what it wanted: no negotiations with Tehran,” he told Gareth Porter of Inter Press Service last month. “As with many of these issues of national security decision-making, there are no fingerprints. But I would guess Dick Cheney with the blessing of George W Bush [is responsible].”
Feith, who quietly vacated his office in August 2005 after the war for which he’d tirelessly campaigned had been exposed as one based on lies, hired neocon ideologue and Iran-Contra principal Michael Ledeen to work for the OSP in 2002. A longtime friend of fellow Iran-Contra plotter Manucher Ghorbanifar, Ledeen had met with the Iranian arms dealer several times from December 2001 to June 2002. These contacts, opposed by the CIA, which has long distrusted Ghorbanifar, are thought to have some relation to the forged Niger uranium documents used to bolster the case for the attack on Iraq. But Ledeen states that his business with Ghorbanifar related to Iran, not Iraq. Ledeen, as an American Enterprise Institute scholar and journalist for the neocon National Review, has repeatedly called for an immediate U.S. attack on Iran. Meanwhile Ghorbanifar has been returned to the U.S. government payroll, working with the Vice President’s Office and the Defense Department. He’s assigned among other things to provide intelligence on Iran’s alleged nuclear weapons program.
Ghorbanifar and one of his associates are thought to be the source of much of the information in the book Countdown to Terror: The Top-Secret Information that Could Prevent the Next Terrorist Attack on America... and How the CIA has Ignored it written by his friend Congressman Curt Weldon and published last year. It declares that Iran is hiding Osama bin Laden, preparing terrorist attacks on the U.S., has a crash program to build nuclear weapons and is the chief sponsor of the insurgency in Iraq. Shades of Ahmad Chalabi!
This is all so déjà vu. At least for all with eyes to see. The rejection of the Iranian proposal in 2003 reminds me of the Iraqi peace proposals made to the Bush administration from December 2002 to March 2003. On February 19 Saddam’s regime indicated to Washington through intermediaries that in exchange for a U.S. promise not to attack it would (1) cooperate in fighting terrorism; (2) give “full support” for any U.S. plan “in the Arab-Israeli peace process; (3) give “first priority [to the U.S.] as it relates to Iraq oil, mining rights;” (4) cooperate with US strategic interests in the region; and (5) allow “direct US involvement on the ground in disarming Iraq.” The highest-ranking U.S. official directly involved in the discussion was the chairman of the Defense Policy Board at the Pentagon, Richard Perle. The “Prince of Darkness” (as the neocon is sometimes known) regarded Iraqi pleas for a deal as “all non-starters because they all involved Saddam staying in power.” The neocons wanted regime change and they got it. Now they want it in Iran. Why settle for a diplomatic resolution of issues between the U.S. and Iran when you can defeat “evil”?
In 2002, Cheney and Rice spoke authoritatively about Iraq’s attempts to import aluminum tubes “only really suited for nuclear weapons programs, centrifuge programs” citing intelligence reported by Judith Miller in the New York Times. Nowadays the press reports about a laptop computer stolen by an Iranian citizen in 2004 with designs “for a small-scale facility to produce uranium gas, the construction of which would give Iran a secret stock that could be enriched for fuel or for bombs” and “drawings on modifying Iran's ballistic missiles in ways that might accommodate a nuclear warhead.” In 2002, unbeknownst to the public, the U.S. intelligence community was divided, with many in the CIA skeptical of the neocons’ claims. In 2006, that community -- even though purged in Cheney’s effort to scapegoat the CIA for “flawed” (as opposed to faked) intelligence -- is still probably divided.
With that assumption I read the comments of U.S. intelligence chief John Negroponte to the National Press Club on April 20. “The developments in Iran,” he declared, “clearly they’re troublesome. By the same token, our assessment at the moment is that even though we believe that Iran is determined to acquire or obtain a nuclear weapon, that we believe that it is still many years off before they are likely to have enough fissile material to assemble into, or to put into a nuclear weapon; perhaps into the next decade. So I think it’s important that this issue be kept in perspective.”
Negroponte’s career highlight before acquiring his present Homeland Security post was his ambassadorship in Honduras from 1981 to 1985. During that time (which too few Americans remember) he supervised the training of Nicaraguan Contras and covered up vicious human rights abuses. I wouldn’t suggest that he’s personally opposed to a brutal illegal attack on Iran sometime soon. I don’t know. But by urging that the nuclear issue “be kept in perspective” he may reflect a concern within the “intelligence community” that once again the disinformation apparatus is proceeding unchecked. The neocons may disparage the “reality-based community” in favor of their Nazi-like penchant to create their own alternative reality. But there are professional analysts who still highly valuate things like facts and reality and perspective. So maybe we see here again some conflict within the administration---between those merely morally compromised by their very involvement in such a regime (and inclined to say, “Hey wait, let’s try to be honest here”) and those who lie though their teeth -- without any moral qualms -- to obtain their world-transforming objectives.
Of course, the Iran attack advocates aren’t saying that Iran’s 45 minutes away from nuking New York. They’re saying that it has a secret nuclear weapons program (despite IAEA claims that there is no evidence for one), and that the program must be terminated (at some unspecified point) before Iran builds its first nuke. Those acquainted with the science estimate that Iran is anywhere from three to 15 years away from constructing a nuclear weapon if it so desires. The neocons would like us to imagine the mullahs producing nukes sooner rather than later, because they’re hell-bent on regime change in Iran while their man is in office and want to sell their attack as justifiably preemptive -- as an attack to defend the American people.
The power structure is obviously divided on the Iran issue, if not as deeply as one might hope. Democratic Party leaders have indeed competed with the Bush administration to embrace a hard line on Iran. The president’s recent visit to the Hoover Institution to talk with foreign policy wonks that favor an attack suggests the plan is still on track. But recently there’s been a trend towards advocating negotiations. I would just suggest those doing so note that such negotiations might have begun three years ago -- had Cheney and his neocon acolytes (still dangerously occupying key positions) not sabotaged any diplomatic initiatives standing in the way of their imperial ambitions.
Posted on: Friday, April 28, 2006 - 19:00
SOURCE: Foreign Policy Research Institute (FPRI) (4-28-06)
According to some people, including former president Bill Clinton, South Asia is the most dangerous place on earth. Certainly there is the possibility of conflict, but actually, the region is by no means the most dangerous place on earth. Indeed, during Clinton’s tenure in office, Rwanda was much more dangerous, if one looks at the sheer number of people who were killed (by machetes, not nuclear weapons).
Without understanding the significance of partition, it’s impossible to understand the evolution of Indo-Pakistani relations. The experience of partition has shaped the foreign policy of both India and Pakistan, particularly as far as each other are concerned. W. H. Auden’s poem “Partition” (1947), captures the essence of the madness of partition and the fecklessness with which partition was accomplished that year. Telling of how Sir Cyril Radcliffe was sent to fix the borders of the new countries, it begins:
Unbiased at least he was when he arrived on his mission,
Having never set eyes on the land he was called to partition
Between two peoples fanatically at odds,
With their different diets and incompatible gods.
“Time,” they had briefed him in London,"is short. It’s too late
For mutual reconciliation or rational debate:
The only solution now lies in separation.”
Factors Animating the Conflict
Three closely related factors animate this conflict. First, the conflict is really about competing notions of state-building in South Asia. Pakistan was created as the putative homeland of the Muslims of South Asia when the British left the subcontinent. The leaders of the Pakistani nationalist movement argued that with the departure of the British, despite the secular professions of the Congress Party that had brought India its independence, for all practical purposes this would be a Hindu-dominated state, and consequently Muslims would not be treated as equal citizens of India.
Beyond that, the framers of the Pakistani state had given little thought to precisely what would constitute the state. The question whether it would be an Islamic state or a secular state was not fully addressed or even thought through. In any event, Pakistan was created as this sanctuary for Muslims fearing Hindu domination. And their fears had some basis, because despite Congress’s professed commitment to secularism, it could not always adhere to those commitments. Accordingly, certain fears, misgivings, and anxieties had arisen in the minds of substantial numbers of Muslims. Of course, these were fanned, embellished, and adumbrated upon by the leaders of the Pakistani movement, thereby giving greater strength to the movement.
Despite its many shortcomings and as it has evolved, India was created at least constitutionally as a secular state. Its secularism leaves a great deal to be desired, particularly in the last several years, but there was and remains a constitutional commitment to secularism, which should not be jettisoned even in its present moth-eaten form—the alternatives are far too disturbing. Secularism and democracy in India are inextricably intertwined: one cannot survive without the other. (Of course, the Indian notion of secularism is very different from the Jeffersonian “wall of separation” vision of secularism that accords respect, at least notionally, to every faith.)
So at one level the India-Pakistan conflict is about competing notions of what constitutes a state and what should be the raison d’être for a particular state. People like Mohammed Ali Jinnah, the founder of the Pakistani state, offered a primordial vision of Pakistan, claiming (falsely) that Muslims “neither inter-dine nor intermarry.” He successfully managed to build upon the fears and anxieties of many people, and pushed for this notion of a primordial state where membership in a religious community would be the basis of state-building.
This was dealt a blow in 1971, when Pakistan unraveled. Various structural factors contributed to the secessionist movement that arose in east Pakistan that subsequently became Bangladesh, including fundamental asymmetries in foreign investment, the amount of money spent in east Pakistan, recruitment into the civil service and military, etc. But it was not simply economic exploitation and the asymmetries but also linguistic subnationalism that contributed to the break-up of Pakistan.
The second factor is the memories of partition. As Sisir Gupta, a noted Indian diplomat and scholar, once wrote, the India-Pakistan conflict is animated by the memory that elites created of each other as a consequence of partition. An entire generation was scarred by the memories of partition, when you were forced to leave hearth and home whether you were Muslim or Hindu, even if you were sick. A million people perished, and anywhere up to 6 or 7 million people—some argue that it goes even higher—uprooted. This was one of the great tragedies of the twentieth century. And quite frankly, there was no honor on the part of any particular community.
Individuals might have behaved with largesse and shown remarkable courage in protecting Hindu or Muslim neighbors, but not a single community behaved in an exemplary fashion. Manohar Malgaonkar’s novel, Bend in the Ganges, and from the other side, a Penguin collection of short stories, Kingdom’s End, by Sadaat Hasan Manto, capture a sense of the horror of partition. Manto had actually stayed on in Bombay after partition, but then felt that his life was insecure, and very reluctantly after partition went to Pakistan. It was a great personal tragedy. A highly successful screenwriter, he died an absolutely broken man.
These memories of partition led to images of each other as being fundamentally untrustworthy, as did the process of socialization, the writing of textbooks, especially in Pakistan, because at least India had the benefits of democracy and a wider debate about the process and the horrors of partition. That debate has not really taken place in the public domain within Pakistan, and all one needs to do is pick up a social sciences or civics textbook in Pakistan and see that this bears little relation to fact.
Finally, the most vexed issue, which really stems from the first two, is the question of Kashmir. Why did the disposition of this state become so contentious? One might assume there must be vast mineral deposits, that it must a region of great strategic significance. Otherwise, surely states couldn’t go to war three times over that piece of territory and expend so much blood and treasure over this conflict. But alas, there are no great mineral deposits there, and it’s of no great strategic significance.
Kashmir is a highly contested piece of territory for a reason related to the first point. Kashmir at the time of independence was one of 562 princely states. These states had been nominally independent as long as they recognized the paramouncy of the British crown between 1857 and 1947. Under the doctrine of paramouncy, the monarchs could do pretty much what they wanted as long as they deferred to the crown on defense, foreign affairs, and communications. At the time of independence and partition, Lord Mountbatten, the last viceroy, decreed that the states were free to join either India or Pakistan, but three principles would have to be taken into consideration. One was geographic contiguity, so if you were deep in the heart of India or what was going to become India, you couldn’t reasonably expect to join Pakistan. (Or for that matter, as the Nawab of Pakistan’s Khairpur and Sindh found out when he wanted to join India, and Nehru declined, saying “You’re in the heart of Sindh, we’re not going to have a Berlin corridor linking you with India.”) The second principle was demography. Pakistan would be the predominantly Muslim areas. Hence you get this peculiar geographic anomaly of countries separated by about 1500 miles of hostile territory; and third, which was somewhat contradictory, the final decision was that of the monarch. So the principles were not exactly all congruent.
Kashmir posed a peculiar problem. It abutted both of what would become India and Pakistan. It had a Hindu monarch and a predominantly Muslim population. So where do you go? Both Indians and Pakistanis made representations to the maharaja, who entertained visions of independence. But Kashmir was very important for both the Indians and the Pakistanis. As Pakistanis pointed out, Pakistan is incomplete without Kashmir. (The “k” in Pakistan stands for Kashmir.) It was an irredentist plan, in that there are fellow Muslims across the border, and consequently they should be ingathered to create the complete state of Pakistan. For India, at least in the 1950s, it was equally important to get Kashmir as a way of demonstrating its secular credentials. They could then demonstrate to the world that Muslims could thrive within a predominantly Hindu polity.
Tragically, India has committed many a sin in Kashmir, because of the ever-present fear of secession. There was a strand within the Kashmiri populace that was never quite happy with the accession to India. Therefore the government of India engaged in all manner of electoral skullduggery to ensure that secessionists did not come to power through electoral means. Kashmir has a very tragic history. In fact, at one point, when asked by a reporter about what went on in Kashmir, Nehru in a remarkable moment of candor said “Less freedom exists there than in the rest of India, but more freedom exists there than ever before.” A somewhat disingenuous characterization, but he was enough of a democrat to recognize that what he was doing in many ways contradicted his most fundamental values.
Ultimately, the maharaja refused to accede to either India or Pakistan, vacillated on the question of accession, and in late October 1947 a rebellion broke out in the southern reaches of the state. The rebels quickly started to march on Srinagar. Faced with this rebel onslaught, the maharaja panicked and appealed to India for assistance. India promptly sent in troops, but not before one-third of the state had been occupied by the rebels, who were now assisted by Pakistani regular troops dressed as local tribesmen.
After the Indian Army stopped the Pakistani and rebel advance, the maharaja chose to accede to India, but with an important proviso: that at some point a plebiscite would be held to determine the wishes of the Kashmiris. Accordingly, Prime Minister Nehru, on the advice of Lord Mountbatten, sent the Kashmir case to the UN Security Council for adjudication, thinking that it would be a neutral ground where things could be decided along the canons of international law. That’s the last time India’s referred anything to the Security Council or believed in the neutrality of international law.
Very quickly the Kashmir dispute became entrapped in the warp and woof of the Cold War. The U.S., knowing next to nothing about Kashmir, accepted British wisdom on how the case should be handled. There was a profound pro-Pakistan sentiment largely because there was an interest in maintaining a substantial Anglo-American presence in Pakistan. This region at this point is all part of the Soviet empire; consequently there was a profound anticommunist impulse. So the entire discussion about Kashmir became inflected by Cold War concerns and a fairly pro-Pakistani attitude.
The UN decided in a series of resolutions, especially two important ones in 1948-9, that three things have to happen in Kashmir. Pakistan had to vacate its aggression, India then had to reduce troops commensurate to the maintenance of law and order, and third, a plebiscite would be held to determine the wishes of the Kashmiris. None of these three things have happened. After about 1960, the UN basically withdrew from this conflict for all practical purposes. Since then, Pakistan has raised the issue in the UN every fall when the UN opens, and similarly the Indian representative has exercised his or her right of reply. This is the ritualistic incantation that takes place every year.
One can distill five propositions by looking at three of the Indo-Pakistani wars (I deliberately exclude 1999, because that most recent war was markedly different): 1947-48, 1965, and 1971, though the latter really wasn’t about Kashmir but about the rise of Bengali subnationalism. India’s intervention came in the wake of an extraordinarily brutal crackdown on March 26, 1971, by the Pakistani Army, which led to the flight of 9.8 million people into northeastern India and West Bengal. In its wake, a civil war ensued in which India became deeply involved, leading to the creation of Bangladesh. There was some conflict along the Kashmir border, but that was not the principal locus of the conflict in 1971.
The 1999 war, which was about Kashmir, was sui generis. Many of the propositions that I have distilled don’t apply to it. The five propositions are as follows:
Low Levels of Violence. Considering how important this dispute is, and given that you’ve gone to war three times over it, what’s remarkable about the first three wars is that they were characterized by extremely low levels of violence. More people died in the insurgency that broke out in Kashmir in 1989, in which by my calculation about 60,000 people perished—that’s less than the total number of combatants killed in the three Indo-Pakistani wars. And yet we refer to Kashmir as a low-intensity conflict. That’s a form of obfuscation. It’s not particularly low-intensity when you look at combat deaths.
Limited firepower. Such low casualties were possible largely because people had limited firepower. You couldn’t throw enormous numbers of aircraft at Germany like “Bomber Harris” did in WWII, when the Luftwaffe could return the favor. You just didn’t have those kinds of resources available. These are relatively poor countries. In fact, in 1965 the Pakistanis moved their F104 Starfighters, American-supplied weaponry, all the way back into their rear bases for fear the Indians would destroy them on the ground.
Set-piece battle tactics. Also, there were set-piece battle tactics. Who had trained these people? The British. Some of them had belonged to the same regiment. They could almost communicate telepathically. Because these are people who had fought the battles in Alamein and had landed in Sicily. They had been under Montgomery’s command. They had gone to the same schools: Sandhurst, Southhampton, Woolwich. They could predict what each other was going to do. There was very little tactical innovation. Much of this was based upon what they had learned in the British Indian Army.
Intrawar restraints. Related to that—and this is why 1999 is and future wars will be different, and possibly more bloody even just using conventional forces—there were intrawar restraints. For example, in 1965 Air Marshal Asghar Khan, the chief of the Pakistani Air Force, was called up by his counterpart, Air Marshal Arjan Singh, and said “Gentlemen do not bomb each other’s cities.” A tacit agreement was reached. There was a military component to it, too. It was not simply a gentlemen’s agreement. It was simply that you had very vulnerable populations, and if you bomb my city I can do the same. And we can needlessly inflict pain. And both of these gentlemen were smart enough, having read the strategic bombing surveys of WWII, that bombing civilian populations contrary to popular belief does not break their resolve, it does exactly the opposite. It strengthens the resolve of populations, all you end up doing is killing innocent people. If you want to break the morale of people, punch a hole through their artillery or their military formations, leave their civilian populations alone. It doesn’t do much good. Moreover, they knew that half of bombs don’t reach their intended targets. So why bother if you have finite resources? This intra-war restraint actually helped. Cities were not bombed, military bases were.
Adherence to international norms and conventions. Finally, given the passions and stakes involved, what’s remarkable in these wars is that there is adherence to international norms and conventions. All of the wars began with a formal declaration of war, ended with a formal ceasefire, and above all, in 1971, when there were 90,000 Pakistani prisoners of war, all of them were accorded the rights and privileges enshrined in the Geneva Convention. No one was tortured, no one was intimidated, no one was beaten. Even India’s harshest critics concede that. Pakistan’s Col. Siddiq Salik, author of Witness to Surrender (1977), at no point says that he was in any way tortured, humiliated, threatened, or beaten. Understandably, he doesn’t have particular affection for India, but there is no evidence of malfeasance.
These factors won’t exist in the future. We had a glimpse into the future in 1999. Both sides used much greater firepower, the soldiers and officers on both side had no prior contact with each other, and any contact they might have had was entirely hostile. So the ability to resurrect these intrawar restraints or exercise greater control over firepower is limited. Certainly there will be no set-piece battle tactics, there was much more tactical innovation in the 1999 war. Consequently, even future conventional wars will be much more sanguinary.
Nuclearization of the Subcontinent
Contrary to popular belief, the prospects of full-scale war in the subcontinent are now virtually nonexistent, barring inadvertent or unauthorized usage of nuclear weapons. In 2001, the talk of war that led the State Department to issue an advisory for all Americans to leave India was motivated either by a lack of understanding of the subcontinent’s politics or was part of a broader nonproliferation agenda. We don’t want India and Pakistan to have nuclear weapons, so we have to suggest that nuclear war might be imminent, given that the countries already crossed the nuclear Rubicon in May 1998.
The nonproliferation community started a steady drumbeat about the possibility of nuclear war. They said this was the first conflict between two nuclear-armed adversaries, forgetting the clashes of 1969, about which New York Times reporter Harrison Salisbury wrote The Coming War between Russia and China (1969). China had acquired nuclear weapons as early as 1964, which precipitated the Indian nuclear-weapons program, which began in 1966. So this was not the first conventional war between two nuclear-armed adversaries. We now know from declassified documents that Secretary Breszhnev approached President Nixon and said, “Before the Chinese acquire a really substantial nuclear arsenal, why don’t we carry out a joint attack on their facility and decapitate their facility?” Nixon did not think that was a good idea. Meanwhile, Mao was telling Nehru that China could survive a nuclear war, civilization as we know it would continue (this from the individual responsible for the deaths of approximately 7-8 million during the Cultural Revolution and another 20 million during the Great Leap Forward). Whatever the shortcomings might be of Indian and Pakistani decision-makers, none of them can quite compete with Brezhnev or Mao, based on this evidence.
But more important, there’s a very simple structural fact about nuclear weapons. If your adversary possesses nuclear weapons and you do not possess complete intelligence and knowledge of where every last one of those weapons are located, and if you cannot carry out a decapitating first strike, as long as your enemy still possesses one such weapon, that’s all it needs to make your life miserable. No Pakistani or Indian decision-maker can be confident of its ability to make a decapitating first strike. As long as the possibility lurks that the other side would retain even one weapon, deterrence will hold.
Obviously, there is a danger of unauthorized or inadvertent usage or of a breakdown. There are ways of countering these dangers. But the notion that somehow or other the subcontinent is fraught with the imminent possibility of nuclear war is chimerical. This was amply demonstrated during the Kargil war of 1999. In that war, India had two full reserve formations in waiting along the Rajasthan border in the desert but chose not to mobilize them and strike across the border. This was unlike in 1965, when within one week of the attack on Kashmir India had crossed not just the Line of Control in Kashmir (the de facto border) but the international border, and threatened the city of Lahore. In 1999, the BJP’s members understood that you do not attack in the Pakistani heartland for fear of what would happen if that country threatened to resort to the use of nuclear weapons. Which is Pakistan’s stated doctrine should it be fundamentally threatened. Of course, what constitutes a fundamental threat is left to the imagination, but do you really want to provoke your adversary into even threatening the use of nuclear weapons?
Consider, too, that in 1999 the Indian Air Force flew many sorties in Kargil in support of Indian infantry, who were essentially attacking mountain salients from which Pakistanis were shooting down. Nevertheless, they were under the strictest of orders, do not cross the LOC. The IAF knew that if you cross the LOC, you’re entering territory which Pakistan deems to be its own, and you could provoke a response that could spiral out of control. I’ve interviewed pilots who told me that they ran considerable risks to the allies by flying in sorties very low, to avoid crossing the LOC, because there’s no nice banner saying “This is the LOC.” You’re basically relying on a map, at extraordinarily high altitudes and speeds, and your recognition of the terrain. They ran high risks but did not cross the LOC, because unlike in 1965, something had been breached. The war was kept carefully confined to the point of incursion, not because of the sudden moral transformation of the leadership or because they lacked military resources, but because nuclear weapons produce a certain concentration of mind.
Resolving the Kashmir Conflict
There are all manner of proposals for the resolution of the Kashmir dispute. Many of them are probably morally desirable, ethically admirable, but face one fundamental constraint. Ultimately, none of them are going to work. You are not going to have Kashmiri independence, a plebiscite, or occasional plebiscites, you’re not going to repartition Kashmir—some have tried to resurrect that proposal, notwithstanding the million deaths the last time. But I don’t see any of these proposals having any semblance of connection with political realities.
The insurgency in Kashmir started in 1989. It’s mostly at an ebb now. There is still considerable resentment against the Indian state in Kashmir among significant segments of the Sunni population. India still has an extraordinary task to win the hearts and minds of the Kashmiris, but the resilience of the Indian-state camp should not be underestimated. I liken it to an elephant. It’s slothful and it moves slowly, but when it sits on you, it hurts. And it can sit on you for a very long time. India fought the Naga and Misal insurgents for 20 years, until it said “Gosh, now that we’ve stopped banging our head against a wall, it feels awfully good.” Yes, there has been a little recrudescence of violence there, the Indian Army will fight it for the next 20 years. But its resilience has to be borne in mind.
Second, after three wars, Pakistan is no closer to its goal of achieving the integration of Kashmir.
Third, Pakistan’s moral claim to Kashmir disappeared in 1971. If Islam alone couldn’t be the basis of state-building, what moral claim does Pakistan have on Kashmir? And yes, Indian malfeasances in Kashmir are writ large. But there have been several free and fair elections since 1977, including the last one, which was certified by international observers. Meanwhile, Pakistan’s transition to democracy leaves a great deal to be desired. So for moral and political reasons, Pakistan’s moral claim to Kashmir is rather dubious.
This does not mean that the Kashmiris under Indian control don’t deserve fair treatment and equal rights. India will have to drain that fundamental reservoir of discontent, which for the most part it was responsible for filling up in the first place. But territorial transformation, particularly when you look at the economic trajectories of the two countries, with sustainable 6-7% growth expected for the foreseeable future, twenty years hence one wonders if it’s even wise for Pakistan to continue on the strategy that it embarked upon in 1947-48 and to continue to this day to try to wrest Kashmir back from India. I think it’s a losing proposition.
So for all these reasons, ultimately my solution is a settlement along the LOC, which has virtually been the unchanged border since 1947-48, with certain provisions, particularly those of federalism and autonomy, and genuine democratic representation for the Kashmiris on the Indian side of the border. For those on the Pakistani side of the border, everything depends on the long-term evolution of Pakistan’s democracy.
Posted on: Friday, April 28, 2006 - 18:54
SOURCE: frontpagemag.com (4-28-06)
An Islamic school in London is teaching that non-Muslims are akin to pigs and dogs, and it is doing so with subventions from the British taxpayer. More alarmingly, when notified of this problem, the British authorities indicate they intend to do nothing about it.
The Times (London) reported on April 20 in"Muslim students ‘being taught to despise unbelievers as ‘filth'," that the Hawza Ilmiyya, a Shi‘i institution, teaches from the writings of Muhaqqiq al-Hilli. This scholar lived from 1240 to 1326 and wrote the authoritative work on Shi‘i law (Shara'i‘ al-Islam). About non-believers, called kafirs, he taught:
The water left over in the container after any type of animal has drunk from it is considered clean and pure apart from the left over of a dog, a pig, and a disbeliever.
There are ten [sic] types of filth and impurities: urine, faeces, semen, carrion, blood of carrion, dogs, pigs, disbelievers.
When a dog, a pig, or a disbeliever touches or comes in contact with the clothes or body [of a Muslim] while he [the disbeliever] is wet, it becomes obligatory-compulsory upon him [the Muslim] to wash and clean that part which came in contact with the disbeliever.
In addition, a chapter on jihad specifies conditions under which Muslims should fight Jews and Christians.
Although Hilli's attitudes were standard for a pre-modern Shi‘i, they are shocking for 2006 London. Indeed, several students in the Hawza Ilmiyya found them"disturbing" and"very worrying." Their spokesman told the Times that students"are being exposed to very literalist interpretations of the Koran. These are interpretations that would not be recognised by 80 or 90 per cent of Muslims, but they are being taught in this school. A lot of people in the Muslim community are very concerned about this." The spokesman concluded with an appeal urgently to re-examine"the kind of material that is being taught here and in other [Islamic] colleges in Britain."
The Tehran regime of Mahmoud Ahmadinejad sponsors the Hawza Ilmiyya; for example, three of the eight years in the curriculum are spent at institutions in the Iranian city of Qom. Indeed, the school's 1996 founding memorandum states that"At all times at least one of the trustees shall be a representative of the Supreme Spiritual Leadership of the Islamic Republic of Iran."
The institution that funds this school, the Irshad Trust, is a"registered charity" at the Charity Commission (see the trust's page at the commission website), a privilege that qualifies it for various tax concessions; in other words, the British taxpayer is effectively subsidizing the school. In particular, the school benefits from a program called"Gift Aid," under which the government refunds the income tax paid by the donor. Gifts made to registered charities can claim and receive a 28 percent tax refund. A gift of £100 to the Irshad Trust, for example, earns it £128.
A correspondent of mine, on reading the Times article, immediately complained to the Charity Commission and asked it to take steps concerning the Irshad Trust. He got a quick reply:
Subject: RE:"non-Muslims are ‘filth'"
From: Monaghan-Smith Tracey [email@example.com]
Sent: Thursday, April 20, 2006
Dear Mr xx,
Thank you for your e-mail, the contents of which are noted. However, as per booklet CC47, the Commission will not become involved in this particular matter. You may wish to peruse the booklet in further detail, as this outlines our role quite clearly in this respect. The Commission will not look into this particular complaint. I hope this clarifies the position.
Mrs Tracey Monaghan-Smith
Booklet CC47, titled"Complaints about Charities," provides guidelines about commission procedures. The key phrase:"Complaints that the Commission will take up as regulator are, generally speaking, ones where there is a serious risk of significant harm or abuse to the charity, its assets, beneficiaries or reputation; where the use of our powers of intervention is necessary to protect them; and where this represents a proportionate response to the issues in the case." Mrs Tracey Monaghan-Smith and her superiors have clearly concluded that the Hawza Ilmiyya is not causing"significant harm."
(1) Ironically, even as some Muslim students attending the Hawza Ilmiyya find its teachings"disturbing" and"very worrying," mandarins at the Charity Commission deem them not causing"significant harm."
(2) The unbridled radicalism of the Hawza Ilmiyya fits a larger pattern of Islamic schools in the West teaching hostility to Jews and Christians or having links to terrorism. I document this pattern at"What Are Islamic Schools Teaching?" and"Troubles at Islamic Schools in the West."
(3) One can only assume that the Hawza Ilmiyya will go on its merry way, undeterred by the pleas for help by its students, the exposure of its practices, questions raised in parliament, and the complaints of citizens, and it will also continue to enjoy its 28 percent Gift Aid. Thus does the enemy's infrastructure build in our midst.
This article is reprinted with permission by Daniel Pipes. This article first appeared at frontpagemag.com.
Posted on: Friday, April 28, 2006 - 18:47
SOURCE: Nation (4-27-06)
Indeed, the Anderson and AIPAC cases are joined by the fact that the agents apparently told Anderson's son, Kevin, that they expected to find information relating to the AIPAC case itself. This claim is dubious in the extreme, however, as Anderson, who was diagnosed with Parkinson's in 1990, did little investigative reporting during the last decade or so of his life. Mark Feldstein--a journalism professor at George Washington University, where the documents are stored, and the author of a forthcoming biography of Anderson, his former employer--told The Chronicle of Higher Education that he and a number of grad students have studied the papers and found little but "ancient history." Kevin Anderson speculates that the bureau's true objective is "to whitewash Jack Anderson's papers and attempt to remove from history embarrassing documents." There's a long tradition of dishonest Presidents obsessing about Anderson's reporting. Nixon's henchmen are on record discussing his potential murder.
This troubling case is but one manifestation of a larger pattern, in which Administration officials decide which classified information they, personally, are entitled to leak and which information they can try to suppress, even to the point of threatening jail. We know that Bush, Dick Cheney, I. Lewis Libby and possibly Karl Rove felt no compunction about releasing classified data to sympathetic reporters like Bob Woodward, Judith Miller and Robert Novak to discredit critics of their plans for Iraq. Recently, Abbe Lowell, a lawyer for AIPAC case defendant Steven Rosen, told the court that Condoleezza Rice leaked national defense information that handed Franklin his twelve-year prison stint. But no matter. Journalists are being questioned and subpoenaed in official leak investigations relating to stories about the National Security Agency's warrantless wiretapping program and the CIA's secret prisons overseas, both of which stories garnered well-deserved Pulitzer Prizes (and one got the alleged CIA leaker, Mary McCarthy, fired). McCarthy not only denies the leak but the knowledge as well.
We also learned recently of a program begun after 9/11 through which the National Archives and Records Administration secretly agreed with government agencies to withdraw previously declassified documents from the archives. These agreements were reached during the tenure of US Archivist John Carlin, who now says he was "shocked" to learn of them in a recent New York Times report. (Carlin may have authorized them and forgotten; he may have authorized them and failed to read them; or he may be "shocked" the way Captain Renault was.)
Examine these developments in light of those I described more than a year ago in a Nation cover story ("Bush's War on the Press," May 9, 2005) and one cannot escape the conclusion that as its poll numbers fall, the Bush Administration is ratcheting up its war against the media to hide its massive failure to defend the nation's security and uphold the laws of its Constitution. What's going on is more than just the traditional practice of feeding friendly reporters considered to be "in the tank" and shutting out those unwilling to play by the rules of the goldfish bowl that is the White House press room. Rather, it is an assault on accountability itself. Administration officials rarely speak on the record about anything of substance, and even on background they lie with imperial impunity. Cheney and his staff felt empowered to let no one know that the Vice President of the United States shot someone in the face. Secret, potentially nuclear, war plans are being made for Iran, and we as a nation are given no means to judge their necessity or credibility.
Meanwhile, punditocracy poohbahs, including Time's Joe Klein and CNN's William Bennett, take the side of those who would squelch our right to know what is being done in our name. Klein passed along unsupported (and frankly unbelievable) claims from "US intelligence sources" that the terrorists are changing their ways because of what they've read about the Administration's illegal wiretapping program in the Times, and Bennett recently told his radio listeners that the Times and Washington Post reporters were worthy not of Pulitzers but of jail. The executives at both papers remain unwilling to explain themselves on such crucial questions as why the Post agreed to withhold the names of the countries where CIA secret prisons had been set up, despite their easy availability on the Human Rights Watch website, and why the Times decided to delay the publication of its massive scoop on domestic wiretapping for more than a year, until just before its reporter was to publish a book that would have scooped the paper.
Moreover, looking at the Administration's plot to discredit Joe Wilson's reporting of his Niger trip--as detailed by Murray Waas in National Journal, and others--it becomes clear that Rove, Libby, Cheney & Co. were desperate to prevent an investigation of their dirty campaign to mislead the country into a ruinous war. They were prepared to break laws, expose CIA operations, ruin reputations and threaten national security to prevent Americans from learning the truth before election time. How much longer can the mainstream media pretend to play this deadly and deceitful game as if it were business as usual?
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, April 27, 2006 - 18:04
SOURCE: tpmcafe.com (4-28-06)
If you think its about sexual prowess, you’d be wrong. If you think it’s about size, forget it. And if you imagine we follow the various pissing contests going on among male liberals, you’re too self-absorbed. It’s about what I call the Care Crisis.
During the last week, I’ve had a series of conversations with intellectual, liberal women who, like most of our male friends, companions and husbands, want to restore American democracy, end the war, and free up our nation’s wealth to support the health and well being of our nation’s citizens.
We care about the common good. We believe in a public good. We agree with Michael Tomasky at the America Prospect that Democrats will have to be more than a “collection of aggrieved out-groups,” to use words penned by David Brooks in his New York Times column of April 27. We agree with John Halpin and Ruy Teixeira that, again in Brooks’ words, “the message voters respond to best is notions of shared sacrifice for the common good…people are read for an appeal to citizenship.”
Multiculturalism and identity politics, gloats Brooks, are dead. Fine by me. Gleefully, Brooks announces that “Democrats are purging the last vestiges of the New Left and returning to the older civic liberalism of the 1950s and early 1960s.
But here’s the rub: Notice the years Brooks chooses as the historical moment to which we should return---before American women began demanding the equality that is essential to their citizenship.
In these conversations you men never hear, this is what we discuss: For four decades, working women have poured into the paid labor force. Yet American society has done precious little to restructure the workplace or family life. The result? Working mothers are burdened and exhausted, families are fractured, and children are often neglected. The dirty little secret, we repeatedly tell each other, is that it is both profitable and convenient to our government, business and many men, for women to wear themselves out trying to do the unpaid work of caring for children, the elderly and the social networks of our communities.
It’s as though Americans are trapped in a time warp, certain that women will still do all this caring, even though they can’t, because more than half are outside their homes working in the paid work place. And so, we have what I call a mounting "Care Crisis."
But somehow male progressives and liberals continue to view these problems as those of a special interest group and part of identity politics. And yet it is the core dillemma faced by most middle class and working class American families, all long the political spectrum.
These are some of the war stories we share with each other:
A distinguished op-ed editor rejects an opinion piece that describes the need for high-quality, affordable, accessible child care because “it’s been written about thousands of times.” He’s right. But nothing’s changed.
A distinguished editor tells a journalist that he doesn’t really want articles about “women’s” problems because he’s more interested in addressing the public good. Hasn't he heard that women hold up half the sky and, then some?
Fortunately, one person may have found a way around these gatekeepers who are so bored with vital changes that have never been addressed and implemented.
Joan Blades, co-founder of the online activist web movement, Moveon.org, has launched a grassroots virtual campaign (http:www.momsrising.org)dedicated to making working mothers's private choices and dilemmas a central part of our national conversation and political agenda.
She and her co-author Kristin Rowe-Finkbeiner have just published The Motherhood Manifesto (Nation Books), filled with elegantly accessible stories that reveal the problems faced by working mothers in the early 21st century Without using the F word, they also prescribe such essential changes as paid parental leave, flexible working conditions, after-school programs, universal health care, excellent, affordable and accessible child care and realistic living wages.
Maybe, just maybe, you’ll finally hear us. True, it’s boring to discuss the vital needs of working mothers and families, when nothing ever changes. But while you’re talking about the common good, consider this: There is nothing more vital to the common good of our nation than the well being of our working mothers and their families. And that, dear gentlemen, is where the votes are.
Posted on: Thursday, April 27, 2006 - 17:50
SOURCE: Speech at CUNY Black Male Initiative Conference, John Jay College (4-26-06)
Principal Investigator, Bronx African American History Project.]
It’s a daunting task to be asked to give a historical overview of the position of Black Men in American society in 15 minutes. Even if I were John Hope Franklin, I don’t think I could summarize the impact of slavery, jim crow, deindustrialization and the rise of the prison industrial complex in that brief a period
What I will do is talk about my own research on African American communities in the Bronx in the 1940’s and 1950’s and analyze how the position of Black men in those communities offers insights and possible lessons for people in CUNY and elsewhere trying to reengage young black men with the educational system and the mainstream economy.
The two communities I have been studying have been Morrisania, which emerged as the Bronx’s largest African American neighborhood as a result of a massive migration from Harlem in the 1940’s, and the Patterson Houses, the Bronx’s first low income public housing development, which opened in 1950. In the last 3 ½ years, with the help of a team of community researchers, I have done over 150 Oral History interviews with people who moved to, or grew up in those two communities, in the 1940’s and 1950’s and collected photos and documents which bring the stories told in those interviews to life.
The image which emerges with overwhelming force, both from interviews and documents, is of strong, cohesive neighborhoods where working class Black and Latino residents looked out for one another, shared their cultures, raised one another’s children, and looked to the future with considerable optimism. In 1951, an African American magazine called Our World described Morrisania in terms that almost no one today would apply to Black or Latino neighborhoods in the Bronx
“Right now, most of the Bronx’s 75,000 Negroes live between 160th Street and Crotona Park South. To them, the Bronx is a borough of hope, a place of unlimited possibilities.”
African-American men played a central role in creating this atmosphere of security and hope. The majority of adult men in these communities were in families and in the labor force and black men played key roles as mentors to local youth in churches, community centers and after school and night centers in the public schools. Most of the people I have interviewed have spoken of the influence of ministers, teachers, community center directors and their own fathers in guiding them through the sometimes perilous pathway to adulthood. Figures like Rev Edler Hawkins of St Augustine’s Presbyterian Church, Floyd Lane of the PS 18 night center, Vincent Tibbs of the
PS 99 night center, and Eddie Bonnamere, a music teacher at Clark Junior High School, are mentioned in interview after interview as people who saved lives and inspired people to achieve more than they ever dreamed possible. In these working class black and latino neighborhoods, which were not without problems- they had gangs, alcoholism and heavily tracked schools – adult black men were a powerful presence in families, voluntary institutions, and public funded recreation programs and they passed on a legacy of strength, optimism and community responsibility to young men in the next generation, some of whom went on to careers in civil service, teaching, social work, health professions, the media, politics and business.
However, even in these relatively optimistic times, racism in the city’s labor and housing markets were chipping away at the stability of these neighborhoods and undermining the ability of Black and Latino families to accumulate social capital and transfer it successfully to the next generation. With few exceptions, the portraits of
Black fathers that emerge from my interviews is of men who worked two or three jobs in the most fragile sectors of the secondary labor market- they drove cabs, loaded trucks, worked in factories and cleaning establishments, operated elevators, cleaned buildings, and worked as cooks and porters on trains. Although there was a small component of government workers – especially postal workers and people who worked for NY City Transit- and a few people who owned small businesses, what is strikingly absent- especially in comparison to what you would find in Jewish, Irish and Italian neighborhoods at the time- is skilled unionized workers in the construction trades, printing or the garment industry. In the 1950’s and even into the 1960’s, New York, had tens of thousands of high paying, unionized, blue collar jobs that could be passed on from father to son and elevate a family into the middle class and black men had virtually none of them! The worst example of this was the construction trades. Even though many black men came from the South, and the West Indies, with construction skills, they could not get jobs as electricians, plumbers, steamfitters, or sheet metal workers on major construction projects even when they were located in black neighborhoods. The following is a quote from Oliver Leeds, a leader of Brooklyn CORE who led massive sit-ins during the construction of Downstate Medical Center in 1963 ( this is courtesy of my colleague Brian Purnell who is writing a dissertation on the history of the Civil Rights movement in Brooklyn) :
“I went in the Army and I tried to join the Tank Corps. When I got to Louisiana, I found I was in the Corps of engineers. And you know what we do? We worked to win the war. We built anything that could be be built: bridges, tunnels, houses, officers quarters, mess quarter, roads airstrips. We loaded and unloaded ships. We did anything in the way that involved work, construction work. You know when I got back to the United States, after the war, I couldn’t get a job in construction and there was no union that would let me in. And there was damn little that I couldn’t do in the way of construction work. They’ll take you and turn you into construction workers in the army, in a segregated army, and then when you get back into civilian life, you can’t get a construction job.”
The corrosive effect of this discrimination is visible in several ways. 1) Most black men had to work two or three secondary labor market jobs to make the salary of a single unionized construction worker, making the task of supporting their families far more stressful than for their Irish, Italian or Jewish counterparts 2) Black men had no marketable craft skills, or union connections, to pass on to their children 3).The blue collar jobs that black men did have, unlike construction, were vulnerable to elimination as the city shifted from an industrial to a finance, information based economy.
This had devastating consequences for Black families and communities. Basically, from the 1950’s through the 1970's, a period when the city’s economy was losing hundreds of thousands of industrial jobs, African Americans, unlike their Jewish Irish or Italian counterparts, could not attain upward mobility within the working class, or achieve middle class incomes through blue collar occupations. Indeed, Black male youth who did not graduate from college actually faced worse employment prospects than their fathers because many of the jobs their father worked at were being eliminated.
This helped trigger a fragmentation of the social structure of working class Black and Latino communities like Morrisania or the Patterson Houses. As college educated and upwardly mobile families from these communities moved to the North and East Bronx, Queens, Westchester or New Jersey, men who remained, who for the most part had high schools educations or less, faced an economy that offered them lower wages, and even more humiliating conditions of work than their fathers had experienced. For many, the underground economy was their only realistic option, but this was not the relatively benign, non violent, underground economy of their father’s day, which was organized around the numbers business.. This was the fierce, high stakes heroin trade of Nicky Barnes and Guy Fisher, which left corpses, broken lives and shattered communities in its wake. In this fierce and frightening atmosphere, being a husband, father and a family man was an overwhelming strain on even the best intentioned young men and many cracked under the pressure, a tragedy presented with great power in the Hughes Brothers brilliant movie “Dead Presidents”
To make matters worse, as the job crunch on young working class black men intensified, and the violence of their daily lives became more overwhelming, New York City underwent a fiscal crisis and with the help of the Emergency Financial Control Board, decided that community youth and recreation programs were expendable. All the after school and night centers in New York public schools were shut down, recreation supervisors were removed from the parks, and the great music programs in the city’s junior high schools were eliminated. So at a time when young men needed them the most, the Floyd Lanes, Vincent Tibbs, and Eddie Bonnameres were removed as forces in Bronx neighborhoods and other places like them around the city
By the beginning of the 1980’s, the idea of a cohesive, safe working class black and latino communities in the South Bronx with a strong male presence in families and the legal labor force had become imaginable to people growing up in those neighborhoods., They faced a world of mean streets, shattered families and a legal labor market that offered them little but stagnant wages and a humiliating work culture. And that was before crack!
The world we live in now, one where young black men feel so alienated and marginalized, and where the underground economy has become the major source of income and status, has been shaped by many historical forces, some of them hundreds of years in the making, but many of the problems were are addressing in this conference have roots in labor market discrimination in the relatively recent past and short sighted and pernicious government policies implemented less than thirty years ago.
We are not prisoners of this history, difficult though it might be. Fifty years ago, black men were a central part of every formal and informal institution in South Bronx neighborhoods and were an integral of the leadership structure that made these communities safe and cohesive. If we change government priorities and challenge racial hierarchies in the labor market, there is no reason why they cannot play that role again..
Posted on: Thursday, April 27, 2006 - 17:40
SOURCE: NY Sun (4-25-06)
The great mystery of the 2003 war in Iraq -"What about the WMD?" has finally been resolved. The short answer is: Saddam Hussein's persistent record of lying meant no one believed him when he at the last moment actually removed the weapons of mass destruction.
In a riveting book-length report issued by the Pentagon's Joint Forces Command, Iraqi Perspectives Project, American researchers have produced the results of a systematic two-year study of the forces and motivations shaping Saddam and his regime. Well written, historically contexted, and replete with revealing details, it ranks with Kanan Makiya's Republic of Fear as the masterly description of that regime. (For a condensed version, see the May-June issue of Foreign Affairs.)
It shows how, like Hitler's Germany or Stalin's Soviet Union, Saddam's Iraq was a place of unpredictably distorted reality. In particular, Saddam underwent a change in the mid-1990s, developing a delusional sense of his own military genius, indeed his infallibility. In this fantasyland, soldiers' faith and bravura count far more than technology or matériel. Disdaining the U.S. military performance from Vietnam to Desert Storm, and from Somalia to the Balkans, the tyrant deemed Americans a cowardly and unworthy enemy.
Also about this same time, Saddam began insisting on only good news, isolating himself further from often harsh realities. As ever-fewer underlings dared to contradict the boss's perceptions, his determined self-deception wreaked havoc outward from the presidential palace to the entire Iraqi government and beyond. The lead author of Iraqi Perspectives Project, Kevin M. Woods, and his four co-authors note,"By the mid-1990s, most of those near the regime inner circle recognized that everyone was lying to everyone else." Deceits were reinforced and elaborated. In the words of an air defense officer,"One [officer] lied to another from the first lieutenant up, until it reached Saddam."
That no one really knew what was going on was symbolized by the widespread credence in the wartime nonsense spouted by the Iraqi minister of information (mockingly dubbed Baghdad Bob by Western reporters) as he regaled the world with glowing accounts of Iraqi victories;"from the point of view of Iraq's leaders, Baghdad Bob was largely reporting what they were hearing from the front." A militia commander confessed to being"absolutely astonished" on encountering an American tank in Baghdad.
The same situation extended to the military-industrial infrastructure. First, the report states, for Saddam,"the mere issuing of a decree was sufficient to make the plan work." Second, fearful for their lives, everyone involved provided glowing progress bulletins. In particular,"scientists always reported the next wonder weapon was right around the corner." In such an environment, who knew the actual state of the WMD? Even for Saddam,"when it came to WMD there was always some element of doubt about the truth."
Iraq's strategic dilemma complicated matters further. Realizing that perceptions of Iraqi weakness could invite attack, from Iran in particular, Saddam wanted the world to think he possessed WMD. But eventually he realized that to fend off the coalition, he needed to convince Western states that his regime no longer possessed those very weapons. As coalition forces geared up for war in late 2002, Saddam decided to cooperate with the United Nations to establish that his country was clean of WMD, as he put it, so as"not to give President Bush any excuses to start a war."
This lucid moment, ironically, fell victim to his long history of deceiving the United Nations; Iraqi steps to comply with the inspections regime had the paradoxical effect of confirming Western doubts that the cooperation was a ruse. For example, intercepted orders"to remove all traces of previous WMD programs" were misinterpreted as yet another ploy, and not the genuine effort they really were.
Saddam's belated attempts at transparency backfired, leading to what the report authors call"a diplomatic and propaganda Catch-22." Monumental confusion followed. Captured senior Iraqi officials continued for many months after the 2003 war"to believe it possible … that Iraq still possessed a WMD capability hidden away somewhere." Coalition intelligence agencies, not surprisingly, missed the final and unexpected twist in a long-running drama. Neither those agencies nor Western politicians lied; Saddam was the evil impostor whose deceptions in the end confused and endangered everyone, including himself.
Apr. 25, 2006 update: I have received many questions about the disposal of the WMD - Syria? Belarus? - and wish to clarify that I purposefully did not deal with this question in the above article (just as the Iraqi Perspectives Project did not). The topic here is exclusively the functioning of the Saddam Hussein regime in relation to the WMD mystery. Any thesis of what was done with the WMD is compatible with the above background explanation.
Posted on: Thursday, April 27, 2006 - 17:29
SOURCE: Wa Po (4-24-06)
The issue of preventive war as a presidential prerogative is hardly new. In February 1848 Rep. Abraham Lincoln explained his opposition to the Mexican War: "Allow the President to invade a neighboring nation, whenever he shall deem it necessary to repel an invasion and you allow him to do so whenever he may choose to say he deems it necessary for such purpose -- and you allow him to make war at pleasure [emphasis added]. . . . If, today, he should choose to say he thinks it necessary to invade Canada to prevent the British from invading us, how could you stop him? You may say to him, 'I see no probability of the British invading us'; but he will say to you, 'Be silent; I see it, if you don't.' "
This is precisely how George W. Bush sees his presidential prerogative: Be silent; I see it, if you don't . However, both Presidents Harry S. Truman and Dwight D. Eisenhower, veterans of the First World War, explicitly ruled out preventive war against Joseph Stalin's attempt to dominate Europe. And in the Cuban missile crisis of October 1962, President Kennedy, himself a hero of the Second World War, rejected the recommendations of the Joint Chiefs of Staff for a preventive strike against the Soviet Union in Cuba.
It was lucky that JFK was determined to get the missiles out peacefully, because only decades later did we discover that the Soviet forces in Cuba had tactical nuclear weapons and orders to use them to repel a U.S. invasion. This would have meant a nuclear exchange. Instead, JFK used his own thousand days to give the American University speech, a powerful plea to Americans as well as to Russians to reexamine "our own attitude -- as individuals and as a nation -- for our attitude is as essential as theirs." This was followed by the limited test ban treaty. It was compatible with the George Kennan formula -- containment plus deterrence -- that worked effectively to avoid a nuclear clash.
The Cuban missile crisis was not only the most dangerous moment of the Cold War. It was the most dangerous moment in all human history. ...
There stretch ahead for Bush a thousand days of his own. He might use them to start the third Bush war: the Afghan war (justified), the Iraq war (based on fantasy, deception and self-deception), the Iran war (also fantasy, deception and self-deception). There is no more dangerous thing for a democracy than a foreign policy based on presidential preventive war.
Maybe President Bush, who seems a humane man, might be moved by daily sorrows of death and destruction to forgo solo preventive war and return to cooperation with other countries in the interest of collective security. Abraham Lincoln would rejoice.
Posted on: Tuesday, April 25, 2006 - 21:06
SOURCE: Rolling Stone (4-21-06)
From time to time, after hours, I kick back with my colleagues at Princeton to argue idly about which president really was the worst of them all. For years, these perennial debates have largely focused on the same handful of chief executives whom national polls of historians, from across the ideological and political spectrum, routinely cite as the bottom of the presidential barrel. Was the lousiest James Buchanan, who, confronted with Southern secession in 1860, dithered to a degree that, as his most recent biographer has said, probably amounted to disloyalty -- and who handed to his successor, Abraham Lincoln, a nation already torn asunder? Was it Lincoln's successor, Andrew Johnson, who actively sided with former Confederates and undermined Reconstruction? What about the amiably incompetent Warren G. Harding, whose administration was fabulously corrupt? Or, though he has his defenders, Herbert Hoover, who tried some reforms but remained imprisoned in his own outmoded individualist ethic and collapsed under the weight of the stock-market crash of 1929 and the Depression's onset? The younger historians always put in a word for Richard M. Nixon, the only American president forced to resign from office.
Now, though, George W. Bush is in serious contention for the title of worst ever. In early 2004, an informal survey of 415 historians conducted by the nonpartisan History News Network found that eighty-one percent considered the Bush administration a "failure." Among those who called Bush a success, many gave the president high marks only for his ability to mobilize public support and get Congress to go along with what one historian called the administration's "pursuit of disastrous policies." In fact, roughly one in ten of those who called Bush a success was being facetious, rating him only as the best president since Bill Clinton -- a category in which Bush is the only contestant.
The lopsided decision of historians should give everyone pause. Contrary to popular stereotypes, historians are generally a cautious bunch. We assess the past from widely divergent points of view and are deeply concerned about being viewed as fair and accurate by our colleagues. When we make historical judgments, we are acting not as voters or even pundits, but as scholars who must evaluate all the evidence, good, bad or indifferent. Separate surveys, conducted by those perceived as conservatives as well as liberals, show remarkable unanimity about who the best and worst presidents have been.
Historians do tend, as a group, to be far more liberal than the citizenry as a whole -- a fact the president's admirers have seized on to dismiss the poll results as transparently biased. One pro-Bush historian said the survey revealed more about "the current crop of history professors" than about Bush or about Bush's eventual standing. But if historians were simply motivated by a strong collective liberal bias, they might be expected to call Bush the worst president since his father, or Ronald Reagan, or Nixon. Instead, more than half of those polled -- and nearly three-fourths of those who gave Bush a negative rating -- reached back before Nixon to find a president they considered as miserable as Bush. The presidents most commonly linked with Bush included Hoover, Andrew Johnson and Buchanan. Twelve percent of the historians polled -- nearly as many as those who rated Bush a success -- flatly called Bush the worst president in American history. And these figures were gathered before the debacles over Hurricane Katrina, Bush's role in the Valerie Plame leak affair and the deterioration of the situation in Iraq. Were the historians polled today, that figure would certainly be higher.
Even worse for the president, the general public, having once given Bush the highest approval ratings ever recorded, now appears to be coming around to the dismal view held by most historians. To be sure, the president retains a considerable base of supporters who believe in and adore him, and who reject all criticism with a mixture of disbelief and fierce contempt -- about one-third of the electorate. (When the columnist Richard Reeves publicized the historians' poll last year and suggested it might have merit, he drew thousands of abusive replies that called him an idiot and that praised Bush as, in one writer's words, "a Christian who actually acts on his deeply held beliefs.") Yet the ranks of the true believers have thinned dramatically. A majority of voters in forty-three states now disapprove of Bush's handling of his job. Since the commencement of reliable polling in the 1940s, only one twice-elected president has seen his ratings fall as low as Bush's in his second term: Richard Nixon, during the months preceding his resignation in 1974. No two-term president since polling began has fallen from such a height of popularity as Bush's (in the neighborhood of ninety percent, during the patriotic upswell following the 2001 attacks) to such a low (now in the midthirties). No president, including Harry Truman (whose ratings sometimes dipped below Nixonian levels), has experienced such a virtually unrelieved decline as Bush has since his high point. Apart from sharp but temporary upticks that followed the commencement of the Iraq war and the capture of Saddam Hussein, and a recovery during the weeks just before and after his re-election, the Bush trend has been a profile in fairly steady disillusionment....
Posted on: Tuesday, April 25, 2006 - 12:54
SOURCE: American Prospect (4-21-06)
In a recent New York Times review of America at the Crossroads -- Francis Fukayama’s account of his change of heart on the Iraq War and the national-security strategy behind it -- Paul Berman revealed perhaps more than he intended about pro-war intellectuals who are now wavering. Like Berman more than like Fukuyama, many public thinkers who trumpeted reasons to invade Iraq -- David Brooks, and Charles Krauthammer come Immediately to mind -- have lately been squirming, bobbing, weaving, joking lamely, and sometimes even feigning a “stay-the-course” intrepidity as they try to exit the stage they helped set in the run-up to the war. It’s a sad, sometimes ludicrous, spectacle -- not because they’re wrong to change their minds but because, unlike Fukuyama, they're trying not to admit that they’re doing it.
Not unfairly, Berman characterized Fukuyama as a bit too primly calculating in breaking with fellow neoconservatives just as it was becoming obvious how misguided and misguiding their Manichaean militarism had been. But if Berman meant to draw a moral distinction between Fukayama and wavering pro-war left-liberals such as himself, his review suggested rather that it takes one to know one. Tellingly, Berman wasn't even done with Fukuyama before he turned his wrath on leftist critics of pro-war liberals and moderates: “The Nation has become The Weekly Purge,” he complained, meaning that that magazine is blaming pro-war deep thinkers such as Berman for the Bush administration's blunders and lies.
Berman has a point in lampooning people who write as if terrorists were just anti-imperialists in a hurry. For example, when Nation reviewer Daniel Lazare excoriated even the anti-war left-liberal Todd Gitlin, calling him an apologist for “belligerent nationalism” just because he’d affirmed American patriotism in voicing his dissent, the review set that magazine's recently improved book-review section back several years. Gitlin’s The Intellectuals and the Flag explains why and how he is a patriot after the fashion of the socialist leader Norman Thomas, who cautioned fellow anti-Vietnam War radicals not to burn the flag but to wash it. Lazare’s hatchet job on such a civic-republican stance against the Iraq War is a chilling reminder of the old Daily Worker.
But far more consequential than leftist witch-hunting is the intellectual dishonesty in the “tough-minded” posturing by “enlightened” pro-war liberals like Berman. True, Islamo-fascism can't be excused as a flawed but defensible Palestinian national-liberation struggle writ large. True, non-state terrorism demands responses which most knee-jerk anti-warriors haven't a clue how to frame. But just as clueless are those who helped mobilize American public support for a military and "national-security" response to Saddam Hussein and even to terrorism itself. ...
Posted on: Monday, April 24, 2006 - 18:52
SOURCE: frontpagemag.com (4-24-06)
Who would have thought that Belmont University of Nashville, Tennessee, would apply the Islamic law to its staff? But just that happened earlier this month.
Bill Hobbs, a Republican political advisor, blogger, and news writer for Belmont, which bills itself as"the largest Christian university in Tennessee," was upset in February 2006 about the cowardice of the American media in not publishing the Danish cartoons. So he drew a primitive cartoon of his own and posted it on his personal site. It sat in obscurity until April 5, when a Democratic political operative, Mike Kopp, wrote about it, calling it
a bizzare page with the heading Draw Mohammed that spotlights a stick drawing of the Prophet Mohammed holding a bomb. The cartoon is entitled"Mohammend Blows." Under the cartoon Hobbs issues an invite to"exercise your right to free expression by drawing pictures of Islam's Prophet Mohammed". He ends the post with the phrase"Here's my first mo-toon." All this was posted at 12:40 pm, on Friday, February 24, 2006.
Hobbs responded within a few hours on Kopp's website, writing (spelling mistakes uncorrected):
I live in America, and am blessed to have the First Amendment, and am angry that the American media is too cowardly in the face of Islamofacists to run the cartoons. I posted that cartoon, and invited others to draw their own cartoons, as a way of protesting both American media cowardice and Islamist attempts to suppress free speech via threats of bombs and bullets and burning and beheading. But then I never publicized the site and, quite frankly, forgot is was up until today.
P.S. I am insensitve toward religions that have a large number of adherents who are running around blowing stuff up and threatening to kill non-believers over cartoons. Yes, I plead insensitivity. I would prefer my children not grow up in a world governed by Islamofacists.
On April 13, John Spragens of Nashville Scene picked up on this story in an article titled"One local blogger's crude cartoon, posing as principle, betrays little more than tackiness." He included a miniature version of the page in question .... As his headline implies, Spragens (who, another blog notes, is leaving the Nashville Scene to work for a Democrat, U.S. Representative Jim Cooper) came down heavily on Hobbs:
by deliberately desecrating Islam's central figure—"the ‘Prophet Mohammed'" as Hobbs sneered, using quote marks for sardonic emphasis—he attacked an entire religion, not a group of fanatics who pervert the religion's teachings. Then he drew him as a bearded stick figure holding a bomb and said he"blows." It seems bearded Muslim terrorists are the new big-nosed, money-grubbing Jews. The more things change…. [ellipsis in original]
On the other side, Roger Abramson, Spragens' predecessor at Nashville Scene, defended Hobbs early on April 14.
Nonetheless, the damage had been done. Hobbs announced in the late morning at NashvilleFiles.com,"I am resigning from Belmont University in an amicable and mutual parting of the ways, effective Monday[, April 17]."
A week later, the university has let calls from the press asking for more information go unreturned and has made no statement about Hobbs' resignation. Its silence attracted notice in the blogosphere (for example, from Hugh Hewitt) but still not a word was forthcoming.
Although it was an article in the Nashville Scene that prompted the resignation, that publication's editor, Liz Garrigan, came down hard on Belmont:
Belmont's action here—assuming this was a forced resignation, and I think everyone believes it is—is cowardly. I mean, Hobbs' political views haven't been a secret. Why is the school suddenly putting stock in what we have to say about one action by one individual? The school shouldn't sacrifice him just because we happen to think that something he did was pretty tacky.
"Pretty tacky" is putting it mildly; Belmont's actions have real consequences. Like the Danish corporation Arla Foods denouncing the cartoons or the Swedish foreign minister forcing the cartoons off a website, this firing in Tennessee amounts to a capitulation to Islamic law. Each surrender means the Shari‘a will move inexorably forward.
Posted on: Monday, April 24, 2006 - 16:00
One more time Al Jazeera pomotes an Usama Bin Laden speech. After airing portions of the Bin Laden audiotape al Jazeera posted large fragments of the “speech” on its web site. This was the longest version possible we were able to have access to. After careful reading, my assessment of the “piece” got reinforced: This is not just another audiotape or videotape of a renegade in some cave. Regardless of who is the speaker and his whereabouts, the 30 minutes long read statement is a declaration, probably as important as the February 1998 declaration of war against America, the Crusaders and their allies.
This is a “state of Jihad address” by a Terror-leader who projects himself as the supreme leader of all Salafi Jihadists in the world. The document provide guidelines and vision to the followers across the continents: A call for mega-terrorism and a fiery delivery of a bloody war in all directions. Not one single civilization and religion got away from Usama’s grapes of wrath: Muslim moderates, Shiites, Christian Catholics, Protestants and Orthodox; Jews, Hindus, Buddhists and Atheists as well. Europeans, Chinese, Indians, Semites, Africans and others were all deciphered as Kuffars, infidels.
In two decades of Salafi and Khumeini rhetoric monitoring, I haven’t heard or seen a cross-infidel speech as the one aired by al Jazeera on April 23, 2006. There will be lots of ink and mega bites spent on its analysis for months and years to come, but here are the main points. Al Jazeera dubbed them: “The main axis of the speech.” المحاور الأساسية في خطاب بن لادن
* One a long attack on the Cartoons crisis: Blood is needed to cleanse the matter.
* Two, there is a Western war on Muslims and Islam.
*Three, Western policy towards Hamas proves this aggression.
* Four, the United Nations is an infidel and criminal institution.
* Five, there is a Western-infidel aggression against Muslim Sudan. The Black southerners are bandits and the Darfur Blacks are agents of the infidels
* Six, Iraq’s Jihad is to stop future US military bases
* Seven, a cultural invasion is underway: Arab TVs are to be stopped, Muslim liberals to be killed
* Eight, France is to be punished for the female Hijab affair
* Nine, Bosnia’s Muslims were not salvaged by the West
* Ten, The independence of East Timor is a defeat to the Muslims
* Eleven, India and the Hindus are the enemies in Kashmir
* Twelve, Pakistan’s Musharraf is to be killed
* Thirteen, Russia must be punished
* Fourteen: Salman Rushdie is not to be forgotten
* Fifteen: The masses in the infidel lands think like their leaders. Their public (enemies) is responsible
* Sixteen: Calls for Dialogue with the West are to be rejected
* Seventeen: Do not trust the “traitors” including Muftis and moderate clerics
* Eighteen: King Abdallah of Saudi Arabia ignores world realities
* Nineteen: (Western) civilization is attacking ours
* Twenty: It is of the duty of all members of the Umma to offer everything for Jihad, including their lives.
Throughout the day I analyzed most of these"axis" on MSNBC, but I was able to observe the airing process on al Jazeera as well.
Imagine yourself as an Arab viewer: The speech was repeated endlessly throughout the day. Bin Laden didn't have his 20 minutes of shine, but 24 hours at least. The Bin Laden audiotape wasn't played one or two times but until every word was sinking deep in the minds of the attentive viewers. However the most powerful part of the speech wasn't restricted to its content: Al Jazeera lined up the best of its"experts on Islamist groups" to react instantly to the audiotape and throughout the day, and add"more details and substance."
As posted on al Jazeera's web site, large fragments from Usama Bin Laden's new audiotape showed the global strategies projected by the head of al Qaida. Let's review the most important pieces and analyze them. We'll proceed with a rough translation followed by short comments
Starting with the Cartoons issue he said:
حديثي هذا إليكم لمواصلة الحث والتحريض لنصرة رسولنا (ص) ولمعاقبة أصحاب الجريمة النكراء التي ارتكبها بعض الصحفيين من الصليبيين أو من الزنادقة المرتدين بالإساءة إلى سيد الأولين والآخرين نبينا محمد عليه أفضل الصلاة وأتم التسليم".
"My speech to you is to incite you to punish the criminals, some Crusader journalists and a bunch of apostates who offended our Prophet"
فقد حرم الله تبارك وتعالى أذاه فقال في القرآن العظيم"إن الذين يؤذون الله ورسوله لعنهم الله في الدنيا والآخرة وأعد لهم عذاباً مهيناً".
Quoting from the Quran, he refers to the sentence:"Those who harm Allah and his messenger, Allah will condemn them during their lifetime and beyond and bestow them with insulting torture."
قال شيخ الإسلام ابن تيمية رحمه الله"إن سب الرسل والطعن فيهم ينبوع جميع أنواع الكفر وجماع جميع الضلالات وكل كفر متفرع منه". وقال القاضي عياض رحمه الله"من شبه رسول الله (ص) بشيء على طريق السب له والازدراء عليه أو التصغير لشأنه أو الغض منه أو العيب له هو ساب له والحكم فيه حكم الساب له".
وتابع"وقال الإمام أحمد رحمه الله من شتم النبي صلى الله عليه وسلم أو انتقصه مسلماً كان أو كافراً فعليه القتل".
Quoting middle ages ideologue Ibn Taymiya, and judge Aiyaad (passed away), Bin Laden said anyone who insults the Prophet has to be killed. Responding to those who asked if those who insulted the Prophet can be forgiven, Bin Laden answered:
"فالزنادقة والملحدون الذين يطعنون في الدين ويسيئون إلى رسولنا الكريم صلى الله عليه وسلم قد وضح حالهم وحكمهم الإمام ابن القيم رحمه الله، وضح أن جريمة الزنديق أغلظ الجرائم ومفسدة بقائه بين أظهر المسلمين من أعظم المفاسد، وأنه يقتل ولا تقبل توبته
"The apostates and atheists who offend our Prophet cannot be forgiven. They must be killed He then reaffirmed that:
نعم إن قتل هؤلاء أمر يحبه الله تعالى ويحبه رسوله (ص) وقد أمر الله تعالى به وحث عليه رسوله (ص) قال تعالى"وإن نكثوا أيمانهم من بعد عهدهم وطعنوا في دينكم، فقاتلوا أئمة الكفر إنهم لا أيمان لهم لعلهم ينتهون". فبالقتال ينتهون عن الطعن في الدين قال إبن القيم رحمه الله عن هذه الآية"كل من طعن في ديننا فهو إمام في الكفر".
"Yes, the killing of those (who offend) is a matter that Allah likes, and that his Prophet likes. Allah has ordered it and his Prophet has incited for it." Bin Laden then quoted:"fight the leaders of the infidels because they have no faith. Only with fighting they would send their attack on religion."
Then he attacks a number of Ministers in Saudi Arabia, for Fatwas issued and considered Kufr, or apostasy:
وهاجم بن لادن عددا من الوزراء بينهم وزير العمل السعودي غازي القصيبي، وكتابا وإعلاميين في السعودية وعدد من دول الخليج، متهما بعضهم بالكفر والردة مستشهدا بفتاوى أصدرها عدد من العلماء في المنطقة.
"The West's war on Muslims"
In an amazing charge against what he calls"the West's war on Islam and Muslims," Bin Laden says:
فأنشأ هيئة الأمم المتحدة لهذا الغرض وما حق الفيتو إلا دليل صارخ على هذا الأمر وما هو إلا تكريس للدفاع عن هذه العقيدة المستبدة الظالمة التي تعتبر الجهاد في سبيل الله أو الدفاع عن النفس والوطن إرهابا".
ورأى أن"أميركا وأوروبا تعتبران الجماعات المجاهدة في فلسطين والشيشان والعراق وأفغانستان جماعات إرهابية فكيف يمكن التحاور والتفاهم مع هؤلاء بغير السلاح، وحكام منطقتنا يعتبرون أميركا وأوروبا أصدقاء وحلفاء ويعتبرون الجماعات المجاهدة ضد الصليبيين في العراق وأفغانستان جماعات إرهابية أيضا فكيف يمكن التفاهم مع هؤلاء أيضا بغير سلاح؟".
"The West created the United Nations to defend their unjust doctrine (...) America and Europe considers the Jihadi groups in Palestine, Chechnia, Iraq and Afghanistan as Terrorists, so how can we dialogue with them without the use of weapons. And the leaders of our region considers America and Europe as friends and allies, and consider the Jihadi groups against the Crusaders Terrorist groups, so how can we have an understanding with them, without weapons?
On the Palestinian question he states:
ورغم موقف القاعدة المعارض للمشاركة في الانتخابات التشريعية في ظل الأنظمة العربية الحاكمة، اعتبر بن لادن أن الرفض الأوروبي الأميركي للحكومة الفلسطينية الحالية برئاسة (حركة المقاومة الإسلامية) حماس هي بمثابة"حرب صليبية صهيونية ضد المسلمين".
"The European and American rejection of the current (Hamas-controlled) Palestinian Government is a Zionist-Crusader war against Muslims."
On the United Nations
Attacking the United Nations and its Security Council members, he said:
وأضاف زعيم القاعدة إن"الصليبية العالمية مع البوذية
الوثنية هم أصحاب المقاعد الخمسة الدائمة وأصحاب ما يسمى بامتياز حق الفيتو في مجلس الأمن فأميركا وبريطانيا يمثلون النصارى البروتستانت وروسيا تمثل النصارى الأرثوذكس وفرنسا تمثل النصارى الكاثوليك والصين تمثل البوذيين والوثنيين في العالم، وأما العالم الإسلامي المتمثل بـ57 دولة ويكون خمس أهل الأرض وهم أكثر من ربع دول الأمم المتحدة وإن ولاية واحدة من الولايات الإسلامية مساحتها أكبر من مساحة بريطانيا ومقاربة لمساحة فرنسا مثل ولاية دارفور في السودان ومع ذلك فلا مقعد لهم في مجلس الأمن".
ووصف بن لادن الأمم المتحدة بأنها"هيئة كفرية يكفر من رضي بقوانينها" وقال إنها"أداة لتنفيذ القرارات الصليبية الصهيونية ضد المسلمين وماذا يعني هدم وإسقاط الدولة العثمانية بقية دولة الخلافة على علاتها وتقسيمها إلى عشرات الدول والدويلات والاستيلاء عليها".
"The International Crusade along with Pagan Bhuddism own the five permanent seats and what is called Veto power at the Security Council. America and Britain represent the Protestant Christians, Russia represents the Orthodox Christians, France represents the Catholic Christians, and China represents the Bhuddists and the Atheists in the World. The Muslim world, represented by 57 countries, a fifth of the world, more than fourth of the UN membership, some of its provinces larger than the UK and France, do not have a seat at the Security Council. (...) The UN is an infidel organization, and whomever accepts its ruling is also an infidel. It is a tool to execute the Crusader and Zionist decisions against Muslims. What does the downing of the Ottoman empire and its division into many states and statelets, mean?"
Perhaps the greatest surprise to many in the international community was Bin Laden's long statement on Sudan, and particularly Darfour.
وتناول في محور ثالث الوضع في السودان قائلا إن الغرب يسعى لفصل جنوبه حيث كون فيه"جيشا من أهل الجنوب ودعمتهم بالمال والسلاح ووجهتهم للمطالبة بالانفصال عن السودان".
The West tries to seperate the south, attempts to establish an army there, and is supporting (the south) with money and arms and direct them to call for separation from Sudan.
وأضاف أن الولايات المتحدة تبنت الدعم المادي والمعنوي لهذا الجيش"عبر أدواتها الدولية كالأمم المتحدة وضغطت على
حكومة الخرطوم للتوقيع على اتفاقية ظالمة تسمح للجنوب بالانفصال بعد 6 سنوات من توقيع الاتفاق".
The US adopted logistical and moral support to this army (SPLA) through its international tools such as the United Nations and pressured the Khartum Government to sign an unjust agreement that allows the south to separate after 6 years.
وقال"ليعلم (الرئيس السوداني عمر البشير و(الرئيس الأميركي جورج) بوش أن هذا الاتفاق لا يساوي قيمة الحبر الذي كتب به ولا يلزمنا بمثقال ذرة وليس لأحد مهما كان أن يتنازل عن شبر من أرض الإسلام وسيبقى الجنوب جزءا لا يتجزأ من أرض الإسلام بإذن الله ولو استمرت الحروب لعقود قادمة".
Let Bashir (Sudan's President) and Bush know that this agreement has no value whatsoever and does not engage us. No one has to concede any inch of Islamic land and the south will remain an unseparable piece of Islam's land, by Allah, even if wars will continue for decades to come
وأردف بن لادن قائلا إن الولايات المتحدة"لم تكتف بكل هذه الفتن والجرائم بل توجهت لإثارة فتن أخرى وكان من أكبرها فتنة غرب السودان مستغلة بعض الخلافات بين أبناء القبائل وأثارتها حربا شعواء فيما بينهم تأكل الأخضر واليابس تمهيدا لإرسال قوات صليبية لاحتلال المنطقة وسرقة نفطها تحت غطاء حفظ الأمن هناك".
The United States didn't stop at these crimes but stirred other crisis, one of which is in West Sudan, taking advantage of disagreements between locla tribes, and creating a devastating war between them, as a prelude to send Crusading forces to occupy the the region and pillage its oil, under the cover up of maintaining security there.
وفي معرض حديثه عن الأزمة في إقليم دارفور غربي السودان، استنهض زعيم القاعدة همم من وصفهم بالمجاهدين وأنصارهم"عموما في السودان وما حولها وبما في ذلك جزيرة العرب خصوصا أن يعدوا كل ما يلزم لإدارة حرب طويلة المدى ضد اللصوص الصليبيين في غرب السودان وهدفنا واضح وهو الدفاع عن الإسلام وأهله وأرضه لا دفاعا عن حكومة الخرطوم وإن تقاطعت المصالح، فخلافنا معها عظيم، يكفي إنها تقاعست عن تطبيق الشريعة وفرطت بالجنوب".
Bin Laden called on the Mujahideen in Sudan and the Arabia Peninsula to prepare for a long war against the Crusader bandits (in Darfur). Our objective is clear, he said: it is in defense of Islam, its people, its land, not defending the Khartum Government. We have a great disagreement with this Government: It failed to apply the Sharia and let the south go.
كما حث هؤلاء على الاستعداد للقتال من خلال التعرف على"أرض وقبائل ولاية دارفور وما حولها فقد قيل قتل أرضا عالمها وقتلت أرض جاهلها، مع العلم أن المنطقة مقبلة على موسم تكثر فيه الأمطار غالبا مما يعيق الحركة ويقطع الطرق الترابية وهذه من الأسباب الرئيسية التي أخرت الاحتلال إلى ما بعد ستة أشهر قادمة، فينبغي السرعة والاستفادة من عامل الوقت بأقصى ما يمكن مع الاهتمام بشكل خاص بتوفير كميات هائلة من الألغام والقناصات والمدافع المضادة للدروع كالآر بي جي".
Usama said: The (Jihadists) need to scout the area and get ready for fight on the tribal region of Darfur. The rain season is coming forward, which may obstruct movement. Which is why the occupation (Western-UN) postponed its advance for six months. We should take advantage of factor time to provide huge amounts of land mines, snipers and anti-tank launchers.
ثم تساءل"ماذا يعني أن يعيد احتلال العراق بخدع وأكاذيب وفعل فيها الأعاجيب من قتل ودمار وسجن وتعذيب وأنشأ فيها القواعد العسكرية الضخمة لإحكام سيطرته على المنطقة بأسرها، فعوا ما يحاك لكم، إنها حرب صليبية صهيونية ضد المسلمين".
Bin Laden briefly accuses the enemy of occupying Iraq to establish huge military bases to control the region as a whole, callign that war a Crusader-Zionist one
The Cultural invasion
وأردف بالقول"ثم ماذا يعني مواصلة الغزو الثقافي الإعلامي الخبيث بإنشاء محطات متلفزة وأخرى إذاعية موجهة إضافة لصوت أميركا ولندن وغيرها لمواصلة الغزو الفكري ضد أمتنا ومحاربة عقيدتها وتغيير قيمها ونشر الرذيلة بل وصل بهم الأمر أن تدخلوا في المناهج الدراسية لتغييرها وخاصة الدينية".
He warned against the cultural and informational invasion through the establishment of TV and radio stations to"fight our doctrine and change its values and to intervene in the educational curriculum, particularly the religious ones, to change it.
كما تطرق بالحديث عن"موقف فرنسا من الحجاب ومنعه في المدارس وقسوتها المفرطة في معاملة الجاليات المسلمة ثم عزمها إنشاء محطة تلفزة في المغرب العربي لتحارب الصحوة الإسلامية هناك، إنها حرب صليبية صهيونية.
Bin Ladin accused France because of its position regarding the"Hijab" and its severity against Muslim communities, and finally because of its intention to establish a TV station in Morocco to fight the Islamic revival there.
The “causes” of the Muslim world
Under that title, Bin Laden lays out the various spots of Jihad and"Crusader-Zionist aggression."
وحول الوضع في البوسنة تساءل بن لادن"ماذا يعني منع السلاح عن العزل في البوسنة وترك الجيش الصربي يجزر المسلمين جزرا ويسفك الدماء وينتهك الأعراض بضع سنوات تحت غطاء وستار الأمم المتحدة. إنها حرب صليبية صهيونية ضد المسلمين".
Why arms are not being given to the unarmed in Bosnia and the Serbian army was left slaughtering the Muslims for years under the auspices of the United Nations?
On East Timor:
وتناول بن لادن قضية تيمور الشرقية التي اعتبر أن ضغط الدول الصليبية على إندونيسيا انتهى بفصلها"خلال 24 ساعة بتهديد من الأمم المتحدة أيضا، إنها حرب صليبية صهيونية ضد المسلمين".
The separation of East Timor from Indonesia is a Zionist-Crusader war against the Muslims. In 24 hours, and under a threat by the UN, compelled Indonesia to let East Timor go.
وفي مقابل ذلك رأى بن لادن أن الغرب بالرغم من ذلك يتعامى"عن قرار الأمم المتحدة الصادر منذ أكثر من نصف قرن الذي يعطي كشمير المسلمة الحرية في اختيار ما تشاء بالاستقلال عن الهند وكشمير، بل بلغ الأمر أن بوش زعيم هذه الحملة الصليبية قد أعلن قبل أيم بأنه سيأمر برويز مشرف عميله المرتد أن يغلق معسكرات المجاهدين الكشميريين وبذلك يثبت بأنها حرب صليبية صهيونية هندوسية ضد المسلمين".
Despite an old UN decision granting Muslim Kashmir freedom and independence from India, Bush, the leader of the Crusade, declared he will order his agent Musharref to shut down the camps of the Mujahideen from Kashmir. This shows that this is a Crusader-Zionist-Hindu war against the Muslims
Pakistan: Musharraf to be punished
لى ضرورة"مساندة المسلمة الحرة التي دمر زلزال الجيش الباكستاني بيوتهم في منطقة وزيرستان إرضاء لأميركا، أسأل الله أن يتقبل قتلاهم في الشهداء، وأسأل الله الذي لا إله إلا هو الحي القيوم أن يعاقب بوش وبرويز وجنودهما بما يستحقون وأن يسخر من أشد الإسلام من يقتل غلام بوش في باكستان إنه ولي
I ask Allah to punish Bush and Pervez (Musharref). Hoping the latter will be killed.
Russia must be punished
Bin Laden calls for punishing Russia because of its “savagery” in Chechnya.
وتطرق بن لادن إلى القضية الشيشانية"وسحل المسلمين وتمزيق أجسادهم بربطهم بين العربات المجنزرة وما يدعى بالعالم المتحضر يبارك ذلك كله بل يدعمون ذلك سرا، إنها حرب صليبية صهيونية".
He dubs the campaign in Chechnya as a Zionist-Crusader-Russian aggression
Salman Rushdie: Not forgotten
Bin Laden goes back to the “apostate” Salman Rushdie case and accuses Great Britain and the US of dishonoring the Muslim sacred values and incitement and links this affair to the Guantanamo “insult to the holy book.”
وأشار إلى الازدواجية في المعايير، وقال"بعد أن كتب الزنديق سلمان رشدي كتابه الذي يعتدي فيه على كل المقدسات الإسلامية قامت رئاسة الوزراء البريطانية باستقباله متحدية مستهزئة بدين المسلمين ومشاعرهم، ثم استقبله الرئيس الأميركي الأسبق في البيت الأبيض مع ما سمعتم من إهانة متعمدة للمصحف الكريم في سجن غوانتانامو".
Leaders and masses alike
In his speech, Bin Ladin insist twice on the fact that “while a campaign of hatred is triggered by the highest levels of power, but what is published about the Cartoons expressed the opinion of the street (public opinion).
واعتبر أن كل هذه المواقف التي يتخذها الغرب من الإسلام إنما هي أفعال تشجع"على الاستهزاء بالإسلام ونبيه صلى الله عليه وسلم، وتحريض على كراهية أتباعه وما الرسوم المسيئة إلا ثمرة من ثمار هذا التوجه العدواني في الغرب على أعلى المستويات فضلا عما دونها، وإن ما ينشره عن الرسوم الكرتونية إنما يعبر عن رأي ااشارع العام وما يجول في صدورهم، أنها حرب صليبية صهيونية".
Calls for Dialogue: Rejected
واتهم الغرب بعدم المصداقية في دعواته للحوار، وقال"إن من الاستهزاء بالناس أن تكون طائراتكم ودباباتكم تدمر البيوت فوق رؤوس أهلنا في فلسطين والعراق وأفغانستان والشيشان وباكستان وتبتسموا في وجوهنا وتقولوا نحن لا نعادي الإسلام وإنما نعادي الإرهابيين وندعو إلى التعايش السلمي والحوار بدلا من صراع الحضارات".
Addressing the initiative for dialogue advanced by the West, Bin Laden accused the latter of lying. “While your planes and tanks are destroying houses in Palestine, Iraq, Afghanistan, Chechnya, and Pakistan, you smile at our faces and tell us that you do not aggress Islam but the Terrorists and that you call for peaceful coexistence and dialogue instead of the clash of civilization.”
واعتبر أن"الواقع يكذبهم فساسة الغرب لا يرغبون في حوار إلا من أجل الحوار لاستغفالنا وتخديرنا لكسب الوقت، وإنهم لا يريدون هدنة إلا من طرفنا نحن فقط، فقد علمتم ردنا مؤخرا على استطلاعات الرأي عندهم بعرض هدنة بيننا وبينهم بعد انسحاب جيوشهم وكف أذاهم عنا فرفضوا ذلك وهم مصرون على استمرار حملاتهم الصليبية ضد أمتنا واحتلال بلادنا ونهب خيراتنا واستعبادنا فلا تغرنكم أقوالهم أو أقوال المرتدين المنافقين من أبناء جلدتنا أو أقوال الفاسقين المثبطين المخذلين الذين ارتفعت أصواتهم جميعا في الفترة الأخيرة".
“Reality exposes them, for Western politicians seek dialogue only to paralyze us and gain time. They want a truce from our side only. We recently saw their response to our offer for truce through polls taken among them. We’ve offered them a truce between us after the withdrawal of their armies and ceasing their hostilities against us. But they refused that and are insisting on pursuing their Crusader campaign against our Umma and occupy our resources and enslave us. So do not be fooled by their sayings or the saying of the apostates from our race (ethnicity) or the sayings of the depraved whose voices have lately risen.”
Bin Laden distributes accusations of betrayal on various clerics and leaders.
ورأى أنه بعد"أن انتفضت الأمة منكرة هذه الإساءة تعالت الأصوات لمقاطعة بضائعهم وازداد العداء لهم عند ذلك أعلن زعيم الحملة الصليبية مطالبته لعملائه في المنطقة وخاصة الحكام أن يبذلوا جهودهم لتهدئة الشعوب والتصدي لردود الأفعال هذه، فما كان من حكام العرب ومن يدور في فلكهم من الإعلاميين وعلماء ودعاة السوء إلا أن قاموا بالاستجابة وسارعوا إلى التهدئة". وهاجم من وصفه"بمفتي الأميركان" الذي قال إنه"أعلن على الملأ أن أسف الصحفي الدانماركي يعتبر اعتذارا كافيا رغم أن الكل يعلم أنهم مصرون على باطلهم ولم يعاقبوا هؤلاء المجرمين ولم يتخذوا أي إجراء لمنع تكراره".
He calls Sheikh al Azhar (without naming him) “the Mufti of the Americans.” He accuses him of accepting an apology from the Danish editor. He considers the modern cleric’s fatwa as fraud and insisted on punishing the criminals (cartoonists). “After the Umma rose against the insult, some Arab rulers and some of their media persons and Ulemas rushed to calm down the situation
Attack on Saudi King
Without naming him, Bin Laden attacks the Saudi Monarch, the “greater of Arab rulers.” Instead of mobilizing the Umma to rise against the Cartoons, he disseminated retreat. He (King Abdallah) denounces the idea of the clash of the civilizations and calls for peaceful coexistence.”
كما هاجم العاهل السعودي عبد الله دون ذكر اسمه ووصفه"كبير حكام العرب
ليبث الخنوع والذل والهوان في الأمة
عندما قال إنه يدين فكرة الصدام بين الحضارات ويدعو إلى أن تحل محلها فكرة التعايش السلمي البناء".
Their civilization is attacking ours
Right and Evil are enemies till the end of days. Their civilization is attacking ours.
واعتبر أن هناك"مغالطات كبيرة عظيمة فالعداء قائم بين الحق والباطل إلى قيام الساعة، ذلك الصدام القائم منذ تسعة عقود ولكن من حضارتهم ضد حضارتنا
Their public is responsible
وتابع بن لادن بالقول"إن الحرب مسؤولية تضامنية بين الشعوب والحكومات والحرب مستمرة والشعوب تجدد الولاء لحكامها وساستها وترسل أبناءها للجيوش لقتالنا وتواصل الدعم المادي والمعنوي وبلادنا تحرق وبيوتنا تقصف وشعوبنا تقتل ولا يبالي بنا أحد ويكفيكم مثالا على الانتهاكات الصارخة على ملتنا وعلى إخواننا وبلداننا
Bin Laden said their public (West, US) is re-electing their leaders and is paying taxes, sending their children to war. Hence they are responsible
The duty of the Muslims
The Umma and its youth, women, elderly, says Bin Laden must offer themselves, their expertise and all sort of financial support enough to raise Jihad in the battlefields of Jihad. Jihad today is a duty to every Muslim
Posted on: Monday, April 24, 2006 - 15:20
SOURCE: frontpagemag.com (4-21-06)
In a stunning setback, the Council on American-Islamic Relations' defamation suit against Andrew Whitehead of Anti-CAIR has been dismissed with prejudice.
The Anti-CAIR website, www.anti-cair-net.org, reports a"mutually agreeable settlement," the terms of which are confidential. However, Whitehead notes that he issued no public apology to CAIR, made no retractions or corrections, and left the Anti-CAIR website unchanged, so that it continues to post the statements that triggered CAIR's suit. Specifically, CAIR had complained about Whitehead calling it a"terrorist supporting front organization … founded by Hamas supporters" that aims"to make radical Islam the dominant religion in the United States." It also objected to being described as"dedicated to the overthrow of the United States Constitution and the installation of an Islamic theocracy in America."
That clears the decks; no additional actions are pending between these two parties. In brief, Whitehead won a sweet victory, while CAIR suffered a humiliating defeat.
CAIR initially filed suit in a Virginia Circuit Court on March 31, 2004, claiming six of Whitehead's statements were false, that Whitehead made them"with knowledge of their falsity," and that the statements were actionable because"they impute the commission of a criminal offense." CAIR further claimed injury to its"standing and reputation throughout the United States and elsewhere," and sought $1 million in compensatory damages, $350,000 in punitive damages, plus legal fees and interest. It did so despite Whitehead's telling a reporter"I haven't got any [money]."
The original five statements as quoted in CAIR's complaint were:
- "Let their [sic] be no doubt that CAIR is a terrorist supporting front organization that is partially funded by terrorists, and that CAIR wishes nothing more than the implementation of Sharia law in America."
- CAIR is an"organization founded by Hamas supporters which seeks to overthrow Constitutional government in the United States and replace it with an Islamist theocracy using our own Constitution as protection."
- "ACAIR reminds our readers that CAIR was started by Hamas members and is supported by terrorist supporting individuals, groups and countries."
- "Why oppose CAIR? CAIR has proven links to, and was founded by, Islamic terrorists. CAIR is not in the United States to promote the civil rights of Muslims. CAIR is here to make radical Islam the dominant religion in the United States and convert our country into an Islamic theocracy along the lines of Iran. In addition, CAIR has managed, through the adroit manipulation of the popular media, to present itself as the ‘moderate' face of Islam in the United States. CAIR succeeded to the point that the majority of its members are not aware that CAIR actively supports terrorists and terrorist supporting groups and nations. In addition, CAIR receives direct funding from Islamic terrorists supporting countries."
- "CAIR is a fundamentalist organization dedicated to the overthrow of the United States Constitution and the installation of an Islamic theocracy in America."
In January 2005, Whitehead's counsel, Reed D. Rubinstein of Greenberg Traurig LLP's Washington, D.C. office, submitted 327 discovery requests of CAIR; I have posted this important, well-informed discovery document at http://www.danielpipes.org/rr/3511_1.pdf. Whitehead sought extensive information regarding CAIR's finances, its relationship to Hamas, its ties to Saudi Arabia, and ties to other Islamists.
Signs of CAIR's problems came in June 2005, when – perhaps realizing how much was available in the public record about its activities, perhaps wishing to curtail some of the discovery process – it amended its complaint by dropping nearly all of its original claims. The amended complaint alleged only two brief statements to be false and defamatory:
- "Let their [sic] be no doubt that CAIR is a terrorist supporting front organization."
- CAIR"seeks to overthrow constitutional government in the United States."
(For an analysis of this amended complaint, see Sharon Chadha and my article,"CAIR Founded by ‘Islamic Terrorists'?")
In anticipation of a court hearing regarding discovery, Rubinstein filed papers in the Virginia Circuit Court in October 2005 and December 2005 alleging extensive links between CAIR's organizers and control group with Hamas and other foreign and domestic Islamists. Among other things, these papers alleged:
- CAIR's lineage goes back to a key Hamas leader (Musa Abu Marzook), and that CAIR has long been connected with, and"exploited" the 9/11 attacks to raise money for the Holy Land Foundation, a Hamas front group.
- CAIR is heavily supported, financially and otherwise, by suspect Saudi and UAE-based individuals and groups.
- CAIR states that the U.S. judicial system has been"kidnapped by Israeli interests," and claims that anti-terror law enforcement action against the Holy Land Foundation was"an anti-Muslim witch hunt" promoted by"the pro-Israel lobby in America."
CAIR refused to respond to Anti-CAIR's discovery requests in its November 2005 response to Rubinstein. For example, it did not admit that Hamas murders innocent civilians, it refused to disclose the identities of its Saudi donors, it declined to answer whether it aims to convert American Christians to Islam, and it avoided questions about the anti-Semitic and anti-American activities of its founder and executive director, Nihad Awad, including his communications with Hamas terrorists, speeches supporting suicide bombings, and advocacy of violence against Jews.
In March 2006, shortly before a scheduled court hearing to decide on several of Whitehead's requests (compelling CAIR to disclose its financial data, to answer questions about its relationship with Hamas and other Islamists, and to provide information regarding its leaders' activities and intentions), the case was settled and then dismissed with prejudice by stipulation (meaning, the plaintiff has agreed to forever drop all of the claims that were in, or could have been in, the complaint).
Asked about these developments, CAIR's spokesman, Ibrahim Hooper, confirmed to the New York Sun that the libel case was dismissed at the request of both parties and added that"It was settled out of court for an undisclosed amount." Asked if he implied that Whitehead had paid the organization to drop the case, Hooper replied,"We filed the suit." Asked the same question again, Hooper repeated the same answer.
Comment: (1) I had a role in this story, for it was my article,"Why Is CAIR Suing Anti-CAIR?" published only a week after CAIR's initial filing, that brought this case to Reed Rubinstein's attention and led to Greenberg Traurig LLP's serving as Whitehead's wonderfully capable, pro-bono legal counsel.
(2) In that initial article, I expressed puzzlement why CAIR would voluntarily expose itself to discovery. Did it file this case expecting to steamroll Whitehead, whom CAIR may have perceived as an easy target, and thereby intimidate its critics? What seemed early on to be a mistake by CAIR is now confirmed as such; it ran into a litigation buzz-saw, and it seems to have cut and run. CAIR preferred the ignominy of walking away from the case it initiated rather than open to public scrutiny its finances, its list of supporters, and the beliefs and intentions of its key leaders.
(3) CAIR's November 2005 brief to the court contains several statements of note:
- "CAIR has established a status of enviable prestige within highest echelons [sic] of the ‘Washington establishment'" (p. 3). That is correct and it neatly sums up Sharon Chadha's and my extensive analysis in"CAIR: Islamists Fooling the Establishment."
- CAIR"stands up for America and speaks out against terrorism in pronouncements to the general public, thereby earning the enmity of the very terrorists Whitehead claims CAIR supports" (p. 6). Sounds good, but CAIR did not provide any evidence in its brief of such"enmity."
- "CAIR has communicated with various members of the United States Senate concerning" both the Holy Land Foundation and the Global Relief Foundation. (pp. 27-8) This comes as news. One wonders what information on these two terrorism-funding groups CAIR provided.
- CAIR states that it"advised Frontpagemag.com of possible legal action concerning a doctored photograph it employed to illustrate an article" written by Whitehead (p. 28). It's amusing that CAIR, which itself famously doctored a photograph, accuses FPM of doing this; in fact, FPM merely posted a graphic, as it often does, one showing Hooper with Hamas figures in the background.
(4) Hooper stated the case settled for"an undisclosed amount" but did not disclose in which direction that amount went. The terms being confidential, one can only speculate. Perhaps CAIR desperately wanted out of the burdensome, embarrassing, and harmful case it foolishly had initiated? Rubenstein hinted as much when he observed that CAIR became more disposed to settle in late 2005, when a judge was considering what CAIR would have to divulge about its financing and its ties to Hamas and other terrorist groups. Rubenstein told the New York Sun that the lawsuit"would have opened up CAIR's finances and their relationships and their principles, their ideological motivations in a way they did not want to be made public."
(5) According to CAIR's own analysis of Whitehead's initial statements, they"impute the commission of a criminal offense" by CAIR, in that these suggest CAIR"actively supports" terrorists, and advocates the"overthrow" of the U.S. Constitution in favor of Islamic law. It bears noting that none of these words were found to be false, they were not retracted, and they remain posted on Anti-CAIR's website.
(6) The collapse of this lawsuit, combined with the even more recent ending of two other CAIR legal actions (versus Cass Ballenger and David Harris), suggests that CAIR is no longer the plaintiff in any court cases; more broadly, what I in 2004 called its pattern of growing litigiousness seems finished.
(7) With CAIR's hopes of defeating its opponents in the legal arena at least temporarily defeated, the next step for those of us in North America unwilling to live under Islamic law is to thwart the organization's social and political ambitions. I am doing my part by announcing today the establishment of"Islamist Watch," a new project to combat the ideas and institutions of nonviolent, radical Islam in the United States and other Western countries.
Posted on: Sunday, April 23, 2006 - 13:25
SOURCE: NYT (4-19-06)
As they must have anticipated, the essay has run into a firestorm of vituperation and refutation. Critics have charged that their scholarship is shoddy and that their claims are, in the words of the columnist Christopher Hitchens, "slightly but unmistakably smelly." The smell in question, of course, is that of anti-Semitism.
This somewhat hysterical response is regrettable. In spite of its provocative title, the essay draws on a wide variety of standard sources and is mostly uncontentious. But it makes two distinct and important claims. The first is that uncritical support for Israel across the decades has not served America's best interests. This is an assertion that can be debated on its merits. The authors' second claim is more controversial: American foreign policy choices, they write, have for years been distorted by one domestic pressure group, the "Israel Lobby."
Some would prefer, when explaining American actions overseas, to point a finger at the domestic "energy lobby." Others might blame the influence of Wilsonian idealism, or imperial practices left over from the cold war. But that a powerful Israel lobby exists could hardly be denied by anyone who knows how Washington works. Its core is the American Israel Public Affairs Committee, its penumbra a variety of national Jewish organizations.
Does the Israel Lobby affect our foreign policy choices? Of course — that is one of its goals. And it has been rather successful: Israel is the largest recipient of American foreign aid and American responses to Israeli behavior have been overwhelmingly uncritical or supportive.
But does pressure to support Israel distort American decisions? That's a matter of judgment. Prominent Israeli leaders and their American supporters pressed very hard for the invasion of Iraq; but the United States would probably be in Iraq today even if there had been no Israel lobby. Is Israel, in Mearsheimer/Walt's words, "a liability in the war on terror and the broader effort to deal with rogue states?" I think it is; but that too is an issue for legitimate debate. ...
Posted on: Wednesday, April 19, 2006 - 11:43
SOURCE: Forward (4-19-06)
One of my teachers, a former chief of Israeli military intelligence, used to say that going to war is not like asking a girl out on a date. It is a very serious decision, to be made on the basis of carefully crafted answers to even more carefully crafted questions.
Some serious questions, then, about whether the United States should bomb Iran's nuclear installations.
The first and most obvious question is whether it is worth doing in the first place. Starting right after Hiroshima, each time a country was about to go nuclear Washington went out of its way to sound the alarm, warning of the dire consequences that would surely follow. From 1945 to 1949 it was the Soviet Union which, once it had succeeded in building nuclear weapons, was supposed to make an attempt at world conquest.
In the 1950s it was America's own clients, Britain and France, who were regarded as the offenders and put under pressure. Between 1960 and 1993, first China, then Israel (albeit to a limited extent) and finally India and Pakistan were presented as the black sheep, lectured, put under pressure and occasionally subjected to sanctions. Since then, the main victim of America's peculiar belief that it alone is sufficiently good and sufficiently responsible to possess nuclear weapons has been North Korea.
As the record shows, in none of these cases did the pessimists' visions come true. Neither Stalin, Mao nor any of the rest set out to conquer the world. It is true that, as one country after another joined the nuclear club, Washington's ability to threaten them or coerce them declined.
However, nuclear proliferation did not make the world into a noticeably worse place than it had always been and if anything, to the contrary. As Europe, the Middle East and South Asia demonstrate quite well, in one region after another the introduction of nuclear weapons led, if not to brotherhood and peace, then at any rate to the demise of large-scale warfare between states.
Given the balance of forces, it cannot be argued that a nuclear Iran will threaten the United States. Iranian President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad's fulminations to the contrary, the Islamic Republic will not even be a threat to Israel. The latter has long had what it needs to deter an Iranian attack....
Posted on: Wednesday, April 19, 2006 - 11:38
SOURCE: TomDispatch.com (4-18-06)
Slowly but surely, the grand strategy of the Bush administration is being revealed. It is not aimed primarily at the defeat of global terrorism, the incapacitation of rogue states, or the spread of democracy in the Middle East. These may dominate the rhetorical arena and be the focus of immediate concern, but they do not govern key decisions regarding the allocation of long-term military resources. The truly commanding objective -- the underlying basis for budgets and troop deployments -- is the containment of China. This objective governed White House planning during the administration's first seven months in office, only to be set aside by the perceived obligation to highlight anti-terrorism after 9/11; but now, despite Bush's preoccupation with Iraq and Iran, the White House is also reemphasizing its paramount focus on China, risking a new Asian arms race with potentially catastrophic consequences.
President Bush and his top aides entered the White House in early 2001 with a clear strategic objective: to resurrect the permanent-dominance doctrine spelled out in the Defense Planning Guidance (DPG) for fiscal years 1994-99, the first formal statement of U.S. strategic goals in the post-Soviet era. According to the initial official draft of this document, as leaked to the press in early 1992, the primary aim of U.S. strategy would be to bar the rise of any future competitor that might challenge America's overwhelming military superiority.
"Our first objective is to prevent the re-emergence of a new rival... that poses a threat on the order of that posed formerly by the Soviet Union," the document stated. Accordingly,"we [must] endeavor to prevent any hostile power from dominating a region whose resources would, under consolidated control, be sufficient to generate global power."
When initially made public, this doctrine was condemned by America's allies and many domestic leaders as being unacceptably imperial as well as imperious, forcing the first President Bush to water it down; but the goal of perpetuating America's sole-superpower status has never been rejected by administration strategists. In fact, it initially became the overarching principle for U.S. military policy when the younger Bush assumed the presidency in February 2001.
When first enunciated in 1992, the permanent-dominancy doctrine was non-specific as to the identity of the future challengers whose rise was to be prevented through coercive action. At that time, U.S. strategists worried about a medley of potential rivals, including Russia, Germany, India, Japan, and China; any of these, it was thought, might emerge in decades to come as would-be superpowers, and so all would have to be deterred from moving in this direction. By the time the second Bush administration came into office, however, the pool of potential rivals had been narrowed in elite thinking to just one: the People's Republic of China. Only China, it was claimed, possessed the economic and military capacity to challenge the United States as an aspiring superpower; and so perpetuating U.S. global predominance meant containing Chinese power.
The imperative of containing China was first spelled out in a systematic way by Condoleezza Rice while serving as a foreign policy adviser to then Governor George W. Bush during the 2000 presidential campaign. In a much-cited article in Foreign Affairs, she suggested that the PRC, as an ambitious rising power, would inevitably challenge vital U.S. interests."China is a great power with unresolved vital interests, particularly concerning Taiwan," she wrote."China also resents the role of the United States in the Asia-Pacific region."
For these reasons, she stated,"China is not a ‘status quo' power but one that would like to alter Asia's balance of power in its own favor. That alone makes it a strategic competitor, not the ‘strategic partner' the Clinton administration once called it." It was essential, she argued, to adopt a strategy that would prevent China's rise as regional power. In particular,"The United States must deepen its cooperation with Japan and South Korea and maintain its commitment to a robust military presence in the region." Washington should also"pay closer attention to India's role in the regional balance," and bring that country into an anti-Chinese alliance system.
Looking back, it is striking how this article developed the allow-no-competitors doctrine of the 1992 DPG into the very strategy now being implemented by the Bush administration in the Pacific and South Asia. Many of the specific policies advocated in her piece, from strengthened ties with Japan to making overtures to India, are being carried out today.
In the spring and summer of 2001, however, the most significant effect of this strategic focus was to distract Rice and other senior administration officials from the growing threat posed by Osama bin Laden and Al Qaeda. During her first months in office as the president's senior adviser for national security affairs, Rice devoted herself to implementing the plan she had spelled out in Foreign Affairs. By all accounts, her top priorities in that early period were dissolving the Anti-Ballistic Missile Treaty with Russia and linking Japan, South Korea, and Taiwan into a joint missile defense system, which, it was hoped, would ultimately evolve into a Pentagon-anchored anti-Chinese alliance.
Richard A. Clarke, the senior White House adviser on counter-terrorism, later charged that, because of her preoccupation with Russia, China, and great power politics, Rice overlooked warnings of a possible Al Qaeda attack on the United States and thus failed to initiate defensive actions that might have prevented 9/11. Although Rice survived tough questioning on this matter by the 9/11 Commission without acknowledging the accuracy of Clarke's charges, any careful historian, seeking answers for the Bush administration's inexcusable failure to heed warnings of a potential terrorist strike on this country, must begin with its overarching focus on containing China during this critical period.
China on the Back Burner
After September 11th, it would have been unseemly for Bush, Rice, and other top administration officials to push their China agenda -- and in any case they quickly shifted focus to a long-term neocon objective, the overthrow of Saddam Hussein and the projection of American power throughout the Middle East. So the"global war on terror" (or GWOT, in Pentagon-speak) became their major talking point and the invasion of Iraq their major focus. But the administration never completely lost sight of its strategic focus on China, even when it could do little on the subject. Indeed, the lightning war on Iraq and the further projection of American power into the Middle East was intended, at least in part, as a warning to China of the overwhelming might of the American military and the futility of challenging U.S. supremacy.
For the next two years, when so much effort was devoted to rebuilding Iraq in America's image and crushing an unexpected and potent Iraqi insurgency, China was distinctly on the back-burner. In the meantime, however, China's increased investment in modern military capabilities and its growing economic reach in Southeast Asia, Africa, and Latin America -- much of it tied to the procurement of oil and other vital commodities -- could not be ignored.
By the spring of 2005, the White House was already turning back to Rice's global grand strategy. On June 4, 2005, Secretary of Defense Donald Rumsfeld gave a much-publicized speech at a conference in Singapore, signaling what was to be a new emphasis in White House policymaking, in which he decried China's ongoing military buildup and warned of the threat it posed to regional peace and stability.
China, he claimed, was"expanding its missile forces, allowing them to reach targets in many areas of the world" and"improving its ability to project power" in the Asia-Pacific region. Then, with sublime disingenuousness, he added,"Since no nation threatens China, one must wonder: Why this growing investment? Why these continuing and expanding arms purchases? Why these continuing robust deployments?" Although Rumsfeld did not answer his questions, the implication was obvious: China was now embarked on a course that would make it a regional power, thus threatening one day to present a challenge to the United States in Asia on unacceptably equal terms.
This early sign of the ratcheting up of anti-Chinese rhetoric was accompanied by acts of a more concrete nature. In February 2005, Rice and Rumsfeld hosted a meeting in Washington with top Japanese officials at which an agreement was signed to improve cooperation in military affairs between the two countries. Known as the"Joint Statement of the U.S.-Japan Security Consultative Committee," the agreement called for greater collaboration between American and Japanese forces in the conduct of military operations in an area stretching from Northeast Asia to the South China Sea. It also called for close consultation on policies regarding Taiwan, an implicit hint that Japan was prepared to assist the United States in the event of a military clash with China precipitated by Taiwan's declaring its independence.
This came at a time when Beijing was already expressing considerable alarm over pro-independence moves in Taiwan and what the Chinese saw as a revival of militarism in Japan -- thus evoking painful memories of World War II, when Japan invaded China and committed massive atrocities against Chinese civilians. Understandably then, the agreement could only be interpreted by the Chinese leadership as an expression of the Bush administration's determination to bolster an anti-Chinese alliance system.
The New Grand Chessboard
Why did the White House choose this particular moment to revive its drive to contain China? Many factors no doubt contributed to this turnaround, but surely the most significant was a perception that China had finally emerged as a major regional power in its own right and was beginning to contest America's long-term dominance of the Asia-Pacific region. To some degree this was manifested -- so the Pentagon claimed -- in military terms, as Beijing began to replace Soviet-type, Korean War-vintage weapons with more modern (though hardly cutting-edge) Russian designs.
It was not China's military moves, however, that truly alarmed American policymakers -- most professional analysts are well aware of the continuing inferiority of Chinese weaponry -- but rather Beijing's success in using its enormous purchasing power and hunger for resources to establish friendly ties with such long-standing U.S. allies as Thailand, Indonesia, and Australia. Because the Bush administration had done little to contest this trend while focusing on the war in Iraq, China's rapid gains in Southeast Asia finally began to ring alarm bells in Washington.
At the same time, Republican strategists were becoming increasingly concerned by growing Chinese involvement in the Persian Gulf and Central Asia -- areas considered of vital geopolitical importance to the United States because of the vast reserves of oil and natural gas buried there. Much influenced by Zbigniew Brzezinski, whose 1997 book The Grand Chessboard: American Primacy and Geostrategic Imperatives first highlighted the critical importance of Central Asia, these strategists sought to counter Chinese inroads. Although Brzezinski himself has largely been excluded from elite Republican circles because of his association with the much-despised Carter administration, his call for a coordinated U.S. drive to dominate both the eastern and western rimlands of China has been embraced by senior administration strategists.
In this way, Washington's concern over growing Chinese influence in Southeast Asia has come to be intertwined with the U.S. drive for hegemony in the Persian Gulf and Central Asia. This has given China policy an even more elevated significance in Washington -- and helps explain its return with a passion despite the seemingly all-consuming preoccupations of the war in Iraq.
Whatever the exact balance of factors, the Bush administration is now clearly engaged in a coordinated, systematic effort to contain Chinese power and influence in Asia. This effort appears to have three broad objectives: to convert existing relations with Japan, Australia, and South Korea into a robust, integrated anti-Chinese alliance system; to bring other nations, especially India, into this system; and to expand U.S. military capabilities in the Asia-Pacific region.
Since the administration's campaign to bolster ties with Japan commenced a year ago, the two countries have been meeting continuously to devise protocols for the implementation of their 2005 strategic agreement. In October, Washington and Tokyo released the Alliance Transformation and Realignment Report, which is to guide the further integration of U.S. and Japanese forces in the Pacific and the simultaneous restructuring of the U.S. basing system in Japan. (Some of these bases, especially those on Okinawa, have become a source of friction in U.S.-Japanese relations and so the Pentagon is now considering ways to downsize the most objectionable installations.) Japanese and American officers are also engaged in a joint"interoperability" study, aimed at smoothing the"interface" between U.S. and Japanese combat and communications systems."Close collaboration is also ongoing for cooperative missile defense," reports Admiral William J. Fallon, commander-in-chief of the U.S. Pacific Command (PACOM).
Steps have also been taken in this ongoing campaign to weld South Korea and Australia more tightly to the U.S.-Japanese alliance system. South Korea has long been reluctant to work closely with Japan because of that country's brutal occupation of the Korean peninsula from 1910 to 1945 and lingering fears of Japanese militarism; now, however, the Bush administration is promoting what it calls"trilateral military cooperation" between Seoul, Tokyo, and Washington. As indicated by Admiral Fallon, this initiative has an explicitly anti-Chinese dimension. America's ties with South Korea must adapt to"the changing security environment" represented by"China's military modernization," Fallon told the Senate Armed Services Committee on March 7. By cooperating with the U.S. and Japan, he continued, South Korea will move from an overwhelming focus on North Korea to"a more regional view of security and stability."
Bringing Australia into this emerging anti-Chinese network has been a major priority of Condoleezza Rice, who spent several days there in mid-March. Although designed in part to bolster U.S.-Australian ties (largely neglected by Washington over the past few years), the main purpose of her visit was to host a meeting of top officials from Australia, the U.S., and Japan to develop a common strategy for curbing China's rising influence in Asia. No formal results were announced, but Steven Weisman of the New York Times reported on March 19 that Rice convened the meeting"to deepen a three-way regional alliance aimed in part at balancing the spreading presence of China."
An even bigger prize, in Washington's view, would be the integration of India into this emerging alliance system, a possibility first suggested in Rice's Foreign Affairs article. Such a move was long frustrated by congressional objections to India's nuclear weapons program and its refusal to sign on to the Nuclear Non-Proliferation Treaty (NPT). Under U.S. law, nations like India that refuse to cooperate in non-proliferation measures can be excluded from various forms of aid and cooperation. To overcome this problem, President Bush met with Indian officials in New Delhi in March and negotiated a nuclear accord that will open India's civilian reactors to International Atomic Energy Agency inspection, thus providing a thin gloss of non-proliferation cooperation to India's robust nuclear weapons program. If Congress approves Bush's plan, the United States will be free to provide nuclear assistance to India and, in the process, significantly expand already growing military-to-military ties.
In signing the nuclear pact with India, Bush did not allude to the administration's anti-Chinese agenda, saying only that it would lay the foundation for a"durable defense relationship." But few have been fooled by this vague characterization. According to Weisman of the Times, most U.S. lawmakers view the nuclear accord as an expression of the administration's desire to convert India into"a counterweight to China."
The China Build-up Begins
Accompanying all these diplomatic initiatives has been a vigorous, if largely unheralded, effort by the Department of Defense (DoD) to bolster U.S. military capabilities in the Asia-Pacific region.
The broad sweep of American strategy was first spelled out in the Pentagon's most recent policy assessment, the Quadrennial Defense Review (QDR), released on February 5, 2006. In discussing long-term threats to U.S. security, the QDR begins with a reaffirmation of the overarching precept first articulated in the DPG of 1992: that the United States will not allow the rise of a competing superpower. This country"will attempt to dissuade any military competitor from developing disruptive or other capabilities that could enable regional hegemony or hostile action against the United States," the document states. It then identifies China as the most likely and dangerous competitor of this sort."Of the major and emerging powers, China has the greatest potential to compete militarily with the United States and field disruptive military technologies that could over time offset traditional U.S. military advantages" -- then adding the kicker,"absent U.S. counter strategies."
According to the Pentagon, the task of countering future Chinese military capabilities largely entails the development, and then procurement, of major weapons systems that would ensure U.S. success in any full-scale military confrontation."The United States will develop capabilities that would present any adversary with complex and multidimensional challenges and complicate its offensive planning efforts," the QDR explains. These include the steady enhancement of such"enduring U.S. advantages" as"long-range strike, stealth, operational maneuver and sustainment of air, sea, and ground forces at strategic distances, air dominance, and undersea warfare."
Preparing for war with China, in other words, is to be the future cash cow for the giant U.S. weapons-making corporations in the military-industrial complex. It will, for instance, be the primary justification for the acquisition of costly new weapons systems such as the F-22A Raptor air-superiority fighter, the multi-service Joint Strike Fighter, the DDX destroyer, the Virginia-class nuclear attack submarine, and a new, intercontinental penetrating bomber -- weapons that would just have utility in an all-out encounter with another great-power adversary of a sort that only China might someday become.
In addition to these weapons programs, the QDR also calls for a stiffening of present U.S. combat forces in Asia and the Pacific, with a particular emphasis on the Navy (the arm of the military least utilized in the ongoing occupation of and war in Iraq)."The fleet will have greater presence in the Pacific Ocean," the document notes. To achieve this,"The Navy plans to adjust its force posture and basing to provide at least six operationally available and sustainable [aircraft] carriers and 60% of its submarines in the Pacific to support engagement, presence and deterrence." Since each of these carriers is, in fact, but the core of a large array of support ships and protective aircraft, this move is sure to entail a truly vast buildup of U.S. naval capabilities in the Western Pacific and will certainly necessitate a substantial expansion of the American basing complex in the region -- a requirement that is already receiving close attention from Admiral Fallon and his staff at PACOM. To assess the operational demands of this buildup, moreover, this summer the U.S. Navy will conduct its most extensive military maneuvers in the Western Pacific since the end of the Vietnam War, with four aircraft carrier battle groups and many support ships expected to participate.
Add all of this together, and the resulting strategy cannot be viewed as anything but a systematic campaign of containment. No high administration official may say this in so many words, but it is impossible to interpret the recent moves of Rice and Rumsfeld in any other manner. From Beijing's perspective, the reality must be unmistakable: a steady buildup of American military power along China's eastern, southern, and western boundaries.
How will China respond to this threat? For now, it appears to be relying on charm and the conspicuous blandishment of economic benefits to loosen Australian, South Korean, and even Indian ties with the United States. To a certain extent, this strategy is meeting with success, as these countries seek to profit from the extraordinary economic boom now under way in China – fueled to a considerable extent by oil, gas, iron, timber, and other materials supplied by China's neighbors in Asia. A version of this strategy is also being employed by President Hu Jintao during his current visit to the United States. As China's money is sprinkled liberally among influential firms like Boeing and Microsoft, Hu is reminding the corporate wing of the Republican Party that there are vast economic benefits still to be had by pursuing a non-threatening stance toward China.
China, however, has always responded to perceived threats of encirclement in a vigorous and muscular fashion as well, and so we should assume that Beijing will balance all that charm with a military buildup of its own. Such a drive will not bring China to the brink of military equality with the United States -- that is not a condition it can realistically aspire to over the next few decades. But it will provide further justification for those in the United States who seek to accelerate the containment of China, and so will produce a self-fulfilling loop of distrust, competition, and crisis. This will make the amicable long-term settlement of the Taiwan problem and of North Korea's nuclear program that much more difficult, and increase the risk of unintended escalation to full-scale war in Asia. There can be no victors from such a conflagration.
Copyright 2005 Michael T. Klare
Posted on: Tuesday, April 18, 2006 - 21:46
SOURCE: List run by Mark Naison (4-18-06)
Posted on: Tuesday, April 18, 2006 - 21:39