Rene -- Canada, Gaza, and the continuing divide between the haves/have nots
While the UN Human Rights Council condemned Israeli military action in
Gaza and the West Bank on Thursday, Canada was the only country that
voted against the decision. The resolution demanded that Israel immediately lift the siege on Gaza. Canada was the only country to vote against the resolution, while 30 members voted in favour and 15 abstained. The US is no longer a part of the Human Rights Council. Not that there is much hope in such a gesture, but nevertheless, this is the vote:
In favour (30):
Angola, Azerbaijan, Bangladesh, Bolivia, Brazil, China, Cuba, Djibouti, Egypt, India, Indonesia, Jordan, Madagascar, Malaysia, Mali, Mauritius, Mexico, Nicaragua, Nigeria, Pakistan, Peru, Philippines, Qatar, Russian Federation, Saudi Arabia, Senegal, South Africa, Sri Lanka, Uruguay and Zambia.
Bosnia and Herzegovina, Cameroon, France, Germany, Ghana, Guatemala, Italy, Japan, Netherlands, Republic of Korea, Romania, Slovenia, Switzerland, Ukraine and United Kingdom.
The response from Cuba seems appropriate, given the UN Watch group's presence. I was looking for a more general picture of Canada in relation to current political circumstances. I found this article to be interesting: -rg
Ditching Durban: PM ignores global inequalities
by Jooneed Khan
January 30, 2008
The Durban-II conference set for 2009 is to world politics what the Kyoto Accord is to climate change: a painful but inescapable search for consensus to grapple with the fallout of the past if we are to salvage our common future on our only planet.
Within two short years, the Harper minority government has pulled Canada out of both processes. In a reckless and petulant display of "Fortress North America" mentality, it has jumped ahead of the George W. Bush neo-cons by announcing Canada will not take part in Durban-II.
Global warming and the ecological catastrophe it heralds know no boundaries. The same is true of global social and political resentment. The evidence shows that global warming caused by our patterns of growth and consumption has reached an explosive point. Yet Harper dismissed Kyoto as "a socialist scheme to suck money out of wealth-producing nations."
Rene -- Fisk -- Eight Dead, And Echoes of Beirut's Bloody History
ROBERT FISK: EIGHT DEAD, AND ECHOES OF BEIRUT'S BLOODY HISTORY REVERBERATE AROUND ITS STREETS
Tuesday, 29 January 2008
When is a civil war a civil war? A bomb a week? A street battle a
month? For after yesterday's funerals in Beirut, this question is no
Eight Shia Lebanese Muslims were killed in just two hours in the Mar
Mikael district of the city in a shootout involving unknown assailants
in â€" and this is the most sinister part of the carnage â€" the very
streets where the 15-year Lebanese civil war broke out in 1975. Then
it was a busload of Palestinians ambushed on their way home from the
Tel el-Zaatar refugee camp. On Sunday night, it was a large group of
Lebanese Muslims protesting against high prices and power cuts.
Did the Lebanese army shoot the eight dead? It appears that soldiers
may have shot one of them by accident. But since one of the victims
was the Amal militia's liaison officer with the national army, it
seems unlikely that soldiers would have opened fire on him. Were
there Christian snipers east of Mar Mikael? Soldiers certainly shot
at snipers in the darkness around the Maronite church as bullets
crackled around them.
Hizbollah â€" at least five of the dead appeared to be its supporters
â€" made statements which half-blamed the national army for "firing
indiscriminately on the demonstrators", even calling on the army to
"disclose the criminal element which killed innocent civilians". But
since the largest community represented in the Lebanese army are Shia,
the idea that they would fire on their own co-religionists seems a
little far-fetched. In the ugly sectarian riots a year ago, even when
gunmen appeared on the streets, the army killed not a single Lebanese.
So what are we to learn of this new and frightening violence in
Beirut? The first, grim lesson is that there were hundreds of
"civilians" on the streets around Mar Mikael "Christians and
Muslims alike" carrying weapons.
Rene -- How to Rig an Election: Confessions of a Republican Operative
How to Rig an Election: Confessions of a Republican Operative
By Steven Rosenfeld, AlterNet
Posted on January 17, 2008, Printed on January 29, 2008
Allen Raymond worked inside Republican election circles for years, until he was convicted of illegally jamming telephone lines to New Hampshire Democratic Party offices on Election Day in 2002. After serving five months in jail, he and co-author Ian Spiegelman wrote How to Rig An Election, Confessions of a Republican Operative. The book details Raymond's rise in GOP campaign circles; the attitude, tactics and strategies used to win; and how the RNC asked his firm to jam Democratic phone lines, but would not defend him in court after Democrats fought back and pressed court charges. AlterNet's Steven Rosenfeld interviewed Raymond about his political education, GOP tactics and his take on the current presidential field.
ALTERNET: The title of your book is How to Rig an Election. Can elections be rigged?
RAYMOND:: Sure. We're not talking about what people often think about, like ballot box stuffing. Certainly, that stuff goes on here and there. What we are really talking about in the book is how messages are created and delivered to the voting public, in a way that orchestrates and manipulates response. It's all about feeling an emotion; it's not about raw issues and logic.
In the book I give a lot of examples of rigging elections by, put it this way, guys like me -- I used to be a campaign manager. Once you are all said and done and deliver a message, two plus two equals whatever I want it to equal. The facts and sometimes even contorting the facts to lead voters to conclusions that may not necessarily, if you step back, make any sense -- but, in context, make all the sense in the world.
There's that aspect of it. Then there's just the more raw aspect of it, which leads up to the culmination of the book, which is the 2002 New Hampshire phone-jamming scandal.
ALTERNET: Why is emotion more important than facts?
RAYMOND:: Well, because people are looking at the candidates. The candidates are on television, mostly. That's where they get their information, particularly on presidential campaigns. Less so in congressional campaigns and local elections, but in presidential campaigns, that's where voters get their information -- by watching the television news. The characters are there. They are defined for them. They know what they look like. They can read their facial expressions. They can hear their words if they're spoken. Largely, that's where people are getting their information, as opposed to information from print media, which is just not the case anymore.
The candidates can't help but speak and emote. It's that famous saying from the Roger Ailes book, "You are the message." You have to believe what you are saying. And so, in that way, it's the medium in which most voters are getting their information.
Ay -- Grace Halsell -- A Visit With George Habash: Still the Prophet of Arab Nationalism and Armed Struggle Against Israel
Palestine / Israel
A Visit With George Habash: Still the Prophet of Arab Nationalism and Armed Struggle Against Israel By Grace Halsell September 1998 On a tree-shaded street in Damascus, I found the apartment of Dr. George Habash, a Syrian-based leftist Palestinian leader...
Anj -- Palestinians flood into Egypt after blowing up border wall
Palestine / Israel
Somehow, it seemed inappropriate not to post this, even if it may have been widely reported. The fact that this happened is only indication of the absurd and criminal reality people are exposed to at the moment. More importantly, that Egypt should only out of embarrasment of the disaster in its own policies of appeasement of the West, be forced to allow or tolerate such a bold and desperate act. -rg
Palestinians flood into Egypt after blowing up border wall
Mark Tran and agencies
Wednesday January 23, 2008
Tens of thousands of Palestinians today poured into Egypt from Gaza after militants blew up part of the wall between the two territories in protest at an Israeli blockade.
On foot, in cars or riding donkey carts, Gazans burst into the Egyptian border town of Rafah to buy cigarettes, plastic bottles of fuel and other supplies that have become scarce and expensive after months of economic isolation.
"I have bought everything I need for the house for months. I have bought food, cigarettes and even two gallons of diesel for my car," Mohammed Saeed told Reuters.
Many of the Palestinians, some travelling from the northern Gaza Strip, found transport towards the Egyptian coastal town of El Arish, about 40km away.
Others stayed on the Egyptian side of Rafah and clamoured to buy merchandise that has been in short supply in Gaza, even going as afar as emptying some shops.
Hamas, which has controlled the narrow coastal strip since last June, did not take responsibility for knocking the border wall down, but its militants quickly took control as Egyptian border guards stood aside.
Hamas police funnelled the crowds through two sections of the border and inspected bags, confiscating seven pistols carried by one man returning to Gaza.
Avi -- Humanitarian crisis? In Gaza?
Palestine / Israel
Humanitarian crisis? In Gaza?
By Yossi Sarid
In the war of versions between us and them - regarding the truth about the situation in the Gaza Strip - the balance is tipped this time in favor of the Israeli version. It is simply more reasonable and logical, so it should be adopted unless proven otherwise.
After all, Arabs in general and Palestinians in particular are by nature experts at displays of suffering; the only thing they do all their lives is demonstrate their distress. This time, in the past week, they outdid themselves. The production was truly perfect and succeeded in deceiving the entire world: the way they turned out the lights at one precise moment and sent the children to cry bitterly in front of the cameras, the way they organized long lines for bread and water - miraculous timing and orchestration.
"Les Miserables" as a musical on the West End, Broadway and in Tel Aviv was only a pathetic production in comparison. The organizers of our 60th-anniversary festivities still have something to learn. Since the Palestinians staged the death of the child Mohammed al-Dura in his father's arms and the deaths of other children who were not careful, Palestinian propaganda has not enjoyed such international success.
Every intelligent, objective person in Israel and abroad who is not overcome by hatred of Israel will have no difficulty understanding: It's very complicated to bring a place like Gaza to the point of a "humanitarian crisis," and maybe it's impossible; there wasn't and won't be any such thing. The Gaza Strip, as we know, is the most crowded place in the world: 1.5 million people on 300 square kilometers. Almost all of them have been living for decades in refugee camps, which are more suited for mice and sewer rats than humans. Would such people, with all their years of experience, get excited by a temporary blackout or a momentary shortage of water and flour? Is that what will break them? Will anyone be persuaded to believe their fake whining?
Rene -- Deleuze -- What Children Say
What Children Say
Essays Critical and Clinical. 1997. Translated by Daniel W. Smith and Michael A. Greco.
Children never stop talking about what they are doing or trying to do: exploring milieus, by means of dynamic trajectories,1 and drawing up maps of them. The maps of these trajectories are essential to psychic activity. Little Hans wants to leave his family’s apartment to spend the night at the little girl’s downstairs and returns in the morning—the apartment building as milieu. Or again: he wants to leave the building and go to the restaurant to meet with the little rich girl, passing by the horses at the warehouse—the street as milieu. Even Freud deems the intervention of a map to be necessary.2
As usual, however, Freud refers everything back to the father-mother. It is as if parents had primary places or functions that exist independently of milieus. But a milieu is made up of qualities, substances, powers, and events: the street, for example, with its materials (paving stones), its noises (the cries of merchants), its animals (harnessed horses) or its dramas (a horse slips, a horse falls down, a horse is beaten …). The trajectory merges not only with the subjectivity of those who travel through a milieu, but also with the subjectivity of the milieu itself, insofar as it is reflected in those who travel through it. The map expresses the identity of the journey and what one journeys through. It merges with its object, when the object itself is movement. Nothing is more instructive than the paths of autistic children, such as those whose maps Deligny has revealed and superimposed, with their customary lines, wandering lines, loops, corrections, and turnings back—all their singularities.3 Parents are themselves a milieu that children travel through: they pass through its qualities and powers and make a map of them. They take on a personal and parental form only as the representatives of one milieu within another. But it is wrong to think that children are limited before all else to their parents, and only had access to to milieus afterward, by extension or derivation. The father and mother are not the coordinates of everything this is invested by the unconscious. There is never a moment when children are not already plunged into an actual milieu in which they are moving about, and in which the parents as persons simply play the roles of openers or closers of doors, guardians of thresholds, connectors or disconnectors of zones. The parents always occupy a position in a world that is not derived from them. Even with an infant, the parents are defined in relation to a continent-bed, as agents along the child’s route. Lewin’s hodological spaces, with their routes, their detours, their barriers, their agents, form a dynamic cartography.4
Little Richard was studied by Melanie Klein during the war. He lived and thought the world in the form of maps. He colored them in, inverted them, superimposed them, populated them with their leaders: England and Churchill, Germany and Hitler. It is the libido’s business to haunt history and geography, to organize formations of worlds and constellations of universes, to make continents drift and to populate them with races, tribes, and nations. What beloved being does not envelope landscapes, continents, and populations that are more or less known, more or less imaginary? But Melanie Klein—who nonetheless went a long way in determining the milieus of the unconscious, from the point of view of substances or qualities as much as events—seems to misunderstand the cartographic activity of Little Richard. She can only see it as an afterward, a simple extension of parental personages, the good father, the bad mother … Children resist psychoanalytic forcing5 and intoxication more than do adults: Hans and Richard inject all of their humor into the analysis. But they cannot resist for very long. They have to put away their maps, underneath which there is no longer anything but yellowed photos of the father-mother. "Mrs. K. interpreted, interpreted, interpreted …"6
The libido does not undergo metamorphoses, but follows world-historical trajectories. From this point of view, it does not seem that the real and the imaginary form a pertinent distinction. A real voyage, by itself, lacks the force necessary to be reflected in the imagination; the imaginary voyage, by itself, does not have the force, as Proust says, to be verified in the real. This is why the imaginary and the real must be, rather, like two juxtaposable or superimposable parts of a single trajectory, two faces that ceaselessly interchange with one another, a mobile mirror. Thus the Australian Aborigines link nomadic itineraries to dream voyages, which together compose "an interstitching of routes," " in an immense cut-out [découpe] of space and time that must be read like a map."7 At the limit, the imaginary is a virtual image that is interfused with the real object, and vice versa, thereby constituting a crystal of the unconscious. It is not enough for the real object or the real landscape to evoke similar or related images; it must disengage its own virtual image at the same time that the latter, as an imaginary landscape, makes its entry into the real, following a circuit where each of the two terms pursues the other, is interchanged with the other. "Vision" is the product of this doubling or splitting in two [doublement ou dédoublement], this coalescence. It is in such crystals of the unconscious that the trajectories of the libido are made visible.
Rene -- Wark - Escape from the Dual Empire
Finding this text by Ken useful recently, thought that others may feel the same. Retort and other have made an attempt to outline what we may imagine as antagonisms within globalization, within neoliberalism and militarism, within the information/knowledge economy and the lessig version of neoliberalism. This text reminds me of Ken's basic positions and his attempts to work through those contradictions through his theorization in Hacker's Manifesto. -rg
Escape from the Dual Empire
001. Every now and then someone invents a move that not only breaks the rules, but reveals those rules for what they are: arbitrary, weightless, incapable of containing the naked play of forces. To hijack jet liners and crash them into buildings is such a move. To hide corporate losses in entities hidden off the balance sheet is such a move. Al Queda and Enron: the terrorist cell and the rogue corporation. Both are players out of bounds, and yet who reveal the presence of a world beyond a boundary. Al Queda and Enron: players beyond the law, who call into being the desire to reinstate the rules of the game of strategic and economic order. Beyond the moral condemnation of fraud and terror, another challenge beckons: accounting for the possibility of play that is indifferent to the rules of the game, and that can threaten, from within or from without, the empire that umpires those rules.
002. Al Queda’s attack on the World Trade Center and Enron’s corporate subversion of world trade are instances of transformative play. When transformative play occurs, “it can overflow and overwhelm the more rigid structure in which it is taking place, generating emergent, unpredictable results.”i Suddenly, as if without warning, a player overturns the Great Game of geopolitics, or the Level Playing Field of the market economy, with a move that transforms the rules of the gamespace. To an empire that seeks security and prosperity by bringing every local and contingent – topical – space within the order of its empire of gamespace, the transformative play is a triple threat. It challenges not just security, not just prosperity, but the very idea of an empire that can make all of space answerable to the rules of the game.
003. Transformative play always begins in the middle. Something happens which breaches or subverts the rules that hold among adversaries. If only for a few moments, the commentators have to present the troubling images while casting about for a story. In transformative play what happens is always contrary to expectation. A new rule has to be created to accommodate its singularity, after it happens. But in the moment when it happens, transformative play can announce the presence of an unstable, ineffable world -- a world immune to organization as a game. For an instant, we gape and gasp, confronted with the inexplicable play of particulars.
004. How are we to avoid being stupefied by these transformative moves that appear contrary to what we thought were the natural rules of the game? By being prepared, in the event, not to be fascinated by the video replay of the moment, nor by the post-hoc rationalizations of the commentators, but to look beyond the bounds of the game itself, to look for its topos, for its very space of possibility. Look beyond the instant replay of the twin towers exploding, and beyond the preening of journalists narrating the fall of corrupt corporations. In the moment of transformation, one can see the outline of a topology made of weapons of mass destruction and mass distraction – the military entertainment complex – that create the illusion of a gamespace within which any and every play should unfold along its lines and according to its rules. One can see besides the outline of this military entertainment complex the residue of previous topos, on the ruins of which it has constructed itself. Ruins to which it may in turn be consigned by the same logic of development that brought it into existence.
005. In the beginning there is the topical, the local and contingent spaces, each with their own form. Then comes the topographic, in which the topical is mapped and described, acquiring a textual double that traces its outlines in space and time, and according to which the topical is redrawn and rewritten as a continuous and homogenous plane. The continent opens to its ‘manifest destiny’, and every topical feature that resists inscription as a continuous space is erased and replaced. The topographic emerges as a double empire, in which topical space is made over along the lines of topographic space, which becomes richer and more detailed as more and more of the topical is annexed and filled in. History is a story and geography an image of this topographical empire, in which the boundaries are forever being expanded and redrawn.
Anj -- This brutal siege of Gaza can only breed violence
Palestine / Israel
This brutal siege of Gaza can only breed violence
Palestinian suffering has reached new depths. Peace cannot be built by reducing 1.5m people to a state of abject destitution
Karen Koning AbuZayd in Gaza City
Wednesday January 23, 2008
Gaza is on the threshold of becoming the first territory to be intentionally reduced to a state of abject destitution, with the knowledge, acquiescence and - some would say - encouragement of the international community. An international community that professes to uphold the inherent dignity of every human being must not allow this to happen.
Across this tiny territory, 25 miles long and no more than 6 miles wide, a deep darkness descended at 8pm on January 21, as the lights went out for each of its 1.5 million Palestinian residents. A new hallmark of Palestinian suffering had been reached.
There have been three turns of the screw on the people of Gaza, triggered in turn by the outcome of elections in January 2006, the assumption by Hamas of de facto control last June, and the Israeli decision in September to declare Gaza a "hostile territory". Each instance has prompted ever tighter restrictions on the movement of people and goods in and out of Gaza. Each turn of the screw inflicts deeper indignity on ordinary Palestinians, breeding more resentment towards the outside world.
Gaza's border closures are without precedent. Palestinians are effectively incarcerated. The overwhelming majority cannot leave or enter Gaza. Without fuel and spare parts, public health conditions are declining steeply as water and sanitation services struggle to function. The electricity supply is sporadic and has been reduced further along with fuel supply in these past days. Unicef reports that the partial functioning of Gaza City's main pumping station is affecting the supply of safe water to some 600,000 Palestinians.
Medication is in short supply, and hospitals are paralysed by power failures and the shortage of fuel for generators. Hospital infrastructure and essential pieces of equipment are breaking down at an alarming rate, with limited possibility of repair or maintenance as spare parts are not available.
It is distressing to see the impact of closures on patients who need to travel outside Gaza to get medical treatment. The demand for such treatment is rising as medical standards fall inside Gaza, yet the permit regime for medical referrals has become more stringent. Many have had their treatment delayed or denied, worsening their medical conditions and causing preventable deaths.
Living standards in Gaza are at levels unacceptable to a world that promotes the elimination of poverty and the observance of human rights as core principles: 35% of Gazans live on less than two dollars a day; unemployment stands at around 50%; and 80% of Gazans receive some form of humanitarian assistance. Concrete is in such short supply that people are unable to make graves for their dead. Hospitals are handing out sheets as funeral shrouds.
As the head of a humanitarian and human development agency for Palestinian refugees, I am deeply concerned by the stark inhumanity of Gaza's closure. I am disturbed by the seeming indifference of much of the world as hundreds and thousands of Palestinians are harshly penalised for acts in which they have no part.
In discharging its mandate, Unrwa delivers a variety of services to improve living conditions and prospects for self-reliance. It is impossible to sustain our operations when the occupying power adopts an "on, off", "here today, gone tomorrow" policy towards Gaza's borders. To take one example, this week we were on the verge of suspending our food distribution programme. The reason was seemingly mundane: plastic bags. Israel blocked entry into Gaza of the plastic bags in which we package our food rations.
In today's Gaza how can we foster a spirit of moderation and compromise among Palestinians, or cultivate a belief in the peaceful resolution of disputes? There are already indications that the severity of the closure is playing into the hands of those who have no desire for peace. We ignore this risk at our peril.
What we should be doing now is nurturing moderation and empowering those who believe that Gaza's rightful future lies in peaceful co-existence with its neighbours. We welcome the new efforts to resuscitate the peace process, revive the Palestinian economy and build institutions. These pillars, on which a solution will be built, are the very ones being eroded.
Rene -- Liquidate ‘68, or, the obscure subject of French politics
Alberto Toscano - Liquidate ‘68, or, the obscure subject of French politics
30th November 2007
Any hope of liquidating Sarkozy’s reactionary project in France, argues Alberto Toscano, will be obliged in some sense to ‘repeat’ ’68, not by cloaking new political content in the kitschified icons of rebellions past, but by repeating the spirit of political and organisational innovation contained by the best products of that experience.
“In this election,” Nicolas Sarkozy  proclaimed some months ago , “we’re going to find out if the heritage of May ’68 is going to be perpetuated or if it will be liquidated once and forever.” Though the voicing of political principle and its antagonistic distillates may be an increasing rarity in our world, where enmity is naturalised (and racialised) by the imperatives of “national security” or outsourced to lands failed and threatening, it was heartening to see France once again revelling in the performance, if not always the reality, of political struggle. Rather than simply taking the technocratic path, and mobilising interest rates or pensions to prod the proverbial swing-voter into action, Sarkozy –  inspired, in his own words, by a ‘Gramscian’ hegemonic project – saw it fit to evoke the spectre of ‘68 to dramatise the stakes of the second round of the election that pitted him against Ségolene Royal – as if the tiresomely descried stagnation or crisis of French society rested on the inexhaustible effects of that fated date.
‘Sarko’ even presented his presidency as a chance, forty years on, to retroactively karcheriser the mutinous streets of the Latin Quarter and all of the polymorphously repellent effects they allegedly spawned. Whence  the catchy slogan: ”I want to turn the page on May 1968”. His political biographers even tell us that only his mother held him back, at the age of 13, from joining in the pro-De Gaulle march against the alliance of students and workers. It might be tempting simply to regard this gambit as an obligatory mediation for reactionary politics within the French context; an attempt to swing Paris back, after the banlieue riots, CPE protests and mobilisation against the Constitution, to its status as “the capital of European reaction”,  in the words of Perry Anderson. But I think Sarkozy’s wish to liquidate ’68 – to repave the French political imaginary and erase the very memory of those events in anticipation of their (inevitably anticlimactic) fortieth anniversary – bespeaks a harsher form of subjectivity than a merely reactionary one.
Despite the presence in Sarko’s entourage of the insufferable  André Glucksmann – the epitome of reactionary subjectivity in Alain Badiou’s recent  Logiques des mondes – alongside Johnny Hallyday and, alas, Charlotte Rampling, the figure of the reactive subject is still too mild to properly identify la singularité Sarkozy. Taking  François Furet as emblematic of this form of subjectivity, Badiou portrays reaction as the stark denial of the necessity of rupture embodied in a political event (e.g. the French Revolution, or indeed the ‘world revolution’ of 1968,  to borrow Wallerstein’s terms). But such a denial nonetheless incorporates some of the novelties spurred by the event, in a narrative where radical subjectivity and collective action are simply hysterical and catastrophic gestures that, at best, give rise to changes which the gradual and reasonable unfolding of historical change would have led to anyway. The event, and the implacable fidelity to its consequences, are ultimately futile, obstacles to the very principles they seek to realise (in this respect, the American pragmatist hostility to  John Brown and anti-abolitionist politics is a perfect example of reactionary subjectivity).
Anj -- ZION'S REBEL DAUGHTER
Palestine / Israel
ZION'S REBEL DAUGHTER
Hannah Arendt on Palestine and Jewish Politics
Both during her lifetime (1906–1975) and posthumously, Hannah Arendt's reputation has been based largely on The Origins of Totalitarianism (1951) and Eichmann in Jerusalem (1963); perhaps supplemented by The Human Condition (1958), for a more specialist readership. The first book, which shot her to fame, remains an enormously powerful but uneven work, lacking any introductory overview or methodological statement. Though initially conceived during World War Two as an analysis of `racial imperialism', Arendt changed her mind several times about its overall form: the strikingly original opening sections on antisemitism and imperialism were all but completed two years before she decided—in 1948, at the height of the Cold War—to draft the long final section on `totalitarianism', equating communism with fascism. The second book, her report on Adolf Eichmann's trial, won her a different sort of notoriety, along with virtual excommunication in Israel, and demonstrated the intellectual courage she showed throughout her life.
What has been largely hidden hitherto, however, is her body of work on antisemitism, Jewish politics and the Zionist project, mainly written during the 1930s and 40s, long before Eichmann in Jerusalem appeared. The publication of The Jewish Writings  now allows the reader to reconstruct in detail the historical development of her ideas on Zionism; it is probably the best single bloc of writing—the most concrete, level-headed, powerful and prophetic—that Arendt produced. Half of the material has never appeared in English before, and about a fifth is previously unpublished anywhere. The variety is impressive: in terms of genre, there are lengthy scholarly essays, short journalistic interventions, major review-articles, conference papers, letters and interviews. In terms of theme: history of European Jewry, Middle East politics, Judeocide. Texts originally written in German or French appear in excellent English translation. The collection represents a qualitative as well as quantitative advance on the only previous selection of these works, published by one of the editors in 1978 and now long out of print.  All in all, it is a major extension of our knowledge of Arendt's work and thought.
Königsberg to Paris
Arendt came relatively late to the subject matter of The Jewish Writings. As she famously told Karl Jaspers, as a young woman she had `found the so-called "Jewish Question" quite boring'.  Arguably, it was not until 1933, the year she turned twenty-seven, that her political thinking on these issues really began to crystallize. As a child, though `my mother would have given me a real spanking if she had ever had reason to believe that I had denied being Jewish', the matter was `never a topic of discussion'. The secular, middle-class Jewish environment in Königsberg in which Arendt grew up, before and after the First World War, had been relatively secure; the city's working-class Jews lived on the other side of the river, to the south, and the two communities seldom mingled. Her parents, social democrats, were non-religious; also non-conventional. The father, an amateur classicist who worked for an electrical engineering company, died of syphilis when Arendt was seven. Her mother was a Paris-trained musician, whose strength of character was evident in the instructions she gave her child on how to respond to antisemitic remarks: if these emanated from teachers, Hannah was to leave school instantly, report the incident at home, where it would promptly be followed by her mother's letter of complaint; if the slur came from her peers, she would have to contend with it on her own and utter not a word about the incident at home: `One must defend oneself!' 
At university in Heidelberg and Marburg—studying philosophy with Heidegger, then with Jaspers, and involved in a series of love affairs—Arendt opted for a dissertation on Augustinian notions of transcendental love. As she would put it to Gershom Scholem, rebutting his sneer at the time of the Eichmann trial that she `came from the German Left': `I was interested neither in history nor in politics when I was young. If I can be said to "have come from anywhere", it is from the tradition of German philosophy.'  Her initial approach to the Jewish Question was through the critique of assimilation to which, as she told Jaspers, `Kurt Blumenfeld opened my eyes'. Blumenfeld, a fellow Königsberger and leading speaker for the Zionist Organization of Germany, was one of many charismatic older men with whom she would maintain close relations; they first met in 1926 when he came to Heidelberg to address a group of Jewish students, Arendt among them. In 1929 she began a study of the German Enlightenment, which came to focus on the multi-volume correspondence of the 1790s Jewish salonnière Rahel Varnhagen: the brilliant and emancipated daughter of a Berlin diamond merchant, interlocutor and hostess of Goethe, the Schlegels, the Humboldts et al.; even then, the first eleven chapters of Arendt's (highly autobiographical) biography, Rahel Varnhagen: The Life of a Jewish Woman, were as much about passion, existence and interiority as about the dilemmas of German-Jewish assimilation.
It was with the rise of National Socialism and the darkening political situation in Germany from 1930 that, while still working on the Varnhagen papers in the Prussian State Library in Berlin, Arendt began specifically to address the Jewish Question. Kohn and Feldman's collection of The Jewish Writings opens with three pieces from this period, written for the Berlin-based Jüdische Rundschau and for a German Jewish history journal: two of these articles focus on the Enlightenment, the third argues for the provision of inclusive, not private, Jewish schools for the children then being driven out of the German education system. From Blumenfeld she had learnt of the different wings of the Zionist movement, epitomized in the radically different reactions of Theodor Herzl (1860–1904) and Bernard Lazare (1865–1903) to the antisemitism of the Dreyfus Affair; and of Lazare's striking distinction between two modern Jewish types, the parvenu and the (conscious) pariah. In contrast to Herzl's policy of exodus to a Jewish homeland, and pursuit of elite support to win it—a goal in which, as he presciently remarked in the early 1900s, `the antisemites will be our staunchest friends'—for Lazare, as Arendt would later put it:
the territorial question was secondary. What he sought was not an escape from antisemitism but a mobilization of the people against its foes . . . He did not look around for more or less antisemitic protectors but for real comrades-in-arms, whom he hoped to find among all the oppressed groups of contemporary Europe. 
It was on this tradition that Arendt now drew. By the 1930s, the bankruptcy of any assimilation strategy for European Jewry had been thrown into stark relief: `In a society on the whole hostile to Jews, it is possible to assimilate only by assimilating to antisemitism also'.  At the same time a Zionist model based on the `philanthropic domination' of wealthy Jews—the parvenus—over their poorer outcast brethren had to be combated by Lazare's more egalitarian ideal: a republic of `conscious pariahs'.
The pressing political need was to defend the Jewish people. Fleeing to Paris in 1933, having been briefly arrested for collecting material evidence of antisemitism for Blumenfeld's group, Arendt began working for Youth Aliyah—a Zionist organization helping European Jewish teenagers move to Palestine—and, for a short stint, the Baroness Germaine de Rothschild.  In Paris, in the spring of 1936, Arendt met Heinrich Blücher, with whom she would share the rest of her life. At that stage still a revolutionary Communist, Blücher was a tough and independent-minded Berliner who had participated as a 19-year-old infantryman in the 1918 Soldiers' Councils and the Spartacist rising; a close kpd comrade of Heinrich Brandler during the 1920s, moving in avant-garde circles, he had fled Berlin with no identity papers in 1934. Their relationship would have a transformative impact on Arendt's political thinking.  Its extent can be gauged from a comparison of the exchange of letters in August 1936, partly cited in Kohn's Preface, when the pair had only known each other a few months, with the pieces that Arendt went on to write thereafter. Initially, to Blücher's trenchant formulations on the Jewish question—
The Jewish people must become proud and not ask for any handouts. Its bourgeoisie corrupts it. Particularly in Palestine, where it wants to be handed a whole country. But you can't just be given a country, any more than you can be given a woman; both must be earned . . . To want a country, a whole country, as a present from a gangster who first of all has to steal it? To end up as a fence for an English plunderer? True enough, in barbarian times you could also get yourself a woman this way, but along with her you would get her total contempt and her unquenchable hatred . . . [Instead], let us join forces with the Arab workers and labourers to liberate the land from the English plunderers and the Jewish bourgeoisie that is in alliance with them. Then you will receive your share, and the revolutionaries of the whole world will guarantee it to you. That is materialistic workers' politics.
—Arendt had replied in relatively conventional Zionist mode, occluding the Arabs and couching the claim to Palestine in biblical terms (if mediated through German idealism):
Palestine. Good God, unfortunately you are right. But if we're pitching conquest against gift, then it seems to me that a military campaign against swamp, malaria, desert and stone—for that is what our Promised Land looks like—is also quite commendable. If we do want to become one people, then any old territory that the world revolution might someday want to present us with would not be of much help to us. For whichever way you look at it, that land is unavoidably bound with our past. Palestine is not at the centre of our national aspirations because 2,000 years ago some people lived there from whom in some sense or other we are supposed to be descended, but because for 2,000 years the craziest of peoples took pleasure in preserving the past in the present, because for them `the ruins of Jerusalem are, as you could say, rooted in the heart of time' (Herder). 
Yet within the next few years, Arendt would produce not only the final chapters of her Rahel Varnhagen—`I wrote the end of the book very irritably in the summer of 1938, because Blücher and [Walter] Benjamin would not leave me in peace until I did,' she told Jaspers—but also the monumental though unfinished essay, `Antisemitism', published for the first time in The Jewish Writings. It is clear that she had intended this manuscript to be a book, for it breaks off, after nearly 40,000 words, with a sentence beginning: `In the next chapter we shall see . . .' Kohn suggests that she was writing it in Paris between 1938 and May 1940, when she was interned for several months as an enemy alien.  Although the text, written in German, shares the same title as the first section of the tripartite Origins of Totalitarianism, there are major differences between the two. The analysis in the later work is far more diffuse, mingling psychological insight and sociological portraiture—most famously: Disraeli, Proust, the Dreyfusards—with an account of the rise of imperialism, focused on the late 19th and early 20th centuries.
By contrast, the earlier `Antisemitism' is quite different both in content and in form. The text is a rigorously historical examination of the Jewish Question in Europe—first and foremost, Germany—from the medieval era, through the rise of the early-modern absolutist state, to the modern age. Arendt rejects the assumptions on which both the assimilationist and nationalist-Zionist explanations are based, arguing that in the end they are not so very different. The Zionist account `strips the relationship between Jews and their host nation of its historicity and reduces it to a play of forces (like those of attraction and repulsion) between two natural substances'; it sees a 100 per cent difference between the two. Assimilationist historians, on the other hand, `opt for an equally uncritical assumption of a 100 per cent correspondence between Jews and their host nation . . . The Jews were Germans and nothing more'. Yet by the late 1930s, these `nothing but Germans' could only enjoy the civil and legal rights that the German upper house had granted them in 1869 if they could show proof that not one of their grandparents was Jewish. Arendt comments: `Assimilationists were never able to explain how things could ever have turned out so badly, and for the Zionists there still remains the unresolved fact that things might have gone well.'  Neither account manages to pull away from antisemitism's confines.
Arendt's response was an unyielding historicization of antisemitism, anchoring its forms within concrete social contexts. She was utterly opposed to any notion of `Jewish substance'—implicitly, also, to any antisemitic substance—and to what in current parlance is called essentialism. The contrast with her `relatively straightforward' Zionist position of a few years before could hardly be more marked. A powerful aspect of `Antisemitism' is her use of class as an autonomous analytical category, culminating in the 19th-century struggle between the Junker aristocracy and the German bourgeoisie for control over the absolutist state. No doubt reflecting the impact of her discussions with Blücher, a historical understanding of antisemitism had now become the key to providing not only an intellectual alternative to both assimilation and Zionism, but also, inexorably, a political one. Arendt was indefatigable in the search for a course of political action that aimed not at the disappearance of the Jews from European societies (through ceasing to be Jewish or emigrating), but rather through participating in the betterment of those societies and, perforce, of the lot of Jews within them.
Though contemporary persecutions clearly drew on ancient antecedents, Arendt distinguished sharply between the medieval `hatred of Jews' and the emergence of modern antisemitism: the former `was about Jews, and not much more than that', whereas the history of antisemitism `conceals many other tendencies', in which Jews do not necessarily play a central role. To blur that distinction was `to abstract the Jewish Question out of the historical process and to destroy the common ground on which the fate of both Jews and non-Jews is decided.'  Before the mid-17th century, Arendt argued, European Jewry came into contact with other peoples only during `catastrophes and expulsions'. In the ghetto, economic life was `limited to minor craftwork and peddling', while a few rich Jews served as financial agents to the princely courts and acted as intermediaries with the outside world.  With no protection from law or surety, they could only meet the precipitous risks of lending to others—spendthrift landowners, indigent craftsmen, farmers whose crops had failed—by charging extortionate interest rates, ensuring the hostility of their debtors. As court financiers, the richest Jewish leaders could generally maintain the royal relationships necessary to guarantee the community's protection—although, if a prince ran into debt, the Jews could always be expelled and robbed of their savings as a revenue-raising measure.
Opportunities for European Jewry expanded during the Thirty Years' War, when cash-strapped states turned to them to develop continent-wide networks of finance (`Jew Y could pay and deliver to armies fighting far from home what Jew X had promised back in their homeland') and military supplies: cloth, grain, metal trading. Over the next century, the rise of absolutism saw an expanding relationship between Jewish leaders and royal bureaucracies: in German lands, `the 17th-century court Jewbecame the 18th-century creditor of absolutist states'. The Polish court invited Jews to come and serve as tax collectors, thus buttressing the nobility from the resentment of the impoverished peasantry. If Jews still suffered expulsions during the 18th century, these now had `a more political character': not to rob them of their wealth, but to `shift the people's rage at being sucked dry'. Modernizing absolutist states, Arendt argued, deliberately turned to Jews to finance the expanding bureaucracies and standing armies that they required to counter both the old aristocracy and the rising bourgeoisie; they were happy to pit Jewish suppliers against craft guilds to advance mercantile manufacturing. Eighteenth-century absolutism benefited not just the wealthiest Jewish financiers, who might now be granted `exceptional' civic rights and titles on an individual basis, but a broader layer of merchants and traders. By 1803, 20 per cent of Prussian Jews were `protected' in some way, and over 3,000—Rahel Varnhagen's family among them—had been granted dwelling rights in Berlin; they formed what Arendt terms a `collective exception' to the unprotected and impoverished Jewish masses of West Prussia and Posen. 
Assimilation and antisemitism
It is at this juncture that Arendt locates the appearance of modern antisemitism: heralded, paradoxically, by the victory of Napoleon, emancipator of the Jews. The bourgeois intelligentsia's discovery of German patriotism, in opposition to Napoleon, bred fears that the Jews might be tempted to support him; while the surrender of the eastern provinces deprived the `exceptional' Jews of their necessary social backdrop, the non-exceptions. Simultaneously, the rising German bourgeoisie included the Jews in its attack on Junker landowners—`the aristocracy is so closely bound to the Jews that it cannot continue without them', in the words of liberal publicist Friedrich Buchholz—while the Junkers' counter-attacks against both the growing economic power of the bourgeoisie and the liberalizing moves of the state between 1806 and 1812 (permitting land sales, lifting trade regulations), highlighted the role of the `protected' Jews as beneficiaries of marketization and allies of the state. The Junkers' polemics against the bourgeoisie—promoters of industry and speculation as opposed to crafts and agriculture; of crass materialism against God's order; of vain talent versus honourable character—rallied an alliance of farmers, guild members, shopkeepers: all `backward-looking or necessarily apprehensive strata'. 
In Arendt's view, it was the Junkers' success in portraying themselves, rather than the bourgeoisie, as the embodiment of the budding nation-state, that lay at the root of modern German antisemitism. The Junkers not only `otherized' the bourgeoisie as everything the aristocracy was not but, crucially, prevailed upon it to internalize that `otherization' as a truthful description—hence alienating the bourgeois citizen from himself. The final step was that the bourgeoisie, in order to rid itself of that portrayal, in turn projected it upon the Jews. `The malicious description of the bourgeoisie is the historical wellspring of almost all antisemitic arguments', Arendt avers:
Rene -- Across America, Deadly Echoes of Foreign Battles
Across America, Deadly Echoes of Foreign Battles
By DEBORAH SONTAG and LIZETTE ALVAREZ
Published: January 13, 2008
Late one night in the summer of 2005, Matthew Sepi, a 20-year-old Iraq combat veteran, headed out to a 7-Eleven in the seedy Las Vegas neighborhood where he had settled after leaving the Army.
Killings on the Homefront
Audio Interview: Dr. Jonathan Shay on Returning Veterans and Combat Trauma (January 13, 2008)
Book Excerpt: Odysseus in America: Combat Trauma and the Trials of Homecoming (January 13, 2008)
Blogrunner: Reactions From Around the Web
The New York Times
More Photos »
This particular 7-Eleven sits in the shadow of the Stratosphere casino-hotel in a section of town called the Naked City. By day, the area, littered with malt liquor cans, looks depressed but not menacing. By night, it becomes, in the words of a local homicide detective, “like Falluja.”
Mr. Sepi did not like to venture outside too late. But, plagued by nightmares about an Iraqi civilian killed by his unit, he often needed alcohol to fall asleep. And so it was that night, when, seized by a gut feeling of lurking danger, he slid a trench coat over his slight frame — and tucked an assault rifle inside it.
“Matthew knew he shouldn’t be taking his AK-47 to the 7-Eleven,” Detective Laura Andersen said, “but he was scared to death in that neighborhood, he was military trained and, in his mind, he needed the weapon to protect himself.”
Head bowed, Mr. Sepi scurried down an alley, ignoring shouts about trespassing on gang turf. A battle-weary grenadier who was still legally under-age, he paid a stranger to buy him two tall cans of beer, his self-prescribed treatment for post-traumatic stress disorder.
As Mr. Sepi started home, two gang members, both large and both armed, stepped out of the darkness. Mr. Sepi said in an interview that he spied the butt of a gun, heard a boom, saw a flash and “just snapped.”
In the end, one gang member lay dead, bleeding onto the pavement. The other was wounded. And Mr. Sepi fled, “breaking contact” with the enemy, as he later described it. With his rifle raised, he crept home, loaded 180 rounds of ammunition into his car and drove until police lights flashed behind him.
“Who did I take fire from?” he asked urgently. Wearing his Army camouflage pants, the diminutive young man said he had been ambushed and then instinctively “engaged the targets.” He shook. He also cried.
“I felt very bad for him,” Detective Andersen said.
Nonetheless, Mr. Sepi was booked, and a local newspaper soon reported: “Iraq veteran arrested in killing.”
Town by town across the country, headlines have been telling similar stories. Lakewood, Wash.: “Family Blames Iraq After Son Kills Wife.” Pierre, S.D.: “Soldier Charged With Murder Testifies About Postwar Stress.” Colorado Springs: “Iraq War Vets Suspected in Two Slayings, Crime Ring.”
Individually, these are stories of local crimes, gut-wrenching postscripts to the war for the military men, their victims and their communities. Taken together, they paint the patchwork picture of a quiet phenomenon, tracing a cross-country trail of death and heartbreak.
The New York Times found 121 cases in which veterans of Iraq and Afghanistan committed a killing in this country, or were charged with one, after their return from war. In many of those cases, combat trauma and the stress of deployment — along with alcohol abuse, family discord and other attendant problems — appear to have set the stage for a tragedy that was part destruction, part self-destruction.
Three-quarters of these veterans were still in the military at the time of the killing. More than half the killings involved guns, and the rest were stabbings, beatings, strangulations and bathtub drownings. Twenty-five offenders faced murder, manslaughter or homicide charges for fatal car crashes resulting from drunken, reckless or suicidal driving.
About a third of the victims were spouses, girlfriends, children or other relatives, among them 2-year-old Krisiauna Calaira Lewis, whose 20-year-old father slammed her against a wall when he was recuperating in Texas from a bombing near Falluja that blew off his foot and shook up his brain.
A quarter of the victims were fellow service members, including Specialist Richard Davis of the Army, who was stabbed repeatedly and then set ablaze, his body hidden in the woods by fellow soldiers a day after they all returned from Iraq.
And the rest were acquaintances or strangers, among them Noah P. Gamez, 21, who was breaking into a car at a Tucson motel when an Iraq combat veteran, also 21, caught him, shot him dead and then killed himself outside San Diego with one of several guns found in his car.
Tracking the Killings
The Pentagon does not keep track of such killings, most of which are prosecuted not by the military justice system but by civilian courts in state after state. Neither does the Justice Department.
To compile and analyze its list, The Times conducted a search of local news reports, examined police, court and military records and interviewed the defendants, their lawyers and families, the victims’ families and military and law enforcement officials.
This reporting most likely uncovered only the minimum number of such cases, given that not all killings, especially in big cities and on military bases, are reported publicly or in detail. Also, it was often not possible to determine the deployment history of other service members arrested on homicide charges.
The Times used the same methods to research homicides involving all active-duty military personnel and new veterans for the six years before and after the present wartime period began with the invasion of Afghanistan in 2001.
This showed an 89 percent increase during the present wartime period, to 349 cases from 184, about three-quarters of which involved Iraq and Afghanistan war veterans. The increase occurred even though there have been fewer troops stationed in the United States in the last six years and the American homicide rate has been, on average, lower.
The Pentagon was given The Times’s roster of homicides. It declined to comment because, a spokesman, Lt. Col. Les Melnyk, said, the Department of Defense could not duplicate the newspaper’s research. Further, Colonel Melnyk questioned the validity of comparing prewar and wartime numbers based on news media reports, saying that the current increase might be explained by “an increase in awareness of military service by reporters since 9/11.” He also questioned the value of “lumping together different crimes such as involuntary manslaughter with first-degree homicide.”
Given that many veterans rebound successfully from their war experiences and some flourish as a result of them, veterans groups have long deplored the attention paid to the minority of soldiers who fail to readjust to civilian life.
After World War I, the American Legion passed a resolution asking the press “to subordinate whatever slight news value there may be in playing up the ex-service member angle in stories of crime or offense against the peace.” An article in the Veterans of Foreign Wars magazine in 2006 referred with disdain to the pervasive “wacko-vet myth,” which, veterans say, makes it difficult for them to find jobs.
Clearly, committing homicide is an extreme manifestation of dysfunction for returning veterans, many of whom struggle in quieter ways, with crumbling marriages, mounting debt, deepening alcohol dependence or more-minor tangles with the law.
But these killings provide a kind of echo sounding for the profound depths to which some veterans have fallen, whether at the bottom of a downward spiral or in a sudden burst of violence.
Thirteen of these veterans took their own lives after the killings, and two more were fatally shot by the police. Several more attempted suicide or expressed a death wish, like Joshua Pol, a former soldier convicted of vehicular homicide, who told a judge in Montana in 2006, “To be honest with you, I really wish I had died in Iraq.”
In some of the cases involving veterans of Iraq and Afghanistan, the fact that the suspect went to war bears no apparent relationship to the crime committed or to the prosecution and punishment. But in many of the cases, the deployment of the service member invariably becomes a factor of some sort as the legal system, families and communities grapple to make sense of the crimes.
This is especially stark where a previously upstanding young man — there is one woman among the 121 — appears to have committed a random act of violence. And The Times’s analysis showed that the overwhelming majority of these young men, unlike most civilian homicide offenders, had no criminal history.
“When they’ve been in combat, you have to suspect immediately that combat has had some effect, especially with people who haven’t shown these tendencies in the past,” said Robert Jay Lifton, a lecturer in psychiatry at Harvard Medical School/Cambridge Health Alliance who used to run “rap groups” for Vietnam veterans and fought to earn recognition for what became known as post-traumatic stress disorder, or PTSD.
“Everything is multicausational, of course,” Dr. Lifton continued. “But combat, especially in a counterinsurgency war, is such a powerful experience that to discount it would be artificial.”
Rene -- THE FOG OF WAR CRIMES
THE FOG OF WAR CRIMES
by Frida Berrigan
In These Times
January 7, 2008
Who's to blame when 'just following orders' means murder?
A Marine squad was on a dusty road in Iraq, far from home. Suddenly,
a deadly roadside bomb explodes the early morning calm and kills a
lance corporal and wounds two other Marines. The mission: tend to
the wounded and find those who were responsible â€¦ Or make someone
pay? Three sleeping families awaken to the sound of grenades and guns.
By the end of the "operation," 24 people were dead, including three
women and six children. Bullets, fired at close range, tore through
bodies and lodged deep in walls. A one-legged elderly man was shot
nine times in the chest and abdomen. A man who watched the violence
from his roof across the road told The Washington Post that he heard
his neighbor speak to the Marines in English, begging for the lives of
his wife and children, saying, "I am friend. I am good." All the family
was killed except one: 13-year-old Safa. Covered in her mother's blood,
she reportedly fainted and appeared dead.
In a road nearby lay the bodies of five men-four college students
and their driver.
On Nov. 20, 2005, a Marine spokesman reported: "A U.S. Marine and
15 civilians were killed yesterday from the blast of a roadside bomb
Immediately following the bombing, gunmen attacked the convoy with
small-arms fire. Iraqi army soldiers and Marines returned fire,
killing eight insurgents and wounding another."
The only truth in that statement was that there was a roadside bomb
and that a Marine-Lance Cpl. Miguel Terrazas, known as T.J. to the
other men in his squad-was killed instantly. The rest was a lie. It
took months for the truth to come out, and the search for justice is
taking even longer. The 24 Iraqi bodies have since been buried in a
cemetery in Haditha, a farming town beside the Euphrates River. But
no one-from the commander on down-has been sentenced to prison, and
the effort to hold Marines responsible for this crime has focused on
a few men who are low on the chain of command.
Geoffrey Corn, a retired lieutenant colonel and a professor at Southern
Texas College of Law, says the laws of war work because "for every
case of atrocities that we read about, there are thousands of Marines
and soldiers who act with restraint."
The Laws of Armed Conflict and the Geneva Conventions were designed
as the basis for military conduct in times of war. Three central
principles govern armed conflict: military necessity, distinction
(soldiers must engage only valid military targets) and proportionality
(the loss of civilian lives and property damage must not outweigh the
military advantage sought). Among other things, the Geneva Conventions
identify grave breaches of international law as the "willful killing;
torture or inhuman treatment; willful causing of great suffering;
and extensive destruction and appropriation of property not justified
by military necessity and carried out unlawfully or wantonly." An
examination of the military's actions in the aftermath of Haditha
reveals a clear unwillingness to apply these principles.
Whose neck is on the line?
"You stop war crimes by coming down on the ranking officer," says
Ian Cuth-bertson, a military historian and senior fellow at the World
"All armies in all wars at all times have committed war crimes,"
he continues. "The question is: Does command authority condone or
stop them? You can't just give an 18-year-old an automatic weapon and
tell him, 'Don't shoot prisoners in the head.' You need an officer
to rein him in. The officer needs to feel as though his own neck is
on the line."
In the case of Haditha, Marines have not put officers' necks on
Maj. Gen. Richard Huck, who was in charge of Marines in Haditha
in 2005, along with his chief of staff Col. Richard Sokoloski and
Col. Stephen Davis, who headed the regimental combat team, all received
letters of censure from the secretary of the U.S. Navy. The censure did
not strip the men of their rank or salary, but they will be barred from
future promotions, which could force them out of the Marines. According
to Gary Solis, a military law expert and former Marine, censure is
the Marine Corps' most serious administrative sanction.
But, as Cuthbertson points out, the generals are not being censured
for letting Haditha happen. They are being punished for not
investigating. This is a big difference.
Cuthbertson cites the Allied response to the Malmedy massacre in
Belgium as one example of taking war crimes seriously up the chain
of command. In 1944, German soldiers killed more than 70 unarmed
U.S. prisoners of war. In war crimes trials after Germany was defeated,
justice was swift and extended far beyond those who actually pulled
triggers. "The commander of the regiment wasn't there. He was found
guilty and sentenced to death," says Cuthbertson. "The general of
the Army wasn't there. He was found guilty and sentenced to life
Gerald Raunig -- The Concatenation of Art and Revolution
The Concatenation of Art and Revolution
[also published on semiotext(e) site]
“. . . to say the revolution is itself utopia of immanence is not to say that it is a dream, something that is not realized or that is only realized by betraying itself. On the contrary, it is to posit revolution as plane of immanence, infinite movement and absolute survey, but to the extent that these features connect up with what is real here and now in the struggle against capitalism, relaunching new struggles whenever the earlier one is betrayed.” —(GillesDeleuze/Felix Guattari)
“In this short article I could sketch only with a couple of strokes the peculiar winding line of the relationships between revolution and art that we have hitherto observed. It has not been broken off. It continues even further.” —(Anatoly Lunacharsky)
In the long echo of a revolution, Richard Wagner and Anatoly Lunacharsky each wrote their texts about the “winding line of the relationships between revolution and art.” In 1849, in the wake of the failed bourgeois revolution in Germany, Wagner sketched “Art and the Revolution,” and about seventy years later Lunacharsky—influenced by the first experiences of post-revolutionary cultural policies following the successful October Revolution—published the two sections of his short article “Revolution and Art” as the powerful Commissar for Education and Enlightenment. The two titles evince a minimal and yet significant variation of the concatenation of art and revolution reflecting the contrary ideological positions of the two authors. For Wagner revolution seems to follow art, for Lunacharsky art follows the revolution: on the one side there is the royal court conductor of Saxony and proponent of the gesamtkunstwerk Wagner, whose later nationalist, chauvinistic and anti-Semitic tirades were to make him a useful point of reference both aesthetically and politically for National-Socialist ideology; on the other Lunacharsky, member of the government for twelve years under Lenin and Stalin until 1929, decisive especially in the early years of the Proletkult for the development of cultural policies in the Soviet Union.
The preconditions could hardly be more different, and yet the two texts converge in several paradigmatic aspects due to specific biographic as well as to structural similarities in the cultural-political strategies of the two very different authors. In the years around 1848, under the vague influence of the ideas of Proudhon, Feuerbach and Bakunin, Wagner included diffuse revolutionary tones beyond his tight, mostly musical theory radius of reflection. Lunacharsky’s attitude developed in attempting to bridge the gap between the utilization of art already brought up by Lenin on the one hand, and the radical left-wing experiments of the leftist Proletkult wing on the other, into a strangely conservative position, which blocked not only socialist innovation, but also placed itself vehemently before the cultural heritage of bourgeois society. Against this backdrop of the ambivalence, volatility and diffusiveness of both positions, it is understandable that there is a certain degree of congruence in the two very different texts, especially where they are most relevant for our considerations here.
Wagner wrote “Art and the Revolution” in 1849, the year of his exile in Zurich following the failure of the Dresden Revolt, in which he had played a certain role, not only as a writer. Starting from the “lament of our modern artists and their hatred for the revolution,” the essay was intended to provide “a brief survey of the outstanding moments of European art history,” and despite the defeat in Dresden Wagner still clung to ideas and the concept of the revolution. In 1848/49, however, a certain oscillation in his position was already noticeable: Wagner’s stance, which was even in revolutionary times clearly focussed on the conditions of art production and on reforming the administration and financing of art, ranged from radical democratic demands on the one hand to more moderate visions of restoration and reconciliation with the German princes on the other.
According to Wagner, the “thousand-year long revolution of humanity,” which he said also crushed the Greek tragedy together with the Athenian state, had now, at the time of writing his essay on revolution, created a situation that first made the artwork of the future possible. According to Wagner, art was to be understood as “social product,” and more precisely as a “faithful mirror image” of the “dominant spirit of the public.” Accordingly, the dissolution of the Athenian state corresponds to the downfall of the “great gesamtkunstwerk of the tragedy.” An artwork, which would be able to encompass “the spirit of free humanity beyond all limitations of nationalities,” could not emerge from contemporary society and art as an “industrial institution.” The drama as perfect art work could only be reborn from revolution: “True art can only rise up from its state of civilized barbarism to its dignity on the shoulders of our great social movement.” Wagner’s attitude, swaying between cultural pessimism and revolutionary pathos, although not yet ultimately decided in its tendency toward totality and authoritarianism, already moved him to grand pronouncements in 1849: “Only the great revolution of humanity, the beginning of which once crushed the Greek tragedy, can attain for us this art work, because only the revolution can newly and more beautifully, nobly, generally give birth from its greatest depths to that, which it snatched from the conservative spirit of an earlier period of more beautiful—but limited—education, and devoured.”
Anatoly Lunacharsky wrote his article “Revolution and Art” in two steps, the first part in 1920 as a newspaper article, the second as an interview on the occasion of the fifth anniversary of the October Revolution. This means that the text was produced in a period that was no longer permeated by the fresh energy of the Russian Revolution, but in which the terminology and programs of this initial phase continued to be characteristic. For Lunacharsky, in the conventional diction of the revolutionary context, bourgeois art is initially denigrated as formalistic, as having “advanced merely a whimsical and absurd eclecticism.” Revolution, on the other hand, “is bringing ideas of remarkable breadth and depth.” For this reason—and Lunacharsky is still writing futuristically here in 1920—the highest cultural politician of the Soviet Union anticipates “a great deal from the influence of the Revolution on art, to put it simply: I expect art to be saved from the worst forms of decadence and from pure formalism.” Conversely, art is defined as a means of revolution, particularly because of its function in agitating the masses and as the appropriate form of the expression of revolutionary policies: “If revolution can give art its soul, then art can give revolution its mouthpiece.”
Rene - Zizek -- China Adopted Our Capitalist Model -- Will We Adopt Their Despotism?
China Adopted Our Capitalist Model -- Will We Adopt Their Despotism?
By Slavoj Zizek, In These Times
Posted on December 15, 2007, Printed on January 4, 2008
The explosion of capitalism in China has many Westerners asking when political democracy -- as the "natural" accompaniment of capitalism -- will emerge. But a closer look quickly dispels any such hope.
Modern-day China is not an oriental-despotic distortion of capitalism, but rather the repetition of capitalism's development in Europe itself. In the early modern era, most European states were far from democratic. And if they were democratic (as was the case of the Netherlands during the 17th century), it was only a democracy of the propertied liberal elite, not of the workers. Conditions for capitalism were created and sustained by a brutal state dictatorship, very much like today's China. The state legalized violent expropriations of the common people, which turned them proletarian. The state then disciplined them, teaching them to conform to their new ancilliary role.
The features we identify today with liberal democracy and freedom (trade unions, universal vote, freedom of the press, etc.) are far from natural fruits of capitalism. The lower classes won them by waging long, difficult struggles throughout the 19th century. Recall the list of demands that Karl Marx and Friedrich Engels made in the conclusion of The Communist Manifesto. With the exception of the abolition of private property, most of them -- such as a progressive income tax, free public education and abolishing child labor -- are today widely accepted in "bourgeois" democracies, and all were gained as the result of popular struggles.
So there is nothing exotic in today's China: It is merely repeating our own forgotten past. But what about the afterthought of some Western liberal critics who ask how much faster China's development would have been had the country grown within the context of a political democracy? The German-British philosopher Ralf Dahrendorf has linked the increasing distrust in democracy to the fact that, after every revolutionary change, the road to new prosperity leads through a "valley of tears." In other words, after the breakdown of state socialism, a country cannot immediately become a successful market economy. The limited -- but real -- socialist welfare and security have to be dismantled, and these first steps are necessary and painful. For Dahrendorf, this passage through the "valley of tears" lasts longer than the average period between democratic elections. As a result, the temptation is great for leaders of a democratic country to postpone difficult changes for short-term electoral gains.
In Western Europe, the move from welfare state to the new global economy has involved painful renunciations, less security and less guaranteed social care. In post-Communist nations, the economic results of this new democratic order have disappointed a large strata of the population, who, in the glorious days of 1989, equated democracy with the abundance of the Western consumerist societies. And now, 20 years later, when the abundance is still missing, they blame democracy itself.
Anj -- Naomi Klein -- A decade after Acteal, war is again on Mexico's horizon
A decade after Acteal, war is again on Mexico's horizon
To those who remember the violent campaigns against Zapatistas, the tensions today feel eerily, dangerously familiar
Naomi Klein in San Cristóbal
Friday December 21, 2007
Nativity scenes are plentiful in San Cristóbal de las Casas, a colonial city in the highlands of Chiapas, Mexico. But the one that greets visitors at the entrance to the TierrAdentro cultural centre has a local twist: figurines on donkeys wear miniature ski masks and carry wooden guns.
It is high season for "Zapatourism", the industry of international travellers that has sprung up around the indigenous uprising here, and TierrAdentro is ground zero. Zapatista-made weavings, posters and jewellery are selling briskly. In the courtyard restaurant, where the mood at 10pm is festive, verging on fuzzy, college students drink Sol beer. A young man holds up a photograph of the rebel leader, Subcomandante Marcos, as always in a mask with a pipe, and kisses it. As he does so, his friends snap yet another picture of this most documented of movements.
I am taken through the revellers to a room at the back of the cultural centre, closed to the public. The sombre mood here seems a world away. Ernesto Ledesma Arronte, a 40-year-old ponytailed researcher, is hunched over military maps and human rights incident reports. "Did you understand what Marcos said?" he asks me. "It was very strong. He hasn't said anything like that in many years."
Ledesma Arronte is referring to a speech that Marcos made the night before, at a conference outside San Cristóbal. The speech was titled Feeling Red: the Calendar and the Geography of War. Because it was Marcos, it was poetic and slightly elliptical. But to Ledesma Arronte's ears, it was a code-red alert. "Those of us who have made war know how to recognise the paths by which it is prepared and brought near," Marcos said. "The signs of war on the horizon are clear. War, like fear, also has a smell. And now we are starting to breathe its foetid odour in our lands."
Marcos's assessment supports what Ledesma Arronte and his fellow researchers at the Centre of Political Analysis and Social and Economic Investigations have been tracking with their maps and charts. On the 56 permanent military bases that the Mexican state runs on indigenous land in Chiapas, there has been a marked increase in activity. Weapons and equipment are being dramatically upgraded and new battalions are moving in, including special forces - all signs of escalation.
As the Zapatistas became a global symbol for a new model of resistance, it was possible to forget that the war in Chiapas never actually ended. For his part, Marcos - despite his clandestine identity - has been playing a defiantly open role in Mexican politics, most notably during the fiercely contested 2006 presidential elections. Rather than endorsing the centre-left candidate, Andrés Manuel López Obrador, he spearheaded a parallel "Other Campaign", holding rallies that called attention to issues ignored by the major candidates.
In this period, Marcos's role as military leader of the Zapatista Army of National Liberation (EZLN) seemed to fade into the background. He was Delegate Zero - the anti-candidate. The previous evening, Marcos had announced that the conference would be his last such appearance for some time. "Look, the EZLN is an army," he reminded his audience, and he is its "military chief".
That army faces a grave new threat - one that cuts to the heart of the Zapatistas' struggle. During the 1994 uprising, the EZLN claimed large stretches of land and collectivised them, its most tangible victory.
Rene -- ‘We’re an empire and when we act, we create our own reality’
‘We’re an empire and when we act, we create our own reality’
Scheherazade in the White House
How George Bush’s wartime administration used a magician, Hollywood designers and Karl Rove telling 1,001 stories to sell the invasion of Iraq.
By Christian Salmon
A few days before the 2004 presidential election, Ron Suskind, a columnist who had been investigating the White House and its communications for years, wrote in The New York Times about a conversation he had with a presidential adviser in 2002. “The aide said that guys like me were ‘in what we call the reality-based community’, which he defined as people ‘who believe that solutions emerge from your judicious study of discernible reality’. I nodded and murmured something about enlightenment principles and empiricism. He cut me off. ‘That’s not the way the world really works anymore,’ he continued. ‘We’re an empire now, and when we act, we create our own reality. And while you’re studying that reality – judiciously, as you will – we’ll act again, creating other new realities, which you can study too, and that’s how things will sort out. We’re history’s actors.. and you, all of you, will be left to just study what we do’ ” (1).
Suskind’s article was a sensation, which the paper called an intellectual scoop. Columnists and bloggers seized on the phrase “reality-based community” which spread across the internet. Google had nearly a million hits for it in July 2007. Wikipedia created a page dedicated to it. According to Jay Rosen, professor of journalism at New York University: “Many on the left adopted the term. ‘Proud Member of the Reality-Based Community’, their blogs said. The right then jeered at the left’s self-description. (‘They’re reality-based? Yeah, right…’)” (2).
The remarks, which were probably made by Karl Rove a few months before the Iraq war, are not just cynical and Machiavellian. They sound like they come from the theatre rather than from an office in the White House. Not content with renewing the ancient problems discussed in cabinet offices, pitting idealists against pragmatists, moralists against realists, pacifists against warmongers or, in 2002, defenders of international law against supporters of the use of force, they display a new concept of the relationship between politics and reality. The leaders of the world’s superpower were not just moving away from realpolitik but also from realism to become creators of their own reality, the masters of appearance, demanding a realpolitik of fiction.
Disney to the rescue
The US invasion of Iraq in March 2003 provided a spectacular illustration of the White House’s desire to create its own reality. Pentagon departments, keen not to repeat the mistakes of the first Gulf war in 1991, paid particular attention to their communications strategy. As well as 500 embedded journalists integrated into sections of the armed services, great attention was paid to the design of the press room at US forces headquarters in Qatar: for a million dollars, a storage hangar was transformed into an ultramodern television studio with stage, plasma screens and all the electronic equipment needed to produce videos, geographic maps and diagrams for real time combat.
Rene -- The politics of the local in Iraq
‘The US got rid of one Saddam and replaced him with 50’
The politics of the local in Iraq
The many regional and sectarian leaders in Iraq now wield a power over ordinary citizens that the new national institutions cannot, and may not want to temper. Iraq may fall into a second violent civil war. Or it may become an imperial protectorate with a privileged military and sharp class divisions.
By Charles Tripp
Now that the first phase of the Iraqi civil war seems to have ended, it is time to consider the political processes it may have left in its bloody wake. It is crucial for Iraqis and others to get a sense of the stability and durability of present arrangements. Are they a mechanism for reconciling the ferocious enmities of the past five years in Iraq, or likely to lead to a more violent second phase of the civil war?
There have been two main patterns during these years of violence and massive population displacement.
One is the localisation of politics, grounded in the insecurities, fears and ambitions of ruthless local leaders across Iraq. This thrives on community feeling, which is sometimes tribal, sometimes ethnic and sectarian; it also springs from rivalry and jostling for power within a provincial arena.
Naeem -- Statues Vanish, Chronicle of a Fiasco Foretold
After months of gnashing our teeth at the evil French authorities,
Bangladeshi museum artefacts have indeed been stolen. But it's a 100%
Made In Bangladesh affair.
I listened over many a cha cup to endless conspiracy theories about
how Musee Guimet, Paris was going to steal our priceless buddhist
icons. But in the end the robbery happened before Air France could
take off. From the "heavily guarded" ZIA International Airport tarmac,
The shaken French embassy official I spoke with was (silently)
grateful that at least the vanishing was in Bangladesh. Imagine the
diplomatic hau-kau if this was not uncovered until the plane landed in
Paris. Who do you think we would blame then? Hmm...
The missing crate, Crate # 5, was found the next day, but not the
priceless Visnu statues inside. In Bengali, a huge robbery is called
"pukur churi" (literally pond theft). As a mordant touch, the crate
was found next to a pond.
With the right touch of dramatics, three activists have begun a "fast
unto death" at the Dhaka Shaheed Minar demanding the return of the
artefacts. Yes, I'm sure that will work.
I don't mean to be cynical, it's life that's making me this way...
At Last The Inevitable, Statues Vanish From Airport Tarmac
Tintin In Bengal (revised)
Asterix & The Big Fight
Rene -- CIA Torture and Other War Crimes
Rene -- CIA Torture and Other War Crimes
Published on Wednesday, December 26, 2007 by Huffington Post
by Philip Giraldi
Personal accountability has all but disappeared from the American
political system. Bill Clinton lied to his entire cabinet about Monica
Lewinsky and not a single cabinet member resigned in protest after he
was forced to recant. When Alberto Gonzales lied repeatedly during
testimony before Congress everyone knew exactly what he was doing but
no leading Democrat was willing to impeach him. The hopelessly
incompetent Michael Brown was able to resign from FEMA without sanction
to `avoid further distraction from the ongoing mission' and later even
blamed everyone else for his shortcomings. Condoleezza Rice, Paul
Wolfowitz, Tommy Franks, George Tenet, and Paul Bremer were all
rewarded for their incompetence, some with medals and some with
promotions. Recent resignations from the Bush administration stemming
from the massive policy failures of the past seven years have
frequently been couched in terms of `wanting to spend more time with my
family' though sometimes a bit of candor creeps in a la Trent Lott, who
believes it is time to step down and follow the money as a lobbyist.
Public Diplomacy Tsarina Karen Hughes arguably plans to do both,
returning to Texas to rejoin her family while also cashing in through
lucrative speaking engagements. During her two and a half years of
Texas-style soccer mom diplomacy at State Department and in spite of a
large budget, Hughes only succeeded in increasing the number of
foreigners who actively dislike the United States. Never is a
resignation from government service framed in terms of `Hey, I screwed
The embrace of illegal detentions and torture are among the truly
horrific decisions that can be attributed to the Bush White House. It
is ironic to read the media accounts surrounding the recent discovery
by shocked U.S. Marines of an alleged al-Qaeda torture center in Iraq's
Diyala province because the Marines work for a government that itself
publicly embraces torture as an interrogation technique. And it is not
just the White House. Torture is bipartisan. The recent House of
Representatives intelligence appropriations bill included a clause that
requires CIA to abide by the Geneva Conventions in its interrogation
and detention policies. One hundred and ninety-nine Congressmen from
both parties voted `no.' Even if some of the Congressmen voted against
the bill for other reasons, there is a strong sense that many
politicians consider torture to be perfectly okay. Rudy Giuliani, Mitt
Romney, and Fred Thompson have all jumped on that bandwagon, endorsing
`enhanced interrogation' as a counter-terrorism tool. Mitt Romney, who
might bolster his claims to be a Christian by occasionally perusing the
compassionate message of the Sermon on the Mount instead of the Book of
Mormon, even wants to make Guantanamo prison bigger. Giuliani appears
to want to jail and torture lots of people all the time, but he is,
admittedly, a pagan.
If senior managers at the Central Intelligence Agency actually worried
about committing war crimes more than they cared about getting revenge
on ragheads and advancing their careers, they wouldn't have tortured
anyone in the first place back in 2002. Shortly after 9/11, the
redoubtable armchair warrior Vice President Dick Cheney, who famously
had other priorities and avoided military service by virtue of five
deferments during Vietnam, announced that the `gloves are off' in
reference to America's enemies. Those comments set the tone and ushered
in the exciting days of `anything goes' when Cofer Black, chief of the
Agency's Counter Terrorism Center, sent out his myrmidons with orders
to come back with Usama bin Laden's head in a box. Somehow, that head
turned out to be Saddam Hussein's.
Ethically, torture degrades the country that permits it, the
organization that carries it out and the individuals who perform it.
Doctors are not present during torture as it would violate the
Hippocratic Oath, so it is up to the torturer to decide how far to go.
If a victim dies while being interrogated by torture, as has happened a
number of times in both Afghanistan and Iraq, it is both a war crime
Barak Obama: Hillary Clinton 'is just like Bush'
"there's obviously a market for something different out there" ... market? -rg
Barak Obama: Hillary Clinton 'is just like Bush'
By Toby Harnden, in Perry, Iowa
Last Updated: 8:53am GMT 01/01/2008
Barack Obama unleashed a blistering attack on his Democrat rival
Hillary Clinton yesterday, branding her "just like George W Bush".
The cutting comparison came as he launched a last-ditch push to win
over Democrats in Iowa, who vote on Thursday in their caucuses, the
first stage of the presidential nomination process.
Barack Obama on the campaign trail in Iowa, where he launched
blistering attacks on his rival, Hillary Clinton
Now, his lofty rhetoric about hope and change is laced with sharp,
sarcastic jabs at Mrs Clinton and her husband Bill, who have sought to
paint him as a naÃ¯ve lightweight who doesn't have the stomach for a
At a Des Moines rally that drew in more than 1,000 people despite
freezing weather, Mr Obama abandoned his previous timidity and, while
not mentioning her by name, aimed barbs straight at the former First
Lady. "We can't afford a politics that's all about terrorism and
ripping people down rather than lifting a country up," he said. "We
can't afford a politics based on fear that leaves politicians to think
the only way they can look tough on national security is to vote and
act and talk just like George W Bush."
Mr Obama is locked in a three-way struggle with Mrs Clinton and John
Edwards in Iowa. Polls, which are notoriously unreliable in the
Midwestern state, indicate Mrs Clinton might have edged just ahead in
the past week.
Bill Clinton, now campaigning in Iowa for his wife every day, has
raised the spectre of another September 11 style attack and stated that
only Mrs Clinton had the experience to deal with a terrorist atrocity.
Mr Obama blasted back by suggesting that this was reminiscent of the
tactics of Mr Bush and Vice President Dick Cheney in 2004 and amounted
to "using 9/11 as a way to scare up votes".