Bulletin #198




2 September 2005

Grenoble, France


Dear Colleagues and Friends of CEIMSA,


This summer, while re-reading University of Wisconsin professor William Appleman Williams' famous collection of essays, entitled History as a Way of Learning (New York: New View Points, 1973), I came across one of his many pithy statements from the 1950's--this one reflecting the general thesis of his anthology, which was published in the 1970's :


                                       History as a way of learning has one additional value beyond establishing

                                    the nature of reality and posing the questions that arise from its complexities

                                    and contradictions. It can [also] offer examples of how other men faced up to the

                                    difficulties and opportunities of their eras. Even if the circumstances are noticeably

                                    different, it is illuminating, and productive of humility as well, to watch other men

                                    make their decisions, and to consider the consequences of their values and methods.

                                    If the issues are similar, then the experience is more directly valuable. But in either

                                    case the procedure can transform history as a way of learning into a way of breaking

                                    the chains of the past.

                                       For by watching other men confront the disparity between existing patterns of thought

                                    and a reality to which they are no longer relevant, the outsider may be encouraged to

                                    muster his own moral and intellectual courage and discipline and undertake a similar

                                    re-examination and re-evaluation of his own outlook.


Professor Williams then proceeds to develop three essential themes of the Weltanschauung of upper-class groups in England and the United States from the time of the Elizabethan Era to the 20th century : the fragmentation of society, imperialist expansion (or "Growth"),  and the commitment to private property. These three over-riding concerns, according to Williams, have governed the thinking of the Anglo--Saxon ruling classes for more than five centuries. Sooner or later the fact must be faced, wrote Williams in the 1950's : there can be no society without the formation of authentically democratic communities. Escapism and false promises will only serve to further the fragmentation of society and its eventual disintegration, he warned.



Another era, another place: Italy in the Middle Ages, at the time of its social disintegration, was another source for contemplation  this summer. On reading Giovanni Boccaccio's 14th-century work,The Decameron, I was struck by his description of the evasion carefully planned by ruling class figures in Florence at the time of the "Black Death". An almost unimaginable devastation of Europe and Asia occurred between 1300 and 1450, when plagues, wars and famines killed from one-half to three-quarters of the total population on these two continents. No war in human history has had such a devastating effect on humanity as did the bubonic plague between 1348 and 1351, which was the period when Boccaccio witnessed the spread of pestilence in his region around Florence. In the first pages of his work he simply recorded what he had seen, without the benefit of scientific knowledge to identify cause-and-effect. Pampinea, the lady who concocted the escape plan for the nine Florentine aristocrats in his story, instructed the servants at her villa:


                                    And in general, we desire and command each of you, if you value our favor

                                    and good graces, to be sure --no matter where you go or come from, no matter

                                    what you hear or see-- to bring us back nothing but pleasant news.


The privileged did not want their peace of mind disturbed by bad news. Their fragile delusions of "a world apart" required that strict measures be taken to assure protection from the truth. This was the job of their servants.


As many citizens of Florence congregated in churches and cathedrals to pray to their medieval God, they became fatally ill from contact with their contaminated neighbors. This massive destruction of lives was experienced by many pious Christians as "an act of God," and periodically their hysteria led to acts of virulent anti-Semitism in many regions of Europe.


The constant presence of death and suffering on such a large scale reduced normal restraints as well, and according to Boccaccio   all semblance of social order began to dissolve : families fell apart, thugs roamed the streets, homes were invaded, and the constabulary ceased to function.


                                    The fact was that one citizen avoided another, that almost no one cared for

                                    his neighbor, and that relatives rarely or hardly ever visited each other -they

                                    stayed far apart. This disaster had struck such fear into the hearts of men

                                    and women that brother abandoned brother, uncle abandoned nephew, sister

                                    left brother, and very often wife abandoned husband, and -even worse, almost

                                    unbelievable- fathers and mothers neglected to tend and care for their children,

                                    as if they were not their own.


The value of human life was reduced to almost nothing, as dead bodies were piled on streets in front of houses and churches, and eventually dumped unceremoniously into mass graves "like so many destroyed goats."


This was the late middle ages, when superstition was used as an instrument of control to achieve social order. The ramparts of the social system lay in ruin due to the Plague, and "God's incomprehensible punishment" became a common justification to ignore humanity. Each individual tried to find a means to survive as traditional bonds of family, friends and social class interests were greatly weakened. The effects were similar to those of modern warfare. . . .



Today, at the start of the third millennium, War has become the greatest plague to humankind. Medieval superstition has been supplanted by a naive faith in individualism. The once credulous peasant has been replaced by the modern consumer, who is also effectively alienated from any practical knowledge of cause and effect, and instead is made totally submissive to "the powers that be", while their rulers take the necessary precautions to protect their political advantage.



Returning to William Appleman Williams, his collection of essays include an analysis of the "danger of social dysfunction" recognized by people from all social classes, through the factionalism, the fragmentation, and the alienation most of them experience. Historic attempts to address these problems have given life to a variety of ideologies. Both radical Christianity (represented by the Levellers during the English Revolution, and not to be confused with Christian fundamentalism today) and secular socialism (developed by Karl Marx) held that these social dangers could only be resolved --and mankind restored to an authentic wholeness-- by the creation of an egalitarian commonwealth "de-emphasizing private property in favor of social property and through the co-operative building of a community rather than the mere construction of an organized collective system."


In contrast to this revolutionary challenge to individual property rights, a variety of ruling-class ideologies embraced private property as necessary and desirable. The followers of these ideologies looked to different religious and secular traditions: Jean Calvin developed the conception of a corporate Christian commonwealth, "in which the trustee accepted and discharged the responsibility for the general welfare," and of course privately benefited there from. A second tradition involved the feudal ideal of noblesse oblige, with its notion of an elite custodianship over society. This ideology also elevated private property over public property. A third ruling class ideology relied upon the secular argument that economic expansion offered the only possible way to protect private ownership of property, which had the virtue of "improving the general or collective welfare."


This latter current in ruling-class thought prevails in America today: the ideal that by example or by force, if necessary, possessive individualism, expansionism and democracy can replace the revolutionary premise of abolishing private property, a proposition which has periodically threatened privilege and power in American society for generations.


According to Williams, this fundamental contradiction between freedom and equality produced in America a man who understood that American expansionism was simply a running away, a kind of escape. Eugene Debs provided the most radical critique of this "childish game" of reinventing yourself, again and again, instead of learning how to live in a community and develop spiritual capacities for rewarding relationships with other people. He rejected both of competing capitalist ideologies --on the one hand, a government by a small corporate oligarchy relying on expansion to weaken democratic challenges to its monopoly of power at home and, on the other hand, a government by class-conscious industrial leaders who are prepared to abandon military expansion and negotiate a more equitable and peaceful future for the nation. Instead Debs promoted a vision of society based on "human community",  where social property is far more important than private property.


At the beginning of the 20th century, before the great cataclysms of Word Wars One and Two, Eugene Debs challenged Americans "to mature", "to put away childish things", and to confront "the only real frontier" available to them --namely, the chance to create the first truly democratic socialism in the world. However the "open gate of escape" from opportunities for meaningful community and mutual responsibility protected private property and promoted possessive individualism as primary forces which would swell and eventually challenge the very existence of our species.



To follow the course of man-made catastrophes in the 20th century is to witness the great power that a very small group of men have had over the lives of literally billions of men, women and children. Again and again we can see how war has been initiated by a small group of men; then once begun, it proceeds to drag untold millions of people relentlessly in its wake toward their destruction. This vortex, once initiated, always lasts much longer than was foreseen, and it is usually irreversible.


The historical importance of William Appleman Williams' essays, most of which were written in the 1950s and 60s, is that they constitute an authentic effort to come to terms with ideologies as social constructs. By examining ideologies as reflections of specific class interests, Williams is able to delineate the history of these ideas and explain how they have been frequently plagued by self-defeating contradictions. From the point of view of radical democracy, these social constructs are always inadequate when they fail to address the fundamental issue of private property rights.


Following the path of his mentor, Gabriel Kolko (who was a student of Williams' at Madison, Wisconsin) has provided a highly original analysis of war capitalism in his book, Century of War. Kolko provides carefully documented evidence to show that modern warfare has never achieved its original objectives. In brief, the Ends can no longer be used to justify the Means, because the use of modern weapons of mass destruction inevitably mitigate the political objectives of war, itself, and render grand strategies unattainable. Thus, for example, Kolko observes that the military victory of the Vietnamese over the Americans did not end in a political victory for Vietnam. The irreversible damage done to Indochina and to its people produced a post-war society that was totally unpredicted at the time the war for independence took place. In a word, Kolko concludes that war has become obsolete in modern times. It no longer has purpose because it can no longer claim with any certainty the successful achievement of its political objectives. Rather than being "an extension of diplomacy", war appears today as a termination of diplomacy and perhaps of life itself.



Among the several articles recently received by CEIMSA this summer, we see the development a growing challenge to President Bush's "New World Order":


Item A. is an article by Greg Palast describing the Weltanschauung of President Bush after Hurricane Kristina killing field in Mississippi which is still in operation tonight.


Item B. is a report on President Bush's efforts to isolate himself at his vacation retreat in Crawford, Texas.


Item C. is a discussion of the collaboration of Republicans & Democrats by Ralph Nader, who finds inspiration in the organizational tactics of the famous Chicago radical, Saul Alinsky.


Item D. is a report sent by TruthOut on media censorship as journalist number 66 is killed by U.S. forces in Iraq.


Item E. is an article by Edward Herman on President Bush's pursuit of democracy abroad.


Item F. is a report by Dahr Jamail on Toshikuni Doi's new documentary film, Falluja 2004.


Item G. is an article sent to us by Monty Kroopkin on Hurricane Katrina and the political effect in New Orleans and the



And finally, item H. is a short article sent to us by Michael Albert in which he recounts an optimistic view of social movements this fall on American campuses, plus an analysis by Michael Parenti of ruling-class evasiveness concerning criminal negligence leading to mass deaths in Mississippi this week.


And finally, item I. is a commentary on the political fallout of Hurricane Kristina, sent to us by Professor Richard Du Boff.



Francis McCollum Feeley

Professor of American Studies/

Director of Research

Université Stendhal-Grenoble III




from Greg Palast

2 September 2005

Subject: Bush Strafes New Orleans, Where's Huey Long?




by Greg Palast


The National Public Radio news anchor was so excited I thought she'd piss on herself: the President of the United had flown his plane down to 1700 feet to get a better look at the flood damage!  And there was a photo of our Commander-in-Chief taken looking out the window.  He looked very serious and concerned.


That was yesterday.  Today he played golf.  No kidding.


I'm sure the people of New Orleans would have liked to show their appreciation for the official Presidential photo-strafing, but their surface-to-air missiles were wet.


There is nothing new under the sun.  In 1927, a Republican President had his photo taken as the Mississippi rolled over New Orleans.  Calvin Coolidge, "a little fat man with a notebook in his hand," promised to rebuild the state.  He didn't.  Instead, he left to play golf with Ken Lay or the Ken Lay railroad baron equivalent of his day.


In 1927, the Democratic Party had died and was awaiting burial.  As depression approached, the coma-Dems, like Franklin Roosevelt, called for balancing the budget.


Then, as the waters rose, one politician finally said, roughly, "Screw this!  They're lying!  The President's lying! The rich fat cats that are drowning you will do it again and again and again.  They lead you into imperialist wars for profit, they take away your schools and your hope and when you complain, they blame Blacks and Jews and immigrants.  Then they push your kids under.  I say, Kick'm in the ass and take your rightful share!"


Huey Long laid out a plan: a progressive income tax, real money for education, public works to rebuild Louisiana and America, an end to wars for empire, and an end to financial oligarchy.  The waters receded, the anger did not, and Huey "Kingfish" Long was elected Governor of Louisiana in 1928.


At the time, Louisiana schools were free, but not the textbooks.  Governor Long taxed Big Oil to pay for the books.  Rockefeller's oil companies refused pay the textbook tax, so Long ordered the National Guard to seize Standard Oil's fields in the Delta.


Huey Long was called a "demagogue" and a "dictator." Of course.  Because it was Huey Long who established the concept that a government of the people must protect the people, school, house, and feed them and give every man or woman a job who needs one.


Government, he said, "We The People," not plutocrats nor Halliburtons, must build bridges and levies to keep the waters from rising over our heads.  All we had to do was share the nation's wealth we created as a nation.  But that meant facing down what he called the "concentrations of monopoly power" to finance the needs of the public.


In other words, Huey Long founded the modern Democratic Party. Franklin Roosevelt and the party establishment, scared senseless of Long's ineluctable march to the White House, adopted his program, called it the New Deal, and later The New Frontier and the Great Society.


America and the party prospered.


America could use a Democratic Party again and there's a rumor it's alive -- somewhere.


And now is the moment, as it was in '27. As the bodies float in the streets of New Orleans, now is not the time for the Democrats to shirk and slink away, bleating they can't "politicize" this avoidable disaster.


Seventy-six years ago this week, Huey Long was shot down, assassinated at the age of 43.  But the legacy of his combat remains, from Social Security to veterans' mortgage loans.


There is no such thing as a "natural" disaster.  Hurricanes happen, but death comes from official neglect, from tax cuts for the rich that cut the heart out of public protection.  The corpses in the street are victims of a class war in which only one side has a general.


Where is our Huey Long?  America needs just one Kingfish to stand up and say that our nation must rid itself of the scarecrow with the idiot chuckle, who has left America broken and in danger while he plays tinker-toy Napoleon on other continents.


I realize that the middle of rising flood is a hell of a bad time to give Democrats swimming lessons; but it's act up now or we all go under.




A pedagogical note: As I travel around the USA, I'm just horrified at America's stubborn historical amnesia. Americans, as Sam Cooke said, don't know squat about history. We don't learn the names of a nation's capitol until the 82d Airborne lands there. And it doesn't count if you've watched a Ken Burns documentary on PBS.


I suggest starting with this: read "Huey Long" by the late historian Harry T. Williams. If you want to ease into it, get the Randy Newman album based on it (Good Old Boys) with the song, "Louisiana 1927."  Listen to part of the song at www.GregPalast.com Do NOT watch the crappy right-wing agit-prop film, "Huey Long," by Ken Burns.




Greg Palast is the author of the New York Times bestseller, The Best Democracy Money Can Buy. Subscribe to his commentaries or view his investigative reports for BBC Television at www.GregPalast.com




from TruthOut

29 August 2005

The Independent (UK)



    Across the Tracks at Crawford, Texas, a Divided Nation Bares Its Pain and Fury

    by Andrew Gumbel



    There could have been no starker symbol of the political divisions vexing George Bush's America this weekend than the railroad track running right through the heart of Crawford, home to the president's summer holiday ranch in the scorched plains of central Texas.


    On one side of the tracks was the Crawford Peace House, base camp for the activists who have poured in to support Cindy Sheehan, the bereaved mother of one of America's Iraqi war dead who has become the political sensation - and lightning-rod - of the summer with her simple but powerful gesture of parking herself in front of the presidential ranch to demand an explanation for the death of her son, Casey.


    On the other side, along Crawford's main drag, were clusters of an entirely different breed of protester - ardent Bush supporters outraged at what they saw as Ms Sheehan's disloyalty and disrespect for the sacrifices of the US military. For them, Casey Sheehan's death and that of almost 1,900 of his comrades-in-arms was the price of freedom, no more and no less.


    Tellingly, there was little or no contact between the two sides. Each remained firmly encased in its own bubble, with Cindy Sheehan telling her supporters how much she loved them "for drinking the smart Kool-Aid", while some of the more eccentric Bush supporters accused her of "working for the devil" and "blaspheming" against her president.


    In the end, both sides had to feel disappointed by the turnout for the final weekend of summer madness - no more than a few thousand people all told. The counter-demonstration failed spectacularly in its aim of outnumbering the anti-war activists by three or four to one, as chartered buses turned up half-empty, and cars adorned with "You don't speak for me, Cindy" bumper stickers created a traffic jam stretching only one block rather than the miles the organisers had hoped for.


    The grassroots passion remained predominantly with the activists at Camp Casey, the tent city that has sprung up outside the gates to the Bush ranch, even if only a few hundred extra protesters were willing to brave the stifling 40C heat. The carnival atmosphere, mixed with anger and personal grief, was like nothing America has seen since the days of Vietnam - peace meditators, radical priests, volunteers turning out free meals of organic salad, conceptual artists offering brightly painted parasols, musical appearances by the likes of Steve Earle and Joan Baez , and a permanent line of activists protecting a field of crosses bearing the names of the dead and acting as a sort of Greek chorus to newcomers arriving on the free shuttle-bus service from Crawford village.


    Ms Sheehan has evolved into a remarkably self-assured public speaker, proving that she knows how to stir her own crowd. She noted with distaste that the president had been flying in and out of his ranch by helicopter to avoid having to look the peace protesters in the eye. She likened the ranch to the heavily guarded Green Zone in Baghdad and suggested the president was as afraid of the peace activists as US soldiers were of snipers and roadside bombers.


    Camp Casey "is the road from Baghdad to the airport and he won't go down it," she proclaimed. "He didn't even know there were people in the country who opposed him until we came down and ruined his vacation. This is America standing up and saying: we've had enough."


    The ardour she has inspired is undeniable. Joan Baez intended to come for one day, but ended up sleeping next to the field of crosses for three nights to ensure there could be no repeat of the incident a fortnight ago when an angry pro-war trucker ploughed them up.


    Jeff Key, an anti-war Iraq veteran, tried to make contact with his fellow veterans on the other side of the debate a few days ago and said they found a remarkable degree of common ground - not least an acknowledgement that they loved their country enough to be willing to die for it. Of the duelling weekend demonstrations, though, he said: "This is not a forum for discussion. We know what they think. What's at stake is that America will either turn into a religious empire, or it will reaffirm the principles on which the country was founded."


    The Sheehan campaign won't end when the Crawford circus packs up and leaves town. She intends to hound congressional leaders as well as the White House on their position on Iraq, culminating in a three-day protest in Washington at the end of next month. Her detractors believe she speaks only for a fringe minority. The latest polls, however, suggest America may have reached a watershed over Iraq and that Ms Sheehan may have struck a powerful chord.




from Ralph Nader

29 August 2005


Dear Friend,

The Democrats in Congress have the power to block John Roberts from becoming the next Supreme Court justice.

Will they?

They will not.


The Democrats in Congress had the power to block Christopher Cox from becoming the chair of the Securities and Exchange Commission.

Did they?

They did not.


The Democrats in Congress had the power at least to block Condoleezza Rice and Alberto Gonzales.

Did they?

They did not.


The Democrats in Congress have the power to propose impeachment proceedings against George Bush for the fabricated, illegal boomeranging war in Iraq.

Will they?

They will not.


Almost every major progressive leader in America understands this.

They understand that the Democratic Party is gone.

But you know what?


If Hillary Clinton is nominated in 2008 by the Democrats to run for president, they will support her.

They will support her even though she is a corporate Democrat who opposes us on the war in Iraq, on real universal health insurance, on the swollen, wasteful military and corporate welfare budgets, on a national living wage on all the issues we care about.


They will abandon their principles, their constituents, and the lessons of history and support her.


As they supported John Kerry in 2004 even though he was a corporate Democrat in the Hillary mold who stood four-square against us on the war, on the military budget, on national health insurance, on a national living wage.


Heres the point:

We will not shake off this yoke by playing follow the leader.

This is going to take new energy.

Young and old alike.

But active.

Bottom up.

People who recognize first and foremost that the two corporate parties do not speak for the people.

They are history.

The new ones will connect person to person with their fellow citizens and fire up the country. They are the future.

We dont know the names of the new energizers yet.

We will find out soon.


We do know the names of those who turned their backs on Nader/Camejo in 2004 and supported the corporate Democrat.

And these are people who I predict will likely swallow hardand unconditionally support the corporate Democrat in 2008.


So, what to do?

One person I greatly admired growing up was Saul Alinsky, the great community organizer from Chicago.

Unlike the Democratic Party, Alinsky knew organizing.

He knew that you need to organize people around issues they can understand.

Issues that hit home.

Issues that they can win.

Even if it meant issues as mundane as parking or potholes.


Alinsky wanted the people to organize bottom up.


And win to gain confidence for the larger struggles.  


Recently, Ive been reading an amazing 558-page, largely ignored biography of Alinsky.

Let Them Call Me Rebel: Saul Alinsky, His Life and Legacy by Sanford Horwitt.

And it has brought back good memories.

It becomes a contest of power those who have money and those who have people,Alinsky said. We have nothing but people.


Once, at a dinner party, the poet Carl Sandburg called labor leader John L. Lewis a "reptilian, treasonous rat" because Lewis refused to support Franklin Roosevelt's campaign for re-election.

Alinsky replied to Sandburg You say John L. Lewis is ruthless maybe he is but he has fought all of his life against the most ruthless and destructive forces known to our alleged civilization."


Over the past couple of months, we have been traveling the country, speaking out against the most ruthless and destructive forces known to our alleged civilization,as Alinsky put it.

And things are changing.

For example:

At my suggestion, the National Council of Churches is sending an urgent message to all of their members to ring their church bells one ring for each U.S. soldier lost the previous day one bell for each ultimate sacrifice.

And one long bell for the Iraqis who lost their lives that day.


On Sunday, the bells could be rung at the same time everywhere in the memory of the weeks' total casualties.

These bells of sorrow and reminder will result in millions of Americans thinking and talking with one another where it counts - in communities North, South, East and West.


Alinsky said We'll see it when we believe it.

I believe it.

We'll see it together.


Sincerely yours,

Ralph Nader





from TruthOut

29 August 2005



 US Forces Kill Reuters Journalist



Baghdad - A soundman working for Reuters Television was shot dead Sunday in Baghdad, and a cameraman with him was wounded and then detained by United States soldiers. An Iraqi police report, read to Reuters by an Interior Ministry official, said the two had been shot by American forces.


A United States military spokesman, Lt. Col. Steven A. Boylan, said the incident was being investigated, and an official statement indicated that the Americans were responding to an attack on an Iraqi police convoy when the journalists were shot.


The death brings to 66 the number of journalists and their aides killed in Iraq since the start of the invasion in 2003, said Reporters Without Borders, a Paris-based news media rights group. That surpasses the 63 journalists killed over 20 years of conflict in Vietnam, the group said.


The soundman, Waleed Khaled, 35, was struck by a bullet to the face and at least four to the chest as he drove to investigate a report from police sources of an incident involving police officers and gunmen in the Hay al-Adil district in western Baghdad.


Reuters colleagues who arrived shortly after the attack said that the wounded cameraman, Haider Kadhem, said, "I heard shooting, looked up and saw an American sniper on the roof of the shopping center."


He was detained by United States troops and remained in custody 12 hours later, despite requests by Reuters that he be freed to receive medical attention for a wound in his back.


Two Iraqi colleagues who arrived on the scene minutes after the shooting were detained, but soon released.


The United States military statement said: "Task Force Baghdad units responded to a terrorist attack on an Iraqi Police convoy around 11:20 a.m. Aug. 28 in central Baghdad, which killed and wounded several Iraqi police. One civilian was killed and another was wounded by small-arms fire during the attack.


"After discovering an abandoned car with explosives material, weapons and a cellphone, units began searching the area for the terror suspects who were believed to have fled on foot."


Mr. Khaled had worked for Reuters for two years. He is survived by a wife and daughter. David Schlesinger, Reuters global managing editor, said: "This tragic incident must immediately be investigated thoroughly and impartially."





From: Edward Herman

Subject: The Farce of the Bush Pursuit of Democracy Abroad--While Undermining It at Home

Date: Mon, 29 Aug 2005




                  The Farce of the Bush Pursuit of Democracy Abroad--

While Undermining It At Home

by Edward S. Herman



The Bush rationale for the invasion-occupation of  Iraq was the threat to U.S. national security posed by Saddam Husseins alleged possession of weapons of mass destruction and ties to Al Qaeda. Saddams brutal rule was sometimes mentioned  in the course of  pre-invasion demonization, but liberation and democratization were barely detectable as second or third order objectives. In fact, Bush administration aims in the attack on Iraq were even acknowledged to be independent of  Saddam rule: The document Rebuilding America's Defenses, written in September 2000 by the Project for the New American Century (PNAC), a neoconservative think tank closely affiliated with Bush officials-to-be, indicates that the Bush team had in mind taking military control of the Gulf region whether or not Saddam Hussein was in power. It says "while the unresolved conflict with Iraq provides the immediate justification, the need for a substantial American force presence in the Gulf transcends the issue of the regime of Saddam Hussein."


The liberation and democratization objectives were brought to the fore only after it was definitively established, and could not be hidden from public view, that the primary objectives  had rested on lies, and were war-marketing claims advanced by a group determined to attack  and  whose intelligence and facts were being fixed around the policy." With the collapse of those claims something more was needed, in retrospect and to justify a continuing occupation and restructuring of Iraqi society. Liberation and democratization filled the bill nicely, noble objectives whose alleged pursuit could  cover over less noble ends such as seizing assets, establishing bases, and working toward longer term political control.


But if a group that had lied its way into an aggression-occupation subsequently shifted objectives, with the Leader now claiming a new vision and aim to democratize the world, minimal honesty and intelligence would seem to demand scepticism and a careful search for real motives and objectives. To a remarkable degree the mainstream media and intellectuals eschewed any such critical examination and took the new objectives at face value. If this is so, than all the news fit to printis not dictated by any quest for truth but by the demands of  service to the state.


It took some remarkable evasions and the swallowing of  some eminently challengeable official claims to perform this state propaganda service.  Truly independent media would have carefully examined whether the democracy objective was consistent with the broad aims and interests sought by the Bush administration; whether in the light of those broader aims and interests alternative objectives might be identified that were being  pursued under cover of  democratization; whether the new objective was consistent with observable Bush policy across the board  or was only applied selectively; and whether the Bush conception of democratization might be designed to yield a nominal democracy lacking in substance, with an Arab facadeas the British used to call their forms employed in Iraq in earlier years.     


With very minor exceptions neither the mainstream media nor liberal intellectuals and the cruise missile lefthave raised such questions. They adhere closely to a de facto party line, based almost entirely on  the Bush claim to be  working for democracy as his prime objective, along with the supposedly supportive evidence of  the U.S organization of the  January 30, 2005 national election in Iraq, plus the work of  the U.S. government and its allies in places like Yugoslavia, Georgia and the Ukraine.


A first problem with taking Bushs proclamation of  the democracy objective at face value is the well-established fact that he works in close coordination with Karl Rove and Frank Luntz, who have built a  tradition of recommending saying what will resonate and sell irrespective of truth. A second is that every leader who attacks another country claims a noble objective, so common sense and honesty tells us we must discount such claims to virtually zero; and in Bushs case this need is reinforced by the fact that the noble objective came forth as a fall-back position.


A third problem is the evidence that the Bush team aimed to further project power in the Persian Gulf region rather than advance democracy, as noted in the quote above from the PNAC report of 2000. Substantive democracy might limit that power, whereas a conquered state with an Arab façade "would meet that objective well" if it could not only be put in place but also maintained in power. The mainstream media have carefully avoided citing the PNAC (and other similar documents) and spelling out the objectives clearly stated there for a prospective invasion-occupation, or considering their consistency with the democracy objective. They have not discussed the concept and history of the phrase Arab façade.


A fourth problem is the consistency of the democracy aim with the record and broader interests of the Bush administration. Those interests are mainly business interests, and we can see how  a war in Iraq and perpetual war against terrorism might serve those interests in enlarging areas of economic domination, including oil resources, increasing arms business for the military-industrial complex, and  providing lucrative contracts for  Halliburton, Bechtel et al.  to build bases abroad and rebuild in areas devastated by bombs. It also serves those interests by creating a patriotic and distracted moral environment under whose cover regressive economic policies can be carried out. Democracy would appear to have no place in servicing these ends and interests, except for providing a formula that will resonate with the public and obscure real aims.


Bush has claimed that his wars aim at protecting the U.S. citizenry, but the exposed lies on Saddam's  WMD show that the Iraq invasion-occupation had nothing to do with U.S. security, and it is now the view of knowledgeable observers (including the CIA) that  invasion-occupation, along with the carte blanche support of ethnic cleansing in Palestine, are major sources of whatever security threat U.S. citizens face. As this blowback effect was probably recognized by the Bush team, increased insecurity was very likely part of the Bush plan and serves his program well in justifying further arms and violence.


A fifth problem is the selectivity of  application of the Bush vision. The Bush team has found no problem with authoritarian rule in Saudi Arabia, Kuwait, Qatar, Turkmenistan, Uzbekistan, Kyrgistan,  Pakistan, and post-Aristide Haiti, and it pushes aggressively for democratization only in countries whose governments it opposes for reasons that have nothing to do with democracy. The administration is  deeply concerned about the supposed democratic deficiencies of  Venezuala, whose democratic credentials greatly surpass those of  the states mentioned above, and arguably even of the United States itself, where today the majority have no political party of consequence representing their interests. If the application of  the push for democracy is highly selective, this suggests that it is not a major end but an instrument serving other ends.


A sixth problem is that Bush's notion of  democracy is almost surely Orwellian, eschewing anything like a genuine rule of  the people. A major feature of  nominal democracies today, and perhaps even more so those in the Third World and in military or economic dependent status, is the huge gap between their quasi-ruling elites and the general populace. In this neoliberal world these leaders regularly betray their campaign promises and the public interest as a result of the pressure of  financial obligation and threat and structural necessity. Only a Chavez, with large oil revenues and under coup and destabilization threat by the Godfather, can take the route of serving the national majority. Those under the financial gun, from Lula in Brazil to Tadic in Serbia, can operate only within narrow boundaries.


Those in occupied countries, like the elected government of Iraq, are in an even more severely dependent position, with the occupying army serving as the pacifying arm of  the elected leaders, and its political representatives still the de facto rulers of the state establishing policy, controlling the media, paying the wages of  government workers and contractors,  building bases, and  training security forces to fight the insurgency. With reference to Lebanon, Bush stated that France, as well as the United States "said loud and clear to Syria, you get your troops and your secret services out of Lebanon so that good democracy has a chance to flourish."  The U.S. occupation of  Iraq is far more extensive, intrusive and violent than that of Syria in Lebanon, but  the patriotic double standard applies here and is unchallenged in the U.S. mainstream: we have good intentions and our troops and secret services in an occupied country do not threaten "good democracy." But this is strictly a triumph of ideology.


A final problematic with Bushs democracy quest abroad is that democracy has been eroding at home and the Bush administration has significantly accelerated that erosion.


The Patriot Act and its successor have seriously weakened constitutional protections of the rights of individuals; the stuffing of the courts with amenable right-wing judges has threatened the independence of the judiciary and constitutional rights; corrupt election practices, the force of money,  and the exploitation of  fear threaten a one-party state, the breakdown of  the checks and balances system, and unconstrained executive power. Is it plausible that the man managing this process of  democracy erosion at home is devoting large resources to its pursuit abroad? The issue is not addressed in the propaganda system.


The Bush team gets away with all this because the propaganda system works so well at this juncture. The media are increasingly commercial and concentrated, and now have a powerful right-wing sector that makes no bones about serving as an instrument of  Bush  propaganda. That right-wing sector also operates with an open patriotic ardor that puts competitive pressure on the rest of the media to display their own belief in "my country, right or wrong," and the rightwingers also attack the laggards with a flak that helps keeps them close to the party line. The easy route pursued in the mainstream is press release journalism, asking no critical questions, and allowing lies to flourish, to be challenged if at all too late to affect reality. (A classic New York Times editorial, published five years after the paper had swallowed a lie on the Soviet Union's shooting down of Korean airliner 007 that gave the Reagan administration a propaganda windfall, was entitled The Lie That Was Not Shot Down [Jan. 18, 1988].) 


Most of the liberal intelligentsia stay within the national consensus, which quickly  forms in support of whatever venture abroad their leaders have undertaken. They want to be loved, to be publishable in the New York Times, and to be influential in guiding the Democrats in quest of power. They also have a visceral hostility to the left, partly no doubt out of guilt for their own abandonment of principle in favor of pragmatism,  partly because left analyses show them to be on shaky ground in terms of both fact and morality. The result is that the liberals make the drastic assumption that even the Bush teams motives are benign: thus George Packer says that the Bush team has "an almost theological conviction that American power is by nature good and what follows in its wake will be freedom and democracy"(War and Ideas,New Yorker, July 5, 2005). Packer shows what a harsh liberal critic he is by challenging this alleged theological conviction, but note the unargued and apologetic assumption about the Bush teams democratic beliefs.


Packer goes on to say what he has said elsewhere, that "For better or for worse, its a fight in which America continues to have an obligation as well as an interest." But America committed a blatant aggression in Iraq that violated the UN Charter and that the world majority opposed, and even Blair's Foreign Secretary Jack Straw has acknowledged the obvious fact that the U.S. invasion and mode of fighting has fed and stimulated the insurgency.  Is there no obligation to obey international law?  If the U.S. pacification keeps producing more insurgents in a feedback process, what is the limit in death and destruction that Packer will tolerate? What does Packer mean by interest? Does he assume that Bush strives for democracy or could his interest be more material?


Packer undoubtedly means interest in pursuing that theological conviction that we will bring freedom and democracy. That is of course the premise of that masterpiece of aggression-occupation apologetics in the New York Times by Michael Ignatieff (Who Are Americans To Think That Freedom Is Theirs To Spread?, June 28, 2005), but that work deserves more attention that I can offer here (but will give it in the October issue of Z Magazine).





from Dahr Jamail

Date: Mon, 29 Aug 2005

Subject: Iraq Dispatches: Fallujah film and petition




New on DVD: Falluja 2004

(A film by Japanese independent journalist Toshikuni Doi)



Falluja April 2004 : A documentary by Japanese independent journalist Toshikuni Doi http://www.progressiveportal.org/store/  Fallujah has become a symbol of the resistance movement against the U.S. occupation of Iraq. In April 2004, the U.S. forces invaded Fallujah with several thousand soldiers. Why did Fallujah become a base of the resistance against the occupation? How did the U.S. forces attack? Who fought against them? And what damages and injuries did people suffer? Ten days after the siege of Falluja was lifted, Toshikuni Doi, a Japanese independent journalist, went into Fallujah. His documentary investigates the causes of, the conditions during, and damages from the siege. The documentary is primarily in Arabic, with English subtitles. DVD, 55 minutes.


Toshikuni Doi is a Japanese journalist who has been covering Iraq since just after the U.S. invasion.



ORDER ONLINE AT : http://www.progressiveportal.org/store/


"For a well documented, powerful film of what really occurred in Fallujah during the April, 2004 siege, this is a must see. The film

begins by investigating why the resistance began in Fallujah shortly after the Anglo-American invasion of Iraq. The film then accurately chronicles what occurred in Fallujah during the failed April siege. I couldn't recommend this more highly. To get a more complete understanding of the failed occupation of Iraq, watch this film and encourage others to do the same./"

-Dahr Jamail



In addition, here is a petition against a film being made about Fallujah in Hollywood which I encourage you to sign and distribute far

and wide :


To Patricia McQueeney, Mr Ford's agent :

Harrison Ford has announced that he wishes to play the role of the general in charge of the assault and seige of Fallujah, in an upcoming movie to be entitled No True Glory. This action resulted in the destruction of a whole city and the loss of many thousand innocent lives, and caused over 300,000 people to become homeless, while the insurgent Iraqis mostly slipped away, to attack again from elsewhere. We do not trust Hollywood to show the abuses of the US forces, who broke Geneva Conventions and denied civilians hospitals, water, food, opening fire on ambulances and denying the press coverage. We do not believe the military to have been innocent pawns of flawed government, and do not wish Mr Ford to play General Mattis, and we vote against the making of

this film. We ask the studios to examine history before they rewrite it. We ask Mr Ford to read up on the truth. "And the truth shall set us free."







More writing, photos and commentary at http://dahrjamailiraq.com





from Monty Kroopkin

Date: Thu, 1 Sep 2005

Subject: Fw: Bush Nixed Funding That Could Have Saved New Orleans




As the war's unpopularity soars, there will be millions asking, Why is the National Guard in Iraq, instead of helping the afflicted along the Gulf in the first crucial hours, before New Orleans, Biloxi, and Mobile turn into toxic toilet bowls with thousands marooned on the tops of houses.




CounterPunch, August 31, 2005













A Reverence for Property Over People

Bush Nixed Funding That Could Have Saved New Orleans





Tuesday night, as water rose to 20 feet through most of New Orleans, CNN relayed an advisory that food in refrigerators would last only four hours, would have to be thrown out. The next news item from CNN was an indignant bellow about "looters" of 7/11s and a Walmart. Making no attempt to conceal the racist flavor of the coverage, the press openly describes white survivors as "getting food from a flooded store," while blacks engaged in the same struggle for survival are smeared as "looters."


The reverence for property is now the underlying theme of many newscasts, with defense of The Gap being almost the first order of duty for the forces of law and order. But the citizens looking for clothes to wear and food to eat are made of tougher fiber and are more desperate than the polite demonstrators who guarded The Gap and kindred chains in Seattle in 1999. The police in New Orleans are only patrolling in large armed groups. One spoke of "meeting some resistance," as if the desperate citizens of New Orleans were Iraqi insurgents.


Also on Tuesday night the newscasts were reporting that in a city whose desperate state is akin the Dacca in Bangladesh a few years ago, there were precisely seven Coast Guard helicopters in operation. Where are the National Guard helicopters? Presumably strafing Iraqi citizens on the roads outside Baghdad and Fallujah.


As the war's unpopularity soars, there will be millions asking, Why is the National Guard in Iraq, instead of helping the afflicted along the Gulf in the first crucial hours, before New Orleans, Biloxi, and Mobile turn into toxic toilet bowls with thousands marooned on the tops of houses.


As thousands of trapped residents face the real prospect of perishing for lack of a way out of the flooding city, Bush's first response was to open the spigots of the Strategic Petroleum Reserve at the request of oil companies and to order the EPA to eliminate Clean Air standards at power plants and oil referiners across the nation, supposedly to increase fuel supplies--a goal long sought by his cronies at the big oil companies.


In his skittish Rose Garden press conference, Bush told the imperiled people of the Gulf Coast not to worry, the Corps of Engineers was on the way to begin the reconstruction of the Southland. But these are the same cadre of engineers, who after three years of work, have yet to get water and electrical power running in Baghdad for more than three hours a day.


It didn't have to be this bad. The entire city of New Orleans needed have been lost. Hundreds of people need not have perished. Yet, it now seems clear that the Bush administration sacrificed New Orleans to pursue its mad war on Iraq.


As the New Orleans Times-Picayune has reported in a devastating series of articles over the last two years, city and state officials and the Corps of Enginners had repeatedly requested funding to strengthen the levees along Lake Pontchartrain that breeched in the wake of the flood. But the Bush administration rebuffed the requests repeatedly, reprograming the funding from levee enhancement to Homeland Security and the war on Iraq.


This year the Bush administration slashed funding for the New Orleans Corps of Engineers by $71.2 million, a stunning 44.2 percent reduction from its 2001 levels. A Corps report noted at the time that "major hurricane and flood protection projects will not be awarded to local engineering firms. . . . Also, a study to determine ways to protect the region from a Category 5 hurricane has been shelved for now."


Work on the 17th Street levee, which breached on Monday night, came to a halt earlier this summer for the lack of $2 million.


"It appears that the money has been moved in the president's budget to handle homeland security and the war in Iraq, and I suppose that's the price we pay," Walter Maestri, emergency management chief for Jefferson Parish, Louisiana told the Times-Picayune in June of last year. "Nobody locally is happy that the levees can't be finished, and we are doing everything we can to make the case that this is a security issue for us."


These are damning revelations that should fuel calls from both parties for Bush's resignation or impeachment.


The greatest concern for poor people in these days has come from President Hugo Chavez of Venezuela, who ­ fresh from a chat with Fidel Castro, has announced that Venezuela will be offering America's poor discounted gas through its Citgo chain. He says his price will knock out the predatory pricing at every American pump. Citgo should issue to purchasers of each tankful of gas vouchers for free medical consultations via the internet with the Cuban doctors in Venezuela.


No politician in America has raised the issue of predatory pricing as gasoline soars above $3. The last time there was any critical talk about the oil companies was thirty years ago.


Maybe the terrible disaster along the Gulf coast will awaken people to the unjust ways in which our society works. That's often the effect of natural disasters, as with the Mexican earthquake, where the laggardly efforts of the police prompted ordinary citizens to take matters into their own hands.





from Michael Albert

2 September 2005

Subject:  Update & Two (Albert & Parenti) Commentaries from ZNet




Embark Now

by Michael Albert 


In the U.S. summer is winding down. Soon U.S. students will trek back to school, including college. Would that I was one of them, not because it would mean I was forty years younger - though that would be a nice turn of events - but because this is the first Fall semester in thirty years I have felt the desire to be scaling ivy walls and prowling campus corridors.


What's coming to NYU, Wisconsin, SF State, MIT, Howard, Pepperdine, Morehouse, Purdue, Loyola? What's coming to Drake, Kansas State, Rutgers, Boston University, University of Chicago, Duke, Berkeley, Kent State? What's coming to Reed, Bucknell, Colombia, Vanderbilt, Austin, Evergreen, Concordia, Yale, Jackson State - and all the rest?


Tumult, turmoil, tension, and resistance? Rejection and revolt? That's what ought to happen. It's what I hope will happen.


Flash back to May 1970: Richard Nixon announced the invasion of Cambodia. Already intense campus unrest dramatically escalated. National guard shot to death four students at Kent State University. Campuses erupted. Two were killed and twelve wounded at Jackson State. About 2,000 students were arrested in the first half of May 1970. Campuses were declared in a state of emergency in Kentucky, Ohio, Michigan, and South Carolina. At least a third of the nation's nearly 3,000 colleges had strikes. Over 80% of all colleges and universities had protests. Approximately four million students, half the country's total, and

350,000 faculty members actively participated in strikes. Buildings were shut down. Highways were blocked. Campuses were closed. Nixon's Scranton Commission reported that roughly three quarters of all students supported the strikes. Pollsters reported that within campuses alone over a million people claimed to favor revolution and called themselves revolutionaries. In early 1971 the New York Times reported that four out of ten students, about three million people, thought a revolution was needed in the United States. This upsurge and the civil rights and then black power movement, the women's movement, the antiwar movement, and

the youth rebellion behind it, together threatened the very fabric of society and thereby helped end a war and turn the country's mentality inside out and upside down. Racism was under seige. Sexism was in retreat. Suburban culture was tottering. A gigantic war machine felt shackles. Even capitalism had cracks. But the desire to attain a better world did not last sufficiently long or grow sufficiently wide to replace Washington's White House and Wall Street's corporations which, instead, went on producing greed and domination. Capitalism's institutional persistence slowly eroded and even devoured my generation's aspirations for solidarity and self management.


Flash forward thirty five years to next week: Imagine students back on their campuses. Do they discuss what courses to take? Ways to hook up with new guys or gals? Upcoming athletic seasons? I'd be surprised if not, but I hope students' also focus on war and peace. I hope they focus on New Orleans, and why calamities afflict the poor so much worse than all others. I hope they focus on why life in the world is so much less than it could be for the starving, the bombed, the unemployed, and for those working at jobs that rob dignity, stifle creativity, and subject so many souls to stupefying rule by others. I hope they even talk about working at elite jobs and having no time to live, no space to be humane, and no meaning beyond the next dollar. I hope students' main topic this

Fall is what they want out of life, spiritually, emotionally, intellectually, and yes, materially, and how they are going to get it

consistent with their working hard for everyone else getting it too.


Imagine students asking why their curriculums produce ignorance about international relations, ignorance about market competition's violations of solidarity, sagacity, and sustainability.


Imagine students deciding enough is enough. Maybe one particular student who wears a funny hat and has a history of being aloof, or perhaps one who looks straight as a commercial and was high school class most likely to have a million friends, will write a song about masters of the universe - and unseating them. Maybe another student will write about floods drowning people's hopes, and about a rising tide of our own compassionate creation lifting people's prospects. Maybe another student will write about resurgent racism and sullying sexism, and then about combative communalism and feminism and their time finally coming. And maybe students will hum the new tunes and sing the new lyrics - and rally, march, sit in, occupy, all while waving a big, solid fist.


Imagine students not just sending out emails to their friends and allies, but entering dorms and knocking on every door, initiating long talks, communicating carefully-collected information and debating patiently-constructed arguments that address not only war and poverty, but also positive prospects we prefer.


Imagine students earmarking fraternity and sorority members, athletes, and scholars, for conversation, debate, incitement, and recruitment. Imagine students come to see their campuses as places that should be churning out activists and dissent and come to see themselves as having no higher calling than making that campus-wide dissent happen.


Imagine students schooling themselves outside the narrow bounds of their colleges, learning that there is an alternative to cutthroat competition and teaching themselves to describe that alternative and to inspire others with it, to refine it, and especially to formulate and implement paths by which to attain it.


Imagine students, now sharing many views and much spirit, angry and also hopeful, sober and also laughing, sitting in dorms and dining areas forming campus organizations, or even campus chapters of a larger encompassing national community of organizations - perhaps something called students for a participatory society this time around - or even students for a participatory world - and maybe even having each chapter choose its own local name. Dave Dellinger SPS. Emma Goldman SPS. Malcolm

X SPS. And for that matter, Rosa Luxembourg SPS, Emiliano Zapata SPS, Che Guevara SPS. And so on.


Imagine, in short, students rising up with information, relentless focus, and some abandon too, becoming angry, militant, and aggressive, but keeping foremost mutual concern and outreaching compassion. 


Imagine all this pumping into the already nationally growing U.S. dissent against war and injustice, pumping into the neighborhood

associations and union gatherings and church cells and GI resistance, a youth branch willing to break the laws of the land and to push thoughts and deeds even into revolutionary zones. Imagine students singing, dancing, marching, and law breaking up a storm.


That is something the antiwar movement, the anti corporate globalization movement, the movement for civil rights and against racism and sexism, the movements for local rights against environmental degradation, the movements for consumer rights against corporate commercialism, and the labor movement too, all need. We need youth.


Imagine young people, with time, energy, heart, and mind, discerning that they are being coerced by society most often to become passive victims, sometimes to become passive agents, occasionally to become active perpetrators but only as cruel and rich beneficiaries of society's injustices. Imagine students seek more and other. Imagine they hunker down for the long haul, much better equipped and much better oriented than my generation ever was.


I think, I hope, students are about to not only reject statist war and corporate greed, but to carry that rejection into positive advocacy and anger that gives entire campuses and not small sub communities sustained commitment. That will be a ticket to a new world for everyone, a ticket much better than old style graduation into the morally decrepit world all around us. This trip is long. But why not embark now?





How the Free Market Killed New Orleans*

by Michael Parenti


The free market played a crucial role in the destruction of New Orleans and the death of thousands of its residents. Armed with advanced warning that a momentous (force 5) hurricane was going to hit that city and surrounding areas, what did officials do? They played the free market.


They announced that everyone should evacuate. Everyone was expected to devise their own way out of the disaster area by private means, just as the free market dictates, just like people do when disaster hits free-market Third World countries.


It is a beautiful thing this free market in which every individual pursues his or her own personal interests and thereby effects an optimal outcome for the entire society. This is the way the invisible hand works its wonders.


There would be none of the collectivistic regimented evacuation as occurred in Cuba. When an especially powerful hurricane hit that island last year, the Castro government, abetted by neighborhood citizen committees and local Communist party cadres, evacuated 1.3 million people, more than 10 percent of the country's population, with not a single life lost, a heartening feat that went largely unmentioned in the U.S. press.


On Day One of the disaster caused by Hurricane Katrina, it was already clear that hundreds, perhaps thousands, of American lives had been lost in New Orleans. Many people had "refused" to evacuate, media reporters explained, because they were just plain "stubborn."


It was not until Day Three that the relatively affluent telecasters began to realize that tens of thousands of people had failed to flee

because they had nowhere to go and no means of getting there. With hardly any cash at hand or no motor vehicle to call their own, they had to sit tight and hope for the best. In the end, the free market did not work so well for them.


Many of these people were low-income African Americans, along with fewer numbers of poor whites. It should be remembered that most of them had jobs before Katrina's lethal visit. That's what most poor people do in this country: they work, usually quite hard at dismally paying jobs, sometimes more than one job at a time. They are poor not because they're lazy but because they have a hard time surviving on poverty wages while burdened by high prices, high rents, and regressive taxes.


The free market played a role in other ways. Bush's agenda is to cut government services to the bone and make people rely on the private sector for the things they might need. So he sliced $71.2 million from the budget of the New Orleans Corps of Engineers, a 44 percent reduction. Plans to fortify New Orleans levees and upgrade the system of pumping out water had to be shelved.


Bush took to the airways and said that no one could have foreseen this disaster. Just another lie tumbling from his lips. All sorts of people had been predicting disaster for New Orleans, pointing to the need to strengthen the levees and the pumps, and fortify the coastlands.


In their campaign to starve out the public sector, the Bushite reactionaries also allowed developers to drain vast areas of wetlands.

Again, that old invisible hand of the free market would take care of things. The developers, pursuing their own private profit, would devise outcomes that would benefit us all.


But wetlands served as a natural absorbent and barrier between New Orleans and the storms riding in from across the sea. And for some years now, the wetlands have been disappearing at a frightening pace on the Gulf' coast. All this was of no concern to the reactionaries in the White House.


As for the rescue operation, the free-marketeers like to say that relief to the more unfortunate among us should be left to private charity. It was a favorite preachment of President Ronald Reagan that "private charity can do the job." And for the first few days that indeed seemed to be the policy with the disaster caused by Hurricane Katrina.


The federal government was nowhere in sight but the Red Cross went into action. Its message: "Don't send food or blankets; send money." Meanwhile Pat Robertson and the Christian Broadcasting Network---taking a moment off from God's work of pushing John Roberts nomination to the Supreme Court---called for donations and announced "Operation Blessing" which consisted of a highly-publicized but totally inadequate shipment of canned goods and bibles.


By Day Three even the myopic media began to realize the immense failure of the rescue operation. People were dying because relief had not arrived. The authorities seemed more concerned with the looting than with rescuing people. It was property before people, just like the free marketeers always want.


But questions arose that the free market did not seem capable of answering: Who was in charge of the rescue operation? Why so few helicopters and just a scattering of Coast Guard rescuers? Why did it take helicopters five hours to get six people out of one hospital? When would the rescue operation gather some steam? Where were the feds? The state troopers? The National Guard? Where were the buses and trucks? the shelters and portable toilets? The medical supplies and water?


Where was Homeland Security? What has Homeland Security done with the $33.8 billions allocated to it in fiscal 2005? Even ABC-TV evening news (September 1, 2005) quoted local officials as saying that "the federal government's response has been a national disgrace."


In a moment of delicious (and perhaps mischievous) irony, offers of foreign aid were tendered by France, Germany and several other nations. Russia offered to send two plane loads of food and other materials for the victims. Predictably, all these proposals were quickly refused by the White House. America the Beautiful and Powerful, America the Supreme Rescuer and World Leader, America the Purveyor of Global Prosperity could not accept foreign aid from others. That would be a most deflating and insulting role reversal. Were the French looking for another punch in the nose?


Besides, to have accepted foreign aid would have been to admit the truth---that the Bushite reactionaries had neither the desire nor the decency to provide for ordinary citizens, not even those in the most extreme straits. Next thing you know, people would start thinking that George W. Bush was really nothing more than a fulltime agent of Corporate America.



Michael Parenti's recent books include Superpatriotism (City Lights) and The Assassination of Julius Caesar (New Press), both available in paperback. His forthcoming The Culture Struggle (Seven Stories Press) will be published in the fall. For more information visit : www.michaelparenti.org





from Richard Du Boff

2 September 2005

Subject: Foreign perspectives: "Tiers-monde, USA"...



World stunned as US struggles with Katrina

by Andrew Gray


LONDON (Reuters) - The world has watched amazed as the planet's only superpower struggles with the aftermath of Hurricane Katrina, with some saying the chaos has exposed flaws and deep divisions in American society.

World leaders and ordinary citizens have expressed sympathy with the people of the southern United States whose lives were devastated by the hurricane and the flooding that followed.

But many have also been shocked by the images of disorder beamed around the world -- looters roaming the debris-strewn streets and thousands of people gathered in New Orleans waiting for the authorities to provide food, water and other aid.

"Anarchy in the USA" declared Britain's best-selling newspaper The Sun. "Apocalypse Now" headlined Germany's Handelsblatt daily.

The pictures of the catastrophe -- which has killed hundreds and possibly thousands -- have evoked memories of crises in the world's poorest nations such as last year's tsunami in Asia, which left more than 230,000 people dead or missing.

But some view the response to those disasters more favorably than the lawless aftermath of Hurricane Katrina.

"I am absolutely disgusted. After the tsunami our people, even the ones who lost everything, wanted to help the others who were suffering," said Sajeewa Chinthaka, 36, as he watched a cricket match in Colombo, Sri Lanka. "Not a single tourist caught in the tsunami was mugged. Now with all this happening in the U.S. we can easily see where the civilized part of the world's population is."


Many newspapers highlighted criticism of local and state authorities and of President Bush. Some compared the sputtering relief effort with the massive amounts of money and resources poured into the war in Iraq.

"A modern metropolis sinking in water and into anarchy -- it is a really cruel spectacle for a champion of security like Bush," France's left-leaning Liberation newspaper said. "(Al Qaeda leader Osama) bin Laden, nice and dry in his hideaway, must be killing himself laughing."

A female employee at a multinational firm in South Korea said it may have been no accident the U.S. was hit. "Maybe it was punishment for what it did to Iraq, which has a man-made disaster, not a natural disaster," said the woman, who did not want to be named as she has an American manager. "A lot of the people I work with think this way. We spoke about it just the other day," she said.

Commentators noted the victims of the hurricane were overwhelmingly African Americans, too poor to flee the region as the hurricane loomed unlike some of their white neighbors.

New Orleans ranks fifth in the United States in terms of African American population and 67 percent of the city's residents are black.

"In one of the poorest states in the country, where black people earn half as much as white people, this has taken on a racial dimension," said a report in Britain's Guardian daily.

Luxembourg Foreign Minister Jean Asselborn, in a veiled criticism of U.S. political thought, said the disaster showed the need for a strong state that could help poor people.

"You see in this example that even in the 21st century you need the state, a good functioning state, and I hope that for all these people, these poor people, that the Americans will do their best," he told reporters at a European Union meeting in Newport, Wales.

David Fordham, 33, a hospital anesthetist speaking at a London underground rail station, said he had spent time in America and was not surprised the country had struggled to cope. "Maybe they just thought they could sit it out and everything would be okay," he said. "It's unbelievable though -- the TV images -- and your heart goes out to them."



Le monde  (2 Sept 2005)


La presse américaine et européenne de plus en plus virulente

à l'égard de l'administration Bush

LEMONDE.FR | 02.09.05 | 17h08  *  Mis à jour le 02.09.05 | 17h53


Le chaos règne toujours sur La Nouvelle-Orléans, plusieurs jours après le passage du cyclone Katrina. A tel point que Kathleen Blanco, gouverneur de la Louisiane, a déploré, vendredi 2 septembre, que les renforts ne soient pas assez rapides à arriver. La presse américaine, ainsi que la population, s'interroge de plus en plus : pourquoi une telle lenteur des secours ? Comment expliquer l'impréparation du gouvernement face à une catastrophe prévisible ?


 "Comment est-il possible que le gouvernement ait été aussi peu préparé pour une crise aussi largement annoncée ?", se demande le quotidien Washington Post. Alors que George Bush déclarait hier, sur un ton fataliste, que personne ne pouvait prévoir que les digues, censées protéger La Nouvelle-Orléans, ne tiendraient pas, le journal riposte : "Les experts ont depuis longtemps mis en garde contre la topographie unique de la ville et sur sa vulnérabilité." "La réponse molle" des autorités "a rendu aigries et en colère des dizaines de milliers de personnes attendant une aide, la plupart d'entre elles pauvres et noires, très souvent vieilles et malades", ajoute le quotidien.


USA Today, l'unique journal national, souligne le fait que les Noirs et les pauvres sont les plus touchés par la crise humanitaire qui s'est développée dans le sud des Etats-Unis, notamment en Louisiane. Selon le quotidien, la responsabilité du chaos revient aux autorités de cet Etat. "Les gens qui ne pouvaient ou ne voulaient pas quitter La Nouvelle-Orléans sont d'une manière écrasante des pauvres et des Noirs. Comme sont les pilleurs", relève le journal, qui estime que les autorités auraient dû anticiper le risque de troubles de l'ordre public."La plupart des pauvres n'ont pas de voitures, ce qui les a empêchés de quitter la ville. Manquant d'argent, beaucoup se sont aussi retrouvés sans endroit où aller. Sans éducation, beaucoup n'ont pas saisi l'importance de la menace, et en mauvaise santé, ont été trop faibles pour survivre", estime USA Today.


Même le Wall Street Journal, proche de l'administration républicaine de George W. Bush, estime que les autorités sont en partie responsables du chaos. "Les Américains attendent parfois trop de leur gouvernement - comme leur assurer des prix de l'essence bas - mais ils sont en droit qu'il leur fournisse au moins la sécurité, même et peut-être a fortiori lors des crises."


Le New York Times pointe du doigt la mobilisation de la garde nationale pour l'Irak. En effet, un tiers des membres de la garde nationale de la Louisiane combat actuellement en Irak et, de fait, n'a pas pu participer aux secours, précise le journal.



 La presse européenne est unanime : le cyclone Katrina a rendu apparent l'énorme décalage entre la superpuissance technologique des Etats-Unis et son incapacité à faire régner la sécurité après les ravages de Katrina.


"L'Amérique regarde, décontenancée, un tiers-monde dans ses propres frontières, fracassé et violent, écrit le quotidien allemand Die Welt. Des pilleurs armés humilient des policiers en sous-effectifs. Dans le Superdome de La Nouvelle-Orléans (...), 20 000 personnes végètent comme dans un camp pour réfugiés de guerre", ajoute le quotidien conservateur. Cette catastrophe "se transforme pour le président, quelques mois après le début de son deuxième mandat, en une répétition du 11 septembre [2001], cette fois-ci en politique intérieure", juge, pour sa part, le quotidien de centre gauche Süddeutsche Zeitung.


"Tiers-monde, USA" titre le quotidien autrichien Der Standard (centre gauche). "Katrina, écrit-il, a rendu visible de façon choquante l'énorme décalage entre l'appareil technologique supérieur de la superpuissance et les conditions dignes du tiers-monde de l'arrière-pays aux Etats-Unis". Le journal viennois souligne que "sous le climat idéologique du gouvernement Bush, on considère la population noire pauvre au mieux avec un mélange de désarroi, de désintérêt".


 Le grand journal populaire Kronen-Zeitung commente "la déraison américaine" : "l'écologie et les scientifiques unanimes nous préviennent depuis des décennies. Nous n'avons pas entendu. Et une nouvelle fois, l'Amérique est à la tête de ceux qui se bouchent les oreilles". Die Presse (centre droit) dénonce "la chasse aux sorcières" de l'administration Bush"contre les chercheurs qui expliquent ces catastrophes par le réchauffement climatique et l'effet de serre".


 La presse francophone belge dénonce l'incapacité du "pays le plus riche de la planète" qui "laisse les plus démunis, pauvres, malades, âgés, livrés à eux-mêmes face à un cataclysme prévisible et... prévu", écrit Le Soir, tandis que La Libre Belgique s'interroge sur ce que "le gouvernement américain a retenu du 11-Septembre pour mieux répondre aux situations d'urgence".



 Pour le Daily Mail britannique, l'impuissance des Etats-Unis est la même que celle qu'ils démontrent en Irak. "Voilà une superpuissance qui peut renverser comme elle veut une dictature, mais qui est si enlisée dans les conséquences de la guerre qu'elle se retrouve incapable de répondre de manière adéquate aux difficultés de dizaines de milliers de ses citoyens frappés par une catastrophe naturelle", écrit-il.


 Même son de cloche en Espagne. "Le gouvernement Bush paraît englouti dans sa propre incompétence", écrit El Pais, qui souligne que cette "tragédie a aussi une lecture sociale". Pour El Mundo (centre droit), cela "met en évidence les points faibles d'un pays qui, occupé (...) par ses aventures impériales, a négligé des sujets bien plus importants, comme le bien-être des ses habitants". Les deux quotidiens notent que les militaires américains ont été appelés à l'aide mais qu'ils se trouvent majoritairement déployés en Irak, "essayant d'aider une population qui ne veut pas d'eux et très loin du lieu où les contribuables ont besoin d'eux".

 En Italie, La Stampa souligne aussi que "l'ouragan emporte Bush accusé d'avoir envoyé en Irak les soldats qui auraient pu éviter le désastre", et Il Messaggero (conservateur) relève que "l'argent pour la protection civile a été détourné vers l'Irak". La Repubblica (centre gauche) compare le sort de La Nouvelle-Orléans à celui de Pompéi, la cité engloutie par l'éruption du Vésuve lors du déclin de l'Empire romain.


Avec AFP et Reuters





Francis McCollum Feeley

Professor of American Studies/

Director of Research at CEIMSA-IN-EXILE