American Samizdat Guernica
Saturday, June 05, 2004
It's ever fashionable in our political culture to be "hard," to be a "realist," to assert that certain goods, like the containment of Communism, justify whatever means are applied to attain them. We hear the same arguments now, about torture, about how "quaint" it is to believe anything other than that the righteousness of the aim redeems the act, however vicious and despicable that act.

I, of course, believe something else. Not to defend or justify Communism in any way, or those murderers responsible for 09.11: not in the slightest. But we are different, or we want to be. Aren't we? Don't we?

I believe Jones Griffiths' photographs function as a kind of moral litmus test. If you can contemplate them and still assert that what was achieved was fully worth the cost, I can only conclude that a part of you has died, whatever subtle module it is that makes you human.
"A US navy battlegroup is to make a 'show of force' in the oil-rich waters of the Gulf of Guinea, off West Africa, diplomats said Friday, as Washington hones plans to escape its dependence on unstable Middle Eastern supplies by securing more (read: getting its next fix from) African crude.

"The foray by a heavily armed carrier group into the waters off Nigeria, Sao Tome, Equatorial Guinea and other African oil producers comes at a time when fuel prices are topping the US political agenda and security crises in the Gulf region are pushing demands for greater diversification in energy supplies.

"An Abuja-based US diplomat told AFP on condition of anonymity that the Gulf of Guinea was 'a place where there is not normally an American presence' and described the operation as 'a show of force.'

"'Operation Summer Pulse '04 (Who thought up that name? "Make it sound like reggae and the locals will greet us with their colorful antics and dance steps") aims to demonstrate the capabilities of the US navy; before we only had two or three operations involving aircraft carriers at any one time,' the anonymous gunboat promoter said, adding that seven carrier groups are to be deployed in the Pacific and Indian Oceans, the Mediterranean and the Gulf of Guinea.

"'The navy wants, through this exercise, to demonstrate to the world that, even with all its current responsibilities, it can still position half-a-dozen aircraft carriers with all the neccessary support ships in the four corners of the world, at the same time,' he said."

In other words: "We're desperate and we have lots of guns." See archetypally related story: The Ballad of the Angry Armored White Man.

Fortunately, this nonsense will soon come to an end, and more folks/nations will express themselves in a true spirit of community and cooperation. The United States will benefit from doing the same.
Friday, June 04, 2004
"The Detroit Chapter of the National Lawyers Guild is calling upon U.S. Rep. John Conyers, a Democrat from Detroit, to help in getting a special counsel appointed to 'investigate President George Bush and top members of his administration for conducting an illegal and catastrophic U.S. war of aggression against Iraq.'

"In a letter mailed to Conyers on May 18, the lefty lawyers laid out their case that the prez and his top minions committed numerous war crimes.

"'First,' states the letter, 'these officials conspired to start an unlawful war of aggression, justified by lies. Then they carried out their illegal conspiracy. It included unlawful killing of thousands of Iraqi civilians, destruction of civilian infrastructure, and use of weapons of mass destruction like cluster bombs and depleted uranium against the civilian population of Iraq. Throughout this conspiracy, they have implemented policies and practices for unlawful arrests, detention, interrogation, beatings, abuse, humiliation and torture, in violation of fundamental human rights protected by law.

"'As a result of their misconduct, the dangers of international terrorism have been severely inflamed, international friends and allies turned away, and the security of our people imperiled.'"
"The final Seawolf Class submarine, the Jimmy Carter (SSN 23), honors the 39th president of the United States. Carter is the only U.S. president to qualify in submarines. He has distinguished himself by a lifetime of public service, and has long ties to the Navy and the submarine force. He is a 1946 graduate of the U.S. Naval Academy, served as an officer aboard submarines while in uniform, and served as commander-in-chief from 1977-1981. Carter's statesmanship, philanthropy and sense of humanity have made him one of the most influential Americans of the late 20th century.

[Uh, he also won the Nobel Peace Prize in 2002. How utterly bizarre does that honor make this event seem?]

"Rosalynn Carter will serve as sponsor for the ship named for her husband. In a time-honored Navy tradition, Carter will break a bottle of champagne across the bow to formally name the submarine Jimmy Carter. [?!!]

"The Jimmy Carter is the third and final submarine of the Seawolf class. As the most advanced submarine in the Seawolf class, the submarine will have built-in flexibility and an array of new warfighting features that will enable it to prevail in any scenario, against any threat from beneath Artic ice to shallow water.

"Differentiating the Jimmy Carter from all other undersea vessels is its multi-mission platform (MMP), which includes a 100-foot hull extension to enhance payload capability. The MMP will enable the Jimmy Carter to accommodate the advanced technology required to develop and test new generation of weapons, sensors and undersea vehicles for naval special warfare, tactical surveillance and mine-warfare operations."

Slap a few hundred tons of rice and vegetable protein in this underwater SUV and save a few thousand lives in North Korea, rather than continue to tread this tired, tired road of shadow manuevers against forces that don't exist. The only military that could wage a conventional war against the United States is the United States. We are our greatest adversary. Or, rather, those who claim to lead but who really seek to increase their power and control over everyone for a profit are our greatest adversaries.
From the Capitol Hill Blue website:

President George W. Bush’s increasingly erratic behavior and wide mood swings has the halls of the West Wing buzzing lately as aides privately express growing concern over their leader’s state of mind.

In meetings with top aides and administration officials, the President goes from quoting the Bible in one breath to obscene tantrums against the media, Democrats and others that he classifies as "enemies of the state."
They have the dirt from White House aides that Bush is getting more paranoid and kookily religious, losing his focus and worrying about small-time BS, the big picture not even an issue anymore.

I hope Powell keeps Dumbya away from that little red button . . .
Thursday, June 03, 2004
"George Tenet's announcement [of resignation] came amid new storms over intelligence issues, including an alleged Pentagon leak of highly classified intelligence to Ahmad Chalabi, an Iraqi politician. At the same time, a federal grand jury is pressing its investigation of the leak of a CIA operative's name, and El Presidente acknowledged he might be questioned in the case (and seek a private attorney, I read elsewhere in the paper).

"The CIA denied that Tenet's resignation was connected with any of the those issues. 'Absolutely not,' said Mark Mansfield, CIA spokesman."

Ab-solutely not! Just as a brightening sky in the morning has absolutely nothing to do with the rising of the sun.
Wednesday, June 02, 2004
Write for Cursor?
Cursor is an excellent site and I'm honored the Samizdat is linked by them. I'm sure more than one of our harbingers could more than ably fill this role (reprinted from their site):
Read 'Em and Reap! Cursor is seeking an experienced editor/writer with a strong background in media, politics and post-9/11 issues for "Media Patrol." The position is 2-3 days a week and could become full time. Send a brief introduction and links to writing samples -- no attachments please -- to Finalists will be contacted by mid-June.
Tuesday, June 01, 2004
The Pentagons New Map: It Explains why we are going to war and why we'll keep going to war"by Thomas Barnett of the US Naval War College will make you think.
So where do we schedule the U.S. military’s next round of away games?

Perpetual war as globalization writ large.
Rick Jahnkow nails it
With Kerry as President, Our Work Would Be Just as Urgent

This is from the May/June edition of Draft NOtices, the COMD bimonthly newsletter. I'll give y'all the whole column, with some key take-home messages highlighted:

If you were thinking "relief" is spelled K-E-R-R-Y, think again. John Kerry could be just as bad on the issue of militarism — more specifically, the militarization of young people — as the previous several administrations.

Besides the fact that Kerry advocates enlarging the military (imagine spending more on war making than we already are!) and supports continuing the occupation of Iraq, Kerry has a plan for national service that could be an intermediate step in the direction of mandatory civilian/military service.

Over the years, various organizations and politicians have unsuccessfully championed the idea of universal national service, where people would have to choose between military and civilian duty. Military conscription alone has been used in this country during the Civil War, WWI, and most of the WWII-Vietnam period. Attempts to have the Supreme Court declare the military draft unconstitutional never succeeded, and the last draft was ended by Congress mostly because it was helping to fuel a more general social and political rebellion during the Vietnam War. The idea of a draft for civilian service has been even less popular and has never picked up enough support to make it through Congress.

The Democratic Leadership Council (DLC), which was formed in 1985 to move the Democratic Party in a more conservative direction, is one organization that has promoted the idea of universal military/civilian national service. It claims to support only voluntary national service, but in its 1988 Blueprint, the DLC proposed making all existing federal financial aid for students contingent on them doing one or two years of military or civilian service "at subsistence wages."

The danger of such plans is that they are the starting points on a path that could lead to mandatory military/civilian service. The general strategy would work like this:

1. First you campaign to get the public used to the idea that they have an obligation to "serve," with little distinction being made between serving the government and serving humanity.

2. Next, you gradually make college financial aid and other "privileges" (like health care, low-income housing, etc.) contingent on doing government-dictated work assignments.

3. Finally, after getting people acclimated to the above, you introduce a universal civilian/military draft where "service" is no longer voluntary.

John Kerry, a member of the DLC, has been promoting a national service plan in his presidential campaign that seems to be following the first two steps described above. Following are excerpts from Kerry's plan that illustrate his thinking on the subject. Note that he includes the forcing of colleges to accept ROTC in the context of a "voluntary" national service program. (Full text is available at

(II) A MANDATORY HIGH SCHOOL SERVICE REQUIREMENT. As President, John Kerry will ensure that every high school student in America does community service as a requirement for graduation. . . . Knowledge of the rights and responsibilities of citizenship — including the duty to serve your community — are as important to American adults as knowing how to read and do math. Combined with a curriculum that teaches students about democracy, citizenship and civic participation, this high school service requirement will be a rite of passage for every young person in the country. . . .

(VI) RECRUIT MORE AMERICANS TO THE MILITARY. The highest form of service is military service. America's military is having trouble recruiting and is increasingly relying on the reserves for active duty. John Kerry believes we must change that. The complicated missions we face and technologies we use depend on it. In a Kerry Administration, no university that receives federal aid will be allowed to ban the ROTC from their campus, except for religious reasons. And the ROTC scholarship program will be adequately funded so that students can attend the college of their choice. John Kerry will also make modernizing our GI benefits a top priority, because no program has been more successful increasing educational opportunities for veterans while also providing an incentive for the best and brightest to make a career out of military service.

Kerry's plan also proposes paying for 2-4 years of college tuition if high school graduates choose to do 1-2 years of national service. For the most part, this would be made possible by expanding the existing civilian service agency, AmeriCorps, and presumably, getting Congress to pass a very large increase in the AmeriCorps education benefit (currently under $5,000).

On the surface, expanding AmeriCorps and enlarging the education benefit for voluntary service is not a bad idea, but it's highly unlikely that the military would stand for this if it would create competition for recruiters. When AmeriCorps was established years ago, the Pentagon complained about the size of the education benefit that was proposed and succeeded in getting it reduced substantially to an amount that could not compete with the GI Bill.

In order to expand "voluntary" national service and not run afoul of the Pentagon, I believe Kerry would be more likely to resurrect the DLC's original proposal to make all federal student aid contingent on doing either military or civilian service. This is the intermediate step toward eventual universal, mandatory civilian/military service.

Even if a combined civilian/military draft were not the result, it's clear that Kerry is aligned with those who would impose militarism on schools and who believe that people have a duty to serve the state, as opposed to the other way around. If elected president, he could very well be the person who will sign a military draft bill if recruiting does not provide enough personnel for expanded military missions and a larger force size over the next few years.

When Democrats Jimmy Carter and Bill Clinton were elected, many people thought the "bad guys" were no longer in office, and we saw the typical phenomenon of peace and social justice activism losing strength and intensity. This is part of an unfortunate cycle that helps render our movements ineffective over the long term and results in more of the same crises that we strive to prevent (more wars, loss of ground on affirmative action, erosion of women's reproductive rights, increasing economic class disparity, etc.).

The lesson is this: vote for anybody-but-Bush if you wish, but no one should have any illusions about Kerry or the Democratic Party. Our only hope is that enough people realize that no matter what happens this November, we must commit to increasing — not decreasing — our activism!

As part of the ABB crew, that's the main thing I refuse to lose sight of: the sigh of relief we might breathe with the eviction of Junior Caligula will be extremely brief. What a Kerry presidency buys us is a few years where we can agitate and organize actively without the prospect of being frogmarched to Gitmo hanging over our heads, and a few years to clean up the mess that Junior Caligula and his chickenhawk fratboy pals have left for the nation. That's it, and to be honest, that's about all I was expecting from whomever became the Democrat party's nominee. Kerry is one of the more hawkish of the Democrats, and the Democrat party has no shortage of hawkish individuals in Congress. That's a fact of life that it is best to bear in mind.

As I've noted before, a viable progressive movement is next to nonexistent in the US. The beginnings of the necessary intellectual, financial, and grassroots infrastructure are there, perhaps for the first time in my lifetime. It will take a great deal of time, effort, and sacrifice for a viable progressive movement or as Billmon calls it, a Popular Front, to come to fruition. It certainly won't happen by chilling out and deluding ourselves into thinking that things are just dandy now that Kerry's in the house. For those of us who have dedicated our lives and efforts to various facets of the peace movement, November 2004 is only phase one. It's all uphill from there. But at least we'll have some momentum and time on our side. Let's use it wisely.

Monday, May 31, 2004
I read somewhere that it was on page ten. And Judith Miller still has a job? Wtf?
Sunday, May 30, 2004
A Picture is Worth a Thousand Words:
State of the Union: Laura Bush and special guest Ahmed Chalabi

State of the Union: Laura Bush and special guest Ahmed Chalabi
[Chalabi is directly behind the First Lady (clapping)]

See the rest of the Chalabi Photo Gallery at The Liberal Conspiracy.

[ Via daily KOS.]

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