Bulletin N° 273


25 November 2006
Grenoble, France
Dear Colleagues and Friends of CEIMSA,

Recent investigations into cultural history and specifically into religious ideologies and other forms of literal thinking on spiritual and political matters in America, have led me to concepts taken from split-brain theory .

According to recent brain research and the tenets of split-brain theory, the right hemisphere of the human brain is the environment --it is the center of intuitive, holistic, synthesizing, spatial, emotional, impulsive, imaginative, sensuous, pre-verbal, passive, and depressive functions of the brain-- while the left hemisphere serves as the super-efficient computer, demonstrating its expert skills in linear, logical, analytical, propositional, intellectual, verbal, active, historical, and euphoric functions of the brain. (Wilden, 1987, pp. 235-237) Our right brain, researchers tell us, is an environment of more relaxed holistic analog functions (capable of recognizing patterns, of understanding analogies, of thinking in terms of continuity, of infinitely delicate shadings-off of everything into something else, of the overlapping of essences and registering distinctions like "more-and-less" and integrating "both/and" functions). It absorbs the general context to look for meaning and enables us to laugh and weep. Our left brain, on the other hand, is a center of tense, literal-minded activities evincing the habit of thinking in discrete, well-defined classifications: it is analytical and has trouble recognizing patterns and nuances, and, because it is essentially a digital computer, it excels in its capacity to take step-by-step approaches to familiar problems, and solving them by using established methods. It divides its world into "either/or" and "true-or-false," and it uses tactics to look for stratecgic significance, rather than for discovering new meanings. It has no sense of humor, nor has it a sense of pathos. (Wilden, 1987, pp.222-242)
Human anatomy permits the two hemispheres to communicate, under normal conditions, via a large bundle of nerve fibers called the corpus callosum, which becomes activated around the age of 2 and does not become fully formed until about age 10. Split-Brain Theory tells us that this integration of the two sides of the brain allows visions and the recognition of new contexts (right brain activities) to inform our calculations and verbal behaviors (left brain activities). Used together the two hemispheres of the brain can complement one another, combining analogic and digital coding (the recognition of both continuity and discontinuity) to produce a third type of mental activity which has been labeled iconic coding, which is a form of both continuous and discrete communication.

Organic damage or cultural taboos can impede the integration of the two cerebral hemispheres. For example severing the corpus callosum to relieve epileptic seizures has resulted in the modification of perceptions and speech patterns in patients, as their natural mental functions shift to either left or right hemisphere activities.

Artistic expressions from the past occasionally offer us a glimpse into the mental operations of our ancestors. Careful examination of the methods used to make neolithic tools and objects of art, for example, reveal that these prehistoric practitioners were apparently all right-handed, and the writing the Code of Hammurabi (from the 17th century B.C.) engraved on the black diorite stela found at Susa in Iran, was most likely the work of right-handed scribes. (Today, by contrast, it is estimated that between 8 and 15 percent of the world population is left -handed.)

Other evidence of left-brain dominance can be seen in the ancient Judeo-Christian literature of the "Old Testament" from the King James Version of The Holy Bible. Abraham, who is reported to have been a close friend of the Babylonian King Hammurabi, back in the small city-state of Ur, where they both grew up about 4000 years ago (it is even suggested that he once saved this king's life) was a non-conformist. In a culture predominantly polytheistic, the young Abraham, it is written, believed in only one god, and this led to considerable stress, which prompted him to leave the area and migrate with a group of like-minded people first to Haran, then to the less populated region of Canaan, located several hundred miles west of Ur. On the way, according to the Book of Genesis (in Chapter 22: 1-18), he heard the voice of his god instructing him to sacrifice his son, Isaac --an act which he dutifully prepared to preform :

And it came to pass after these
things, that God did tempt Abraham,
and said unto him, Abraham:
and he said, Behold, here I am.
Ands he said, Take now thy son,
thine only son Isaac, whom thou lovest,
and get thee into the land of Mo-ri-ah;
and offer him there for a burnt
offering upon one of the mountains
which I will tell thee of.
And Abraham rose up early in the
morning, and saddled his ass, and took
two of his young men with him, and
Isaac his son, and clave the wood for
the burnt offering, and rose up, and
went unto the place of which God had
told him.
Then on the third day Abraham
lifted up his eyes, and saw the place
afar off.
And Abraham said unto his young
men, Abide ye here with the ass; and
I and the lad will go yonder and worship,
and come again to you.
And Abraham took the wood of
the burnt offering, and laid it upon
Isaac his son; and he took the fire in
his hand, and a knife; and they went
both of them together.
And Isaac spake unto Abraham
his father, and said, My father: and he
said, Here am I, my son. And he said,
Behold the fire and the wood: but
where is the lamb for a burnt offering?
And Abraham said, My son, God
will provide himself a lamb for a burnt
offering: so they went both of them
And they came to the place which
God had told him of; and Abraham
built an alter there, and laid the wood
in order, and bound Isaac his son, and
laid him on the altar upon the wood.
And Abraham stretched forth
his hand, and took the knife to slay
his son.
And the angel of the Lord called
unto him out of heaven, and said,
Abraham, Abraham: and he said,
Here am I.
And he said, Lay not thine hand
upon the lad, neither do thou any
thing unto him: for now I know that
thou fearest God, seeing thou has not
withheld thy son, thine only son from
And Abraham lifted up his eyes,
and looked, l and behold behind him a
ram caught in the thicket by his horns:
and Abraham went and took the ram,
and offered him up for a burnt offering
in the stead of his son.
And Abraham called the name
of that Place Je-ho-vah-ji-reh: as it is
said to this day, In the mount of the
Lord it shall be seen.
And the angel of the Lord called
unto Abraham out of heaven the
second time,
And said, By myself have I
sworn, saith the Lord, for because
thou hast done this thing, and hast not
withheld thy son, thine only son:
That in blessing I will bless thee,
and in multiplying I will multiply thy
seed as the stars of the heaven, and as
the sand which is upon the sea shore;
and they seed shall posses the gate of
his enemies;
And in thy seed shall all the nations
of the earth be blessed; because
thou hast obeyed my voice.

Here the left-brain function of literal-minded obedience to the logical significance of the command of an imaginary authority has totally subordinated right-brain functions, such as the sentient recognition of meaning from a real context, expressing deep emotions and appreciating ambiguities.

At the end of the 40-year period of  "wandering in the wilderness," which had produced the "Ten Commandments" (Exodus, Chapter 20, perhaps the most familiar left-brain text in the Judeo-Christian culture) and at the time of Moses' Farewell, prior to the conquest of Canaan (around the 13th century B.C.), the story of Abraham's God, now called Jehovah by the Hebrews, is revisited in the Book of Deuteronomy (meaning "Repetition of the Law") Chapter 6: 10-15 :

And it shall be, when the Lord
they God shall have brought thee into
the land which he sware unto thy
fathers, to Abraham, to Isaac, and
to Jacob, to give thee great and
goodly cities, which thou buildedest
And houses full of all good things,
which thou filledst not, and wells
gigged, which thou diggedst not, vineyards
and olive trees, which thou
plantedst not; when thou shalt have
eaten and be full;
Then beware lest thou forget the
Lord, which brought thee forth out of
the land of Egypt, from the house of
Thou shalt fear the Lord thy
God, and serve him, and shalt swear
by his name.
Ye shall not go after other gods,
of the gods of the people which are
round about you;
(For the Lord they God is a jealous
God among you) lest the anger of
the Lord thy God be kindled against
thee, and destroy thee from off the
face of the earth.
And Deuteronomy, Chapter 7: 1-6 :

When the Lord thy God shall
bring thee into the land whither
thou goest to possess it, and hath cast
out many nations before thee, the Hittites,
and the Gir-ga-shites, and the
Amorites, and the Canaanites, and the
Per-iz-zites, and the Hi-vites, and the
Jeb-u-sites, seven nations greater and mightier than thou;
And when the Lord thy God shall
deliver them before thee; thou shalt
smite them, and utterly destroy them;
thou shalt make no covenant with
them, nor shew mercy unto them:
Neither shalt thou make marriages
with them;thy daughter thou
shalt not give unto his son, nor his
daughter shalt thou take unto thy son.
For they will turn away thy son
from following me, that they may
serve other gods: so will the anger of
the Lord be kindled against you, and
destroy thee suddenly.
But thus shall ye deal with them;
ye shall destroy their altars, and break
down their images, and cut down their
groves, and burn their graven images
with fire.
For thou art an holy people unto
the Lord thy God: the Lord thy God
hath chosen thee to be a special people
unto himself, above all people that are
upon the face of the earth.

Likewise in Islamic culture, the Koran (written around 650 A.D.) produces evidence of left-brain "either/or" dominance prevailing over right-brain recognition of continuity and new contexts. It explicitly endorses tactics necessary to control the environment and satisfy the commands of another jealous God, Allah :

Chapter 35, "The Creator"  (translated by N. J. Dawood) :
In the Name of Allah, the Compassionate, the Merciful. . .
As for the unbelievers, the fire of Hell awaits them. Death shall not deliver them,
nor shall its torments be ever lightened for them. They shall the thankless be rewarded.
There they will cry out: "Lord, remove us hence! We will live a good life and will not
do as we have done." But He will answer: "Did We not make your lives long enough
for any one who would be warned to take warning? Besides, Our apostle did come to
you; taste then the torment of Hell. None shall help the wrongdoers."
Allah knows the mysteries of heaven and earth. He knows the hidden thoughts of men.
It is He who has given you the earth to inherit. He that denies Him shall bear the burden
of his unbelief. In denying Him the unbelievers earn nothing but odium in the sight of Allah;
their unbelief gets them nothing but perdition.

Or again from Chapter 66, "Prohibition"
In the Name of Allah, the Compassionate, the Merciful. . .
Prophet, make war on the unbelievers and the hypocrites and deal sternly with them. Hell
shall be their home, evil their fate.
Allah has set an example to the unbelievers in the wife of Noah and the wife of Lot. They
were married to two of Our righteous servants and deceived them. Their husbands could
not protect them from Allah. The angels said to them: "Enter the Fire, together with those
that shall enter it."
But to the faithful Allah has set an example in Pharaoh's wife, who said: "Lord, build be a
house with You in Paradise and deliver me from Pharaoh and his misdeeds. Deliver me from
a wicked nation."

Our research center continues to receive articles and essays on contemporary developments in American institutions and social movements. Before introducing the eight items below, we invite you to join us in a brief visit to Paradise Lost, in which John Milton wrote some 350 years ago the following description of the human condition:

                          PARADISE LOST
                         Farewell happy fields
Where joy for ever dwells: hail horrors, hail
Infernal world, and thou profoundest hell
Receive thy new possessor: one who brings
A mind not to be changed by place or time.
The mind is its own place, and in itself
Can make a heav'n of hell, a hell of heav'n.
What matter where, if I be still the same,
And what I should be, all but less than he
Whom thunder hath made greater? Here at least
We shall be free; th' Almighty hath not built
Here for his envy, will not drive us hence:
Here we may reign secure, and in my choice
To reign is worth ambition though in hell:
Better to reign in hell, than serve in heav'n.
But wherefore let we then our faithful friends,
Th' associates and copartners of our loss
Lie thus astonished on th' oblivious pool,
And call them not to share with us their part
In this unhappy mansion, or once more
With rallied arms to try what may be yet
Regained in heav'n, or what more lost in hell?
                                                                                                  (from Book I, verses 250-263)

Item A. is an article sent to us by Professor Edward Herman on the vicious attacks on European pacifists by Israeli imperialists in Palestine.
Item B. is an autobiographical essay written in the 1980s by former Zionist Tony Cliff explaining the Zionist mentality and its early origins in Palestine.
Item C. is a report on more of the same, from Grenoble graduate student Frédérick Méni, on the banality of murder and violence in an area all but forgotten by world "leaders": the orient where, in General Westmoreland's immortal words, "human life is very cheap and plentiful."
Item D. is a description by Amy Goodman of Donald Rumsfeld's recent associations with slavery and torture.
Item E. is an article by Gabriel Kolko on the lessons from Iraq and Lebanon.
Item F. is an article by Robert Fisk on the destabilization of Lebanon.
Item G. is a written and video report from BBC-London on claims that the CIA was directly involved in the assassination of U.S. presidential candidate Robert Kennedy in June 1968.
And, finally, item H. is an article by Robert Fisk submitting observations on Lebanon which would be useful in the development of a dependency theory analysis of our own neo-imperial era.

As in the past, we are honored to share with our readers another exclusive report from William Blum, author of the Anti-Empire Report, November 24, 2006 :

Francis McCollum Feeley
Professor of American Studies
Director of Research
Université Stendhal Grenoble 3
http ://dimension.ucsd.edu/CEIMSA-IN-EXILE/

from Edward Herman :
Subject: hebron-day-06
21 November 2006

My apologies for the gruesomeness of this mailing, but I send along only a tiny fraction of the gruesome flowing through the web, most of it much more
painful than the item here. We are dealing with a terror state out-of-control, or rather failing to deal with it.

Swedish Human Rights Worker Viciously Attacked by Jewish Extremists in Hebron 



from Francis Feeley :
22 November 2006
The Socialist Worker

The Roots of Israel's Violence
by Tony Cliff

[THE ISRAELI state is engaged in brutal violence against the Palestinian population and has killed hundreds of Palestinians over the past few months. In 1982 revolutionary socialist Tony Cliff, who died a year ago this month, wrote this explanation of why Israel acts in this way. He was writing just after Israel had invaded Lebanon and carried out massacres of both Lebanese and refugee Palestinians.]

L OOKING BACK on my own experience in Palestine I can see how today’s horror grew from small beginnings. Zionism, Jewish separateness and the belief in a Jewish homeland, have developed into state violence. My parents were pioneering Zionists, leaving Russia for Palestine in 1902 to join a total Zionist population of a few thousand.

I grew up a Zionist, but Zionism didn’t have the ugly face we see today. However, there was always a fundamental crack between the Zionists and the Arabs. This same crack split Zionists from ordinary people in their countries of origin.

If you look to 19th century Russia it’s clear. In 1891 Tsar Alexander II was assassinated. The next year Russia’s extreme right organised a pogrom against the Jews. “Kill a Jew and save Russia,” they said. Socialists reacted by calling for unity in fighting Tsarism and the right. But there was a second reaction-Zionism. The Zionists argued, “Jews can’t rely on anyone but ourselves,” and the first of them left Russia for Palestine. Each further pogrom produced the same two reactions. Some joined the general revolutionary movement – others chose separation.

When the Zionists came to Palestine they continued to emphasiwe their separateness. Zionists took over Arab land, often evicting the occupiers. And the Zionists systematically discriminated against the thousands of Arab unemployed. Although Arabs were at least 80 percent of the population, not one came to my school.

My parents were extreme Zionists, and my father told me, “The only way to look at an Arab is through the sight of a gun.” I never shared a house with an Arab.

THE ZIONISTS organized their own trade union, the Histadrut, which raised two political funds. One was called “the defence of Hebrew Labour”, the other “the defence of Hebrew products”. These funds were used to organize pickets to prevent Arabs working in Jewish enterprises and to stop Arab produce coming into Jewish markets. They did nothing to damage Zionist businesses.

In 1944 we lived near Tel Aviv market. One morning my wife saw a young man go around talking to all the women selling produce. Some he left alone, but others had paraffin poured on the vegetables and their eggs smashed. My wife, who had just come from South Africa, couldn’t believe it. “What's going on?” she asked.

It was simple. The man checked if the produce was Hebrew or Arab, and destroyed Arab produce. Now, this behaviour was still on a small scale and some Zionists were still talking like left wingers. Zionist publishers printed Lenin and Trotsky, for example.

But the antagonism to the Arabs remained central. No Arab ever entered the kibbutz movement, the so called “socialist” collective farms. The majority of Jewish-owned land belonged to the Jewish National Fund, whose constitution forbade Arab tenants. This meant in whole areas the original Arab populations were driven out.

When I left Palestine in 1946 Tel Aviv, a city of 300,000, had absolutely no Arab residents. Imagine arriving in Nottingham, a similar sized town to Tel Aviv, and finding no English people.

There was obviously enmity between the Zionists and the Arabs. The Zionists – a minority not trusting the majority – needed support and always looked to the imperialist powers that controlled Palestine for help. This was low key at first. Zionist leaders repeatedly told German rulers it would be in their interests if Zionism flourished in Palestine.

When Britain occupied Palestine in 1917, the Zionist leaders wrote to the Tory foreign minister Balfour explaining it was in Britain’s interests to have a strong Zionist presence in Palestine. And during the Second World War, as it became clear America was the main imperialist power, particularly in the Middle East, Zionist leaders switched their focus to Washington.

The Zionists, if not for sale, were always for hire. The logic of Zionism, separatism from the Gentile population, whether in Russia, Poland or Palestine, led to this dependence on imperialism. Nazism and its rise were important. German big business didn’t support Hitler from fear of the Jews, but from fear of the German working class. Both the Jews and German workers were Hitler’s victims.

The key for revolutionary socialists should have been organizing working class struggle against the Nazis. The Zionist objected. “The Jews are Hitler’s victims,” they said, and by implication all Germans are enemies of the Jews.

When the German workers were defeated in 1933 without a mass struggle against Hitler, Zionism was immensely strengthened. Once a movement has a certain momentum it can’t be stopped unless there is a new movement on a much bigger scale. If the Jews couldn’t trust the Germans, it was natural for them to see a strong Zionist state as the only answer

Back in Palestine Zionist outrages were developing. The state of Israel, declared in 1948, was accomplished by a terror campaign which drove hundreds of thousands of Palestinians from their homes. The state was born with the “limited” massacre of 240 civilians in the village of Deir Yassin.

Men, women and children were slaughtered, some thrown alive down the village well. It was a place I knew well, just a few miles from my home. The Arabs aren’t the only ones to pay since then. Israel’s constant search for allies has made it increasingly a supplier of military equipment to the world's most reactionary regimes.

Moshe Dayan, Israel’s defence minister, spent two months in South Vietnam in 1966 advising the American puppet government. Israel supplied arms to Chile, to Ian Smith’s Rhodesia, and to all the countries upon which US president Carter placed an arms embargo for human rights violations.

Israel’s security police advised the Shah of Iran, while its scientists developed nuclear weapons with South Africa. Some people argue oppression always leads to progress. The Jews were horribly oppressed but it didn’t guarantee they became progressive or revolutionary. Indeed, oppression associated with lack of power leads to reaction. When the core of Zionism meant separation from all progressive forces, from the revolutionary forces in Russia to the anti-imperialist forces in the Middle East, the rest of the tale followed naturally.

Now Israel is collaborating with the Phalangists in Lebanon, an openly fascist organization. I’m not surprised. I remember the 1930s when Begin’s (now Israel’s prime minister) organization, the Irgun, used the Hitler salute and wore the brown shirts.

In 1935 I would never have believed Zionists would murder civilians – they discriminated against the Arabs, that’s all. But in today’s harsh world any crack expands and the crack of Jewish separateness leads to the horrors we’ve seen in Lebanon. Those monstrosities are the logic of Zionism. Indeed, I fear we’ll see much worse from the Zionists in the future.

The workers have a solution
THE ARAB working class is the only power in the Middle East which can stop Zionism and smash imperialism. The existing state can’t do it. The king of Saudi Arabia collaborates completely with America because of oil interests.

The Assad regime in Syria is corrupt and unstable, depending on Saudi Arabian subsidies, while the Egyptian regime rests on millions of impoverished workers and peasants. Millions of workers live in shanty towns and millions of peasants suffer terrible diseases because they lack even basic amenities of sanitation and fresh water.

These regimes can’t fight anything – let alone Zionism and imperialism. The Palestine Liberation Organisation depends on Saudi Arabian money and Syria for physical survival. All the bravery of the PLO guerillas can only lead to an impasse. Arab workers are the key. The Egyptian working class is at least the size of Russia’s working class in 1917. These workers have the power to change the Middle East.

from Fred Méni :
22 November 2006



from Democracy Now :
22 November 2006
The Seattle PI

Rumsfeld and a mountain of misery
by Amy Goodman

Frederick Douglass, the renowned abolitionist, began life as a slave on Maryland's Eastern Shore. When his owner had trouble with the young, unruly slave, Douglass was sent to Edward Covey, a notorious "slave breaker." Covey's plantation, where physical and psychological torture were standard, was called Mount Misery. Douglass eventually fought back, escaped to the North and went on to change the world. Today Mount Misery is owned by Donald Rumsfeld, the outgoing secretary of defense.

It is ironic that this notorious plantation run by a practiced torturer would now be owned by Rumsfeld, himself accused as the man principally responsible for the U.S. military's program of torture and detention.

Rumsfeld was recently named along with 11 other high-ranking U.S. officials in a criminal complaint filed in Germany by the New York-based Center for Constitutional Rights. The center is requesting that the German government conduct an investigation and ultimately a criminal prosecution of Rumsfeld and company. CCR President Michael Ratner says U.S. policy authorizing "harsh interrogation techniques" is in fact a torture program that Secretary of Defense Rumsfeld authorized himself, passed down through the chain of command and was implemented by one of the other defendants, Maj. Gen. Geoffrey Miller.

The complaint represents victims of torture at Abu Ghraib prison, the U.S. prison at Guantanamo. Says Ratner, "I think it is important to make it very clear that CCR's suit is not just saying Rumsfeld is a war criminal because he tops the chain of command, but that he personally played a central role in one of the worst interrogations at Gitmo."

Ratner is referring to Saudi citizen Mohammed al-Qahtani. An internal military report as well as leaked interrogation logs show how the Guantanamo prisoner was systematically tortured.

His attorney, CCR's Gita Gutierrez, described his ordeal on my TV/radio news hour Democracy Now!: "He was subjected to approximately 160 days of isolation, 48 days of sleep deprivation, which was accompanied by 20 hourlong interrogations consecutively. During that period of time, he was also subjected to sexual humiliation, euphemistically called 'invasion of space by a female' at times when MPs would hold him down on the floor and female interrogators would straddle him and molest him."

Gutierrez added, "At one point in Guantanamo, his heart rate dropped so low that he was at risk of dying and was rushed to the military hospital there and revived, then sent back to interrogations the following day and was actually interrogated in the ambulance on the way back to his cell."

The complaint follows one filed in 2004, which was dismissed. The 2006 complaint differs principally with Rumsfeld's departure as secretary of defense. Without the immunity of government office shielding him, Rumsfeld now falls under the jurisdiction of the German courts. Germany is among several nations that employ the concept of universal jurisdiction, which states that crimes against humanity or war crimes can be prosecuted by a state (such as Germany) regardless of the jurisdiction where the crimes were committed or the nationality of the accused. If an indictment follows, then Rumsfeld will have to be very careful when traveling abroad, as are former Chilean dictator Augusto Pinochet and former U.S. Secretary of State Henry Kissinger.

Torture is a noxious, heinous practice and should not be tolerated. Slavery was once legal and tolerated in the U.S. (it is still practiced in some parts of the world). But people fought back, organized and formed the abolition movement. Pioneering legal and human-rights organizations, such as CCR, aggressively and creatively are working to stop torture, and to hold the torturers and their superiors accountable. Ultimately, it will be the U.S. populace -- not the German courts, not the U.S. Congress -- that stops the U.S. torture program. Frederick Douglass summed it up most eloquently -- in 1849:

"If there is no struggle there is no progress. Those who profess to favor freedom, and yet depreciate agitation, are men who want crops without plowing up the ground. They want rain without thunder and lightning. They want the ocean without the awful roar of its many waters. Power concedes nothing without a demand. It never did and it never will."

The owner of Mount Misery should take heed.

Amy Goodman hosts the radio news program "Democracy Now!" Distributed by King Features Syndicate.

from Gabriel Kolko :
25 August 2006
Japanese Focus

The Great Equalizer. Lessons From Iraq and Lebanon
by Gabriel Kolko

The United States had a monopoly of nuclear weaponry only a few years before other nations challenged it, but from 1949 until roughly the 1990s deterrence theory worked­nations knew that if they used the awesome bomb they were likely to be devastated in the riposte. Despite such examples of brinkmanship as the Cuban missile crisis and numerous threats of nuclear annihilation against non-nuclear powers, by and large the few nations that possessed the bomb concluded that nuclear war was not worth its horrendous risks. Today, by contrast, weapons of mass destruction or precision and power are within the capacity of dozens of nations either to produce or purchase. With the multiplicity of weapons now available, deterrence theory is increasingly irrelevant and the equations of military power that existed in the period after World War Two no longer hold.

This process began in Korea after 1950, where the war ended in a stand off despite the nominal vast superiority of America’s military power, and the Pentagon discovered that great space combined with guerrilla warfare was more than a match for it in Vietnam, where the U.S. was defeated. Both wars caused the American military and establishment strategists to reflect on the limits of high tech warfare, and for a time it seemed as if appropriate lessons would be learned and costly errors not repeated.

The conclusion drawn from these major wars should have been that there were decisive limits to American military and political power, and that the U. S. should drastically tailor its foreign policy and cease intervening anywhere it chose to. In short, it was necessary to accept the fact that it could not guide the world as it wished to. But such a conclusion, justified by experience, was far too radical for either party to fully embrace, and defense contractors never ceased promising the ultimate new weapon. America’s leaders and military establishment in the wake of 9/11 argued that technology would rescue it from more political failures. But such illusions­fed by the technological fetishism which is the hallmark of their civilization­led to the Iraq debacle.

There has now been a qualitative leap in technology that makes all inherited conventional wisdom, and war as an instrument of political policy, utterly irrelevant, not just to the U.S. but to any other nation that embarks upon it.

Technology is now moving much faster than the diplomatic and political resources or will to control its inevitable consequences­not to mention traditional strategic theories. Hezbollah has far better and more lethal rockets than it had a few years ago, and American experts believe that the Iranians compelled them to keep in reserve the far more powerful and longer range cruise missiles they already possess. Iran itself possesses large quantities of these missiles and American experts believe they may very well be capable of destroying aircraft carrier battle groups. All attempts to devise defenses against these rockets, even the most primitive, have been expensive failures, and anti-missile technology everywhere has remained, after decades of effort and billions of dollars, unreliable. [1]


Even more ominous, the U. S. Army has just released a report that light water reactors--which 25 nations, from Armenia to Slovenia as well as Spain, already have and are covered by no existing arms control treaties­can be used to obtain near weapons-grade plutonium easily and cheaply. [2] Within a few years, many more countries than the present ten or so­the Army study thinks Saudi Arabia and even Egypt most likely--will have nuclear bombs and far more destructive and accurate rockets and missiles. Weapons-poor fighters will have far more sophisticated guerilla tactics as well as far more lethal equipment, which deprives the heavily equipped and armed nations of the advantages of their overwhelming firepower, as demonstrated in Afghanistan and Iraq. The battle between a few thousand Hezbullah fighters and a massive, ultra-modern Israeli army backed and financed by the U.S. proves this. Among many things, the war in Lebanon is a window of the future. The outcome suggests that either the Israelis cease their policy of destruction and intimidation, and accept the political prerequisites of peace with the Arab world, or they too will eventually be devastated by cheaper and more accurate missiles and nuclear weapons in the hands of at least two Arab nations and Iran.

What is now occurring in the Middle East reveals lessons just as relevant in the future to festering problems in East Asia, Latin America, Africa and elsewhere. Access to nuclear weapons, cheap missiles of greater portability and accuracy, and the inherent limits of all antimissile systems, will set the context for whatever crises arise in North Korea, Iran, Taiwan…or Venezuela. Trends which increase the limits of technology in warfare are not only applicable to relations between nations but also to groups within them­ranging from small conspiratorial entities up the scale of size to large guerilla movements. The events in the Middle East have proven that warfare has changed dramatically everywhere, and American hegemony can now be successfully challenged throughout the globe.

Iranian Missile Exercise

American power has been dependent to a large extent on its highly mobile navy. But ships are increasingly vulnerable to missiles, and while they are a long way from finished they are more-and-more circumscribed tactically and, ultimately, strategically. There is a greater balance-of-power militarily, the reemergence of a kind of deterrence that means all future wars will be increasingly protracted, expensive­and very costly politically to politicians who blunder into wars with illusions they will be short and decisive. Olmert and Peretz are very likely to lose power in Israel, and destroying Lebanon will not save their political futures. This too is a message not likely to be lost on politicians.

To this extent, what is emerging is a new era of more equal rivals. Enforceable universal disarmament of every kind of weapon would be far preferable. But short of this presently unattainable goal, this emergence of a new equivalency is a vital factor leading less to peace in the real meaning of that term than perhaps to greater prudence. Such restraint could be an important factor leading to less war.

We live with 21st century technology and also with primitive political attitudes, nationalisms of assorted sorts, and cults of heroism and irrationality existing across the political spectrum and the power spectrum. The world will destroy itself unless it realistically confronts the new technological equations. Israel must now accept this reality, and if it does not develop the political skills required to make serious compromises, this new equation warrants that it will be liquidated even as it rains destruction on its enemies.

This is the message of the conflicts in Gaza, the West Bank, and Lebanon­to use only the examples in today’s papers. Walls are no longer protection for the Israelis­one shoots over them. Their much-vaunted Merkava tanks have proven highly vulnerable to new weapons that are becoming more and more common and are soon likely to be in Palestinian hands as well. At least 20 of the tanks were seriously damaged or destroyed.

L'image « http://japanfocus.org/images/UserFiles/Image/2203.bajpaee.asia.water.wars/is.missilesbeirut.jpg » ne peut être affichée, car elle contient des erreurs.
Israeli missiles target Beirut

The U.S. war in Iraq is a political disaster against the guerrillas­a half trillion dollars spent there and in Afghanistan have left America on the verge of defeat in both places. The “shock and awe” military strategy has utterly failed save to produce contracts for weapons makers­indeed, it has also contributed heavily to de facto U.S. economic bankruptcy.

The Bush Administration has deeply alienated more of America’s nominal allies than any government in modern times. The Iraq war and subsequent conflict in Lebanon have left its Middle East policy in shambles and made Iranian strategic predominance even more likely, all of which was predicted before the Iraq invasion. Its coalitions, as Thomas Ricks shows in his wordy but utterly convincing and critical book, Fiasco: The American Military Adventure in Iraq, are finished. Its sublime confidence and reliance on the power of its awesome weaponry is a crucial cause of its failure, although we cannot minimize its preemptory hubris and nationalist myopia. The United States, whose costliest political and military adventures since 1950 have ended in failure, now must face the fact that the technology for confronting its power is rapidly becoming widespread and cheap. It is within the reach of not merely states but of relatively small groups of people. Destructive power is now virtually “democratized.” [3}

If the challenges of producing a realistic concept of the world that confronts the mounting dangers and limits of military technology seriously are not resolved soon, recognizing that a decisive equality of military power is today in the process of being re-imposed, there is nothing more than wars and mankind’s eventual destruction to look forward to.

[1] Mark Williams, “The Missiles of August: The Lebanon War and the democratization of missile technology,” Technology Review {MIT}, August 16, 2006.

[2] Henry Sokolski, ed., Taming the Next Set of Strategic Weapons Threats, U.S. Army Strategic Studies Institute, June 2006, pp. 33ff., 86.

[3] For another compelling dimension of the more level playing field in battlefield communications, see Iason Athanasiadis, "How hi-tech Hezbollah called the shots," Asia Times, September 9, 2006.

Gabriel Kolko is the leading historian of modern warfare. His latest book is The Age of War. He wrote this article for Japan Focus. Posted at Japan Focus on August 25, 2006; updated September 9, 2006.

from Robert Fisk :
22 November 2006
The Independent

Civil war In Lebanon

by Robert Fisk in Beirut

Civil war - the words on all our lips yesterday. Pierre Gemayel's murder - in broad daylight, in a Christian suburb of Beirut, his car blocked mafia-style by another vehicle while his killer fired through the driver's window into the head of Lebanon's minister of industry - was a message for all of us who live in this tragic land.

For days, we had been debating whether it was time for another political murder to ratchet up the sectarian tensions now that the democratically elected government of Prime Minister Fouad Siniora was about to fall. For days now, the political language of Lebanon had been incendiary, the threats and bullying of the political leaders ever more fearsome. Sayed Hassan Nasrallah, the Shia Hizbollah leader, had been calling Siniora's cabinet illegitimate. "The government of Feltman," he was calling it - Jeffrey Feltman is the US ambassador to Lebanon - while the Druze leader Walid Jumblatt was claiming Iran was trying to take over.

Yesterday's assassination of Pierre Gemayel was a warning. It might have been Jumblatt, who has told me many times that he constantly awaits his own death, or it might have been Siniora himself, the little economist and friend of the also murdered former prime minister Rafik Hariri.

But no. Gemayel, son of ex-president Amin Gemayel and nephew of the murdered president-elect, Bashir Gemayel - murder tends to run in the family in Lebanon - was no charismatic figure, just a hard-working unmarried Christian Maronite minister whose unrewarding task had been to call émigré Lebanese home to rebuild their country after Israel's bloody bombardment.

The fires burnt in the streets of Christian east Beirut last night and there were hundreds of young and occasionally armed young men in the neighbourhood of Jdeideh, where Gemayel was killed. "I want no revenge," his father Amin pleaded in front of the hospital where his body lay. But violence crackles through the air in a city where four anti-Syrian politicians and journalists have been assassinated in 21 months.

Gemayel, too, was a harsh critic of Syria, which was one reason why Hariri's son Saad - leader of the March 14th movement which controls parliament - blamed Damascus for his death.

Yet nothing happens by accident in Lebanon and political detectives - as opposed to the police kind who most assuredly will not find Gemayel's killers - have to look beyond this country's frontiers to understand why ghosts may soon climb out of the mass graves of the civil war.

Why did Gemayel die just hours after Syria announced the restoration of diplomatic relations with Iraq after a quarter of a century? Why has Nasrallah threatened street demonstrations in Beirut to bring down the government when Siniora's cabinet had just accepted the UN's tribunal to try Hariri's assassins?

And why did America's UN ambassador, John Bolton, weep crocodile tears for Lebanon's democracy - which he cared so little about when Israel smashed into Lebanon this summer - without mentioning Syria?

All this, of course, takes place as thousands of Western troops pour into Lebanon to shore up the UN force in the south of the country: UN troops who are supposed to protect Israel (which they cannot do) and disarm Hizbollah (which they will not do) and who are already being threatened by al-Qa'ida.

No wonder the Europeans, whose armoured Nato forces now lie trapped in the south of the country, are so fearful. No wonder the Foreign Office has been telling Britons to stay away. No wonder Tony Blair - as discredited in the Middle East as he is in Britain - has been demanding an inquiry into Gemayel's assassination, something he will not get.

Hypocrisy isn't the word for it, though recent history provides all the clues. When Hizbollah captured two Israeli soldiers and killed three on 12 July, Israel bombed Lebanon for 34 days, slaughtered more than a thousand civilians and caused billions of dollars of damage. It blamed Siniora's government and Mr Bolton and his fellow American diplomats did nothing to help the hapless prime minister. President George Bush wanted Israel to destroy Hizbollah - which they totally failed to do - as a warning to his latest Middle East target, which just happens to be Hizbollah's principal supporter, Iran. So much for Lebanese democracy. Even Mr Blair, so anxious about Lebanon yesterday, saw no reason for an immediate ceasefire.

In the aftermath of the war and the failure of all Israel's war aims, Sayed Nasrallah began to boast that he had won a "divine victory" and that Siniora's government had failed. Hizbollah, of course, is also Syria's friend and no one was surprised that the anti-Syrian government came under the lash of the Shia prelate whose giant billboard posters across Lebanon suggest he is suffering the cult of personality.

Twelve days ago, all six Shia ministers left the cabinet, leaving the largest religious sect in Lebanon unrepresented in government. Last Monday, Siniora's government - Gemayel included - approved the UN's plans for a tribunal to try Hariri's killers, whom most Lebanese suspect were working for the Syrians. But without the presence of the Shia, their decision may have no legal status. Nasrallah began to call for street demonstrations.

If he is the creature of Syria and Iran - and the Lebanese are still debating this while Nasrallah denies it - there could have been no better way of striking at Lebanon's anti-Syrian government. "We can have no confidence in this government because it obeys the orders of the US administration," Nasrallah announced. "... the cabinet has received an order from the US embassy assuring them that American policy in the region has not changed. The Americans told them: 'We are with you - don't give up!'"

Nasrallah chided those who claimed he was trying to create a crisis between Shia and Sunni Muslims, although many fear that their own religious divisions reflect, in faint and phantom form, the blood-drenched sectarianism of Iraq.

And does America really support Siniora, whose cabinet may now be in its death throes? At the UN, Mr Bolton loudly supported it yesterday while desperately avoiding the use of the word Syria. That almost certainly means Washington does at last realise that it will need the help of Damascus - as well as Tehran - to pull its tanks and troops out of the slough of Iraq.

Beside America's catastrophe in Mesopotamia, the democracy of Lebanon and Siniora's government doesn't amount to the proverbial hill of beans - as Syria and Iran are well aware. And Syria, yesterday, resumed diplomatic relations with the American-supported government of Iraq.

Today, Lebanon celebrates - it would be difficult to find a more lugubrious word on such an occasion - its 63rd year of independence from France, whose troops again patrol southern Lebanon. And Siniora's government still - just - exists. With Gemayel gone, however, it would only need the loss of two more cabinet ministers to destroy the legitimacy of his Shia-less cabinet and close down Lebanese democracy.

The Lebanese may be too mature for another civil war. But ministers might be well advised to avoid driving their ministerial cars along the highways of Beirut for the next few days lest someone blocks their way and fires through the driver's window.

© 2006 Independent News and Media Limited

from TruthOut :
24 November 2006

New video and photographic evidence that puts three senior CIA operatives at the scene of Robert Kennedy's assassination has been brought to light. The evidence was shown in a report by Shane O'Sullivan, broadcast on BBC Newsnight. It reveals that the operatives and four unidentified associates were at the Ambassador Hotel, Los Angeles in the moments before and after the shooting on 5 June, 1968.

BBC Claims CIA Involvement in RFK Assassination

from Robert Fisk :
23 November 2006
Information Clearing House

Gemayel's mourners know that in Lebanon nothing is what it seems
by Robert Fisk

In the house of mourning, an old Lebanese home of cut stone, they did not show Pierre Gemayel's body. They had sealed the lid - so terribly damaged was his face by the bullets which killed him - as if the nightmares of Lebanon might thus be kept away in the darkness of the grave.

But the Maronites and Greek Orthodox, the Druze and - yes - the Muslims who came to pay their condolences to Gemayel's wife, Patricia, and his broken father, Amin, wept copiously beside the flag-draped casket. They understood the horrors that could unfold in the coming days and their dignity was a refusal to accept that possibility.

Down in Beirut, I had been watching the Lebanese detectives - they who had never solved a single one of Lebanon's multitude of political murders - photographing the bullet holes in the pale blue Kia car which Gemayel had been driving, 13 rounds through the driver's window, six of which had broken out through the passenger door after tearing through the Lebanese Minister of Industry's head and that of his bodyguard. But in the family home town of Bikfaya, mountain cold with fir trees and off-season roses and new Phalangist banners of triangular cedars, the black huddle of mourners spoke of legal punishment rather than revenge for Gemayel's murder.

It was a heartening moment. And who would have imagined the day - back in the civil war that now haunts us all again - that the Druze could enter this holiest of holies in safety and in friendship to express their sorrow at the death of a man whose Uncle Bashir was the fiercest and most brutal enemy of the Druze?

Bashir's best friend Massoud Ashkar, a militia officer in those dark and terrible days, spoke movingly of the need for Lebanese unity and for justice. "We know the Syrians killed people during the war," he said to me. "We are waiting to find out who killed Sheikh Pierre. These people wanted to restart a civil war. We must know who these people are."

Ah, but there is perdition in such hopes. With the sadness of those who still expect recovery when all such possibility has been taken away, some of the local Christians gathered in the Beirut suburb of Jdeideh where the three killers had blasted away their MP on Tuesday afternoon. His car, Lebanese registration number 201881, the hood smashed upwards where it had been rammed by the gunmen's Honda CRV at 3.35pm and its rear still embedded in the van of a waterproofing company into which it rolled when Gemayel died at the wheel, was photographed a hundred times by the cops. They were watched silently by the men and women who, less than 24 hours before, had not heard the silenced pistol which killed him, and thought at first that the minister was the victim of a road accident. No one would give their name, of course. You don't do that in Lebanon now.

"I was asleep when I heard some very mild sounds, like gunshots but not loud enough," a white-haired man told me on the balcony of the old family home where he was born. "Then I heard a crash and several real gunshots. I got up, put on my clothes but didn't see any gunmen. A neighbour went over and came back and told me it was Sheikh Pierre and then I saw him carried from his car covered in blood and put in the back of a van."

Scarcely an hour earlier, Pierre Gemayel had been up in Bikfaya, only 200 metres from where his body lay yesterday, honouring the ominous statue of his grandfather - also Pierre - who had founded the Phalangist party which his grandson represented in parliament.

No one mentioned, of course, that this same old granddad Gemayel, a humble football coach, had created the Phalangists as a paramilitary organisation after being inspired - so he told me himself before he died in 1984 - by his visit to the 1936 Nazi Olympics in Hitler's Germany. As usual, such uneasy details had long ago been wiped from the narrative of Lebanese history - and from our journalistic accounts of the grandson's death this week.

Pierre Gemayel Jnr, however, had been an earnest MP as the witness to his death made clear. "You see that house over there with the awnings?" he asked me. "Well an old lady had died there and Sheikh Pierre was coming here to express his condolences to the family." The dead woman's home was scarcely 30 metres from where Gemayel's car had come to rest. He must have been slowing down to turn into the side road. Everyone here knew he was coming to the house on Tuesday morning, so the neighbours said, which meant - although they did not say this, of course - that he had been betrayed. The murderers were waiting for the good MP to pay his condolences, knowing that the man's own family would be receiving condolences themselves a day later. They didn't even wear face masks and coldly shot a shopkeeper who saw them.

The Lebanese have been responding to the international outcry over Gemayel's murder with somewhat less rhetoric than President George Bush, whose promise "to support the Siniora government and its democracy" was greeted with the scorn it deserved. This, after all, was the same George Bush who had watched in silence this summer as the Israelis abused Siniora's democratic government and bombed Lebanon for 34 days, killing more than a thousand of its civilians. And the Lebanese knew what to make of Tony Blair's remark - he who also delayed a ceasefire that would have saved countless lives here - when he said that "we need to do everything we can to protect democracy in Lebanon". It was a long-retired Christian militiaman, a rival of the Gemayel clan, who put it succinctly. "They don't care a damn about us," he said.

That little matter of the narrative - and who writes it - remained a problem yesterday, as the Western powers pointed their fingers at Syria. Yes, all five leading Lebanese men murdered in the past 20 months were anti-Syrian. And it's a bit like saying "the butler did it". Wouldn't a vengeful Syria strike at the independence of Lebanon by killing a minister? Yes. But then, what would be the best way of undermining the new and boastful power of the pro-Syrian Hizbollah, the Shia guerrilla army which has demanded the resignation of Siniora's cabinet? By killing a government minister, knowing that many Lebanese would blame the murder on Syria's Hizbollah allies?

Living in Lebanon, you learn these semantic tricks through a kind of looking glass. Nothing here ever happens by accident. But whatever does happen is never quite like what you first think it to be. So the Lebanese at Bikfaya understood yesterday as they gathered and talked of unity. For if only the Lebanese stopped putting their faith in foreigners - the Americans, the Israelis, the British, the Iranians, the French, the United Nations - and trusted each other instead, they would banish the nightmares of civil war sealed inside Pierre Gemayel's coffin.

Assassination timeline

22 November 2006

PM Fouad Siniora asks UN to help investigate Pierre Gemayel's death.

21 November

Gemayel is shot as his convoy drives through Beirut, raising fears of civil war.

11 November

Five pro-Syrian Shia ministers resign after collapse of talks on giving their camp more say in government.

31 October

Hizbollah's leader, Hassan Nasrallah, vows peaceful protests demanding elections unless there is a national unity government.

12 July ­ 14 August

Hizbollah captures two Israeli soldiers. At least 1,200 Lebanese and 157 Israelis are killed in conflict.

12 December 2005

Gebran Tueni, anti-Syrian MP and journalist, is killed.

12 October

Ghazi Kanaan, Syria's interior minister, "commits suicide" as UN investigates.

21 June

George Hawi, anti-Syrian ex-Communist leader, is killed.

19 June

Anti-Syrian alliance led by Hariri's son, Saad, wins poll.

June 2

Samir Kassir, anti-Syrian journalist, is killed.

26 April

Syrian troops leave Lebanon.

14 February

Rafik Hariri, former prime minister, and 22 others are killed by truck bomb.