Iraqi Communists Make a Comeback

Topic(s): Iraq
Date Posted: 01.29.04

washingtonpost.com

Public Wake for Bomb Victim Reflects New Status of Long-Persecuted Party

By Pamela Constable
Washington Post Foreign Service
Thursday, January 29, 2004; Page A16


BAGHDAD, Jan. 28 -- The funeral canopy stretched nearly a full block in front of Yasser Aboud's house in a rundown Shiite Muslim district of the capital. All day a stream of mourners came and went: men in Arab robes and business suits and greasy work pants, greeting one another soberly and sitting awhile under the tent to sip tea, smoke cigarettes and gossip quietly.

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Matthew Rothschild: Michael Moore, McGovern Surrender to Clark

Topic(s): Democrats
Date Posted: 01.21.04

In a sign of abject and anyone-but-Bush desperation, leftie filmmaker Michael Moore and George McGovern, the dove of the Democrats in 1972, have both come out for General Wesley Clark.

Moore, in a January 14 posting on his website, wrote, "I believe that Wesley Clark will end this war. He will make the rich pay their fair share of taxes. He will stand up for the rights of women, African Americans, and the working people of this country. And he will cream George Bush."

Why Moore thinks Clark will get the United States out of Iraq and end that war is beyond me. I've listened to Clark in almost every debate, and he has no plan for ending the war. Unlike Dennis Kucinich and Al Sharpton, he is against pulling the troops out. He tends to say much the same thing as Howard Dean or John Kerry or John Edwards or Dick Gephardt: internationalize the effort, get the U.N. more involved, and bring more troops in from other countries. Clark wants to hand over much of the task to NATO, which has long outlived its original mission and is now, essentially, a U.S. interventionary force around the world. That's fine for Clark. But should that be fine for Michael Moore and George McGovern?

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A Single Conscience v. the State

Topic(s): Iraq
Date Posted: 01.19.04

http://www.nytimes.com/2004/01/19/opinion/19HERB.html

By BOB HERBERT
Published: January 19, 2004


Katharine Gun has a much better grasp of the true spirit of democracy than Tony Blair. So, naturally, it's Katharine Gun who's being punished.

Ms. Gun, 29, was working at Britain's top-secret Government Communications Headquarters last year when she learned of an American plan to spy on at least a half-dozen U.N. delegations as part of the U.S. effort to win Security Council support for an invasion of Iraq.

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Israel Diplomat Defends Attack on Bomber Art in Stockholm

Topic(s): Palestine / Israel
Date Posted: 01.18.04

http://www.nytimes.com/2004/01/18/international/middleeast/18MIDE.html

By GREG MYRE

Published: January 18, 2004

JERUSALEM, Jan. 17 — Israel's ambassador to Sweden said Saturday that he had physically attacked an art exhibit at a Stockholm museum because it "glorified suicide bombers." The incident a day earlier has created a diplomatic flap between the countries.

The ambassador, Zvi Mazel, was among several hundred guests invited to the Museum of National Antiquities in Stockholm on Friday for an exhibit linked to a coming international conference on genocide sponsored by Sweden. Israel is one of the scheduled participants.

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Amos Elon: A Very Special Relationship

Topic(s): Palestine / Israel
Date Posted: 01.17.04

http://www.nybooks.com/articles/16873

Volume 51, Number 1 · January 15, 2004
Review

By Amos Elon
David Ben-Gurion
(click for larger image)
Support Any Friend: Kennedy's Middle East and the Making of the US–Israel Alliance
by Warren Bass
Oxford University Press, 336 pp., $30.00

Israel and the Bomb
by Avner Cohen
Columbia University Press, 470 pp., $21.00 (paper)

1.
The alliance between the US and Israel, which has been tighter than ever under the Bush administration, is often thought to have started under President Johnson following the 1967 war. Johnson was pleased with Israel's success in defeating two Soviet clients, Syria and Egypt, in only six days and he proceeded to grant Israel unprecedented political, economic, and military support. The closing of the Suez Canal, which forced Soviet supplies to North Vietnam to take the long route around Africa, was another bonus in Johnson's eyes.

It is true that Johnson officially disapproved of Israel's annexation of East Jerusalem and of the other measures it took in violation of international law. But US protests were perfunctory and soon ceased altogether. The US became Israel's major supplier of the latest sophisticated weapons. Israeli generals were predicting one hundred years of peace. In Jerusalem in 1971, I heard the foreign minister, Abba Eban, entertain his guests with the story of his visit to the White House during the Johnson administration. "Mister Eeeban," Johnson said, "aa'm sure glad to see you! Just the other day ah was sittin' in the Oval Room scratchin' my balls thinkin' about Israel!" Johnson promised Eban to supply Israel with the most up-to-date fighter planes, air-to-air missiles, and tanks, all of them otherwise available only to NATO members.

In the two books under review, Warren Bass, a senior fellow at the Council of Foreign Relations, and Avner Cohen, an expatriate Israeli working at the National Security Archive at George Washington University, show that Johnson was not the first to break the US embargo—imposed by Harry Truman in 1948—on supplying major weapons to Israel. It was Kennedy who did so, although he had at first opposed deliveries of major weapons. At the same time, and even though nuclear proliferation was one of Kennedy's principal concerns throughout his brief presidency, he failed to prevent Israel from going nuclear. Both books are well documented from material recently released by Israeli and American archives, and tell stories that should be read.

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Greeting Big Brother With Open Arms

Topic(s): Media
Date Posted: 01.17.04

http://www.nytimes.com/2004/01/17/arts/17REAL.html

January 17, 2004
By EMILY EAKIN

or 50 years, Big Brother was an unambiguous symbol of malignant state power, totalitarianism's all-seeing eye. Then Big Brother became a hip reality television show, in which 10 cohabiting strangers submitted to round-the-clock camera monitoring in return for the chance to compete for $500,000.

That transformation is telling, says Mark Andrejevic, a professor of communication studies at the University of Iowa at Iowa City. Today, more than twice as many young people apply to MTV's "Real World" show than to Harvard, he says. Clearly, to a post-cold-war generation of Americans, the prospect of living under surveillance is no longer scary but cool.

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Rene -- The Guantánamo "Black Hole": The Law of War and the Sovereign Exception

Topic(s): Guantanamo Bay
Date Posted: 01.16.04

The Guantánamo "Black Hole": The Law of War and the Sovereign Exception

from : http://world.mediamonitors.net/content/view/full/3849/

by Scott Michaelsen & Scott Cutler Shershow
(Monday 12 January 2004)

------------------------------------------------------------------------
"The crucial clause of the Third Geneva Convention that the US might have violated is Article 5: "Should any doubt arise as to whether persons, having committed a belligerent act and having fallen into the hands of the enemy, belong to any of the categories enumerated in Article 4, such persons shall enjoy the protections of the present Convention until such time as their status has been determined by a competent tribunal."
------------------------------------------------------------------------

Since January 2002, over 700 persons from 42 different countries have been detained without charge or right to counsel by the United States at Guantánamo Bay in Cuba. While many detainees were captured by the US on battlefields in Afghanistan in late 2001, an unknown number of others were delivered there by other means, for example, by being sold to the US by Afghan warlords. According to Amnesty International, at least six Guantánamo prisoners were arrested in Bosnia-Herzegovina in January 2002. One of the cases to be taken up by the Supreme Court involves an Australian man, Mamdouh Habib, who claims to have traveled to Pakistan in October 2001 to look for employment, and found himself arrested by Pakistani authorities. He was transferred first to Egypt, then into US military hands in Afghanistan, and finally flown to Guantánamo in May 2002. The "unlawful combatants" being held at Guantánamo thus include persons arrested far from any active battlefield.  

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Rene -- Megabucks for homeland security

Topic(s): US Analysis
Date Posted: 01.16.04

Megabucks for homeland security

http://business-times.asia1.com.sg/story/0,4567,104940,00.html
Business Times - 12 Jan 2004

By RAJU CHELLAM

ON Oct 1, 2003, President George W Bush approved US$37.4 billion in the FY04 budget for the US Department of Homeland Security (DHS). Of that, US$918.2 million is for science and technology, and US$839.3 million for information analysis and infrastructure protection.

With a US$1 billion budget for research alone, the DHS has become one of the leading R&D agencies of the US federal government. The lion's share of that - US$918.2 million - is earmarked for science and technology, says the American Association for the Advancement of Science (AAAS).

'This is more than eight times the budget originally slated for the purpose in 2002 - and except for US$2 million for overhead - all of it will be spent on R&D,' says the AAAS. 'The directorate has also asked for US$365 million to devise counter-measures to make biological attacks less likely and minimise their impact.'

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Rene -- The Justices Take On the President

Topic(s): US Analysis
Date Posted: 01.16.04

The Justices Take On the President
By ANTHONY LEWIS

AMBRIDGE, Mass.

When the Constitutional Convention of 1787 proposed a new federal government, many Americans feared tyranny. James Madison told them that the Constitution had a "precaution" against that possibility: separation of the government into legislative, executive and judicial branches. If one of the three overreached, he wrote in the Federalist Papers, another would stop the abuse of power.

Madison's theory is about to be profoundly tested. The Supreme Court has agreed to hear challenges to two of the Bush administration's most sweeping claims of power — the power to declare any American citizen an "enemy combatant" and detain him or her indefinitely without trial, and the power to hold the alien captives at the American military base at Guantánamo Bay, Cuba, without a chance for them to challenge the basis of their imprisonment in any court.

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Al Gore Speaks on Global Warming and the Environment

Topic(s): environment
Date Posted: 01.16.04

http://www.moveon.org/gore3/speech.html

Beacon Theater, New York
January 15, 2004, Noon

The speech as prepared:

Thank you, Carol, Joan and Peter.

And thanks to all of you for coming here today.

lt was an honor to work with Carol Browner on environmental policies in the last administration and I am grateful for her leadership of Environment 2004. I want to thank Peter for his leadership as Executive Director of Moveon.org and I appreciate all of those who have worked in the trenches with both of these organizations that are co-sponsoring today’s speech.

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Rene -- Iran's Silent Coup

Topic(s): Iran
Date Posted: 01.15.04

World Press Review
Jan 14 2004

Iran's Silent Coup

Unsigned editorial, Yas-e No (reformist), Tehran, Iran, Jan. 12, 2004

Iranian reformist legislator Elaheh Koulaiee listens to the wife of
fellow deputy Mohsen Mirdamadi, as the sister of the political
prisoner Hashem Aghagary (L), listens, Jan. 13, 2004. Iranian
reformist deputies have refused to leave the Majlis assembly for
three days to protest the ban on most reformist candidates’ seeking
reelection (Photo: Henghameh Fahimi/AFP-Getty Images).
On Jan. 13, senior members of Iran’s reformist government, which was
elected in 2001 with 77 percent of the vote, threatened to resign if
the Guardian Council, a 12-member panel of clerics charged with
maintaining the Islamic character of the Iranian state, did not
overturn a ban preventing half of the candidates in the Feb. 20
parliamentary elections from running on the grounds that they were
not sufficiently loyal to Iran’s theocratic government. Reformist
deputies in the 290-member Majlis legislative assembly, 83 of whom
have been prevented from standing for reelection, have staged a
sit-in protest at the Majlis since Jan. 10, when the Guardian Council
announced the ban. In this unsigned editorial, Tehran’s reformist
Yas-e No turns the charge against the Guardian Council, arguing that
their ban undermines the republican aspects of the Islamic Republic
of Iran’s constitution.

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ARTHUR MILLER: A Visit With Castro

Topic(s): Cuba
Date Posted: 01.15.04

From The Nation, the January 12, 2004 issue

http://www.thenation.com/doc.mhtml?i=20040112&s=miller

Like a lot of other people's feelings toward Cuba, mine have been mixed in the past decades. Apart from press reports, I had learned from film people who had worked there that the Batista society was hopelessly corrupt, a Mafia playground, a bordello for Americans and other foreigners. So Castro storming his way to power seemed like a clean wind blowing away the degradation and subservience to the Yankee dollar. What emerged once the smoke had cleared finally turned into something different, of course, and if I chose not to forget the background causes of the Castro revolution, the repressiveness of his one-man government was still grinding away at my sympathy. At the same time, the relentless US blockade at the behest, so it appeared, of a defeated class of exploiters who had never had a problem with the previous dictatorship seemed to be something other than a principled democratic resistance.

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Rene -- The Awful Truth

Topic(s): US Analysis
Date Posted: 01.13.04

January 13, 2004
OP-ED COLUMNIST

The Awful Truth
By PAUL KRUGMAN

People are saying terrible things about George Bush. They say that his officials weren't sincere about pledges to balance the budget. They say that the planning for an invasion of Iraq began seven months before 9/11, that there was never any good evidence that Iraq was a threat and that the war actually undermined the fight against terrorism.

But these irrational Bush haters are body-piercing, Hollywood-loving, left-wing freaks who should go back where they came from: the executive offices of Alcoa, and the halls of the Army War College.

I was one of the few commentators who didn't celebrate Paul O'Neill's appointment as Treasury secretary. And I couldn't understand why, if Mr. O'Neill was the principled man his friends described, he didn't resign early from an administration that was clearly anything but honest.

But now he's showing the courage I missed back then, by giving us an invaluable, scathing insider's picture of the Bush administration.

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Info Clearing House -- Links to Interesting Articles

Topic(s): 
Date Posted: 01.13.04

Sometimes, we cannot post all articles we get, these are just a few that have been collected by the Information Clearning House

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Info Clearing House -- Generous new tax break for Bechtel and Halliburton?

Topic(s): US Analysis
Date Posted: 01.13.04

Generous new tax break for Bechtel and Halliburton?
Edmund L. Andrews NYT
Wednesday, October 29, 2003
 
Copyright © 2002 The International Herald Tribune | www.iht.com

WASHINGTON Bechtel, which hired a former commissioner of the Internal Revenue Service to lobby on its behalf, has won support from Republicans in the House for what could be a generous new tax break.
The break, which was to be taken up Tuesday by the House Ways and Means Committee, was originally intended to help shore up U.S. factory jobs by reducing the tax rate for domestic manufacturers to 32 percent from 35 percent.
But the bill now includes a provision sought by Bechtel, an engineering conglomerate that is one of the biggest recipients of government contracts for Iraqi reconstruction, that would reduce taxes on "architectural and engineering services."
The new provision would also benefit Halliburton, whose previous chief executive was Vice President Dick Cheney and which now has a Pentagon contract to repair Iraqi oil facilities. Another company, Fluor, which recently won a $102 million contract to work on Iraq's electrical system, would receive a tax reduction as well.

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Rene -- Wal-Mart tries end run around balky city

Topic(s): Capital
Date Posted: 01.13.04

Wal-Mart tries end run around balky city
By V. Dion Haynes, Tribune national correspondent

INGLEWOOD, Calif. -- Stung by strong opposition in nearly every corner of the country where it proposes a large-scale development, Wal-Mart is taking a new tack here: bypassing local regulators and going straight to voters for permission to build a mega-store.

By introducing the ballot measure, which goes to voters April 6, Wal-Mart hopes to avoid several major obstacles to building its so-called supercenter: environmental reviews, traffic studies, public hearings and especially obstinate municipal officials who until now had the final say.

The Wal-Mart ballot proposal is a byproduct of California's quirky initiative process, which over the years has resulted in controversial laws that slashed property taxes, abolished affirmative action and bilingual education and, in October, ousted Gov. Gray Davis (news - web sites) less than a year after he was elected to his second term.

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Rene -- Beirut: Seeing war and its aftermath through the cameras eye

Topic(s): Lebanon
Date Posted: 01.12.04

Beirut: Seeing war and its aftermath through the cameras eye
The Daily Star, Lebanon
Jan 8 2004
 
Seeing war and its aftermath through the camera's eye
Journalist Zaven Kouyoumdjian's collection of photos compares Lebanon
in its darkest hours and now

Peter Speetjens
Special to The Daily Star

A good photo doesn't just freeze the moment, but in a fraction of a
second captures history itself. As such, a photo can tell more than a
thousand words. Just recall the image of the crying Kim Phuc, running
naked over a war-torn road while her village in the background burns
after being hit by napalm. Perhaps this 1972 World Press Photo of the
Year is a more significant document to the Vietnam War than the
entire Hollywood production on young American GIs fighting the red
danger of the Vietcong.
Likewise the image of the Chinese man who stopped a column of tanks
before Beijing's Tiananmen Square summed up an entire chapter of
recent Chinese history in a single shot. Closer to home there is the
image of 12-year-old Mohammed al-Dura being shot by an Israeli
sniper, which probably told the world more about the second intifada
than any newspaper essay will ever do.

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Avi -- Interview with Benny Morris -- Survival of the Fittest

Topic(s): Palestine / Israel
Date Posted: 01.11.04

Survival of the fittest

By Ari Shavit

Benny Morris says he was always a Zionist. People were mistaken when they labeled him a post-Zionist, when they thought that his historical study on the birth of the Palestinian refugee problem was intended to undercut the Zionist enterprise. Nonsense, Morris says, that's completely unfounded. Some readers simply misread the book. They didn't read it with the same detachment, the same moral neutrality, with which it was written. So they came to the mistaken conclusion that when Morris describes the cruelest deeds that the Zionist movement perpetrated in 1948 he is actually being condemnatory, that when he describes the large-scale expulsion operations he is being denunciatory. They did not conceive that the great documenter of the sins of Zionism in fact identifies with those sins. That he thinks some of them, at least, were unavoidable.

Two years ago, different voices began to be heard. The historian who was considered a radical leftist suddenly maintained that Israel had no one to talk to. The researcher who was accused of being an Israel hater (and was boycotted by the Israeli academic establishment) began to publish articles in favor of Israel in the British paper The Guardian.

Whereas citizen Morris turned out to be a not completely snow-white dove, historian Morris continued to work on the Hebrew translation of his massive work "Righteous Victims: A History of the Zionist-Arab Conflict, 1881-2001," which was written in the old, peace-pursuing style. And at the same time historian Morris completed the new version of his book on the refugee problem, which is going to strengthen the hands of those who abominate Israel. So that in the past two years citizen Morris and historian Morris worked as though there is no connection between them, as though one was trying to save what the other insists on eradicating.

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Rene -- Gilroy & bell hooks -- Thinking About Capitalism

Topic(s): Interviews
Date Posted: 01.11.04

How many more Gilroy related texts can be put up is a question I will give up on for the next month, but this is yet another interesting text, this time a wonderful interview from 1996 with bell hooks - rg

Thinking About Capitalism

A conversation with cultural critic Paul Gilroy

By bell hooks

Cultural critic, Paul Gilroy's most recent books are The Black Atlantic: Modernity and Double Consciousness and Small Acts: Thoughts on the Politics of Black Cultures.

bell: Paul, we've both been rereading the work of Martin Luther King. I have been thinking a great deal about his critique of capitalism. How do you see this critique as you review his work?

Paul: The distrust of capitalism King expresses is rooted in his awareness that it is a source of misery. It is there in his later work. It is there in his growing interest in the politics of poverty on a global scale. It is there in the context of his death around the sanitation worker's strike in Memphis where he talks about “we as Christian ministers; we're God's sanitation workers.” There is a sense of not being able to retreat into an uncontaminated space. There is a sense of an activist Christianity there. It was once said that it was harder for a camel to go through the eye of a needle than a rich man to enter the kingdom of heaven. What would that feel like today when the romance of wealth and power seems to be such a complete mainstream feature?

There is no strong critique of capitalism emerging from the black church today. A critical link between the ministry of Farrakhan and black Christian ministers is an uncritical embrace of capitalism. This uncritical embrace comes at a time when the black left in the United States acts as though capitalism is a useless, boring word. I think, for example, of critics who have mocked my phrase white supremacist capitalist patriarchy. It is ironic that people are willing to talk about white supremacy, they're willing to talk about patriarchy. But when you put them together with capitalism, it becomes a term to ridicule.

Of course it isn't only black intellectuals who have suffered a crisis of political imagination after the “alternatives” to capitalism, that were imperfect and obviously deficient in many ways, were destroyed five years ago. It is as though the problem of how to negotiate a future outside of capitalism is something that we cede to political communities in other parts of the world. We leave this question of which bits of capitalism we can live with and which bits we have to give up to the South Africans, for example, to sort out for themselves. We pass it to the people of Eastern Europe for them to negotiate. I think we can meet that pressing question head on; we can defend some speculative, almost utopian alternatives to capitalism because of the misery created by that system and the market relations it promotes. It is affecting their lives by trying to transform things which can't be registered in economic terms into economic mechanisms.

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Rene -- Gilroy -- Ali G and the Oscars

Topic(s): Media
Date Posted: 01.11.04

Ali G and US Post Sept. 11 cultural politics in the same article? Believe it or not, Paul pulls it together in this interesting text. -rg

Ali G and the Oscars
Paul Gilroy
4 - 4 - 2002

http://www.opendemocracy.net/debates/article-1-67-459.jsp

In a scintillating panorama, Paul Gilroy examines western multiculturalism after 11 September – from redemption at Hollywood’s Oscars to Ali G, slipping between sad joke and protean satire.

The first batch of reparation lawsuits has been initiated in the USA. But more welcome forms of symbolic restitution are also in the offing. The historic triumph of African American actors Halle Berry and Denzel Washington at the Academy Awards is more than just a sign that the patriotic romance between black and white, kindled after the terrorist attacks on New York, is still smouldering. Their awards communicate a new mood. The representation of America’s redemptive diversity has become critical to governmental propaganda campaigns, and to the pursuit of a wider legitimacy that would be compromised by evidence of overt and systemic racism.

The entertainment industry is now enthusiastically papering over the long-term damage done to the civic edifice by American apartheid. Eager to match the new benchmarks of corporate multi-culturalism established by MTV and the advertising agencies, Hollywood has come up with some overdue analogs of Colin and Condoleeza.

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Rene -- Gilroy -- Raise you Eyes

Topic(s): Democracy
Date Posted: 01.11.04

A follow up to the 2001 text by Gilroy, published on Sept. 11, 2002 :

"... We will have to try and direct attention towards neglected areas that have acquired a different significance with the unfolding of some key contemporary narratives, including the info-war against terrorism, and the consolidation of an explanation of the September attacks that retreats into the armoured certainties of nineteenth-century racial theory, locating all the sources of this conflict in the clash of incommensurable civilisations. "

Raise your eyes
Paul Gilroy
11 - 9 - 2002

As we remember the dead, we face a fundamental choice. We can feed our fears of the clash of civilisations. Or we can enter a new global era and build on our shared sense of the fragility, and diversity, of human life. Our grasp of the history of racism may play a crucial role.

This is a delicate moment. Last September’s attacks threw the political forms of globalisation into stark relief, at a time when, thus far, only its cultural and economic consequences were readily apparent.

As the death of multiculture is announced loudly from all sides, a geo-political climate has developed in which the desire to dwell convivially with difference appears naive, trifling or misplaced, in the face of deep conflict and sustained antagonism on one side, and routine, market-driven forms of cultural hybridisation on the other. Hope for a more equitable, tolerant and democratic future has been confounded by the problems involved in producing a worldly vision that is not simply one more imperialistic particularism dressed up in universal garb.

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Rene -- Gilroy -- The American Jihad

Topic(s): 
Date Posted: 01.11.04

This article was written on the 18th or September 2001, but I am not sure if we ever sent it out, and although many of the points are now more obvious, I do like the way Paul formulates his ideas, clear, concise, and to the point.

The American Jihad
Paul Gilroy
18 - 9 - 2001

http://www.opendemocracy.net/debates/article-2-49-210.jsp

“For that man may be freed from the bonds of revenge: that is the bridge to my highest hope and a rainbow after protracted storms.”

Most commentaries on the horrors of 11 September have been delivered from two positions.

The first is a grounded location: the place of immediate rather than media-made spectatorship. Blanketed in dust and dioxin, downtown Manhattan opened onto the romance, heroism, fortitude and collective energy of the globalised metropolis. These transcendent qualities have been celebrated as its antidote to a human tragedy that remains inexplicable, most habitable when it is localised. Locality becomes the enemy of explanation. The tragedy is the making of the city, which rediscovers, renews and strengthens itself in overcoming adversity. Rudy and Hillary, holding hands across their receding political divisions, discovered a historical precedent for this magical civic bond in the memory of London during the Blitz.

There is fear, but crime has fallen during the last week. A more authentic community has risen to the challenge represented by this dreadful wrong. The broken city has set its trifling divisions of race, religion and class aside, in a moving, inclusive and multi-lingual display of its inconsolable grief.

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Rene -- Butler -- No, it's not anti-semitic

Topic(s): Palestine / Israel
Date Posted: 01.11.04

No, it's not anti-semitic

Judith Butler

Profoundly anti-Israel views are increasingly finding support in progressive intellectual communities. Serious and thoughtful people are advocating and taking actions that are anti-semitic in their effect if not their intent.

Lawrence Summers, 17 September 2002

When the president of Harvard University declared that to criticise Israel at this time and to call on universities to divest from Israel are 'actions that are anti-semitic in their effect, if not their intent', he introduced a distinction between effective and intentional anti-semitism that is controversial at best. The counter-charge has been that in making his statement, Summers has struck a blow against academic freedom, in effect, if not in intent. Although he insisted that he meant nothing censorious by his remarks, and that he is in favour of Israeli policy being 'debated freely and civilly', his words have had a chilling effect on political discourse. Among those actions which he called 'effectively anti-semitic' were European boycotts of Israel, anti-globalisation rallies at which criticisms of Israel were voiced, and fund-raising efforts for organisations of 'questionable political provenance'. Of local concern to him, however, was a divestment petition drafted by MIT and Harvard faculty members who oppose Israel's current occupation and its treatment of Palestinians. Summers asked why Israel was being 'singled out . . . among all nations' for a divestment campaign, suggesting that the singling out was evidence of anti-semitic intentions. And though he claimed that aspects of Israel's 'foreign and defence' policy 'can be and should be vigorously challenged', it was unclear how such challenges could or would take place without being construed as anti-Israel, and why these policy issues, which include occupation, ought not to be vigorously challenged through a divestment campaign. It would seem that calling for divestment is something other than a legitimately 'vigorous challenge', but we are not given any criteria by which to adjudicate between vigorous challenges that should be articulated, and those which carry the 'effective' force of anti-semitism.

Summers is right to voice concern about rising anti-semitism, and every progressive person ought to challenge anti-semitism vigorously wherever it occurs. It seems, though, that historically we have now reached a position in which Jews cannot legitimately be understood always and only as presumptive victims. Sometimes we surely are, but sometimes we surely are not. No political ethics can start from the assumption that Jews monopolise the position of victim. 'Victim' is a quickly transposable term: it can shift from minute to minute, from the Jew killed by suicide bombers on a bus to the Palestinian child killed by Israeli gunfire. The public sphere needs to be one in which both kinds of violence are challenged insistently and in the name of justice.

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To be or not to be Jewish, lesbian, feminist

Topic(s): feminism
Date Posted: 01.10.04

http://www.haaretzdaily.com/

To be or not to be Jewish, lesbian, feminist
By Orna Coussin

Prof. Judith Butler, professor of Comparative Literature and Rhetoric at the University of California, Berkeley, is visiting Israel this week. Butler is an unusual figure in academia. On the one hand, she is a celebrity who has a community of followers and who exudes charisma. Groups of followers sometimes line up for her lectures, as though she were a rock star; and her major influence on feminism at the start of the 21st century is widely noted. On the other hand, many persons outside of feminist academia have never heard of her; nor have they come across her ideas, or been influenced by them.

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Rene -- Saddam's Capture: Was a Deal Brokered Behind the Scenes?

Topic(s): Iraq
Date Posted: 01.08.04

Saddam's Capture: Was a Deal Brokered Behind the Scenes?
by David Pratt

When it emerged that the Kurds had captured the Iraqi dictator, the US
celebrations evaporated. David Pratt asks whether a secret political trade-off has
been engineered

Sunday, January 4, 2004
The Sunday Herald
http://www.sundayherald.com/39096

When it emerged that the Kurds had captured the Iraqi dictator,
the US celebrations evaporated. David Pratt asks whether a secret
political trade-off has been engineered

For a story that three weeks ago gripped the world's imagination,
it has now all but dropped off the radar.

Peculiar really, for if one thing might have been expected in the
aftermath of Saddam Hussein's capture, it was the endless political
and media mileage that the Bush administration would get out of it.

After all, for 249 days Saddam's elusiveness had been a symbol of
America's ineptitude in Iraq, and, at last, with his capture came
the long-awaited chance to return some flak to the Pentagon's critics.

It also afforded the opportunity to demonstrate the effectiveness of
America's elite covert and intelligence units such as Task Force 20
and Greyfox.

And it was a terrific chance for the perfect photo-op showing the
American soldier, and Time magazine's "Person of the Year", hauling
"High Value Target Number One" out of his filthy spiderhole in the
village of al-Dwar.

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Rene -- How Three Threats Interlock

Topic(s): Peace Movement
Date Posted: 01.08.04

How Three Threats Interlock
by Amin Saikal

Published on Monday, December 29, 2003
International Herald Tribune

Three minority extremist groups - the militant fundamentalist
Islamists exemplified at the far edge by Al Qaeda, certain activist
elements among America's reborn Christians and neoconservatives, and
the most inflexible hard-line Zionists from Israel - have emerged as
dangerously destabilizing actors in world politics. Working perversely
to reinforce each other's ideological excesses, they have managed
to drown out mainstream voices from all sides. Each has the aim of
changing the world according to its own individual vision.

If these extremists are not marginalized, they could succeed in
creating a world order with devastating consequences for generations
to come. Al Qaeda and its radical Islamist supporters, believing in
Islam as an assertive ideology of political and social transformation,
want a re-Islamization of the Muslim world according to their vision
and their social and political preferences. The alternative that they
offer is widely regarded as regressive and repressive even by most
Muslims, let alone the West. Violence against innocent civilians can
neither be justified in Islam nor find approval among a majority of
Muslims. Yet many Muslims have come to identify with the anti-American
and anti-Israeli stance of the radicals because they have grown
intolerant of America's globalist policies

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U.S. Mulled Seizing Oil Fields In '73

Topic(s): Middle East
Date Posted: 01.01.04

http://www.washingtonpost.com/wp-dyn/articles/A46321-2003Dec31.html

British Memo Cites Notion of Sending Airborne to Mideast

By Glenn Frankel
Washington Post Foreign Service
Thursday, January 1, 2004; Page A01


LONDON, Dec. 31 -- The United States gave serious consideration to sending airborne troops to seize oil fields in Saudi Arabia, Kuwait and Abu Dhabi during the 1973 Arab oil embargo, according to a top-secret British intelligence memorandum released Wednesday night.

The document, titled "Middle East -- Possible Use of Force by the United States," says that if there were deteriorating conditions such as a breakdown of the cease-fire between Arab and Israeli forces following the October 1973 Middle East war or an intensification of the embargo, "we believe the American preference would be for a rapid operation conducted by themselves" to seize the oil fields.

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Capturing the Spirit of 1776, With a Different Number

Topic(s): New York
Date Posted: 01.01.04

http://www.nytimes.com/2004/01/01/nyregion/01BLOC.html

Capturing the Spirit of 1776, With a Different Number

By DAVID W. DUNLAP

Published: January 1, 2004


ONE day, a glistening skyscraper will rise over the World Trade Center site, commemorating in its very structure, through the unforgettable dimension of its towering height, the milestone year in which the king lost power.

The king, of course, was Hildibald. And the year 541 was when he was beheaded at a banquet, leading to the elevation of his nephew, Totila, as the new king of the Ostrogoths.

Though the Freedom Tower, the first and tallest of the planned trade center skyscrapers, is routinely described as a 1,776-foot design, it will be, in the eyes of most of the world, a 541-meter building. That suggests a reference not to the year of American independence but to the year that Totila became king and the emperor Justinian extinguished the Roman consulship

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