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SOURCE: Scott McLemee at HNN blog Cliopatria (6-29-06)
Friedman emphasizes trade and diplomacy; exhibits a rather straightforward appreciation of technology as a driving factor in human progress; is, in his most optimistic moments, prone to evoking a global future of unlimited gravy production. Kaplan is more likely to refer to history; regards culture as the decisive force in each society's prospects; and, when imagining the world's future, tend to sound something like Kurtz from Heart of Darkness, only less cheerful.
Friedman sees some grounds for concern over the pace and direction of globalization. At heart, though, he trusts the process. Kaplan trusts nothing but the superiority of the West, and has not been shy about saying that imperialism was a good idea that has only gotten better with time.
If those are our options, we are doomed. Be that as it may, here is my confession: Friedman often irritates me, while Kaplan's weltanschaung calls to mind the phrase"beneath contempt."
Fortunately Tom Bissell does not agree: He considers Kaplan worth all the scorn needed to fuel an analytical essay of several thousand well-turned words. His piece,"Euphorias of Perrier: The Case Against Robert D. Kaplan," appears in the new issue of Virginia Quarterly Review -- a publication rapidly dispelling any fear that the day of the important literary quarterly is over.
"Kaplan's real and growingly evident problem," writes Bissell,"is not his Parkinson's grip on history, or that he is a bonehead or a warmonger, but rather that he is an incompetent thinker and a miserable writer." He calls one of Kaplan's books"a thesaurus of incoherencies."
What is worrying is that Kaplan has his enthusiasts in the corridors of power.
"Carl von Clausewitz famously wrote that war is the extension of politics by other means," says Bissell."Bush and Kaplan, on the other hand, appear to advocate war as cultural politics by other means. This has resulted in a collision of second-rate minds with third-rate policies. While one man attempts to make the world as simple as he is able to comprehend it, the other whispers in his various adjutants’ ears that they are on the side of History itself."
SOURCE: Henry Holt & Company Press Kit (6-26-06)
Your book is about the fourteen times the United States has overthrown a foreign government. Why do we do this so often?
Americans consider their country to be a force for good in the world. We believe we have found the way to success as a nation, and we want to share our blessings with the world. This belief that we are an exceptional nation, one with a global or even a cosmic mission, is fundamental to our national character. Sometimes it turns to arrogance. It leads us to think we have the right—or even the obligation—to recast the world in our own image.
What tactics does the United States use to overthrow foreign leaders?
At the beginning, in the late nineteenth and early twentieth century, we carried out these operations openly, through military power. During the Cold War, that was no longer possible because an invasion or direct intervention against a foreign government might bring a reaction from the Soviet Union. So in the early 1950s, a new organization, the CIA, was given the job of clandestinely overthrowing governments. It did so four times, in Iran, Guatemala, South Vietnam, and Chile.
In recent decades we have returned to the original way of overthrowing governments: by military invasion. During this period we have overthrown four governments, those of Grenada, Panama, Afghanistan, and Iraq.
Most of these overthrows seemed successful at first. What has been their long-term impact in the countries where they were carried out?
A few of these operations, like the ones in Hawaii and Puerto Rico, have turned out reasonably well because the United States took responsibility for the countries that were seized. Most, however, have turned out very badly.
Our 1954 intervention in Guatemala, for example, set off a thirty-year civil war in which hundreds of thousands were killed. Our overthrow of President Allende in Chile led to the imposition of a bloody dictatorship. If we had not overthrown President Diem of South Vietnam in 1963, we might have avoided the entire Vietnam War.
Our overthrows of foreign governments have led to the establishment of dictatorships, turned millions of people against the United States, and cast whole regions of the world into violent instability.
Many people have described the recent invasion of Iraq as breaking with an American tradition of cooperative diplomacy. You write that it is just the opposite, simply the latest in a long series of “regime change” operations. What does our overthrow of Saddam Hussein have in common with our overthrows of other leaders during the past century?
Like many past American interventions, the one in Iraq
• was based on very unclear and inaccurate information
• was planned with the assumption that local people would welcome it
• was launched in part to assure American control of a valuable resource
• was aimed at spreading the American political and economic system, which American leaders believe is ideal for every country in the world
• was based on the view that Americans can achieve anything they put their minds to
• threw a reasonably stable country into violent upheaval
• seemed like a success at first, but ultimately came to look terribly misconceived
You write that American intervention in Cuba in 1898 helped bring Fidel Castro to power sixty years later. How?
In 1898 the United States sent troops to Cuba to help Cuban patriots overthrow the Spanish. The Cubans agreed to welcome these soldiers only after the U.S. Senate promised by law that they would be withdrawn as soon as the war was won.
After the victory, however, we reneged on that promise. We kept Cuba under military occupation, turned it into a protectorate, and imposed a series of dictators who protected our interests. In 1952, one of those dictators canceled an election in which the young Fidel Castro was running for Congress. That led Castro to take up the idea of revolution.
In Castro’s first speech after his victory, he promised that the future “will not be like 1898, when the Americans came and made themselves masters of the country.”
You devote a chapter to the CIA coup in which the government of Iran was overthrown in 1953. Did that episode help create the radical Iran we see today?
The United States was beloved in Iran until 1953. In that year, we overthrew the only democratic government Iran ever had. This was the beginning of Iran’s drift toward radicalism.
The CIA coup in Iran brought the Shah to power. His increasingly repressive rule ultimately set off the Islamic Revolution of 1979. That revolution brought bitterly anti-American clerics to power and inspired Islamic radicals around the world.
Had we not overthrown the Iranian government half a century ago, Iran might be a mature democracy today, and the Middle East might look very different.
Americans have been quite willing to support their government when it sets out to overthrow foreign leaders. Why?
Americans have a strong compassionate side. They eagerly support foreign interventions that are presented as “rescue missions” to save people from tyranny or oppression. Presidents realize this, and when they plan interventions for ignoble reasons, they always cloak the interventions in the rhetoric of liberation.
Should the United States simply stop intervening in other countries?
For better or worse, the United States is going to continue to be an interventionist power. Our position in the world makes this inevitable. And since we’ve overthrown fourteen governments over a little more than a century, we will probably try to do it again.
So the question is not whether we should continue to intervene, but how we can do it more effectively, in ways that promote stability rather than instability. If we look back at our past interventions, we can understand why many of them have gone so terribly wrong. That should help guide us for the future.
SOURCE: Jon Wiener in Inside Higher Ed (6-30-06)
... the Ward Churchill case has some striking similarities to the case Michael Bellesiles, who was an Emory University historian when he wrote Arming America, a book that won considerable scholarly praise when it first appeared — and that aroused a storm of outrage because of its argument that our current gun culture was not created by the Founding Fathers. Pro-gun activists demanded that Emory fire Bellesiles, raising charges of research misconduct. Historians too sharply criticized some of his research. Emory responded by appointing a committee that found “evidence of falsification;” Bellesiles then resigned his tenured position.
Although the cases have some striking similarities, starting with the political pressures that gave rise to the investigations and concluding with findings of “falsification,” the differences are significant and revealing. The Emory committee concluded that Bellesiles’ research into probate records was “unprofessional and misleading” as well as “superficial and thesis-driven,” and that his earlier explanations of errors “raise doubts about his veracity.” But the panel found “evidence of falsification” only on one page: Table 1, “Percentage of probate inventories listing firearms.” They did not find that he had “fabricated data.” The “falsification” occurred when Bellesiles omitted two years from the table, which covered almost a century — 1765 to 1859. The two years, 1774 and 1775, would have shown more guns, evidence against his thesis that Americans had few guns before the Civil War.
But the Emory committee failed to consider how significant this omission was for the book as a whole. In fact the probate research criticized by the committee was referred to in only a handful of paragraphs in Bellesiles’s 400 page book, and he cited the problematic Table 1 only a couple of times. If Bellesiles had omitted all of the probate data that the committee (and others) criticized, the book’s argument would still have been supported by a wide variety of other relevant evidence that the committee did not find to be fraudulent.
The Colorado committee, in contrast, made it a point to go beyond the narrow charges they were asked to adjudicate. They acknowledged that the misconduct they found concerned “no more than a few paragraphs” in an “extensive body of academic work.” They explicitly raised the question of “why so much weight is being assigned to these particular pieces.” They went on to evaluate the place of the misconduct they found in Churchill’s “broader interpretive stance,” and presented evidence of “patterns of academic misconduct” that were intentional and widespread.
The two committees also took dramatically different approaches to the all-important question of sanctions. At Emory the committee members never said what they considered an appropriate penalty for omitting 1774 and 1775 from his Table 1. They did not indicate whether any action by Emory was justified — or whether the harsh criticism Bellesiles received from within the profession was penalty enough.
The Colorado committee members, in contrast, devoted four single-spaced pages to “The Question of Sanctions.” They insisted that the university “resist outside interference and pressures” when a final decision on Churchill was made. Those favoring the smallest penalty, suspension without pay for two years, declared they were “troubled by the circumstances under which these allegations have been made,” and concerned that dismissal “would have an adverse effect on the ability of other scholars to conduct their research with due freedom.” These important issues needed to be raised, and they were.
Finally, the Colorado committee explicitly discussed the political context of their work, while the Emory committee failed to do so. The Colorado report opened with a section titled simply “Context.” It said “The committee is troubled by the origins of, and skeptical concerning the motives for, the current investigation.” The key, they said, was that their investigation “was only commenced after, and perhaps in some response to, the public attack on Professor Churchill for his controversial publications.” But, they said, because the claims of academic misconduct were serious, they needed to be investigated fully and fairly....
SOURCE: Jon T. Coleman in the Chronicle of Higher Education (6-28-06)
I just finished the second year of my inaugural tenure-track job, and my contentment checklist borders on the obscene.
My kids, growing up fast, have become fixated on potty humor. They're happy. My wife is on sabbatical next year. She does not have to drive 300 miles and spend two nights away from us each week to teach. She's happy. My dog is snoring on the couch. He's happy. My first book, published in 2004, won two awards last year. My department head is happy. The cat will always hate me, but everyone else in my personal and professional orbits seems cheery enough.
I'm a very fortunate assistant professor, which explains my absence from these pages for nearly a year. I began my run in The Chronicle's First Person series with an angry piece, a grim story of a murder most fowl. Frustrated with the job market in my field, I had returned from the annual convention of the American Historical Association and taken out my rage on Lighty the penguin, a plastic Christmas decoration that had been perched innocently on my porch.
Left jobless my first year on the market, I lashed out in print, hurling righteous opinions like hand grenades.
But then I got hired at a good university and my vitriol bottomed out. I wrote about my office, my wife's commute, and my father's death. Yet, while those topics continue to fill me, respectively, with pleasure, consternation, and grief, they hardly rank as earth-shattering outside my peculiar family drama.
How many stories of academics grappling with pregnancy, colleagues, manuscripts, toddlers, parents, hiring committees, students, houses, CV's, promotions, and mortality do we need? After a while, the narratives run together into a single meta-article with a predictable finish: It turns out that life afflicts even highly educated people.
I've felt silenced by privilege before. Ten years ago I enrolled as a graduate student at Yale University. Like most incoming first-years, I worried about GESO, the school's unrecognized graduate student union. GESO (Graduate Employees and Students Organization) had gone on a well-publicized grade strike the semester before, and I found the grievances that compelled that action a tad overwrought.
I knew poor wages and dismal working conditions. I had served as a grader at a public university while pursuing a master's degree. There, instead of being handed a generous stipend, I received 75 students in a large lecture course taught by a senior faculty member. I slogged through their blue books and essays for $10 a head. A fellow grader calculated our wages per hour: "It's a couple bucks," he reported.
At Yale, the university took care of my tuition costs, and, for the first two years, paid me to attend classes. I traveled East to enter a grad-school nirvana, and I didn't want a bunch of wild-eyed union activists ruining my bliss. I joined GESO my first semester in an effort to avoid multiple and lengthy conversations with organizers, not out of any real conviction that a union was the right thing for graduate students.
Yet, by the end of the first year, I had started organizing, and by the end of the second, I was on the union's staff. My journey from grateful silence to open rebellion may appear extreme. However, looking back, I'm surprised by how little my thinking changed.
I still wanted my paradise. Alas, Yale, like all human-run institutions, proved imperfect. I felt that graduate students had both the right to voice their concerns and a role to play in finding solutions to the labor dilemmas that plague higher education. The union fight at Yale continues to baffle many onlookers. What on earth do people who spend their days reading, debating esoteric topics, and teaching a class or two have to complain about?
Not much, I agree. I've seen, and been in, worse situations. But I also believe that we should strive for more than not being the worst. We should be working to make our places of employment as decent and democratic as possible, and those of us with tenure-track jobs, light teaching loads, sabbaticals, health care, and retirement plans have a special obligation to speak out.
Still, what could I say that would make higher education better? Bloggers, forum chatterers, conference roundtablers, and the numerous columnists and diarists writing for this site have covered the terrain thoroughly. They have documented the pain and frustration (and sometimes the exaltation) of job searches. They have described the personal toll of commutes, radioactive departments, and unhappy spouses. They have addressed teaching and harassment, tenure and drinking, publishing and weight gain (and loss). I have little to add.
My personal experience in academe has been both mundane and aberrant. I don't want to repeat stories others have already told, and I can't offer advice. I'm unsure how I wound up here....
SOURCE: Scott McLemee in Inside Higher Ed (6-28-06)
Most of Sinclair’s other writings have fallen by the wayside. Yet he is making a sort of comeback. Paul Thomas Anderson, the director of Boogie Nights and Magnolia, is adapting Sinclair’s novel Oil! — for the screen; it should appear next year under the title There Will Be Blood. (Like The Jungle, the later novel from 1927 was a tale of corruption and radicalism, this time set in the petroleum industry.) And Al Gore has lately put one of Sinclair’s pithier remarks into wide circulation in his new film: “It is difficult to get a man to understand something when his salary depends upon his not understanding it.”
That sentiment seems appropriate as a comment on a recent miniature controversy over The Jungle. As mentioned here one year ago, a small publisher called See Sharp Press claims that the standard edition of Sinclair’s text is actually a censored version and a travesty of the author’s radical intentions. See Sharp offers what it calls an “unexpurgated” edition of the book — the version that “Sinclair very badly wanted to be the standard edition,” as the catalog text puts it.
An article by Phelps appearing this week on the History News Network Web site takes a careful look at the available evidence regarding the book’s publishing history and Sinclair’s own decisions regarding the book and debunks the See Sharp claims beyond a reasonable doubt.
In short, Sinclair had many opportunities to reprint the serialized version of his text, which he trimmed in preparing it for book form. He never did so. He fully endorsed the version now in common use, and made no effort to reprint the “unexpurgated” text as it first appeared in the pages of a newspaper.
It is not difficult to see why. Perhaps the most telling statement on this matter comes from Anthony Arthur, a professor of English at California State University at Northridge, whose biography Radical Innocent: Upton Sinclair has just been published by Random House. While Arthur cites the “unexpurgated” edition in his notes, he doesn’t comment on the claims for its definitive status. But he does characterize the serialized version of the novel as “essentially a rough draft of the version that readers know today, 30,000 words longer and showing the haste with which it was written.”
A representative of See Sharp has accused me of lying about the merits of the so-called unexpurgaged edition. Indeed, it appears that I am part of the conspiracy against it. (This is very exciting to learn.) And yet — restraining my instinct for villainy, just for a second — let me also point you to a statement at the See Sharp website explaining why the version of The Jungle that Sinclair himself published is a cruel violation of his own intentions.
Memo to the academy: Why isn’t there a variorum edition of The Jungle? There was a time when it would have been a very labor-intensive project — one somebody might have gotten tenure for doing. Nowadays it would take a fraction of the effort. The career benefits might be commensurate, alas. But it seems like a worthy enterprise. What’s the hold-up?
SOURCE: Scott McLemee in Inside Higher Ed (6-28-06)
Rosenzweig qualifies that judgment with all the necessary caveats. But overall, he finds that the benefits outweigh the irritations. “If Wikipedia is becoming the family encyclopedia for the twenty-first century,” he says, “historians probably have a professional obligation to make it as good as possible. And if every member of the Organization of American Historians devoted just one day to improving the entries in her or his areas of expertise, it would not only significantly raise the quality of Wikipedia, it would also enhance popular historical literacy.”
The article should be interesting and useful to scholars in other fields. It is now available online here.
SOURCE: Carlin Romano in the Chronicle of Higher Education (6-27-06)
In choosing Hofstadter (1916-70) to explore Carr's rubric, Brown, associate professor of history at Elizabethtown College, fixes on a man who occupied a position continually rewarded by America's intellectual establishment, but not often scrutinized: King of American History. It comes with a chair at a prestigious and preferably Ivy institution, and an open invitation to write for the most prestigious opinion magazines and book reviews. Think Gordon Wood and (still) Arthur Schlesinger Jr., with Sean Wilentz one middle-aged prince. As Brown puts it of Hofstadter, "For nearly 30 years ... he wrote the best books for the best publisher, won the best prizes, and taught in the best city, at the best school, at the best time."
Translation: The hugely influential Social Darwinism in American Thought, 1860-1915 (1944), published when the author was 28, was followed by his extremely significant The American Political Tradition (1948). Pulitzers greeted The Age of Reform in 1956 and Anti-Intellectualism in American Life in 1964. He held a Columbia professorship for 24 years in the dramatic era from World War II's aftermath through McCarthyism and 60s turmoil.
Brown establishes Hofstadter's sparkling achievements, nearly a dozen books in a quarter century of active scholarship. He rightly attributes his subject's fresh slant in a once largely WASP field to growing up the son of a Polish Jewish father and German Lutheran mother and spending his modest early days as a University of Buffalo undergraduate. Although Hofstadter experienced personal tragedy — his first wife, journalist Felice Swados, died of cancer in 1945 when son Dan was a toddler — he kept to his goal of publishing himself out of a University of Maryland assistant professorship that felt like exile after graduate school at Columbia. In 1945, Henry Steele Commager explained, Columbia began a search for "someone who can really take hold of intellectual history and develop this place as a center for the study of American civilization." It tapped Hofstadter over Arthur Schlesinger Jr. The winner began in 1946 and the rest was, in the best sense, revisionist history.
Hofstadter made clear to readers of American history that the mid-20th-century discipline was up for grabs. The miracle of Protestant liberalism announced by George Bancroft and Francis Parkman, the "Jeffersonian liberal" vs. "Hamiltonian conservative" grudge match offered by Vernon Louis Parrington, and Charles Beard's trust in economic causes all stood ripe for rethinking. Hofstadter, writes Brown, proved "a thoughtful agent of change in a nation rapidly moving away from its Protestant moorings" as he became "a leading interpreter of American liberalism." Where Frederick Jackson Turner had famously proffered American democracy as the upshot of frontier individualism, Hofstadter insisted on giving urban America its due.
Hofstadter, Brown asserts, "enlisted the past to reveal the failings of a time-worn political tradition and by inference highlight the promise of what he believed was a more humane, cosmopolitan, and pluralistic postwar liberalism. Anglo-Saxonism and agrarianism were out. Ethnic diversity and modernity were in. As the old codes gave way, America's need for fresh heroes and new perspectives encouraged Hofstadter to rewrite its history as a prelude to moving its culture." For Hofstadter, Brown summarizes, the WASP worldview was "isolationist, individualistic, nationalistic, and capitalistic," fated to break down "before a sharp cultural realignment shaped by demographic change."...
SOURCE: NYT (6-26-06)
The cause was cancer, her niece Kathleen Bayard Derringer said.
Ms. McLaughlin's small but distinguished body of work was highly regarded by academic medievalists around the world. Her research focused in particular on the role of women, children and families in the Middle Ages, largely overlooked subjects when she began her career in the 1940's.
Ms. McLaughlin was also known to generations of college students for two anthologies, "The Portable Medieval Reader" (Viking, 1949) and "The Portable Renaissance Reader" (Viking, 1953), both of which she edited with another medievalist, James Bruce Ross.
For the last 40 years, Ms. McLaughlin labored over two books, to be published posthumously, that colleagues describe as her masterworks. One is the first full biography of Héloïse, the lover and later wife of the 12th-century French philosopher Peter Abélard. The other is the first English translation of the complete correspondence of Héloïse and Abélard.
While reams of scholarship have been devoted to Héloïse and Abélard, among history's most ill-starred lovers, few investigators have considered Héloïse alone. Ms. McLaughlin was the first to do so, colleagues said in interviews last week....
SOURCE: Inside Higher Ed (6-26-06)
The order by Judge Paul A. Crotty did not address all of the issues raised in a lawsuit by those groups challenging the way the government is deciding who may and may not enter the county. But in forcing the government to make a decision about the scholar, Judge Crotty rejected — sometimes in mocking tones — many government arguments that would have given federal officials broad power to exclude people from the United States without giving any reason. Judge Crotty based his decision largely on the First Amendment rights of American scholars to not only express their own views, but to invite others to meet with them and share their views.
The scholar at the center of the controversy is Tariq Ramadan, a Swiss citizen who is one of the most prominent European thinkers about Islam. He is known for encouraging Muslims to consider a “third path” between isolating themselves from Western society or fully assimilating within it. He has repeatedly criticized both Muslim terrorist groups and U.S. policies in the Middle East, and especially the invasion of Iraq.
Ramadan has visited the United States many times — primarily to participate in scholarly meetings — and he was poised to move with his family to Indiana two years ago to accept a position at the University of Notre Dame when his visa was revoked just days before his departure. He was told he could apply for another visa and Notre Dame did so on his behalf, only to have that request languish without any explanation. When that visa failed to materialize, Ramadan had to tell Notre Dame that he could not accept the position, prompting the State Department to assert in the legal case that it wasn’t denying Ramadan a visa to teach at Notre Dame because he had withdrawn his acceptance of the position there....
SOURCE: WaPo (6-26-06)
He's made a life's work of mixing scholarship with dramatic narrative in ways that few of his scholarly peers can match.
Call it "How to Succeed by Doing What Other Historians Don't."
Does your typical academic write best-selling 900-page histories of the French Revolution that deliberately omit footnotes? Produce texts mixing scholarship with fiction, to the point where you cannot tell the two apart? Dash off art criticism for magazines like the New Yorker? Teach seditious graduate seminars on "Writing History Beyond the Academy"?
No, no, no and no. "He's totally unusual," says historian Eric Foner, a colleague of Schama's at Columbia University. "He's sui generis."
But what really sets Schama apart these days is that he's turned himself into -- oh, horror of horrors -- a television star, signing multimillion-dollar contracts for work designed to surface both in print and as TV history shows.
He's completely unrepentant about this.
"I've always loved television as a sort of craft," he says. The goal is not to dumb things down, but to do "what I call 'debate by stealth.' In other words, you tell a story and in that story you actually pose extremely serious questions."
His storytelling has earned him a follow-up contract with the BBC and HarperCollins for three more books and two more TV series. The price? A distinctly nonacademic 3 million pounds (more than $5 million). Meanwhile, Schama found another way to distinguish himself from his academic colleagues: He'd become an outspoken critic of their shared profession.
SOURCE: Philip Weiss in the Nation (7-3-06)
Neoconservatism is an elite calling. It thrives in think tanks, not union halls; its proponents want most of all to influence the powerful. No wonder Ivy League labels have always been important to neocons. This fixation on intellectual prestige explains the recent neocon uprising over the possibility that Juan Cole, scholar and blogger, would become a Yale professor. It was one thing for Cole to hold forth from the University of Michigan, where he has been a professor for twenty years. But Yale would provide "honor" and "imprimatur," says Scott Johnson, a right-wing blogger. "That's a huge thing, to have them bless all his rantings on that blog."
On June 2 Johnson broke the story (on powerlineblog.com) that Yale's Senior Appointments Committee had the day before rejected Cole after three other Yale committees had signed off on him. By then a process that usually takes place behind closed doors had become thoroughly politicized by the right. "I'm saddened and distressed by the news," John Merriman, a Yale history professor, said of the rejection. "I love this place. But I haven't seen something like this happen at Yale before. In this case, academic integrity clearly has been trumped by politics."
The controversy erupted this spring after two campus periodicals reported that Cole was under consideration by Yale for a joint appointment in sociology and history. In an article in the Yale Herald, Campus Watch, a pro-Israel group that monitors scholars' statements about the Middle East, was quoted as saying that Cole lacked a "penetrating mind," and suggesting that Yale was "in danger of sacrificing academic credibility in exchange for the attention" Cole would generate. Alex Joffe, then the director of Campus Watch, told me Cole "has a conspiratorial bent...he tends to see the Mossad and the Likud under his bed." For its part, the Yale Daily News twice featured attacks on Cole by former Bush Administration aide Michael Rubin, a Yale PhD associated with Campus Watch and the American Enterprise Institute. In an op-ed Rubin wrote, "Early in his career, Cole did serious academic work on the 19th century Middle East.... He has since abandoned scholarship in favor of blog commentary."
Academics dispute this. They say that Yale was drawn to Cole by top-rank scholarly achievement. He is president of the Middle East Studies Association, speaks Arabic and Persian, and has published several books on Egyptian and Shiite history. "We were impressed with Cole's scholarly work, and a wide set of letters showed that he is also highly regarded by other scholars in the field," says political science professor Frances Rosenbluth, a member of the Yale search committee that chose Cole. Zachary Lockman, an NYU Middle Eastern studies professor, says, "It's fair to say he is probably among the leading historians of the modern Middle East in this country." Joshua Landis, a professor at University of Oklahoma, describes Cole as "top notch."
"He was the wunderkind of Middle East Studies in the 1980s and 1990s," Landis says. "He can be strident on his blog, which is one reason it is the premier Middle East blog.... [But] Juan Cole has done something that no other Middle East academic has done since Bernard Lewis, who is 90 years old: He has become a household word. He has educated a nation. For the last thirty years every academic search for a professor of Middle East history at an Ivy League university has elicited the same complaint: 'There are no longer any Bernard Lewises. Where do you find someone really big with expertise on many subjects who is at home in both the ivory tower and inside the Beltway?' Today, Juan Cole is that academic."
Of course, Cole is on the left, while Lewis is a neoconservative. And it is hard to separate Cole's scholarly reputation from his Internet fame. Cole started his blog, Informed Comment, a few months after September 11. He quickly became the leading left blogger on terrorism and the Middle East, delivering every day, often by translating from Arabic newspapers. He could discuss the pros and cons of, say, an invasion of Iraq with complete authority. Here, for instance, are some of his writings in the lead-up to war: "The Persian Gulf is the site of two-thirds of the proven petroleum reserves in the world. Yet the countries along its littoral have no means of providing security to themselves.... The two exceptions here are Iran and Iraq.... Iraq did so badly in the Iran-Iraq war, however, that it left itself without credibility as security provider in the region. It also was left deeply in debt." A US invasion "will inevitably be seen in the Arab world as a neo-colonial war.... The final defeat of the Baath Party will be seen as a defeat of its ideals, which include secularism, improved rights for women and high modernism. Arabs in despair of these projects are likely to turn to radical Islam as an alternative outlet for their frustrations."
At times, his voice rose.
"The idea that terrorists willing to commit suicide will be afraid of the US after it invades Iraq is just a misreading of human nature," he wrote in 2003. "If the US really wanted to stop terrorism, it would invade the West Bank and Gaza and liberate the Palestinians to have their own state and self-respect."
Israel's treatment of Palestinians has always been important in Cole's reading of the Middle East. Naturally, Israel is central to neocons, too. Michael Rubin accused Cole of missing the good news from Iraq and of being anti-Semitic. That charge was soon taken up in the Wall Street Journal and in the New York Sun. "Why would Yale ever want to hire a professor best known for disparaging the participation of prominent American Jews in government?" wrote two Sun authors. One of them, according to Scott Johnson, was a student of Alan Dershowitz's at Harvard. The other is Johnson's daughter, Eliana, then a Yale senior. After that article, Johnson, a Minneapolis lawyer and Dartmouth grad, wrote up the case on his blog, which describes itself as a friend of Israel, and attacked Cole as a "moonbat."
Alex Joffe denies that a network went after Cole. "There wasn't any organized opposition. It was a question of people becoming aware of it somehow and each getting in his two cents." Asked about pot-stirrers, Johnson says, "I think if you look anywhere but Yale, you'd be making a mistake."
Well, if this isn't a network, neither are the professionals who exchange cards at New York parties. Joel Mowbray, a Washington Times columnist who has assailed the consideration of Cole, sent a letter to a dozen Yale donors, many of them Jewish, warning of Cole's possible appointment. According to the Jewish Week, "Several faculty members said they had heard that at least four major Jewish donors...have contacted officials at the university urging that Cole's appointment be denied." Still, Johnson's point is well taken. It must have been Yale insiders who got the news out to Cole's enemies, as Cole's appointment passed one after another of several institutional hurdles. The vote in the history department was said to be 13 to 7 with three abstentions (which count as no). This signaled unusual opposition to an appointment recommended by an interdisciplinary search committee. Yale's history department includes prominent supporters of the Bush international agenda like John Gaddis and Donald Kagan.
After Cole's defeat, Rubin suggested that Yale now had an opportunity to hire a real talent, someone at the level of, say, Aaron Friedberg, a professor of politics and international affairs at Princeton. Who is Friedberg? A former national security aide to Vice President Cheney through the first two years of the war that the-network-that-is-not-a-network wanted to get us into. Having a role in the greatest foreign-policy disaster of our generation is evidently a worthy credential in academia. Douglas Feith, after all, is about to join the Georgetown faculty.
As Scott Johnson notes, the left didn't care about Cole's appointment as much as the right. (Maybe because the left values his blog, which an Ivy League job might have cut in on.) In retrospect, though, it is appalling to consider what was done to Cole's reputation over this blue-chip appointment.
Cole chose not to discuss the process publicly while it was happening. "I think that a hiring process in academia is a professional matter," he told me. But he also said that Yale sought him out, and that the vilification process was orchestrated. "There were clearly phone calls amongst the persons doing it." The Yale Herald quoted two Michigan students one of whom had visited him at his office in Ann Arbor and questioned his openness to Jews. "I am frankly suspicious," Cole says. "How did [the Herald] track down these students?"
Lockman, Cole's fellow Middle Eastern scholar at NYU (speaking for himself only), finds the process fearful. "Since September 11 there has been a concerted effort by a small but well-funded group of people outside academia to monitor very carefully what all of us are saying, ready to jump on any sign of deviation from what they see as acceptable opinion. It's an attack on academic freedom, and it's not very healthy for our society."
Cole declined to talk about his feelings on losing the job. Still, the pain came through in his comments. Modern Middle Eastern studies has always been politicized, he says. He jumped into the blogosphere for a simple reason, to counter the common assertion that the Israeli occupation had nothing at all to do with the 9/11 attacks. "I'm from a military family. I had two cousins working in the Pentagon that was attacked. So this was personal to me. My country had been attacked. The mistreatment of the Palestinians and the high-handed policies of the Israeli right were deeply implicated in the attacks. I was angry.
"I knew when I began to speak out that I wasn't going to be hired. I knew my academic career was over. I knew that I can be in this place, be a professor of Middle Eastern studies at the University of Michigan for the rest of my life. But I would never be a dean. I would never be a provost. I would never be in the Ivy League. I'm not surprised. I'm not upset. Actually, the bizarre thing is that Juan Cole was considered by Yale in the first place."
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.
SOURCE: NYT (6-21-06)
Mr. Bergdoll, a prominent scholar of 19th- and 20th-century architecture, follows Terence Riley, who last November signaled his intention to resign after 14 years in the post. The job has been vacant since March 30, when Mr. Riley left to become the director of the Miami Art Museum.
In an interview the Modern's director, Glenn D. Lowry, said that Mr. Bergdoll's appointment underlined the museum's "commitment to having an interesting program in architecture and design that can deal with the historic sweep of Modernism as well as the present."
Although Mr. Bergdoll is best known for his historical monographs and exhibitions, he has often written about contemporary architecture for newspapers and magazines.
"I've always thought of myself as working on modern architecture," Mr. Bergdoll, 51, said in a telephone interview yesterday. "I tend to see things people see as brand-new as having more historical context, and this is a moment for that — an enormous re-embracing of the heritage of the Modern movement."
Some commentators, among them Nicolai Ouroussoff, the architecture critic of The New York Times, have asserted that the Modern's architecture and design department gradually lost steam under Mr. Riley's long tenure.
Mr. Bergdoll declined to specify what exhibitions he might be contemplating, beyond saying that he hoped to include the work of some lesser-known architects. "It's an interesting moment to try to step back and see if one can do something in the context of MoMA that reflects the architecture profession more widely, and not just a handful of stars," he said.
Beyond individual architects, "there are more burning issues," he said, adding, "The really interesting questions have much more to do with architectural process and other kinds of trends and phenomena that are happening in the design world."...
SOURCE: TomDispatch.com (6-20-06)
Young as he is, he's been in the government archives for years and is one of our foremost experts on American war crimes in Vietnam. In fact, the combination of historic crimes and toys first brought us together at a diner a block from my apartment, perhaps three years ago. I had written a book, in part on Vietnam, in part on how an American "victory culture" had once expressed itself in the world of children's play. He read it and was looking for a little advice on his work. Soon after, he began sending out to friends his own homespun version of Tomdispatch and put me on his e-list.
Overwhelmed by such send-outs, I ignored his for a while, but he had such an eye for the place where toys, entertainment, and the military-industrial complex merged that I finally found myself paying attention, and one day called, asking if he would write a Tomgram on the subject. The rest, as they say, is Tomdispatch history. Now, in a busy life that includes writing two books and working a couple of jobs, he spends his spare time as the site's associate editor and research director -- I may not have much money to offer but titles are plentiful -- and has become one of its more popular writers.
As we walk into the dining room, reviewing our past history, he says wryly, "You found me in the cabbage patch." For a brief moment, at the dining room table, we're both absorbed in preparations. Cellophane wrappers come off tapes that are clicked into tape recorders. Then we seat ourselves and, for the first time since I began these interviews, I swivel my two machines so they face me.
Outside, on this late spring Sunday, the sky has darkened and rain is beginning to fall. Nick says into his tape -- he's the pro here, having interviewed many vets from the Vietnam era -- "May 21, 2006, Turse Interview with Tom Engelhardt…" And when I give him a quizzical look, he adds, "I don't know how many tapes I've gone through and then thought: Who was I interviewing? Who is this guy?" Who is this guy turns out to be the theme of the afternoon.
Nick Turse: Was there some eureka moment when you created Tomdispatch?
Tom Engelhardt: It was more an endless moment -- those couple of months after 9/11 when, for a guy who was supposedly politically sophisticated, my reactions were naïve as hell. I had this feeling that the horror of the event might somehow open us up to the world. It was dismaying to discover that, with the Bush administration's help, we shut the world out instead. What we engaged in were endless, repetitive rites that elevated us to the roles of greatest survivor, greatest dominator, and greatest victim, all the roles in the global drama except greatest evil one.
I'm also a lifetime newspaper junkie. I just couldn't bear the narrowness and conformity of the coverage when I knew that this had been a shocking event, but that there was also a history to 9/11. It only seemed to come out of the blue. I was a book editor by profession. I had published Chalmers Johnson's prophetic Blowback two years earlier. I became intensely frustrated with the limited voices we were hearing.
At the same time, watching the Bush administration operate, I became increasingly appalled. [There's a thunderclap outside.] Maybe it's dramatic license to have thunder booming in the background now.
Look, I had been at the edges of the mainstream publishing world for almost thirty years and I'd done useful work. I had nothing to be embarrassed about. I also had two reasonably grown-up kids and, looking at the world in perhaps early November 2001, I had an overwhelming feeling -- maybe this was the eureka moment, though it crept up on me -- that I couldn't simply go on as is. We're egocentric beings. We tend to move out from the self. Children are next, then spouse, friends, relatives, your city, your nation, the world. I couldn't bear to turn this world over to my children in this shape. I had no illusions about what I could do. I wasn't imagining Tomdispatch. I just felt I had to make a gesture.
NT: What was your initial vision then?
TE: I had none. This is very much me. I was fifty-seven, an aging technophobe. Computers scared me. I had barely gotten email.
Thinking about this interview today, a passage came to mind from a book I edited years ago called To the Ends of the Earth. A British expedition to Greenland in 1818 had a first meeting with a small group of the most northerly people on the planet…
NT: …These are Inuit?
TE: Yes, four Inuit. The Brits have an interpreter. "What great creatures are these?" the Inuit ask about the British sailing ships. They're houses made of wood, the interpreter replies. "No," they insist, "they are live. We have seen them move their wings." Later, one of the tribesmen is brought closer. Overcome with fear and astonishment, he cries out to the boat: "Who are you? What are you? Where do you come from? Is it from the sun or the moon?"
Now, I was that tribesman and, for me, the world of the Internet was that wondrous, fearsome boat. That November, I don't think I yet realized that you could read a newspaper on line. But a friend emailed me a piece from an Afghani living in California -- our Afghan War had just begun -- who wondered what it was like to bomb rubble because, after all those years of civil war, that's all Afghanistan was. The image stunned me exactly because you couldn't find anything like it in our press. And so I made up a little list, maybe twelve friends and relatives, and sent it off with a note saying, you've got to read this, and that started me wandering the Internet looking for other voices we weren't hearing.
"Voices from elsewhere, even when the elsewhere is here" was what I used to say about the kind of book publishing I did. I stumbled across Arundhati Roy's pieces on imperial America. I started reading the British Guardian, various papers around the world, piling up pieces and sending them out with little comments that got longer and longer. Just an unnamed e-list. Then people from the ether started writing in: Hey, could you put me on your list? Some of them were journalists. I didn't even know how they found me. By then, I was doing it obsessively. I couldn't stop. Maybe a year later, I had this list of four or five hundred e-beings. At that moment, toward the end of 2002, the wonderful fellow who runs the Nation Institute, Ham Fish, first suggested sponsoring it as a website. It had never crossed my mind.
Even the name Tomdispatch began as a joke. Friends of a friend started saying about my emails, "We got another Tomgram today." It struck me as funny and I do think, no matter how grim things may be, you have to remain somewhat amused with the world.
NT: So from a clipping service to a broader e-list and then a website.
TE: Next, I started asking friends to write original stuff for me. The first Tomgram -- on Bush-administration-induced smallpox hysteria -- was by your former graduate school advisor, David Rosner. The website barely existed then. Almost no one saw it, which was sad since the piece was very good. Remember, I had been editing and publishing for thirty years: Chalmers Johnson, Mike Klare, John Dower, Arlie and Adam Hochschild, Mike Davis, Jonathan and Orville Schell -- and all of them you can read at Tomdispatch.
That's how it got close to where it is now, by complete happenstance, because I was too old to know better and just stumbled into this world where, along with the obvious disadvantages, my age has some advantages.
NT: Tell me about them.
TE: I bring some old-fashioned things to the on-line world. However pressed for time, I still believe in the well-made, well-edited essay. And length doesn't scare me. Everyone on-line is supposed to have the attention-span of a gnat, but counterintuitively I'll run pieces of up to ten thousand words. Sometimes the world just can't be grasped short. So length defines -- and limits -- my site. It signals that Tomdispatch is the product of obsessional activity, which means you probably have to be an addict to read it. On the other hand, I'm too old to fully appreciate people yakking at each other in something like real time. You won't find that at Tomdispatch.
Because I started off writing for friends, my tone was informal, personal. I kept that when I went public. Though I don't write a lot about myself, I suspect people feel I'm speaking to them, as I hope I am.
NT: What about that tagline at the site, "a regular antidote to the mainstream media" and, by the way, tell me about the poison?
TE: To start with that poison, as you put it, Tomdispatch is a 24/7 operation for which I don't have 24/7; but every day I try to read the New York Times, my hometown paper, cover to cover. Sometimes the Wall Street Journal. The Washington Post, the Los Angeles Times, and several others on-line if I have the time. Then I check Juan Cole, a great, thoughtful collecting site for Iraq and the Middle East and start visiting what I call "riot sites" like Antiwar.com or Commondreams or Truthout or ZNET or the War in Context that have a million headlines chosen by some interesting eye.
I've always claimed that, when you read articles in the imperial press, the best way -- and I'm only half-kidding -- is back to front. Your basic front-page stories, as on the TV news, usually don't differ that much from paper to paper. It's when you get toward the ends of pieces that they really get interesting. Maybe because reporters and editors sense that nobody's paying attention but the news junkies, so things get much looser. You find tidbits the reporter's slipped in that just fall outside the frame of the expectable. That's what I go looking for. Sometimes it's like glimpsing coming attractions.
Here are a couple of tidbits I picked up deep in the Times recently.
There was an interesting front-page piece by Sabrina Tavernisi, "As Death Stalks Iraq: Middle Class Exodus Begins." After the jump, pretty deep inside, there's this line: "In all, 312 trash workers have been killed in Baghdad in the past six months." There it is: basic, good reporting that no one's going to notice or pick-up on. And yet it probably tells you just about everything you need to know about life in Baghdad today. Forget the security forces, forget top officials. Three hundred and twelve garbage men slaughtered. Holy Toledo!
So that kind of reporting, hidden but in plain sight, can start me on an Iraq piece. I mean, here's the thing about the American press: If you have the time, it's all there somewhere. But who, other than a news nut like me, has the time to look for it?
Okay, here's another by Jim Rutenberg. This one, which greatly amused me, was tucked away on page twelve of the Times. First, though, I have to say something about article placement. Every spring, I become an editor to a group of young journalists at the Graduate School of Journalism in Berkeley. And where do they read their news? Remember, these are professional news junkies. They read it online! Most of them do not read a daily paper daily. "Why should I read the L.A. Times in print," one of them told me, "when they've posted their major stories the night before?"
But if you don't read the paper paper, you don't see how it's arranged and you miss all the little stories, some of which may be very big, buried deep inside the fold. In a sense, my students don't understand the organization of a newspaper.
Take the little Rutenberg piece, only ten paragraphs long, headlined, "With the President as the Guest, the Hostess Sends Regrets," about how Republican House seats were starting to come into play. It was a story that would hit the front pages only days later. Here was the paragraph I loved, quoting a column elsewhere I had missed. "The situation has been different for others who have clearly snubbed the president, like the Republican candidate for governor in Illinois, Judy Baar Topinka. One of her aides told the syndicated columnist George Will last month that she wanted the president's help to raise money only ‘late at night' and ‘in an undisclosed location.'"
Read that and you already know a lot about American politics at this second. I was one of the few places, I'm proud to say, insisting very early on that there was no bottom to Bush's approval ratings. Read deep into the paper and into articles, and you know enough to write pieces that look predictive but aren't. Of course, this is also to acknowledge that most of the political Internet is parasitically based on reporting done in the mainstream media. Without money, what other possibility could there be?
NT: So it's all there just buried in the back pages?
TE: It's the genius of the American press that you can always say something's been covered, even when nobody sees it.
NT: So are they hiding it from us or don't the editors notice those last paragraphs -- or care?
TE: None of the above, I suspect. My basic line is: If you put three CPAs -- and my father-in-law was a CPA, so no disrespect intended -- and three journalists on stage and ask them to talk about their professions, the CPAs would be the introspective ones. Journalists often don't seem to have a clue about how their world actually works.
That's probably one reason why it works as well as it does. In states with propaganda machines, everyone knows how things work. If you were in the old Soviet media, you knew you could write what the state or Party told you to write. You knew you were a paid hack. The American media doesn't work that way. It's like a conspiracy of which nobody involved knows they're a part. It's genius itself.
NT: Do you think you see the world differently than mainstream journalists or do you just say what they won't?
TE: I tell my students: Look for wherever you're askew our world, wherever there's just that little crack of space between you and society. Everyone has that somewhere. Otherwise when you go out to report, you'll just bring back what we all know anyway.
When I look back on the young Tom Engelhardt, I couldn't have been more American normal. I was deeply involved in what in a book I wrote I later came to call "victory culture," the parades, the military, the on-screen glory. I was an all-American boy in a way that maybe only a second or third-generation American could be. You know, a Jewish kid who was completely hooked on American history, a nut in high school on the Civil War and World War II. On my own, I memorized the inspiring speeches of generals.
Yet when I look back -- and I came from a liberal New York family (nothing radical there) -- I would say that from an early age, for reasons that still puzzle me, I was deeply anti-imperial. Of course, that's in the American grain too. It still seems a defining aspect of me, and now of Tomdispatch. I am just against everything that goes with empires, of which, I think, we're one.
Back then, bored white kid, only child, living in the middle of New York City, probably feeling a little out of it even before teen awkwardness set in, I felt askew. And I hated how that felt at the time, but it's proved valuable since. When I read a paper, my eyes just seem drawn to things that not everybody notices.
NT: Give me an example.
TE: Okay, here's a piece in the Times by John Burns, a fine reporter, on the new Iraqi government just now being installed inside Baghdad's fortified Green Zone, a unity government in which, as of today, the prime minister still can't name the three key ministers for security -- this, in a country where the whole issue is security, or the lack of it. Anyway, Burns' piece is labeled "news analysis," and headlined, For Some, a Last, Best Hope for U.S. Efforts in Iraq.
Now my brain works by association. I think best when I swim: metronomic motion, straight crawl. Like those Magic 8-Ball toys of my childhood, I just wait for the thoughts to rise onto the screen of my brain and surprise me. I love imagery. We're such a metaphoric species. My eye is always drawn to the metaphors we use without much thought.
I've been following the Iraq news intimately for at least four years now and the American imagery has told such a story: There were the first upbeat images after the invasion when we were teaching the Iraqi child -- as the likes of Rumsfeld and Bush put it -- how to take the "training wheels" off that bike of democracy. So fabulously patronizing. Then, as things got worse, you got your "turning points." (The President's the only one left mentioning those these days.) And with them went the "milestones" of progress, after each of which there would be a worse set of disasters until they kind of faded away and you got images instead of the invasion having opened a Pandora's Box in Iraq.
Then, maybe six months ago, Americans officials made it to the metaphoric "precipice" and soon after looked into the "abyss" of civil war before "taking a step back." You saw such imagery quoted in the press all the time, usually from the mouths of the anonymous officials who swarm through such stories.
Now, Burns, today, has the newest Bush administration image. I first noticed it when Condi Rice went to Baghdad at the end of April to twist arms and get the prime minister we wanted. Officials in her party were quoted as saying that this was "a last chance," which was, of course, absurd. I mean, this situation has been devolving for four years.
A month of sectarian catastrophe later, Burns' piece quotes yet more anonymous American "military and civilian officials" who feel they are "witnessing what might be the last chance to save the American enterprise in Iraq from a descent into chaos and civil war." If you keep reading, you find that we're now at a "critical juncture," kind of a turning point without the optimism; then, that the Americans "played a muscular role in vetting and negotiating over the new cabinet." Now that's a wonderful phrase, like we're at the gym.
NT: It's the strong arm.
TE: Yes, but so much more polite. Then you discover that our ambassador, Kalmay Khalilzad, "acted as a tireless midwife in the birthing of the new government." Now, if this were, say, the Russians and some Central Asian autocracy, it would be strong-arming the locals and creating a puppet government. And then, part way in, those "milestones" arrive. The piece is a compendium of images from the Bush experience in Iraq -- with some new gems thrown in. This is just the automatic writing of the press in a hurry. But for me, it would be a jumping off place for a piece.
Reading newspapers, I'm often aware of what an imperial planet we're on. Things only work in one direction. Sometimes, just for the hell of it, I imagine flipping the directional signs.
For instance, a recent front-page New York Times piece about the CIA went essentially like this: Good news! Despite all its well-known problems, the Agency has bolstered its corps of spies, ramped up its on-the-ground capabilities, and we're finally on the verge of breaking operatives into closed societies like, say, Iran. I'm thinking: Whoa, it doesn't even faze us to proclaim to all and sundry that we have the right to mobilize vast numbers of covert operatives and put them in any other society of our choosing, for any kind of mayhem we might desire. We broadcast that fact on the front pages of our major papers.
So flip this story. Blazing headlines, the Tehran Times. The Iranians announce that, despite years of problems, their intelligence agencies have just bolstered their spy corps significantly and proudly expect to be capable soon of seeding the closed society of Washington with covert teams of operatives. We would be outraged. We'd be bombing them tomorrow! The fact is we're allowed to talk and write in a way permitted to no other people on Earth. It's imperial freedom of speech.
Or imagine January 2008. A new American administration is coming into power and the "news analysis" in an Iraqi paper praises the "muscularity" of Iraq's minister to Washington and the way he "midwived" the birth of the new government. Of course, it's not even imaginable. There is no such world.
NT: If you wrote something like that, it would be labeled satire.
TE: I say to my students: Writing, like everything else in the universe, is essentially an energy transfer but a very weird one. The energy of writing is something you hook a reader with. It can drive readers through a piece. Even if you're writing about terrible things, there should be pleasure to the writing itself. And humor, parody, satire, they're powerful tools. When things strike me as absurdly funny, I don't hesitate, though our world is now so extreme that satire can easily be mistaken for the real thing, as confused or outraged letters from readers often remind me.
Click here to read Part II of this interview.
SOURCE: Inside Higher Ed (6-21-06)
He just wasn’t expecting to do it in detainment at the airport.
According to e-mails Milios sent to colleagues, he was held and questioned for hours upon his arrival at John F. Kennedy International Airport in New York City on June 8.
Milios was ultimately sent back to Greece by federal authorities, because of, he wrote, alleged “visa irregularities.” Milios added that he “had travelled to the United States on exactly this visa several times in the past and had just checked with the U.S. Embassy in Athens before coming to confirm that the visa was valid even though it was in the final six months of its 10-year duration.”
Milios wrote that the questioning “focused on my political beliefs and affiliations, which I find totally repellent, an extravagant theatre of the absurd, and a clear clue of the extremist right-wing policy of the present-day U.S. administration.” His story, which has not hit the mainstream media in the United States, was front page news in Greece.
Milios is a member of the the Coalition of the Radical Left (SYRIZA), a Greek opposition party. In one of his e-mails, Milios wrote that SYRIZA, as well as the Greek Socialist and Communist Parties drafted resolutions “condemning the United States for this action.”
Michael Zweig, professor of economics at Stony Brook and organizer of the conference, said in a statement that he was “embarrassed” at the “unacceptable political intrusion into the flow of ideas and intellectual work across borders.”
Milios was expected to present as part of a panel titled: “Class and the Distribution of Income in the United States.”
The U.S. Customs and Border Protection did not have an immediate response to questions about Milios....
SOURCE: Press Release -- Allan Lichtman for U.S. Senate (6-19-06)
It seems that every day on the calendar marks another day of senseless violence in Iraq. On June 15th, the public learned that the death toll of American soldiers has reached 2,500. This truly sad and tragic milestone reminds us that years after the administration declared “Mission Accomplished” we have yet to keep our troops safe and bring them home.
The ongoing death and violence in Iraq is a tragic failure of American policy. America is truly at a crossroads in Iraq, with an important choice to make. The continuation of this war undermines the moral authority of the United States around the world, enflames our worst enemies, resulting in the death and maiming of many thousands of valued Americans, and an even larger number of Iraqis. It has also drained vital resources needed for a functional society here at home.
The rising death toll of American soldiers highlights the importance of allowing the Iraqis to take charge of their own destiny and abandoning the point of the bayonet approach taken by this administration. It is the Iraqis’ undeniable right to rule their own country, and it is time to get our soldiers out. The American people have the responsibility to elect a candidate committed to preventing more American deaths in Iraq and keep our brave citizens safe.
Every Senate candidate should be measured by their moral courage to take a stand on stopping the war. I have pledged to take the only effective measures to end the deaths and maiming of American men and women, and that is to use Congress’ power of the purse to compel the Administration to change its tragically misguided course in Iraq. As a Senator inaugurated in January 2007, I will only vote for funds to bring our brave young men and women home promptly and safely. I challenge the other candidates of this Senate race to join me in this pledge.
SOURCE: Observer (6-18-06)
You should have been born to serve the British Empire. But you are trapped inside the body of a man born in the 1960s, so what do you do? You become an ardent Thatcherite - aggressive on the battlefield and the economy. You write 'why oh why?' polemics for the Daily Mail. You eventually quit the insular mother country for the new empire across the Pond. You pour your Protestant work ethic into books, journalism and television, a medium which you never really watch. And you write a lot about empire.
Niall Ferguson seems to have been born out of his time, but is determined to make the best of it. He has a chair at Harvard, which he proclaims the best university on the planet. He has just published his latest book, The War of the World, 'the Everest of my career'. He presents an accompanying TV series, starting tomorrow, and is said to combine the brains of Simon Schama or David Starkey with the looks of Hugh Grant or Tom Cruise. He also earns a fortune. Just don't call him right wing.
There are two common assumptions about Ferguson. One is that his newspaper columns and telegenic persona, including expensive sunglasses and seductive Scottish burr, must imply a lack of intellectual bottom. The other is that he strikes a pose of contrariness for its own sake, arguing against conventional liberal wisdom, most famously by defending some aspects of imperialism, in order to shock, amaze and sell books.
He has the dubious honour of inspiring Alan Bennett's award-winning play, The History Boys, in particular the character of Irwin, a history teacher who urges his exam candidates to find a counterintuitive 'angle' and goes on to become a TV historian.
To be contrary, this might be nonsense. Ferguson is a formidable historian and esteemed academic whose first book was distinctly not pop history: Paper and Iron: Hamburg Business and German Politics in the Era of Inflation, 1897-1927. Admittedly, his friend of 15 years, Andrew Roberts, might be a little biased in calling him 'the brightest historian of his generation', but fellow historian Tristram Hunt, his unfavourable review of The War of the World notwithstanding, points out: 'You don't become a Harvard professor without being a historian of substance.'
Bennett's Irwin gives the impression that an entire career can be built on the trick of contrariness. Ferguson's career, political outlook, historical interests and even private life are steeped in the austerity, mental precision and world-changing dynamism once associated with Scotland, and in his affluent, achievement-driven upbringing in Glasgow, formerly the second city of empire.
From school came the values that would mould him: the 19th-century Scottish Calvinist capitalist ethos of the all-boys, private Glasgow Academy. 'That is how I define myself today. My values are very much of that era,' he says, adopting a fatalistic view perhaps more typical of Marxists - or Catholics.
From his extended family came engagement with politics. 'I grew up in an atmosphere of enjoyably unfettered argument.' One of his earliest memories is of his great uncle, a lifelong communist who always took holidays on the Black Sea, fiercely debating the Soviet Union with his grandfather. And from his immediate family came the intellectual rigour he would apply to history: his father was a doctor, his mother a physics teacher, as is his younger sister.
He won a scholarship to Oxford, where he failed at acting, discovered he was good at history and fell for Margaret Thatcher. 'It was obvious to me that the most intelligent people were drawn towards Thatcherism and the stupidest people were public-school lefties,' he argues.
He remains the kind of Thatcherite many loved to hate. 'I am Max Weber's Protestant work ethic, for better or for worse,' says the 42-year-old, who rises at six each day. 'I think it makes me an impossible person because I don't feel happy if I haven't done at least 10 hours' work a day. I work, therefore I am. I have no hobbies.' There appears little room for compassion for the less fortunate or those seeking a 'work-life balance', and Ferguson does nothing to dispel this cold image....
Pipes provides a vivid picture of his childhood and personal life as a member of an assimilated Polish-Jewish family before and after arriving in the United States at the age of sixteen. As an adolescent, he led a very active intellectual existence. In a notebook entry written just before his family quit Poland, he depicts himself during the bombing of Warsaw by the Luftwaffe: "We slept fully dressed ... I slept alone on the sixth floor reading Nietzsche's Will to Power ... or writing notes for my essay on Giotto." He was interested in art, music, and philosophy, and although "in the late 1930s I heard muffled sounds of appalling events taking place in the Soviet Union ... I had no idea what these were and I was not terribly interested in finding out." Examining his later views, however, he now concedes that "coming from Poland, a country which had bordered Russia for a thousand years and lived under its occupation for over a century, I unconsciously shared Polish attitudes toward Russia"--attitudes that could only have been highly critical.
Such a background was quite different from the innocence that he encountered at a small college in Ohio, which he entered quite haphazardly after arriving in the United States. Word had gotten around that he read Nietzsche, and the vice president of the school told him to put Nietzsche aside because "I should not lose faith in mankind, people were basically good and life fair." It was no wonder that he found it impossible to persuade his American interlocutors, who were staunchly Republican and isolationist (how times have changed!), of the monstrosities of Nazism. Pipes's own experience had included not only the Luftwaffe, but also the endemic anti-Semitism of Polish culture; and although this had been relatively mild compared with what occurred under German occupation, it had nonetheless acquainted him with some darker aspects of reality. What he says about the attitude of Polish Jewry toward the German occupation, from which he and his family were luckily able to flee, also helps to illuminate some of his later views. ...
SOURCE: Herald (Glasgow) (6-19-06)
He died in Italy 10 years ago, but his remains have been exhumed from near Florence and will be taken back to Scotland on Wednesday, to lie in a grave set amidst trees he planted himself.
The decision to bring Dr Campbell's body back to the island was taken only after much soul-searching by his friend and executor Hugh Cheape, head of the Scottish Material Cultural Research Centre at the National Museums of Scotland.
Mr Cheape had the written support of Dr Campbell's late wife, Margaret Fay Shaw, the American folklorist, before she died in 2004 at the age of 101, after her own extraordinary lifetime collecting Gaelic songs and traditions.
He told The Herald yesterday that the only reason the issue had arisen was because Dr Campbell had died in Italy. He was on his annual holiday with Margaret at a convent acting as a hostel near Fiesole, where he was surrounded by Gaelic-speaking nuns.
SOURCE: Australian (6-20-06)
THE ranters at Quadrant, hereafter known as Quadranters, must be dancing a quadrille as they quadruple their influence in Australia's most important cultural institutions. For they're not just moving and shaking at the ABC. Though eclipsed by the announcement of Keith Windschuttle joining the public broadcaster's already overbalanced board, the appointment of Imre Salusinszky to head the Australia Council's literature board is another triumph for Quadrant, a journal whose influence is inversely proportionate to its circulation. ...
Yes, I was shocked by Windschuttle's appointment, but only because I was expecting Stan Zemanek, or Alan Jones, the broadcaster who during the cash-for-comment scandals was publicly defended by a powerful fan on the ABC board, Michael Kroger. But the PM is probably saving Jonesy for the chairmanship when McDonald steps down, just as I thought Howard was keeping Windschuttle for Yarralumla once the Governor-General, what's-his-name, retires.
So the ABC is greatly blessed. Our cup of Quadranters runneth over, providing quadraphonic criticism from within, whereas in the past they've been limited to speeches at right-wing think tanks and newspaper columns. And, of course, Quadrant.
The Windschuttle and Salusinszky appointments cap a winning streak for Paddy McGuinness's little magazine that, since the embarrassing revelations of being funded by the CIA, has struggled to balance the books, as opposed to its editorial line. If the quadrants used in navigation were as badly calibrated as Quadrant magazine, not a ship at sea would be safe.
(Incidentally, is the magazine getting grants from the lit board? If so, will Salusinszky feel conflicted in his interests?)
Not only is Quadrant stacking boards like Malcolm Turnbull stacks Liberal Party branches, but the Government has surgically removed Quentin Dempster from the ABC board, to which he was elected by staff in a landslide. Quadrant 1, Quentin 0. The only solace for those who resent Quadrant getting more government help than Qantas gets is that the progressive forces in this country were able to offer Robert Manne political asylum when he found his job editing the journal intolerable. Quadrant 0, Us 1.
Wearing his hat as contrarian historian -- let's keep the term historical revisionist for David Irving -- Windschuttle demands documents to confirm allegations about the killing of indigenous people by white settlers. Oral histories, particularly those of Aborigines describing massacres, aren't worth the paper they're not written on. So one expects Windschuttle to produce the documents on Marxist influence within the ABC, identifying the Marxists who, he says, have been running the place for the past 30 years. So far he reminds me of Joe McCarthy waving a piece of paper -- some say it was his laundry list -- identifying 200 communists working in the US State Department. Come on, Keith! Name the names!
I've got a collection of letters from listeners and viewers who reckon the ABC is run by Jews. Others insist it's the Catholics, citing Kerry O'Brien and Geraldine Doogue. From personal observation, these conspiracy theories are at least as plausible as Windschuttle's....
SOURCE: National Review Online (6-14-06)
Kathryn Jean Lopez: So why does the U.S. win wars?
Larry Schweikart: The glib answer is (cue Bill Murray from Stripes), “We’re Americans, dammit!” In fact, there are several characteristics of American fighting forces — some of them unique to us, some common to most Western nations — that make it difficult for us to lose. Our soldiers, sailors, airmen, and Marines, all free individuals in a volunteer force, come from a remarkably typical cross-section of American society, and always have. Whether it was the free men of color, Indians, and Baratarian pirates who fought under Andy Jackson or the special-ops forces riding horses to rain down precision-guided munitions on the Taliban, our military has generally represented our society almost perfectly. “It ain’t me, I ain’t no senator’s son,” sang Creedence Clearwater Revival, but in fact the modern military has a higher proportion of sons and daughters of our elected officials than from the population as a whole; and zip-code studies have shown that virtually every zip code is represented pretty proportionally, including the infamous 90210. (Note to John Kerry: The Northeast has, except for the Civil War and the Revolution, been notoriously underrepresented in our wars).
Americans win wars because we learn from loss — this is a no brainer, but there have been, and are today, cultures that find shame and dishonor in admitting a mistake, and thus can’t fix it. We win wars because our fighting men and women are the best trained in the world, then we give them unprecedented levels of autonomy, so that, as one American officer put it, a U.S. sergeant has the operational autonomy of most Middle Eastern colonels. Americans are successful in wars because we embrace technology, which itself comes from a society that tolerates failure and the ability to adjust to a bad hypothesis; we are successful because our protesters actually have caused the military, through their constant focus on American casualties, to relentlessly push down the level of casualties we take and push up the levels we inflict on others; and we are successful because above all we subscribe to concepts of sanctity of life that lead us to “leave no man behind.” In fact, I can find no other military in human history that has attempted so many times to rescue its own prisoners of war.
Lopez: Even so, isn’t your declaration that we will win the war on terror ridiculously optimistic? How do you know?
Schweikart: If it was based on mere political punditry, it might be optimistic. I base my views on the historical record. If you ask any historian, “When did we win the war in the Pacific?” the answer would almost always be, “Midway.” After that, Japan couldn’t win — the only issue was the final, often gruesome, death toll. Think of that! That’s years before Iwo Jima or Okinawa, and yet historically the war was over after June 1942. Likewise, if you look at the Filipino Insurrection (1899-1902, followed by the “Moro Wars”) — which mirrors Iraq very closely, the war was over when William McKinley was reelected. It took two more years for Emilio Aguinaldo to admit defeat, but his stated goal of forcing a political solution by “un-electing” McKinley was finished. I think we hit the “tipping point” in Fallujah in November 2004. After that, the terrorists could no longer hold up in any town for long, nor could they organize effectively. Zarqawi’s recent death closely resembles our Pacific model as well when American P-38s ambushed Isoroku Yamamoto and killed him. Historically, of the 11 “insurgencies” and “guerilla wars” of the 20th century (including Vietnam), the government (in this case, that would be us) won eight. However, most of these took between five and eight years to win. That places us right on our timetable, which is to expect the death throes of the terrorists in Iraq in another year or two. ...
SOURCE: Christianity Today (6-12-06)
So I fantasized in November 2004. Alas, there's no indication that such a new cabinet post is about to be created. Still, undaunted, historians continue to ply their trade, and earlier this month I had reason to reflect on just how useful their work can be. The occasion was the every-other-year convention of The Historical Society (I urge you to visit the website and check out their excellent publications, Historically Speaking and The Journal of the Historical Society), held this time at the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill. The subject was "Globalization, Empire, and Imperialism in Historical Perspective."
We urgently need an antidote to the journalistic clichés and the even more deplorable pseudo-scholarly discourse surrounding the interlocked themes of globalization, empire, and imperialism. We need the distance—the perspective—that good historical thinking affords. There was plenty of that on display in Chapel Hill, along with some muddle.
The most provocative session I attended was the concluding keynote lecture by Deepak Lal, the polymathic economist whose book In Praise of Empires: Globalization and Order (Palgrave Macmillan, 2004) argued that peace and prosperity are likely to flourish under the umbrella of empire, while convulsive disorder typically follows the decay of imperial power. For his lecture at the conference, Lal summarized that book-length argument and added observations based on recent events, particularly the aftermath of the U.S. invasion of Iraq. Witty, urbane, gleefully contrarian, Lal added the charge (which he has made elsewhere, in The Hindu Equilibrium, for instance) that the Christian monotheism still so influential in the United States has interfered with the proper exercise of American power. Empires, you see, should be content with establishing order; in other respects they should be wisely tolerant, not attempting to impose their beliefs on the various peoples in their sphere of influence. (We'll return to this topic, and to Lal's work in particular, later in the summer.)
One of the hot scholarly trends these days is "transnational" history, and that was evident on the conference program, both for good and for ill. A paper on the expansion of British Freemasonry gave the impression that this was something unprecedented as an instance of a "cultural institution" that established an international "presence" in a way that contributed to globalization. Hmmm. What about the Catholic Church? (The paper mentions the Jesuits only parenthetically, then goes on to argue that Freemasonry marked a departure in developing "international networks." Really?) Indeed, scholars focusing on various aspects of the history of Christianity have been doing first-rate transnational history for a long time, much of which has a bearing on our understanding of globalization and empire.
In addition to the official program, of course, such gatherings offer abundant side-conversation, and the quality of the talk here was very high. I'm already looking forward to the 2008 edition.
SOURCE: Informed Comment (blog) (6-9-06)
But I did want to clear up some misimpressions I've seen here and there.
First, it should be remembered that senior professors are sort of like baseball players, and other teams look at them from time to time, as recruitment prospects. It goes on constantly, formally or informally. Such looking is never taken very seriously by anyone unless it eventuates in an actual offer.
Second, it is important in interpreting these things to know who initiated the looking. I am not actively seeking other employment, and did not apply to Yale; they came to me and asked if they could look at me for an appointment. I am very happy at the University of Michigan, which has among the largest and oldest Middle East Studies programs in the United States. It is like Disney World for a Middle East specialist. To its credit, the University invested tens of millions of dollars in creating positions and building library and other resources in this field at at time when it was considered marginal by many other universities. Michigan also has a History Department that is among the very best and largest in the country, characterized by diversity of area specialization and innovative, interdisciplinary scholarship. It is a nurturing and congenial intellectual environment. Many fine departments in the US have a North Atlantic focus or bias, but Michigan for decades has had a global emphasis.
The press has some out of date impressions about our major research universities, imagining that the old hierarchy of Ivy League versus the rest is still meaningful. It is not. Research universities, whether state (Berkeley, the University of Michigan) or private, are much more similar than they are different. Were I ever to go to another place, it would likely be as a pioneer in a less well-developed Middle East Studies program, for the purpose of building up something that we already have at Michigan. That is, it would be a personal sacrifice for some purpose, and not a decision easily made.
I was extremely fortunate to have been hired at the University of Michigan right out of graduate school. I moved from UCLA to the pinnacle of my profession at a young age. I am doing what I enjoy doing, which is studying and teaching the Middle East and South Asia, and communicating about it to various publics. I have not, and short of foul play cannot be stopped from doing what I am doing, and what I enjoy. I welcome critiques of my work. There are obviously some critics, however, who go rather beyond simple critique to wishing to silence or smear me. In the former, at least, they cannot succeed by mere yellow journalism. So I have what I want, but they cannot have what they want. I win, every day.
Many thanks to all the kind messages and votes of confidence from readers. I've decided that this is a subject better closed, so am not taking comments.
SOURCE: Australian Broadcasting Corp. (6-15-06)
ABC staff-elected director-elect, journalist Quentin Dempster, says Mr Windschuttle's appointment confirms the politicisation of the board and harms perceptions of the independence and integrity of the national broadcaster.
He says Mr Windschuttle should show his hand on advertising.
"I'm very concerned that there is an agenda by the Government, through the board, to push the full commercialisation of the ABC," he said.
"Keith Windschuttle must make a statement before too long, as must the board, whether they're going to wrap our online content, audio and video and content in advertising."
However, Federal Communications Minister Senator Helen Coonan has defended Mr Windschuttle's appointment, saying he has had a long and distinguished career in journalism.
"What I think a lot of people may not realise is that besides being an historian, he's got a very strong background in the media, having started out as a journalist," she said.
"He worked as a journalist throughout his career, he's been a lecturer in journalism and has a very strong interest in the media."
She says the appointment will not damage the national broadcaster's reputation.
In "Dark Ages America: The Final Phase of Empire," the cultural historian Morris Berman delivers a vituperative, Spenglerian screed that makes Michael Moore seem like a rah-rah American cheerleader: a screed that describes this country as "a cultural and emotional wasteland," suffering from "spiritual death" and intent on exporting its false values around the world at the point of a gun; a republic-turned-empire that has entered a new Dark Age and that is on the verge of collapsing like Rome.
Mr. Berman argues that the terrorist attacks of 9/11 "were the tragic but inevitable outcome of our foreign policy," and refers to them as "the so-called attack on civilization," asking whether America is "really the standard bearer of a genuine civilization that it was, say, only 60 years ago." He goes on to suggest that the American people are stupid, ignorant, violent and greedy, and that they "get the government they deserve." A sequel of sorts to Mr. Berman's 2000 book, "The Twilight of American Culture" — which described the country as a highly dysfunctional society afflicted with apathy, cynicism, alienation and rabid consumerism — "Dark Ages America" begins as a grim prophecy of decline and fall, citing four traits shared, he says, by the late Roman Empire and the United States today, namely, "the triumph of religion over reason," "the breakdown of education and critical thinking," the "legalization of torture" and declining respect and financial power on the world stage.
Instead of explicating this theme with carefully reasoned analysis, Mr. Berman allows his narrative to devolve into an all-purpose rant against virtually everything American, from the country's foreign policy to its embrace of cars, fast food, television, cellphones and shopping malls; from President Bush's decision to go to war in Iraq to the nation's celebration of individualism and free enterprise. "Dark Ages" turns out to be less of an original (and coherent) argument than a compendium of complaints — some well grounded, others petty and disingenuous — harvested from a wide array of scholars and writers. ...
SOURCE: LAT (6-15-06)
To the UC San Diego history professor, it is an icon of modern civilization, belonging on a pedestal along with Cubist art, Einsteinian physics and James Joyce's "Ulysses."
Introduced just before World War I, the sound-absorbing tile represents humanity's new ability to manipulate the built environment and avoid the sonic assaults of other modern inventions, Thompson says. Like advances in painting, physics and literature, it "challenges the traditional bounds of space and time."
Unorthodox views like that have earned Thompson prestigious and lucrative bragging rights in a growing field -- the history of sound -- that was barely heard of not long ago.
After an unusual and sometimes painful early career, Thompson last fall won a $500,000 MacArthur fellowship, one of the so-called genius awards that propel their often previously obscure recipients into a kind of intellectual and financial heaven. More recently, she also received a $25,000 grant from the Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences to write a book on the switch from silent films to ones with sound.
Thompson expects to move to Los Angeles this summer to work on the book full time for a year, scouring cinema libraries and studio archives. Then she will move to New Jersey to join Princeton University's history department, a professorship offer she accepted this month. The 44-year-old former engineer is a scholar of aural (as opposed to oral) history and seeks to understand how the ways we produce and hear sound influence culture -- and vice versa.
With much of modern history told through the sense of vision, sound has been relegated to be "a somewhat less rational sense," Thompson said.
But to understand "how people in the past understood their own world, obviously all five senses are involved," Thompson said.
She attempts to explore not only what people heard but also how they perceived it: "We aren't able to listen with the same kind of ears that people in 1900 or 1930 did," Thompson said. "Even if a time machine took me back to 1913, I would still be the product of a different time and culture.... That's every historian's challenge: how to escape their own mind-set to adapt to the time they are studying."
Her 2002 book, "The Soundscape of Modernity: Architectural Acoustics and the Culture of Listening in America, 1900-1933," won admiring reviews and several prizes for showing how concert halls, churches and movie palaces used new technology to create modern "sonic environments." The work also delved into early anti-noise campaigns. Thompson's second book, tentatively titled "Sound Effects," will examine how sound transformed the movie industry and, ultimately, American society. That change has been well-documented in the world of actors, directors and writers. Remember the trauma of the screechy actress in the film musical "Singin' in the Rain"?...
SOURCE: William R. Hawkins at frontpagemag.com (6-15-06)
Terrorism, of course, appeals to the romantic nature of the Left. But even they know that al-Qaeda is far too weak to pose a real global threat to U.S. hegemony. What they want is the rise of a new superpower to replace the USSR, and many seem to have found it in the People’s Republic of China. Beijing may not be as attractive as it was during the reign of Chairman Mao, when his “little red book” was all the rage, but China is still ruled by a Communist dictatorship and its “market socialism” and five year plans can still offer the “alternative model of development” that Singer called for in 1989 as the Soviet model disappeared in Europe.
It should not be surprising then, that some of the harshest critics of the Bush administration’s military campaigns in the Middle East are shifting their focus to bolstering China’s position in Asia. One of the most prominent organizations of this sort is the Japan Policy Research Institute (JPRI). It was founded in 1994 by Chalmers Johnson and Steve Clemons, who with Johnson’s wife Sheila, are the only officers.
Chalmers Johnson served as chairman of the Center for Chinese Studies at the University of California-Berkeley. Since the invasion of Iraq, he has published two books in a proposed trilogy which he calls “the American Empire project.” The second book, The Sorrows of Empire: Militarism, Secrecy, and the End of the Republic (2004), argues that since 9/11, the United States has “undergone a transformation from republic to empire that may well prove irreversible.” U.S. policy is based on “the use or threat of force rather than negotiations, commerce, or cultural interaction” and Johnson claims “a revolution would be required to bring the Pentagon back under democratic control.”
It is the first book of the set, Blowback : The Costs and Consequences of American Empire (2003), that shows the link between his interests in China and Japan. It is a polemic history of U.S. imperialism in Asia, where Washington’s misguided opposition to communism in China, Korea and Vietnam blends with stories of crimes committed by American Marines against civilians on Okinawa. Indeed, the JPRI trumpets every alleged incident on Okinawa in an attempt to promote ill-will between Japanese and Americans. In exchange for a tax deductible contribution, the JPRI will provide a DVD about Okinawa that “vividly portrays the dangers and miseries of having Fatenma airbase in their midst.”
On May 1 of this year, the United States and Japan finalized plans to consolidate the 50,000 American troops in Japan as part of a broader realignment of the U.S. forces in Asia. The plan will transfer 8,000 Marines from Okinawa to Guam by 2014, and relocate helicopters from Futenma to Nago. Japan will pay $6 billion towards relocating the Marines. But this is not the sign of flagging U.S.-Japanese cooperation that critics have wanted. Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice has said the plan will “create a stronger, sustainable alliance that demonstrates our global partnership and that is one that pushed us forward into the 21st century.” ...