Friday, March 28, 2003


On Native Ground
by Randolph T. Holhut
American Reporter Correspondent
Dummerston, Vt.
DUMMERSTON, Vt. -- Senate Minority Leader Tom Daschle expressed the views of many in America when he said: "I am saddened that this President failed so miserably
at diplomacy that we're now forced to war. Saddened that we have to give up one life, because this President couldn't create the kind of diplomatic effort that was so critical for our country."
Predictably, the Republicans went berserk over this mild criticism of the failure of the Bush administration to avoid war.
"Is Tom Daschle the official Democrat hatchet-man or just a taxpayer-funded pundit?" House Majority Leader Tom DeLay asked. "Fermez la bouche, Monsieur Daschle."
House Speaker Dennis Hastert said he that he "was disappointed to see his comments. Those comments may not undermine the President as he leads us into war, and they may not give comfort to our adversaries, but they come mighty close."
We'll hear lots more comments like that in the coming days. We're all supposed to shut up and support this war.

My response to this kind of thinking is simple.

I will not keep quiet as I watch the land that I love turn into a rogue nation.

I will not keep quiet as I watch scheming men profit economically and politically from blood shed by others.

I will not keep quiet as I watch as nearly six decades of international law and institutions are crushed in an effort to bring a Pax Americana to the world.

I will not keep quiet as I watch my government manipulate the fears of the citizenry to grab more power for itself.

I will not keep quiet as we wage a war that is - by any objective standard - unjust, immoral, illegal and just plain stupid.

And I will not allow anyone to attempt to silence me, for I and others who are opposed to this unjust, immoral, illegal and stupid war still have the right to dissent and the obligation to speak up when our nation is doing something that is terribly, terribly wrong.

Dissent is the essence of democracy. The suppression of dissent is the essence of tyranny. Those who wish to shut up those who oppose this war do democracy a disservice.

This is a frightening time. Dissent is rarely appreciated in times of peace, but it is equated with treason in a time of war. We are but one terror attack away from martial law and a suspension of the Constitutional guarantees that have been in place for more than two centuries. And that attack became more likely to happen the moment the bombs and cruise missiles started falling on Baghdad.
Supreme Court Justice Antonin Scalia told The Associated Press on Tuesday that the federal government has room to scale back individual rights during wartime without violating the Constitution.
"The Constitution just sets minimums," Scalia said after a speech at John Carroll University in suburban Cleveland. "Most of the rights that you enjoy go way beyond what the Constitution requires."
Scalia didn't say what rights he believed are constitutionally protected, but said that in wartime, "the protections will be ratcheted right down to the constitutional minimum."
Given the record of Scalia and his conservative allies on the Supreme Court, I would say that the Bush administration has a blank check to do whatever it wishes to our civil liberties in the name of national security.
But we don't have to see this happen. It's not over yet.
The former governor of my adopted state of Vermont, Howard Dean, made these remarks after Bush's Mar. 17 speech that started the final countdown to Gulf War II. Dean is one of the few Democrats running for president that has the guts to challenge the Bush administration on this stupid war. Dean's remarks are words all of us should remember in the coming weeks.
"Those Americans who opposed our going to war with Iraq, who wanted the United Nations to remove those weapons without war, need not apologize for giving voice to their conscience, last year, this year or next year. In a country devoted to the freedom of debate and dissent, it is every citizen's patriotic duty to speak out, even as we wish our troops well and pray for their safe return. Congressman Abraham Lincoln did this in criticizing the Mexican War of 1846, as did Senator Robert F. Kennedy in calling the war in Vietnam 'unsuitable, immoral and intolerable.'
"This is not Iraq, where doubters and dissenters are punished or silenced - this is the United States of America. We need to support our young people as they are sent to war by the President, and I have no doubt that American military power will prevail. But to ensure that our post-war policies are constructive and humane, based on enduring principles of peace and justice, concerned Americans should continue to speak out; and I intend to do so."

As will I. And, I hope, as will every other American who right now is grieving for the death of the principles that once guided this once-great nation.
Randolph T. Holhut has been a journalist in New England for more than 20 years. He edited "The George Seldes Reader" (Barricade Books).
Copyright 2003 Joe Shea The American Reporter. All Rights Reserved.
U.S. becoming censored police state?

A Tough time in America for Musicians

Soldiers at the Door
By Amy Goodman, Democracy Now!
March 27, 2003

One day after performing at an anti-war rally, relatives of one of Franti's bandmates got an unexpected visitor. Franti told Democracy Now!:
"His mother received a visit from two plain clothes men from the military and this band member of mine has a sibling who is in the gulf. And they came in and talked to her and said you have a child who's in the Gulf and you have a child who's in this band Spearhead who's part of the 'resistance' in their words. They had pictures of us performing the day before at the rally, they had pictures of us performing at some of our annual concerts that we put on that are in support of peace and human rights."
"They had his flight records for the past several months, they had the names of everybody who works in my office, our management office Guerilla Management, they had his checking account records. They asked his mother a lot of questions about where he was, what he was doing in this place, why he was going here. They confiscated his sibling's CD collection that they had brought over to listen to while they were in the Gulf, and basically were intimidating, told her which members of the press she could talk to and which members of the press she should not speak to…"
"And for musicians in particular it's a really hard time. Last week our label received a letter, a mass email from MTV instructing the fact that no videos could be shown that mentioned the words "bombing" or "war." No videos could be shown that had protesters in it. Any footage from military – they gave a list of prior videos that could not be shown, yet MTV has aired videos that show troops saying goodbye to their loved ones and going off to war in a very heroic fashion and troops which are gonna be coming home traumatized, wounded and dead and then be treated and thrown onto the scrap heap of veterans, as we've seen veterans treated in this country.
And at the Academy Awards, there were also letters and talk that went around saying not to speak out. Radio – mainstream radio, Clear Channel in particular, of course – has put the word out not to air songs that are in opposition to the war and in support of peace. Meanwhile, our song "Bomb Da World" which we just put out is now in heavy rotation on a top youth radio station in Australia and in Denmark and it's expected to get added to a lot of stations in other countries.
A few days ago, Democracy Now correspondent Jeremy Scahill and I were at the Ani DiFranco concert at the New Jersey Performing Arts Center to talk about Democracy Now and the importance of independent media in a time of war, just before she went on. And Clear Channel, which owns New Jersey Performing Arts Center, runs that venue, told her no political information could be given out and threatened – it seemed the venue threatened to close down the concert if there was any political speech.
It's incredible, it's outrageous and I think it's something that we all need to be aware of and need to support the art, you know, whether it's music, whether it's films, whether it's dance performances or whatever, this is the last place, apart from Pacifica and a few other stations around the country, where these voices are being heard.
And Clear Channel that runs 1,200 radio stations now, runs many of the big venues in this country for musicians.
So it's important that we call these stations and demand that these voices be heard."
Here's an article related to my blog entry of March 12, 2003:

Date: 2003-03-15
Is Bush Too Christian? Or Not Enough?
Scrutiny over Religion's Role in U.S. Foreign Policy

WASHINGTON, D.C., MARCH 15, 2003 ( The United States is governed by a dangerous religious fanatic. That's how many opinion writers, domestic and foreign, are describing President George W. Bush.
For Georgie Anne Geyer, writing in the Chicago Tribune on March 7, the president's intention to invade Iraq "is based primarily on religious obsession and visions of personal grandiosity."
"The president of the United States of America," she alleged, "sees himself as part of God's divine plan."
Newsweek dedicated its March 10 cover to Bush's religiosity. And in a separate opinion article, Martin E. Marty acknowledged that "few doubt that Bush is sincere in his faith," but fretted about the president's "evident conviction that he's doing God's will."
Likewise, Jackson Lears, in a March 11 opinion article for the New York Times, worried that Bush's certitude about his carrying out "divine purpose" can promote dangerous simplifications and "slide into self-righteousness." As Lears sees it at the White House, "faith in Providence frees one from having to consider the role of chance in armed conflict, the least predictable of human affairs. Between divine will and American know-how, we have everything under control."
In the London Times on March 1, Stephen Plant wrote: "Bush's supporters have inherited the idea of manifest destiny. For them war on Iraq is not about oil, it is America's next date with salvation."
These and similar criticisms have not gone unanswered, even by Bush foes. In the New York Post on Feb. 18, E.J. Dionne noted that he doesn't have problems in criticizing the president. But he added: "Can we please stop pretending that Bush's regular invocations of the Almighty make him some sort of strange religious fanatic? In this, he is much more typically presidential than he's painted, especially by our friends abroad."
In a Business Week Online commentary, Stan Crock admitted he was not always in agreement over the president's use of religious language, but disagreed that religious fanaticism is behind White House strategy. One of the administration's leading strategists on Iraq, he observed, is Deputy Defense Secretary Paul Wolfowitz, a Jew. And Defense Secretary Donald Rumsfeld is not "speaking in tongues as he talks to General Tommy Franks about war plans."
Fred Barnes, in the March 17 issue of the Weekly Standard, explained that while Bush readily invokes God, he avoids mention of Jesus Christ, and calls for tolerance of all faiths. "His comments have been confined to four specific areas: comforting people in grief, citing faith's ability to improve lives, commenting on the mysterious ways of providence, and mentioning God's concern for humanity."

Road map of statecraft

Yet, some commentaries contend that Bush is setting a dangerous precedent by allowing his faith to influence foreign policy. But even if Christian principles are behind his decisions, this would be nothing new for the country.
Religion and foreign policy, in fact, have long been entwined in the United States, notes Leo P. Ribuffo in a collection of essays, "The Influence of Faith: Religious Groups and U.S. Foreign Policy," edited by Elliott Abrams and published in 2001. Ribuffo, a history professor at George Washington University, explained that foreign policy debates throughout the 19th century included religious themes such as a desire to spread Christianity and fears over undue Catholic influence.
In 1898, President William McKinley told Congress that intervention in Cuba would fulfill American aspirations as a "Christian, peace-loving people," quoted Ribuffo. During World War I a pair of prominent Presbyterians -- President Woodrow Wilson and Secretary of State William Jennings Bryan -- were "convinced that the United States had a special mission in the world," the essay noted.
Religion continued to play a part in foreign policy debates during World War II and beyond. Yet Ribuffo believes that religion had more of an indirect, and not a determining, role in foreign policy.
In another essay, Harvard professor Samuel Huntington affirms that "politics and religion cannot be disentangled." He notes the high correlation between Christianity and democracy. In many Christian and non-Christian countries, he observes, religion is central to a nation's identity, in both positive and negative forms.
Conventional wisdom in past decades has argued that U.S. foreign policy should avoid entanglement with religion, observed Mark Amstutz, political science professor at Wheaton College. But religion and religious institutions still play a vital role in people's lives. Churches and faith-based organizations also play a role, albeit indirect, in foreign policy, concludes Amstutz. Through offering ethical perspectives and moral values, churches and religious organizations can help formulate a foreign policy "road map," he notes.
A previous collection of essays, published in 1994, agreed that basing U.S. foreign policy on purely material and secular grounds, while ignoring the importance that religion plays in many countries, is a big mistake. In "Religion, the Missing Dimension of Statecraft," experts such as Edward Luttwak and Barry Rubin called for greater focus on the role of religious factors by those responsible for determining foreign policy.
To say that President Bush is motivated in part by his Christian faith does not mean that he is pursuing a policy dictated by the churches. The president worships in the Methodist Church. But, in the opinion of Bishop Melvin Talbert, the United Methodists' top ecumenical official, expressed in a Newsweek online interview March 7, "it's clear to us that he is not following the teachings of his own church or the teachings of churches that believe in a 'just war' theory."
Nor does Bush's religious belief mean that Christians will necessarily agree on political strategy. Former President Jimmy Carter, well known for his invocation of Christian principles when in power, expressed his strong disagreement with the U.S. policy regarding Iraq, in a New York Times article March 9.
Paradoxically, Bush's policy on Iraq is being strongly criticized for ignoring moral principles, while at the same time secular commentators attack him for being a religious fanatic.
Outside observers can only speculate as to how much weight religion plays in the president's decisions. What is clear is that he finds in his faith a source of personal and moral comfort and strength, along with a series of principles that help guide his actions. Other considerations -- political, economic, military, etc. -- also play a role in decisions, of course.
To argue that a politician should decide policy in a religious and moral vacuum is to ignore long-standing American traditions of its presidents and political leaders who have frequently used religious language.
Moreover, seeking to deny the legitimacy of a Christian's political involvement because of his convictions about the common good is a form of "intolerant secularism," observed the doctrinal note on religion and politicians, recently published by the Vatican Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith. Marginalizing Christianity "would threaten the very spiritual and cultural foundations of civilization," it said.
In his address Jan. 13 to the diplomatic corps accredited to the Holy See, John Paul II observed: "In effect, the indispensable professional competence of political leaders can find no legitimation unless it is connected to strong moral convictions." Many Christian leaders -- who think U.S. policy toward Iraq needs more religious input, not less -- might agree on that point.


"In the last two years Mr. Cheney and other top officials have gotten it wrong again and again — on energy, on the economy, on the budget. But political muscle has insulated them from any adverse consequences. So they, and the country, don't learn from their mistakes — and the mistakes keep getting bigger."
Paul Krugman/NY Times
"In a brief written statement, Rumsfeld thanked Perle for his service and made no mention of why Perle resigned. He said he had asked Perle to remain as a member of the board."

The 'weapon of hatred' is facing America

"Hatred, more importantly, is the godfather of terrorism. It produces terrorists on the one hand and provides them with support on the other.
Do wise Americans understand the potential results of their country's aggressive policies, not only against the people of Iraq, but against the
entire world, now that it has initiated a destructive war?"

The US has launched it war on Iraq not because the country has developed nuclear weapons, but because it has not. America deals quite differentlywith countries that have succeeded in developing a nuclear potential. America was irritated when India and Pakistan held nuclear tests a few years ago. But all Washington did was issue a few statements condemning the two states, as well as slapping relatively mild sanctions on both of them. These were subsequently lifted when the US realized it needed their cooperation in its war against Al-Qaeda. At that point, having nuclear weapons ceased to be a problem and became a legitimate pursuit.
The world knows that Israel has more than 400 nuclear devices, but America has never protested; Israel is, after all, a law unto itself and is allowed what is denied to others.
Most recently, North Korea announced it was resuming its nuclear program. There is every reason to believe the North Koreans already have a nuclear
capability. So what did Washington do? It chose to settle the issue through diplomacy.
America will never attack Israel, its 51st state but what about the rest? What about India, Pakistan and North Korea? The US will never attack them either, for the simple reason that they already have deterrents. Iraq, on
the other hand, is being attacked precisely because it has no weapons of mass destruction with which to retaliate.Nuclear powers should not have the right to prevent other countries from possessing them; this is immoral. If America were serious in protecting the world from the threat posed by nuclear weapons, it should not distinguish between those who have such weapons now and those who might have them in
future. No Arab country has nuclear weapons; but should America have the right to prevent Arab states from arming themselves to the same level as Israel? How
long should the Arabs be expected to sit by and watch a nuclear-armed Israel threaten them?
Nuclear nonproliferation is impossible to achieve so long as there are countries that possess such weapons. What is required is nuclear disarmament. Nuclear weapons production, possession and use must be outlawed. This cannot be achieved unless the big five nuclear powers declare their intention to disarm and implement the Nuclear Nonproliferation Treaty (NPT). The least they could do is declare that they would never use nuclear weapons against nonnuclear countries that have signed up.
This same approach should be adopted regarding other forms of weapons of mass destruction i.e. chemical and biological weapons. There are already
international treaties in force that ban the use of such weapons, but many countries including the US continue to stockpile large quantities. What
moral justification is there to use such weapons? It is sad to see the 21st century world moving inexorably towards adopting the law of the jungle, where brute force is the primary means of settling disputes. Is force the only suitable instrument for world domination? What
weapon can smaller and weaker nations employ to respond to the use of overwhelming force?
In his book Le Cri de la Gargouille, French Foreign Minister Dominique de Villepin wrote that force alone could never dominate the world. Leadership,
De Villepin wrote, needs more than brute force. The world had already conceded American leadership before the neo-conservative Bush administration came to power. Each US president has long been considered to be the leader of the "free world." Everyone saw America as the only superpower to oppose, which is in the interests of no
country. Moreover, the US projected itself as a defender of freedom and human rights.
Yet, in an extremely short period of time, the Bush administration managed to turn the world against America, anger old allies, divide the EU and NATO
and paralyze the international coalition against terrorism. All this just to wage war on a country that poses no threat to the US or to its allies.
If a regime needs to be changed to ensure world peace and security, then the regime in Washington is the one that should go. The Bush regime came to
power in dubious circumstances, and since then has been relying on brute force in its conduct.
What can the world do to confront the overwhelming superiority of the US Air Force? Nothing more than face up to it with hatred of America, its policies
and the Bush administration. It is possible that the weapon of hatred will prove more effective and more enduring than that of the American air force.The destruction wrought by American warplanes even if they use their new 10-ton "mother of all bombs," officially called the MOAB, or Massive Ordnance Air Burst can be repaired. Damage to US reputation and credibility needs far longer to put right, and then only after Washington admits the
error of its ways. Hatred, more importantly, is the godfather of terrorism. It produces terrorists on the one hand and provides them with support on the other.
Do wise Americans understand the potential results of their country's aggressive policies, not only against the people of Iraq, but against the
entire world, now that it has initiated a destructive war?
Amman-based Fahed Fanek is an economics and media consultant. He wrote this
commentary for The Daily Star