January 31, 2007

The Racism We Refuse to See

Has there ever been a person in public life who projects such an overwhelming sense of pomposity and the absolute and certain knowledge that every word he speaks is Sanctified Wisdom from On High, while simultaneously uttering the most shatteringly stupid statements, as Joe Biden? One has the feeling that he believes that, if he were to be taken from our presence, all life on this planet would immediately cease and the Earth, and perhaps the entire universe, would vanish completely in a moment. Biden is not only the Transmitter of Knowledge, but the ultimate Giver of Life Itself.

Since he is, after all, the man who delivered a eulogy for Strom Thurmond ("The truth and genius and virtue of Strom Thurmond is what I choose and we all choose to remember today."), Biden's recent remarks should come as no surprise. It is irrelevant in this context that Thurmond may have played a role of some significance in Biden's own life. All our actions matter, and our public actions carry particular significance. Thurmond was one of the most vicious racists in our recent history. To praise him publicly, while sanitizing his hateful and destructive record with nauseating sentimentality, is to grant him a respectability he never deserved, and should not have been accorded. If Biden had personal ties that mattered to him, he could have declined the request and paid his respects privately. Would you have delivered a public eulogy for Thurmond? If so, please don't introduce yourself to me if our paths should cross.

You've already seen it a hundred times, but for the sake of completeness here, this is what Biden said about Obama, after detailing what he considers to be Hillary Clinton's faults:
Mr. Biden is equally skeptical — albeit in a slightly more backhanded way — about Mr. Obama. "I mean, you got the first mainstream African-American who is articulate and bright and clean and a nice-looking guy," he said. "I mean, that's a storybook, man."
And the predictable "debate" ensues: Just how awful is this? Is Biden merely dumb as a box of rocks, which stupidity leads him to make ungraspably offensive and patronizing remarks? Or, heaven forfend, did the writer leave out a comma? Or is Biden actually, really, truly a racist? One wonders if those liberals so carefully weighing the precise meaning of Biden's words would manifest the same measured care if the words had been spoken by a Republican. Well, no: one doesn't wonder for a moment.

Back here on solid ground, I note the following: of course Biden's remarks were racist in nature. "Articulate," "bright" and "a nice-looking guy" might proceed from Biden's conviction that he is the final source of judgment, and that he is uniquely qualified to evaluate the strengths and weaknesses of others. "Clean" falls into a very different category. Those people just aren't like us, don't you know. They're lazy, shiftless, and dirty. They don't clean up after themselves. They're barely presentable in public. I wouldn't be at all surprised to learn that Biden heard the vile phrase, "dirty nigger," many times in his life, and perhaps he used it himself more than once. Such phrases carry descriptive as well as moral meaning. And he did spend a lot of time with Thurmond. It might be illuminating to know what his other friends and acquaintances are like, and what their attitudes are on this subject.

"Clean" is simply not a word that pops into your head in this context -- unless you hold a viciously false view of what those people are really like. Case closed. [As I'm about to post this, I see that Biden is now "explaining" this by referring to the common phrase his mother supposedly often used: "Clean as a whistle and sharp as a tack..." Dear God. Biden's own phrase was: "clean and a nice-looking guy..." Translation: "That darkie cleaned up good!" And remember the Thurmond eulogy.]

The fact that a very prominent national politician has obviously "unreformed" racist attitudes deeply troubles us, as it should, and as is evident from all the nonsense being nattered about the precise significance of Biden's comments. It is rather astonishing that people are taken aback in this manner: vicious racists are hardly unknown in our political life, and they are numerous in both political parties. Moreover, with the ascension of people like Michelle Malkin and Charles Murray into our national discourse, naked racism has become a staple of our debates. Malkin justifies racism in the name of "national security," while Murray seeks to "explain" it with "science" -- but it is all racism.

We are troubled by a still deeper conflict, between our preferred vision of ourselves and the facts of our history. We see ourselves as citizens of the greatest and most civilized nation in all of history. Our nation is also the most moral country in history, and we as individuals are exemplars of personal virtue. The United States represents Absolute Good, or as close to it as humanity will come. (I've discussed this mythology in a number of essays. See, for example, "The National Myth that Sustains Us -- and Its Inevitable Racism," "A 'Redeemer Nation,' with Some Explaining to Do," and "Myths of New Orleans.")

People who are Good cannot be racists. Obviously, many of us are. What to do.

This sanitized version of our history ignores or unforgivably minimizes the genocide of Native Americans, the slaughter and enslavement of African-Americans, a century following the Civil War of government-enforced segregation, discrimination against Jews, the Irish, Italians, Germans, and Hispanic immigrants today -- yet all of this is set aside so the myth can continue.

It also ignores another manifestation of the racism that inevitably proceeds from our mythologized self-assessment: the racism that has permeated our foreign policy for over a hundred years. We forget this (from Hampton Sides' book, Blood and Thunder: An Epic of the American West, excerpted here):
Perhaps to dignify the nakedness of Polk's land lust, the American citizenry had got itself whipped into an idealistic frenzy, believing with an almost religious assurance that its republican form of government and its constitutional freedoms should extend to the benighted reaches of the continent then held by Mexico, which, with its feudal customs and Popish superstitions, stood squarely in the way of Progress. To conquer Mexico, in other words, would be to do it a favor.
And we forget this:
To the American people, McKinley explained that, almost against his will, he had been led to make the decision to annex [the Philippines]: "There was nothing left for us to do but to take them all, and educate the Filipinos, and uplift and civilize and christianize them as our fellow-men for whom Christ also died." McKinley was either unaware of or simply chose not to inform the people that, except for some Muslim tribesmen in the south, the Filipinos were Roman Catholics, and, therefore, by most accounts, already Christians.
And we forget this:
Theodore Roosevelt wrote to the poet of empire, Rudyard Kipling, that before he could deal with the Philippines, he had to deal with "the jack-fools who seriously think that any group of pirates and head-hunters needs nothing but independence in order that it may be turned forthwith into a dark-hued New England town meeting." William Howard Taft, who became the Philippine commissioner in 1900, referred to "our little brown brothers," and contended they would require "fifty or one hundred years" of close supervision "to develop anything resembling Anglo-Saxon political principles and skills."
We saw the most virulent strain of racism unleashed against Germans during World War I, and against the Japanese in World War II.

Our current imperial project reveals that these attitudes have never left us. They are held by both Democrats and Republicans. For example, I wrote the following about a NYT op-ed piece by John Kerry:
[L]ike the parent who decides that the first brutal beating wasn't enough, Kerry insists that "Iraqi leaders have responded only to deadlines." You see, they're simply children who are misbehaving -- so we need to give a few more orders, and make sure they understand that we mean it this time:
Iraqi politicians should be told that they have until May 15 to put together an effective unity government or we will immediately withdraw our military. If Iraqis aren't willing to build a unity government in the five months since the election, they're probably not willing to build one at all. The civil war will only get worse, and we will have no choice anyway but to leave.

If Iraq's leaders succeed in putting together a government, then we must agree on another deadline: a schedule for withdrawing American combat forces by year's end.

The nauseating depths of the Western conviction of its own "exceptionalism" and its unquestionable "right" to coerce the rest of the world to act as we demand are revealed in Kerry's final paragraph:
For three years now, the administration has told us that terrible things will happen if we get tough with the Iraqis. In fact, terrible things are happening now because we haven't gotten tough enough. With two deadlines, we can change all that. We can put the American leadership on the side of our soldiers and push the Iraqi leadership to do what only it can do: build a democracy.
Let me repeat the only fundamental point that matters here: we have no right to be in Iraq in the first place. Since we have no right to be there at all, by what damnable "right" are we entitled to get "tougher" with the Iraqis? Endless violence, instantaneous death or dismemberment, the inability to live any kind of normal existence, and the destruction of an entire country are the "gifts" we have brought to Iraq. And now we're going to get "tougher"? To call this sickening does not even begin to capture the degree of immorality and dishonesty involved.

Kerry's approach thus veers perilously and disgustingly close to the American military commander who said toward the end of 2003: "You have to understand the Arab mind. ... The only thing they understand is force — force, pride and saving face."
This paternalism and condescension -- which proceeds directly from our racism, which posits that we are uniquely "exceptional" and no other peoples in the world can equal our achievements and nobility -- reaches its apotheosis in Bush's recent statement (noted in my essay, "Yes, I Want the United States to Lose"):
I am proud of the efforts we did. We liberated that country from a tyrant. I think the Iraqi people owe the American people a huge debt of gratitude, and I believe most Iraqis express that. I mean, the people understand that we've endured great sacrifice to help them. That's the problem here in America. They wonder whether or not there is a gratitude level that's significant enough in Iraq.
But we deny all of this, so convinced are we that our "exceptionalism" is axiomatic and unchallengeable.

Biden is harshly criticized (when he is) only because he revealed our sickeningly primitive attitudes in a manner that renders them too obvious to deny. Meanwhile, we invade and occupy nations that never threatened us, while we tell the entire rest of the world how we will permit it to conduct itself. We condemn the individual instance of blatant racism that cannot be overlooked (although some still try to mitigate it) -- but the racism that is an inextricable part of our foreign policy for over a hundred years is denied by almost everyone.

We treat other nations and peoples with contempt and derision, as ill-behaved, ignorant children who have to be taught manners and all of civilization at the end of a gun, and still many of us wonder "why they hate us."

If we were capable of taking the full and accurate measure of our actions and our attitudes, if we assessed ourselves in any manner even close to the way the rest of the world does -- and with full justification -- we would not wonder at all.

Biden provided a very small window onto the much more significant problem. As in all such cases, the brief glimpse of the truth will be quickly brushed aside. After all, we're not like that. We're America the Good. Such faults are not ours.

Our national self-delusion is all-encompassing. One day, it may finally be fatal.

UPDATE: Becaused I was focused on other issues, I didn't discuss the obvious and revealing historical inaccuracy of Biden's comments; I took that inaccuracy for granted. I see that Obama himself pointed out Biden's seeming ignorance of the relevant (and recent) history in his response, but that response raises further problems. Obama "didn't take Senator Biden's comments personally..."? For at least several reasons that come immediately to mind, it's very interesting that Obama thought he needed to say that. I'll have some additional observations about the remarks from both Biden and Obama in the next few days.

"A Festering Wound"

Offered for the edification of those who erroneously believe these kinds of abuses only began with the bogus "War on Terror":
A federal immigration judge has dismissed the government's attempt to deport two men who were arrested along with six other U.S. residents because of their alleged ties to Palestinian terrorists and who fought relentless efforts to force them to leave the country for 20 years.

Judge Bruce E. Einhorn of Los Angeles, in a ruling made public Tuesday, said the government had violated the constitutional rights of Khader M. Hamide and Michel I. Shehadeh by its "gross failure" to comply with his instructions to produce "potentially exculpatory and other relevant information."

In a scathing decision, Einhorn said the government's conduct in the case was "an embarrassment to the rule of law" that left "a festering wound on" Hamide and Shehadeh, who have been in legal and personal limbo for two decades.

The two men, both longtime legal residents of the United States, are part of a group that was dubbed "the L.A. 8" after the government launched attempts to deport them in January 1987. All eight denied that they were members of the Popular Front for the Liberation of Palestine, or PFLP, a radical offshoot of the Palestine Liberation Organization that has taken credit for airline hijackings and car bombings in the Middle East.

Hamide and Shehadeh, as well as the others, steadfastly maintained that they were being persecuted even though their political activities — distributing newspapers, participating in demonstrations, assisting Palestinians with human rights and medical needs, raising money for hospitals, youth clubs and day-care centers — were lawful.

Einhorn's ruling "is a great decision that really vindicates what we have said all along," a jubilant Hamide said in an interview Tuesday. "The government spent millions of dollars and thousands of hours trying to deport us, and the only things they ever accused us of were constitutionally protected activity.

"The government should drop this case and leave us alone to lead normal lives — if there is such a thing after a case like this — and pursue real terrorists," said Hamide, 52...
And please note this, which is now all too familiar from the many cases of alleged terrorists imprisoned for years, and against whom no charges are ever filed:
Prosecutors never filed criminal charges against any of the eight. Late last year, Aiad Barakat, another member of the L.A. 8, was sworn in as a U.S. citizen in Los Angeles. Three other members of the L.A. 8 have obtained permanent residency. One member of the group is still seeking that status, and the other has returned to the West Bank city of Bethlehem.
This story of an out of control government is awful in every respect, but the following may be its most terrifying aspect in terms of the principle at stake:
[G]overnment lawyers twice persuaded Congress to change laws and make them retroactive in an effort to be able to deport the two men, said San Francisco attorney Marc Van Der Hout of the National Lawyers Guild, who has represented them for 20 years.
Congress changed laws that were made retroactive -- specifically to go after these particular individuals. So much for that "archaic" notion of a government of laws, that is, laws designating anything more than merely empty forms used to persecute those the government regards as "undesirable."

Finally, there is this:
Added Georgetown University law professor David Cole, who has been co-lead counsel for the L.A. 8, on behalf of the Center for Constitutional Rights, since the case began: "For 20 years the government has been attempting to deport these individuals for political activities that would clearly be protected if they were U.S. citizens. We hope that the government will now move on and focus its efforts on real terrorists and not political activists."
They will hope in vain.

January 30, 2007

The Arrogance of Empire

Then (from David Fromkin's A Peace to End All Peace: The Fall of the Ottoman Empire and the Creation of the Modern Middle East, excerpted in my essay, Narcissism and Paternalism as Foreign Policy):
As you will see when you read the book, Middle Eastern personalities, circumstances, and political cultures do not figure a great deal in the narrative that follows, except when I suggest the outlines and dimensions of what European politicians were ignoring when they made their decisions. This is a book about the decision-making process, and in the 1914-22 period, Europeans and Americans were the only ones seated around the table when the decisions were made.

It was an era in which Middle Eastern countries and frontiers were fabricated in Europe. Iraq and what we now call Jordan, for example, were British inventions, lines drawn on an empty map by British politicians after the First World War; while the boundaries of Saudi Arabia, Kuwait, and Iraq were established by a British civil servant in 1922, and the frontiers between Moslems and Christians were drawn by France in Syria-Lebanon and by Russia on the borders of Armenia and Soviet Azerbaijan.

The European powers at that time believed they could change Moslem Asia in the very fundamentals of its political existence, and in their attempt to do so introduced an artificial state system into the Middle East that has made it into a region of countries that have not become nations even today. The basis of political life in the Middle East -- religion -- was called into question by the Russians, who proposed communism, and by the British, who proposed nationalism or dynastic loyalty, in its place. Khomeini's Iran in the Shi'ite world and the Moslem Brotherhood in Egypt, Syria, and elsewhere iin the Sunni world keep that issue alive. The French government, which in the Middle East did allow religion to be the basis of politics -- even of its own -- championed one sect against the others; and that, too, is an issue kept alive, notably in the communal strife that has ravaged Lebanon in the 1970s and 1980s.

The year 1922 seems to me to have been the point of no return in setting the various clans of the Middle East on their collision courses, so that the especial interest and excitement of the years with which this book is concerned, 1914 through 1922, is that they were the creative, formative years, in which everything seemed (and may indeed have been) possible. It was a time when Europeans, not implausibly, believed Arab and Jewish nationalism to be natural allies; when the French, not the Arabs, were the dangerous enemies of the Zionist movement; and when oil was not an important factor in the politics of the Middle East.

By 1922, however, the choices had narrowed and the courses had been set; the Middle East had started along a road that was to lead to the endless wars (between Israel and her neighbors, among others, and between rival militias in Lebanon) and to the always-escalating acts of terrorism (hijacking, assassination, and random massacre) that have been a characteristic feature of international life in the 1970s and 1980s. These are a part of the legacy of the history counted in the pages that follow.
PARIS: Former U.S. envoy to the United Nations John Bolton said in an interview published in France that the United States has "no strategic interest" in a united Iraq.


Bolton suggested in the interview that the United States shouldn't necessarily keep Iraq from splitting up. The Bush administration and the Iraqi government have said they don't want Iraq divided.

"The United States has no strategic interest in the fact that there's one Iraq, or three Iraqs," he was quoted as saying. "We have a strategic interest in the fact of ensuring that what emerges is not a state in complete collapse, which could become a refuge for terrorists or a terrorist state."
I will not be at all surprised if one day soon, the Bush administration officially adopts Bolton's line: this may become the unavoidable result of the forces we have set in motion. The Iraqi government will act within the limits of what we permit, although the apologists for empire will suitably camouflage that brute reality for public consumption.

What We have joined together, We shall put asunder. Words fail.

To Change the World

I'm in the middle of writing a couple of new essays. In the meantime, I've gotten drawn (again) into a comment thread over at IOZ's Club for Radical Recreation and Enlightenment. The comments follow this post; I've addressed many of the same issues in my Dominion Over the World series (and in other articles), and will be exploring them in still more detail shortly.

But I think the following comments are worth reprinting here. My original title for this post was, "What the Democrats Can and Should Do Right Now," but then I decided to broaden my focus somewhat. First, here is what I said at IOZ's place:
[Another commenter] wants some specifics. Good, so do I. The Democrats could start with the program set forth here. Note Lindorff's conclusion:

"One thing is certain: If the Democrats, having control of both House and Senate, fail to act on these three critical issues - ending the war, revoking the president's claim to dictatorial powers, and initiating impeachment proceedings - they will have sealed their fate come 2008 as an anachronism, not a party, and will deserve to be abandoned by all thinking voters."

There *are* significant actions the Democrats could take *right now*. Those three would be a wonderful start. But the Democrats won't lead on any of them. The critical question is: *Why* won't they?

The answer is very simple: they don't want to dismantle the mechanisms of massive government power. They only want to make certain they control those mechanisms *themselves*. That is, of course, another way of saying that the system itself is the problem. And the Democrats, as one of the deeply embedded institutions of power, are part of that system.

More to come on all this in coming days at my place...
If pigs began to fly and the Democrats showed some leadership, there is one other issue they desperately need to address: Iran.

They should rescind the Iraq authorization of force resolution (Lindorff's reference is to the earlier one, passed right after 9/11 -- both should be burned to a crisp), since Bush uses the authorizations to maintain that he already has authority to attack Iran (and anyone else he chooses). And they should pass resolutions stating that, if Bush attacks Iran in the absence of a Congressional Declaration of War (remember those?), that will be grounds for immediate impeachment.

And they should draft articles of impeachment NOW, just in case they need them. And they should publish them in every major newspaper, and read them on television every night.

I have still more specifics, but that should get them going.
Let me add another critical paragraph from the Lindorff piece:
The truth is that Democrats could, if they had any principle and if they honored the wishes of the electorate, bring U.S. involvement in the Iraq War to a screeching halt. How? They could vote to cut off all funding for the Iraq War except for the costs of safely withdrawing all troops from the country. Nobody could accuse them, were they to do this, with putting American troops at risk. But they would have to face those who would accuse them of "cutting and running."
That last point is the one thing the Democrats absolutely refuse to do.

What I wouldn't give for one prominent leader with the profound courage of Robert La Follette. Just one. He or she could save us from what could easily be a catastrophe beyond our worst imaginings.

At the end of his excellent essay, in part explaining why the Democratic Party as currently constituted is a critical part of the immense problem we now face and not a route to salvation, IOZ writes:
The project of altering the fundamental perceptions and premises underlying the American popular consciousness is a long one. Possibly it is futile. But the idea that the American electorate -- the American mind, if such a thing exists -- is currently capable of supporting or sustaining meaningful, essential, fundamental change is a fantasy and nothing more. The nature of our problems and the scope of our wrongdoing is entirely beyond the farthest boundaries of ordinary discussion in America today. The first step toward change is to expand the capacity of Americans to imagine something different. Slow, quixotic, and likely hopeless. But that is the task at hand.
This project, to which I enthusiastically contribute my own humble efforts, may be "likely hopeless." But we don't know that -- and it may not be.

I've just started reading Adam Hochschild's book, Bury the Chains: Prophets and Rebels in the Fight to Free an Empire's Slaves, the story of how slavery was outlawed throughout most of the world within a century. Even though I have only begun it, it is enthralling and inspiring. Here is an excerpt from the book's Introduction, "Twelve Men in a Printing Shop":
Strangely, in a city where it seems that on almost every block a famous event or resident is commemorated by a blue and white glazed plaque, none marks this spot. All you can see today, after you leave the Bank station of the London Underground, walk several blocks, and then take a few steps into a courtyard, are a few low, nondescript office buildings, an ancient pub, and on the site itself, 2 George Yard, a glass and steel high-rise. Nothing remains of the bookstore and printing shop that once stood here, or recalls the spring day more than two hundred years ago when a dozen people -- a somber-looking crew, most of them not removing their high-crowned black hats -- filed through its door and sat down for a meeting. Cities build monuments to kings, prime ministers, and generals, not to citizens with no official position who once gathered in a printing shop. Yet what these citizens began rippled across the world and we feel its aftereffects still. It is no wonder that they won the admiration of the first and greatest student of what we now call civil society. The result of the series of events begun that afternoon in London, wrote Alexis de Tocqueville, was "absolutely without precedent ... If you pore over the histories of all peoples, I doubt that you will find anything more extraordinary."

To understand how momentous was this beginning, we must picture a world in which the vast majority of people are prisoners. Most of them have known no other way of life. They are not free to live or go where they want. They plant, cultivate, and harvest most of the earth's major crops. They earn no money from their labor. Their work often lasts twelve or fourteen hours a day. Many are subject to cruel whippings or other punishments if they do not work hard enough. They die young. They are not chained or bound most of the time, but they are in bondage, part of a global economy based on forced labor. Such a world would, of course, be unthinkable today.

But this was the world -- our world -- just two centuries ago, and to most people then, it was unthinkable that it could ever be otherwise. At the end of the eighteenth century, well over three quarters of all people alive were in bondage of one kind or another, not the captivity of striped prison uniforms, but of various systems of slavery or serfdom.


Looking back today, what is even more astonishing than the pervasiveness of slavery in the late 1700s is how swiftly it died. By the end of the following century, slavery was, at least on paper, outlawed almost everywhere. The antislavery movement had achieved its goal in little more than one lifetime.

This is the story of the first, pioneering wave of that campaign. Every American schoolchild learns how slaves fled Southern plantations, following the North Star on the Underground Railroad. But England is where the story really begins, and for decades it was where American abolitionists looked for inspiration and finally for proof that the colossally difficult task of uprooting slavery could be accomplished. If we were to fix one point when the crusade began, it would be the late afternoon of May 22, 1787, when twelve determined men sat down in the printing shop at 2 George Yard, amid flatbed presses, wooden trays of type, and large sheets of freshly printed book pages, to begin one of the most ambitious and brilliantly organized citizens' movements of all time.
Many additional people joined the movement as it gathered strength, but it began with just twelve men. A very small group of people can change the world. It's happened before -- and it can happen again. In fact, that is how all great changes begin. Let us make what those twelve men began in London so many years ago our guide. Let us work toward our vision of a world of peace and liberty for everyone, everywhere.

We may not live to see that vision fulfilled to any significant degree. Many of us undoubtedly will not. But that is no matter. When we work to make the vision real, we bring it into our lives today. It gives us hope, and it is our spiritual nourishment. It is life itself.

So then, to the future that is our vision. If it does not attain its reality for us, may it do so for those who follow.

January 29, 2007

Fighting Back

If it were not for the depths to which we've descended, the provocation for these events would not have occurred in the form it did, or occurred at all. Even with an appreciation of the dire nature of where we are, it is nonetheless greatly encouraging to read this story:
Two weeks after a senior Pentagon official suggested that corporations should pressure their law firms to stop assisting detainees at Guantanamo Bay, major companies have turned the tables on the Pentagon and issued statements supporting the law firms' work on behalf of terrorism suspects.

The corporate support for the lawyers comes as law associations and members of Congress have expressed outrage at the remarks of Deputy Assistant Secretary of Defense for Detainee Affairs Charles D. "Cully" Stimson on Jan. 11.

In a radio interview, Stimson stated the names of a dozen law firms that volunteer their services to represent detainees, and he suggested that the chief executives of the firms' corporate clients would make the lawyers "choose between representing terrorists or representing reputable firms."

He said he expected the newly public list of law firms that do work at Guantanamo Bay to spark a cycle of negative publicity for them. Instead, Stimson himself became the center of nationwide criticism and later apologized for the remarks.

The episode has become an embarrassing chapter in the Pentagon's long-running battle with the detainees' lawyers and appears to have spurred public support for the legal rights of the detainees, nearly 400 of whom just marked the start of their sixth year of incarceration at the base.

Charles Rudnick, a spokesman for Boston Scientific Corp., said the company supports the decision of its law firm, WilmerHale, to represent six men who were arrested in Bosnia in 2001 "because our legal system depends on vigorous advocacy for even the most unpopular causes."

Brackett Denniston, senior vice president and general counsel of General Electric, said the company strongly disagrees with the suggestion that it discriminate against law firms that do such work. "Justice is served when there is quality representation even for the unpopular," Denniston said in a statement.

Verizon issued a similar statement.


Support for the defense of Guantanamo detainees has become so widely accepted that two Newton attorneys are defraying the cost of their trips to Guantanamo Bay by collecting donations from the public.

Doris Tennant and Ellen Lubell have collected $7,000 in the past three weeks toward the estimated $20,000 they expect to spend defending an Algerian detainee known as Number 744.
But the government has succeeded in one respect:
Some lawyers said publicizing the names of the law firms had achieved one of Stimson's objectives -- distracting attention from the roughly 395 men who remain imprisoned.

"It backfired to the extent that they didn't get the kind of support that they were hoping," said Neil McGaraghan, a Boston-based attorney at Bingham McCutchen, which represents a group of ethnic Uighurs from China at Guantanamo Bay.

"But to the extent that it has drawn attention away from Guantanamo and focused it on the lawyers, it has worked."
McGaraghan is right: it should not even be a question that the Guantanamo prisoners are entitled to legal representation, from any firm willing to provide it. But this is all of a piece with the administration's relentless assault on the fundamental foundations of liberty in the United States, which has culminated (for the moment) in the despicable torture-dictatorship law, otherwise known as the Military Commissions Act.

The real issue, one which continues to be overlooked in many discussions of these questions, is the fact that the prison at Guantanamo exists at all, and in Guantanamo's particular significance in the scheme of massively expanding state power. For an analysis of this subject, see "Understanding the Significance of Guantanamo: The Symbol of Omnipotent Power."

Here's a related entry about the recent fifth anniversary of some of the Guantanamo prisoners' incarceration: "Five Years, Lost in Hell."

A Pansy Responds

As the bloody nightmare that is Iraq continues to worsen with every second that passes, and as it becomes even clearer that we have no idea what we're doing, that all our military strategies are futile, and that "victory" in any meaningful sense was always impossible and shall forever remain so (all of which was entirely clear before this criminal war began), I fear for Rush Limbaugh's health.

No, that's wrong. We should strive for honesty in all our dealings, and certainly in what we write. I acknowledge that "fear" is not the correct word.

If Limbaugh had not repeatedly branded himself an inhuman monster ("Club G'itmo Gear," anyone?) and if he did not seek to inject his unreasoning hatred directly into America's primary artery every day of the week, I would almost feel vague twinges of sympathy for him. In light of his record, any and all such feelings are unknown to me.

Much of Limbaugh's program today concerned his reflections on the significance of an op-ed piece in the Los Angeles Times. I will have a few things to say about this article by David Bell in the next day or two. While Bell is indisputably correct on several major points, I have certain objections to his observations, but mine proceed from a perspective which is the polar opposite of Limbaugh's.

The title of Bell's article is, "Was 9/11 really that bad?" Limbaugh's reaction runs along these lines: "See? I told you this was what the lefties think! 3,000 Americans dead, no big deal to them. It's nothing to fight back about, and there's no reason to go to war against our enemies. We should just go about our business, and wait until they can really hurt us." Etc.

Limbaugh is a peculiar beast. (I tend to understatement, a defect I shall work on.) In situations like this, which occur almost daily on his program, it's difficult to tell whether he's immensely pleased, or deeply horrified. You might think that if you believed a large number of Americans held views you considered especially dangerous, views that might lead ultimately to our destruction, you would be gravely worried. But Limbaugh seems, as the phrase goes, to get off on it. A disturbing pathology is at work here. For our purposes at the moment, it might be best not to delve into it too deeply. As a matter of general spiritual health, it is most likely required that we analyze it further only when we absolutely must.

I only listened to a few segments of Limbaugh's program this morning; I was busy with other tasks. But more than an hour after his initial salvos directed at what Limbaugh views as Bell's traitorous, lefty thoughts, he was still at it. While making some additional comments about the LA Times article and the threat this kind of thinking represents to our nation's very survival, Limbaugh said, addressing the lefties who think as Bell does (this is almost word-for-word, I quickly made a note of it):
You have this stupid pansy little idea in your head that war is bad.
As a gay man who opposes both the war and occupation of Iraq and who generally rejects the foreign policy of the United States in its totality, I am ideally situated to respond.

War is sometimes required in a nation's self-defense, although very rarely. The vast majority of wars fought in human history have been entirely unnecessary. That is certainly true of most of the wars the United States has engaged in: from our imperialistic land grab in the Spanish-American War and the following occupation of the Philippines, through our avoidable and profoundly destructive entrance into World War I, on to Korea, through Vietnam, and in Iraq today, almost all of our overseas military attacks and invasions were prompted by goals that had nothing whatsoever to do with the legitimate, factually demonstrable requirements of our own defense. Without exception, they have led to disastrous results, which were almost exclusively the direct opposite of the original goals of the wars' proponents. (See my ongoing series, Dominion Over the World, for a detailed examination of the motives, purposes and effects of our foreign policy over the last century. With regard to the Iraq war and occupation, and given the moral principles involved, this is one war that we unquestionably deserve to lose. See that last linked essay for the full argument.)

Beyond this, there is a further point of the greatest importance. I announce this very loudly, and I say it with very limp wrists and with my lisp at its worst:
Here are the numbers of deaths in major wars in the twentieth century:

World War I: 15,000,000

Russian Civil War: 9,000,000

World War II: 55,000,000

Chinese Civil War: 2,500,000

These figures, together with comprehensive supporting detail and citations to numerous sources (along with commentary on the major sources' reliability and biases), will be found here.

Here is a list of Secondary Wars and Atrocities of the Twentieth Century. A few highlights:

Philippines Insurgency (against the U.S. occupation): 220,000

Russo-Japanese War: 130,000

Balkan Wars (1912-13): 140,000

Greco-Turkish War (1919-1922): 250,000

The list goes on and on, and is far too long to reproduce here. Consult it and the supporting data as your interest dictates.

Here is a list entitled, Statistics of Wars, Oppressions and Atrocities of the Nineteenth Century, which is similarly horrifying. Here's still another list: Selected Death Tolls for Wars, Massacres and Atrocities Before the Twentieth Century. (Here's the main page for that site, which is an altogether stupendous source of historical data.)

So, Mr. Limbaugh, I repeat, still with flopping wrists and lisping very badly:
War is the worst evil known to man. Perhaps one out of fifty or a hundred of mankind's wars has been genuinely unavoidable. Even that estimate may be overly generous, and might credit humanity with a greater degree of civilization than it merits, given its penchant for gratuitous, pointless and utterly futile violence, cruelty and barbarism. And even in those very rare instances when war truly cannot be avoided, a great many innocent people are slaughtered and maimed.

One last time, just for emphasis, from this queer directly to you, Limbaugh:
Here ends perhaps the single most important lesson for today, and for every day.

January 28, 2007

Iran: The Growing Threat that Isn't

I doubt the following story will receive extensive coverage in U.S. media, but I wish to God that at least a few prominent members of our political establishment would try to cram these facts into their tiny little, warmongering brains:
Iran's efforts to produce highly enriched uranium, the material used to make nuclear bombs, are in chaos and the country is still years from mastering the required technology.

Iran's uranium enrichment programme has been plagued by constant technical problems, lack of access to outside technology and knowhow, and a failure to master the complex production-engineering processes involved. The country denies developing weapons, saying its pursuit of uranium enrichment is for energy purposes.

Despite Iran being presented as an urgent threat to nuclear non-proliferation and regional and world peace - in particular by an increasingly bellicose Israel and its closest ally, the US - a number of Western diplomats and technical experts close to the Iranian programme have told The Observer it is archaic, prone to breakdown and lacks the materials for industrial-scale production.

The disclosures come as Iran has told the UN nuclear watchdog, the International Atomic Energy Agency [IAEA], that it plans to install a new 'cascade' of 3,000 high-speed centrifuges at its controversial underground facility at Natanz in central Iran next month.

The centrifuges were supposed to have been installed almost a year ago and many experts are extremely doubtful that Iran has yet mastered the skills to install and run it. Instead, they argue, the 'installation' will more probably be about propaganda than reality.

The detailed descriptions of Iran's problems in enriching more than a few grams of uranium using high-speed centrifuges - 50kg is required for two nuclear devices - comes in stark contrast to the apocalyptic picture being painted of Iran's imminent acquisition of a nuclear weapon with which to attack Israel. Instead, say experts, the break-up of the nuclear smuggling organisation of the Pakistani scientist Abdul Qadheer Khan has massively set back an Iran heavily dependent on his network.


The growing recognition, in expert circles at least, of how far Iran is from mastering centrifuge technology was underlined on Friday by comments by the head of the IAEA, whose inspectors have been attempting to monitor the Iranian nuclear programme.

Talking to the World Economic Forum at Davos, Switzerland, Mohamed El Baradei appealed for all sides to take a 'time out' under which Iranian enrichment and UN sanctions would be suspended simultaneously, adding that the point at which Iran is able to produce a nuclear weapon is at least half a decade away. In pointed comments aimed at the US and Israel, the Nobel Peace prize winner warned that an attack on Iran would have 'catastrophic consequences'.
And I underscore the following at least ten times:
Recent months have seen leaks and background briefings reminiscent of the softening up of public opinion for the war against Iraq which have presented a series of allegations regarding Iran's meddling in Iraq and Lebanon, the 'genocidal' intentions of its president, Mahmoud Ahmadinejad, and its 'connections' with North Korea's nuclear weapons programme.

It also emerged last week in the Israeli media that the country's private diplomatic efforts to convince the world of the need for tough action on Iran were being co-ordinated by Meir Dagan, the head of Israel's foreign intelligence service, Mossad.
That certain factions in Israel might want "tough action on Iran" does not, in even the smallest degree, mean that an attack would be in the interests of the United States. And given the many catastrophic ways in which the aftermath of such an attack might play out, an attack would not even be in Israel's interests. Always remember the critical point: we are talking about a threat, if it is one at all, that will not even begin to take shape for at least five years, and possibly longer.

We know that Iran has always been the ultimate target of the Bush administration. To use the loathsome phrase popular with many of the warmongers so bloodthirstily hungry for destruction on an unimaginable scale, Iraq supposedly represented "low-hanging fruit," easy to pick off -- which would then position us for the main course.

It is simply amazing to me, and it is a measure of the boundless stupidity of our governing elite and the pundit class, that people still do not begin to grasp how endlessly repeated propaganda acquires its own momentum. Or, which is probably more likely, it may be that many of them do understand that, which is precisely why they repeat it. People also ought to remember the surreal atmosphere surrounding the "debate" about the coming invasion of Iraq in the winter of 2002-2003. In the course of that national conversation, we all pretended that we were in the process of deciding whether to go ahead with our "war of choice," i.e., our war of aggression -- while simultaneously tens of thousands of U.S. troops were continuously deployed to the Middle East, and while our military positioned more and more of its forces in preparation for the coming war. It was absolutely inconceivable that, at the last minute, Bush would say: "Oh, there actually isn't any serious threat. Never mind" -- and simply order all those military personnel to make a U-turn and come home.

The troops and our military forces were put there for a reason. We all knew exactly what it was -- but most of us acted as if the decision hadn't already been made, when we knew, if we were honest about it, that the decision had been made long before. The troops were there -- and they were going to be used.

The Iran propaganda has been gathering the identical kind of momentum for some time. Here's a note to any Democrats who say they don't want to make the same mistake they made on Iraq again. If that is actually true, stop repeating the Bush administration's propaganda. You ought to aim higher than being cheap stenographers for this gang of criminals, dutifully taking down and then spitting out their lies, word for word.

Stop saying that an "Iran with nuclear weapons is unacceptable," and that the use of force hasn't "been taken off the table," as Steny Hoyer does. Stop saying that Iran is an "unprecedented threat" to the United States and Israel, and that "all options must remain on [the] table," as John Edwards does.

Instead, why don't you focus on the facts? A frighteningly radical proposal, I realize. Iran doesn't have any nuclear weapons. Iran is no serious threat of any kind -- not now, and not for at least five years. Moreover, I would argue, as I have argued, that even an Iran with nuclear weapons would not necessarily constitute a major threat and that, even if it did, such a threat could be contained.

Every single time Bush or some other administration official, or a Democrat, or anyone else repeats the notions that a nuclear Iran is "unacceptable" and that a military attack must "remain on the table," it accelerates the drive to war. In this case, exactly as in the case of Iraq, it would be a non-defensive war of aggression that we chose -- directed against an alleged enemy that was no serious threat at all. As I wrote in "Our Date with Armageddon":
Let us state the final conclusion boldly and unmistakably, so we may appreciate its full horror: the Bush administration has already decided, and probably decided some time ago, that it will attack Iran. They want a wider war. Everything that is now going on is simply the cover for the moment when the bombing begins, intended to provide what will be accepted as "justification" for the attack by the American public and the world.

And all of it is a lie from beginning to end.
I do not expect any prominent Democrat to follow the advice offered above. They are determined to show they can be "trusted" on national security, that they are "tough," and that their foreign policy is "muscular." Here's another note: starting unnecessary, unprovoked wars that will lead to catastrophic results, certainly on a regional and possibly even on a global scale, is not "trustworthy." Killing thousands or even millions of innocent people is not what it means to be "tough," not for any sane human being. Creating fury and hatred directed at the United States on the part of countless additional, new enemies is not in our interests.

But the Democrats wish to be seen as "tough." They don't want their political opponents to accuse them of being "soft" on terrorism. And so, the drive to war will continue to gain strength from day to day until, still once more, it reaches the point where war finally becomes inevitable.

Still, I hope to be surprised, and to be proven wrong. I hope and pray for that more than you will ever know.

An Argument Too Far, Snowbird

The degree of intellectual acumen repeatedly demonstrated by this administration is a continuing national embarrassment. Tony "Snowbird" Snow went to George Washington University -- where, miracle of miracles, "GW managed to select an overwhelmingly pro-war student audience." How awesome is that?

Snow engaged in some brilliant wit, scorching in its cleverness: "When it comes to TV, Snow doesn’t watch Jon Stewart ('I can get a few yucks, too, if I put my mind to it,' said Snow)..." -- and he also displayed overwhelmingly powerful argumentation: "Yeah, it’s a war. What did you expect?" That wasn't just a one-off: "Sesno raised the question of WMDs and Osama bin Laden, to which Snow coldly replied, 'We’re arguing against things that have become folkloric.'"

Cogent and unanswerable. I am duly impressed.

Conjure this:
The former Fox radio host had two comments of note on the press: First, he doesn't feel that anyone can be "objective" in reporting. "God's objective. He knows what the truth is," he told the packed auditorium. "Everything else is scratching at the surface." Second, the White House is continuing its efforts to bypass the mainstream media when possible: As part of his messaging for the State of the Union speech this week, Snow hosted a conference call with 25 to 30 bloggers to discuss the President's agenda and speech.
I think it's wonderful that bloggers are now part of the media that endlessly toadies to the powerful and dutifully amplifies government propaganda. Lord knows, mainstream journalists aren't sufficiently shouldering their responsibilities in that area (see rule three). It's democracy in action!

I am intrigued by Snowbird's observation that no one can be "objective," save God. If that's the case, on what basis do the administration and its apologists endlessly criticize the "liberal media" for not reporting the "good news" and otherwise writing stories that fit into the government's preferred narrative? Isn't the "liberal media" just doing the best that any human being can, which is obviously imperfect and pathetically limited -- since only God "knows what the truth is"?

And anyway, how does Snowbird "know" that only God "knows what the truth is"? Isn't that just Snow's own "limited" human understanding? Isn't he just "scratching at the surface"? On what basis is he so certain on this point?

Hey, wait a minute. Could it be that God Himself imparted this tidbit to Snowbird, while He was giving Tony the latest briefing about the "good news" from Iraq? I guess that must be it.

I'm obviously not on even one of the important email distribution lists. And I'm not included in any of the conference calls that matter. So who do I complain to about this obvious oversight?

Yoo-hoooo!! Hey, up there!!! How about a couple of exclusive bulletins for me??

I'm sure leaving me out was just a clerical error, committed by some insignificant inferior angel. (The inevitable future demotion might be...um, painful.) I'll share all the news that I'm certain is going to arrive any second as soon as the embargo is lifted.

I'm waiting...

Dominion Over the World (Sidebar): Ah, Democracy...Ah, Peace

I recently had occasion to mention Jim Bovard (in "Upsetting All Those 'Beautiful Minds'"), and three of his books that everyone should read: Terrorism and Tyranny: Trampling Freedom, Justice and Peace to Rid the World of Evil, The Bush Betrayal, and Attention Deficit Democracy.

I was looking through Attention Deficit Democracy last evening, and was especially struck (again) by his discussion in the chapter titled, "Democratic Delusions on Peace and Inevitability." I'd like to share several passages with you, because they so wonderfully cut to the heart of this major piece of the government propaganda that has inundated us for the last several years -- although as Bovard points out, this particular lie has been used by politicians for many decades. In fact, these are the two quotes placed at the opening of the chapter:
See, free nations are peaceful nations. Free nations don't attack each other. Free nations don't develop weapons of mass destruction. -- George W. Bush, October 3, 2003

Ultimately, the best strategy to ensure our security and build a durable peace is to support the advance of democracy. Democracies do not attack each other.... -- President Bill Clinton, January 25, 1994
"Free nations don't develop weapons of mass destruction." Uh-huh.

Bovard disposes of these fact-deprived myths in delicious fashion (highlights added, and footnotes omitted):
Drivel about democracy has long thrived in Washington. As soon as democracy is idealistically invoked, it is as if the laws of probability have been suspended. The "standards of proof" in Washington debates are often as low as one can find outside an elementary school cafeteria room. Mere assertions repeated ad nauseum and flaunted by dignitaries trump almost anything, depending on who is spouting. History exists only to be selectively invoked to vindicate further seizures of power, or new incursions abroad.

Two of the biggest contemporary political delusions are the notions that democracies inevitably beget peace and that the spread of democracy around the globe is inevitable. Each of these beliefs will be examined, noting how they arose and how they have been exploited to sanctify political power and military aggression.


The doctrine of "democratic peace" now provides vital camouflage for the American war machine. ...

This doctrine has long proven handy for presidents seeking the high moral ground for U.S. artillery. When President Woodrow Wilson asked Congress to declare war on Germany on April 2, 1917, he proclaimed, "The world must be made safe for democracy. Its peace must be planted upon the tested foundations of political liberty." Wilson said nothing about making democracy safe for the world. . . .

Faith in this "democratic peace" doctrine has revived in recent decades. President Reagan declared that "the surest guarantee we have of peace is national freedom and democratic government." Clinton also embraced the doctrine and used it to sanctify his foreign policy time and again. As Thomas Carothers noted, "Clinton officials stock almost every general foreign policy speech with the argument that promoting democracy abroad advances U.S. interests because democracies tend not to go to war with each other, not to produce large numbers of refugees, not to engage in terrorism, to make better economic partners, and so on."

But no president has been half as liberal with invoking the doctrine as George W. Bush. . . .

The only way that history supports this doctrine is to exclude all the cases of wars between democracies. This theory can survive only as long as people look at history in a way that is so contorted that it makes the typical political campaign speech look honest. Some of the advocates of the "democratic peace" doctrine are slippery regarding categories, as if the fact that a nation starts a war proves that it is not a democracy.

There are plenty of cases to dismiss the democratic peace imperative. . . .

Britain's Boer War, 1899-1902, involved the brutal crushing by one democratic government of another democratic government, as well as pioneering concentration camps and other methods of suppression that would become far more widespread in the twentieth century.

The First World War was by far the bloodiest conflict in human history up to that time. Schwartz and Kiner noted, "Woodrow Wilson proclaimed a war for democracy against 'Prussian dictatorship,' but that was propaganda. Germany had civil rights, an elected parliament, competing parties, universal male suffrage, and an unparalleled system of social democracy." Germany was far more democratic than either the British or French empires.
Here's another passage that I especially wanted to share with you. Most of us have seen lists like this before (I've seen any number of them), but they always take me aback. I offer it so that you have this handy, whenever you again hear the "democratic peace" nonsense, which it seems we are subjected to at least several times a day.

From Bovard:
Another key to the myth of "democratic peace" is to disregard the long record of democracies attacking nondemocracies. Bush, defending U.S. military action in Iraq, declared, "Free societies are peaceful nations. What we're doing for the long term, we're promoting freedom." However, since World War II, the United States either attacked or invaded the following nations:

Korea 1950-53
Lebanon 1958
Vietnam 1961-73
Laos 1964-73
Dominican Republic 1965-66
Cambodia 1969-70
Lebanon 1982-84
Grenada 1983
Libya 1986
Panama 1989
Iraq 1991-2005
Somalia 1992-94
Croatia 1994
Haiti 1994
Bosnia 1995
Sudan 1998
Afghanistan 1998
Yugoslavia 1999
Afghanistan 2001-2005

Johns Hopkins University professor John Harper noted, "America's imperial career does little to support the view that the United States, by virtue of its democratic norms and institutions, is inclined to solve international disputes pacifically and to promote democracy abroad."
Bovard's book was published in 2005, so the entries for Iraq and Afghanistan should now read "1991-2007" and "2001-2007," respectively.

Stunning, isn't it? Yes, sir, we sure are some peace-loving, democratic folks. Just the other day, I wrote: "They hate us because we won't leave them the hell alone, and because we won't stop killing them." I suspect some readers may think me guilty of overstatement on this subject. The facts would indicate otherwise.

Consider how our political leaders demonize other countries with records containing only one or two non-defensive attacks or invasions of this kind -- and then ask yourself about the degree of honesty, integrity and intellectual coherence they demonstrate. As I often note, we consider ourselves as a nation uniquely exempt from the standards we apply to almost everyone else (or, at least, to those countries currently or about to be in our sights). According to the fable that constitutes the core of our national self-deception, we represent history's "ultimate" and "best" answer. Our knowledge is so precious that we are affirmatively obliged to impose it on the rest of the world, by force as required.

Bovard's book is an endless source of valuable information and cogent analysis. I strongly recommend that you consider getting it.

Dominion Over the World:

Part I: Iraq Is the Democrats' War, Too

Part II: Why the Stories We Tell Matter So Much

Part III: The Open Door to Worldwide Hegemony

Part IV: A "Splendid People" Set Out for Empire

Part V: A Global Empire of Bases

January 26, 2007

Laughter May Be the Best Medicine...

But too much uncontrollable laughter might be dangerous. These guys are just killing me. We tramp around the Middle East for decades, toppling a government or two here, killing unforgivably large numbers of people there, and then we tell the governments of countries actually in the Middle East that they should stop meddling in their neighbors' affairs.

Acts that are virtuous and admirable when we commit them are criminal and to be condemned when others conduct themselves in precisely the same manner, usually in reaction to what we've already done. And then we wonder "why they hate us," and proceed to lie about the purported explanation. Our government contends they hate us for our "freedom" and our "values." Of course, that's not true at all. That's pure state propaganda, designed to prevent Americans from discovering the truth. They hate us because we won't leave them the hell alone, and because we won't stop killing them.

Now we occupy a country that never threatened us and commit genocide, and we say that anyone who dares to protest our actions is being unjustifiably aggressive and provocative. Sweet.

It is indisputably clear that the Bush administration is doing everything it can short of an outright attack on Iran to provoke a wider regional war. No serious, principled opposition from the Democrats will be forthcoming, because they agree on the overall objective: global domination through military supremacy. Hoyer is on board, as is Edwards, as is Hillary Clinton and every other prominent Democrat.

Today we learn the following:
The Bush administration has authorized the U.S. military to kill or capture Iranian operatives inside Iraq as part of an aggressive new strategy to weaken Tehran's influence across the Middle East and compel it to give up its nuclear program, according to government and counterterrorism officials with direct knowledge of the effort.

For more than a year, U.S. forces in Iraq have secretly detained dozens of suspected Iranian agents, holding them for three to four days at a time. The "catch and release" policy was designed to avoid escalating tensions with Iran and yet intimidate its emissaries. U.S. forces collected DNA samples from some of the Iranians without their knowledge, subjected others to retina scans, and fingerprinted and photographed all of them before letting them go.

Last summer, however, senior administration officials decided that a more confrontational approach was necessary, as Iran's regional influence grew and U.S. efforts to isolate Tehran appeared to be failing.


Advocates of the new policy -- some of whom are in the NSC, the vice president's office, the Pentagon and the State Department -- said that only direct and aggressive efforts can shatter Iran's growing influence. A less confident Iran, with fewer cards, may be more willing to cut the kind of deal the Bush administration is hoping for on its nuclear program. "The Iranians respond to the international community only when they are under pressure, not when they are feeling strong," one official said.

With aspects of the plan also targeting Iran's influence in Lebanon, Afghanistan and the Palestinian territories, the policy goes beyond the threats Bush issued earlier this month to "interrupt the flow of support from Iran and Syria" into Iraq. It also marks a departure from years past when diplomacy appeared to be the sole method of pressuring Iran to reverse course on its nuclear program.
Do keep in mind that we have no right whatsoever to be in Iraq. Our war is one of naked aggression.

But this is the passage in the article that truly slayed me:
Gen. Michael V. Hayden, the director of the CIA, told the Senate recently that the amount of Iranian-supplied materiel used against U.S. troops in Iraq "has been quite striking." [Or not.]

"Iran seems to be conducting a foreign policy with a sense of dangerous triumphalism," Hayden said.
Honest to God. I mean, Jesus Christ.

Bush tells Iraq that we have done it an immense favor, by invading and occupying that nation and murdering more than half a million innocent Iraqis, and that the surviving Iraqis should be profoundly grateful to us. We told Mexico the same thing, and the Philippines. Beginning with our completely unnecessary and enormously destructive entrance into World War I, we tell the entire world the same thing.

But Iran, which entirely legitimately and understandably fears that it is the next target in the crosshairs of the United States, is guilty of "dangerous triumphalism."

On many days, I think either I'm insane or almost the entire rest of the world is. Nothing will stop the United States, short of catastrophe on an unimaginable scale. Our governing elites seem absolutely determined to bring about that eventuality.

And on that note, I wish you a very pleasant day.

Worth It, Or Not?

[Please see the Update at the end.]

I'll tell you the simple truth: the major reason I continue blogging is that I don't want to die.

That's it. That's the whole thing.

It's not because a substantial number of readers understand and agree with my major themes. They don't. It's not because I think my blogging will prevent the numerous catastrophes that will almost certainly overtake us in the coming decades. It won't. I may be guilty of many faults, but a stupidly overinflated sense of my own importance is not one of them. Yet I still believe that it actually matters that we speak the full truth as we see it, no matter how many people it displeases. I truly am an idiot.

But I don't want to die. That's my reason in its entirety. Note that I referred to "blogging," not "writing." Whatever happens, I'll continue writing as long as I can, but I may not publish most of it. I probably won't even be able to. At the moment, I only continue blogging because I don't want to die.

I've mentioned these facts before, but let's briefly review. My very bad health prevents me from working at a "regular" job. Blogging is about all I'm capable of now, but blogging of the kind I do takes an enormous amount of effort. Usually, after two or three days of blogging, I have to rest for a day or two. That's how much it tires me. My body simply isn't capable of sustained effort for longer than a few days at a time.

I realize that most of you don't understand exactly how I live. I'll give you a few details, which should provide sufficient indication.

Item: I have never been able to pay for a cable/high speed internet connection. I still have to use dialup. It's all I can afford.

Item: I haven't had television for more than four years. I have a television set, which I use to look at DVDs and videos. But I can't get over the air reception where I live, and I can't possibly afford cable or satellite service. So I'm completely cut off from TV news coverage, current television series (until they hit Netflix, one of the few "luxuries" I permit myself), and the like. In many ways, I'm cut off from the world, and our culture. For someone who tries to write about politics and general cultural issues, this puts me at a considerable disadvantage, to understate the problem rather dramatically.

Item: I deeply appreciate the donations from those who responded to the plea at the end of this post last week. In view of the fact that I was almost completely broke when I posted that entry, once I pay my February rent, I will be almost completely broke once again. I'll be able to eat for a week or two, and that's it.

Item: Because my feet swell up fairly regularly (just one of many symptoms for which I've started taking several medications, which unfortunately are causing further problems that we're now trying to work out), I usually can only wear sneakers. The sneakers I wear were purchased in 1994, and they are about to fall apart completely. I can't afford to buy new ones.

Item: I can only afford the simplest of foods. Many of my meals are baked potatoes, with various (cheap) toppings. Often, I simply have a baked potato with butter, salt and pepper.

Item: I haven't eaten out in about four years. As someone who has spent much of his life devoted to opera and the theater, it is much more painful to note that I haven't been able to attend a live performance in any medium for over five years.

This will undoubtedly sound arrogant, but I honestly don't give a damn any longer. I know the quality of much of my writing. I would put my series, On Torture, up against anything any blogger has written in the last several years. I think Morality, Humanity and Civilization is outstanding. And there may be an essay superior in content and literary quality to "Thus the World Was Lost," but I haven't come across it. The same is true (to a somewhat lesser degree) of Lies in the Service of Evil. And I continue to see many positive references to Trapped in the Wrong Paradigm, but those reviews would not appear to have translated into support for my work.

My current series, Dominion Over the World, represents the synthesis of an enormous amount of reading and thinking, over several years. Yet comparatively few people have read it, or will ever read it. If I'm able, I plan to cover material in the continuation of another series, The Personal Factor, that I'm certain no other blogger will address. And there are still other series for which I have done some preliminary planning...but why do I bother?

Because I don't want to die.

If I stop blogging, I will have no income at all. I would be evicted within a couple of months and, since I have nowhere to go, I would almost certainly die in fairly short order. All things considered, I would prefer to avoid that. On the other hand, very few of you seem to care about what I write, or that I write at all. Fewer still seem to understand my writing to any significant degree. (That certainly is true of my Alice Miller essays. Almost no one understands those at all.)

So what am I supposed to do? I'm damned if I know. I'll tell you what: I'm putting the ball in your court. You let me know if I should continue blogging. Your response will tell me all I need to know, as will your silence.

I think that's enough for the moment. Depending on events, I may be back next week.

Oh, yes, one final point: this is entirely humiliating. But I told you: I don't want to die. Humiliation is a terrible price to pay, but ultimately a comparatively small one, if you choose to continue living. I can honestly say that I have been left with no alternative.

P.S. If you're wondering why I don't avail myself of various social welfare programs, there's one overwhelmingly simple reason why I can't (even if I wanted to), but it would take another post to explain why that is the case. For now, I will only say that I do not choose to support what I regard as a fundamentally and irrevocably corrupt system to any degree at all. If you're smart, you should be able to figure out what I mean. I may write about this issue in the future, in which case any mystification will be removed.

UPDATE: I'm astonished and overwhelmed by the response this has generated. The generosity of so many of you truly staggers me. Bless you, every one. I will be sending out individual thank you notes over the next week, but please bear with me if you don't receive one for at least several days. On the occasions when I feel I have no choice but to unburden myself this way, I always suffer an intense emotional backlash. It's a kind of spiritual hangover, and it's paralyzing in many ways.

I often write about the significance of cultural factors, and I discuss how all of us are deeply affected by the culture in which we live. I can tell myself how good I think my writing is a hundred times a day, but the fact remains that, by the standards accepted by most people today, I'm an utter failure. Detailing the scarcity in my life right now simply confirms that fact, and does so before the entire world. It's an enormously painful experience. It will pass, but it takes a little time. I also have the impression that other bloggers have brought attention to my plight. I offer my immense gratitude to them, too. My thanks can't be more specific right now, for the same reason: because I find all of this so painful, I can't bear to read what others might say about it. It just hurts too much.

I need to mention one practical concern, as well. For reasons too complicated to explain (and that are related to my cryptic postscript above), I worry about using the Amazon account too much. If you've already used it, there's no need for concern. But if at all possible, it's much better for me if you use Paypal. I'm sorry to be mysterious about this, but it would not be advisable for me to go into more detail at the moment. So if Paypal can work for you, please use that. It will be much safer (but again, please don't worry if you've already used Amazon). [I've temporarily removed the Amazon donation link. Too many of you are using it! :>)) That's the first time I've smiled in about a week. God, you people are wonderful. I'll restore it sometime tomorrow or Monday, but Paypal is much better for now. I emphasize that you needn't be at all concerned if you used Amazon, but I need to give it a rest for a day or two. I apologize again for being elusive about this, but I really can't say any more at the moment.]

[Sunday morning: I restored the Amazon link. Very sorry for any inconvenience, and for any puzzlement. "But," you wonder, "is it safe? Is it safe?" To which I reply, "Yes, it's safe, it's very safe, it's so safe you wouldn't believe it!" Really. My very grateful thanks to everyone, once again.]

In the next few days, I'll be able to buy some new sneakers, thanks to all of you. That's a very good example of the pain and sadness I'm feeling right now: it strikes me as incomprehensibly sad, pathetic really, that buying a pair of sneakers should become so momentous in my life. But given my circumstances, that's where I've been. I'm not sure about what other changes might be possible, but I'll figure that out in the next several days, and provide another update when things are clearer to me.

Meanwhile, I'll try to get back to blogging later today or tomorrow. I can't tell you what your response means to me. It has quite literally given me a new lease on life.

My gratitude is beyond words -- but I shall nonetheless try to find some in the next week.

January 24, 2007

Pardon My Paroxysms of Laughter

I've written a great deal about the almost certain coming crisis with Iran; see, for example, the essays linked at the end of this post yesterday. I am well aware of how gravely serious this situation could rapidly become. In that regard, see "Morality, Humanity, and Civilization: 'Nothing remains...but memories'," in particular.

But you will have to forgive me for breaking into uncontrollable spasms of laughter as I read the opening of this story:
A second U.S. aircraft carrier strike group now steaming toward the Middle East is Washington's way of warning Iran to back down in its attempts to dominate the region, a top U.S. diplomat said here Tuesday.

Nicholas Burns, U.S. undersecretary of state for political affairs, ruled out direct negotiations with Iran and said a rapprochement between Washington and Tehran was "not possible" until Iran halts uranium enrichment.

"The Middle East isn't a region to be dominated by Iran. The Gulf isn't a body of water to be controlled by Iran. That's why we've seen the United States station two carrier battle groups in the region," Burns said in an address to the Dubai-based Gulf Research Center, an influential think-tank.

"Iran is going to have to understand that the United States will protect its interests if Iran seeks to confront us," Burns continued.
This is bracingly clear: Iran may not be permitted to "protect its interests" -- because we say so. Iran may not "protect its interests" even though it happens, you know, to be located there. And just which nation is it that has ceaselessly interfered in the Middle East since World War II, and which invaded and still occupies a Middle Eastern country that never threatened it?

But we are uniquely exempt from the standards that apply to all others. We can protect our interests wherever we declare them to be -- and we declare them to be around the entire globe.

And for the millionth time: Iran is fully entitled to pursue uranium enrichment under the terms of the Nuclear Nonproliferation Treaty -- to which it is a signatory. Israel, with the largest nuclear arsenal in the Middle East, is not a signatory to the NPT. Moreover, while we dictate to Iran (and everyone else) how they are to conduct themselves, we carve out exceptions for countries like India, and make any serious reduction of the immense danger represented by the spread of nuclear weapons impossible.

Don't think for a moment that all these problems are limited to the Bush administration. As my Dominion Over the World series discusses, the same basic foreign policy objective is shared by both political parties. That objective is very simple: global dominance, ensured by military supremacy. I noted yesterday that John Edwards echoes every single point of the Bush administration's arguments which may lead to a wider regional war in the Middle East. He is hardly alone among Democrats in such indefensible warmongering:
Iran with nuclear weapons is unacceptable, new House Majority Leader Steny Hoyer told The Jerusalem Post hours after entering the party leadership position.

The Maryland Democrat said the view is shared by his party, rejecting assertions that the Democrats would be weaker than the Republicans on Iran.

He also said that the use of force against Teheran remained an option.


Hoyer said the Democrats' position, like that of the Bush administration, was that preventing a nuclear-armed Iran had to be done through "discussions, negotiations, sanctions." Hoyer added that the US needed to work with the international community to block Teheran's nuclear ambitions.

At the same time, Hoyer said the use of force hadn't been taken off the table.

"I've not ruled that out," he said, but added, "It's not an option we want to consider until we know there is no other option."
Every prominent Democrat shares the views of Edwards and Hoyer. Our global hegemony is not to be threatened by anyone, anywhere, any time. There is absolutely no difference between the Democrats and Republicans on this fundamental issue.

And remember: if the Bush-Cheney gang doesn't bomb Iran, Hillary or another Democrat may well commit the fateful deed.

As always, It is my great pleasure to cheer you up, and raise your spirits. And despite all the dread signs, let us wish for peace in the New Year still just underway. Yet it must be noted that, in view of our current governing elites and their basic assumptions and worldview, peace doesn't have a chance in hell.

Dominion Over the World (V): A Global Empire of Bases

Part I: Iraq Is the Democrats' War, Too

Part II: Why the Stories We Tell Matter So Much

Part III: The Open Door to Worldwide Hegemony

Part IV: A "Splendid People" Set Out for Empire

As I write this the day after Bush's latest State of the Union address, I want to jump ahead for a moment to discuss the primary means by which the United States seeks to maintain and consolidate its position of global supremacy. I will return shortly to the development of corporate statism domestically, and to the numerous ways in which that corporatism has influenced foreign policy.

If you are familiar with even a portion of the relevant facts, one passage in Bush's speech last night should have stunned you with its utter absurdity. As you read certain of Bush's remarks, keep in mind these observations from Christopher Layne:
It is often said, with respect to U.S. grand strategy, that the al Qaeda attacks on New York and Washington, D.C., "changed everything." But they didn't. After 9/11--as before--geopolitical dominance has been the ambition of the United States. If anything, 9/11 gave the Bush II administration's "hegemonists" a convenient -- indeed, almost providential -- rationale for implementing policies they would have wanted to pursue in any event, including "regime change" in Iraq (and possibly Iran); the projection of U.S. power into the Middle East and Central Asia; a massive five-year defense buildup, which, when completed, will result in U.S. military outlays exceeding the combined defense budgets of the rest of the world's states; and a nuclear strategy that aims at attaining meaningful nuclear superiority over peer competitors and simultaneously ensuring that regional powers cannot develop the capacity to deter U.S. military intervention abroad. In short, the Bush II administration has sought security by expanding U.S. power and pursuing hegemony. In this respect it has stayed on--not left--the grand strategic path followed by the United States since the early 1940s.
I emphasize that this "massive five-year defense buildup...will result in U.S. military outlays exceeding the combined defense budgets of the rest of the world's states."

Then recall what Bush said last evening:
One of the first steps we can take together is to add to the ranks of our military so that the American armed forces are ready for all the challenges ahead. Tonight I ask the Congress to authorize an increase in the size of our active Army and Marine Corps by 92,000 in the next five years. A second task we can take on together is to design and establish a volunteer Civilian Reserve Corps. Such a corps would function much like our military reserve. It would ease the burden on the armed forces by allowing us to hire civilians with critical skills to serve on missions abroad when America needs them. It would give people across America who do not wear the uniform a chance to serve in the defining struggle of our time. [Background: Mr. Bush proposed expanding the size of the United States military in December.]
(Bush's proposal for a Civilian Reserve Corps carries profound dangers; I view those dangers as particularly insidious. Because the proposal connects to several other issues of significance, I will deal with that topic separately in the near future.)

It is a foregone conclusion that the new Democratic Congress will enthusiastically enact Bush's proposals, or something very close to them. Shortly after the November elections, Harry Reid announced that one of the new Congress's highest priorities would be "a $75 billion boost to the military budget."

And if you were to look to the liberal-progressive blogs in hopes of finding a different perspective on this question, you would be sorely disappointed. As just one example out of many, Atrios announced in December:
One thing this latest conversation has done is acknowledge that there aren't enough troops. So why aren't all of these patriotic Americans enlisting or calling on their fellow travelers to do so?
Lest you think this was a momentary blip on Atrios's ideological radar, here is Atrios just the day before:
If Bush had, you know, listened to Kerry we'd already have a bigger military.
According to Atrios, this is yet another indication of the Democrats' superiority to the feckless Republicans: if only Democrats were in charge, we'd have a bigger, better military sooner.

All of this is utterly fantastic. It is absurd and appalling. It is also one of the clearest proofs of one of my general themes: in terms of fundamentals, there is no difference at all between Republicans and Democrats in the realm of foreign policy. Both parties, our governing elites, and most bloggers all hold the same unchallengeable axiom: that the United States is and should be the unequaled, supreme power in the world, with the capability of directing events across the globe and intervening wherever and whenever we deem it necessary for our "national interests." As Layne notes, all our prominent national voices are united in their conviction that no other state "entertain the 'hope of surpassing, or equaling, the power of the United States.'" Military power on a scale never before seen in world history is the most certain means of ensuring that goal.

Chalmers Johnson is the author of two books that are indispensable to anyone at all interested in American foreign policy. The first was originally published before 9/11, and was startlingly and tragically prescient: Blowback: The Costs and Consequences of American Empire; the second is, The Sorrows of Empire: Militarism, Secrecy, and the End of the Republic.

Here are some excerpts from a Johnson article from three years ago: "America's Empire of Bases." In this instance, the passage of time means only that, if there is an error in Johnson's analysis, it is to understate the significance of the problem. Johnson writes:
As distinct from other peoples, most Americans do not recognize -- or do not want to recognize -- that the United States dominates the world through its military power. Due to government secrecy, our citizens are often ignorant of the fact that our garrisons encircle the planet. This vast network of American bases on every continent except Antarctica actually constitutes a new form of empire -- an empire of bases with its own geography not likely to be taught in any high school geography class. Without grasping the dimensions of this globe-girdling Baseworld, one can't begin to understand the size and nature of our imperial aspirations or the degree to which a new kind of militarism is undermining our constitutional order.

Our military deploys well over half a million soldiers, spies, technicians, teachers, dependents, and civilian contractors in other nations. To dominate the oceans and seas of the world, we are creating some thirteen naval task forces built around aircraft carriers whose names sum up our martial heritage . ... We operate numerous secret bases outside our territory to monitor what the people of the world, including our own citizens, are saying, faxing, or e-mailing to one another.

Our installations abroad bring profits to civilian industries, which design and manufacture weapons for the armed forces or, like the now well-publicized Kellogg, Brown & Root company, a subsidiary of the Halliburton Corporation of Houston, undertake contract services to build and maintain our far-flung outposts. One task of such contractors is to keep uniformed members of the imperium housed in comfortable quarters, well fed, amused, and supplied with enjoyable, affordable vacation facilities. Whole sectors of the American economy have come to rely on the military for sales.


It's not easy to assess the size or exact value of our empire of bases. Official records on these subjects are misleading, although instructive. According to the Defense Department's annual "Base Structure Report" for fiscal year 2003, which itemizes foreign and domestic U.S. military real estate, the Pentagon currently owns or rents 702 overseas bases in about 130 countries and has another 6,000 bases in the United States and its territories. Pentagon bureaucrats calculate that it would require at least $113.2 billion to replace just the foreign bases -- surely far too low a figure but still larger than the gross domestic product of most countries -- and an estimated $591.5 billion to replace all of them. The military high command deploys to our overseas bases some 253,288 uniformed personnel, plus an equal number of dependents and Department of Defense civilian officials, and employs an additional 44,446 locally hired foreigners. The Pentagon claims that these bases contain 44,870 barracks, hangars, hospitals, and other buildings, which it owns, and that it leases 4,844 more.

These numbers, although staggeringly large, do not begin to cover all the actual bases we occupy globally. The 2003 Base Status Report fails to mention, for instance, any garrisons in Kosovo -- even though it is the site of the huge Camp Bondsteel, built in 1999 and maintained ever since by Kellogg, Brown & Root. The Report similarly omits bases in Afghanistan, Iraq, Israel, Kuwait, Kyrgyzstan, Qatar, and Uzbekistan, although the U.S. military has established colossal base structures throughout the so-called arc of instability in the two-and-a-half years since 9/11.


If there were an honest count, the actual size of our military empire would probably top 1,000 different bases in other people's countries, but no one -- possibly not even the Pentagon -- knows the exact number for sure, although it has been distinctly on the rise in recent years.


Once upon a time, you could trace the spread of imperialism by counting up colonies. America's version of the colony is the military base. By following the changing politics of global basing, one can learn much about our ever larger imperial stance and the militarism that grows with it. Militarism and imperialism are Siamese twins joined at the hip. Each thrives off the other. Already highly advanced in our country, they are both on the verge of a quantum leap that will almost surely stretch our military beyond its capabilities, bringing about fiscal insolvency and very possibly doing mortal damage to our republican institutions. The only way this is discussed in our press is via reportage on highly arcane plans for changes in basing policy and the positioning of troops abroad -- and these plans, as reported in the media, cannot be taken at face value.


In order to put our forces close to every hot spot or danger area in this newly discovered arc of instability, the Pentagon has been proposing -- this is usually called "repositioning" -- many new bases, including at least four and perhaps as many as six permanent ones in Iraq. A number of these are already under construction -- at Baghdad International Airport, Tallil air base near Nasariyah, in the western desert near the Syrian border, and at Bashur air field in the Kurdish region of the north. (This does not count the previously mentioned Anaconda, which is currently being called an "operating base," though it may very well become permanent over time.) In addition, we plan to keep under our control the whole northern quarter of Kuwait -- 1,600 square miles out of Kuwait's 6,900 square miles -- that we now use to resupply our Iraq legions and as a place for Green Zone bureaucrats to relax.

Other countries mentioned as sites for what Colin Powell calls our new "family of bases" include: In the impoverished areas of the "new" Europe -- Romania, Poland, and Bulgaria; in Asia -- Pakistan (where we already have four bases), India, Australia, Singapore, Malaysia, the Philippines, and even, unbelievably, Vietnam; in North Africa -- Morocco, Tunisia, and especially Algeria (scene of the slaughter of some 100,00 civilians since 1992, when, to quash an election, the military took over, backed by our country and France); and in West Africa -- Senegal, Ghana, Mali, and Sierra Leone (even though it has been torn by civil war since 1991). The models for all these new installations, according to Pentagon sources, are the string of bases we have built around the Persian Gulf in the last two decades in such anti-democratic autocracies as Bahrain, Kuwait, Qatar, Oman, and the United Arab Emirates.


By far the greatest defect in the "global cavalry" strategy, however, is that it accentuates Washington's impulse to apply irrelevant military remedies to terrorism. As the prominent British military historian, Correlli Barnett, has observed, the U.S. attacks on Afghanistan and Iraq only increased the threat of al-Qaeda. From 1993 through the 9/11 assaults of 2001, there were five major al-Qaeda attacks worldwide; in the two years since then there have been seventeen such bombings, including the Istanbul suicide assaults on the British consulate and an HSBC Bank. Military operations against terrorists are not the solution. As Barnett puts it, "Rather than kicking down front doors and barging into ancient and complex societies with simple nostrums of 'freedom and democracy,' we need tactics of cunning and subtlety, based on a profound understanding of the people and cultures we are dealing with -- an understanding up till now entirely lacking in the top-level policy-makers in Washington, especially in the Pentagon."

In his notorious "long, hard slog" memo on Iraq of October 16, 2003, Defense secretary Rumsfeld wrote, "Today, we lack metrics to know if we are winning or losing the global war on terror." Correlli-Barnett's "metrics" indicate otherwise. But the "war on terrorism" is at best only a small part of the reason for all our military strategizing. The real reason for constructing this new ring of American bases along the equator is to expand our empire and reinforce our military domination of the world.
Johnson's article offers many more details. I recommend it to you, and I will be commenting on other aspects of Johnson's observations in the future.

I will be blunt: I submit that, considering these facts and the staggering reach of our global military power, any relatively sane person ought to be aghast that our governing class, together with almost every pundit and blogger, will look at these same facts and say only: "More, please!" But this is the inevitable result for a people who are entirely comfortable with the fact that their nation dominates the world, and of their belief that it does so by right.

And let me emphasize a point I have made before. If we had toppled Saddam and installed a compliant, basically well-functioning colonial government within a year or two, almost none of those who have been complaining so vehemently about Bush's "incompetence" and "mismanagement" of this immense catastrophe would have had any objection at all. It is not as if they have moral qualms about our wars of aggression and conquest -- so long as they are carried out "efficiently." The fact that Iraq had not attacked us and the additional fact that Iraq did not constitute a serious threat to our country would have been entirely forgotten. Even in the current debate, those facts are rarely mentioned. This is what I have referred to as "The Missing Moral Center."

We are guilty of war crimes on a huge scale, and of the slaughter of hundreds of thousands of innocent people who never harmed us. Insofar as our national debate is concerned, these overwhelmingly significant facts are unworthy of mention. The full truth is still worse: that there might be a moral objection to what we have done never occurs to most people, including most of those who criticize this administration's performance. The administration has executed the war and occupation remarkably poorly -- but that they had no right to execute it at all is the forbidden thought.

According to this worldview, we are the world's sole superpower, and we should be. We are morally entitled to dictate events around the world, and we are right to have our way. And that is the actual root of almost all the current complaints about the parlous state of Iraq: we have not successfully had our way. This failure, made before the entire world, damages our "credibility," and it lessens our influence. Such an outcome is impermissible for our governing class, and for those who support it. Moral considerations find no place in these calculations.

We have power undreamt of in world history -- but our governing elites can never have enough. Our strategy of global dominance causes untold human suffering, it severely (and probably permanently) undermines our economic well-being and causes profound economic dislocation, it increases the threats we face -- and they still can never have enough. After the Iraq catastrophe, one would think that a reassessment of this strategy would be a minimal requirement. But our elites do not agree: we must increase our military budget, and increase the size of our military -- and everyone applauds the further increase of our already immense power.

Occasionally, I have referred to the phenomenon of pathology as foreign policy. When one contemplates these facts, it is very hard to conclude that anything other than pathology is involved. Our strategy is indefensible, irrational and immensely destructive, and yet almost no one questions it. But this particular pathology is so inextricably woven into our myths about the United States and about ourselves as Americans, that we believe this is simply "the way things are," and the way things ought to be.

In the next part, I will return to some of the historic roots of our current predicament, and how we arrived at this very dangerous moment.