Counterpunch --- Why the Bush Crowd Shouldn't Leave the Jurisdiction
Why the Bush Crowd Shouldn't Leave the Jurisdiction
A Lawless Presidency
By STEPHEN GREEN
It is ironic that a president who owed his election to office to a U.S. Supreme Court decision – and a narrow one at that – spent so much of his eight years in office battling that same court, and the institutions which are the arbiters of international humanitarian law as well.
An early sign that George Bush was receiving (and possibly asking for) bad legal advice, particularly from the staffs of Vice President Richard Cheney and Defense Secretary Donald Rumsfeld, occurred in October 2001, when lawyers from these departments informed him that the Constitution (Fourth Amendment) would permit him to use the U.S. military to arrest several suspected terrorists in the suburbs of Buffalo.
In the end, virulent opposition from attorneys in the State and Justice Departments and the National Security Council prevailed, and the FBI was sent to make the arrests.
An even more embarrassing condemnation of the administration’s legal acuity was delivered by the International Committee of the Red Cross in February 2004, with the publication of its “Report of the International Committee of the Red Cross (ICRC) on Treatment by the Coalition Forces of Prisoners of War and Other Protected Persons by the Geneva Conventions in Iraq During Arrest, Internment and Interrogation.”
The United States and its Coalition allies, all of which had, of course, signed the Geneva Conventions in 1949 and the protocols of 1970, were accused in the report of:
• brutality against protected persons upon capture and initial custody, sometimes causing death or serious injury;
• absence of notification to their families of arrest of persons deprived of their liberty;
• physical or psychological coercion during interrogation to secure information;
• prolonged solitary confinement in cells devoid of daylight;
• excessive and disproportionate use of force against persons deprived of their liberty, resulting in death or injury during their period of internment.
The ICRC delegates also noted – in Baghdad, Basrah, Ramadi and Tikrit – a “consistent pattern, with respect to times and places, of brutal behavior during arrest.”
In the case of the “high value detainees” held in Baghdad International Airport, their continued internment – several months after their arrest, in strict solitary confinement in cells devoid of sunlight for nearly 23 hours a day – constituted a serious violation of the Third and Fourth Geneva Conventions.
Notable in the report was the certification that many of the victims of Coalition Forces abuse were deemed not to be “detainees” or “enemy combatants” or “terrorists.” They were, pure and simple, prisoners of war. That is a classification which, as stated in the Conventions, only the ICRC, and not Dick Cheney or Donald Rumsfeld, or their legal advisors, can make. More importantly, Cheney and Rumsfeld almost certainly did not understand just how important to them (and their attorneys) this distinction was in terms of probable subsequent prosecutions for violations of international humanitarian law.
Detainees, the Department of Defense and the Supreme Court
In June of 2004, the administration received the first of several serious blows from the Supreme Court to its “enemy combatant” detention policies. In a decision that year (Rasul v. Bush), the Court held that “United States courts have jurisdiction to consider challenges to the legality of the detention of foreign nationals captured abroad in connection with hostilities, and incarcerated at Guantanamo Bay.”
The administration responded in 2006, when a Republican Congress passed the “Detention Treatment Act” (DTA), which required, according to the Congressional Research Service in a 2006 report to Congress, “... uniform standards for interrogation of persons in the custody of the Department of Defense” and banned “cruel, inhuman or degrading treatment of detainees in the custody of any U.S. agency anywhere overseas.”
But, and this was the point, for the administration and the Republican Congressional majority, the DTA also “divested the courts of jurisdiction to hear some detainees’ challenges by eliminating the federal courts’ statutory jurisdiction over habeas corpus for aliens detained at Guantanamo Bay as well as other causes of action based on their treatment or living conditions.”
MG -- Suspension of the historical time or still trying to reach a contact
Every revolt is a fight, yet a fight in which you decided to participate. The instant of the revolt determines the lightning realization and objectification of the self as part of a collectivity. The fight between good and evil, survival and death, victory and failure, in which everyday everyone is committed, identifies itself with the battle of the whole collectivity: everybody has the same weapons, everybody faces the same obstacles, the same enemy. Everybody experiments the epiphany of the same symbols: the individual space of each, dominated by its own personal symbols, the refuge from historical time that each one finds again in his own symbology and his own individual mythology, they amplify, becoming the commune symbolic space of a whole collectivity, the refuge from the historical time in which a whole collectivity finds a way out.
Each revolt is clearly defined by precise boundaries in historical time and space. Before and after stretches a no man’s land and the length of each one’s life in which unbroken individual fights take place. The concept of permanent revolution reveals –instead of the interrupted length of revolt in the historical time- the will to can suspend in every moment the historical time to find refuge in the symbolic time and space of the revolt.
You can love a city, you can recognize its houses and streets in your own most distant and dearest memories; yet only in the moment of the revolt the city is really felt as your own city: own, because of the “I” and at the same time the “others”; own because field of a battle that you’ve decided and that collevtivity decided; own, because clearly defined space in which the historical time is suspended and in which each act is of use on its own terms, in its absolutely immediate consequences. You make a city proper fleeing or advancing in the alternation of the attacks, much more then when you played on its streets as a kid or walking later with your girlfriend. In the moment of the revolt you are not anymore alone in the city.
Suspension of the historical time, Spartakus, Furio Jesi
In Iran, holiday and protest set stage for high drama
Celebrations of Ashura, always a dramatic street ritual among Shiite Muslims, are expected to include an element of political theater this weekend, fueled by Iran's postelection unrest.
By Borzou Daragahi
December 26, 2009
Reporting from Tehran - The haze from burning esfand, a Persian weed, and the scents of thick-brewed tea and rose water fill the black funeral tents that have bloomed across Tehran. Sweeping black banners of mourning and small green lights hang outside mosques.
In the Grand Bazaar, thousands of new customers have descended on the stands selling paraphernalia for the upcoming holiday. On the streets, at bus stops and on the subway, young Iranians ask one another: What mosque are you going to for the holiday? Are you planning to wear opposition green, or bring a green ribbon to flash when it's safe?
Ashura, the most emotionally charged religious holiday on the Iranian calendar, is almost here.
Wearing green and black, the Shiite faithful will beat themselves in ritual self-flagellation Sunday and perform elaborate passion plays reenacting the doomed 7th century battle of Imam Hussein, a grandson of the prophet Muhammad, to retain the throne of Islam.
"Ya Hussein!" the faithful will chant.
And this year, the chant will have an echo: "Ya Hossein! Mir-Hossein!"
Year after year, the Islamic Republic has appropriated the themes behind the centuries-old reenactments of martyrdom for its own ends, a grand political theater.
But a new force has appeared on Iran's political stage. Supporters of Iranian opposition leader Mir-Hossein Mousavi are determined to graft the green-themed movement born out of Iran's disputed presidential election onto Ashura, the culmination of the first 10 days of the Islamic month Muharram that marks Hussein's martyrdom.
"I've always gone to Muharram," said a 33-year-old Tehran actor and opposition supporter who asked that his name not be published.
"But this year is very special for me. What Hussein did, the pursuit of justice, the goal was the same.
"This year, you will see unexpected things on the street."
Iran's political culture has long been interlaced with the theater of the streets, pavement morality plays pulling at heartstrings and loyalties, high-drama attempts to seize control of the political narrative.
Rowdy street battles accompanied the unrest surrounding the 1953 U.S.-backed coup that ousted Iran's democratically elected government. Rolling street protests swept away the shah's rule in the months leading to the 1979 Islamic Revolution.
Street theater has also defined Iran's year of domestic political turmoil.
It was on the streets near Azadi Square that hundreds of thousands of Iranians showed up in February to mark the 30th anniversary of the revolution, a defiant demonstration of strength and unity to the world.
On those same streets in the spring, supporters of President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad and Mousavi faced off to demonstrate their magnitude in the days before the election. At one point, supporters of Mousavi formed a human chain along Vali Asr Street -- the longest street in the Middle East -- all of them wearing the green that symbolizes the campaign.
It was on the streets again that hundreds of thousands, some say millions, poured out in protest in the days after the disputed election in June.
Realizing the power of Iran's theater of the streets, a black-turbaned supreme leader Ayatollah Ali Khamenei took to the podium amid the protests, put on his sternest demeanor and demanded that the protesters leave the scene, or suffer the consequences.
For good measure, he began weeping at the end of the speech -- the aggrieved, aging patriarch, a theatrical signal. The Basiji militiamen picked up their batons, threw on their war colors and took to the streets against demonstrators.
A tentative outcry
Stage fright struck as she emerged from the subway station onto the street and into a crowd of bearded, helmeted militiamen. They eyed her menacingly, she said, and for a moment she considered heading back home to her parents, who had no idea she was here, alone, with a little green ribbon stuffed into her pocket.
But Mariam, a 25-year-old clerk at a shipping company who spoke on condition that her last name not be used, had rehearsed this role a hundred times in her mind as well as in previous encounters along Tehran's streets. So, on this September day, she waded nervously into the crowd of hundreds, not knowing who was friend or foe.
Suddenly, a single cry went up. "Marg bar dictator!" -- Death to the dictator. She looked around before hearing another voice: "Allahu akbar!" -- God is great.
Then two more voices. "Marg bar dictator!" A dozen more chimed in. She looked around again, noticing that hands were holding green ribbons, and pulled out her own, wrapping it around her fingers. The fear dissipated. She joined in the chanting, now a roar. The police officers and militiamen stepped back from the huge crowd arrayed against them.
"Our generation had a lot of fear instilled in us," she said later. "You went to a party, you're afraid. You have a boyfriend, you're afraid. You don't dare speak out.
"These prohibitions are broken. All the complexes and resentments of the last years are pouring out into the street. It's a joy. It's the feeling of being free."
Jittery security forces have lined most of Iran's main squares in preparation for this year's Ashura. Authorities are clearly nervous. Even in calm years, security forces have struggled to prevent the faithful from expressing their love for Hussein by striking their skulls with swords until they draw blood. Khamenei abhors the practice.
The death a week ago of Ayatollah Hossein-Ali Montazeri, the high-ranking cleric who had become the opposition's spiritual guide, only added to the sense of a coming storm, placing the religiously significant seventh day of mourning exactly at the peak of Ashura, which will begin this morning with ceremonies marking the ninth day of Muharram and continue into Sunday.
Authorities have warned protesters in the direst terms of the consequences of using Ashura to promote their agenda.
"Both sides appear to be pushing for some kind of climax on Ashura," said one Tehran journalist and analyst, who spoke on condition of anonymity.
The parallels between the opposition narrative and that of Imam Hussein are uncanny.
Just as Iranian opposition supporters believe Mousavi was robbed of his rightful leadership role in the presidential election, Shiites believe that Hussein was unjustly denied his rightful role as the leader of the Islamic world after the murder of his father, Ali, who was Muhammad's son-in-law and the fourth caliph.
MG -- Trying to understand what is going on
2310 GMT: Moving Towards Qom. More chatter on the post-funeral tension in
Qom ‹ Norooz claims people are moving from Isfahan and Najafabad to ³defend² the house of Grand Ayatollah Montazeri.
2300 GMT: Mahmoud Fights Back? On a day which began with our analysis that
the President is scrambling to maintain any legitimacy, it appears he tried
to send out a signal tonight with the dismissal of Mir Hossein Mousavi as
head of the Arts Institute. Salaam News reports that Ahmadinejad flew back
from Shiraz just for the meeting deciding on the sacking of Mousavi and will
now return to Shiraz.
Then again, one wonders if that will be enough to show Mahmoud¹s muscle.
According to Peyke Iran, only 40 people were on hand to greet Ahmadinejad at
Shiraz¹s airport this morning.
NEW Latest Iran Video: University Demonstrations for Montazeri (22 December)
NEW Iran Special Analysis: After Montazeri ‹ From Protest to Victory?
NEW Latest Iran Video: The Last Goodbye to Montazeri (21 December)
Latest Iran Video: Mourning Montazeri (21 December ‹ 2nd Set)
Latest Iran Video: Mourning Montazeri (21 December ‹ 1st Set)
Iran & The Nuclear Talks: The View from Tehran
Iran Video & Text: Montazeri¹s Son Saeed On His Father¹s Views, Last Words
The Latest From Iran (21 December): The Montazeri Funeral
2230 GMT: Back from break to find discussion still going on about possible
paramilitary/security forces threat to Ayatollah Sane¹i, with Rouydad saying
that followers have declared their readiness to defend the cleric.
1930 GMT: Rahesabz.net is reporting that Mir-Hossein Mousavi has been
finally removed from the directorship of the Farhangestan Institute of Arts
Ali Moallem has been selected as his replacement. The move was decided by
the Supreme Council of the Cultural Revolution, which decides on major
1730 GMT: The Internet is buzzing with stories that Government supporters
and plainclothes officers have attacked the offices of Ayatollah Sane¹i,
following vandalism against Grand Ayatollah Montazeri¹s house and image
yesterdat. There is also chatter that a permit has been given for a Basiji
march on Sane¹I¹s offices on Wednesday. A story in Radio Zaamaneh summarises
Given the volatile situation in Qom, we are being very careful with the
reports, which we cannot verify.
1645 GMT: We¹re off for a holiday break this evening, returning for a
wrap-up of the day¹s events later. Thanks to all for ideas and contributions
1545 GMT: Hitting Back. More on that ³Ayatollah² we mentioned briefly
earlier (1208 GMT), who was taking a shot at both Grand Ayatollah Montazeri
and those who mourned him yesterday: it¹s the Supreme Leader¹s
representative to the Revolutionary Guard, Mojtaba Zolnour.
Tarnac 9 -- Why We Will No Longer Respect the Judicial Restraints Placed Upon Us
"War on Terror"
Why We Will No Longer Respect the Judicial Restraints Placed Upon Us
Translation of statement that appeared in “Le Monde,” 3 December 2009.
The arrest of Christophe on 27 November  marks a [new] stage in the mad governmental fit that one has modestly called “the Tarnac Affair.” His arrest situates the point at which this procedure only proceeds so as to save itself: they have indicted one more person in the sole hope of maintaining the others.
As part of the “first circle,” Christophe belongs to the small group of people with whom we discuss our defense. The judicial controls that would like, from now on, to prevent him from seeing us is one aberration too many. It is also a conscious attempt to disorganize the defense. At this point, when all notions of what is lawful are twisted, who could still demand that we continue to respect these judicial controls and this demented procedure? Absurd. There is no need to see yourself as above the law to ascertain that the law is beneath everyone. Besides, a society that maintains itself by means that are so obviously criminal has no business bringing charges against anyone.
Freedom under judicial control is the name for a sort of mystical experience that anyone can have. Imagine that you have the right to see whomever you like, except for those whom you love; that you can live anywhere except your home; that you can speak freely on the telephone or in the presence of unknown people, but that anything you say can, one day or another, be used against you. Imagine that you can do whatever you like, except for what you hold dear. A handleless knife from which one removes the blade more resembles a knife than freedom under judicial control resembles freedom.
You are walking on the street with three friends. According to the cops who follow you, “the four subjects headed in the direction of . . .” After months of being separated, you re-unite with someone who is dear to you. In judicial jargon, this is a “fraudulent consultation.” If you do not renounce the loyalty supposed by friendship, even when facing adversity, you are obviously part of a “criminal association.”
The police and their justice have no match when it comes to distorting what falls into their view. Perhaps, finally, they will only render monstrous that which, lovable or detestable, is easily understood.
If it is enough to not recognize oneself in the existing political organizations to be “autonomous,” then one must admit that we, the autonomous, are the majority in this country. If it is enough to see union leaders as sworn traitors to the working class to be “ultra-Left,” then the base of the CNT is currently composed of a series of dangerous ultra-Left cells.
Rene -- Klein -- Copenhagen: The Courage to Say No
Copenhagen: The Courage to Say No
by Naomi Klein
On the ninth day of the Copenhagen climate summit, Africa was sacrificed. The position of the G-77 negotiating bloc, including African states, had been clear: a 2 degree Celsius increase in average global temperatures translates into a 3-3.5 degree increase in Africa.
That means, according to the Pan African Climate Justice Alliance, "an additional 55 million people could be at risk from hunger" and "water stress could affect between 350 and 600 million more people." Archbishop Desmond Tutu puts the stakes like this: "We are facing impending disaster on a monstrous scale.... A global goal of about 2 degrees C is to condemn Africa to incineration and no modern development."
And yet that is precisely what Ethiopia's prime minister, Meles Zenawi, proposed to do when he stopped off in Paris on his way to Copenhagen: standing with President Nicolas Sarkozy, and claiming to speak on behalf of all of Africa (he is the head of the African climate-negotiating group), he unveiled a plan that includes the dreaded 2 degree increase and offers developing countries just $10 billion a year to help pay for everything climate related, from sea walls to malaria treatment to fighting deforestation.
It's hard to believe this is the same man who only three months ago was saying this: "We will use our numbers to delegitimize any agreement that is not consistent with our minimal position.... If need be, we are prepared to walk out of any negotiations that threaten to be another rape of our continent.... What we are not prepared to live with is global warming above the minimum avoidable level."
Yes Men -- Copenhagen spoof shames Canada; Climate Debt No Joke
FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE
Tuesday, December 15, 2009
Press conference: 1pm CET, Frederiksholms Kanal 4, Copenhagen
Contact: Margaret Matembe, firstname.lastname@example.org, +45-23960186
Coverage: Click here, or click throughout press release for specific links
Canadian announcement (hi-res download)
Ugandan response (hi-res download)
Canadian retraction (hi-res download)
Climate debt agents take responsibility (hi-res download)
More dream announcements coming soon! Come make your own or stay tuned at good-cop15.org.
Copenhagen Spoof Shames Canada; Climate Debt No Joke
African, Danish and Canadian youth join the Yes Men to demand climate justice and skewer Canadian climate policy
COPENHAGEN, Denmark - "Canada is 'red-faced'!" (Globe and Mail) "Copenhagen spoof shames Canada!" (Guardian) "Hoax slices through Canadian spin on warming!" (The Toronto Star) "A childish prank!" (Stephen Harper, Prime Minister of Canada)
What at first looked like the flip-flop of the century has been revealed as a sophisticated ruse by a coalition of African, North American, and European activists. The purpose: to highlight the most powerful nations' obstruction of meaningful progress in Copenhagen, to push for just climate debt reparations, and to call out Canada in particular for its terrible climate policy.
The elaborate intercontinental operation was spearheaded by a group of concerned Canadian citizens, the "Climate Debt Agents" from ActionAid, and The Yes Men. It involved the creation of a best-case scenario in which Canadian government representatives unleashed a bold new initiative to curb emissions and spearhead a "Climate Debt Mechanism" for the developing world.
The ruse started at 2:00 PM Monday, when journalists around the world were surprised to receive a press release from "Environment Canada" (enviro-canada.com, a copy of ec.gc.ca) that claimed Canada was reversing its position on climate change.
In the release, Canada's Environment Minister, Jim Prentice, waxed lyrical. "Canada is taking the long view on the world economy," said Prentice. "Nobody benefits from a world in peril. Contributing to the development of other nations and taking full responsibilities for our emissions is simple Canadian good sense."
Thirty minutes later, the same "Environment Canada" sent out another press release, congratulating itself on Uganda's excited response to the earlier fake announcement. A video featuring an impassioned response by "Margaret Matembe," supposedly a COP15 delegate from Uganda, was embedded in a fake COP15 website. "Canada, until now you have blocked climate negotiations and refused to reduce emissions," said "Matembe." "Of course, you do sit on the world's second-largest oil reserve. But for us it isn't a mere economic issue - it's about drought, famine, and disease."
(The video was shot in a replica of the Bella Center's briefing room, at Frederiksholms Kanal 4, in the center of Copenhagen. Matembe was actually Kodili Chandia, a "Climate Debt Agent" from ActionAid, a collective of activists that push for rich countries to help those most affected by climate change for adaptation and mitigation projects. The "Climate Debt Agents," with their signature bright red suits, have been a ubiquitous presence in Copenhagen during the climate summit.)
MG -- Robert Fisk: A glittering palace that's built on shifting sands
Robert Fisk: A glittering palace that's built on shifting sands
Our man in the Middle East finds Abu Dhabi's opulence undermined by the
encroaching financial crisis
Friday, 11 December 2009
The architecture is Delhi, I suppose, Mogul-Gothic Lutyens with just a hint
of Saddam and, if you forget the marble on the floor, a dangerous hint of
Titanic. The Emirates Palace Hotel is now one of the best-known symbols of
egregious affluence in the capital of the United Arab Emirates and even if
you can forget that the gold on the walls and doors and fittings is indeed
real gold and that 1,002 crystal chandeliers haunt the ceilings there's
the guest list of kings and princes and Hollywood-Bollywood glamerati who
have taken rooms that run up to £10,000 (repeat: ten thousand) a night.
It was only when I glanced at my menu that I became a trifle concerned. Was
I really being offered "rustic" French pâté? I would certainly have been
happier to be offered veal hand-carved rather than "hand-cut". Didn't that
have rather an executioner's flavour about it? "Garlicky spinach" was even
odder. It wasn't a bad try. Who am I to quibble? But amid all this opulence,
the menu sounded like the ice that made the Titanic's huge bulk ever so
slightly tremble as it scraped fatally along its side.
Trembling is what the United Arab Emirates have been doing these past few
days, the iceberg having struck Dubai and now troubling the headquarters of
the great liner in Abu Dhabi. Will Sheikh Khalifa bin Zayed bin-Sultan
al-Nahyan sail to the rescue of Sheikh Mohamed bin Rashid al-Maktoum? Dare
Dubai World the White Star Line of the brasher emirate be allowed to
sink, not to mention all those rich bankers who might go down with her? Such
metaphors can be taken to extremes but the Titanic was supposed to be
unsinkable and Dubai was meant to sail through the waters of the world's
economic collapse even if the real-estate market had already foundered.
Open Democracy -- Voices of a new Iran
Voices of a new Iran
R Tousi, 11 December 2009
Subjects:Iran democracy & power democracy & iran
The young student protesters flocking in defiance onto the streets and campuses of Iran are prepared to fight until the end, says R Tousi.
The Iranian protesters are here to stay. On 7 December 2009, tens of thousands of students around the country once again raised their voices against authoritarian rule. Foreign journalists were prohibited from reporting the events, mobile-phone networks and internet access were severely restricted. But the news of the protests continued to flow out of Iran almost instantaneously (see Borzou Daragahi, “Iran streets and campuses erupt in protest”, Los Angeles Times, 8 December 2009).
In one of the first films to be circulated, students behind the gates of Tehran University can be heard taunting the surveillance-actions of the security forces. A young man raises his hand in a victory-sign and invites a close-up photo: “Filthy regime sell-out, take it”. A notable aspect of much of the footage is that it is the cameramen seen working for the security forces that have their faces covered, be it from fear or shame. In this case, the masked cameraman draws back from the hand strapped in green ribbons, the campaign colours of Mir-Hossein Mousavi - the man millions of Iranians believe was the true winner of the presidential elections of 12 June 2009.
These iron gates are a famous landmark in Tehran, the surrounding areas full of bookshops always bustling with young students. They have too been the backdrop of many student protests in recent years. Today, the confrontations have moved beyond these gates to campuses that have been politically quiescent since the revolution of 1979.
Mondediplo -- Yemen’s afternoon high
Qat trade boosts economy
Yemen’s afternoon high
by Roger Gaess
Walk down any major street in Yemen in the afternoon or evening, and you’ll see men with bulging cheeks, chewing qat leaves; their constituents, cathinone and cathine, produce a high. Qat — or Catha edulis — is cultivated in the Horn of Africa as well. But in Yemen, buffeted by fierce government-tribal clashes in the north, renewed secessionist strength in the south and dwindling oil revenues, the qat shrub is just about holding the Arab world’s poorest country together.
Qat chewing occurs almost everywhere in Yemen, except tourist hotels (one in Aden greets visitors with a sign, “Guns and qat are not allowed”). Many private homes have a comfortable, well-ventilated room, or diwan, set aside for the purpose. But it is at street level that the pervasiveness and tempo of the activity can best be appreciated, in the qat markets, or drifting amid those chilling out on it or consuming it during their workday as a taxi driver or an attendant for kids’ camel rides at a park, or just shopping for fruit and vegetables.
If it is a ritualised activity, it is a seamless one, like taking coffee after a meal is for a westerner.
Partaking of this natural amphetamine is not prohibited in the Qur’an, and the jury remains out on whether it is addictive or harmful. Accepted in Yemen, it is not in other Arab countries; and while legal in the UK and much of Europe, it is banned in France, Norway, Sweden, the US and Canada.
Counterpunch -- Not Even a Peanut
Not Even a Peanut
By ALEXANDER COCKBURN
A friend down the coast here in California called Wednesday to say that her mother, 95, had fallen, cracked her ribs, got a cough and told her daughters, “That’s it. I’m checking out.” She’s given up eating. I remembered all the arguments I’d had down the years with the old lady – a perennial optimist about Democrats when it came to assessing the likelihood that Carter or Clinton or Obama would ever actually serve up the progressive banquets they’d pledged on the campaign trail.
“Tell your mother that at least she won’t have to put up with me saying ‘I told you so, about Obama.’” Her daughter gave a deep, sad sigh. She too has been a loyal liberal Democrat all her life and now, she said, Obama’s breaking her heart. So many high hopes, and there’s a man accepting the Peace Prize with one hand, while signing deployment orders with the other, sending 30,000 more young soldiers to Afghanistan.
Imagine having one’s foot on the lip of the great abyss, dimly hearing the radio in the kitchen playing snatches of the appalling drivel served up by Obama in Oslo. “Whatever mistakes we have made, the plain fact is this: The United States of America has helped underwrite global security for more than six decades with the blood of our citizens and the strength of our arms. The service and sacrifice of our men and women in uniform has promoted peace and prosperity from Germany to Korea, and enabled democracy to take hold in places like the Balkans.”
Obama was in peak form as self-righteous blowhard, proclaiming that “America cannot insist that others follow the rules of the road if we refuse to follow them ourselves. That is why I ordered the prison at Guantanamo Bay closed. And that is why I have reaffirmed America’s commitment to abide by the Geneva Conventions. We lose ourselves when we compromise the very ideals that we fight to defend. And we honor those ideals by upholding them not just when it is easy, but when it is hard.”
As his words hang in the air, captives of the Empire are being kidnapped and rendered to Bagram and other dungeons and tortured, all the while with no legal standing as “enemy combatants”. Stand naked in a cold cell, waiting for the next beating from your interrogators and listen to Obama being piped through the PA at max volume, right after ‘Born in the USA’ (sorry, Birthers): “We do not have to think that human nature is perfect for us to still believe that the human condition can be perfected. We do not have to live in an idealized world to still reach for those ideals that will make it a better place… So let us reach for the world that ought to be -- that spark of the divine that still stirs within each of our souls.”
McCain loves the speech. Sarah Palin loves the speech. But that doesn’t mean Obama’s Oslo address was a Republican speech. When it comes to invoking “just wars” Republican presidents can go through the motions, but they haven’t got their hearts in it. Who needs to talk about justice as you drop high explosive and scrawl Death to Ragheads on the side of the bombs? When you want a just war, whistle up a Democrat who can talk with a straight face about installing democracy in the Balkans. After eight years of Bushian crudities the Empire needed an upgrade in its salespitch, which is why we have Obama. Back at the time of the medieval crusades, the Western kings used to take Holy Communion from their Archbishops before heading east to battle Islam and scour the land for booty. I thought the ceremony in that austere hall in Oslo was a straight lineal descent – as Obama accepted his wafer, in the form of the prize -- in this modern age a substantial check – and then pledged his holy war.
Common Dreams -- The Strange Consensus on Obama's Nobel Address
The Strange Consensus on Obama's Nobel Address
by Glenn Greenwald
Reactions to Obama's Nobel speech yesterday were remarkably consistent across the political spectrum, and there were two points on which virtually everyone seemed to agree: (1) it was the most explicitly pro-war speech ever delivered by anyone while accepting the Nobel Peace Prize; and (2) it was the most comprehensive expression of Obama's foreign policy principles since he became President. I don't think he can be blamed for the first fact; when the Nobel Committee chose him despite his waging two wars and escalating one, it essentially forced on him the bizarre circumstance of using his acceptance speech to defend the wars he's fighting. What else could he do? Ignore the wars? Repent?
I'm more interested in the fact that the set of principles Obama articulated yesterday was such a clear and comprehensive expression of his foreign policy that it's now being referred to as the "Obama Doctrine." About that matter, there are two arguably confounding facts to note: (1) the vast majority of leading conservatives -- from Karl Rove and Newt Gingrich to Peggy Noonan, Sarah Palin, various Kagans and other assorted neocons -- have heaped enthusiastic praise on what Obama said yesterday, i.e., on the Obama Doctrine; and (2) numerous liberals have done exactly the same. That convergence gives rise to a couple of questions:
Why are the Bush-following conservatives who ran the country for the last eight years and whose foreign policy ideas are supposedly so discredited -- including some of the nation's hardest-core neocons -- finding so much to cheer in the so-called Obama Doctrine?
How could liberals and conservatives -- who have long claimed to possess such vehemently divergent and irreconcilable worldviews on foreign policy -- both simultaneously adore the same comprehensive expression of foreign policy?
Let's dispense first with several legitimate caveats. Like all good politicians, Obama is adept at paying homage to multiple, inconsistent views at once, enabling everyone to hear whatever they want in what he says while blissfully ignoring the rest. Additionally, conservatives have an interest in claiming that Obama has embraced Bush/Cheney policies even when he hasn't, because it allows them to claim vindication ("see, now that Obama gets secret briefings, he realizes we were right all along"). Moreover, there are foreign policies Obama has pursued that are genuinely disliked by neocons -- from negotiating with Iran to applying some mild pressure on Israel to the use of more conciliatory and humble rhetoric. And one of the most radical and controversial aspects of the Bush presidency -- the attack on Iraq -- was not defended by Obama, nor was the underlying principle that produced it ("preventive" war).
Rene -- Copenhagen climate summit in disarray after 'Danish text' leak
Copenhagen climate summit in disarray after 'Danish text' leak
Developing countries react furiously to leaked draft agreement that would hand more power to rich nations, sideline the UN's negotiating role and abandon the Kyoto protocol
The UN Copenhagen climate talks are in disarray today after developing countries reacted furiously to leaked documents that show world leaders will next week be asked to sign an agreement that hands more power to rich countries and sidelines the UN's role in all future climate change negotiations.
The document is also being interpreted by developing countries as setting unequal limits on per capita carbon emissions for developed and developing countries in 2050; meaning that people in rich countries would be permitted to emit nearly twice as much under the proposals.
The so-called Danish text, a secret draft agreement worked on by a group of individuals known as "the circle of commitment" – but understood to include the UK, US and Denmark – has only been shown to a handful of countries since it was finalised this week.
Nettime -- Brian -- Carry On (was: Paul Krugman etc)
Sometimes, short comments on a mailing list like Nettime give more food for thought than any article found online. -rg
Post by Brian Holmes
Nicholas Ruiz III wrote:
> The new idea I suggest revolves around shares and derivative contracts
> being issued to a Pubilc Trust, an active governmental trading
> institution that would post all gains as income for the public etc etc
In New York City in early 2008 we organized a Continental Drift session
at 16 Beaver where a critic of the financial markets, Henry C.K. Liu
whom you can read in the Asia Times, explained that the housing bubble
was going to be the last one. Why? Because in the logic of bubbles, each
one has to be bigger than the one before, and given that this one had
reached all the way down into the savings-and-borrowings of the lower
middle and working classes, it would be impossible to find more capital
than that, the whole cookie was in the oven and when it came out burnt a
new recipe would have to be found altogether. Henry C.K. Liu thought a
bunch of crazy artists were the perfect kind of people for the present
moment, cause they could think up something new while the old order was
tanking. Well, guess what? Due to the kinds of counter-cyclical policies
that every bureaucrat and monetary official gushes over at the beginning
of every TV interview (stimulus for Goldman Sachs & co) it now appears
that the result of the mega-bubble of 2007-08 will be... a zmega-bubble,
this time in "global assets," i.e. investment-quality whatever, as long
as its FAR AWAY.
Open Democracy -- Iran’s pre-revolutionary rupture
Iran’s pre-revolutionary rupture
Nazenin Ansari, 8 December 2009
Subjects:Iran asia & pacific
The continuing, defiant protest-wave in Iran accentuates the ferocious crisis of legitimacy at the regime’s heart. The epic events of 2009 are at a historic turning-point, says Nazenin Ansari.
About the author
Nazenin Ansari is diplomatic editor of the weekly newspaper Kayhan
Iran’s green wave remains defiant and undiminished. Across the country on 7 December 2009, thousands of people took advantage of the official students’ day to voice their adamant opposition to the “dictator” and his cohorts whom they charge both with stealing the presidential election of 12 June 2009 and with inhumane repression of peaceful protestors thereafter. The astonishing bravery of these demonstrating Iranians - knowing the probable fate that awaits them if they are arrested - is itself a potent indication of the depths of the crisis facing a desperate Tehran regime.
Moreover, when it looks for support within its own circles of influence this regime can find little respite. A landmark survey of 11,000 Iranians conducted by scholars in Iran after the presidential election - published by InsideIran.org - reveals that support is draining from the state’s most prominent figureheads in their own heartlands: Mahmoud Ahmadinejad, the president, in rural areas; Ayatollah Ali Khamenei, the supreme leader, among high-ranking clerics.
The survey finds that 39% of young people and 23% of the older age- group who had voted for Ahmadinejad now regretted their vote. The stated reasons? “The raping, killing, and torture of young men and women who had participated in demonstrations after the June elections and the realisation that Ahmadinejad was to blame for the economic situation.”
These - in additions to endemic economic worries and human insecurity - are the ingredients of a ferocious crisis of regime legitimacy.
Clayton -- Sign to Defend Arrested Baltimore Political Activists
DROP ALL CHARGES AGAINST SHARON BLACK-CECI, STEVEN CECI AND PATRICK ALLEN NOW!
STOP POLICE ATTACKS ON ALL POLITICAL ACTIVISTS!
On the morning of December 9, long-time Baltimore Community activists
Sharon Black-Ceci and Steven Ceci were dragged from their home by
Baltimore police. The two, long-time leaders in the anti-racist, and
poor people's rights struggle, had been under police surveillance for
their political activism. They have each been falsely charged with
possession of marijuana with intent to distribute, a felony, and
possession of marijuana, a misdemeanor.
On Nov. 14, while both Sharon Black-Ceci and Steven Ceci were
attending a workers' rights conference in NYC, Baltimore police broke
down the door of their Baltimore home purportedly based on mysterious
and false reports of heroin being sold from their residence. A
roommate, Patrick Allen -- who was present at the time of the police
break-in -- was arrested and the home was senselessly damaged.
Sharon Black-Ceci and Steven Ceci believe that this is not just an
attack on them, but an attack on all activists and organizations that
are fighting for a society based on social and economic justice and
Counterpunch -- Change ... for the Worse
A very humorous, sad, and sobering critique of a post-Obama political landscape. -rg
Change ... for the Worse
The Devil and Mr. Obama
By JOE BAGEANT
(Note: Patrick Ward, associate editor of the UK's Socialist Review asked Bageant to write a piece for the party publication. This is the unabridged text of Joe's submission.)
Well lookee here! An invite from my limey comrades to recap Barack Obama's first year in office. Well comrades, I can do this thing two ways. I can simply state that the great mocha hope turned out to be a Trojan horse for Wall Street and the Pentagon. Or I can lay in an all-night stock of tequila, limes and reefer and puke up the entire miserable tale like some 5,000 word tequila purged Congolese stomach worm. I have chosen to do the latter.
As you may know, Obama's public approval ratings are taking a beating. Millions of his former cult members have awakened with a splitting hangover to find their pockets turned inside out and eviction notices on the doors of their 4,000 square foot subprime mortgaged cardboard fuck boxes. Many who voted for Obama out of disgust for the Bush regime are now listening to the Republicans again on their car radios as they drive around looking for a suitable place to hide their vehicles from the repo man. Don't construe this as support for the GOP. It's just the standard ping ponging of disappointment and disgust that comes after the honeymoon is over with any administration. Most Americans' party affiliations are the same as they were when Bush was elected. After all, Obama did not get elected on a landslide by any means; he got 51% of the vote.
Right now his approval ratings are in the 40th percentile and would be headed for the basement of the league were it not for the residual effect of the Kool-Aid love fest a year ago. However, millions of American liberals remain faithful, and believe Obama will arise from the dead in the third year and ascend to glory. You will find them at Huffington Post.
This frustrating ping pong game in which the margin of first time, disenchanted and undecided voters are batted back and forth has become the whole of American elections. That makes both the Republican and Democratic parties very happy, since it keeps the game down to fighting the enemy they know, each other, as opposed to being forced to deal with the real issues, or worse yet, an independent or third party candidate who might have a solution or two.
Thus, the game is limited to two players between two corporate parties. One is the Republican Party, which believes we should hand over our lives and resources directly to the local Chamber of Commerce, so the chamber can deliver them to the big corporations. The other, the Democratic Party, believes we should hand our lives and resources to a Democratic administration -- so it alone can deliver our asses to the big dogs who own the country. In the big picture it's always about who gets to deliver the money to the Wall Street hyena pack.
Americans may be starting to get the big picture about politics, money and corporate power. But I doubt it. Given that most still believe the war on terrorism is real, and that terrorists always just happen to be found near gas and oil deposits, there is plenty of room left to blow more smoke up their asses. Especially considering how we are conditioned to go into blind fits of patriotism at the sight of the flag, an eagle, or the mention of "our heroes," even if the heroes happen to be killing and maiming Muslim babies at the moment. Patriotism is a cataract that blinds us to all national discrepancies.
Much of the rest of the world seems plagued with similar cataracts that keep it from noticing the chasm of discrepancy between what Obama says and what he actually does. The Nobel Committee awarded the 2009 Peace Prize to the very person who dropped the most bombs and killed the most poor people on the planet during that year. The same guy who started a new war in Pakistan, beefed up the ongoing war in Afghanistan, and continues to threaten Iran with attack unless Iran cops to phony US-Israeli charges of secret nuclear weapons facilities. It's weapons of mass destruction all over again. Somewhere in the whole fracas has been forgotten that Iran has been calling for a nuclear free zone in the Middle East since 1974. Iran has also been consistent in its position that "petroleum is a noble material, much too valuable to burn for electricity," and that nuclear energy makes much more sense, given that our food supply, whether we like it or not, is fundamentally dependent upon petrochemicals and will remain so until the earth's population is reduced to at least half of what it is now. The Iranian attitude has been to use the shrinking petroleum deposits as judiciously as possible.
Anj -- Translated - jean-paul sartre/WAR DIARY/1939
World War II
INTRODUCTION TO SARTRE
Philosophers have produced many famous autobiographies, but few have left any diaries, in their relative spontaneity and immediacy a riskier form of self-revelation than retrospective composition. The single great exception are the notebooks Jean-Paul Sartre kept for some nine months, after being called up in September 1939, running from the Phony War to the eve of the fall of France. He filled fifteen of these. Of them, only six have survived. Five, found in his papers, were published posthumously by Gallimard in 1983, and were translated into English by Verso in 1984. A sixth—by a fortunate accident chronologically the first—came to light in a cache bought by the Bibliothèque Nationale in 1991, of which we publish excerpts below. The torso that has escaped destruction, some 600 pages in all, is by any measure one of the most remarkable pieces of writing Sartre ever produced—all but unmatched in their intellectual vivacity, variety and pungency. Though not much more than a half century has elapsed since they were written, the loss of the other nine books recalls the gaps in what has come down to us of the literature of Antiquity more than any modern precedent. The notebooks range freely over philosophical, literary, historical, political and personal themes. With the recovery of the first, Sartre's intentions become clearer. In his diary, he was developing the concepts and concerns that would form Being and Nothingness, published in 1943 after his release as a prisoner-of-war; sketching ideas that take shape in his Portrait of the Anti-Semite; and—not least—beginning to test the instruments of existential analysis that would ultimately produce his portraits of Baudelaire, Mallarmé, Genet and Flaubert. But the notebooks were not just a quarry of private reflections for future reference. Sartre, who was reading Gide's and later Stendhal's Journals, makes plain that he intended eventually to publish them, as a work of the same kind—though, characteristically, he showed small interest in them after the War, in the careless indifference to his own writing he records in the excerpts below. The sum of the notebooks thus becomes a wonderfully spirited, unsentimental—indeed often caustic—literary self-portrait, against the background of the opening months of the war. In the missing notebooks, we know that Sartre analysed at length his relationship with France—perhaps the most intriguing single theme in all that has been lost. But in the first notebook, we have what could be taken as the pendant to it: a scintillating description, written with a mordant lyricism, of his passionate relationship to the period that had just come to an end, the inter-war years of his prime.
Marmoutier. Thursday 14 September.  A curious connection between stoicism and optimism. It's already there in the Stoic of antiquity, who needed to believe the world is good. More of a psychological device than a theoretical connection. Another ruse to tranquilize oneself, another trap of inauthenticity. I set out for the army stoically, meaning that on the one hand I blocked out everything that made up my former life, and on the other hand accepted a future in which my own possibilities would no longer exist. `Readied up', as they call it here. I was glad to be readied up, but didn't realize that the essence of this state implies a kind of admiring docility towards the military authorities in charge of me. By placing myself in their hands, I trusted them and ceased to be a `man against'. This obviously came from the fact that I had freely tendered my resignation. I lost my critical spirit, and surprised myself in the first few days by being disagreeably affected when officers were criticized in front of me. Certainly the famous attitude of `saying no' already implies doubt and reservation. Acceptance, on the contrary, leads to that admiration on principle which is everything I most detest.
Too concerned with being well adapted in myself, for myself, in other words not being despairing or cowardly, I've not known how to choose between `saying yes' and `saying no', I've not been concerned about the objective situation. Fortunately I found myself in contact with Corporal Paul, a Socialist and thus dissatisfied and confused. Not someone who says `no', but someone who gets mad and bitter, is sometimes afraid of the senior officers and sometimes curses them. The result is that I've begun to see the real situation. The pitiful transport from Ceintrey to Marmoutier also opened my eyes: the army has remained in war what it was in peace. Acceptance, then, should be dissociated from admiration. That is now done. What remains is to see the objective situation.
THE WORLD OF THE WAR
I have not seen the war, which seems impossible to grasp, but I have seen the world of the war. It's simply the militarized world. The meaning of things has changed. An inn is still there, it's still decked out and welcoming, but its welcome is empty; in other words this possibility self-destructs and becomes absurd. An inn welcomes people in exchange for money and evokes a bourgeois freedom, the freedom of money. But the world of war is a world without money and without freedom. This inn has been requisitioned by the Administration. Soldiers are staying in it, they don't pay and they don't stay there freely. For anyone who reads the word `Commissariat' written on its front door, the inn evokes a new meaning: that of gratuitous compulsion. At the same time it has become a pure implement—in other words, whatever former luxury the object possessed, it has now been made to serve solely as a necessity. The pretty room designed to charm the traveller is simply a den for the soldiers occupying it. They sleep there, but on straw. The bed is removed or not touched. And so, long before a bomb destroys the man-made object, the human meaning of the object is already destroyed. In wartime we wander through an implement-world. Exactly as in the barracks. It's just that, since the pretty charms of things remain, the result is at each moment a kind of evanescent appeal of a world that has disappeared, a continual illusion.
Objects are not the same distance away in war as they are in peacetime. I felt this the other day at Arzwiller: there was a forest of oak trees on red rock some fifty metres from the road. We had lain down on the edge of the road, crushed by our rifles, our backpacks, our greatcoats, like upside-down mayflies. I would have liked—not to go into the wood, but to think that I could do so. But it was impossible to think such a thing, it lay outside my possibilities. Fifty metres was enough to put a place out of reach. It was nothing but scenery. And so for me Marmoutier does not have surroundings, since I cannot get out of the town. This world of war has its heavy, serious roads, and then its scenery. By having ceased to be within my possibilities, these remote places lose their reality. The fellows here translate this by saying of a pleasant landscape or an agreeable village: `I'll come back when it's peacetime.'
War is a form of socialism. It reduces man's individual property to nothing, and replaces it with collective property. My clothing, my bedding and my food no longer belong to me; I don't have a home any more. Everything I use belongs to the collective. And I cannot form an attachment to it precisely because it is the collective, as such, it is impersonal. For me, it is true, going off to war does not involve a suppression of my individual belongings, since I've never had any. I don't have a house, or furniture, or books, or knick-knacks. I eat in restaurants, I have clothes—just what is strictly necessary. But the war has lumbered me with a heap of implements that belong to the collective and which I just use—helmet, mask, belt, boots, rifle, etc. Here I am in socialism, whether I like it or not. And cured of socialism, if I needed to cure myself of it.
All these implement-objects refer to a primary meaning. In peacetime just as in war, a hammer is to strike in a nail, a nail is to hold down a roof, etc. But in peace, the final meaning is always the same: the protection of human life. The final meaning of these implements in wartime is destruction. This is clear enough for guns and rifles. But in the world of war, what is striking is that all these objects whose purpose was to protect people are still there, intact, yet their final meaning now is destruction. This inn, this hammer, this nail, this roof still serve to protect, but such protection is no longer the ultimate purpose. Protection itself is only for the sake of destruction. All this is not a logical argument, it's something that is felt on the objects, and is again one of the causes of the essential ambiguity of objects in wartime: objects of luxury that become pure implements while keeping their luxury aspect, objects of protection that continue to protect while acquiring a sinister and secret sense of destruction.
Saturday 16th. To rely on other people. I think I can say that this has never happened to me before; I would have been horrified. And now here I am calmly wondering whether Saarbrücken has been taken. Which means: I hope the High Command will have had the intelligence, and the front-line troops the courage, to take Saarbrücken. We are not far away from the idiocies of the rear: the old lady counting on `our brave little soldiers' and rejoicing to know that she's defended.
From time to time I feel released from the care of bothering myself about other people (Wanda—Bianca)  as I've decided that I'm the one that is the most bothered (paying in my person), although nothing is less certain. And yet this is the secret of my present calmness.
What has most strongly influenced my present attitude (although I've forgotten it recently and replaced it with a kind of rather stupid vulgarization: to put up with the war as I would cholera) is a phrase of Guille's: `Lots of people during the 1914 war were solely concerned to conduct themselves like men.' This formula satisfied me in so far as it replaced collective slogans with an obligation towards oneself. But Guille is a humanist, and applied to me the phrase loses its sense.  It is certainly at the root of the thought I had on setting out, and which I still have: that the war would be an adventure to complete my destiny. `I'll have known madness, passion, art and war,' I thought, in a rather puerile fashion. Noble experiences, or supposedly so. At other times I conceived of war as the essential test of a man's life, which I had to pass. Afterwards, if I managed to get through it: serenity. As always, the origin of this notion was my preconceived idea of the lives of great men, which included, as I saw it, a period of testing. And I counted a bit on the war to make up for the ease of my first literary successes, which (still in this preconceived representation) seemed to me from the start somewhat dubious. At all events, there was an idea of a man's destiny (taken from Guille's phrase, while forcing it into my meaning) mixed with that of a great man's destiny (patched together from old reading, i.e. not from the real lives of Stendhal or Balzac, but from the categories through which biographers see these lives). At all events, this idea of destiny is deeply anchored in me: I have a destiny. This helps me to view mystically everything that happens to me as necessary steps in a journey, which I have to turn to advantage. And though I repeat and sometimes believe that war brutalizes those involved, I can't stop myself from seeing it as a source of experience, and thus for myself of progress. For the idea of progress, as a complement to the idea of destiny, is also essential for me. It's what the Beaver calls my optimism.
Sunday 17th. Russia invades Poland. I learn this at five o'clock from Paul who also brings letters (the Beaver, Wanda). Real anxiety. I can accept the war only if I think we'll win. I realize how stupidly I persuaded myself that it would be over in a year, and without any changes. My past life is stuck to me like a scab. I only accepted leaving it without regret through the hope that I would find it again, just as it was. Wanda's letter has unfrozen me. But I still think she won't wait for me right the way through. I shall be calm, however, if I can get her to go to Paris.  I prefer her unfaithful than unhappy. In sum, a day of emotions. It's a long time since this has happened to me. To be precise, since last Monday, when I felt grim. The Beaver's letters are overwhelming. I have the impression that it's I who is in the better position. I reproach myself for not being able to suffer with her and for her. Every carefree moment feels as though it's been stolen from her. I shall never again think that I have got it so bad that I needn't concern myself with others.
Monday 18th. The mobilization posters are so old now that the wind and rain have torn them to shreds, and their drenched and yellowed fragments are floating in the village streams.
No weather balloons today. My three acolytes are bored. Pieter: `God, what can I do?' and Keller, sitting beside me, hands on his thighs and elbows out: `How bloody boring it is here.' A mild feeling of superiority, as I'm not bored at all. Also a sense of superiority over Gerassi,  who, according to what the Beaver tells me, sees himself as a hero because he's going to start painting again. In short, a self-satisfaction that is not very agreeable.
Though I'm rather untidy personally, since mobilization I wash, shave, and brush my teeth scrupulously. This is in imitation of Stendhal, who shaved each day during the retreat from Moscow. My good will is great, but surreptitiously it latches on to models.
Started Gide's Journals.  >From August 1914. Comforting reading, in short. At first I'm overwhelmed, I read from August to September, September to October. So many days, each lived one at a time. I read his days of war through my days of war. And suddenly my number of days is up, and Gide still has four and a half years of war to live through. It's devastating. But little by little, communion with a spirit from `my party' gives me back a kind of intellectual lightness that I had completely lost since 1st September. And then always this reassuring scam: by identifying my war with his, as several episodes and reflections invite me to, I turn this uncertain and unknown, inchoate future into something that has already been lived and has an after. At once, I give this enormous world of the present in which I am vegetating a horizon of `after', and already begin to glimpse the day when it will be seen from this `post-war' point of view.
Gide's constant efforts to take upon himself the sufferings of the war, to focus his thoughts on them. Meditations in a vacuum, moreover, and deliberately so—for it would be a sin to draw any benefit from them, even an intellectual one. A state of religious communion. It was a duty for him to keep his thought obsessed by the war. My inverse duty—and too easy—is to keep my thinking awake. To think and not to meditate. As he was a civilian, he had the duty of communing with others. In my military uniform, I have a duty to think clearly. And permission to act alone. All very well, but how readily would I give myself that permission if I was at the front and not in Marmoutier? It's there, moreover, that there would be merit in taking advantage of it.
The phantom war. A war à la Kafka. I don't manage to feel it, it escapes me. The communiqués don't mention our losses. I've not seen any wounded. Sergeant Naudin spoke yesterday of men gassed, but others deny this. Some patchy information. The Germans are not on our territory, no bombardments of the rear. Localized military operations on a very narrow sector. What the war brings the soldiers of Marmoutier is a greater freedom towards their officers, in other words they are more like civilians. If I am to feel the war, I have to receive letters from the Beaver. She, the Beaver, is at war, rather than me. I imagine this impression is shared by many people. Perhaps it is the result of a possible tactic on the Germans' part: keep on the defensive in the West, finish their war in the East, and then come and offer us peace. Perhaps we shall suddenly know real war when their peace proposals have been rejected.
Greater optimism today about the Russian attitude. We'd like to hope that their entry into Poland is a precautionary measure or a tactic of blackmail against the Germans. Yesterday Corporal Paul said very decidedly: `If the Russians come into the game, we'll no longer just have to accept any peace we can.'
Again the tribulations of a Stoic. When I left the Beaver, on 2 September, I set out for something harder and better than this calm mediocrity. Now I'm contaminated, rotten.
In sum, a specifically bourgeois attitude: I can take the war, but if I survive I want to go back to my pre-war life. Isn't that the attitude of the Munich crowd, who could have stood war but not the death of capitalism?
Tuesday September 19th. The impression of a phantom war among others. The sergeant-major, dreamily: `It's a funny kind of war.' He reflects for a moment: `A political war.'
Counterpunch -- Israel's Bedouins Denied Right to Elections
Palestine / Israel
Law Allows Jewish Officials to Rule Local Councils Indefinitely
Israel's Bedouins Denied Right to Elections
By JONATHAN COOK
Some 35,000 Bedouin residents of Israel’s southern Negev have been denied the right to hold their first local council election after the Israeli parliament passed a law at the last minute to cancel this month’s ballot.
The new law gives the government the power to postpone elections to the regional council, known as Abu Basma, until the interior ministry deems the local Bedouin ready to run their own affairs.
Legal and human rights groups say the move is an unprecedented violation of Israel’s constitutional principles. Taleb a-Sana, a Bedouin member of Israel’s parliament, has written to its speaker warning that “it is not possible to have democracy without elections”.
The vote in Abu Basma was scheduled to take place six years after the council was established under the transitional authority of a panel of mostly Jewish officials appointed by the interior ministry.
Critics say the government changed the law specifically to avoid bolstering the position of the Bedouin residents, who are engaged in a legal battle with the state for the return of ancestral lands confiscated decades ago.
“The Bedouin have a claim on a large area of the Negev and the government wants someone ruling the council who is on its side until the case is settled to the state’s advantage,” said Thabet Abu Ras, who was head of an empowerment scheme for Abu Basma’s residents until 2007.
The residents of Abu Basma are among 90,000 Bedouin in the Negev desert who have been denied any local representation since Israel’s founding in 1948. For most of that time the state has refused to recognise any of their villages.
According to officials, the Bedouin are living illegally on state land and must move to a handful of locations in the Negev approved by the government.