Moon of Alabama Brecht quote
December 06, 2004

Open Thread

News, views, opinions ...

Posted by b on December 6, 2004 at 14:19 UTC | Permalink


Boston Globe: Returning Fallujans will face clampdown

The US military is drawing up plans to keep insurgents from regaining control of this battle-scarred city, but returning residents may find that the measures make Fallujah look more like a police state than the democracy they have been promised.

Under the plans, troops would funnel Fallujans to so-called citizen processing centers on the outskirts of the city to compile a database of their identities through DNA testing and retina scans. Residents would receive badges displaying their home addresses that they must wear at all times. Buses would ferry them into the city, where cars, the deadliest tool of suicide bombers, would be banned.
One idea that has stirred debate among Marine officers would require all men to work, for pay, in military-style battalions. Depending on their skills, they would be assigned jobs in construction, waterworks, or rubble-clearing platoons.

We have bombed your home. Now if you want to come back to your rubble, we will take your DNA and you can only come and leave if allow you.
BTW, you will have forced labor duty to clean up the mess we have made out of this place.

Arbeit macht frei!

Posted by: b | Dec 6 2004 14:35 utc | 1

"citizen processing centers" ?

I can do better:
- "Job Skills Improvement School"
- "Patriotism Encouragement Training"
- "Enchantment on the Sand Resort"

Posted by: MarcinGomulka | Dec 6 2004 15:06 utc | 2

b - I was just preparing a new Iraqi thread with the same Boston Globe article, plus the big extract from Conchita that she put in the "dollar" thread and which I copy again below... Which I take to mean that I have the right reflexes for the site, if not yet your speed (or availability?)!

THE FOLLOWING letter from a U.S. soldier stationed in Iraq, known as hEkLe,powerfully conveys the terror of the U.S. assault on Falluja. It was published in GI Special, a daily Internet newsletter that gathers news and information helpful to soldiers and military families. You can find an archive of the GI Special updated with each new issue at hEkLe and several fellow soldiers have a Web log that they regularly update with essays at

- - - - - - - - - - - - - - - -
THESE ARE ugly times for the U.S. military in Iraq. It seems everywhere you turn, more and more troops are being killed and maimed in vicious
encounters with determined rebel fighters.

The insurgency is mounting incredibly in such places as Baghdad, Mosul and Baquba, using more advanced techniques and weaponry associated with a
well-organized guerilla campaign. Even in the massively destroyed city of Falluja, rebel forces are starting to reappear with a callous determination to win or die trying. Many critics and political pundits are starting to realize that this war is, in many aspects, un-winnable.

And why should anyone think that a complete victory is possible? Conventionally, our U.S. forces win territory here or there, killing a
plethora of civilians as well as insurgents with each new boundary conquered. However, such as the recent case in Falluja, the rebel fighters have returned like a swarm of angry hornets, attacking with a vicious frenzy.

I was in Falluja during the last two days of the final assault. My mission was much different from that of the brave and weary infantry and Marines involved in the major fighting. I was on an escort mission, accompanied by a squad whose task it was to protect a high brass figure in the combat zone.
This particularly arrogant officer went to the last battle in the same spirit of an impartial spectator checking out the fourth quarter of a high school football game. Once we got to the Marine-occupied Camp Falluja and saw artillery being fired into town, the man suddenly became desperate to play an active role in the battle that would render Falluja to ashes. It was already rumored that all he really wanted was his trigger time, perhaps to prove that he is the toughest cowboy west of the Euphrates. Guys like him are a dime a dozen in the army: a career soldier who spent the first 20 years of his service patrolling the Berlin Wall or guarding the DMZ between North and South Korea. This sort of brass may have been
lucky to serve in the first Gulf War, but in all actuality spent very little time shooting rag heads.

For these trigger-happy tough guys, the last two decades of Cold War hostilities built into a war frenzy of stark emptiness, fizzling out almost
completely with the Clinton administration. But this is the New War, a never-ending, action-packed "Red Scare" in which the communist threat of yesteryear was simply replaced with the white
knuckled tension of today's "war on terrorism."

The younger soldiers who grew up in relatively peaceful times interpret the mentality of the careerists as one of making up for lost opportunities. To the elder generation of trigger pullers, this is the real deal; the chance to use all the cool toys and high speed training that has been stored away since the '70s for something tangibly useful...and it's about goddamn time.

- - - - - - - - - - - - - - - -
HOWEVER, UPON reaching the front lines, a safety standard was in effect stating that the urban combat was extremely intense. The lightest armored
vehicles allowed in sector were Bradley tanks.
Taking a glance at our armored humvees, this commander insisted that our section would be fine. Even though the armored humvees are very stout and
nearly impenetrable against small-arms fire, they usually don't hold up well against rocket attacks and roadside bombs, like a heavily armored tank
will. The reports from within the war zone indicated heavy rocket attacks, with an armed insurgent waiting on every corner for a soft target such as trucks. In the end, the overzealous officer was urged not to infiltrate into sector
with only three trucks, for it would be a death wish during those dangerous twilight hours. It was suggested that in the morning, after the air strikes were complete, he could move in and "inspect the damage."

Even as the sun was setting over the hazy orange horizon, artillery was
pounding away at the remaining 12 percent of the already devastated Falluja. Many units were pulled out for the evening in preparation of a full-scale
air strike that was scheduled to last for up to 12 hours. Our squad was sitting on top of our parked humvees, manning the crew-served machine guns and scanning the urban landscape for enemy activity. This was supposed to be a secured forward operating area, right on the edge of the combat zone. However, with no barbed wire perimeter set up and only a few scattered tanks serving as protection, one was under the assumption that if
someone missed a minor detail while on guard, some serious shit could go down. One soldier informed me that only two nights prior, an insurgent was caught sneaking around the bullet-ridden houses to our immediate west. He was armed with a rocket-propelled grenade and was laying low on his advance towards the perimeter. One of the tanks spotted him through its night vision and hastily shot him into three pieces. Indeed, though it was safe enough to smoke a cigarette and relax, one had to remain diligently aware of his surroundings if he planned on making it through the night.

As the evening wore on and the artillery continued, a new gruesome roar filled the sky. The fighter jets were right on time and made their grand appearance with a series of massive air strikes. Between the pernicious bombs and fierce
artillery, the sky seemed as though it were on fire for several minutes at a time. First, you would see a blaze of light in the horizon, like
lightning hitting a dynamite warehouse, and then hear the massive explosion that would turn your stomach, rattle your eyeballs and compress itself deep within your lungs. Although these massive bombs were being dropped no further than five kilometers away, it felt like it was happening right in front of your face.

At first, it was impossible not to flinch with each unexpected boom, but after scores of intense explosions, your senses became aware and complacent towards them.

At times, the jets would scream menacingly low over the city and open fire with smaller missiles meant for extreme accuracy. This is what Top Gun, in all its glory and silver screen acclaim, seemed to be lacking in the movie's high budget sound effects.

These air-deployed missiles make a banshee-like squeal, sort of like bottle rocket fueled with plutonium, and then suddenly would become inaudible. Seconds later, the colossal explosion would rip the sky open and hammer devastatingly into the ground, sending flames and debris pummeling into the air.

And as always, the artillery--some rounds were high explosive, some were illumination rounds, some were reported as being white phosphorus (the
modern-day napalm).

Occasionally, on the outskirts of the isolated impact area, you could hear tanks firing machine guns and blazing their cannons. It was amazing that anything could survive this deadly onslaught. Suddenly, a transmission came over the radio approving the request for "bunker-busters." Apparently, there were a handful of insurgent compounds that were impenetrable by artillery. At the time, I was unaware when these bunker-busters were deployed, but I was told later that the incredibly massive explosions were a direct result of these "final solution"-type missiles.

I continued to watch the final assault on Falluja throughout the night from atop my humvee.

It was interesting to scan the vast skies above with night-vision goggles. Circling continuously overhead throughout the battle was an array of attack helicopters. The most devastating were the Cobras and Apaches with their chain-gun missile launchers.

Through the night vision, I could see them hovering around the carnage, scanning the ground with an infrared spotlight that seemed to reach for miles. Once a target was identified, a rapid series of hollow blasts would echo through the skies, and from the ground came a "rat-a-tatting" of explosions, like a daisy chain of supercharged black cats during a Fourth of July barbeque.

More artillery, more tanks, more machine gun fire, ominous death-dealing fighter planes terminating whole city blocks at a time...this wasn't a war,
it was a massacre!

- - - - - - - - - - - - - - - -
AS I look back on the air strikes that lasted well into the next morning, I cannot help but be both amazed by our modern technology and disgusted by
its means.

It occurred to me many times during the siege that while the Falluja resistance was boldly fighting us with archaic weapons from the Cold War, we were soaring far above their heads, dropping Thor's fury with a destructive power and precision that may as well been nuclear. It was like the Iraqis were bringing a knife to a tank fight.

And yet, the resistance toiled on, many fighting until their deaths. What determination!

Some soldiers call them stupid for even thinking they have a chance in hell to defeat the strongest military in the world, but I call them brave. It's
not about fighting to win an immediate victory. And what is a conventional victory in a non-conventional war?

It seems overwhelmingly obvious that this is no longer within the United States hands.

We reduced Falluja to rubble. We claimed victory and told the world we held Falluja under total and complete control. Our military claimed very few
civilian casualties and listed thousands of insurgents dead. CNN and Fox News harped and cheered on the television that the battle of Falluja would go down in history as a complete success, and a testament to the United States' supremacy on the modern battlefield.

However, after the dust settled, and generals sat in cozy offices smoking their victory cigars, the front lines in Falluja exploded again with
indomitable mortar, rocket, and small-arm attacks on U.S. and coalition forces.

Recent reports indicate that many insurgents have resurfaced in the devastated city of Falluja. We had already claimed the situation under control and were starting to turn our attention to the other problem city of Mosul. Suddenly, we were backtracking our attention to Falluja. Did the
Department of Defense and the national press lie to the public and claim another preemptive victory?

Not necessarily so. Conventionally, we won the battle--how could anyone argue that? We destroyed an entire city and killed thousands of its
occupants. But the main issue that both the military and public forget to analyze is that this war, beyond any shadow of a doubt, is completely

Sometimes I wonder if the West Point-graduated officers have ever studied the intricate simplicity and effectiveness of guerrilla warfare.

During the course of this war, I have occasionally asked a random lieutenant or a captain if he at any time has even browsed through Che Guevara's Guerrilla Warfare. Almost half of them admit that they have not. This I find to be amazing! Here we have many years of guerrilla warfare ahead of us, and our military's leadership seems dangerously unaware of what it all means!

Anyone can tell you that a guerrilla fighter is one who uses hit-and-run techniques to attempt a breakdown of a stronger conventional force.

However, what is more important to a guerrilla campaign are the political forces that drive it. Throughout history, many guerrilla armies have been successful; our own country and its fight for independence cannot be excluded.

We should have learned a lesson in guerrilla fighting with the Vietnam War only 30 years ago, but history has a funny way of repeating itself. The Vietnam War was a perfect example of how quick, deadly assaults on conventional troops over a long period of time can lead to an unpopular
public view of the war, thus ending it.

Che Guevara stressed in his book Guerrilla Warfare that the most important factor in a guerrilla campaign is popular support. With that, victory is
almost completely assured.

The Iraqis already have many of the main ingredients of a successful insurrection. Not only do they have a seemingly endless supply of munitions and weapons, they have the advantage to blend into their environment, whether that environment is a crowded marketplace or a thickly vegetated palm grove.

The Iraqi insurgent has utilized these advantages to the fullest, but his most important and relevant advantage is the popular support from his own countrymen.

What our military and government needs to realize is that every mistake we make is an advantage to the Iraqi insurrection. Every time an innocent man, woman or child is murdered in a military act, deliberate or not, the insurgent grows stronger.

Even if an innocent civilian is slain at the hands of his or her own freedom fighter, that fighter is still viewed as a warrior of the people, while the occupying force will ultimately be blamed as the responsible perpetrator.

Everything about this war is political...every ambush, every bombing, every death. When a coalition worker or soldier is abducted and executed, this only adds encouragement and justice to the dissident fervor of the Iraq public, while angering and demoralizing the occupier.

Our own media will prove to be our downfall as well. Every time an atrocity is revealed through our news outlets, our grasp on this once secular nation slips away. As America grows increasingly disturbed by the images of carnage and violent death of her own sons in arms, its government loses the justification to continue the bloody debacle.

Since all these traits are the conventional power's unavoidable mistakes, the guerrilla campaign will surely succeed.

In Iraq's case, complete destruction of the United States military is impossible, but through perseverance, the insurgency will drive us out.
This will prove to be the inevitable outcome of the war.

- - - - - - - - - - - - - - - -
WE LOST many soldiers in the final battle for Falluja, and many more were seriously wounded. It seems unfair that even after the devastation we
wreaked on this city just to contain it, many more troops will die in vain to keep it that way.

I saw the look in the eyes of a reconnaissance scout while I talked to him after the battle. His stories of gore and violent death were unnerving. The sacrifices that he and his whole platoon had made were infinite. They fought every day with little or no sleep, very few breaks and no hot meals.

For obvious reasons, they never could manage to find time to e-mail their mothers to let them know that everything turned out okay.

Some of the members of his platoon will never get the chance to reassure their mothers, because now, those soldiers are dead.

The look in his eyes as he told some of the stories were deep and weary, even perturbed. He described in accurate detail how some enemy combatants were blown to pieces by army-issued bazookas, some had their heads shot off by a 50 caliber bullet, others were run over by tanks as they stood defiantly in the narrow streets, firing an AK-47.

The soldier told me how one of his favorite sergeants died right in front of him. He was taking cover behind an alley wall, and as he emerged to fire his M4 rifle, he was shot through the abdomen with a rocket-propelled grenade.

The grenade itself exploded and sent shrapnel into the narrator's leg. He showed me where a chunk of burned flesh was torn from his left thigh.

He ended his conversation saying that he was just a dumb kid from California who never thought joining the army would send him straight to
hell. He told me he was tired as fuck and wanted a shower. Then he slowly walked away, cradling a rifle under his arm.

Posted by: Jérôme | Dec 6 2004 15:14 utc | 3

@ MarcinGomulka What's your reaction to Raimondo's
second long essay
on the Ukraine election impasse?
I know you were less than impressed by the earlier effort. I must confess that his essentially isolationist position seems pretty attractive to me, especially giving the enduring incapacity of American governments to distinguish internationalism from interventionism.

Posted by: Hannah K. O'Luthon | Dec 6 2004 15:14 utc | 4

I'm really not informed about the Ukrainian elections. But can someone answer some questions for me?

I thought that the EU was making overtures to Russia since the U.S. was talking about "old Europe" and Belgium as the pilot fish for France and all the U.N. out of the U.S. talk because Russia is still invested in military protection. Is this wrong?

Are the interests of the U.S. and western Europe the same here?

I thought the idea was that Russia would eventually come around to some sort of arrangement with the EU. Also, isn't Russia a huge exporter of oil to EU nations?

Can someone give me some background that's not based upon neocons and libertarians in the U.S. duking it out?

Posted by: fauxreal | Dec 6 2004 15:38 utc | 5

fauxreal - I'll try later tonight. Much to say...

Posted by: Jérôme | Dec 6 2004 15:45 utc | 6

thanks, Jerome. I really enjoyed your article on the dollar and imports/exports, btw.

I'm headed out now too.

Posted by: fauxreal | Dec 6 2004 16:06 utc | 7

@ Jérôme Since it's getting close to the Xmas-Hunnakah season, it seems that one might ask for
a further gift from Paris: apparently Russian "conventional folk wisdom" holds that Yukos oligarch
Khodorkovsky received his "seed money" for buying vouchers from the Rothschild family (in particular Jacob Rothschild).
Googling produces scads of similar assertions, as well as clear cut denials of this thesis. This story seems to be particular popular with more or less obviously antisemitic and Aryan-oriented sites, but just because
they say so doesn't necessarily mean it's false. Elucidation of the money laundering of the Russian mafia and oligarchy is surely a lot to ask, but, as I said, we are getting close to Xmas, and who better than a Parisian banker to set these stories to rest?

Posted by: Hannah K. O'Luthon | Dec 6 2004 16:07 utc | 8

A completely different topic:

list of the countries that have NOT ratified the Kyoto treaty:

Grenadine(sp?) Islands

Posted by: Jérôme | Dec 6 2004 16:13 utc | 9


AFAIK, Rothschild was hired by Khodorkhovsky at some point in the late 90s in his drive for respectability - when he created foundations, endowments, and generally tried to get accepted in "good society". He succeeded really well, and I know that Rothschild was one of the earlier names that helped to do so. How he convinced him, and did that reflect older links, I don't know.

There have also been longstnading rumors that Khodo was a front for old KGB and Communist Party money that used it to vover their asset grab in the early years. It is certainly possible, as Khodo was a leader of the Young Communists' League back then... To make a bridge to the AIPAC thread, many have said that it was really fascinating that most of the new oligarchs were Jews - the backlash would have a tinge of traditional anti-semitism and the "real" thieves behind them would be confortably left alone...

Posted by: Jérôme | Dec 6 2004 16:22 utc | 10

Fauxreal: Indeed, it's weird. I suppose some hope to get Ukraine without playing nice with Putin. Not the wisest decision imho, though; they already let him clamp down on Chechnya, so was Ukraine that important, instead of forging a light alliance with the Russian bloc at large? Of course, Poland and neighboring countries may have a more direct interest in a pro-West Ukraine. Whatever, Raimondo is a bit shrill as usual, but I agree with him that they're corrupt scum on both sides. If the locals had any sense, they would dump the whole parliament in the Dnepr, along with every Ukrainian billionaire, and then should proceed with new elections free from past pressures and corruption.

By the way, our resident economists will like this "good news": We said DOW 36.000 and we were right!. Now, we can all feel secure about the future of the US economy.

Posted by: CluelessJoe | Dec 6 2004 16:23 utc | 11

@ Jérôme

Posted by: Hannah K. O'Luthon | Dec 6 2004 16:24 utc | 12

@ Jérôme
So it comes done to the standard question:
who was using whom? Perhaps, as is often the case when
a relation is going well, each side was enjoying fucking the other.

Posted by: Hannah K. O'Luthon | Dec 6 2004 16:26 utc | 13

Ed Naha on the environment and Kyoto!

Diddling With Danger

Ayup. Bush and his minions are basically gang-banging Mother Nature without the use of condoms.

How so? Well, f’rinstance, the 194-nation Kyoto Protocol-required cuts in “greenhouse gas” emissions by 2012 come into force in February, seven years after they were negotiated. Yaaay! So how will America respond?

Uh, we won’t. The U.S. rejected the treaty.

European governments want the annual treaty conference – being held Dec. 6-17 in Buenos Aires – to get down to talks on steps beyond 2012 to limit heat-trapping gases in the atmosphere.

‘’We are, in fact, only at the beginning of what we need to do,'’ Margot Wallstrom, the European Union’s outgoing environment chief, recently told the European Parliament.

So, what are we doing about it?

Telling teens not to do the horizontal bop.

‘’We think it’s premature to be discussing post-Kyoto 2012 arrangements,'’ Paula J. Dobriansky, the undersecretary of state who heads the U.S. delegation, said in an interview.

Instead, she said, she will use the conference to spotlight Bush administration efforts to develop cleaner energy technologies and ways to capture and safely store carbon dioxide, the most common greenhouse gas.

That should take about a minute.

The weather predictions for Asia by 2050 read like a disaster movie, with typhoons, droughts, floods, diseases, and rising sea levels causing more than 6.3 billion people to emigrate. In what could be a foretaste of the future, Japan was hit by a record 10 typhoons and tropical storms this year, while two-thirds of Bangladesh, parts of Nepal and large areas of northeastern India were flooded, affecting 50 million people, destroying livelihoods and making tens of thousands ill.

The year before, a winter cold snap and a summer heat wave killed more than 2,000 people in India.

Rising sea levels may also bring misery to millions in Asia, causing sea water to inundate fertile rice-growing areas and fresh-water aquifers, making some areas uninhabitable.

By 2050, China will have to build sea defenses along parts of its low-lying, storm-prone southeastern coast.

According to the U.N.’s World Food Program, the Gobi Desert in China expanded by 20,230 square miles between 1994 and 1999, creeping closer to the capital Beijing.

So much for farming.

So, facing these scientific predictions about global calamity, what are we doing?

Cranking out Hummers.

Cranking out pollutants.

Telling kids not to screw.

Giving a ton of money to programs that, basically, keep kids under eighteen from anything they ever wanted to know about sex.

In terms of the world? America declares itself apart from the world.

BushCo. will step back and, earning money from polluters, will watch the globe die, while counting up the profits.

But what of the next generation?

Hey, kids?

You are dead meat.

So, while Nero fiddles, be pro-active. Doff your clothes en masse!


It’s the end of the world as we know it!


Or, you might want to get involved, educate yourselves as to what this administration is actually doing to the environment under the guise of catchy slogans and protest, protest, protest.

I’ve never heard of anyone getting pregnant from holding up a sign during an Earth Day demonstration.

Posted by: Fran | Dec 6 2004 16:32 utc | 14

Wow, if this is true, this might bring some movement into the election discussion!!!

WHISTLEBLOWER AFFIDAVIT: Programmer Built Vote Rigging Prototype at Republican Congressman's Request! - CLAIM: Rep. Tom Feeney (R-FL) Asked Company to Create E-Vote Fraud Software!

In stunning revelations set to rock the vote from Tallahassee to Capitol Hill -- and perhaps even a bit further up Pennsylvania Avenue -- a Florida computer programmer has now made remarkable claims in a detailed sworn affidavit, signed this morning and obtained exclusively by The BRAD BLOG!

The programmer claims that he designed and built a "vote rigging" software program at the behest of then Florida Congressman, now U.S. Congressman, Republican Tom Feeney of Florida's 24th Congressional District.

Clint Curtis, 46, claims that he built the software for Feeney in 2000 while working at a sofware design and engineering company in Oviedo, Florida (Feeney's home district).

Curtis, in his affidavit, says that as technical advisor and programmer at Yang Enterprises, Inc. (YEI) he was present at company meetings where Feeney was present "on at least a dozen occasions".

Feeney, who had run in 1994 as Jeb Bush's running-mate in his initial unsuccessful bid for Florida Governor, was serving as both corporate counsel and registered lobbyist for YEI during the period that Curtis worked at the company. Feeney was also concurrently serving as a Florida state congressman while performing those services for YEI. Feeney would eventually become Speaker of the Florida House before being elected to the U.S. House of Representatives in 2002. He is now a member of the U.S. House Judiciary Committee.

At an October 2000 meeting with Feeney, according to the affidavit and BRAD BLOG interviews with Curtis over the past three days, Feeney inquired whether the company could build a "vote fraud software prototype".

Frankly, we find the information related in Curtis' sworn affidavit, and via our interviews with him and others directly related to his story to be rather stunning as is, and we will stand by our reporting of those matters at this time.

Given the importance of the many allegations in his story if they are true -- and we have so far been unable to identify any major holes or discrepancies in his information -- we thought it necessary to release the full details contained in this sworn affidavit immediately so that Curtis' story and the explosive allegations contained therein could be more accurately assessed.

Posted by: Fran | Dec 6 2004 20:28 utc | 15

Russia is only of significance to the West for a small number of reasons:

- veto on the Security Council, and still a pretty active diplomacy
- lots of nukes around that need to be kept secure
- it's a neighboor to pretty much everybody and gets involved in most local disputes in Europe and Asia.
- it has a nuisance capacity by being friendly to rogue regimes (friendly meaning providing diplomatic support (cf first point above) and weapons)
- it sells A LOT of gas to Europe (and is now making noises about LNG that could also go to the US)
- it exports of lot of oil, which until recently, and pretty unusually for a non OECD country, was produced by private, quoted companies (i.e. with US shareholders).

So what's really important in that? What do Bush, Chirac, Blair, Schroder and others want form Russia, and do they get it?

Bush - with Condi being a Cold War specialist, and the whole administration loving power games, relations with Russia are quite simple. They are on the same side of history, the past, where might is right. (Russia is weak; noisy, but weak. So it's easy)
They can deal with Russia - you support us on the WoT, we let you do you stuff (genocide, remember) in Chechnya. You sort of scream on Iraq, but don't really do anything about it, and we'll let you in the game later. You produce oil in increasing quantities, which is good (non-Arab oil is very good), so we'll let you take back the oil companies from their owners (so long as the US investors are compensated and US majors get a slice on the way). We'll push you around a little in Georgia and Ukraine, but hey, it's business, nothing personal, we know you'd do the same (as a matter of fact, you're trying) and nothing much you can do about it - take your nerves on the silly Europeans...
Putin is happy, because, despite the occasional shafting on the borders of the former Soviet Union, he gets a good deal out of it: his authority within Russia is not contested (forget those pesky political opponents), he is taken seriously on the world stage, and he gets a seat at the geopolitical grand table with his oil and pipelines. The USA play a game he can understand - and when you consider the terribly weak state of the country, the results are not so bad.

Chirac - he'd love a Russia that stands up to the USA, and is one of the poles of his "multipolar world. He enjoys power politics with the big countries, it's more fun than defending stupid agricultural subsidies against Dutch or Slovenian bureaucrats. Any photo-op that makes him look standing up against the villain Bush with the mighty tsar Putin (don't forget the aura that remains for words like "Kremlin", "tsar", etc) is popular at home and around the world.
Putin indulges him up to a point (but he's careful never to do anything that would really piss Bush off; these photo ops don't really count, Condi knows that). Better let these crazy French do the dirty job of saying loud what everybody thinks but does not dare tell the bully...

Schroeder - apart from the games when Chirac pulls him in, he has more down to earth worries: making sure that Russia pays its debt (60% of which is owed to Germany), that Russia delivers its gas that Germany - and the neighbors - needs (more than 30% - and growing - of its needs for Germany, 60 to 100% for Central Europe), and that Russia behaves viz. the new small friends to the East. If he can get business for the big German companies, that's nice too. So Schroeder tries to keep Putin more or less happy, and tries to explain to him how the European bureaucracy works, and asks that he does not complain too much about Chechnya or other nasty stuff, so long as it does not happen to EU or near-EU countries (the Balts or Georgia).
Putin, he's happy to keep Schroeder happy (in fact, he's pretty desperate to, as the gas exports to Europe make 25% of the whole country's exports, and 20% of his government's income - he cannot believe that he gets such an easy deal there). Schroeder helps him with those stupid Brussels bureaucrats who don't know a thing about Russia but want to decide what he and his friends and companies can and cannot do; (Actually, they do decide about these things, and they reflect the consensus of most European governments; Putin - as most Russians and Americans - really does not understand how Brussels work and how pervasise its influence is - it's so much easier to deal with Schroeder, schmooze him, maks him feel respected). If Schroeder is pissed at him, he makes friends with Blair and snubs him and that always works (ahh, divide and rule, so simple, Bush knows that as well - but it is getting harder in Europe these days). Luckily, they get all worked up about that crazy Kyoto stuff. This has been sooo useful in recent times to get goodies from all of them.

Blair - who cares about Blair these days?
(Sorry, could not resist. I am French, after all; The short version is: see Chirac. Different motivations, same results).

Others? Well China is a whole other story. (another time) Iran? See below.

So, what about Ukraine? Well, for Russians, Ukraine is not just the former soviet Union, it is, in the Russian soul, part of Russia. So it should be off limits to everybody else. They cannot believe that Europe is so interested in the election there, it's none of their business! The USA they can understand, they are always trying to nibble when they can, but that can be dealt with. Europe - it's suddenly getting too damn close for confort; hence the outraged screams.

The fact is, Russia is in tough situation.

- natural gas is a co-dependency relationship; Big pipelines mean that the supplier (Russia) has one client (Europe), and the client has one supplier; so they are stuck with one another and cannot do anything that would jeopardise that fundamental fact. sure, there's a lot of theater, jockeying around, politicking, but essentially, it's a draw.

- oil. again, Russia is heavily dependent on the stuff, so it's not a painless weapon for them. Jacking up production is still a good way to matter worldwide, earning cookie points with the US and a bundle of $ as well, but it keeps the corruption going and it prevents real reform of the rest of the economy. There's the pipeline games in the Caspian, but this is a game Russia has lost (they've won the game on the gas side) - to build a new pipe, you need a reliable partner, and Russia is not a reliable partner for these things (too much tinkering) - so new pipelines are built elsewhere to avoid the hassle (on the gas side, Russia won because the pipelines are already there) - even if the other governments forget it, the oil companies know it and take it into account. Sure, they also want access to the reserves, but they are big boys and understand power games with the best of them (and they have much deeper pockets than Russia, and longer memories than other investors). So Russia is in the game, but it's not a free ride.

- nukes. Well, that's the big unsaid. Russia is potentially too dangerous to let it go bad, so the threat that chaos is looming is always good for a little extra help from the gullible West (cash at times, tolerance for repression at others, etc).

- rogue regimes. Like helping Iran build their nuclear reactor. Again, it's mostly leverage against the West, and the West falls for it each time, it's almost too easy. This is really a situation that would call for a little firmness ("stop selling nukes to iran or we'll stop giving visas to Paris or London to your girlfriends", handed with an up-to-date list of said girlfriends, would work absolute wonders if we cared to try...).

Russia does not give a damn about Iran. All it wants is respect and monet form the West. Supporting democracy consistently (the key word) will get you respect, even if you are a pain in the ass. forget the consistency, and Russia knows it's just a game played for leverage - and that, they know how to play. Make it non-negotiable, and there will be progress.

- UN veto. Who cares about the UN? France and Russia. Why? Because they have the veto! Forget the UN, lose the veto, ignore France and Russia. Seriously... (I mean, hated as the US administration is, what would it change? As if Bush cares about AIDS or refugees, the only kind of stuff that the UN does reasonably well)

So my bet is - relations between Russia and the US will be good, even if they are not warm. Relations between Russia and Europe will be tumultuous, even if they cannot be allowed to go bad.

Posted by: Jérôme | Dec 6 2004 21:14 utc | 16

I've made that into a diary at dKos again. Please help me make a double!

Posted by: Jérôme | Dec 6 2004 21:18 utc | 17

Nice job Jerome and Bernhard. I sure wish the press would have played the part they should have before the election. But, with the US media in so few hands, real news is hard to get for the average joe sixpack.

I read with laughter the article reference in which James Glassman, the AEI idiot defends his book Dow 36,000. Glassman is a moron and wouldn't be able to keep a job except AEI feeling sorry for the moron. I must say he was most incompetent person in Bush 41s admin.

I am waiting for this house of US debt to fall. The Detroit News Tom Bray had an article today saying how great the twin deficits of national debt and trade deficit meant that the economy is rolling. Good god, where do they find the mold for these people?

Posted by: jdp | Dec 6 2004 21:47 utc | 18


A little rough, but good characterization. I try to think the longer view and I bet some people in Russia do too.

The next decades will be a commodity game again. Not so undercover as during the cold war but open warfare (already started in Iraq).

The grand price is Siberia. Russia has it, but is missing the power (ex nukes) do defend it. China needs it because the country has environmental and climate problems coming up that will require new soil for a growing and demanding population plus lots of commodities. The US wants it mainly out of greed. Europe is for now only important as a knowledge and technology source and as a well paying customer in this game. There are some important sentimentals with Europe. A lot of common history and culture not to be underestimated.

Russia hedges with the US against China. 120 Million Rusiians alone against 1.3 Billion Chinese coming north - how? At the same time they have to keep the US at arms length by dealing with China and of course like the revenue from their weapon sales to China. Could an EU army help Russia to defend Siberia?

India is kind of a wild card in the game. Lots of people, but the cast system inhibits real development.

We will see wars about Siberia in the next 20 years - interesting times coming up ...

Posted by: b | Dec 6 2004 22:50 utc | 19


DOW 36,000 is a solid sell signal!

Posted by: b | Dec 6 2004 22:51 utc | 20

I know I’m going to be embarrassed when and if someone responds but what does “HKOL” represent?

I’ve searched:
and couldn’t find HKOL

I’ll say “ouch” now before I hear the answer.

Posted by: juannie | Dec 7 2004 0:00 utc | 21

Hannah K. O'Luthon


Posted by: juannie | Dec 7 2004 0:02 utc | 22

Economist Paul Krugman is back commenting on social security: Inventing a Crisis

rivatizing Social Security - replacing the current system, in whole or in part, with personal investment accounts - won't do anything to strengthen the system's finances. If anything, it will make things worse. Nonetheless, the politics of privatization depend crucially on convincing the public that the system is in imminent danger of collapse, that we must destroy Social Security in order to save it.

I'll have a lot to say about all this when I return to my regular schedule in January. But right now it seems important to take a break from my break, and debunk the hype about a Social Security crisis.

There's nothing strange or mysterious about how Social Security works: it's just a government program supported by a dedicated tax on payroll earnings, just as highway maintenance is supported by a dedicated tax on gasoline.
My favorite example of their three-card-monte logic goes like this: first, they insist that the Social Security system's current surplus and the trust fund it has been accumulating with that surplus are meaningless. Social Security, they say, isn't really an independent entity - it's just part of the federal government.

If the trust fund is meaningless, by the way, that Greenspan-sponsored tax increase in the 1980's was nothing but an exercise in class warfare: taxes on working-class Americans went up, taxes on the affluent went down, and the workers have nothing to show for their sacrifice.

But never mind: the same people who claim that Social Security isn't an independent entity when it runs surpluses also insist that late next decade, when the benefit payments start to exceed the payroll tax receipts, this will represent a crisis - you see, Social Security has its own dedicated financing, and therefore must stand on its own.

There's no honest way anyone can hold both these positions, but very little about the privatizers' position is honest. They come to bury Social Security, not to save it. They aren't sincerely concerned about the possibility that the system will someday fail; they're disturbed by the system's historic success.

For Social Security is a government program that works, a demonstration that a modest amount of taxing and spending can make people's lives better and more secure. And that's why the right wants to destroy it.

Posted by: b | Dec 7 2004 7:05 utc | 23

Generals See Gains From Iraq Offensives
Gains in "Help Wanted" advertisment ...

A total of 338 Iraqis associated with the new governing structures or with the Americans have been assassinated since Oct. 1, according to U.S. military figures. This includes 35 police chiefs, mayors and middle-ranking officials. In Mosul, where 136 bodies have been found in the past month, U.S. officers suspect a particularly brutal and extensive campaign by fighters from the once-ruling Baath Party to target members of the Iraqi security forces.

Posted by: b | Dec 7 2004 7:41 utc | 24

brief essay from a recent issue of the Japan Times
might be an interesting counterpoint and foreign-policy coda to Krugman's essay.

Posted by: Hannah K. O'Luthon | Dec 7 2004 7:58 utc | 25

Former Chilean general says CIA helped Pinochet and trained torturers (link in Spanish)

Posted by: Jérôme | Dec 7 2004 8:56 utc | 26

The Yes Men strike again

Dow with those 'Yes Men' SAMIRAN CHAKRAWERTTI


This wasn't the first time that Dow Chemicals was had by the notorious, well-meaning 'The Yes Men'.

Exactly two years before Friday's hoax, December 3, 2002 saw an email press release sent out by, explaining why, despite legal investigations consistently pinpointing Union Carbide Corporation (UCC) as the culprit, Dow and UCC had always refused responsibility for the Bhopal disaster.

The release received shocked responses before a legal notice shut them down two days later, along with all the other websites on the ISP that hosted them.

The release said Dow could not acknowledge responsibility because, "if we did, not only would we be required to expend many billions of dollars on cleanup and compensation — much worse, the public could then point to Dow as a precedent in other big cases.
"They took responsibility; why can't you?' Amoco, BP, Shell, and Exxon all have ongoing problems that would just get much worse. We are unable to set this precedent for ourselves and the industry, much as we would like to see the issue resolved in a humane and satisfying way."

'The Yes Men' claim they are in the business of identity correction. They see themselves as a group of honest people who impersonate their idea of big-time criminals — leaders and big corporations who put profits in front of everything else — in order to publicly humiliate them. All for public good.

In 1999, just before the Seattle protests, they set up a parody of the WTO website at

Soon, they found themselves invited to various conferences as representatives of the WTO. That was all they needed. They extended the concepts of free trade to ridiculous lengths.

At a trade conference in Austria, they proposed a free-market solution to democracy — auctioning votes to the highest bidder. On CNBC Europe, they declared there should to be a market in human rights abuses. At a New York University they proposed that to solve global hunger, the poor should have to eat hamburgers-and then recycle them up to 10 times.

Finally, at an accounting conference in Sydney they announced that in light of all its mistakes, the WTO had decided to shut itself down, refounding as an organisation whose goals were not to help corporations, but rather the poor and the environment.

That year, they also managed to launch, a parody of Bush's real campaign website,, which tried to explain in 'more honest terms' the real reasons that Bush wanted to be president, essentially to help the rich.

A livid Bush had his lawyers send them a letter and later complained to the Federal Election Commission. When asked about the website, he said, "There ought to be limits to freedom."

They have also (mis)represented the Bush Campaign in Cleveland, urging people to accelerate global warming by causing more pollution because it would give the United States a tactical military and economic edge over China and Japan.

Not only that, it drew the conclusion that more pollution would actually solve the global warming problem, since global warming would eventually lead to an ice age, as in the movie The Day After Tomorrow, and what better way to combat the ice age than to throw more heat into the environment?

Posted by: Jérôme | Dec 7 2004 8:59 utc | 27

The following story from Pravda is completely appropriate for the
Rense site, and seems like a suitable follow-up to "Yes Men". Unfortunately it deals wit
documents and methods regarding the CIA. I guess it's perfectly appropriate that spooks should be as much enamoured of pscychics as vice versa, but it hardly helps the case of those inclined to take either group seriously. This use of psychics has occasionally been a rather more rational matter: for example in the late 1970's when the former Italian prime minister Aldo Moro was kidnapped by the Red Brigades in Italy the CIA organized séances conducted by a "seer" and attended by Christian Democrat bigwig Nino Andreatta as a means of "sanitizing" information obtained via signals interecption activities. All in all a fairly transparent but reasonable way to get sensitive information into circulation in a deniable way. Moro
was, nevertheless, assassinated, and his killers brought to justice only years later. The Pravda article seems to be something quite different. It could, of course, be that the real targets of the effort were U.S. government officials who wouldn't believe rational analysis. But of course, we know that's impossible.

Posted by: Hannah K. O'Luthon | Dec 7 2004 10:48 utc | 28

Hello, anyone around? Thanks "HKOL" for sticking around!

More bar snacks...

NO MORE MOORE The DLC joins the witch-hunt

Posted by: Jérôme | Dec 7 2004 11:54 utc | 29

Posted by: fauxreal | Dec 7 2004 12:47 utc | 30


The fact is the US foriegn policy elite have loads of blood on their hands. The Council on Foriegn Relations, Trilats, our foriegn policy elite, backed those dictators and torturers in south America. The big money center banks strapped those countries with loads of debt and then backed dictators and military governments who were willing to force the austerity measures on their people to pay back Chase Manhatten. It is sick.

When the debt was going into default, it was re-packaged and sold as the so-called Brady Bonds. Brady bonds were re-cycle south American debt. Always remember, elites get their money no matter. Our foriegn policy elite should be tried for treason, but they have co-opted people in position to do something.

Posted by: jdp | Dec 7 2004 13:00 utc | 31

jerome- from the best that I can understand (and not much) your link includes the new info on Riggs, but the information on Contreras was released here in 2000.

Peter Kornbluth has been instrumental in bringing this issue forward, and his book, reviewed in Foreign Affairs resulted in the book reviewer's resignation, noted above, due to pressure from Kissinger.

Contreras ran the torture centers in Chile; he ordered the murder and disappearances of hundreds of Chileans. But unlike so many other infamous CIA assets who viciously violated the human rights of their countrymen while their covert handlers looked the other way, Contreras took his dirty war beyond Chilean borders, dispatching his agents throughout the world to commit acts of international terrorism. He is currently in prison outside Santiago for the most brazen terrorist attack ever to take place in the capital of the United States-the September 21, 1976, car bombing that killed former Chilean ambassador Orlando Letelier and a 25-year-old American associate, Ronni Karpen Moffitt.

Having covered up its relationship to Contreras and the DINA for all these years, including initially keeping it secret from the federal prosecutors investigating the Letelier-Moffitt murders, the CIA now admits that it knew in 1974 that the DINA was involved in "bilateral cooperation. . .to track the activities of ... and kill political opponents" abroad. Yet in 1975, shortly after the CIA's own intelligence reporting documented that Contraras was "the principal obstacle" to improving human rights in Chile, CIA officials "recommended establishing a paid relationship with Contreras," and a "one-time payment was given". Cozying up to the DINA, the report makes clear, was done "in the interest of maintaining good relations with Pinochet", and to "accomplish the CIA's mission," presumably to gather intelligence to safeguard US security.

Posted by: fauxreal | Dec 7 2004 13:08 utc | 32

to clarify--

the quote of the day is from Eduardo Contreras.

Manuel Contreras was paid by the CIA.

Posted by: fauxreal | Dec 7 2004 13:12 utc | 33

This Is a long (280k, 70+ pages) PDF from the American Enterprise Institute that I was pointed to from Abu Aardvark.

It's a detailed summary of a lot of the parties involved in Iraq and their positions. The opinions given in it are highly suspect, but the background seems interesting.

Posted by: Colman | Dec 7 2004 16:29 utc | 34

has anyone heard from sic lately, wasn't iraq his/her homebase?

Posted by: annie | Dec 7 2004 17:35 utc | 35

Now, this is some serious shit:
Who said slavery was dead?
Some 1.4 billion people in work around the world earn less than $2 a day, that is, half the workers on the planet. Put in other words, a big share of mankind is actually in a state of forced labor.
As far as I'm concerned, the really amazing fact is that they still haven't get their act together, grab pitchforks, and hang the wealthy elite on lamppost or baobab - depending on where they live.
Of course, the Americans voted for Bush "because of moral values".
I fully expect things to get far far worse in the next decades.

Posted by: Clueless Joe | Dec 7 2004 18:33 utc | 36

Demystifying Outsourcing

Posted by: Jérôme | Dec 7 2004 19:46 utc | 37

WMD Found. Check the list and see if you work for any of these companies.

Posted by: DM | Dec 7 2004 21:32 utc | 38

Digby over at Hullabaloo, has a really interesting post about and link to a study of

From the UU article:

From 1988 to 1993, the American Academy of Arts and Sciences sponsored an interdisciplinary study known as The Fundamentalism Project, the largest such study ever done. More than 100 scholars from all over the world took part, reporting on every imaginable kind of fundamentalism. And what they discovered was that the agenda of all fundamentalist movements in the world is virtually identical, regardless of religion or culture.

Karen Armstrong discusses some of this in her introductory chapter on The Battle for God.

Digby talks about this idea in terms of hardwiring (which he says is in the study...I've looked for it online, but only come up with a homepage. But Digby quotes from them here:

It is easier to account for this set of behavioral biases as part of the common evolutionary heritage of our species than to argue that it is simply a monumental coincidence that the social and behavioral agendas of all fundamentalisms and fascisms are essentially identical.

What conservatives are conserving is the biological default setting of our species, which has strong family resemblances to the default setting of thousands of other species. This means that when fundamentalists say they are obeying the word of God, they have severely understated the authority for their position.

The real authority behind this behavioral scheme is millions of years older than all the religions and all the gods there have ever been. It is the picture of life that gave birth to most of the gods as its projected champions.

I have a "problem" with this characterization.

Extremes in dimorphism (males much larger than females) are a feature of the sorts of male dominated societies the researchers note...i.e. gorillas and harems.

(fwiw, these dimorphic society males also have teeeeeny tiny dicks in relation to body size and in relation to other primates' body size/penis size... hmm, maybe the best argument for males would be...power sharing makes your dick bigger...but I digress...)

this dimorphism is not the case in humans, and has not been for a looooong time. so physiological reasons for such behavior are not supported by the average sizes of human males and females for hundreds of thousands of years. In fact, larger than necessary penis size in human males is generally considered an indicator of female selection of male partners (so that the human penis size might be thought of sort of like a peacock’s feathers,) as well as an indication of the sort of society human males lived in (competing for female attention, rather than dominating them.)

Beyond humans, there are various primate strategies, and more than one in chimpanzee species (common chimps vs. bonobos) uses aggression (and Jane Goodall made them famous) while the other uses sex (and Frans De Waal should make them more famous.) Not surprisingly, the communities that practice "free love" (bisexually) have females who resolve disputes.

While we can acknowledge that fundamentalist behavor is part of a common brain, we can also see that, even in non-human primates, cultures are possible that do not use these strategies. This means that for millions of years, primates who share physiological features more like humans (chimps) have also had other options, and have displayed the ability to form other cultures. The DNA tree separating the great apes (gorillas, chimpanzees, humans) branches at about 5 million years, if I remember correctly.

not too long ago, orangutans, as someone on the Whiskey Bar mentioned, could learn different behavior and pass that learning along to their young, too. (I looked for my link to that post but couldn’t find it…)

The examples in modern culture of "dimorphism" are in the body politic with things like the 400:1 ratio of earnings between CEOs and workers, or the way power is accumulated in a few people who then hoard their excess (such as Halliburton or Bush's tax shifting.)

This same example extends to the entire history of western civilization, with lords and serfs and the church exercising power over people in concert with kings. Dimorphism has been abstracted, in other words.

I wonder if it’s really dimorphism that’s the issue. I think the accepted primate traits of xenophobia and hoarding have as much to do with fundamentalism, if not more, than access to females…xenophobia and hoarding are not sex specific traits.

Posted by: fauxreal | Dec 7 2004 21:38 utc | 39

Hmmm, I'm not sure xenophobia and hoarding are typically primate behaviour. As far as I can see, it goes back deep into the territorially-minded reptilian brain, and was then passed on to mammals and birds, to a greater or lesser extent.
But then, we are thinking and reasoning people, not entirely determined by genes, and it is therefore possible, if not (arguably) our duty as sentient beings to raise above the mere instincts.

DM: that list doesn't surprise me. I could've bet some of them were in, since they're deep into shadowy business related with hi-tech weaponry and hi-tech engineering. I'm glad to see people were right to suspect that the US blacked out the list not so that "other nations won't be embarrassed" but because therewere major US industries involved. Bechtel is quite a good pick; I'm just disappointed there's no Halliburton.

Posted by: Clueless Joe | Dec 7 2004 21:54 utc | 40

LA Times Troops' Murder Cases in Iraq Detailed

Soldiers approached a small, one-story home and found a family sleeping on blankets in the courtyard because of the summer heat, several soldiers from the unit testified Monday.

Soldiers detained the family — a father, mother, daughter, son and baby — in the courtyard while they searched the home.

Soldiers found a revolver and an AK-47 rifle. Because of the lack of security in Iraq, it is not uncommon for Iraqi families to keep guns in their homes. The law permits each household to have one weapon for protection.

At least one soldier testified that he suspected that the occupants had used the weapons to attack U.S. troops.

After the weapons were found, Williams, who was the squad leader, and May motioned for the father to follow them inside, soldiers testified.

Once inside, Williams and May stood in front of the Iraqi.

"You know what you have to do," Williams told May, according to military attorneys' account of the incident.

"Can I shoot him?" May asked Williams. "Shoot him," Williams replied, according to military attorneys.

May fired two shots.

"I shot him in the head twice, took a picture of him, and walked outside," May told a military investigator, Special Agent James Suprynowicz, in a sworn statement several weeks later. It was read in court Monday.

After the shooting, May bragged about the incident to fellow soldiers, prosecutors alleged.

"Spc. May was pretty hyped up," testified Spc. Joshua R. Sickels, a member of the battalion. "He was excited. He said he'd never shot someone that close up before."

These guys did shut another Iraqi before in a similar setting. The unit was engaged in several instances were unarmed civilians were shoot. Expect the units commanding officer to get promoted.

Posted by: b | Dec 7 2004 22:29 utc | 41

b ( from 'uniform thread' -it is not open)

what little joseph goebbels words meant :
one tenth of russian population - 20,000,000
1,700 towns
70,000 villages
84,000 schools
40,000 hospitals
42,000 public libraries
25,000,000 homeless
coal production down 33%
oil down 46%
electricity down 33%
pig iron down 54%
steel down 48%
coke down 46%
machine tool production down 35%
31,000 industrial enterprises destroyed
russian industry razed to less than hal prewar capacity
98,000 collective farms destroyed
2,000 stae farms destroyed
7 million horses
17 million head of cattle
20 million pigs
27 million sheep
meat production down 40%
dairy production down 55%

(source richad rhodes - dark son - the making of the hydrogen bomb - simon & schuster 1995 new york)

the little man with his bad leg & his three unfinished degrees who taught his heritier, rupert murdoch all he need to know about public(s) & their imagination - their impoverished symbolic order

the little man whose tears dripped into library books in heidelberg knew what words were eytmologically & epistemologically - this way - that way - up - down - here - there -wherever you are

the little man in his sad suits hitched uncomfortably over malformed legs laughed in liepzig about what we would learn - sooner or later

the uniform is one thing the march quite another

still steel

(in my sleep calm comes when newsreel repeats of the good general (fieldmarshall) paulus surrendering in stalingrad - pass before my eyes - understanding history has a way of hollwing out heritages)

Posted by: remembereringgiap | Dec 7 2004 23:08 utc | 42

Would be really interested if anyone has any comment on this. As I hate all religions, it seems that I am about to become a criminal.

Posted by: DM | Dec 8 2004 1:03 utc | 43

Clueless Joe- hoarding and xenophobia are two traits that are considered primate behaviors across a spectrum, according to a guy I know who studied with Jane Goodall (and who has done really interesting bone studies on the transition phase in the human lineage when our ancestors were probably feeding mostly on fruits while standing on tree limbs, and using elongated arms, still, to navigate above the predator fray, but also spending time walking).

I do not subscribe to sociobiology "just so" explanations for all behavior; the selfish gene reductionism still has to compete with culture, imo.

My post, in part, is meant to say that such explanations do not note the variations that we see now, both in our own species and, more importantly for the idea of the intransigence behind fundamentalism, in those most closely related to us genetically.

I don't think sociobiology acknowledges the history our physiology (lack of extreme dimorphism) indicates, or the ways in which other closely related primates have very, very different cultural adaptations in comparison to each other, while sharing more DNA with one another than they do with us.

Learning is just as important as genetic history...and can have an impact on genetic history, at least at the level of primates, based upon what we now know about chimpanzee cultures.

At the same time, yes, it is important to acknowledge "lizard brain" issues...such as murder...that persist in society no matter how sentient and rational we may be. While we share that stem with many other species, comparisons in cultural adaptation have less to say about humans the further we move in the DNA sequences.

War itself is a lizard brain reaction, imo, but not all species wage war, and not all primates wage war either.

This is the problem when trying to tie authoritarianism to our genetic past, for me. Authoritarianism is one way to deal with xenophobia or hoarding, say, but not the only way. We do not know how our ancestors dealt with this issue in the many transition phases.

Butculturally, those traits sem to matter more when there is a perceived shortage, such as oil, or influence, such as fundies feel when they see large segments of the population refusing to hate homosexuals.

Posted by: fauxreal | Dec 8 2004 1:20 utc | 44

So much loss… by Dahr Jamail in Baghdad

December 7, 2004
Last weekend alone, over 70 Iraqis were killed in violence around their country. Yet these are only those reported as a result of spectacular, “newsworthy” incidents like car bombs or clashes between the resistance and occupation forces.
Iraqis are dying everyday from other things, like violent crime, kidnappings where families can’t afford to pay the ransom, stray bullets…
It’s all too easy to lose sight of what this means by looking only at the macro headlines; 32 Iraqis killed by a car bomb, 8 Iraqi Police killed when Police Station stormed, etc.
The numbers don’t tell the story of families the dead are leaving behind.
There are no words to describe the sadness, nor the hopelessness felt, when meeting with a family left behind when their 30 year-old father was shot by US forces this past Fall.
In a small, one room house in Sadr City lives Sua’ad, a widow of 8 young children.
“I can do nothing but look at my children and cry,” she says while weeping throughout the interview, “What are children to do without their father? A mother can care for them, but it will be different. No matter what I do, it will be different. Sometimes I need my husband for small things, and when he’s not there I just want to cry.”
Her husband, Abdulla Rahman, was killed when caught in the crossfire between occupation forces and the Mehdi Army.
She describes the day her husband was killed. US forces were attacking fighters in the area of Sadr City where they lived.
“His last day he worked his job of selling used clothing,” she said quietly. Abdulla had come home for his break to eat with his family. He played with his 7 year-old son, then went outside to see what was happening when fighting broke out.
He returned shortly thereafter to tell Sua’ad he needed to go close his small shop. Roaring jets thundered overhead as bombs dropped, and small arms fire was audible down the street.
“His shop is all we have,” explained Sua’ad, “I asked him not to go, but he said he would be right back.”
But her husband never came back home…
“Some men told me he had been wounded, but when I found him at the head of the street he was dead,” she said softly while weeping.
Abbas, a 17 year-old neighbor hobbles in on his new crutches. One of his legs was amputated because of wounds received from a cluster bomb that fell near his home.
Sua’ad’s oldest child, Ahmed is just 14 years old. Their small house in the sprawling slum of Baghdad is nearly empty. Aside from infrequent handouts from neighbors, they have no income.
“He was our father, and we are needing him so much,” she explains while holding her arms out while a small child sits in her lap, “His house needs many things. His children need many things. They are children. He was like my mother and my father and everything in my life.”
She pauses to catch her breath. She never stops weeping.
“We are living alone now. I have four children with asthma. Sometimes they can’t breathe and I can do nothing for them. All I do is stand with them and cry,” she explains, “He was helping me by taking them to the hospital and bringing the medicines, but now I am knocking on the doors of the neighbors. Now we are really needing him.”
She looks outside as tears run down her cheeks. Remembering him, she continues while staring out the window…
“He sacrificed everything for his children,” she says softly, “This happens for all the good people in the world, not just me.”
Her grief is mixed with anger towards the occupiers of her country…
“What can I say for the Americans? God will have the revenge for me. Now I have 8 orphans, and I am the 9th. As they make us orphans, God is going to kick them out of our country. All of these young men have been killed for nothing. They killed them but they did nothing wrong. My husband did nothing.”
She sits in silence. The room is quiet, aside from one of her baby who is crying in the next room.
Sua’ad offers food, but it is time to go.
She walks to the front gate as we leave.
I look back once more.
She is still weeping.

Posted by: DM | Dec 8 2004 2:31 utc | 45

Some smiles on a WaPO Meyerson OpEd Eternally Rumsfeld

WASHINGTON, Dec. 8, 2016 -- President-elect George P. Bush announced today that he would reappoint Donald Rumsfeld to another term as secretary of defense.
Sources close to the president-elect say that failing to reappoint Rumsfeld would be taken as a criticism of his uncle, former president George W. Bush, whose decision to invade Iraq in the spring of 2003 has bogged down U.S. forces there in a bloody and ongoing conflict that has lasted nearly 14 years. "George W. is mighty proud of independent Kurdistan," said one former official who is close to the Bush family. "He may have regrets about the Islamic Theocratic Republic of Basra, particularly since they got the bomb, and the PTCZWBOS [Permanent Temporary Curfew Zone Where Baghdad Once Stood], but he'll never admit it."

Rumsfeld does not plan on serving all four years of President-elect Bush's term, one Defense Department official said today. "As soon as things turn up, the moment the Green Zone is secured, he's out of there."
Since the Mutiny of 2009 Defense Department officials have been concerned that bringing the "colonial army" home would risk infecting stateside troops with a crisis of morale. "We're fighting low morale in Iraq," one general said, "so we don't have to fight it here at home."

Rumsfeld's decision to remain at the Pentagon's helm may not have been dictated entirely by his desire to stay until the PTCZWBOS is secured. "Don took a bath when the dollar tanked back in 2005," one prominent Republican said, "and hasn't done all that well since the dollar was pegged to the yuan. In the absence of Social Security, he can't afford to quit."

Posted by: b | Dec 8 2004 8:23 utc | 46


Agreed on Digby, he's been on a run of domestic insights for awhile now.

Posted by: anna missed | Dec 8 2004 8:23 utc | 47

DM: Yep, that's one thing that bugs me with all the hate crime stuff and the various laws about it. I've no problem when it's to limit hatred incitation about races or sexual inclinations, but when it goes to extend to religion and political affiliation, it pisses me off; some people are wrong and some ideas are wrong.
Of course, if people were clever, in countries which have such laws, it would be easy to play hardball and actually use the laws to turn religions against each other and to indict the religions and religious officials themselves, since there's plenty in their beliefs, sermons and holy books to make a good case that so and so religions actually promote religious hatred. Old Testament is filled with crap, hate speech and actual apologies of genocide, Koran has some pretty nifty comments about Jews and Christians who would never pass if written in an op/ed, and those are just some of the most obvious examples, but far more could be twisted this way.

Posted by: CluelessJoe | Dec 8 2004 9:35 utc | 48

Light relief: 12 million camels in the Arab world

Posted by: Jérôme | Dec 8 2004 10:16 utc | 49

Remember that picture that Bernhard posted on a thread of the earth at night? Well it is free in last issue of National Geographic if you want the poster.

One thing that struck me, we burn off enough natural gas that would power France and Germany for a year!

Posted by: Cloned Poster | Dec 8 2004 10:35 utc | 50

Secretary of the Iraqi Lawyers Association, Kamal Hamdun, told the Jordanian news source Ela'ad Monday night that American forces intend to open Iraqi elections to people of Iraqi origin who live outside the country.

This could allow Israelis of Iraqi origin to vote in the upcoming elections, which are scheduled for January 2005.

However, according to Hamdun's assessments, such a move would have negative ramifications as it would allow the government party to easily forge the election results.

Posted by: Cloned Poster | Dec 8 2004 10:43 utc | 51

I've been struggling to get the measure of Pat Buchanan for quite a while. OK - so he is isolationist and anti-neocon and anti-american-imperialist-boots-on-the ground, but he reveals himself in this anti-UN tirade.

Under a global democracy, India and China, with 2.5 billion people, would be the dominant powers, and peoples of color, five-sixths of all mankind, would enter a claim for a more equitable distribution of the world's wealth now held by that shrinking one-sixth of all mankind that is of European descent. Global democracy is the death of the West.

What the hell is this? This is the face of the "conservative" American Conservative? Sounds to me like Pat and George are buddies after all. Fuck all these wogs and chinks - who the hell do they think they are making claims on our wealth.

I fear that (however awkwardly this is put) - that this is the mindset of too many USA/UK plebs and pseudo-intellectuals alike - and that the denoument to this sort of color-conscious thinking will be when they learn that they don’t have the mettle of a master-race.

Posted by: DM | Dec 8 2004 11:21 utc | 52

The is a new blogger over at Today in Iraq

Worth a read.

Posted by: Cloned Poster | Dec 8 2004 13:28 utc | 53

Here is an interesting link:

Otherworldly Influences

If you are (naturally) skeptical, at least read the "reviews" to get an idea what some other readers think of these messages. Then browse at your leisure for some good positive insights.

Posted by: rapt | Dec 8 2004 18:18 utc | 54

Oh well, try this one...

Posted by: rapt | Dec 8 2004 18:20 utc | 55

Remarkable words from Richard Clarke Fmr. Counterterror Chief Richard Clarke on Intel Bill, Iraq and the Threat of Another Attack on the U.S.

Yesterday, we had an attack on the American consulate in jeddah. That indicated two things, I think. First of all, that Al Qaeda, or some variant of it, is alive and well although the president would tell you it is on the ropes. The second thing it told me was some of the motivation, because the group that did the attack yesterday called itself the Fallujah Brigade. You may remember Fallujah; it was the city that we had to liberate in order to hold elections. If anyone has seen Fallujah since we liberated it, and film of inside Fallujah is very hard to get because the United States Military is not allowing journalists in very much. But some film has made its way out of Fallujah. Fallujah might participate in an election in January, but not in January of 2005. In order to liberate the city to hold an election we destroyed the city where 300,000 people had called their home.
His new Cabinet, which is, if the old Cabinet was a closed circle, this Cabinet is an infinite dot. They are keeping Donald Rumsfeld. They are appointing as the attorney general someone who participated in drafting memos saying the torture was permitted. So the man who is now protecting our civil liberties believes torture is permitted. They have at the head of CIA a Republican politician. And they have now appointed as secretary of Homeland Security a man who totally failed in his mission in Baghdad to help create a police department.
So the one thing I ask all of you tonight, is that if that happens, if there is another terrorist attack, this time let us react differently than we did after 9/11 when we all closed ranks and all shut our mouths and shut our minds. Let us the next time remind federal officials of their oath to protect the Constitution against all enemies, foreign and domestic.

Posted by: b | Dec 8 2004 20:52 utc | 56

I always thought 'al Qaeda' was a useful signifier for u.s. imperialism. So, while I think clarke sounds like he's fighting the good fight, I wonder why he persists in claiming al qaeda as a tangible threat?

Posted by: slothrop | Dec 8 2004 21:00 utc | 57

interesting that clarke was speaking to an ethical society yet avoided mentioning the dead that were in fallujah. can't have human societies w/o humans (though you can have elections w/o voters).

Posted by: b real | Dec 8 2004 21:07 utc | 58

Rapt.......... way above my head.

But if "as the media" tells us they are just hoaxes.......... why bother?

Posted by: Cloned Poster | Dec 8 2004 21:12 utc | 59

@rapt - those folks urgently need a good webdesigner and maybe some other help too ...

Posted by: b | Dec 8 2004 21:39 utc | 60


these days & nights - i reread again & again the work of tran duc thao - the brightest light in the generation of althusser. i find him more useful, more rich & in fact more disciplined intellectually than jacques (jacki) derrida - though i still love him - only tran duc thao offers me the means to understand this shit unaffected by any hint of heidegger

macheray & balibar also. are they translated into english. & i am sometimes reading the old fashioned eric hobshawn - who's like the ken loach of historians - i jest - no he's a very tough fellow

(was wondering the other day what are the second hand prices of books in u s - when they arrive here - sometimes they are prohibitively expensive - i was thinking of the two books kate storm mentioned - one is unbelievably expensive to import & the older one seems only available second hand - & i never use amazon - for example there is a book by jack henry abbot & naomi zack called 'my return' - that i'm interested because he goes into these exceptional wild riffs on jewish mysticism & the celebration of speculative knowledge from his cell)

& i'd beg borrow & steal for the old foreign language press editions of ' the german ideology' & 'the holy family"

i imagine they do not exist in either moscow or peking any more

still steel

Posted by: remembereringgiap | Dec 8 2004 21:51 utc | 61

More good news

Posted by: Cloned Poster | Dec 8 2004 23:28 utc | 62

Link did not work

Posted by: | Dec 8 2004 23:30 utc | 63


a little menace! my friend

do not let me catch you driving that tank anywhere near my beloved capital

hope you well & fighting

still steel

Posted by: remembereringgiap | Dec 8 2004 23:37 utc | 64


thanks. I'll read Thao's "Investigations into the origin of language and consciousness"

Posted by: slothrop | Dec 9 2004 1:15 utc | 65


Check out Abe Books, the largest used bookstore around--actually a very efficient network of 13000 booksellers around the world(mostly, US, Canada, UK). Hardback, paper, antiquarian.

Bought there for 7 years, never had a problem. First rate!

Hate to see an infirm Maoist pay top capitalistic dollar for esoteric books.


Posted by: FlashHarry | Dec 9 2004 1:18 utc | 66

ô flasharry you say the most terrible things - my guilty pleasure at the moment is rereading stephan carter's 'the emporer of ocean park' - carter is a constitutional law professor - i think - from the 'darker nation' as he calls it

slothrop, there is another book phénoménologie et matérialsime dialectique - perhaps there is a translation of that too - i've spent many a year searching for a tract he wrote before he died - he returned to france - sick & fatigued - as i hear it - and he wrote & published a work - which was done only within the vietnamese community - i've had no luck in finding this mysterious tract - it's my quest

but i know the book yr talking about - i think it was published here by edition sociales

there's a straight line from benjamin to him - crisscrossing with v i lenin's empirocriticism

& flashharry who is abe? & does he also own the bait store on the mississipi river because that abe - well ...... in any case give my love to the long family & their cousins & while yr at it flash stop playing that mandolin.....

still steel

Posted by: remembereringgiap | Dec 9 2004 1:39 utc | 67

LOL r-giap. ABE (the aggregator) is actually headquartered in Canada..British Columbia.

booksellers are there from all over the world, including France, so you could save on some postage.

another source is bookfinder.

it searches on ABE, Alibris, Amazon, (the big three used sellers online) and smaller outlets too.

ABE has the best interface, though, imo.

Posted by: fauxreal | Dec 9 2004 2:23 utc | 68

make that-


Posted by: fauxreal | Dec 9 2004 2:25 utc | 69

@rgiap if you want new US-market books w/o patronising union-busting Amazon, try Powells (or Portland) online...

Posted by: DeAnander | Dec 9 2004 2:37 utc | 70

I hope this time they will listen to him,as he seems to be one of the few politicians who has a vision and is willing to speak out. However, I have my doubts seeing what the Democrats are doing in DC.

Governor Dean's GWU Speech Transcript

election, there's a consensus reached among decision-makers in the Democratic Party is that the way to win is to be more like Republicans.

I suppose you could call that philosophy: if you didn't beat 'em, join them.

I'm not one for making predictions -- but if we accept that philosophy this time around, another Democrat will be standing here in four years giving this same speech. we cannot win by being "Republican-lite." We've tried it; it doesn't work.
The question is not whether we move left or right. It's not about our direction. What we need to start focusing on... is the destination.
There are no red states or blue states, just American states. And if we can compete at all levels and in the most conservative parts of the country, we can win ... at any level and anywhere.

People will vote for Democratic candidates in Texas, and Alabama, and Utah if we knock on their door, introduce ourselves, and tell them what we believe.
I'll give this to Republicans. They know the America they want. They want a government so small that, in the words of one prominent Republican, it can be drowned in a bathtub.

They want a government that runs big deficits, but is small enough to fit into your bedroom.
They want a government that is of, by, and for their special interest friends.

They want a government that preaches compassion but practices division.

They want wealth rewarded over work.

And they are willing to use any means to get there.

In going from record surpluses to record deficits, the Republican Party has relinquished the mantle of fiscal responsibility.

And now they're talking about borrowing another $2 trillion to take benefits away from our Senior Citizens.

In going from record job creation to record job loss, they have abandoned the mantle of economic responsibility.

In cutting health care, education, and community policing programs... and in failing to invest in America's inner cities, or distressed rural communities... they certainly have no desire to even claim the mantle of social responsibility.

In their refusal to embrace real electoral reform or conduct the business in government in the light of day, they are hardly the model of civic responsibility.

In their willingness to change the rules so that their indicted leaders can stay in power, they have even given up any claim on personal responsibility.

And in starting an international conflict based on misleading information, I believe they have abdicated America's moral responsibility, as well.

There is a Party of fiscal responsibility... economic responsibility.... social responsibility... civic responsibility... personal responsibility... and moral responsibility.

It's the Democratic Party.

We need to be able to say strongly, firmly, and proudly what we believe.

Because we are what we believe.

And we believe every person in America should have access to affordable health care. It is wrong that we remain the only industrialized nation in the world that does not assure health care for all of its citizens.

We believe the path to a better future goes directly through our public schools. I have nothing against private schools, parochial schools and home schooling. Parents with the means and inclination should choose whatever they believe is best for their children. But those choices must never come at the expense of what has been -- and must always be -- the great equalizer in our society -- public education.

We believe that if you put in a lifetime of work, you have earned a retirement of dignity -- not one that is put at risk by your government or unethical business practices.
We should not hesitate to call for reform -- reform in elections, reform in health care and education, reforms that promote ethical business practices. And, yes, we need to talk about some internal reform in the Democratic Party as well, and I'll be discussing that more specifically in the days ahead.

Reform is the hallmark of a strong Democratic Party.

Those who stand in the way of reform cannot be the focus of our attention for only four months out of every four years.

Reform is a daily battle.

Posted by: Fran | Dec 9 2004 5:49 utc | 71

oops that should have been "of Portland" not "or Portland". type in haste, repent at leisure.

Posted by: DeAnander | Dec 9 2004 5:58 utc | 72


Read your link, and would offer this one in return. I found (in the article) the references to the anthropologist Richard Sorenson distinction between two forms of consciousness: "pre -conquest & post-conquest" among indegenious people, to be most interesting -- and relevant with respect to mainstream political thought.

Posted by: anna missed | Dec 9 2004 7:12 utc | 73

Thanks a-missed.

I read Quincey's article (haven't yet opened Sorenson's). I also like his take on pansychism, the notion that consciousness goes "all the way down" to trees, rocks and subatomic particles. I like it because from there is is but a small step to the Sirian's premise that we are all part of a grand consciousness, even out to the stars.

Somewhere in that Sirian site is a story of how the recent (few years ago?) intense sunspot activity was a shedding of excess material in preparation for a big new celestial event. Our Sun, a big conscious being itself, was celebrating the coming of a new age.

Fascinating eh?

Posted by: rapt | Dec 9 2004 16:10 utc | 74

thank you all re books
& if anybody should want
news of release in french
i will help with that

still steel

Posted by: remembereringgiap | Dec 9 2004 16:28 utc | 75

Exellent Frank Rich.

The Plot Against Sex in America

When they start pushing the panic button over "moral values" at the bluest of TV channels, public broadcasting's WNET, in the bluest of cities, New York, you know this country has entered a new cultural twilight zone.

Just three weeks after the election, Channel 13 killed a spot for the acclaimed movie "Kinsey," in which Liam Neeson stars as the pioneering Indiana University sex researcher who first let Americans know that nonmarital sex is a national pastime, that women have orgasms too and that masturbation and homosexuality do not lead to insanity. At first WNET said it had killed the spot because it was "too commercial and too provocative" - a tough case to make about a routine pseudo-ad interchangeable with all the other pseudo-ads that run on "commercial-free" PBS. That explanation quickly became inoperative anyway. The "Kinsey" distributor, Fox Searchlight, let the press see an e-mail from a National Public Broadcasting media manager stating that the real problem was "the content of this movie" and "controversial press re: groups speaking out against the movie/subject matter" that might bring "viewer complaints."


As for the right-wing groups that have targeted the movie (with or without seeing it), they are the usual suspects, many of them determined to recycle false accusations that Kinsey was a pedophile, as if that might somehow make the actual pedophilia scandal in one church go away. But this crowd doesn't just want what's left of Kinsey's scalp. (He died in 1956.) Empowered by that Election Day "moral values" poll result, it is pressing for a whole host of second-term gifts from the Bush administration: further rollbacks of stem-cell research, gay civil rights, pulchritude sightings at N.F.L. games and, dare I say it aloud, reproductive rights for women. "If you have weaklings around you who do not share your biblical values, shed yourself of them," wrote Bob Jones III, president of the eponymous South Carolina university, to President Bush after the election. "Put your agenda on the front burner and let it boil." Such is the perceived clout of this Republican base at government agencies like the F.C.C. that it need only burp and 66 frightened ABC affiliates instantly dump their network's broadcast of that indecent movie "Saving Private Ryan" on Veterans Day.


While "Sexual Behavior in the Human Male" was received with a certain amount of enthusiasm and relief by most Americans in 1948, the atmosphere had changed radically by the time Kinsey published his follow-up volume, "Sexual Behavior in the Human Female," just five years later. By 1953 Joe McCarthy was in full throttle, and, as James H. Jones writes in his judicious 1997 Kinsey biography, "ultra-conservative critics would accuse Kinsey of aiding communism by undermining sexual morality and the sanctity of the home." Kinsey was an anti-Soviet, anti-New Deal conservative, but that didn't matter in an America racked by fear. He lost the principal sponsor of his research, the Rockefeller Foundation, and soon found himself being hounded, in part for his sympathetic view of homosexuality, by the ambiguously gay homophobes J. Edgar Hoover and Clyde Tolson. Based on what we've seen in just the six weeks since Election Day, the parallels between that war over sex and our own may have only just begun.

Posted by: Fran | Dec 9 2004 16:36 utc | 76

More on that, Fran by Joyce Marcel:
Is it just me or is there an air of sexual repression wafting through our country?

Posted by: beq | Dec 9 2004 16:44 utc | 77

At the risk of being suspect of blogwhoring... I'll point to what I just posted at the All Spin Zone: On the Wisdom of Messing with Menopausal Women

Posted by: Kate_Storm | Dec 9 2004 16:55 utc | 78

@ Kate and Fran: The girls are aroused, anyway. ;)

Posted by: beq | Dec 9 2004 17:43 utc | 79

Never forget, friends, that the divorce rate for the red state baptist population is soaring far ahead of the divorce rate for other religious groups. I've also seen some rather surprising statistics about the recourse to internet pornography--by Baptist men and women alike--as correlated to that divorce rate. The churches themselves are alarmed....

Posted by: alabama | Dec 9 2004 17:55 utc | 80

Great stuff, Kate. In re, post-menopausal "viagra", I love this:

My favorite testimony on testosterone therapy came from a happy consumer who reported that after six weeks she was "walking down the canned food aisle in the supermarket and I started to think about sex." Keep that woman away from the vegetable bins.

Posted by: beq | Dec 9 2004 18:01 utc | 81

@ alabama, I understand that the lowest divorce rate is in Massachusetts, oh my.

Posted by: beq | Dec 9 2004 18:03 utc | 82

Yes, there's an air of Sexual Repression Wafting thru the country. Think Sparta. Or the Nazis - And the male god they developed to give faux legitimacy to patriarchy among the ignorant & deluded said let females be mommies & males be slaughterers.

Posted by: jj | Dec 9 2004 18:29 utc | 83


I knew you'd like it! ;-)

Ah, life on the Happy Planet never fails to amuse me... [/snark]

Posted by: Kate_Storm | Dec 9 2004 18:41 utc | 84

beq and Kate,
thanks for the links. The Goodman article is great had some good laughs :-) What schizophrenia, sex is immoral unless the Pharma multies can make money from it. They even create female dysfunctions, to be able to sell their pills.

Posted by: Fran | Dec 9 2004 21:09 utc | 85

Its long, but very interesting!

New Power for 'Old Europe'

he Bush Administration has interpreted its victory in the 2004 election as a mandate to take its free-market policies to further extremes. It is signaling its determination to unhinge US industry from what remains of regulations limiting the poisons in our water, our bodies and our air. But while they are newly emboldened at home, the Administration and its corporate allies are looking warily across the Atlantic to Brussels. Here, in the capital of the European Union, an unprecedented challenge to longstanding practices of American industry is unfolding.

Since the fall of the Berlin wall, the European Union has been steadily transforming itself from a facilitator of trade to a sophisticated geopolitical power with the teeth to back up its policies--an evolution that has occurred largely under the American public's radar. Over the past decade, EU member states have ceded governing and enforcement authority to Brussels in areas ranging from environmental regulation to food safety, accounting standards, telecommunications policy and oversight of corporate mergers. As a result, US companies that do business in Europe--which remains America's largest export market--are quickly learning that "old Europe" is now wielding new world power.

Just this year, US manufacturers of such goods as chemicals, cars and cosmetics have been confronted with EU regulations that force a choice: Either conform to the EU's standards of pre-emptive screening for toxicity--far tougher than US standards--or risk sacrificing the European market, which, with 450 million people, is now larger than that of the United States. In the process, the European Union is challenging US presumptions of unilateral decision-making on issues with tremendous consequences for American companies and consumers, treading on ground that has long been considered sacred turf.

"Americans are in for a rude shock," says Clyde Prestowitz, a former Reagan Commerce Department official and author of Rogue Nation: American Unilateralism and the Failure of Good Intentions. "Other players are establishing their own standards, and they have the muscle to make them stick. We are headed into a new era."


Never before has an EU proposal drawn fire from such heavy guns. The US chemical industry, like other American industries, has been discovering that a presence in Brussels is now a must--and has had to learn new ways to exert influence in a governing institution with three chambers, twenty-five countries and twenty national languages, and in which the usual cocktail of campaign contributions, arm-twisting and seduction are neither warmly received nor, in the case of campaign contributions, legal. "We've certainly had to learn a lot about a new parliament, new procedures, new political parties," says Joe Mayhew, senior adviser to the American Chemical Council.


The lobbying campaign has largely backfired. Its primary effect has been to delay a final vote on REACH in the European Parliament from February to the middle of next year at the earliest. But there is little doubt it will pass--almost a decade in the making, support for REACH in the Parliament stretches broadly across party lines. "It is not a question of if but when," says the EU's Robert Donkers. Hearings will commence in the Parliament on January 19. The current Dutch president of the EU has committed to forging political agreements around REACH for consideration by the Council of Ministers before the hearings begin.

The fact that policies emanating from Brussels now threaten longstanding American industrial practices is a sign of how profoundly trans-Atlantic relations are shifting. "We used to have to deal with individual countries," comments Mayhew of the American Chemical Council. "We'd pay attention to, say, France. Not to be pejorative here, but we wouldn't really pay much attention to what Spain was doing. Having the EU as a single bloc with regulatory authority is a new thing for us."

Posted by: Fran | Dec 9 2004 21:26 utc | 86

ô flashharry

bring out the mandolins. llet those old boys do the theme from deliverance again for out of congenital imbecility i have bought another issue of atlantic monthly. as if the last issue wasn't enough to send me to a unit for the uselessly insane - i have bought there iranophobia issue with an article by a clown interviewing iranian clowns & never has the theme music from deliverance & some pig noises been more necessary. how i long for the long brothers. i long to for old early browder & his 'communism is twentieth century americanism' - ô how i long for gus hall, genovese & the lads from the central committee of the cpusa who once met somewhere down in jersey where they sank a pint or two with old we dubois who liked his pint

i think there is going to have to be a marshall plan for rgiap to send decent books & decent journals to the old world for if i buy the christmas issue surely i will search out the permafrost somewher in siberia to be with my old friend from the cpsu(bolshevik) who whittled away their nights working out chess problems that their country's favourite anti semite - old tal - the old genius of the board - wished on the world

another atlantic monthly & i'd gladly listen to the allman brothers band circa 1972 or any of those southern boys with their degrees in higher literature

no, i've got to search for an anti serum - to this atlantic monthly business - perhaps i could have a patch - that'd make me get sicker than i already am - even if i looked at the index of the said atlantic

ô flashharry - you are going to have to send legions of the sons & daughter of willy faulkner to save my sorry soul - everything in frenchitalian - is good reasonable but why oh why do i read this shit

perhaps it is a psychiatric condition & there are some experts somewhere south of new york who treat this specialty with the new york review of books which is close to impossible to get here unless i visit our beloved capital paris & go to the village voice

oh dear oh dear

still fundamentally steel

Posted by: remembereringgiap | Dec 9 2004 21:32 utc | 87

TSOG(Tsarist Occupation Government)Accelerating!

Will voices of dissent still be heard?
U.S. firms now need OK to publish authors from nations under sanction.
Author: Scott Martelle; Times Staff Writer
Calendar Desk
Edition: Home Edition
Section: Calendar
Page: E-1

In the summer of 1956, Russian poet Boris Pasternak -- a favorite of the
recently deceased Joseph Stalin -- delivered his epic "Doctor Zhivago"
manuscript to a Soviet publishing house, hoping for a warm reception and a fast
track to readers who had shared Russia's torturous half-century of revolution
and war, oppression and terror.

Instead, Pasternak received one of the all-time classic rejection letters: A
10,000-word missive that stopped just short of accusing him of treason. It was
left to foreign publishers to give his smuggled manuscript life, offering the
West a peek into the soul of the Cold War enemy, winning Pasternak the 1958
Nobel in literature and providing Hollywood with an epic film.

These days, Pasternak might not fare so well.

In an apparent reversal of decades of U.S. practice, recent federal Office of
Foreign Assets Control regulations bar American firms from publishing works by
dissident writers in countries under sanction unless they first get U.S.
government approval.

The restriction, condemned by critics as a violation of the 1st Amendment,
means that books and other works banned by some totalitarian regimes cannot be
published freely in the United States, a country that prides itself as the
international beacon of free expression.

"It strikes me as very odd," said Douglas Kmiec, a constitutional law professor
at Pepperdine University and former constitutional legal counsel to Presidents
Ronald Reagan and George H.W. Bush. "I think the government has an uphill
struggle to justify this constitutionally."

Several groups, led by the PEN American Center and including Arcade Publishing,
have filed suit in U.S. District Court in New York seeking to overturn the
regulations, which cover writers in Iran, Sudan, Cuba, North Korea and, until
recently, Iraq.

Violations carry severe reprisals -- publishing houses can be fined $1 million
and individual violators face up to 10 years in prison and a $250,000 fine.

"Historically, the United States has served as a megaphone for dissidents from
other countries," said Ed Davis of New York, a lawyer leading the PEN legal
challenge. "Now we're not able to hear from dissidents."

Yet more than dissident voices are affected.

The regulations already have led publishers to scrap plans for volumes on Cuban
architecture and birds, and publishers complain that the rules threaten the
intellectual breadth and independence of academic journals.

Shirin Ebadi, the 2003 Nobel Peace Prize winner, has joined the lawsuit,
arguing that the rules preclude American publishers from helping craft her
memoirs of surviving Iran's Islamic revolution and her efforts to defend human
rights in Iranian courts.

In a further wrinkle, even if publishers obtain a license for a book --
something they are loathe to do -- they believe the regulations bar them from
advertising it, forcing readers to find the dissident works on their own.

"It's absolutely against the 1st Amendment," fumed Arcade editor Richard
Seaver, who hopes to publish an anthology of Iranian short stories. "We're not
going to ask permission [to publish]. That reeks of censorship. And
'censorship' is a word that gets my hackles up very quickly."

Officials from the U.S. Treasury Department, which oversees OFAC, declined
comment on the lawsuit, but spokeswoman Molly Millerwise described the
sanctions as "a very important part of our overall national security."

"These are countries that pose serious threats to the United States, to our
economy and security and our well being around the globe," Millerwise said,
adding that publishers can still bring dissident writers to American readers as
long as they first apply for a license.

"The licensing is a very important part of the sanctions policy because it
allows people to engage with these countries," Millerwise said. "Anyone is free
to apply to OFAC for a license."

Critics say they shouldn't have to.

"We have a long tradition of not accepting prior restraint," said Wendy
Strothman of Boston, who hopes to serve as Ebadi's literary agent should the
regulations be struck down. "The notion of getting a license seems to me to be
completely counter to the spirit of the 1st Amendment.... It's really, for me,
mostly about the notion of freedom of expression."

Strothman found the logic behind the restrictions perplexing.

"It strikes me as incredible irony that we worry about the value of our
intelligence system while cutting off the voices of people we should be hearing
from," she said. "We need to be hearing what people on the street are thinking
around the world."

The literature that might be lost to American readers is impossible to measure,
but in recent months the bestseller lists have been dominated by Azar Nafisi's
"Reading Lolita in Tehran," a memoir she wrote in exile. And Marjane Satrapi's
graphic novel, "Persepolis: The Story of a Childhood," written and published
after her family left Iran for France, has found an international audience.

Tom Miller, author of "Trading With the Enemy: A Yankee Travels Through
Castro's Cuba," said the regulations not only "nullify the 1st Amendment" but
would dampen the hopes of censored Cuban writers.

"It would be all the more depressing," said Miller, who travels to Cuba several
times a year under U.S. licenses for journalistic, academic or cultural
purposes. "There are two places Cubans get published outside of Cuba -- Spain
and the States. To cut that short list in half is devastating. In the U.S., it
means less artistic and literary infusion from overseas."

Curt Goering, deputy executive director for the Amnesty International human
rights monitoring group, criticized the regulations as "a violation of some
fundamental human rights."

Goering said international covenants recognize the right of people to receive
and distribute information regardless of political boundaries. "It's yet
another example of the hypocrisy of this administration on human rights,"
Goering said, adding that while the U.S. defends its role in Iraq as a defense
of liberty at home it is "blocking" publication of dissident voices.

Kmiec, who is not part of the legal challenge, said the 1st Amendment -- and
subsequent court rulings -- generally preclude the government from restricting
publications before they are made.

"It does allow for limitations where there are clear and present dangers and
compelling foreign policy or other interests that can be tangibly and
authentically demonstrated," Kmiec said. "But short of that special application
and very rare circumstance, government censorship is properly off-limits. These
efforts to restrain in advance are almost sure to fail."

The dispute centers on a Treasury Department interpretation this year of
regulations rooted in the 1917 "Trading With the Enemy Act," which allows the
president to bar transactions with people or businesses in nations during times
of war or national emergency. A 1988 amendment by Rep. Howard Berman (D-North
Hollywood) relaxed the act to effectively give publishers an exemption while
maintaining restrictions on general trade.

In April, OFAC regulators amended an earlier interpretation to advise academic
publishers that they can make minor changes to works already published in
sanctioned countries and reissue them.

But the regulators said editors cannot provide broader services considered
basic to publishing, such as commissioning works, making "substantive" changes
to texts, or adding illustrations.

The regulations seem shaded by Joseph Heller's classic novel "Catch-22."

American publishers are allowed to reissue, for example, Cuban communist
propaganda or officially approved books but not original works by writers whom
the Cuban government has stifled.

In a letter to Treasury officials this past spring, Berman described the
regulations as "patently absurd" and said they form a "narrow and misguided
interpretation of the law."

"It is in our national interest to support the dissemination of American ideas
and values, especially in nations with oppressive regimes," Berman said. "At
the same time, [the Berman amendment] is intended to ensure the right of
American citizens to have access to a wide range of information and satisfy
their curiosity about the world around them."

Had the current Treasury regulations been in place during the Cold War, such
dissidents as Pasternak, Alexander Solzhenitsyn and Vaclav Havel could not have
been published unlicensed in the U.S.

But they were published. And while those writers faced severe reprisals at home
-- including years of prison camps -- knowing that the outside world was
listening helped keep their hopes alive.

"It was like a constant life support," said Serguei Oushakine, a doctoral
candidate in anthropology at New York's Columbia University and a former
Russian culture professor at Altai State Technical University in Barnaul,

Oushakine said the dissidents' Cold War-era writings in the samizdat -- the
underground Russian self-publishing network -- and the tamizdat -- works
published abroad -- infused the political culture of the 1970s and 1980s.
Dissident voices helped inform eventual reformers such as Mikhail Gorbachev,
who "took some of the dissidents' ideas for granted."

"These publications provided an immediate influx of literature and ideas when
changes started happening," Oushakine said. "[They] formed a certain pool of
people who could act as moral authorities of some kind in a situation when
previous hierarchies collapsed."

Without them, he believes, perestroika would not have been possible and the
collapse of the former Soviet regime would have unfolded much differently and
much more slowly.

"If you take this long view, I think such a publishing was extremely important
and necessary for the Soviet Union," Oushakine said. "And I think it could be
useful for countries like Iran, Cuba or North Korea."

Posted by: Uncle $cam | Dec 9 2004 23:24 utc | 88

The comments to this entry are closed.