Friday, December 26, 2003

A useful article from Ellen Meiksins Wood on the U.S. push for world domination. Makes the case that U.S. occupation of Iraq does not mark a return to an older, colonial style of imperialism. Worth checking out...

Capitalist Empire and the Nation State: A New U.S. Imperialism?

by Ellen Meiksins Wood (Against the Current magazine)
BEFORE THE LATEST war in Iraq, anyone who accused the United States of imperialism was likely to meet the objection that the U.S. doesn't occupy any colonial territories anywhere in the world. Now that it is very visibly in occupation of Iraq, everything seems to have changed overnight.

You might want to say that the occupation of Iraq represents a major departure from U.S. foreign policy since World War II—and lots of critics have said just that. The United States certainly does appear, on the face of it, to be reverting to an older kind of direct colonial domination. It certainly does seem to be breaking with the pattern of avoiding colonial entanglements which it has generally preferred.

Even if we take into account all the more overt displays of imperialism by the United States in the past half-century, all the local wars in which it's been involved in the third world, all its clandestine, and not so clandestine, efforts at regime-change in Latin America and elsewhere, it's true, on the whole, that the U.S. mode of imperialism hasn't been of the old colonial type; and what Bush is doing right now certainly does look like a dramatic break with the postwar past.

But I'm not at all sure about that. I certainly don't want to deny that Bush and Co. have taken things to insane extremes, which are likely to be self-defeating, especially since Bush is undermining one of U.S. imperialism's strengths, the hold it has over its allies.

The right-wing extremists of the Bush regime are certainly deploying U.S. military power in new and excessive ways, which are already proving to be unsustainable. But I'm not sure that Bush represents such a big break, for two major reasons.

One reason is that I think even Bush, and maybe even the ideologically driven right-wing fanatics who surround him, would prefer to stay out of colonial entanglements and to return to a non-colonial imperialism. I say this not because I think these guys have a spark of decency or some residual commitment to democracy—the very idea is ludicrous.

The point is simply that non-colonial imperialism is far less risky and costly, and far more profitable. If the United States can use its massive economic power, backed up by the threat of its overwhelming military superiority, to command the world economy, why would it want to get bogged down in colonial rule?

What's been happening in Iraq may even go to prove the point. The mess the United States has been making of its occupation may simply confirm that long-term occupation isn't really what they had in mind.

As lots of people have been saying, the Bush administration was hoping they could just decapitate the regime and leave the Iraqi state basically intact, but with a more compliant and less awkward leadership, and with U.S. companies well entrenched in the economy. That's surely the preferred strategy, even if imperialist ventures like this have a way of going wrong and creating their own imperatives.

My second reason for rejecting the idea that the Bush regime represents a major break with earlier U.S. foreign policy is that there's no way of making sense of what he's doing, except against the background of what went before. The most obvious point is that Bush couldn't do what he's doing if the United States hadn't been building up its massive military power for decades, with the explicit intention of becoming the most powerful military force in the world, by far.

It's certainly true that the Bush administration has been remarkably open about its intention to exercise an unchallenged global hegemony. It has even produced documents saying it in so many words, in particular, the Security Strategy document published in September 2002. That document makes it unambiguously clear that the object is to have a military power so superior to all others that no other state, enemy or friend, would dream of challenging the United States as a global or even regional power.

But how different is this from what went before? Other administrations may not have been so unambiguously clear about this. But the Bush project would be pie in the sky if the United States hadn't already created a military force which by some measures is bigger and more powerful than all others put together.

This force is not just bigger and more powerful than any single conceivable enemy, or even all enemies combined, but—and this may be even more important—bigger and more powerful than all its friendly competitors, singly or together. The point is that this massive military force hasn't been built up in a fit of absent-mindedness, and Bush isn't deploying U.S. military power just because it's there. This is a matter of policy and has been for a long time.

Bush's policies are certainly extreme and reckless, but we can surely see their roots in what preceded them. We can surely see their connection with the pattern of U.S. policy for at least half a century, ever since the United States embarked on its two-pronged project of global hegemony at the end of World War II, when the Bretton Woods system effectively established its economic hegemony, and its military supremacy was displayed with the atom bombs in Hiroshima and Nagasaki.

I should say straight away that I don't think it's enough to attribute all this to U.S. relations with the Soviet Union. I don't think it's enough to say that the United States built up its military power simply to contain the Soviet Union and maintain its position in the bipolar world that developed in the aftermath of WWII.

At first glance, you might think that this is what any imperial power would try to do. Isn't it self-evident that any imperialist state would try to achieve military superiority over all potential rivals?

To answer that question, we obviously have to know something about the specific nature of capitalist power. We know, first of all, how it operates at the level of class exploitation. Capital can exploit labor without directly wielding what Marx called extra-economic force—for instance, the kind of military, political and judicial powers that constituted the exploitative economic power of feudal lords.

In capitalism, it's economic imperatives, the compulsions of propertylessness, that force workers to sell their labor power for a wage and make it possible for capital to exercise power over them. The capitalist mode of exploitation operates not by means of direct coercive power but through the economic medium of the market.

Obviously there's a lot of coercion in the workplace, but the distinctive characteristic of capitalist domination is power exercised not directly by masters but by markets; and what makes it possible is the market dependence of direct producers.

So that's the specific nature of class domination in capitalism, which differentiates it from other forms. And there's an analogous difference between capitalist imperialism and precapitalist forms. Precapitalist imperialism, to put it simply, was the direct exercise of coercive force to capture territory, to extract labor or resources from subject peoples, or to gain control of trade routes.

The Roman Empire was a fairly straightforward land-grabbing operation, mainly in the interests of the landed oligarchy. The Spanish empire created a new oligarchy of conquerors in South America which exploited indigenous labor, while the economy at home in Spain increasingly depended on gold and silver extracted from the colonies. Commercial empires like the Muslim Arab empire, the Venetian and the Dutch empires, used their power to control trade routes or to impose trade monopolies. And so on.

I'm certainly not suggesting that capitalist powers weren't deeply involved in that kind of imperialism. The British Empire did all the things I've just outlined, and more. The point, though, is that capitalism has created its own distinctive form of imperial hegemony, which had never been possible before.

Like capitalist class exploitation, this capitalist form of imperialism relies not so much on direct coercion as on the market dependence of economic actors and the capacity of imperial power to manipulate markets.

It's certainly true that subordinate economies have to be made market dependent, just as direct producers had to be made market dependent by expropriation in order to produce a capitalist working class. And the transformation into market dependence has often been a very bloody business—though nowadays, we have something called "structural adjustment."

But once the transformation is accomplished, a lot of the work of imperialism can be done by the operations of the market, through control of financial systems, debt, and so on. And on balance, any capitalist economy dominant enough to do its imperial work in that way will prefer this economic mode of imperial domination—as the United States has generally done—instead of the costly and dangerous practice of direct colonial rule.

It's true that it has taken a very long time to perfect this kind of empire. The British never quite managed it. But the United States has pretty much done it, at least since World War II. But here we come to a problem.

Capitalism creates a peculiar kind of relation between political and economic power. There's a sense in which capitalism is the only system that can even be said to have economic power, distinct and separate from political or military.

This obviously doesn't mean that other social forms aren't shaped decisively by their material conditions of existence and social reproduction. What I mean is that capitalism is the only system that can be said to have a distinct "economic" sphere, the only system in which there are purely economic imperatives, the imperatives of the market, the imperatives of competition and profit-maximization, and so on.

This also means that capitalism is the only social form that can systematically allow the power of exploitation and accumulation to reach far beyond the scope of direct political or military domination. In non-capitalist forms, no matter how much surplus is produced by the direct producers, the capacity of exploiting classes to appropriate that surplus can't reach beyond their extra-economic powers, i.e. their political, judicial and military powers. Capitalist class power isn't limited in that way, and the same goes for capitalist imperialism.

Yet capitalism can't do without the support of extra-economic power, even if that power is wielded at one remove from capital itself. The capacity of capital to impose its economic power on such a wide-ranging scale depends on its ability to detach itself from the limitations of political and military domination. But it still needs the help of political and military powers, to maintain social order and create conditions of capital accumulation.

In fact, capitalism more than any other social form needs an elaborate, stable and predictable legal, political and administrative order. The fact that capital thrives by detaching itself from extra-economic power means that it has to rely on political and military powers external to itself to provide that order. Above all, it has to rely on a separate state power.

To put it another way, the very characteristics that enable capital to extend its economic power are the same characteristics that make it dependent on something like the modern state.

Now we're regularly told these days that so-called "globalization" is making the nation-state irrelevant. There's also quite a lot of talk about so-called "global governance." The assumption seems to be that the relation between the economy and the state is a very simple and mechanical relation between base and superstructure: a global economy necessarily means global governance, if not a global state.

Of course, these theories recognize that political forms have been very slow to keep up with the global economy. But the argument seems to be that, at the very least, there's an inverse relation between the geographic reach of economic power and the importance of the nation-state or any kind of territorial state.

This isn't just a claim made by conventional globalization theorists. It's also at the root of the currently most fashionable theory of "empire," the book of that name by Michael Hardt and Antonio Negri. Their whole argument is based on the premise that the expansion of global capital means the development of a new kind of sovereignty.

"Our basic hypothesis," Hardt and Negri say in their book, "is that sovereignty has taken a new form, composed of a series of national and supranational organisms united under a single logic of rule. This new global form of sovereignty is what we call Empire." (Empire, xii)

Its primary symptom is "[t]he declining sovereignty of nation-states and their increasing inability to regulate economic and cultural exchanges . . ." And here's the important bit: "In this smooth space of Empire, there is no place of power—it is both everywhere and nowhere. Empire is an ou-topia, or really a non-place." (190)

I'll come back a bit later to the political implications of that argument. For now, I just want to insist that this notion of the relation between economic and political power in global capitalism is just plain wrong.

Capital is no less dependent on territorial states than it ever was. In some ways, it's even more dependent, and certainly the world is more than ever before a world of nation states. Capitalism didn't create the nation state, but it's no accident, as they say, that the period which has seen the spread of capitalist imperatives to encompass the globe has also been the period in which the nation state has become the more or less universal political form.

What I'm saying here is that legal, political and administrative order that capital needs simply can't match the scope of capital's economic power, and I can't imagine a time when it ever will.

It's certainly true that nation states are having to respond to the demands of global capital. And it's certainly true that certain social, legal and administrative principles have become internationalized in order to facilitate the movements of capital across national boundaries.

It's also true that there are certain international organizations that do the work of global capital. If that's what people mean when they talk about the "internationalization" of the state, I have no objection. But let's face it: The main instruments of global governance are still, above all, nation states.

So we need to be very clear about the continuing and critical importance of territorial states to the capitalist system. Even if we weren't living in a world of uneven development, it's hard—in fact impossible—to imagine anything remotely like a global organization of the finely tuned order that capital needs.

But, of course, we do live in a world of uneven development. And here's another reason for the coexistence of a global economy with a fragmented system of local states: We're routinely told that so-called globalization means an integrated economy, but it just isn't so.

The basic point is that global capital benefits from what we call globalization, but it doesn't and can't organize globalization. Some researchers have even demonstrated that global corporations can't organize their own international operations, let alone the global economy. Anyway, they need states to organize the world for them, and the more global the economy has become, the more economic circuits have been organized by states and inter-state relations. It's states, not international organizations like the IMF or the WTO, which are indispensable to global capital.

What this all means is that the relation between economic and political power in capitalism, between capital and the state, isn't just a simple mechanical relation of superstructure reflecting base. It's a relation of contradiction. And we're only now beginning to see the implications of that contradiction.

As long as there was a more or less clear connection between national economies and national states, that contradiction, or potential contradiction, was more or less manageable. But now the disconnection is becoming very visible.

Again, the point is not that capital has escaped the limits of the nation state and made the state irrelevant. If it were really true that global capital creates a compulsion for a corresponding global state, we wouldn't be talking here about contradictions. But if global capital really does need territorial states—as I insist it does—then there really is a problem.

What I'm saying here is that the new imperialism, the imperialism of the United States today, is a complicated and contradictory business. Its essence is a global economic order, administered by a system of multiple local states. And it doesn't take much imagination to see that this can be the source of severe instabilities and dangers to the rule of global capital.

We shouldn't be surprised that today's imperial hegemon feels compelled to confront the contradiction by trying to control the system of multiple states. Nor should we be surprised that military force will play a major part in that effort.

But this is where serious problems in that imperial strategy start to emerge. In the days of classic imperialism, it used to be reasonably clear what military force was for. After all, there's nothing mysterious about the function of war in the conquest of colonies or in inter-imperialist rivalries over colonial territory.

But what, precisely, is military force meant to do in the new imperialism? What exactly is its function in maintaining the hegemony of global capital?

The most elementary problem is that even so powerful a military force as the United States can't be active everywhere, all the time; and, in any case, the social disorder occasioned by constant war on various fronts is hardly conducive to capital accumulation.

An even more basic problem is that the object of military force isn't anything so clear and well-defined as capturing some identifiable territory or defeating a particular rival. What's the function of military force in controlling a system of multiple states which are supposed to be keeping order in the global economy? How do you keep those states in line without denying them the capacity to do their job for global capital?

In fact, the situation is even more complicated. Capitalist competition is a rather more complicated business than straightforward zero-sum rivalry over colonial territory. Major capitalist powers today are very unlikely to go to war with each other, if only because, however much their economies may be damaged by competition, they need each other as markets and sources of capital.

So imperial hegemony in the world of global capital depends on controlling competitors without going to war with them.

I think what we're seeing today in the Bush regime is a response to these contradictions. The Bush doctrine is a doctrine of open-ended war, war without specific objectives, and without limits in space or time. As I said before, I certainly wouldn't deny that this administration is indeed crazy and reckless in its implementation of that doctrine, and probably in the end this will be self-defeating.

But even if we acknowledge that the Bush regime has taken U.S. military doctrine to new and unsustainable extremes, it's hard to imagine a very different military doctrine which would suit the project of imperial hegemony in this kind of world. The current administration's extremism may be undermining its own project; but the doctrine of war without end, in purpose or time, isn't really new.

For that matter, it's hard to imagine what other kind of military doctrine could sustain the hegemony of U.S. global capital, in a global economy administered by many local states. And administrations before Bush didn't really come up with anything much different. Just think about the ways in which the more benign Clinton administration widened the horizons of war, with its notion of so-called "humanitarian" war.

Any project of imperial hegemony in a global system administered by multiple states will need military power to perform a variety of different functions, none of which are clear-cut and self-limiting. The tasks of military force in a project like this are likely to be open-ended, without specific objectives, end-game or exit strategy.

Sure, there are obvious objectives, like control of oil supplies, or regime change to install a compliant state power. But these relatively well-defined goals are, if you think about it, only a small part of what needs to be done to sustain this kind of global hegemony. For one thing, there are relatively few serious candidates for regime change by means of war.

I'm not just talking about the dangers to the United States and its allies of taking on a really risky adversary like North Korea, rather than a phoney danger, like Iraq. I'm also talking about the problems of invading certain other countries which have, from the U.S. point of view, taken the wrong turn—not failed states or rogue states but what you might call more normal, mainstream states.

Take the case of Brazil, for example. Suppose that Lula, instead of following the advice of neoliberal economists, did what we hoped he would and set an example to oppositional forces throughout the world. The United States wouldn't be very happy about that. But—though I could, of course, be proved embarrassingly wrong about this—it seems to me all but inconceivable that the United States would respond by invading Brazil.

So what other objectives of military action are there? The so-called "demonstration effect" is always, and increasingly, a major consideration, to show the world that U.S. military force can go anywhere, anytime. Precisely because the United States can't be everywhere all the time and because it can't establish a compliant system of states by means of constant war, it has to demonstrate its military supremacy with some regularity.

The demonstration effect can best be achieved by going to war against non-existent threats, against targets chosen precisely because they pose no real threat, can be defeated easily, and ideally in places where the United States doesn't much care what happens to the adversary.

That, for instance, is what happened in Afghanistan. And you could say it's in large part what happened in Iraq too. Sure, in Iraq there's the question of oil, and also the consolidation of the U.S. military presence in the region, while getting out of Saudi Arabia. But I think it's safe to say that, whatever other objectives the United States may have had, one of their main objectives was, in their own words, "shock and awe"—not just to shock and awe Saddam Hussein or even other recalcitrant regimes in the region, though that was certainly a major factor, especially in relation to Iran, but also to shock and awe the whole world, not least its own allies.

The Bush regime chose Iraq not because it represented a threat to the United States or its allies, but, on the contrary, because it represented no real threat at all, and the so-called coalition could "shock and awe" with little risk to itself.

The hardest task, though, is maintaining the right hegemonic relations with friendly competitors. This problem is more difficult for the United States than ever before, for two major reasons. For one thing, the disappearance of the Soviet Union has deprived the West of a common enemy and made it that much harder to keep U.S. allies in line.

Even after WWII, when the United States enjoyed pretty much unchallenged economic hegemony, it relied on U.S.-dominated alliances like NATO to maintain its domination over other capitalist powers. Today the situation is more complicated, because U.S. economic hegemony isn't as unchallenged as it used to be.

This means that the United States is tending to rely more heavily than ever on its unchallenged military supremacy, but doing so at the very time when there aren't any clear military objectives for it to pursue and when an obvious common enemy doesn't exist. Of course, they've tried to reproduce the effects of the Cold War with the so-called "war on terror;" but that isn't very convincing as a task for massive military force.

The best the United States has been able to do—and the explicitly stated objective of the Bush Doctrine—is to make its military force so massive that no potential rival would even dream of challenging it or trying to match it as a global or even regional power.

Military supremacy can't, in the end, be enough—especially when the dominant power can't go to war against its main competitors. But massive military power does at least have a cautionary effect. So the United States has also done what it can to prevent its allies from developing independent military forces.

The allies have no doubt been happy to let the United States police the world for global capital. But all the talk we often hear about Europe's failure to pull its weight in the alliance disguises the fact that the United States would prefer its allies to stay in their place, and has done everything possible to make sure that they do.

When the United States does encourage some kind of military reform in Europe, it's designed to keep U.S. supremacy intact—for instance, the "modernization" of NATO, which would have the effect of making European forces even more dependent on U.S. technical and communication systems, so that outside the alliance they could operate only in a degraded mode. In the end, what possibility or incentive is there anyway for trying to match the ever-more-expensive military force of the United States?

That's the bad news. I'm sure none of you need convincing that this imperial strategy represents a huge danger to the whole world. The U.S. project of global hegemony is impelling it constantly to revolutionize the instruments of war, and these instruments are useless if they aren't tested and used.

But there's good news here too. Let me put it this way. Suppose it were true that global economic hegemony means the increasing irrelevance of territorial states. Suppose, for instance, that Hardt and Negri are right about the emergence of a new kind of "sovereignty" which is displacing the state. What would be the political implications?

Well, Hardt and Negri themselves tell us quite clearly what those implications are—and I have to admit that on this point at least they're right. Here's what they say about the implications of a world in which there is, in their words, "no place of power," a world in which Empire is a "non-place:"

The idea of counter-power and the idea of resistance against modern sovereignty in general thus becomes less and less possible . . . . A new type of resistance would have to be found that would be adequate to the dimensions of the new sovereignty . . . . Today, too, we can see that traditional forms of resistance, such as the institutional workers' organizations developed through the major part of the nineteenth and twentieth centuries have begun to lose their power. (308)

Think carefully about what this means. There is, they suggest, no identifiable concentration of capitalist power in today's global Empire. That means that no counter-power is possible either. Above all, political struggles in general, and working-class parties in particular, are now an irrelevance.

Hardt and Negri are also very critical of oppositional forces that concentrate on local and national struggles, which they also regard as irrelevant. So, what kind of resistance is possible? I challenge anyone to plow through the whole of the Hardt/Negri book and find any convincing account of effective opposition.

What we get is some fairly mystical talk about how an Empire that's everywhere and nowhere can be attacked at any point—largely by means of changing subjectivities. Lots of people have read this book as an optimistic manifesto for the anti-capitalist movement. But to me it's far less convincing as a manifesto for a new anti-capitalist strategy than as a defeatist case for the impossibility of opposition.

My point here is that the very first premise of that defeatism is wrong. I agree that, if Empire really were a non-place, everywhere and nowhere, the game would be up for us socialists. But what I'm arguing here is that empire is as much a "place" as it ever was, that there are indeed visible concentrations of capitalist power, that the state is now more than ever a point of concentration of capitalist power, and that counter-power is not only possible but necessary.

The main place of capitalist power is, of course, the United States. But what I've been trying to suggest here is that this imperial power depends not only on its own domestic state but on the whole global system of multiple states. That means that every one of those states is an arena of struggle and a potential counter-power.

It hardly needs saying that struggles in the heartland of empire would have the most effect. But every state on which global capital depends is an important target for its own oppositional forces and for international solidarity. Protests against the World Trade Organization or G8 summits can certainly change the political climate. But in the end, they're no substitute for politically organized opposition to the power of capital organized in nation states.

Organized political struggle may seem harder to achieve than the kind of symbolic opposition that doesn't even claim to be a counter-power. But to deny the relevance, even the possibility, of that kind of political struggle seems to me a very pessimistic conclusion.

That conclusion effectively means that global capital offers no visible targets and no real possibilities of struggle. It means there isn't much we can do except to give in to the reality of capitalism and, at best, refuse the system in our hearts. Well, I just don't believe it.

Friday, December 19, 2003

America's War for Global Domination
by Michel Chossudovsky

The following is the background text of Michel Chossudovsky's public lecture at the Society for the Defense of Civil Rights and Human Dignity (GBM), Berlin, 10-11 December, 2003 and Humboldt University, Berlin, 12 December 2003.

On Human Rights Day, 10 December 2003, Michel Chossudovsky was awarded The 2003 Human's Rights Prize of the Society for the Protection of Civil Rights and Human Dignity (GBM).

The German Text was published by Junge Welt: Vortrag von Michel Chossudovsky Neuordnung der Welt Der Krieg der USA um globale Hegemonie (Teil 1)
Die Gesellschaft zum Schutz Von Bürgerrecht Und Menschenwürde (GBM), 10 December 2003 15 December 2003

We are the juncture of the most serious crisis in modern history.

The Bush Administration has embarked upon a military adventure which threatens the future of humanity.

The wars on Afghanistan and Iraq are part of a broader military agenda, which was launched at the end of the Cold War. The ongoing war agenda is a continuation of the 1991 Gulf War and the NATO led wars on Yugoslavia (1991-2001).

The post Cold War period has also been marked by numerous US covert intelligence operations within the former Soviet Union, which were instrumental in triggering civil wars in several of the former republics including Chechnya (within the Russian Federation), Georgia and Azerbaijan. In the latter, these covert operations were launched with a view to securing strategic control over oil and gas pipeline corridors.

US military and intelligence operations in the post Cold War era were led in close coordination with the "free market reforms" imposed under IMF guidance in Eastern Europe, the former Soviet Union and the Balkans, which resulted in the destabilization of national economies and the impoverishment of millions of people.

The World Bank sponsored privatization programmes in these countries enabled Western capital to acquire ownership and gain control of a large share of the economy of the former Eastern block countries. This process is also at the basis of the strategic mergers and/or takeovers of the former Soviet oil and gas industry by powerful Western conglomerates, through financial manipulation and corrupt political practices.

In other words, what is at stake in the US led war is the recolonization of a vast region extending from the Balkans into Central Asia.

The deployment of America's war machine purports to enlarge America's economic sphere of influence. The U.S. has established a permanent military presence not only in Iraq and Afghanistan, it has military bases in several of the former Soviet republics on China's Western frontier. In turn, since 1999, there has been a military buildup in the South China Sea.

War and Globalization go hand in hand. Militarization supports the conquest of new economic frontiers and the worldwide imposition of "free market" system.
The Next Phase of the War

The Bush administration has already identified Syria as the next stage of "the road map to war". The bombing of presumed 'terrorist bases' in Syria by the Israeli Air Force in October was intended to provide a justification for subsequent pre-emptive military interventions. Ariel Sharon launched the attacks with the approval of Donald Rumsfeld. (See Gordon Thomas, Global Outlook, No. 6, Winter 2004)

This planned extension of the war into Syria has serious implications. It means that Israel becomes a major military actor in the US-led war, as well as an 'official' member of the Anglo-American coalition.

The Pentagon views 'territorial control' over Syria, which constitutes a land bridge between Israel and occupied Iraq, as 'strategic' from a military and economic standpoint. It also constitutes a means of controlling the Iraqi border and curbing the flow of volunteer fighters, who are traveling to Baghdad to join the Iraqi resistance movement.

This enlargement of the theater of war is consistent with Ariel Sharon's plan to build a 'Greater Israel' "on the ruins of Palestinian nationalism". While Israel seeks to extend its territorial domain towards the Euphrates River, with designated areas of Jewish settlement in the Syrian heartland, Palestinians are imprisoned in Gaza and the West Bank behind an 'Apartheid Wall'.

In the meantime, the US Congress has tightened the economic sanctions on Libya and Iran. As well, Washington is hinting at the need for a 'regime change' in Saudi Arabia. Political pressures are building up in Turkey.

So, the war could indeed spill over into a much broader region extending from the Eastern Mediterranean to the Indian sub-continent and China's Western frontier.
The "Pre-emptive" Use of Nuclear Weapons

Washington has adopted a first strike "pre-emptive" nuclear policy, which has now received congressional approval. Nuclear weapons are no longer a weapon of last resort as during the cold War era.

The US, Britain and Israel have a coordinated nuclear weapons policy. Israeli nuclear warheads are pointed at major cities in the Middle East. The governments of all three countries have stated quite openly, prior to the war on Iraq, that they are prepared to use nuclear weapons "if they are attacked" with so-called "weapons of mass destruction." Israel is the fifth nuclear power in the World. Its nuclear arsenal is more advanced than that of Britain.

Barely a few weeks following the entry of the US Marines into Baghdad, the US Senate Armed Services Committee gave the green light to the Pentagon to develop a new tactical nuclear bomb, to be used in conventional war theaters, "with a yield [of up to] six times more powerful than the Hiroshima bomb".

Following the Senate decision, the Pentagon redefined the details of its nuclear agenda in a secret meeting with senior executives from the nuclear industry and the military industrial complex held at Central Command Headquarters at the Offutt Air Force Base in Nebraska. The meeting was held on August 6, the day the first atomic bomb was dropped on Hiroshima, 58 years ago.

The new nuclear policy explicitly involves the large defense contractors in decision-making. It is tantamount to the "privatization" of nuclear war. Corporations not only reap multibillion dollar profits from the production of nuclear bombs, they also have a direct voice in setting the agenda regarding the use and deployment of nuclear weapons.

Meanwhile, the Pentagon has unleashed a major propaganda and public relations campaign with a view to upholding the use nuclear weapons for the "defense of the American Homeland."

Fully endorsed by the US Congress, the mini-nukes are considered to be "safe for civilians".

This new generation of nuclear weapons is slated to be used in the next phase of this war, in "conventional war theatres" (e.g. in the Middle East and Central Asia) alongside conventional weapons.

In December 2003, the US Congress allocated $6.3 billion solely for 2004, to develop this new generation of "defensive" nuclear weapons.

The overall annual defense budget is of the order of 400 billion dollars, roughly of the same order of magnitude as the entire Gross Domestic Product (GDP) of the Russian Federation.

While there is no firm evidence of the use of mini-nukes in the Iraqi and Afghan war theatres, tests conducted by Canada's Uranium Medical Research Center (UMRC), in Afghanistan confirm that recorded toxic radiation was not attributable to 'heavy metal' depleted uranium ammunition (DU), but to another unidentified form of uranium contamination:

"some form of uranium weapon had been used (...) The results were astounding: the donors presented concentrations of toxic and radioactive uranium isotopes between 100 and 400 times greater than in the Gulf War veterans tested in 1999."
The Planning of War

The war on Iraq has been in the planning stages at least since the mid-1990s.

A 1995 National Security document of the Clinton administration stated quite clearly that the objective of the war is oil. "to protect the United States' uninterrupted, secure U.S. access to oil.

In September 2000, a few months before the accession of George W. Bush to the White House, the Project for a New American Century (PNAC) published its blueprint for global domination under the title: "Rebuilding America's Defenses."

The PNAC is a neo-conservative think tank linked to the Defense-Intelligence establishment, the Republican Party and the powerful Council on Foreign Relations (CFR) which plays a behind-the-scenes role in the formulation of US foreign policy.

The PNAC's declared objective is quite simple - to:

"Fight and decisively win in multiple, simultaneous theater wars".

This statement indicates that the US plans to be involved simultaneously in several war theaters in different regions of the World.

Deputy Defense Secretary Paul Wolfowitz, Defense Secretary Donald Rumsfeld and Vice President Dick Cheney had commissioned the PNAC blueprint prior to the presidential elections.

The PNAC outlines a roadmap of conquest. It calls for "the direct imposition of U.S. "forward bases" throughout Central Asia and the Middle East "with a view to ensuring economic domination of the world, while strangling any potential "rival" or any viable alternative to America's vision of a 'free market' economy" (See Chris Floyd, Bush's Crusade for empire, Global Outlook, No. 6, 2003)
The Role of "Massive Casualty Producing Events"

The PNAC blueprint also outlines a consistent framework of war propaganda. One year before 9/11, the PNAC called for "some catastrophic and catalyzing event, like a new Pearl Harbor," which would serve to galvanize US public opinion in support of a war agenda. (See )

The PNAC architects seem to have anticipated with cynical accuracy, the use of the September 11 attacks as "a war pretext incident."

The PNAC's reference to a "catastrophic and catalyzing event" echoes a similar statement by David Rockefeller to the United Nations Business Council in 1994:

"We are on the verge of global transformation. All we need is the right major crisis and the nations will accept the New World Order."

Similarly, in the words Zbigniew Brzezinski in his book, The Grand Chessboard:.

"…it may find it more difficult to fashion a consensus [in America] on foreign policy issues, except in the circumstances of a truly massive and widely perceived direct external threat."

Zbigniew Brzezinski, who was National Security Adviser to President Jimmy Carter was one of the key architects of the Al Qaeda network, created by the CIA at the onslaught of the Soviet Afghan war (1979-1989).

The "catastrophic and catalyzing event" as stated by the PNAC is an integral part of US military-intelligence planning. General Franks, who led the military campaign into Iraq, pointed recently (October 2003) to the role of a "massive casualty-producing event" to muster support for the imposition of military rule in America. (See General Tommy Franks calls for Repeal of US Constitution, November 2003, ).

Franks identifies the precise scenario whereby military rule will be established:

"a terrorist, massive, casualty-producing event [will occur] somewhere in the Western world - it may be in the United States of America - that causes our population to question our own Constitution and to begin to militarize our country in order to avoid a repeat of another mass, casualty-producing event." (Ibid)

This statement from an individual, who was actively involved in military and intelligence planning at the highest levels, suggests that the "militarisation of our country" is an ongoing operational assumption. It is part of the broader "Washington consensus". It identifies the Bush administration's "roadmap" of war and "Homeland Defense." Needless to say, it is also an integral part of the neoliberal agenda.

The "terrorist massive casualty-producing event" is presented by General Franks as a crucial political turning point. The resulting crisis and social turmoil are intended to facilitate a major shift in US political, social and institutional structures.

General Franks' statement reflects a consensus within the US Military as to how events ought to unfold. The "war on terrorism" is to provide a justification for repealing the Rule of Law, ultimately with a view to "preserving civil liberties."

Franks' interview suggests that an Al Qaeda sponsored terrorist attack will be used as a "trigger mechanism" for a military coup d'état in America. The PNAC's "Pearl Harbor type event" would be used as a justification for declaring a State of emergency, leading to the establishment of a military government.

In many regards, the militarisation of civilian State institutions in the US is already functional under the facade of a bogus democracy.
War Propaganda

In the wake of the September attacks on the World Trade Center, Secretary of Defense Donald Rumsfeld created to the Office of Strategic Influence (OSI), or "Office of Disinformation" as it was labeled by its critics:

"The Department of Defense said they needed to do this, and they were going to actually plant stories that were false in foreign countries -- as an effort to influence public opinion across the world. (Interview with Steve Adubato, Fox News, 26 December 2002.)

And, all of a sudden, the OSI was formally disbanded following political pressures and "troublesome" media stories that "its purpose was to deliberately lie to advance American interests." (Air Force Magazine, January 2003, italics added) "Rumsfeld backed off and said this is embarrassing." (Adubato, op. cit. italics added) Yet despite this apparent about-turn, the Pentagon's Orwellian disinformation campaign remains functionally intact: "[T]he secretary of defense is not being particularly candid here. Disinformation in military propaganda is part of war."(Ibid)

Rumsfeld later confirmed in a press interview that while the OSI no longer exists in name, the "Office's intended functions are being carried out". (Quoted in Federation of American Scientists (FAS) Secrecy News, , Rumsfeld's press interview can be consulted at: ).

A number of government agencies and intelligence units --with links to the Pentagon-remain actively involved in various components of the propaganda campaign. Realities are turned upside down. Acts of war are heralded as "humanitarian interventions" geared towards "regime change" and "the restoration of democracy". Military occupation and the killing of civilians are presented as "peace-keeping". The derogation of civil liberties --in the context of the so-called "anti-terrorist legislation"-- is portrayed as a means to providing "domestic security" and upholding civil liberties.
The Central Role of Al Qaeda in Bush's National Security Doctrine

Spelled out in the National Security Strategy (NSS), the preemptive "defensive war" doctrine and the "war on terrorism" against Al Qaeda constitute the two essential building blocks of the Pentagon's propaganda campaign.

The objective is to present "preemptive military action" --meaning war as an act of "self-defense" against two categories of enemies, "rogue States" and "Islamic terrorists":

"The war against terrorists of global reach is a global enterprise of uncertain duration. …America will act against such emerging threats before they are fully formed.

…Rogue states and terrorists do not seek to attack us using conventional means. They know such attacks would fail. Instead, they rely on acts of terror and, potentially, the use of weapons of mass destruction (…)

The targets of these attacks are our military forces and our civilian population, in direct violation of one of the principal norms of the law of warfare. As was demonstrated by the losses on September 11, 2001, mass civilian casualties is the specific objective of terrorists and these losses would be exponentially more severe if terrorists acquired and used weapons of mass destruction.

The United States has long maintained the option of preemptive actions to counter a sufficient threat to our national security. The greater the threat, the greater is the risk of inaction- and the more compelling the case for taking anticipatory action to defend ourselves, (…). To forestall or prevent such hostile acts by our adversaries, the United States will, if necessary, act preemptively."12 (National Security Strategy, White House, 2002, )

To justify pre-emptive military actions, the National Security Doctrine requires the "fabrication" of a terrorist threat, --ie. "an outside enemy." It also needs to link these terrorist threats to "State sponsorship" by the so-called "rogue states."

But it also means that the various "massive casualty-producing events" allegedly by Al Qaeda (the fabricated enemy) are part of the National Security agenda.

In the months building up to the invasion of Iraq, covert 'dirty tricks' operations were launched to produce misleading intelligence pertaining to both Weapons of Mass Destruction (WMD) and Al Qaeda, which was then fed into the news chain.

In the wake of the war, while the WMD threat has been toned down, Al Qaeda threats to 'the Homeland' continue to be repeated ad nauseam in official statements, commented on network TV and pasted on a daily basis across the news tabloids.

And underlying these manipulated realties, "Osama bin Laden" terrorist occurrences are being upheld as a justification for the next phase of this war. The latter hinges in a very direct way:

1) the effectiveness of the Pentagon-CIA propaganda campaign, which is fed into the news chain.

2) The actual occurrence of "massive casualty producing events" as outlined in the PNAC

What this means is that actual ("massive casualty producing") terrorist events are part and parcel of military planning.
Actual Terrorist Attacks

In other words, to be "effective" the fear and disinformation campaign cannot solely rely on unsubstantiated "warnings" of future attacks, it also requires "real" terrorist occurrences or "incidents", which provide credibility to the Washington's war plans. These terrorist events are used to justify the implementation of "emergency measures" as well as "retaliatory military actions". They are required, in the present context, to create the illusion of "an outside enemy" that is threatening the American Homeland.

The triggering of "war pretext incidents" is part of the Pentagon's assumptions. In fact it is an integral part of US military history.(See Richard Sanders, War Pretext Incidents, How to Start a War, Global Outlook, published in two parts, Issues 2 and 3, 2002-2003).

In 1962, the Joint Chiefs of Staff had envisaged a secret plan entitled "Operation Northwoods", to deliberately trigger civilian casualties to justify the invasion of Cuba:

"We could blow up a U.S. ship in Guantanamo Bay and blame Cuba," "We could develop a Communist Cuban terror campaign in the Miami area, in other Florida cities and even in Washington" "casualty lists in U.S. newspapers would cause a helpful wave of national indignation." (See the declassified Top Secret 1962 document titled "Justification for U.S. Military Intervention in Cuba"16 (See Operation Northwoods at ).

There is no evidence that the Pentagon or the CIA played a direct role in recent terrorist attacks, including those in Indonesia (2002), India (2001), Turkey (2003) and Saudi Arabia (2003).

According to the reports, the attacks were undertaken by organizations (or cells of these organizations), which operate quite independently, with a certain degree of autonomy. This independence is in the very nature of a covert intelligence operation. The «intelligence asset» is not in direct contact with its covert sponsors. It is not necessarily cognizant of the role it plays on behalf of its intelligence sponsors.

The fundamental question is who is behind them? Through what sources are they being financed? What is the underlying network of ties?

For instance, in the case of the 2002 Bali bomb attack, the alleged terrorist organization Jemaah Islamiah had links to Indonesia's military intelligence (BIN), which in turn has links to the CIA and Australian intelligence.

The December 2001 terrorist attacks on the Indian Parliament --which contributed to pushing India and Pakistan to the brink of war-- were allegedly conducted by two Pakistan-based rebel groups, Lashkar-e-Taiba ("Army of the Pure") and Jaish-e-Muhammad ("Army of Mohammed"), both of which according to the Council on Foreign Relations (CFR) are supported by Pakistan's ISI. (Council on Foreign Relations at , Washington 2002).

What the CFR fails to acknowledge is the crucial relationship between the ISI and the CIA and the fact that the ISI continues to support Lashkar, Jaish and the militant Jammu and Kashmir Hizbul Mujahideen (JKHM), while also collaborating with the CIA. (For further details see Michel Chossudovsky, Fabricating an Enemy, March 2003, )

A 2002 classified outbrief drafted to guide the Pentagon "calls for the creation of a so-called 'Proactive, Pre-emptive Operations Group' (P2OG), to launch secret operations aimed at "stimulating reactions" among terrorists and states possessing weapons of mass destruction -- that is, for instance, prodding terrorist cells into action and exposing themselves to 'quick-response' attacks by U.S. forces." (William Arkin, The Secret War, The Los Angeles Times, 27 October 2002)

The P2OG initiative is nothing new. It essentially extends an existing apparatus of covert operations. Amply documented, the CIA has supported terrorist groups since the Cold War era. This "prodding of terrorist cells" under covert intelligence operations often requires the infiltration and training of the radical groups linked to Al Qaeda.

In this regard, covert support by the US military and intelligence apparatus has been channeled to various Islamic terrorist organizations through a complex network of intermediaries and intelligence proxies. In the course of the 1990s, agencies of the US government have collaborated with Al Qaeda in a number of covert operations, as confirmed by a 1997 report of the Republican Party Committee of the US Congress. (See US Congress, 16 January 1997, ). In fact during the war in Bosnia US weapons inspectors were working with Al Qaeda operatives, bringing in large amounts of weapons for the Bosnian Muslim Army.

In other words, the Clinton Administration was "harboring terrorists". Moreover, official statements and intelligence reports confirm links between US military-intelligence units and Al Qaeda operatives, as occurred in Bosnia (mid 1990s), Kosovo (1998-99) and Macedonia (2001).(See See Michel Chossudovsky, War and Globalisation, The Truth behind September 11, Global Outlook, 2003, Chapter 3, )

The Bush Administration and NATO had links to Al Qaeda in Macedonia. And this happened barely a few weeks before September 11, 2001, Senior U.S. military advisers from a private mercenary outfit on contract to the Pentagon, were fighting alongside Mujahideen in the terrorist attacks on the Macedonian Security forces. This is documented by the Macedonian press and statements made by the Macedonian authorities. (See Michel Chossudovsky, op cit). The U.S. government and the Islamic Militant Network were working hand in glove in supporting and financing the National Liberation Army (NLA), which was involved in the terrorist attacks in Macedonia.

In other words, the US military was collaborating directly with Al Qaeda barely a few weeks before 9/11.
Al Qaeda and Pakistan's Military Intelligence (ISI)

It is indeed revealing that in virtually all post 9/11 terrorist occurrences, the terrorist organization is reported (by the media and in official statements) as having "ties to Osama bin Laden's Al Qaeda". This in itself is a crucial piece of information. Of course, the fact that Al Qaeda is a creation of the CIA is neither mentioned in the press reports nor is it considered relevant to an understanding of these terrorist occurrences.

The ties of these terrorist organizations (particularly those in Asia) to Pakistan's military intelligence (ISI) is acknowledged in a few cases by official sources and press dispatches. Confirmed by the Council on Foreign Relations (CFR), some of these groups are said to have links to Pakistan's ISI, without identifying the nature of these links. Needless to say, this information is crucial in identifying the sponsors of these terrorist attacks. In other words, the ISI is said to support these terrorist organizations, while at same time maintaining close ties to the CIA.
September 11

While Colin Powell --without supporting evidence-pointed in his February 2003 UN address to "the sinister nexus between Iraq and the Al Qaeda terrorist network", official documents, press and intelligence reports confirm that successive US administrations have supported and abetted the Islamic militant network. This relationship is an established fact, corroborated by numerous studies, acknowledged by Washington's mainstream think tanks.

Both Colin Powell and his Deputy Richard Armitage, who in the months leading up to the war casually accused Baghdad and other foreign governments of "harboring" Al Qaeda, played a direct role, at different points in their careers, in supporting terrorist organizations.

Both men were implicated --operating behind the scenes-- in the Irangate Contra scandal during the Reagan Administration, which involved the illegal sale of weapons to Iran to finance the Nicaraguan Contra paramilitary army and the Afghan Mujahideen. (For further details, see Michel Chossudovsky, Expose the Links between Al Qaeda and the Bush Administration, )

Moreover, both Richard Armitage and Colin Powell played a role in the 9/11 cover-up. The investigations and research conducted in the last two years, including official documents, testimonies and intelligence reports, indicate that September 11 was an carefully planned intelligence operation, rather than a act conducted by a terrorist organization. (For further details, see Centre for Research on Globalization, 24 Key articles, September 2003)

The FBI confirmed in a report made public late September 2001 the role of Pakistan's Military Intelligence. According to the report, the alleged 9-11 ring leader, Mohammed Atta, had been financed from sources out of Pakistan. A subsequent intelligence report confirmed that the then head of the ISI General Mahmoud Ahmad had transferred money to Mohammed Atta. (See Michel Chossudovsky, War and Globalization, op.cit.)

Moreover, press reports and official statements confirm that the head of the ISI, was an official visit to the US from the 4th to 13th of September 2001. In other words, the head of Pakistan's ISI, who allegedly transferred money to the terrorists also had a close personal relationship with a number of senior Bush Administration officials, including Colin Powell, CIA Director George Tenet and Deputy Secretary Richard Armitage, whom he met in the course of his visit to Washington. (Ibid)
The Antiwar Movement

A cohesive antiwar movement cannot be based solely on the mobilization of antiwar sentiment. It must ultimately unseat the war criminals and question their right to rule.

A necessary condition for bringing down the rulers is to weaken and eventually dismantle their propaganda campaign.

The momentum of the large anti-war rallies in the US, the European Union and around the world, should lay the foundations of a permanent network composed of tens of thousands of local level anti-war committees in neighborhoods, work places, parishes, schools, universities, etc. It is ultimately through this network that the legitimacy of those who "rule in our name" will be challenged.

To shunt the Bush Administration's war plans and disable its propaganda machine, we must reach out to our fellow citizens across the land, in the US, Europe and around the world, to the millions of ordinary people who have been misled on the causes and consequences of this war.

This also implies fully uncovering the lies behind the "war on terrorism" and revealing the political complicity of the Bush administration in the events of 9/11.

September 11 is a hoax. It's the biggest lie in US history.

Needless to say, the use of "massive casualty producing events" as pretext to wage war is a criminal act. In the words of Andreas van Buelow, former German Minister of Technology and author of The CIA and September 11:

"If what I say is right, the whole US government should end up behind bars."

Yet it is not sufficient to remove George W. Bush or Tony Blair, who are mere puppets. We must also address the role of the global banks, corporations and financial institutions, which indelibly stand behind the military and political actors.

Increasingly, the military-intelligence establishment (rather than the State Department, the White House and the US Congress) is calling the shots on US foreign policy. Meanwhile, the Texas oil giants, the defense contractors, Wall Street and the powerful media giants, operating discreetly behind the scenes, are pulling the strings. If politicians become a source of major embarrassment, they can themselves be discredited by the media, discarded and a new team of political puppets can be brought to office.
Criminalization of the State

The "Criminalization of the State", is when war criminals legitimately occupy positions of authority, which enable them to decide "who are the criminals", when in fact they are criminals.

In the US, both Republicans and Democrats share the same war agenda and there are war criminals in both parties. Both parties are complicit in the 9/11 cover-up and the resultant quest for world domination. All the evidence points to what is best described as "the criminalisation of the State", which includes the Judiciary and the bipartisan corridors of the US Congress. .

Under the war agenda, high ranking officials of the Bush administration, members of the military, the US Congress and the Judiciary have been granted the authority not only to commit criminal acts, but also to designate those in the antiwar movement who are opposed to these criminal acts as "enemies of the State."

More generally, the US military and security apparatus endorses and supports dominant economic and financial interests - i.e. the build-up, as well as the exercise, of military might enforces "free trade". The Pentagon is an arm of Wall Street; NATO coordinates its military operations with the World Bank and the IMF's policy interventions, and vice versa. Consistently, the security and defense bodies of the Western military alliance, together with the various civilian governmental and intergovernmental bureaucracies (e.g. IMF, World Bank, WTO) share a common understanding, ideological consensus and commitment to the New World Order.

To reverse the tide of war, military bases must be closed down, the war machine (namely the production of advanced weapons systems like WMDs) must be stopped and the burgeoning police state must be dismantled. More generally we must reverse the "free market" reforms, dismantle the institutions of global capitalism and disarm financial markets.

The struggle must be broad-based and democratic encompassing all sectors of society at all levels, in all countries, uniting in a major thrust: workers, farmers, independent producers, small businesses, professionals, artists, civil servants, members of the clergy, students and intellectuals.

The antiwar and anti-globalisation movements must be integrated into a single worldwide movement. People must be united across sectors, "single issue" groups must join hands in a common and collective understanding on how the New World Order destroys and impoverishes.

The globalization of this struggle is fundamental, requiring a degree of solidarity and internationalism unprecedented in world history. This global economic system feeds on social divisiveness between and within countries. Unity of purpose and worldwide coordination among diverse groups and social movements is crucial. A major thrust is required which brings together social movements in all major regions of the world in a common pursuit and commitment to the elimination of poverty and a lasting world peace.

The Centre for Research on Globalization (CRG) at grants permission to cross-post original CRG articles in their entirety, or any portions thereof, on community internet sites, as long as the text and title of the article are not modified. The source must be acknowledged as follows: Centre for Research on Globalization (CRG) at . The active URL hyperlink address of the original CRG article and the author's copyright note must be clearly displayed. (For articles from other news sources, check with the original copyright holder, where applicable.) For publication of CRG articles in print or other forms including commercial internet sites, contact: .

© Copyright Michel Chossudovsky 2003 For fair use only/ pour usage équitable seulement.

Tuesday, December 16, 2003

Big demo at the Republican Nat'l Convention in NYC, August 29, 2004. Be there....

NEW YORK, Dec 16 (Reuters) - A coalition of anti-war groups plan to greet delegates to next summer's Republican National Convention with a massive protest against U.S. foreign policy, hoping to keep the Iraqi war alive as an issue in the 2004 election, organizers said on Tuesday.

The march could be one of the largest demonstrations in U.S. history, organizers said.

The coalition called United for Peace and Justice wants to march through Manhattan to Central Park on Aug. 29, the day before the Republican Party meets to nominate President George W. Bush in his reelection effort.

"United for Peace and Justice will be organizing what we believe will be one of the largest demonstrations in this country's history," said organizer Leslie Cagan at a news conference. "We believe it will be in the hundreds of thousands."

The capture of Saddam Hussein has not changed the group's plans, she added.

"There's no evidence at all that Saddam Hussein has any connection to the 9/11 attacks," she said. "In fact there's yet to be any evidence for any of the reasons the Bush administration used to go to war.

"What we hope is this will be a turning point for what is going on in Iraq," she said. "It is time to end the war and end the occupation."

The group also plans to stage protests outside the Democratic National Convention in Boston in July. Of the nine Democrats seeking the party's nomination, former Vermont Gov. Howard Dean has made his opposition to the Iraq war one of the major issues in his campaign.

In New York, the protest coalition has applied for a permit to march past Madison Square Garden, where the Republican convention will be held, she said.

Protests have become commonplace at U.S. political conventions, and organizers of the party events in the past have made efforts to keep the demonstrations apart from the delegates and other attending officials.

Protests outside the Democratic National Convention in Los Angeles in 2000 turned violent, with police firing on the crowd with rubber bullets. The same summer, hundreds of protesters were arrested at the Republican National Convention in Philadelphia.

Organizers said they want to send a message to Bush and other Republicans to change the nation's foreign policy.

"It is time to end the empire-building agenda of this country. It is time to build a foreign policy based on respect for international law and respect for the sovereignty of all independent nations," Cagan said. ((Reporting by Ellen Wulfhorst, editing by Bette O'Connor; Reuters Messaging:; 646-223-6280))

Monday, December 15, 2003

A nice article....


I am often asked why, as a journalist, I keep coming back to the story of
media and democracy - how newspapers, radio stations, television and cable
are being swallowed up by huge conglomerates. One answer comes >from the
former Yankee pitching star, Jim Bouton, who told me in an interview this
week exactly what can happen when there's only one newspaper in a town and
it's owned by a media conglomerate far from home.

Bouton, you may remember, jolted the baseball world back in 1970 with his
truth-telling diary of a season in the big leagues. Lo and behold, as Ball
Four revealed to a shocked - shocked! - America, the "boys of summer" were
just that - adolescents with overstuffed hormones who, when they weren't
making double plays, home runs, and leaping catches, liked to drink, smoke,
and run around with, ahem, "girls who do." Ball Four may well be the best
baseball book ever, but it's more than that: the New York Public Library
recently chose it as one of the l00 "Books of the Century." Whatever is
meant by the word "classic," Ball Four fits.

Now Bouton is back with another truth-teller that deserves to be a
bestseller. Media conglomeration, like baseball after Bouton, will never
be the same. Turns out the newspaper in the town near where Bouton lives -
Pittsfield, Massachusetts - wanted to use $l8.5 million dollars of taxpayer
money to build a new baseball stadium on property it owns. Turns out the
property is polluted, although the newspaper didn't bother to disclose the
fact, and that the new stadium was a way of passing off the liability to
the public even while enhancing the value of the newspaper's property.
Turns out the newspaper, which Bouton thought was locally owned, is owned
by MediaNews Group, based in Denver, Colorado, which counts among its 100
"media properties" The Salt Lake Tribune and the Denver Post. When Bouton
and his partner went to the local publisher with a proposal to renovate the
existing - and historic stadium - at no expense to the taxpayer, they were
told: Out of our hands; check it with Dean (Dean Singleton is the mogul who
runs MediaNews). They tried; Singleton didn't bother to answer, even when
Bouton sent him a signed copy of Ball Four. Turns out the conglomerate
wanted its own stadium, on its own property, at public expense, despite the
fact that the public voted down the proposal - three times! But, hey,
what's a little democracy when the only daily newspaper and the largest law
firm in town, and - hold on to your hat - General Electric (yes, that GE,
which has title to its own media universe) want the indulgence of taxpayers
for their little profit-making schemes. The local newspaper publisher,
Bouton tells me, "was being controlled by his boss in Denver. And the local
politicians were being controlled by the local publisher. So there was a
sort of puppeteer controlling the decisions that were made by the local

I'm not going any further to give away a crackling good story except to say
that when his book publisher received a call from somebody close to GE, the
big league publisher caved and wouldn't publish the book. Bouton says he
was told he could keep half the advance if he remained silent about the
whole affair; he refused and published Foul Ball himself. Rush out and buy
a copy ( and read for yourself how
every monopoly is a tyranny lying in wait. The only daily paper in
Bouton's town didn't want the public to know what was going on, and there
was no competitor to throw a light on the shenanigans taking place between
its publisher and the politicians. As the old saying goes, freedom of the
press belongs to the fellow who owns one.

What happened in Bouton's town happens all over the country, alas; two
thirds of the newspaper markets in America are monopolies. Oh, by the way:
When their side of the story was distorted by the paper, Bouton and his
partner got their story out through the radio stations in town. If Dean
Singleton and the FCC have their way, such insubordination by mere citizens
won't happen again. Singleton was last seen in Washington making the case
for the FCC decision to enable him to own more media properties -
broadcasting and print - in one town. Talk about silencing the lambs!
Truth is, when the big broadcasters and publishers lobby Congress, the FCC,
and the White House for the green light to merge, consolidate, and
eliminate the competition, they don't bother to report to their readers or
viewers what they're up to. They prefer to keep us in the dark.

John Leonard gives us another insight into why it's important to keep
coming back to this story of media conglomeration. John Leonard may be
our most prolific social critic. He's everywhere - Harper's, The New York
Times Book Review, The Nation, The New York Review of Books, "CBS Sunday
Morning." Most recently he has edited a wonderful array of writers who
have produced for Nation Books ( a reminder of just how
much we need our maverick voices. These United States is a series of
essays, articles, reports - they fit no neat description - by some
wondrously talented writers and journalists commissioned to describe the
sights, smells, and politics of America in each of the 50 states. But I
bring John Leonard up here because in preparing to interview him this week,
I re-read a brilliant essay ( he wrote some years ago about
what happens when reporters, editors and critics become caged birds singing
the company tune in the information-commodities racket. When they begin to
have more in common with the chairman of the board than with the working
stiffs who read and watch, journalism turns to slush; pretty soon they
figure out it doesn't pay to cover the working stiffs standing out there
with their noses pressed against the window.

So, yes, I keep coming back to the subject of media conglomeration because
it can take the oxygen out of democracy. The founders of this country
believed a free and rambunctious press was essential to the protection of
our freedoms. They couldn't envision the rise of giant megamedia
conglomerates whose interests converge with state power to produce a
conspiracy against the people. I think they would be aghast at how this
union of media and government has produced the very kind of imperial power
against which they rebelled. So, yes, media conglomeration has become a
beat for my colleagues and me. We think this is the most important story
of all, the one that determines what other stories get told - and how.

This is an expanded version of an essay that will air on a special edition
of NOW with Bill Moyers airing on Friday, November 28, 2003 at 9pm on PBS
devoted to media issues. Tune in to watch the complete interviews with
Jim Bouton and John Leonard.

In some markets NOW may be pre-empted or moved from its regular timeslot
due to your local public television station's pledge drive. Please check
you local schedules at to find out when
NOW will be airing in your market. We also encourage you to support your
local station during this pledge period and when you do, please be sure to
tell them that you support NOW.

If you miss some or all of this week's NOW broadcast or you would like to
watch it again go to to watch this episode online beginning
Monday, December 1.

This is utterly typical of the American right: they claim islamic terrorists "hate freedom" and use that as a pretext to bomb the heck out of half the world while here at home anyone who dares to exercise their first amendment rights gets put on a watch list. Scary stuff:

Conservatives Put Liberal Profs on List

Updated 9:40 AM ET December 13, 2003

- University of Texas journalism professor Robert Jensen is an
unapologetic liberal who openly expresses his strong views, both in
and out of the classroom.

"My political views are left," Jensen said. "Some people would call
me a radical."

In the aftermath of Sept. 11, 2001, student Austin Kinghorn felt
Jensen crossed the line.

"We walked in, and he had the overhead projector turned on, and on
there was a sentence, 'What is terrorism?' " Kinghorn said. "And
Jensen took the next hour and 15 minutes of class to basically make
his point, two days after 911, that the American government is a far
worse perpetrator of terrorism than the 911 hijackers."

Kinghorn, chairman of the Young Conservatives of Texas, was deeply offended.

"I felt like Professor Jensen was manipulating a national tragedy,"
Kinghorn said, "to make a point that he wants to make about his
far-leftist agenda that seems to blame every problem in the world on
American policy."

The Young Conservatives decided to make Jensen No. 1 on a newly
created "watch list," which was posted on their Web site and also
published in a local newspaper. It includes 10 professors at the
University of Texas, the nation's largest public college, whom the
conservatives accuse of trying to indoctrinate students and using the
classrooms to promote their personal agendas.

"It's a list of professors that need to be scrutinized, watched,"
said Brendan Steinhauser, a member of the Young Conservatives of
Texas. "They need to be held accountable for their actions in the
classroom. And they haven't been yet."

Conservative Trend

The number of conservative and Republican groups organizing on
college campuses has nearly tripled in the last four years. And some
officials in Washington also have acted.

"I think you're going to have more and more conservative students
standing up and creating a new counterculture that doesn't believe
that all morals are relative, that believes in absolute values, that
believes in conservative government," Kinghorn said. "And they're
going to get louder and louder as they feel more and more oppressed."

Though colleges have a reputation as bastions of liberalism, college
students are more likely to call themselves political independents
than any other affiliation, according to the ABCNEWS polling unit.
For those in college, ages 18 to 22, 27 percent call themselves
Democrats, 34 percent Republicans and 35 percent independents.
College students are more likely to say they are liberal than other
Americans, but the biggest percentage, 41 percent, call themselves

The general public is roughly evenly divided among Democrats,
Republicans and independents.

In Washington, Rep. Jack Kingston, R-Ga., recently introduced an
academic "bill of rights" to protect students from "one-sided liberal
propaganda." The House of Representatives passed a bill to monitor
whether federally funded centers for international research reflect
and respond to the needs of national security.

And a group founded by Lynne Cheney, the wife of the vice president,
that blasted academics right after 911 for being "the weak link in
America's response to the attack" urged a Senate committee to raise
public awareness of what it called the problem of liberal bias on
campus and to encourage universities to conduct "intellectual
diversity reviews."

"It's a trend which, if it got completely out of hand, could lead us
to another McCarthy kind of situation," said Edmund Gordon, a UT
associate professor who is on the Young Conservatives of Texas list.
"I certainly hope it doesn't go that far."

'Labeled a Radical'

Gordon is accused of overemphasizing white oppression of African-Americans.

"I was actually not labeled a liberal," Gordon said. "I was labeled a radical."

He said his classroom has undergone a dramatic change.

"I never had people who were avowedly Young Conservatives in my
class, as students, who announced that they were that from the very
beginning," Gordon said. "I feel like they were put there to watch
me. And this watch list or my position on this watch list is a result
of that. So, do I feel like I'm under surveillance? I am under

Jensen gives the conservative students plenty to watch, hanging
posters of Cuban revolutionary leaders in his office and writing
controversial editorials in the Texas papers. One such editorial,
published in the Houston Chronicle just after Sept. 11, 2001, was
headlined, "U.S. Just as Guilty of Committing Own Violent Acts."

"It led the president of the university to issue a public statement
denouncing me, in which he called me foolish," Jensen said.

The reprimand did not bother Jensen or affect his behavior. He's a
tenured professor and his job at the public university is protected.

He loves to stir things up in the classroom, and some students are

"I think what Jensen really wants us to do is to learn to think
critically about our role in society and society as a whole," one
student said.

"I think that if a teacher is completely neutral, which I personally
don't think is possible, it would make a class boring," said another.


Jensen fears he could be pressured into toning down his message.

"Nobody with power is telling me I can't say something," Jensen said.
"It's only going to become censorship if university administrators,
who have the power to hire and fire and the power to punish faculty,
start requiring a kind of ideological conformity for advancement in
the profession. If that happens, then higher education is dead."

The very idea of making lists of members of opposing groups has a
long and checkered history in America. Hollywood once had its black
list, an unwritten understanding of those who would be denied work
because of their suspected affiliation or sympathy with communism.
President Nixon had an infamous enemies list, and his political
opponents had their own scoreboard of so-called war criminals in his
Cabinet. The National Rifle Association recently put out its own
listing of adversaries. Some of them said they were proud to be on it.

So, perhaps there's no wonder the latest incarnation of political
watch lists has caused such a stir on college campuses. Whether these
lists are promoting tactics of intimidation or simply exercising free
speech is a matter of debate.

The Young Conservatives say their watch list is about promoting
intellectual diversity. But others say it feels more like censorship
and the start of a campus culture war.

The Young Conservatives bristle at any suggestion their watch list is
a form of censorship. But they intend to put a select group of
professors on notice that the classroom is not the place for a
one-sided bully pulpit.

"I've had liberal professors who are great professors," Kinghorn
said. "I'm not afraid of opinions. None of us are. What we're afraid
of is students who don't get both sides of the stories and don't have
enough information to make informed decisions, which is supposedly
what a college degree is all about."

[Non-text portions of this message have been removed]

Thursday, December 11, 2003

ABC Narrows the Field:
Did Kucinich's criticism of Koppel influence decision?

December 11, 2003

A day after ABC's Ted Koppel moderated a debate between the Democratic
presidential contenders, the network decided to withdraw three off-air
producers from the campaigns of Dennis Kucinich, Carol Moseley Braun and
Rev. Al Sharpton.

ABC's decision was attributed to the fact that these candidates are
perceived to have a slim chance of winning the Democratic nomination. An
ABC spokesperson explained (Boston Globe, 12/11/03) that "as we prepare
for Iowa and New Hampshire, we are putting more resources toward covering
those events." Appearing on CNBC with Kucinich (12/10/03), Time reporter
Jay Carney suggested that the decision could be due to the fact that "all
of the media organizations have limited resources. It's actually, I think,
pretty impressive that they had somebody on your campaign day by day by

Somehow it's hard to believe that the "limited resources" of the Disney
corporation (2003 revenues: $27 billion) explains ABC's call. ABC's
decision does seem to mirror the opinions of Koppel, who seemed frustrated
that these candidates were included in the debate at all. According to
the New York Times (12/7/03), Koppel "said he would have preferred a
slugfest among the six leading candidates." Koppel was quoted: "You can't
have a debate among nine people.... There is no such thing. It's called a
food fight."

"How did Dennis Kucinich and Al Sharpton and Carol Moseley Braun get into
this thing?" Koppel was quoted in the Washington Post (12/10/03). "Nobody
seems to know. Some candidates who are perceived as serious are gasping
for air, and what little oxygen there is on the stage will be taken up by
one-third of the people who do not have a snowball's chance in hell of
winning the nomination."

Koppel's dismissive attitude towards those three candidates carried over
into the debate itself, as evidenced by this question:

"This is question to Ambassador Braun, Rev. Sharpton, Congressman
Kucinich. You don't have any money, at least not much. Rev. Sharpton has
almost none. You don't have very much, Ambassador Braun. The question is,
will there come a point when polls, money and then ultimately the actual
votes that will take place here, in places like New Hampshire, the
caucuses in Iowa, will there come a point when we can expect one or more
of the three of you to drop out? Or are you in this as sort of a vanity

Kucinich's response to that question generated perhaps the most media
coverage his campaign has received so far:

"Ted, you know, we started at the beginning of this evening talking about
an endorsement. Well, I want the American people to see where the media
takes politics in this country. To start with endorsements, to start
talking about endorsements. Now we're talking about polls. And then we're
talking about money. Well, you know, when you do that, you don't have to
talk about what's important to the American people.

"Ted, I'm the only one up here that actually, on the stage, that actually
voted against the Patriot Act. And voted against the war. The only one on
this stage. I'm also one of the few candidates up here who's talking about
taking our healthcare system from this for-profit system to a
not-for-profit, single-payer, universal health care for all. I'm also the
only one who has talked about getting out of NAFTA and the WTO and going
back to bilateral trade conditioned on workers rights, human rights and
the environment. Now, I may be inconvenient for some of those in the
media, but I'm, you know, sorry about that."

One has to wonder whether Kucinich's rebuke of Koppel, and his criticism
of the priorities of the media, had something to do with ABC's decision to
limit coverage of these candidates. No matter what the rationale, this
does raise a concern that ABC is making an early call on the election of
2004-- weeks before any votes have been cast.

For the record, before ABC's decision to cut back coverage, Kucinich,
Sharpton and Moseley Braun had been mentioned a combined total of ten
times this year on ABC's World News Tonight, according to a search of the
Nexis database. Only one of those mentions referred to the candidate's
position on a policy.

ACTION: Contact ABC and ask them why they have decided to limit their
coverage of Kucinich, Sharpton and Moseley Braun. Encourage ABC to let
voters, not pundits, decide who they want to select as a presidential

ABC News
World News Tonight
Phone: 212-456-4040


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That's me on the left in the picture.

Wednesday, December 10, 2003