American Samizdat Guernica
Saturday, November 02, 2002
Iraq's History is Our History Too
Art Newspaper - 01 Nov 02

"Collectors, curators, lawyers and art patrons, are urging the U.S. government to take historic sites in Iraq into account as the military map out possible scenarios for attack and occupation. Specialists concerned about potential threats to the thousands of archaeological sites scattered throughout Iraq are supplying maps and other information to the Defense Department. The initiative, coordinated by Arthur Houghton, a Middle East specialist and former antiquities curator at the J. Paul Getty Museum, is an attempt to protect Iraq's cultural heritage following the U.S. government's initial disregard for archaeological sites during the 1991 Gulf War."
- via Floating Wreckage - Jettisoned Cargo

Deconstructing Neville

Hello, everyone. Skippy here, to discuss the proper application of history. While it's true that those who don't remember History are doomed to repeat it, that is even more true of those that flunked History in the first place.

The name of Chamberlain has been bandied about a lot in recent weeks when discussing the pro's and cons of invading Iraq (and believe me, when it comes to valid reasons for invading, there are plenty of cons out there).

Prime Minister Chamberlain, for those of you doomed to repeat History, was the man who made the historic (or perhaps hysteric) Munich Pact with Adolf Hitler, thus allowing the Germans to take over Czechoslovakia in 1938, and encouraging those nutty Hessians to goose-step their way into Poland in '39. And well, the rest is, we are doomed to repeat, History. Chamberlain's statement of attaining "Peace in Our Time," of course, was shown to be tragically wrong.

And so some 65 years later or so, those who would love to unilaterially invade Iraq and kick some Saddam Hussein butt are accusing those of us who advise caution of being like Minister Chamberlain. But, we argue, as if there weren't enough things to argue about already, this metaphor is like our Grandad after his prostate operation: It can't hold water.

Matthew Engel in the Guardian says that there was Only One Adolf Hitler:

"Let's be clear about this. Saddam Hussein is not Hitler, as hysterical Americans keep claiming. The charges of external violence are 12 years old. There is no coherent evidence that he had any plans (at least before the US began goading him) for more adventures, merely that he is obsessed with stockpiling weaponry, a charge that applies equally to the Pentagon. Far from seeking global or regional domination, he only dominates portions of Iraq."

Mr. Engel goes on to say that George Bush is not Hitler either, with which we heartily agree. Hitler could form coherent sentences (ok, we admit, that was a cheap shot - but he makes it so easy). Anyway, that's not really our point.

Before Chamberlain made the blunder that would assure his name go down in the books, Germany had already invaded and occupied Austria. And it made no signs of leaving. Germany was obviously an 800 pound gorilla, and that was one of the many reasons Chamberlain became the Great Appeaser, wrong-headed an approach as it was.

Another big problem with the Chamberlain analogy is that Germany was, at the time, a first rate-industrial power. Granted, it suffered supreme set backs in the unfortunately-misnamed War to End All Wars, but was coming back rather strong, at least in terms of armament and technology. And although the first Great Depression hit Germany as hard as the U.S., it had one of the four largest economies in the world at the time.

One cannot say anything close to that about Iraq. (Well, one can, but then one would be put in the nuthouse). And let's face it: sure, Saddam likes to feed one zoo animal to another, but when was the last time Iraq invaded somebody? And what happened then? That's right, his forces were immediately routed and sent back home.

Oh, but you say, Saddam gassed the Kurds! That's right, you are correct. And we'll give you $5.00 if you can name the village that was gassed. And $5.00 more if you can tell us what year. And another $5.00, for a total of $15.00, if you can tell us the US's response to that terrible tragedy. Give up? The answers are, Halabja, 1988, and Nothing.

(We won't even get into how our allies, the Turks, treat the same minority group, the Kurds).

Our point, sarcastic as it is, comes down to this: for us to be Neville Chamberlain, Hussein has to be Hitler, and a very specific Hitler: a Hitler who already has invaded and occupied countries and is posed to do the same again. A Hitler with economic and military power to do so. A Hitler that threatens immediate war.

Saddam is a bad, bad despot (well, actually, no, he's very good at being a despot, he's just a despicable human being). But he's not about to invade anybody. He can hardly hold his own patch of sand. Thanks to our sanctions, his economy is in the toilet. And remember, Hitler had 95 warships. Saddam is lucky if he has an outboard.

Saddam must be dealt with. But he's no Hitler. And, ergo, we are no Neville Chamberlain. Richard Chamberlain, maybe. But that's as far as we will go.

The following letter is from Unpublished Letters to The Ethicist by Calvin Trillin from this week's New Yorker.
"I am an adviser to the President of a very powerful country. In order to divert attention from the economy, which happens to stink, I've advised him to talk about virtually nothing but war against Iraq between now and November, when our country is holding an important election. If the economy still stinks after a war with Iraq and I advise the President to talk about virtually nothing but war with North Korea until the next election, would I be "playing politics"?

K.R., Washington, D.C.


Labor has pulled out of Sharon's government and Sharon is scrambling to put together a coalition to avoid new elections. Any coalition will move the Israeli government even more to the right.

Analysis / No Labor, no checks and balances

If a narrow right-wing government is formed, the most important change will apparently be the absence of the internal checks and balances that existed in the unity government's inner security cabinet, where the major security decisions were made with the participation of Prime Minister Ariel Sharon, Defense Minister Benjamin Ben-Eliezer and Foreign Minister Shimon Peres.

Where wild weeds flourish

It's a nation where wild weeds bloom, and at the lecture, my friend asked some of the heckling soldiers: "Tell me, do you believe blacks and whites in America should have equal rights?" There was a near-unanimous chorus of "yes." And, she asked: "Do you believe Catholics and Protestants in Northern Ireland should have equal rights? "Of course."

And Arabs and Jews in Israel? Silences. Cries of "that's different," "they don't accept us," here and there a "no!" She said later: "This is what frightens me. They think it's easy to be tolerant when it's far away - that even Arabs and Jews in America should have equal rights - but not here. I wasn't even talking about Palestinians; I was talking about Arab citizens. They do not understand that it's the same. We still want to be the victims - we can't see another people as victims."

Red-Heifer Days
Religion takes the lead.

So how does the calf recently born in Israel figure into things? As Gorenberg explains, the ashes of a flawless red heifer — an extremely rare creature — were required by the ancient Hebrews to purify worshipers who went into the Temple to pray. In modern times, rabbinical law forbids Jews from setting foot on the Temple Mount, thus violating the site where the Holy of Holies dwelled, until and unless they are ritually purified. Without a perfect red heifer to sacrifice, the Third Temple cannot be built, and Moshiach — the Messiah — will not come. Writes Gorenberg, "[Israeli] government officials and military leaders could only regard the requirement for the missing heifer as a stroke of sheer good fortune preventing conflict over the Mount."

In 1996, thanks in part to a cattle-breeding program set up in Israel with the help of Texas ranchers who are fundamentalist Christians, a red heifer was born. There was immense excitement among messianists of the Israeli religious Right, and their American Christian counterparts. The world media covered it as a joke, but it wasn't funny to David Landau, columnist for the Israeli daily Haaretz. He called the red heifer "a four-legged bomb" that could "set the entire region on fire." Muslim leaders worried about the red heifer too, as they would see an attempt by Jews to take over the Temple Mount as a sign of the Islamic apocalypse.
Friday, November 01, 2002
Pre-emptive arrest of Green Party people in DC? An unconfirmed report.

This could be an inside account, or simply a way to spread rumors. Perhaps some of us bloggers will be able to do a bit of fact checking. Somehow the Leftist Propagandists' report on the DC anti-Iraq protest sounds more plausible. Stuck in traffic for too many hours this week, I heard NPR retract its Saturday estimate of the DC Iraq protest at 10,000, and note that march organizers numbered the crowd at 100,000 instead- same as UPI.

Clearly the hope is that weblogs, spinning off from the US, will somehow make it possible for us to promote a world-wide American Samizdat that counteracts future coverups of mass arrests, and prevents tragedies like Tlateloco from happening in places like Teheran. However data-crunching on surveillance of politicized crowds could become a new variant on opinion polling ... and technologies like the new link-tracking and link-diffusion features on Blogdex could simply make it easier to round all disssenters up.

So, fact checkers and obsessive surfers, grab your tinhats, your Linux server, and join the Vast CIA-sponsored Left Wing Media conspiracy ... ! The non-linear effects of linking so many human processors in a single information web are likely to have unpredictable consequences, and my guess is that some of them will be positive.
A must read: Rumsfeld creates new group to stimulate terrorist activity
According to a classified document prepared for Rumsfeld by his Defense Science Board, the new organization -- the "Proactive, Preemptive Operations Group (P2OG)" -- will carry out secret missions designed to "stimulate reactions" among terrorist groups, provoking them into committing violent acts which would then expose them to "counterattack" by U.S. forces.
In other words -- and let's say this plainly, clearly and soberly, so that no one can mistake the intention of Rumsfeld's plan -- the United States government is planning to use "cover and deception" and secret military operations to provoke murderous terrorist attacks on innocent people. Let's say it again: Donald Rumsfeld, Dick Cheney, George W. Bush and the other members of the unelected regime in Washington plan to deliberately foment the murder of innocent people -- your family, your friends, your lovers, you -- in order to further their geopolitical ambitions.
New Israeli defence minister wanted in UK
The legal case to investigate and potentially "arrest" the newly appointed Israeli Defence Minister, Shaul Mofaz, seems to be gathering momentum by the day.
This followed the naming of Mofaz, former Chief of Staff of the Israeli Army, as a potential defendant by the British Human Rights solicitor Imran Khan, representing specific individuals and families in the West Bank, who lodged complaints to the British Director of Public Prosecutions (DPP) against the Israeli general requesting his arrest.
The complaints cover a broad range of violations amounting to warcrimes and crimes against humanity, including those under article 147 of the Fourth Geneva Convention.
In a significant move by the (DPP) of the UK's Crown Prosecution Service, the case has been referred to the highest investigative authority and anti-terrorist squad in Scotland Yard.
Eviction at Pope Squat in Toronto

It became known as “The Pope Squat”, because it started when the Pontiff came to Toronto in July. It ended Friday afternoon, when the Ontario Fire Marshal’s Office decided an abandoned building at 1510 King St. West was a fire hazard – and evicted all the tenants living there.

The owner - the province - was given notice on Tuesday that the residents would have to leave, after the Fire Marshal issued a ‘fire watch’ inside. And the former tenants were angry when authorities showed up to carry out that order. They scuffled with police as they moved in to empty the building, and several were taken into custody amid noisy cries of "Shame!" from the crowd.

The political/social climate has been getting more vicious here in Toronto for some time, and now this, on the day of the first snow here. Here's some links for backup reference:

Toronto Star: Squatters have right idea about derelict housing
Parkdale Liberty: The Hope Squat
Thursday, October 31, 2002
MaxSpeak Weblog It is reputed that on the eve of his execution for a crime of which he was innocent, a fellow named Joe Hill said, "Don't mourn; organize." For the critics, the real problem with the funeral is that the attendees didn't all commit suicide and join PW in the hereafter. Damn they might even retain sufficient composure to retain the seat for the Democrats.

My personal hope for my own funeral, assuming anyone would bother to show up, would be for a wild bacchanal with people getting BJs & CJs under the tables, drinking and smoking themselves stupid, and indulging in political rhetoric that would make Hunter Thompson blush. Think garden of earthly delights. I only wish I could be there myself.

At Project Vote Smart you can find out who's running for what public office in your area, what their positions are, what the offices are, what their voting records are, and who's been contributing to their campaign (more info about money in politics is available at Open Secrets). Project Vote Smart is specific to zip+4 (which you can look up on the site), and I find it to be a supremely valuable resource. Also, a manual for informed voting is offered for download: "The 2002 voter self defense manual is available for download. The VSDM covers all of the current U.S. members of Congress including selected key votes, special interest group ratings, campaign finance information and contact information."
again, nothing new under the sun...
& a reminder of that, of sorts.
Ruth Rosen's Secrets and Lies,
from the S.F. Chronicle
Today also marks the beginning of the Dia de los Muertos or Day of the Dead festivities in Mexico. Day of the Dead
Stand Down: the Left-Right Blog Opposing an Invasion of Iraq:
Initiated by Max Sawicky (Maxspeak) and Julian Sanchez (Notes from the Lounge) this is a new weblog open to anybody opposed to the threatening war with Iraq.

The members of Stand Down hold a wide variety of different and, indeed, conflicting political positions, but all are in agreement on a single proposition: that the use of military force to effect "regime change" in Iraq is ill advised and unjustified. We do not deny that the current Iraqi regime is monstrous, but we hold, following John Adams, that the United States need not go "abroad in search of monsters to destroy" unless they pose a clear and direct threat to American national security.
Wednesday, October 30, 2002
Canada Issues Travel Advisory Against U.S.
A travel advisory issued by the Canadian government this week has an ironic twist - telling Canadian citizens born in Iraq, Syria and other countries targeted by U.S. anti-terrorism policies to consider avoiding travel to the United States.

And if you do have to go there, don't drink the water...
aha. so that's what they are...
by Richard Goldstein, at the Village Voice online.


The Wolf Who Cried Wolf:
Charging Anti-Semitism and Extending the Iron Wall

For this is the shadow cast by the Iron Wall, Zionism's long-standing policy towards the Palestinians, which has led to a half-century of systematic expropriation, ethnic cleansing, massacre, torture, incarceration, and occupation of the native. When Zionist theoretician Ze'ev Jabotinsky first formulated the doctrine of Iron Wall in 1923, he laid the question of colonialism bare. He understood that "The natives will always struggle obstinately against the colonists," as they are bound up with their land with the "true fervor that any Aztec looked upon his Mexico or any Sioux upon his prairie." Given that the Palestinians "will struggle against colonizers until the last spark of hopeis extinguished," Zionism must ensure "there is no hope left, until we have removed every opening visible in the Iron Wall." Force was to be not only a pre-condition but the condition for Zionist success, via the Iron Wall.

The army must stop the olive thieves

It would be a mistake to regard the settlers' robberies of Palestinian villagers' olive harvests as merely another serious crime. This collective theft signifies a change in the current military conflict between Israel and the Palestinians and is a revolution in the history of the settlements in general. For the first time in the current conflict, Israelis are stealing and confiscating Palestinian food. Even if they won't admit it, it can be seen as laying the groundwork for Transfer, not by the state but by a group of settlers. In Yanun, south of Nablus, most of the residents have already been forced to leave their homes.

The tangible fear of transfer

Before Jewish fascism takes over
Tuesday, October 29, 2002
A letter to Newsweek:

Since Saddam seized power without any democratic mandate, his nation has suffered economic decline and become contemptible in the eyes of the world due to his bellicosity and unilateralist disdain for the environment and the United Nations. At the same time, his weapons of mass destruction strike fear in our hearts. And he and his cronies have grown rich by corrupt dealings in oil and other industries. Why does Bush hate him so? They have so much in common.

David Irby
Dingle, Ireland
US weapons secrets exposed

Respected scientists on both sides of the Atlantic warned yesterday that the US is developing a new generation of weapons that undermine and possibly violate international treaties on biological and chemical warfare.

The scientists, specialists in bio-warfare and chemical weapons, say the Pentagon, with the help of the British military, is also working on "non-lethal" weapons similar to the narcotic gas used by Russian forces to end last week's siege in Moscow.

They also point to the paradox of the US developing such weapons at a time when it is proposing military action against Iraq on the grounds that Saddam Hussein is breaking international treaties.

The article also mentions the use of non-lethal weapons against hostile crowds. I guess that would mean demonstrating civilians.
Chechen 'Black Widows'

"My mother is dying," Fedyantseva said she told her captor.

She said Svyeta replied stonily: "It doesn't bother my conscience. If I see [you] again, I'll shoot."

Commonly called "hell on Earth," Chechnya has been the site of one of the murkiest insurgencies in modern history since Russian troops first entered the Muslim-dominated southern Russian state in 1994 to quash a separatist movement...

But even the most seasoned Russian experts were horrified by the sight of the "widows of the war" calmly announcing their intention to blow up the famous Moscow theater in a videotaped message, which was aired the Arabic satellite TV network al Jazeera just hours after the rebels seized the theater....

"I was shocked, very much so," said Sebastian Gorka, a fellow at the Virginia-based Terrorism Research Center. "For those familiar with mainstream Chechen society — which to put it bluntly, is a conservative society — the concept of front-line Chechen female combatants is unusual, it's a novelty..."

The hostage-taking in Moscow is a dreadful reminder of the unsolved situation in Chechnya," said Judith Arenas, a spokeswoman for the human-rights group Amnesty International. "The situation there affects every single person, but women are particularly vulnerable to violations that include arbitrary detention, torture and rape."

Rights groups have charged that the fear of rape by Russian forces in Chechnya is pervasive, causing many families, particularly those with young women and girls, to flee and motivating desperate attempts to hide female family members. More than 150,000 Chechens have been living in camps in the neighboring region of Ingushetia since the second Russian military operation was launched against the separatists in September 1999...
My life as an animal at Camp X-Ray: former inmate tells
The three Afghans said on Monday that they were not tortured or abused but said the prospect of being trapped in endless isolation, sometimes in a six-square-metre cell, wore away at them.
Jan Muhammad, one of the Afghan prisoners, said he was cut off from the outside world for 11 months and did not receive a letter from his family until three days before his release. "I wrote a letter to my family that said: 'I'm half an animal now. After a month I'll be a full animal and then I'll come back."'
Melissa Lyttle... Meet The Stones, Megan, Mark, Allison, Taylor, and Piglet. "...The Stones have been homeless for almost two years. From sleeping on the streets to motel rooms to numerous shelters, the Stones' lives are constantly in transition and the childrens' personalities have been formed by the experiences they've been through." From Melissa Lyttle.
The red diaper baby has finally, conclusively lost whatever marbles he ever had:

100,000 Communists March On Washington To Give Aid and Comfort to Saddam Hussein
In politics it is important to call things by their right names. Otherwise you are fooling yourself with other people's propaganda. The press is reporting Saturday's "Stop the War" demonstration in Washington as though it was a peace march. Of course it was no such thing. It was a regrouping of the Communist left, the same left that supported Stalin and Mao and Ho. Indeed, this Communist left, organized by Ramsey Clark and his cohorts even supports Slobodan Milosevic, and of course Saddam Hussein. They are not pacifists and they are not peaceniks. They are anti-American radicals whose dream is a Communist revolution in America but whose immediate agenda is to force America's defeat in the war with terror we are now in.
(There is, of course, the remote possibility that Neal Pollack has hacked the Frontpage site. I almost hope that this is indeed the case.)
Monday, October 28, 2002
Billy Bragg is distributing his new anti-war broadside The Price of Oil for free on numerous sites. - a journal of Dialogue and Ideas. News | A day for peace -- and fury It was a rally rich with spectacle and passion where radical cant competed with political substance. There were indie-rock cheerleaders jumping around crying, "Liberate! Smash the state!" and huge banners with messages like, "Defeat US Imperialism: Defend Afghanistan and Iraq for Class War Against the Imperialism War." But there were plenty of committed, articulate people like Mark Arend, a programmer for Microsoft, who stood with his 13-year-old son and hoisted a sign built like a spiral notebook, each page turning to reveal a new anti-war message. He had so many reasons for opposing invasion he couldn't choose just one. "I don't have a lot of time -- I have a job and a family," he says. "But this is bugging me so much it's like a midlife crisis. I listen to the news and I have to do something."
Sunday, October 27, 2002

Dwight Meredith at PLA
chronicles the Bush lies better than the Washington Post.

via Liberal Oasis and this:

With former Vice-President Walter Mondale about to run for Senate, at the urging of Paul Wellstone’s surviving sons, the Right hit the Sunday shows and began the attacks.

What! You don't regularly read Liberal Oasis, get over there right now for some essential insights into a likely Mondale run.
What is President Bush's ultimate objective in Iraq?
Is it to make sure that Saddam Hussein does not have weapons of mass destruction?
Or is it to remove Saddam by force and remake the politics of Iraq?
And if the latter, would it be the first step toward a new American imperium?

from the NYRB on-line, Bush and Iraq;
also from NYRB, Frances FitzGerald's George Bush & the World;
what a paucity of coverage re the demonstrations held Saturday (SF's)...
U.S. pacifist group stages Saddam rally in Baghdad
What was notable at Saturday's protests by the Americans was not so much that the government left the visitors unhindered, since the Americans were making a case that Saddam clearly wanted to hear, but that Iraq's state-controlled news organizations were barely represented. The government apparently did not wish to give too much attention to the American demonstrators since that might have sent a signal that street protests are acceptable now, after all.
The absence of the Iraqi news media left the field to Western reporters, mostly Americans, who outnumbered the protesters by about five to one. What ensued, outside the U.N. offices, was a curious free-for-all in which Kelly found herself at moments cast by questioners as a sort of ''Hanoi Jane'' --- a nickname given to actress Jane Fonda when she visited the then-North Vietnamese capital 30 years ago and spoke against U.S. military involvement in the Vietnam War.
Guardian Unlimited Observer - Gore Vidal claims 'Bush junta' complicit in 9/11

"America's most controversial writer Gore Vidal has launched the most scathing attack to date on George W Bush's Presidency, calling for an investigation into the events of 9/11 to discover whether the Bush administration deliberately chose not to act on warnings of Al-Qaeda's plans.

Vidal's highly controversial 7000 word polemic titled 'The Enemy Within' - published in the print edition of The Observer today - argues that what he calls a 'Bush junta' used the terrorist attacks as a pretext to enact a pre-existing agenda to invade Afghanistan and crack down on civil liberties at home.

Vidal writes: 'We still don't know by whom we were struck that infamous Tuesday, or for what true purpose. But it is fairly plain to many civil libertarians that 9/11 put paid not only to much of our fragile Bill of Rights but also to our once-envied system of government which had taken a mortal blow the previous year when the Supreme Court did a little dance in 5/4 time and replaced a popularly elected President with the oil and gas Bush-Cheney junta.'"

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