Rene -- Fisk -- What Osama Might Learn from UN Bombing

Topic(s): Iraq
Date Posted: 08.28.03


It was always the same story. If it wasn't the enemy you were fighting, it was the enemy you knew you'd have to fight in the future.

So when the killers of Baghdad on Tuesday slaughtered 20 UN staff, with the UN's local proconsul, Sergio Vieira de Mello, the Americans embarked on one of their familiar flights into fancy. If it wasn't Saddam's "diehard remnants" who were tormenting them, it must be al-Qa'ida's "remnants" who are destroying America's best efforts to produce democracy in Iraq (though not Afghanistan); "foreign Arab" fighters were creeping over the border from Iran or Syria.

This was the line from the "Coalition Provisional Authority" yesterday: don't, for God's sake, produce proof of home-grown opposition, or the whole "liberation" of Iraq might look rather dodgy. Blame it on al-Qa'ida, on "Ansar al-Islam", on "terrorists" coming from Saudi Arabia or Syria or Afghanistan. But, during the war against the American invasion of Iraq, weren't there two suicide bombings in Nasariyah, one by a man, the second by two women? Weren't they Iraqis? And isn't it possible an Iraqi Sunni resistance movement--for let us be frank and accept that the Shia have not yet joined the resistance war, though they will--destroyed the UN headquarters on Tuesday? Only yesterday did it emerge that the bomber was probably a suicider.

Months ago, when Donald Rumsfeld, the US Defence Secretary who in a previous incarnation pleaded with Saddam (circa 1983) to reopen the US embassy in Baghdad, arrived in the Iraqi capital to address his troops, he warned of "terrorist" organisations at large in Iraq. Some of us wondered what he was talking about. Hadn't the US just defeated Iraq?

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Rene -- ''Why Nuclear Weapons May Be In Iran's National Interests''

Topic(s): Iran
Date Posted: 08.28.03

''Why Nuclear Weapons May Be In Iran's National Interests''
20 August, 2003

For more than two decades, the Islamic Republic of Iran has been at odds
with the foreign policy of the United States. The most significant clash
between the two countries began shortly after the election of Premier
Mohammed Mossadeq, who took power in Tehran in 1951. Mossadeq, a
nationalist, nationalized the oil industry and formed the National Iranian
Oil Company. Due to this action, the United States and Great Britain
engineered a coup in August of 1953, overthrowing the democratically elected
leader and replacing Mossadeq with Mohammad Reza Pahlavi, referred to as the
Shah, who ruled for twenty-five years. Shortly after taking power, the Shah
allowed an international consortium of American, British, French and Dutch
oil companies to operate its oil facilities and reap fifty percent of the
profits. Despite the Shah's close, friendly relationship with Washington and
other Western governments, his brutal autocratic methods of violently
quelling domestic dissent with his dreaded security apparatus, the SAVAK,
sparked a revolution in Iranian society led by conservative religious
leaders. By overthrowing the U.S. supported government, therefore
threatening U.S. interests in the region, the new Iranian leaders quickly
became enemies of successive American administrations.

Moreover, on top of earning the disregard of the world's only superpower,
Iran also has found itself in a geographically volatile region. During the
1980s, Iraq, under the leadership of Saddam Hussein and the Ba'ath Party,
invaded Iran in an attempt to conquer valuable territory such as the
disputed Shatt al Arab waterway. The war was devastating to both the Iraqis
and the Iranians. Since the end of that conflict in 1988, Iran and Iraq have
had terse relations. In addition to Iraq, Iran is also threatened by the
region's most powerful state, Israel, which has a carefully defended nuclear
monopoly in the Middle East. In 1981, Israel launched a surprise air attack
on Iraq's Osirak nuclear reactor in an attempt to dash Baghdad's goal of
developing nuclear arms; Israel's aim was to preserve its nuclear monopoly
in the Middle East. It is clear that Israel would seriously consider similar
action in Iran, should Tehran come closer to developing nuclear arms.

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Avi -- Benvenisti -- A wall against fear

Topic(s): Palestine / Israel
Date Posted: 08.28.03

A wall against fear
By Meron Benvenisti

There was never a rational reason behind the need
to establish the "separation fence" or for the
route the fence follows, but rather a
psychological need that was avidly answered by
politicians and generals who had no better ideas.
The terrifying wall, which brutally rapes the
landscape of hills and orchards and turns the
lives of tens of thousands of people into hell, is
first and foremost a psychological division of the
world into two: on one side lies the protected
area of the "home" where people are expected to
live normal, peaceful lives, and on the other
side, the threat of death, barbarism and terror.

To provide a remedy for the
geography-of-fear syndrome, the
Israeli government is prepared
- with the fervent support of
most of the public - to invest
hundreds of millions of
dollars; and the true
significance of this
witch-doctor's potion is hidden
behind the argument over

whether this is a "security" or a "political"

This national project is on its way to gaining a
place of honor among similar projects - all
equally cynical, populist, wasteful and
destructive - that were described at the time
of their inception as the height of Zionism and
the most ingenious defensive system, but whose
initiators today deny all involvement with
these white elephants that have faded into
obscurity. As usual, of course, no one will
demand accountability from the witch doctors:
There is no price too great for national morale
and the fence will never be tested in reality
because there will always be those who will say
that, had it not existed, the number of attacks
would have been incomparably higher.

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Rene -- Claus Fund witholds support for Havana Biennial

Topic(s): Cuba
Date Posted: 08.27.03

Increased suppression of cultural expression in Cuba leads the
Prince Claus Fund to withhold support from the 2003 Havana Biennial

As a result of the arrest of 75 Cuban cultural and social activists in recent months and their being sentenced to harsh terms of imprisonment of up to 28 years, the Prince Claus Fund has decided not to provide financial support to the 8th Havana Biennial, which will be held in November 2003. All those sentenced were engaged in the critical Cuban cultural and social arenas. The convictions signal a significant deterioration of the situation for intellectuals and artists. The body responsible for organising the 8th Havana Biennial, which is an internationally acclaimed platform for non-western art, is associated with the government and has not distanced itself from the policy of prosecution. As a result, the Prince Claus Fund is forced to withdraw its collaboration.

The Prince Claus Fund was a key financier of the 7th Havana Biennial in 2000, contributing 90,000 euro because of the high quality of the exhibition and the emphasis on intercultural exchange with artists in Latin America, the Caribbean, Asia and Africa. Another reason for support was that the Biennial gave Cubans - living in a country in which the independent provision of information is scarce - access to international cultural developments. These reasons would have applied this time as well. The Fund nevertheless considers that it would be inappropriate to collaborate directly or indirectly with a government that pursues a policy of severe repression.

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Avi -- Hass -- The Palestinians' dog days of summer

Topic(s): Palestine / Israel
Date Posted: 08.26.03

The Palestinians' dog days of summer

By Amira Hass

Before a house or public building is constructed in Dura, located in the Hebron area, a cistern is dug to collect rainwater. The rain gutters that collect every drop of water from the roof run down to the cistern, whose sides are covered by concrete. Each year, larger holes are being dug in inverse proportion to the amount of water reaching the homes via the water system's pipes. In Dura,
as in Hebron, Bethlehem and Jenin, summer is synonymous with dry faucets. [See the attached file]

The Dura municipality, like other Palestinian cities in the West Bank, must carry out a regime of rotating the flow of water to its various neighborhoods, since the amount of water the city receives is not enough to supply the population's minimal demand.

When water is channeled to one neighborhood, no water flows to others. During
the summer, when the demand for water rises and the reservoirs of rainwater dwindle, it takes two to three months until a neighborhood gets its turn to receive water. The further away, and higher, the neighborhood, the less water it receives due to insufficient water pressure.

Dura purchases its water from the Al-Fawwar well operated by the city of Hebron. According to data from the Dura municipality, the well produces about 2,400 cubic meters of water per day. But water is pumped to Dura only two days a week, providing about 2,200 cubic meters to the city's supply. The rest of the water pumped from the well goes to the Al-Fawwar refugee
camp and the adjacent Rahiya area. About 25,000 people receive 2,200,000 liters of water per week - an average of about 88 liters a week per person, while the minimum amount of water considered necessary for basic urban consumption is about 100 liters per day (including the water needs of homes, hospitals, schools, businesses, and other public institutions). An attempt by the Mekorot Water Company in 1990 to drill a new well in the Dahariya area to increase the supply of water in the region was unsuccessful - no water was
found. The water is also not distributed equitably: due to the low water pressure in the pipes, areas at higher elevations or at further distances from the source receive little water during the summer; sometimes not even a single drop.
Of the small amount of water pumped to Dura, about 27 percent is lost in the pipeline along he way. The municipality's director-general, Abd al-Halim Darawish, says that the rate of water loss used to be higher, but the city
replaced the old water pipes in recent years. The loss of water in the pipeline is a factor taken into consideration in every water network, but this loss becomes unbearable when the amount of water is so small to begin with.

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John -- A Communist Life With No Apology

Topic(s): Hobsbawm, Eric
Date Posted: 08.23.03

August 23, 2003
A Communist Life With No Apology

LONDON, Aug. 22 — Born in 1917, the year of the October Revolution, the historian Eric Hobsbawm has lived through much of "the most extraordinary and terrible century in human history," as he describes it, from the rise of Communism and fascism to World War II, the cold war and the dissolution of the Soviet Union.

Recent events, he says, "fit in with the gloomy picture" he has had of world affairs for the last three-quarters of a century.

But for an unapologetic pessimist, Mr. Hobsbawm is remarkably robust, bordering on cheerful.

As he describes in "Interesting Times: A 20th-Century Life" (Pantheon), his new memoir, Mr. Hobsbawm has overcome considerable odds, including a fractured childhood in Weimar Germany, to become one of the great British historians of his age, an unapologetic Communist and a polymath whose erudite, elegantly written histories are still widely read in schools here and abroad.

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John -- Journalists Find "Calm" When Only Palestinians Die

Topic(s): Palestine / Israel
Date Posted: 08.22.03

Fairness & Accuracy In Reporting
Media analysis, critiques and activism

Journalists Find "Calm" When Only Palestinians Die

August 22, 2003

The deadly bus bombing in Jerusalem on August 19 was foreshadowed by a
pair of suicide attacks a week earlier which killed two Israeli civilians.
While U.S. media tended to portray these attacks as a return to violence
after a relatively peaceful period, there were numerous killings in the
weeks leading up to the suicide bombings that underscore the lack of
evenhanded attention given to loss of life in the Israeli/Palestinian

When the two Palestinian suicide bombers each killed an Israeli civilian
along with themselves on August 12, U.S. news outlets immediately depicted
the attacks as an apparent resurgence in Mideast violence. "Summer truce
shattered in Israel," announced CBS (8/12/03), while NBC (8/12/03)
reported that "the attacks broke more than a month of relative silence."
The Los Angeles Times (8/13/03) wrote that the bombings "broke a six-week
stretch during which the people of this war-weary land had enjoyed
relative quiet."

[Continue Reading]

John -- Herbert: A Price Too High

Topic(s): Iraq
Date Posted: 08.21.03

August 21, 2003
A Price Too High

How long is it going to take for us to recognize that the war we so foolishly started in Iraq is a fiasco — tragic, deeply dehumanizing and ultimately unwinnable? How much time and how much money and how many wasted lives is it going to take?

At the United Nations yesterday, grieving diplomats spoke bitterly, but not for attribution, about the U.S.-led invasion and occupation. They said it has not only resulted in the violent deaths of close and highly respected colleagues, but has also galvanized the most radical elements of Islam.

"This is a dream for the jihad," said one high-ranking U.N. official. "The resistance will only grow. The American occupation is now the focal point, drawing people from all over Islam into an eye-to-eye confrontation with the hated Americans.

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Rene -- Khomeini's Grandson Calls For New Revolution

Topic(s): Iran
Date Posted: 08.20.03

RFE/RL Iran: Khomeini's Grandson Calls For New Revolution

Prague, 4 August 2003 (RFE/RL) -- The eldest grandson of the late
Iranian revolutionary leader Ayatollah Ruhollah Khomeini (pictured)
has called on Iranians to launch an attack on the current regime.

The London-based Arabic language newspaper "Al-Sharq al-Awsat" quoted
46-year-old Hussein Khomeini as saying: "Iran needs a new democratic
regime that does not use religion to suppress the people."

The paper said that Khomeini made the remark from his residence in
Al-Najaf, Iraq. Hussein Khomeini said his grandfather's successors in
power in Tehran have abused the ayatollah's name to legitimize unjust
regimes. He predicted Iran would soon face a new revolution.

The paper said that Khomeini, who sympathizes with the reformists and
student protestors in Iran, has moved into a house in Al-Najaf once
used by his grandfather when he was living in exile.

[Continue Reading]

Rene -- Lithuania: Make Way For The New European Economic 'Tiger'

Topic(s): Lithuania
Date Posted: 08.20.03

RFE/RL Lithuania: Make Way For The New European Economic 'Tiger'

By Mark Baker

Move over, Ireland -- the European Union will soon have a new economic
"tiger": Lithuania. When the Baltic country joins the EU next year,
it's likely to be the bloc's fastest-growing economy. Growth is
expected to reach an annual rate of around 7 percent this year.
Inflation is nonexistent and debt levels are low -- not bad for a
former Soviet republic with few wealthy friends and no natural
resources to speak of. RFE/RL talked to analysts to find out what's
driving the boom.

Prague, 13 August 2003 (RFE/RL) -- It's an economic success story in
what some would consider the unlikeliest of places: Lithuania. A
former Soviet republic with no significant natural resources,
Lithuania's economy is growing at around 7 percent a year. This at a
time when global economic growth has slowed to a crawl and Europe's
biggest national economy, Germany, is on the verge of recession.

It's a remarkable showing -- one that prompted Britain's "The
Economist" magazine last month to dub Lithuania the "Baltic Tiger."
The new arrival threatens to outshine Europe's other economic "tiger,"
Ireland, which in recent years has profited from EU development funds
and the high-tech boom to become Europe's fastest-growing economy.

Lithuania's numbers are certainly impressive. Growth in the first
quarter of the year reached an annual rate of 9.4 percent. That's
expected to slow later in the year, but still remain around 6
percent-7 percent this year and next. That compares to near-zero
growth in Germany and just 0.8 percent in Ireland in the first

Additionally, inflation is nonexistent. And unemployment, while still
relatively high at around 10 percent, is dropping.

Vidmantas Saferis, an analyst at Hansabank in Vilnius, said Lithuania
is benefiting from low worldwide interest rates, which have stimulated
direct investment. "There is one thing...Lithuania is kind of lucky,
talking about the external environment, especially the monetary one,"
Saferis said. "Lithuania can enjoy low interest rates, thus helping to
boost its economy internally."

[Continue Reading]

Rene -- 'It was punishment without trial'

Topic(s): Iraq
Date Posted: 08.20.03

'It was punishment without trial'

[if the word occupation seems misplaced try again]

Hundreds of Iraqis civilians are being held in makeshift jails run by
US troops - many without being charged or even questioned. And in
these prisons are children whose parents have no way of locating
them. Jonathan Steele reveals the grim reality of coalition justice in

Friday August 15, 2003
The Guardian

It was a warm spring evening in a Baghdad suburb when American troops
stopped the car in which 11-year-old Sufian Abd al-Ghani was riding
close to his home with his uncle and a neighbour. They were ordered
out and told to lie face down on the road. Sufian's father heard the
commotion and rushed out to find the soldiers pointing their rifles at
his son and the others. Claiming the uncle had fired at them, they
started beating the three captives with their rifle butts, according
to the father. A neighbour confirms that a shot had been fired, but
it was part of a row between the Ghanis and another family. "In Iraq
this is normal. Almost every household in Baghdad owns a weapon. One
man was drunk. The Americans must have heard the shot as they were
passing. It was not directed at them," says the neighbour, who prefers
not to be named.

The American soldiers searched the Ghanis' house, but found
nothing. For three hours Sufian was kept on the ground with the two
adults. Then the Americans put hoods over their heads, tied their
hands with tight plastic bracelets, and drove them away. "Why are you
taking my son?" a desperate Abdullah Ghani pleaded. "Don't worry. As
he's a child, we'll send him back in a couple of days," a Sergeant
Stark assured him.

The three were driven off to Baghdad airport, where US forces have set
up a makeshift prison in large tents. Around 500 Iraqis are held in
miserable conditions, sleeping on the ground, with inadequate water
rations and not enough blankets to go round, according to former

Sufian spent eight days in a tent with around 20 adults. They were
given yellow packets of ready-to-eat meals, the standard US army fare,
but no change of clothes. Then the hood went back on and Sufian was
taken to the Salhiyeh detention centre for women and juveniles - a
holding facility in a police station just outside Saddam Hussein's
Republican Palace, which has become the headquarters of the coalition

[Continue Reading]

Kevin -- Survivors, Not Heroes Or Villains, In Occupied France

Topic(s): World War II
Date Posted: 08.20.03


Survivors, Not Heroes Or Villains, In Occupied France

Daily Life in the Heart of France During the German Occupation
By Robert Gildea
Illustrated. 508 pages. Metropolitan Books. $32.50.

Even as Allied troops were liberating France in the summer of 1944, Gen. Charles de Gaulle was constructing the myth that the French had heroically resisted German occupation. It was to prove a hardy myth, one that helped France bury the humiliation of its recent past and face the future with some unity. Yet when the myth began crumbling in the 1970's, it was gradually replaced by a no less simplistic version of history: that France was a nation of collaborators who stood by indifferently as tens of thousands of Jews were deported to Nazi death camps.

To those trapped in the perennial resistance-versus-collaboration debate, Robert Gildea has done a great service in his new book, ''Marianne in Chains: Daily Life in the Heart of France During the German Occupation.'' Instead of looking at wartime France top-down, he has focused on grass-roots experiences in a tranche of western France stretching from Tours along the Loire Valley to the Atlantic port of St.-Nazaire. And he has done so by studying departmental, municipal and parish records, perusing private journals and listening to aged survivors.

[Continue Reading]


Topic(s): Blackout
Date Posted: 08.17.03



by Greg Palast

I can tell you all about the ne're-do-wells that put out our lights
tonight. I came up against these characters -- the Niagara Mohawk Power
Company -- some years back. You see, before I was a journalist, I worked
for a living, as an investigator of corporate racketeers. In the 1980s,
"NiMo" built a nuclear plant, Nine Mile Point, a brutally costly piece
of hot junk for which NiMo and its partner companies charged billions to
New York State's electricity ratepayers.

[Continue Reading]

Naeem -- Failed 'Plan' in Colombia

Topic(s): Colombia
Date Posted: 08.14.03

Failed 'Plan' in Colombia


[posted online on July 31, 2003]

Three years ago this summer, President Clinton signed a $1.3 billion
spending bill for "Plan Colombia," aimed at curbing violence in Colombia and
drug abuse in the United States. Don't expect festive anniversary celebrations
this summer, though, in either the barrios and rural villages of Colombia or the
overburdened drug rehab centers here. The Bush Administration has invoked
the ubiquitous terrorism justification to try to keep this floundering policy
going, but concerns are mounting.

The bulk of the 2000 aid package paid for helicopters and training for a
Colombian counterdrug brigade, as well as spray planes to fumigate fields of
coca, the raw ingredient in the cocaine that provides some of the guerrillas'
funding. The policy objectives have not been met, but Congress has provided
hundreds of millions of dollars more each year and extended the plan's

Colombia is home to three groups classified as terrorists: the left-wing FARC
and ELN guerrillas and the pro-government AUC paramilitaries. It took only
eight months after 9/11 for Congress to expand US engagement from fighting
drugs to "a unified campaign against narcotics trafficking [and] against
activities by organizations designated as terrorist organizations." On the
grounds of fighting terrorism, seventy Special Forces troops were sent to
Arauca province in January to begin training Colombian soldiers to hunt
down guerrillas and protect an oil pipeline partly owned by Occidental

[Continue Reading]

John -- What Might Have Been

Topic(s): World War II
Date Posted: 08.13.03

What Might Have Been
'The Oster Conspiracy of 1938: The Unknown Story of the Military Plot to Kill Hitler and Avert World War II' by Terry Parssinen

Reviewed by David Stafford

Sunday, August 10, 2003; Page BW06

The Unknown Story of the Military Plot to Kill Hitler and Avert World War II
By Terry Parssinen
HarperCollins. 232 pp. $27.95

What if Hitler had been killed or overthrown in 1938? World War II would never have happened, the lives of millions would have been saved, and the 20th-century world would have been radically different.

It almost happened. In September 1938, Europe stood on the brink of war. For months, Hitler had been demanding the cession of the Sudetenland, the German-speaking areas of Czechoslovakia. Britain's Prime Minister Neville Chamberlain had dramatically taken his first-ever trip by air for a personal summit to resolve the crisis with Hitler at Berchtesgaden. Here the two men agreed on a timetable for the peaceful transfer of the disputed lands to the Reich. Then, a week later, Hitler abruptly upped his demands. The British Cabinet balked, the fleet was mobilized, and in London trenches were dug in public parks, gas masks distributed and anti-aircraft guns erected. "How horrible, fantastic, incredible it is," lamented Chamberlain in a legendary radio broadcast, that such preparations were necessary "because of a quarrel in a faraway country between people of whom we know nothing."

[Continue Reading]

Garrett -- Senator Wants to 'Promote Some Diversity' in Congressional Artwork

Topic(s): racism
Date Posted: 08.13.03

August 13, 2003
Senator Wants to 'Promote Some Diversity' in Congressional Artwork

WASHINGTON, Aug. 8 — There is not much to distinguish the painting of Senator Blanche Kelso Bruce from the countless other official portraits that line the corridors of the United States Capitol. The senator, who represented Mississippi in the late 1800's, is dressed in a dark, three-piece suit, a watch chain of gold stretched across his ample belly. His face bears a look of calm seriousness, befitting a man of power.

There is, however, one thing that sets this picture apart: Senator Bruce is black.

In a gallery populated almost exclusively by images of white men, the portrait of Bruce, who was born into slavery and became the first African-American to serve a full Senate term, can be a startling sight. But its position — just outside the entrance to the visitors' seats overlooking the Senate chamber, in view of the thousands of schoolchildren and tourists who pass by each year — is no accident.

[Continue Reading]

Rene -- Radical Politics and the Writer

Topic(s): Blanchot
Date Posted: 08.12.03

Surely Blanchot's profoundly unwavering friendship with philosopher Emmanuel Levinas is testimony to the depths to which brotherly love prevails, unmoved by offence and innovated upon the tensions relationships instigate. To Levinas' ethical disposition, Blanchot offered radical subversion. To Levinas' Talmudic dissolution of European Christian philosophy, Blanchot, for a time, embraced anti-Semitism as the nihilistic end of Western thought-at least in the representation it expressed up to the Shoah. In the concept each thinker held of 'ends' lay renewal in resistance, thought and the written form. And each struggled consciously with the "errors" that extremism seems often to bring out of necessity-to which neither were immune.

[Continue Reading]

Deidre -- Chomsky -- Iraq: invasion that will live in infamy

Topic(s): Iraq
Date Posted: 08.11.03

SEPTEMBER 2002 was marked by three events of considerable importance, closely related. The United States, the most powerful state in history, announced a new national security strategy asserting that it will maintain global hegemony permanently. Any challenge will be blocked by force, the dimension in which the US reigns supreme. At the same time, the war drums began to beat to mobilise the population for an invasion of Iraq. And the campaign opened for the mid-term congressional elections, which would determine whether the administration would be able to carry forward its radical international and domestic agenda.

The new "imperial grand strategy", as it was termed at once by John Ikenberry writing in the leading establishment journal, presents the US as "a revisionist state seeking to parlay its moment ary advantages into a world order in which it runs the show", a unipolar world in which "no state or coalition could ever challenge it as global leader, protector, and enforcer" (1). These policies are fraught with danger even for the US itself, Ikenberry warned, joining many others in the foreign policy elite.

What is to be protected is US power and the interests it represents, not the world, which vigorously opposed the concept. Within a few months studies revealed that fear of the US had reached remarkable heights, along with distrust of the political leadership. An international Gallup poll in December, which was barely noticed in the US, found almost no support for Washington's announced plans for a war in Iraq carried out unilaterally by America and its allies - in effect, the US-United Kingdom coalition.

Washington told the United Nations that it could be relevant by endorsing US plans, or it could be a debating society. The US had the "sovereign right to take military action", the administration's moderate Colin Powell told the World Economic Forum, which also vigorously opposed the war plans: "When we feel strongly about something we will lead, even if no one is following us" (2).

President George Bush and British Prime Minister Tony Blair underscored their contempt for international law and institutions at their Azores summit meeting on the eve of the invasion. They issued an ultimatum, not to Iraq, but to the Security Council: capitulate, or we will invade without your meaningless seal of approval. And we will do so whether or not Saddam Hussein and his family leave the country (3). The crucial principle is that the US must effectively rule Iraq.

[Continue Reading]

Richard -- Gore's Speech at NYU

Topic(s): US Analysis
Date Posted: 08.10.03

Thank you, Michael Phillips (ph) and Eli Pariser (ph). A special thanks to my former colleague John Brademas (ph). I appreciate your kind words and Tipper and I are delighted to be with you today.

Some of you may remember that the last time I talked formally on the topics that we're here to talk about today was a little less than a year ago in San Francisco, when I argued that the president's case for urgent and unilateral preemptive war in Iraq was less than convincing and needed to be challenged more effectively by the Congress.

In light of developments since then, you might assume that my purpose today is to revisit the manner in which we were led into war, and to some extent that will be the case, but only as part of a larger theme that I feel very strongly needs to be explored on an urgent basis.

The direction in which our nation is being led now is deeply troubling to me, not only in Iraq, but also here at home, on economic policy, social policy and environmental policy.

Millions of Americans now share a feeling that something pretty basic has gone wrong in our country and that some important American values are being placed at risk. And they want to set it right.

[Continue Reading]

Rene -- Negri -- The Order of War

Topic(s): "War on Terror"
Date Posted: 08.09.03

*First appeared in the Italian “Global Magazine” in November, 2002 Translated by Arianna Bove and Thomas Seay

Iran, Iraq, North Korea. Within the new world order, roles and pecking orders are being redefined through conflict with “rogues states”. This is the game in progress between the United States, China, Europe and Russia.

The imperial war is underway, developing and expanding with continuity and inner consistency. American initiative, the driving force behind the war, yields little by little to the conditions set by other rulers of the earth. The very role of the United Nations is being transformed into that of Imperial Senate(1). War, as a global basis of legitimacy and as pre-eminent display of imperial rule, is manifesting itself in all its forms, and as it expands, so too does imperial power. The new military doctrine, made public by the American administration on September 20, 2002, completes the strategic design that the Bush group declared when it first acceded to power, well before the collapse of the Twin Towers: the achievement of superior military power by the United States, the consequent denunciation of the Anti-Ballistic Missile Treaty (ABM), and the start of the unilateral construction of the Missile Defense System (“Son of Star Wars”). After September 11, 2001, the campaign in Afghanistan, which initiated on a global level the first phase of the war on terrorism, put together conventional and unconventional means of warfare, as well as high and low intensity police actions. Today the new military doctrine couches in terms of common sense and elementary self-defense Empire’s right to intervene against potential enemies before such threats materialize. This is the theory of preventative war.

Preventative war is not only a military doctrine; it is a constituent strategy of Empire. The American administration’s September 20th document explicitly states so: preventative war is a just and necessary means to defend liberty, justice, democracy and economic growth against terrorists and tyrants. It adds that preventative war should be considered immediately relevant concerning three “rogue states”: Iraq, Iran and North Korea. To certain sectors of public opinion as well as to diplomats of some countries it seemed as though the statement about the “Axis of Evil”, along with a succession of angry unilateralist declarations on the part of White House representatives and their watchdogs indicated the suspension or definitive interruption of the nexus between military doctrine and the constituent strategy of Empire. In reality such was not the case. On the contrary, these statements represented items on the agenda [ordine del giorno] around which constituent discussions between the global powers emerged. No sensible person could have ever really thought that Iraq, Iran and North Korea posed substantial problems for a power like the USA, which could claim inordinate military power after its victory against international communism.

[Continue Reading]

Anonymous Comrade -- The World: Seven Thoughts in May of 2003

Topic(s): Zapatistas
Date Posted: 08.08.03

While the Power’s calendars break down, and while the large media
corporations vacillate between those absurdities and tragedies being
staged and promoted by the world’s political class, below, in the great
and extensive basement of the tottering modern Tower of Babel, the
movements are not ceasing and, even though they are still faltering, they
are beginning to regain the word and their ability to act as mirror and
lens. While the politics of discord are being decreed above, in the
basement of the world, the others are finding each other and the other
who, being different, is another below.

As part of this rebuilding of the word as mirror and lens, the Zapatista
Army of National Liberation has reengaged in dialogues with social and
political movements and organizations in the world. Initially - with
brothers and sisters from Mexico, Italy, France, Germany, Switzerland, the
Spanish State, Argentina and the American Union - it has been about
building a common Agenda for discussion.

It is not an attempt to establish political and programmatic agreements,
nor to attempt a new version of the International. Nor does it have to do
with unifying theoretical concepts or standardizing conceptions, but with
finding, and or building, common points of discussion. Something like
constructing theoretical and practical images which are seen and
experienced from different places.

[Continue Reading]

Anonymous Comrade -- A Critique of Hardt & Negri’s Empire

Topic(s): Anarchy?
Date Posted: 08.08.03

"Barbarians: The Disordered Insurgence"
A Critique of Hardt & Negri’s Empire
By Crisso and Odoteo

[Translator’s Preface]
"Barbarians" by Crisso and Odoteo is a text of some importance for anarchists and anyone else who sincerely desires the destruction of this social world of exploitation and domination. It presents a devastating critique of a book that has become one of the most significant theoretical influences on a major part of the so-called anti-globalization movement, Empire by Michael Hardt and Antonio Negri. When one reads these two texts together, two opposing ways of using language are exposed. Hardt and Negri use a language that is obviously meant to conceal at least as much as it reveals, and that should immediately tip one off to the recuperative nature of their text. Crisso and Odoteo, on the contrary, use direct language as sharp as a barbarian’s sword to cut through the murky web of Hardt’s and Negri’s postmodern doublespeak to reveal the essentially anti-revolutionary core of their perspective.    

For example, Hardt and Negri claim to be post-dialectical and post-Marxist. It merely takes a slight rip of the veil to expose a historical determinism and a rigid dialectic of class struggle that reflects one of the crudest versions of Marxism. Negri and Hardt, in fact, justify the horrors of the present not merely as historically necessary for the development of communism, but as actual reflections of the power of the “multitude”, their historical subject.

    It is particularly useful that, as Italians, Crisso and Odoteo are familiar with the various movements that have been influenced by Negri, as well as with recent works of his that are not available in English. This allows them to place Empire in a context that further exposes its recuperative significance.

    Crisso and Odoteo clearly expose the love Hardt and Negri actually have for the Empire and its methods of homogenizing the world. This love, in fact, reaches the point of support for the European Union. Negri recently co-edited a collection of texts by leftists in praise of the political unification of Europe (choosing however to ignore the fact that this unification is a reality mainly in terms of the needs of the ruling class: a free flow of capital, the unification of policing networks and so on).

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Rene -- Manuel De Landa -- 1000 Years of War

Topic(s): Interviews
Date Posted: 08.08.03

Manuel de Landa in conversation with: Don Ihde, Casper Bruun Jensen, Jari Friis
Jorgensen, Srikanth Mallavarapu, Eduardo Mendieta, John Mix, John Protevi, and Evan Selinger.

Manuel De Landa, distinguished philosopher and principal figure in the “new materialism” that has been emerging as a result of interest in Deleuze and Guattari, currently teaches at Columbia University. Because his research into “morphogenesis”—the production of stable structures out of material flows—extends into the domains of architecture, biology, economics, history, geology, linguistics, physics, and technology, his outlook has been of great interest to theorists across the disciplines. His latest book on Deleuze’s realist ontology, Intensive Science and Virtual Philosophy (2002), comes in the wake of best-sellers: War in the Age of Intelligent Machines (1991), where De Landa assumes the persona of the “robot historian” to bring the natural and social sciences into dialogue vis-a-vis using insights found in nonlinear dynamics to analyze the role of information technology in military history, and A Thousand Years of Non-Linear History (1997), where he carves out a space for geological, organic, and linguistic materials to “have their say” in narrating the different ways that a single matter-energy undergoes phase transitions of various kinds, resulting in the production of the semi-stable structures that are constitutive of the natural and social worlds. When Evan Selinger gathered together the participants for the following interview, his initial intention was to create an interdisciplinary dialogue about the latest book. In light of current world events—which have brought about a renewed fascination with De Landa’s thoughts on warfare—and in light of the different participant interests, an unintended outcome came about. A synoptic and fruitful conversation occurred that traverses aspects of De Landa’s oeuvre.

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Rene -- From ethnicity to empathy: a new idea of Europe

Topic(s): Europe
Date Posted: 08.08.03

From ethnicity to empathy: a new idea of Europe
Ash Amin
24 - 7 - 2003

The dynamic intermingling of peoples in contemporary Europe is challenging definitions of the continent’s identity based on ethnicity, indigeneity and myths of origin. This unstoppable and enriching diversity calls for a distinct new politics – one that reframes the very idea of Europe in terms of empathy with the stranger.

One question worth asking in the context of the current European Union debate surrounding the Constitutional Convention is whether, given contemporary processes of rapid cultural and ethnic hybridisation, the perennial values supposed to define the ‘Europeanness’ of life on the old continent as well as uniting Europeans into a common project, make any sense.

Taking this as their departure point, the authors of People Flow are right to invite fresh thinking on the kind of Europe we want to live in. Europe is now home to millions of people from non-European backgrounds, many religious and cultural dispositions, and networks of attachment based on diaspora connections and cultural influences from around the world.

Much of Europe has become multi-ethnic and multicultural in ways that are no longer reducible to its ‘indigenous’ ethno-cultural traditions. Europe is a site of longings rooted in myths of origin and tradition – regional, national and European – as well as a site of transnational and trans-European identities and attachments.

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Rene -- Negri -- E as in Empire

Topic(s): Interviews
Date Posted: 08.08.03

The following is a dialogue with Anne DuFourmantelle from Negri's recently published "Abecedaire Politique" (Calmann-Levy 2002), and was translated by Thomas Seay.

E as in Empire

Anne DuFourmantelle: What can you tell us about the concept of Empire that you developed with Michael Hardt?

Toni Negri: Our work together has been most of all a work on linguistic clarification. Indeed, the word "Empire" might seem ambiguous. It immediately appeared in political and journalistic vocabularies and rapidly became static. Nevertheless, by "Empire" we intend something very precise: the transfer of sovereignty from Nation-states to a superior entity. This transfer has almost always been understood in terms of an "internal analogy", that is to say, as if Empire were implicitly a nation-state the size of the world.

Along with this simplification, there is the widely held notion that Empire corresponds to the United States. Contrary to this, we emphasize the fact that the large-scale transfers which are occurring in the military, monetary, cultural, political and linguistic spheres cannot be reduced to some internal analogy; it comes down to the fact that the structure of Empire is radically different from that of nation-states. The process which ushered in Empire is in fact founded on contradictory phenomena: It is founded on the struggles that the working classes waged against capital which made the reproduction of the capitalist system impossible at the national level; It is also founded on the anti-colonial wars and Vietnam which gave rise to a massive anti-imperialist upsurge that shook capital to the core; finally, it is founded on the crisis of the socialist countries. The socialist management of capital did not succeed in developing in face of burgeoning demands for freedom. The cumulative effect of these processes brought about disequilibrium on a world level and Empire came into being amidst multiple extremely violent conflicts. The imperial process that we describe is therefore contradictory at once by its origins and by its development. Today, we have a world-governance that attempts to establish forms of government that can permeate the biopolitical fabric of the entire global citizenry. What interested us in writing this book was to begin to define the areas of struggle and counter-power within Empire. What this means first of all is to put forward some basic demands which correspond to the new context. In particular I have in mind three of these. Respond to the present economic globalization by calling for rights as citizens of the world. In particular the right to free movement, the right to a minimum salary (a citizenship income), the right to re-appropriation, which is to say, recognition of the fact that production belongs to the multitude.

First point: the workforce no longer has borders. We must begin to think as citizens of the world. People should be able to go where they want, they are citizens; they should be able to vote there where they are, there where they work. Free movement has 'til now been entirely managed by capital, because it needs cheap labor, and a mobile workforce was essential to the production of value. We demand that this free movement become a right of the global citizen.

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Avi -- Cry, the beloved two-state solution

Topic(s): Palestine / Israel
Date Posted: 08.08.03

As negotiations with the Palestinians lurch forward and the separation wall snakes its way through the West Bank, two veteran leftists have reached a startling conclusion: There cannot be two states for two peoples in this land.

1. The groundwater

Meron Benvenisti and Haim Hanegbi did not exchange views. Benvenisti lives in Jerusalem, on the edge of the desert, and is trying to write a last book, a summing up. Hanegbi lives in Ramat Aviv, not far from the sea, and is trying to formulate a last, definitive, manifesto. Yet this summer both Benvenisti and Hanegbi reached an intriguing point in their conceptual development. They both reached the conclusion that there is no longer any prospect of ending the conflict by means of a two-state solution. Each of them separately has come to believe that the time has come to establish one state between the Jordan River and the Mediterranean Sea: a binational state.

On the face of it, they come from utterly different worlds. Benvenisti's roots lie deep in the old Zionist establishment. He was the deputy mayor of Jerusalem, Teddy Kollek's right-hand man, a candidate of Ratz (the predecessor of Meretz) for the Knesset. Hanegbi, in contrast, is a retired revolutionary. He was a central activist in the radical-left Matzpen group, one of the founders
of the Progressive List, a partner in the leadership of the peace movement Gush Shalom. However, Benvenisti and Hanegbi also share a deep common background. Both are from Jerusalem and are graduates of the city's Beit Hakerem high school, both are Ashkenazi-Sephardi whose ideas were shaped in the latter stages of the British Mandate period. And both of them love this land and love human beings. Both are surging rivers of emotions and stories and sheer human vitality.

It's precisely because they are not cut of the same cloth, because they are not from the same ideological circle, that the parallel, albeit not identical, processes they are undergoing are so fascinating. True, they are both end-figures, lone wolves, sensitive sentimentalists who are sometimes perceived as eccentrics. Nevertheless, each is an original thinker with finely tuned senses. Both have a knee-jerk aversion to falsity, whitewashing, and uniform thought. So perhaps the fact that the two of them arrived during the past year at the conceptual place they now occupy is of some significance. Possibly it says something about the groundwater of the current Israeli reality.

2. Haim Hanegbi

Where did it start? Right after the start of the intifada. Already then I told veteran peace activist] Uri Avnery that I was regressing, I was returning to my origins, that it might be time to reconsider the dream of a shared state. But Avnery laughed - that's his way. He said I was dreaming. Avnery has done a
lot in the battle for peace and the battle against the occupation, but Avnery also has a defect. He has no psychic mechanism. Just as [pioneer Zionist activist Joseph] Trumpeldor had only one arm, Avnery is incapable of
relating to people. It's not something evil, it's not indifference, it's a disability. He simply lacks that emotional organ. So he laughed at me with a kind of patronizing disdain and ignored what I said. I didn't respond. For the next three years we continued to formulate the Friday messages of Gush Shalom.
But at the beginning of the summer I decided I could no longer remain silent, that I had to come out with it. So I wrote a text against the occupation at the end of which I included, for the first time, the idea of one state for the two nations. A state in partnership, a binational state.

Avnery went wild. He was furious. He said I was harming the Palestinian cause and endangering the Palestinian state and serving the right wing. That I was reinforcing fears of the "phased theory." When I insisted that the text
be sent to all the members of Gush Shalom, I was told that it would not be disseminated because it was contrary to the Gush Shalom consensus. I said, fine, if that's how it is I'm leaving Gush Shalom. So with one phone call, I left Gush Shalom. Others also left in my wake. Half of the hardcore left, so now I am working with a few good people on disseminating my old-new idea about the renewal of binational thinking.

[Continue Reading]

Rene -- The new big game in Central Asia

Topic(s): Caucus
Date Posted: 08.08.03

The U.S. has moved to put a bigger foot in the South Caucasus and
Central Asia... Russia has responded by boosting its military and
economic presence, and building multilateral security structures in
the region.

CENTRAL ASIA and the Caucasus are emerging as the new focal point
of rivalry between Russia and the United States in the wake of the
Iraqi crisis. At the heart of the new standoff are rich oil and gas
resources in the Caspian Sea basin, which may hold 100 billion barrels
of oil alone. Washington has already established a firm foothold in
the local hydrocarbon industry, with U.S. and joint U.S.-British
companies controlling 27 per cent of the Caspian's oil reserves
and 40 per cent of its gas reserves. Last year, the Baku-Ceyhan
oil pipeline through Georgia and Turkey, America's most important
Eurasian strategic initiative since the Soviet Union's collapse,
was launched to bring Caspian oil to Europe bypassing Russia.

In the post-Iraq scenario, the U.S. has moved to put a bigger foot in
the South Caucasus and Central Asia. It has mounted a titanic effort
to revive GUUAM, a moribund economic and security group of five former
Soviet states, Georgia, Ukraine, Uzbekistan, Azerbaijan and Moldova,
set up four years ago as a counterweight to Russian influence. It
was largely thanks to U.S. diplomatic pressure that a long-delayed
GUUAM summit was held on July 3-4 despite the fact that three out
of the five heads of state failed to attend. Georgia's President,
Eduard Shevardnadze, one of the two leaders who did come for the
summit, frankly admitted: "Without support of the Americans it
would be difficult to resolve the issues facing the organisation."
The U.S. has pledged $46 million to support GUUAM projects in
anti-terrorist training, information exchange and in establishing a
GUUAM Parliamentary Assembly. A joint GUUAM-U.S. statement said that
both sides were "looking forward to a new level of joint cooperative

Georgia, which suspects Russia of trying to tear away its rebel
provinces of Abkhazia and South Ossetia, has emerged as Washington's
main ally in the region. Earlier this year, the Georgian Parliament
ratified a defence pact with the U.S. giving the American military
unprecedented rights to visa-free travel and free deployment of
troops, weapons and defence hardware on Georgian territory. Since
last year, American Green Berets have been training Georgian troops
in anti-terrorist operations. Last week, a NATO Air Force General
was in Georgia to seek its consent for AWACS planes, deployed at a
NATO base in Turkey, to patrol in Georgian airspace. American U-2 spy
planes have already made several flights along Georgia's border with
Russia. This allows the U.S. to spy deep inside Russia's territory,
including the North Caucasus, the Black Sea and the Caspian Sea.

[Continue Reading]

Rene -- Like father, like son

Topic(s): Caucus
Date Posted: 08.08.03

Diplomat turned politician Ilham Aliyev is to succeed his father Haydar
as president of Azerbaijan to the chagrin of Azeri opposition parties,
writes Mustafa El-Labbad

Azeri President Haydar Aliyev leaves the country for treatment in
Turkey accompanied by his son Ilham, the oil-rich country's prime
minister and heir apparent

Rumours of the death of Haydar Aliyev, president of oil-rich
Azerbaijan, dominated national news in that Caspian state this week.
Although the Azeri opposition confirmed the rumours, government
officials countered that Aliyev was now in good health and that
he would soon return to the country from Ankara where he had been
receiving treatment in a military hospital.

Whether deceased or in critical or stable condition, the frenzy
over the state of health of the Azeri leader brings to mind a not-
too-distant Soviet era when news of the death of a head of state was
kept under the tightest wraps until his successor had secured a firm
grip on the reins of power. Of course, the "masses" always knew well
beforehand who the successor would be by means of a tried and true
indicator: he was generally the person put in charge of the committee
that would perform the obsequies over the "late leader". That was
how power passed from Yuri Andropov to Konstantin Chernenko and from
Chernenko to Mikhail Gorbachev. Fortunately, in the case of the former
Soviet republic Azerbaijan, in spite of the similarities between its
current situation and the Soviet syndrome, there seems to have been
a marked improvement in the ability to forecast a successor. Sources
in the Azeri capital Baku and the international media have little or
no doubt that Ilham Aliyev, son of the current president, will step
into his father's shoes in the event of the latter dying or becoming

Although a relatively small country (86,600 square km), Azerbaijan
has drawn the attention of international and regional powers because
of its vast offshore reserves of oil and natural gas under the
Caspian Sea. The US has already purchased drilling rights to most
of Azerbaijan's oil fields, while Turkey and Iran, vying to enhance
their geostrategic positions with respect to one another, are vying
to secure exclusive rights to a pipeline that would transport oil
from the landlocked Caspian to their ports that are accessible to
international waterways. The tug-of-war between Iran, Turkey and
international oil companies over Azerbaijan has been called the "New
Great Game" in reference 19th century "Great Game" between the former
Russian and British empires, each of which vied for control over the
Caucasuses and Central Asia.

[Continue Reading]

Rene -- Tariq Ali -- Operation Iranian Freedom

Topic(s): Iran
Date Posted: 08.08.03

In Washington, the hawks and vultures are beginning to gaze at Iran with
greed-filled eyes. The British attack dog is barking and straining at
the leash. And the Israeli ambassador to the United States has helpfully
suggested that the onward march of the American Empire should not be
brought to a premature halt in Baghdad. Teheran beckons, and then there
is always Damascus. The only argument summoned by the blood-mottled
"doves" is that the occupation of Iraq should be sufficient to bring the
Iranian mullahs to heel. Naturally, this latter view does not satisfy
the would-be Shah or his followers in Los Angeles. The Young Pretender
is appearing regularly on the BBC and CNN these days, desperate to
please and a bit too eager to mimic his father and grandfather. Might
the empire put him back on the Peacock Throne? And, if so, how long
would he last?

Neither party appears to be aware of all the recent traumas suffered by
Iran or the fact that this is a nation and a people with a historical
memory, something its poets have helped to preserve. But Iran has not
forgotten that it was the United States and Britain that utilized king
and cleric to bring about the regime change fifty years ago that
destroyed Iran's fledgling democracy.

When Ahmad Shamlu--the most gifted of modern Iranian poets--died in
2000, more than 100,000 people, young and old, marched in dignified
columns behind his funeral cortege while crowds lined the pavements to
sing his poetry and emphasize that hope was still alive. At various
times Shamlu, whose life mirrored the ups and downs of Iranian politics,
had described his country as "a land where no birds sing, where spring
never comes...a prison so huge that the soul weeps tears of shame at its
own impotence."

It was not always thus. There were short periods in the history of
twentieth-century Iran when breakthroughs appeared possible. On each
occasion the mass movements for change were either usurped or defeated.
The Constitutional Revolution of 1906-11 shook the corrupt and
degenerate Qajar dynasty, whose kings had virtually sold the country to
the tobacco and oil interests of the British Empire. A parliament
(Majlis) came into existence. It was accompanied in some regions by a
peasant revolt against tax collectors and landlords, the only indigenous
mainstay of the monarchy. Pro-democracy newspapers appeared, and Iranian
intellectuals began to relish the modernist breezes blowing from Paris
and Petrograd. Their relations with the clerics, some of whom had
supported the constitutional upheaval, became increasingly tense. The
court exploited these divisions and after a few years monarchist
landlords, courtiers and state bureaucrats effectively sidelined the
revolutionary democrats in the Majlis.

Not everything remained the same, however. In 1910, a young mullah named
Ahmad Kasravi observed Halley's comet from the roof of his house in
Tabriz. He was seduced by the "star with a tail." His curious mind did
not rest till he had understood the mysteries of the universe and
embraced "godless science." Kasravi decided to enter the citadel of
reason. His celebrated books and essays were carefully constructed
polemics against ignorance and the Shiite orthodoxy that encouraged it.
His plea for wide-ranging reforms (including rights for women) angered
the clerics. The mullahs accused him of heresy and apostasy, and in 1946
he was brought to trial for "slandering Islam," but his detractors did
not wait for the verdict. He was shot dead in open court, an early
martyr in the struggle against obscurantism.

[Continue Reading]

Habermas + Derrida: Modernism a beneficiary of war in Iraq

Topic(s): Europe
Date Posted: 08.07.03

Postmodernism succumbs to a friendly takeover

Gerald Owen
National Post
Saturday, August 02, 2003

One surprising consequence of the war in Iraq is the surrender of postmodernism to a victorious modernism. This has been largely overlooked in North America.

In reaction to the U.S. intervention in Iraq, Jacques Derrida, a famous postmodernist, signed on as co-author of an article drafted by the German philosopher Jürgen Habermas, previously an opponent of his, in an unmistakable endorsement of modernist Enlightenment principles. Derrida, the apostle of deconstructionism, is now advocating some decidedly constructive and Eurocentric activism.

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Comics for Grown-Ups

Topic(s): BookReview
Date Posted: 08.06.03

From NYRB:

Volume 50, Number 13 · August 14, 2003

Comics for Grown-Ups
By David Hajdu
Safe Area Gorazde
by Joe Sacco, with an introduction by Christopher Hitchens
Fantagraphics, 229 pp., $19.95 (paper)

by Joe Sacco, with an introduction by Edward Said
Fantagraphics, 285 pp., $24.95 (paper)

Ghost World
by Daniel Clowes
Fantagraphics, 80 pp., $9.95 (paper)

Comic books, the rock 'n' roll of literature, have always been a rigorously disreputable form of junk art for adolescents of body or mind. Hyper-energetic, crude, sexually regressive, and politically simplistic, comics—like rock (and, in recent years, hip-hop)— give fluent voice to their audience's basest and most cynical impulses. These are their virtues, arguably, as outlets for emotional release and as social counteragents.

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Rebecca -- US anti-war activists hit by secret airport ban

Topic(s): Civil Liberties
Date Posted: 08.06.03

US anti-war activists hit by secret airport ban

By Andrew Gumbel in Los Angeles
03 August 2003

After more than a year of complaints by some US anti-war activists that they were being unfairly targeted by airport security, Washington has admitted the existence of a list, possibly hundreds or even thousands of names long, of people it deems worthy of special scrutiny at airports.

The list had been kept secret until its disclosure last week by the new US agency in charge of aviation safety, the Transportation Security Administration (TSA). And it is entirely separate from the relatively well-publicised "no-fly" list, which covers about 1,000 people believed to have criminal or terrorist ties that could endanger the safety of their fellow passengers.

The strong suspicion of such groups as the American Civil Liberties Union (ACLU), which is suing the government to try to learn more, is that the second list has been used to target political activists who challenge the government in entirely legal ways. The TSA acknowledged the existence of the list in response to a Freedom of Information Act request concerning two anti-war activists from San Francisco who were stopped and briefly detained at the airport last autumn and told they were on an FBI no-fly list.

[Continue Reading]

Yesterday's TIA, Today's Matrix

Topic(s): Civil Liberties
Date Posted: 08.06.03

"The name was chosen somewhat whimsically by a Florida law enforcement officer..."

U.S. Backs Florida's New Counterterrorism Database
'Matrix' Offers Law Agencies Faster Access to Americans' Personal Records

By Robert O'Harrow Jr.
Washington Post Staff Writer
Wednesday, August 6, 2003; Page A01

Police in Florida are creating a counterterrorism database designed to give law enforcement agencies around the country a powerful new tool to analyze billions of records about both criminals and ordinary Americans.

Organizers said the system, dubbed Matrix, enables investigators to find patterns and links among people and events faster than ever before, combining police records with commercially available collections of personal information about most American adults. It would let authorities, for instance, instantly find the name and address of every brown-haired owner of a red Ford pickup truck in a 20-mile radius of a suspicious event.

The state-level program, aided by federal funding, is poised to expand across the nation at a time when Congress has been sharply critical of similar data-driven systems on the federal level, such as a Pentagon plan for global surveillance and an air-passenger-screening system.

The Florida system is another example of the ongoing post-Sept. 11 debate about the proper balance between national security and individual privacy. Yesterday the District and the Department of Homeland Security announced plans to launch a pilot law enforcement data-sharing network that will include Virginia, Maryland, Pennsylvania and New York.

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John -- Edward Said: A window on the world

Topic(s): Middle East
Date Posted: 08.05.03

A window on the world
Western scholars helped justify the war in Iraq, says Edward Said, with their orientalist ideas about the 'Arab mind'. Twenty-five years after the publication of his post-colonial classic, the author of Orientalism argues that humanist understanding is now more urgently required than ever before

Edward Said
Saturday August 2, 2003
The Guardian

Nine years ago I wrote an afterword for Orientalism which, in trying to clarify what I believed I had and had not said, stressed not only the many discussions that had opened up since my book appeared in 1978, but the ways in which a work about representations of "the orient" lent itself to increasing misinterpretation. That I find myself feeling more ironic than irritated about that very same thing today is a sign of how much my age has crept up on me. The recent deaths of my two main intellectual, political and personal mentors, the writers and activists Eqbal Ahmad and Ibrahim Abu-Lughod, has brought sadness and loss, as well as resignation and a certain stubborn will to go on.

In my memoir Out of Place (1999) I described the strange and contradictory worlds in which I grew up, providing for myself and my readers a detailed account of the settings that I think formed me in Palestine, Egypt and Lebanon. But that was a very personal account which stopped short of all the years of my own political engagement that started after the 1967 Arab-Israeli war.

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Kirsten -- GLOBE AND MAIL: America's cultural offensive

Topic(s): Media
Date Posted: 08.04.03

GLOBE AND MAIL: America's cultural offensive

Washington hopes to ease foreign-policy woes in the Middle East by wooing
hearts and minds with a new Arabic-language radio network, satellite TV
channel and glossy monthly magazine. It's the funky side of the war on
terror, SIMON HOUPT writes


Saturday, Aug. 2, 2003

Toni Braxton is going to save the United States from terrorism. All across
the Middle East this week, from Cairo to Baghdad, the R&B singer's 10-year-old soft-rock hit Another Sad Love Song wafted out of taxicabs, cafs and the bedrooms of middle-class teenagers.

To most of the Arabs swaying along to Braxton's warble, maybe the tune was something to help them relax while they sipped their coffee or waited out the endless petroleum lines. To the U.S. government, however, that song is a vital weapon in a war it can't afford to lose.

Braxton is in a new kind of army, standing at attention with Celine Dion, Eric Clapton, Ace of Base and the rapper Coolio, making up a Trojan-horse brigade drafted to seduce young Arab adults into admiring the United States.

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