American Samizdat Guernica
Saturday, November 16, 2002
the shitstorm cometh

Match game
America prepares to light the Iraqi fuse, Middle Eastern powder keg prepares to explode
by Geov Parrish

This is a war with the most clearly imperial aims of any major global conflict in a generation; the Bush Administration proposes to redraw Asia's maps to America's lasting economic, political, and military advantage. But once you start proposing to erase international boundaries, a funny thing happens: other people also start thinking about where to redraw them. And as developments suggest this week from Jordan to Kabul to whichever phone booth bin Laden is dropping rupees from, a number of people are already doing more than just thinking.

Iraqi army is tougher than US believes
The US claims a war against Saddam would be quick. Wrong, says analyst Toby Dodge, the conflict could be long and bloody

If Mr Bush orders US troops to invade Iraq to topple the regime, it will not only be the most important and risky decision of his presidency, but a momentous event in world politics. The only thing certain about it is that it will not be as simple as Mr Rumsfeld says.

Iraq: The Economic Consequences of War

The United States is marching, two steps forward and one step backward, toward war with Iraq. The Bush administration has articulated its reasons for war, but has produced no official estimates of the costs. Although cost estimates are often ignored when war is debated, most people recognize that the costs in dollars, and especially in blood, are acceptable only as long as they are low. If the estimates of American casualties mount to the thousands, if the costs to the economy are major tax increases or a deep recession, or if the United States becomes a pariah in the world because of callous attacks on civilian populations, then decision-makers in the White House and the Congress might not post so expeditiously to battle.

In views of the salience of cost, it is surprising that there have been no systematic public analyses of the economics of a military conflict in Iraq. This essay attempts to fill the gap. We must start by acknowledging that the estimates given here are virtually certain to be wrong in some respects, for the fog of war extends far beyond the battlefield to include forecasts of political reactions and economic consequences. However, as Keynes said, it is better to be vaguely right than precisely wrong.

Waiting on a Countervailing Force
Europe Versus America
by Edward Said

Certainly Europe generally and Britain in particular have a much larger and more demographically significant Muslim population, whose views are part of the debate about war in the Middle East and against terrorism. So discussion of the upcoming war against Iraq tends to reflect their opinions and their reservations a great deal more than in America, where Muslims and Arabs are already considered to be on the "other side", whatever that may mean. And being on the other side means no less than supporting Saddam Hussein and being "un- American". Both of these ideas are abhorrent to Arab and Muslim- Americans, but the idea that to be an Arab or Muslim means blind support of Saddam and Al-Qa'eda persists nonetheless. (Incidentally, I know no other country where the adjective "un" is used with the nationality as a way of designating the common enemy. No one says unSpanish or unChinese: these are uniquely American confections that claim to prove that we all "love" our country. How can one actually "love" something so abstract and imponderable as a country anyway?).

The second major difference I have noticed between America and Europe is that religion and ideology play a far greater role in the former than in the latter. A recent poll taken in the United States reveals that 86 per cent of the American population believes that God loves them. There's been a lot of ranting and complaining about fanatical Islam and violent jihadists, who are thought to be a universal scourge. Of course they are, as are any fanatics who claim to do God's will and to fight his battles in his name. But what is most odd is the vast number of Christian fanatics in the US, who form the core of George Bush's support and at 60 million strong represent the single most powerful voting block in US history. Whereas church attendance is down dramatically in England it has never been higher in the United States whose strange fundamentalist Christian sects are, in my opinion, a menace to the world and furnish Bush's government with its rationale for punishing evil while righteously condemning whole populations to submission and poverty.

Revenge of a Child
By Uri Avnery

So what makes them do these things? What makes other Palestinians justify them?

In order to cope, one has to understand, and that does not mean to justify. Nothing in the world can justify a Palestinian who shoots at a child in his mother’s embrace, just as nothing can justify an Israeli who drops a bomb on a house in which a child is sleeping in his bed. As the Hebrew poet Bialik wrote a hundred years ago, after the Kishinev pogrom: “Even Satan has not yet invented the revenge for the blood of a little child.”

But without understanding, it is impossible to cope. The chiefs of the IDF have a simple solution: hit, hit, hit. Kill the attackers. Kill their commanders. Kill the leaders of their organizations. Demolish the homes of their families and exile their relatives. But, wonder of wonders, these methods achieve the opposite. After the huge IDF bulldozer flattens the “terrorist infrastructure”, destroying-killing-uprooting everything on its way, within days a new “infrastructure” comes into being. According to the announcements of the IDF itself, since operation “Protective Shield” there have been some fifty warnings of imminent attacks every day.

The reason for this can be summed up in one word: rage.

Terrible rage, that fills the soul of a human being, leaving no space for anything else. Rage that dominates the person’s whole life, making life itself unimportant. Rage that wipes out all limitations, eclipses all values, breaks the chains of family and responsibility. Rage that a person wakes up with in the morning, goes to sleep with in the evening, dreams about at night. Rage that tells a person: get up, take a weapon or an explosive belt, go to their homes and kill, kill, kill, no matter what the consequences.

Rabbi in Hebron Says Annihilation of Non-Jews Acceptable

A prominent Israeli rabbi with thousands of followers said during a Sabbath homily in the settlement in Kiryat Arba'a Saturday that halacha, or Jewish religious law, "essentially supported the annihilation of non-Jews in Israel."

The rabbi, Rav Leor, said most rabbinic authorities "of the past and the present accepted the opinion that the lives of non-Jews don't' enjoy the same sanctity as the lives of Jews."

"Hashmadat goyem" (the extermination of non-Jews), he said was an established principle in Jewish theology.

A Conversation on Israel and Palestine
Sharon's Last Option: Build a Wall So Tall Even Birds Can't Fly Over

Byrne: How has it come to this, Martin... how is it that the mighty Israeli army--one of the world's most powerful -- with its helicopter gunships, with its tanks, with it's missiles, can be losing to this relatively small, relatively under-armed if fanatical group of Palestinians?

Van Creveld: The same thing has happened to the Israeli army as happened to all the rest that have tried over the last sixty years. Basically it's always a question of the relationship of forces. If you are strong, and you are fighting the weak for any period of time, you are going to become weak yourself. If you behave like a coward then you are going to become cowardly--it's only a question of time.

Transfer's Real Nightmare

Fighting the W. Bank harvest of hatred
In the olive groves: Zionist immigrants protect Palestinians from Zionist settlers
As Settlers Pray for the Dead, Israel Weighs Retaliation
Contrary to its front page coverage of today, the New York Times online now portrays the attack in Hebron (denounced as an act of terrorism worldwide) as a military operation which killed 12 combatants, 9 military and 3 armed settler security guards. According the Times, the first "Bullets smashed into the armored jeep, fracturing its bullet-proof glass. Hearing the gunshots, guards from Kiryat Arba raced down the hill...into a wall of gunfire."
"In a very practical sense, the attacks on the World Trade Center and the Pentagon were a tremendous success. September 11, 2001 dramatically advanced the agenda of a tiny group of radicals who perceive that the only way to achieve their goals is by driving the worlds of Islam and Christianity into a cataclysmic confrontation. ", writes Ismail Royer, in "Who are the Radicals?". "These radicals are not just Muslims; they are Christians and Jews as well. Under examination, the ultimate goals of the radical pro-Israel fringe, extremist Christian fundamentalists, and Al Qaida are startlingly similar. The line between the camps becomes quite fuzzy, a subject that A True Word hopes to examine in future articles. "
Friday, November 15, 2002
Penn rally backs action against Iraq
"I just hope this demonstration will let people know that college students aren't just hippie-type people who are all anti-war," Light said Thursday.

About 20 students gathered near the flagpole at the center of campus Thursday. Eventually nearly 40 people stood in the cold to listen.
British Empire blamed for modern conflicts
UK Foreign Secretary Jack Straw said the Balfour Declaration of 1917 - in which Britain pledged support for a Jewish homeland in Palestine - and the contradictory assurances given to Palestinians, were not entirely honourable.

"The Balfour declaration and the contradictory assurances which were being given to Palestinians in private at the same time as they were being given to the Israelis - again, an interesting history for us, but not an honourable one," he said.

Mr Straw blamed many territorial disputes on the illogical borders created by colonial powers.

"The odd lines for Iraq's borders were drawn by Brits," he said.
No War? Think Again

Don't get too comfortable just because Saddam said yes to the U.N. weapons inspection resolution. Or should we say, Mr. Bush is not getting too comfortable, and we bet Saddam isn't either.

Just a quick look around the headlines make it pretty apparent that War is inevitable:

USA Today - Iraq: Failure to comply may spark invasion

Business Week - An Iraq Attack: The Odds Now

Sydney Morning Herald - wSplit emerges over what triggers war

CBS News - U.S. Warns Iraq: Don't 'Play Games'

Toronto Star - U.S. has doubts as Iraq allows checks

icWales - Bush Still Looks for Showdown

Canadian Globe and Mail - Deception won't be tolerated, Hussein warned

Fox News (there's a surprise!) - Rumsfeld: Saddam Would 'Like to See' Terrorist Attacks If U.S. Goes to War

Rather than reporting the news, these headlines seem to be preparing the world for an inevitable war (and the consequences of an increase in terrorists attacks during and afterwards).

Say your prayers to whatever God you believe in, folks.

Thursday, November 14, 2002
we HAVE to remain aware & vigilant...
and thanks to The War in Context for the reminder,
William Safire, from the NYT, You Are A Suspect
Reports From a Tightrope
Palestinian journalist working for Israeli TV may have the toughest job in news media as his allegiance is questioned by both sides. One in an occasional series of stories about Israelis and Palestinians who defy divisions by the LA Times.
Reassessing Al-Qaeda?

It's time to reassess Al-Qaeda, writes Charles Heyman of Jane's. However, I'm not so sure that his analysis really is a "reassessment", meaning a "different assessment". I haven't seen any credible evidence that Al-Qaeda is something other than what Heyman now thinks it is, so his "reassessment" looks more like support for earlier and similar assessments:

"Better now to look at Al-Qaeda as a cross between a merchant bank, providing venture capital for terrorist operations and a terrorist consultancy. Possibly 5,000 trained terrorists from Afghanistan are at large, and it is likely that they are infiltrating Muslim groups (many of these groups totally innocent) in a number of countries worldwide. These Al-Qaeda terrorists are almost certainly identifying the radical individuals who are likely candidates for future operations and adding terrorist expertise and operational value to these local groups."
Gary Snyder on Buddhist Anarchism: "No one today can afford to be innocent, or indulge himself in ignorance of the nature of contemporary governments, politics and social orders. The national polities of the modern world maintain their existence by deliberately fostered craving and fear: monstrous protection rackets."
Hacktivists or Cyberterrorists? The Changing Media Discourse on Hacking
Especially after September 11, the national debate on the security of cyberspace has intensified. It has negatively influenced movements that rely on hacking (like hacktivism), or other anti-hegemonic forms of Internet use, such as free access, open source, or privacy protection. Hackers and online political activists are now forced to defend themselves against being labeled by the authorities as cyberterrorists.

Restrictive legislation can more easily be passed with public support that increases under a perceived threat, and thus justifies lending more power to the government. Because of the sensationalist nature of hacking, the media is a willing partner of the government in vilifying hackers and hacktivists, and even blaming the Internet as a terrorist territory. Whether intentionally influenced or not, the mass media's portrayal of hacking conveniently fits the elite's strategy to form a popular consensus in a way that supports the elite's crusade under different pretexts to eradicate hacking, an activity that may potentially threaten the dominant order. While the focus is on hackers, several related issues are touched upon, such as encryption, surveillance, censorship, and privacy, which are also key to digital resistance. As such, we see a great effort on the part of the government to control these technologies and forms of online dissent. [more]

See also: Hacktivismo and CultDeadCow
Wednesday, November 13, 2002
No War This Week

In a move devastating to Mr. Bush's chance to get some crude oil for his friends in the petroleum industry, Saddam Hussein said yes to the U.N. resolution demanding unconditional weapons inspections in Iraq.

"We hereby inform you that we will deal with Resolution 1441, despite its bad contents," said a letter from Foreign Minister Naji Sabri to U.N. Secretary-General Kofi Annan.

We ourselves have had lunches with bad contents and know how difficult it is to digest. However, this pretty much puts any invasion plans on hold, at least for a week. Iraq's compliance, combined with the recent tape indicating that Osama bin Laden might still alive, would create active debate as to the advisability of focusing military might on an Iraq invasion, if the media were actually objective, and we weren't living in Bizarro World ("bin Laden am still alive! Then we am going after Hussein!").

Here's a nifty little piece of interactive cool stuff from CBSNews, showing things like the dates of inspections, world opinions, layout of our troops in the gulf, a who's who of hawks in DC, and an advertisement for the CBS Early Show.

However, as this little article from CNN shows, it's only a matter of waiting till Saddam does something Bush doesn't like:

White House spokesman Scott McClellan said that the Bush Administration had not seen the letter -- but warned that if it contained "any false information or omissions, that would be considered a violation," of the resolution.

Does that include spelling errors? Saddam, there's no I-T after B-U-S-H!

George Catlin... Máh-to-tóh-pa, Four Bears, Second Chief, in Full Dress (1832, oil). From George Catlin and His Indian Gallery at the Renwick Gallery of the Smithsonian American Art Museum. "...When Catlin first traveled west in 1830, the United States Congress had just passed the Indian Removal Act, requiring Indians in the Southeast to resettle west of the Mississippi River. This vast forced migration - as well as smallpox epidemics and continuing incursions from trappers, miners, explorers, and settlers - created pressures on Indian cultures to adapt or perish. Seeing the devastation of many tribes, Catlin came to regard the frontier as a region of corruption. He portrayed the nobility of these still-sovereign peoples, but he was aware that he painted in sovereignty's twilight."
In the name of Fatah

When journalists report that a certain Palestinian group is an "armed wing of Fatah" (the movement of Palestinian leader Yasser Arafat), what does that mean? Amira Hass writes in Ha'aretz about "Fatah's failure":

"... the senior and mid-level echelons of the Fatah don't have real control over those who pick up a gun in the name of Fatah. As opposed to the centralized decision-making processes in Hamas and Islamic Jihad, in Yasser Arafat's Fatah movement any three youngsters can join together, decide they are a military cell, and conduct this or that "operation" sometimes "responding" to a call by their leaders not to go over the Green Line, and sometimes going over the line. ..."

"... the Fatah leadership failed to create a clear and logical plan for an independence campaign when it became clear beyond the shadow of a doubt that the Israeli occupation was not coming to an end through pleasantries, because the PA found it difficult to give up the benefits of being a ruling movement under the auspices of Oslo. The Fatah leadership did not dare demand obedience of its people in the national liberation movement and prohibit methods that were "popular" because of their vengeance, but damaging in the long run, because Fatah's failure as a government disappointed most of the Palestinian people."
Tuesday, November 12, 2002
A raw nerve?

Mr. Putin gets a wee bit touchy when grilled about the Russian policy towards Chechnya:

Get circumcised, angry Putin tells reporter

President Vladimir Putin has suggested that anyone who wants to criticise Russia's campaign in Chechnya should join the rebels in their Islamist holy war, adding that they could enhance their prospects of being accepted into the ranks by travelling to Moscow to be circumcised.

Visibly enraged at being lectured and questioned about his policies in Chechnya, the Russian president rounded bizarrely on a journalist from the French daily Le Monde who implied that his troops were killing innocent civilians by sowing mines indiscriminately in Chechnya.

"If you are prepared to become the most radical Islamist and are prepared to get circumcised, I invite you to Moscow. We have specialists that deal with this problem," he told the reporter.
Monday, November 11, 2002
A Moment for Those Fallen in Battle

Today is Armistice Day, better known as Veterans' Day, originally designed to honor those brave soldiers fallen on the battlefields of World War One, now expanded to include honoring all American soldiers from all times.

I come from a military family; my father, my aunt and uncle, my sister, and the men who married both my sisters have served in the armed forces. My father was on one the subs in Tokyo Bay when the surrender was signed on the USS Missouri. He was a pharmacists' mate on the sub in the Pacific throughout the war. I honor him, and I miss him greatly.

I have often maintained that the military is not the problem; it's the politicians who make the wars. The military are the ones that clean up the mess the politicians make.

Please take a moment to think of those who had died fighting for this country. Take a moment to think of those who, unless a miracle of miracle happens, will die on the sands of Iraq at a politician's behest.

And, in honor of Armistice Day, here are views on invading Iraq by some men and women who have actually served in our armed forces:

At Navy School in Monterey, Voices of Skepticism about Iraq War

When former Secretary of the navy James Webb gave a speech last Thursday at the naval postgraduate school in Monterey slamming the bush administration's threatened war with Iraq, an outsider might have expected the officers assembled there to give him a frosty reception. In fact, the opposite occurred. The respectful, admiring welcome he received gave an unusual, somewhat counterintuitive glimpse into the often- closed world of the U.S. military. Among the Naval postgraduate school's students and faculty, at least, it seems that independent, critical thinking is alive and well.

marine general speaks out against bush's war plans

i'm not convinced we need to do this now. i am convinced that we need to deal with saddam down the road, but i think that the time is difficult because of the conditions in the region and all the other events that are going on. i believe that he can be deterred and is containable at this moment. as a matter of fact, i think the containment can be ratcheted up in a way that is acceptable to everybody.

veterans comment on actions against iraq

you have to avoid war as much as possible because war is hell no matter how you look at it. there's no winner...i hate to see young people go to war...their lives get ruined, the lives of their families get ruined.

vets differ on war against iraq">veterans comment on action against iraq

we either get him disarmed or we get rid of him, one of the two...i know what it can do to mankind, and it isn't a pretty sight...i'm not for war, but if that's what it takes...a lot of families will be broken up. a lot of children will be left fatherless and motherless. i hope it doesn't come to war...
So, are you still hanging onto that hope that perhaps we might not go to war? Last week (Nov. 3) our local paper here in humid Raleigh NC had a job posting. Not just any job posting though. Please go here and read the letter that some thoughtful clearheaded individual wrote to the editor.
Sunday, November 10, 2002
Eric Blair, at Warblogger Watch, notes that "Bill Quick is running a most bloodthirsty warblog contest. When I first started up WBW I would have been all over it, but now it just kind of seems desperate and sad. Here are a few highlights, my last word, unless one of these nuts goes postal and starts picking off brown people with a Bushmaster." Desperate and sad it may be, but I'm afraid it increasingly represents the mainstream. Reading some of the venom these pathetic ignorants are spouting serves to help us remember what kind of country we live in, if waking up painted blue all over last Wednesday morning hasn't already done it for you.

Actually, I'm of two minds what significance to place on all this. As readers of my weblog Follow Me Here know, it is a longstanding preoccupation of mine to worry about exactly what influence thoughtful webloggers opposed to the madness can have. Usually it seems to me we fill a universe with discourse, but that the universe is one of likeminded souls only preaching to the converted. This often discourages me (and inspires a shower of supportive comments in my mailbox). But, on the other hand, one of my responses to the fact that I live in a country whose denizens are over and over anally raped, played for fools and convinced to love it enough to beg for more from our elected despots — and then go on in braindead support of the export of our hypocritical tyranny and pillage on the rest of the world — has been to dissociate myself. When people tell me my words can have an influence in the broader field of public discourse, not only am I often dubious but, usually, I'm not sure I want that. You can't argue about political persuasion any more than you can about religion —indeed, it is usually faith- rather than fact-based! It takes so much energy to debate with deluded ranters; is it worth it?

Why not just live in a different country? In a way, ever since the moral bankruptcy of the Vietnam War, I've taken seriously the jeering jingoist yahoos who taunted us to "Love it or leave it." I left. Not literally, not geographically, but I have never felt I lived in America as constituted, not their America. This was apolitical whenever possible, politically involved when an issue of peace, justice or survival made it morally impossible to ignore it. Actually, maybe I live elsewhere geographically too; I've always settled in places which are pockets of resistance, university towns, for most of my adult life The Republic of Cambridge or its environs (I'm across the river from there now, but I still have my office there), and could not see relocating anywhere in the Vast Wasteland which still seems painful whenever it is necessary to venture out into it. At least, unlike my aloof beleaguered isolationism of the Reagan-Bush era, the pockets of self-imposed exile in these days of renewed tyranny and permanent war have expanded into cyberspace to assume a continuity and community. It's a little bit easier to inhabit this America. Let's hope, with the ongoing shitstorm ramping up in intensity, it remains a place of refuge.

we didn't know women were a minority

california representative nancy pelosi has all but locked up the job of house minority leader.

her main competition to the job, martin frost, dropped out of the running and endorsed ms. pelosi on friday. this leaves only harold ford as her only challenger, but most feel that pelosi has secured enough votes for victory.

ms. pelosi will replace dick gephardt, who, since our mother told us if we can't say anything nice, don't say anything at all, we will say nothing about.

asked for a comment, the republicans said, "ha ha ha ha ha ha ha ha ha ha. losers."
apparently there are no republicans in italy

over 450,000 people marched in florence italy this weekend as a protest of impending war in iraq and globalization in general.

the protests were peaceful, unlike those against the g8 last year.

"police in florence said about 450,000 people took part in the demonstration, the highlight of an anti-globalization gathering here that started wednesday and ends sunday. the figure was more than twice the number expected. organizer vittorio agnoletto estimated the crowd at 800,000 to 1 million."

why can't the u.s. turn out those kind of numbers for our protests? oh yeah, because we're stuck in first amendment zones!

addendum two of our favorite things in blogtopia (yes! i coined that phrase!) also cover this story, as talkleft reports about it on stand down, the no war blog.
where have all the mothers gone?

Rome. buon giorno my friends! For the past week there’s been so much controversy about permitting the European Social Forum to have their convention-manifestation in Florence. Many argued that it was stupid to risk in Florence, because of it’s artistic patrimony, that which happened last year in Genova with G8. But, while the right on one hand was waging a media blitz against the pacifists accusing them of potential violence, on the other hand they were in Parliment literally fist fighting among themselves.
One of the nastiest anti-Social Forum blasts came from Oriana Fallaci, Florentine living in New York, who, once physically beautiful, is now old and sour. She encouraged the citizens of Florence to “show their balls” (I guess she was desperate to see some....) and protest against the presence of Social Forum even encouraging merchants to close their shops with a “chiuso per lutto” (closed for mourning) sign. (Must I add that Fallaci writes for Corriere della Sera, newspaper owned by right-wing premier, Berlusconi?)

One of the main concerns of the manifestation was that of the War of Prevention in Iraq. Where are our mothers? Why are women so willing to donate their sons to war? Why don’t women care about risking their sons’ limbs, lives and psyches? Do we have children just for decorative purposes and/or narcisstic needs? Mothers should be the first to protest against war!

The manifestation was a great success with 500,000 to 1,000,000 people from different countries and cultural backgrounds all united by basic common principals. Many Florentines stood in their windows clapping the demonstrators. Many even offered them food and water and the use of their bathrooms since many of the shops were closed. Even my son, Sergio, was there representing the family, I'm proud to say!

more:The Significance of the European Social Forum--Gino Strada: "Emergency simbolo contro la guerra"--Social Forum: Al Corteo 6000 Agenti; Ci Sara' Cofferati--European Social Forum A festival of resistance

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