* * * * *


We are called to speak for the weak, for the voiceless, for the victims of our nation and for those it calls enemy, for no document from human hands can make these humans any less our brothers and sisters.

–Martin Luther King


 

* * * * *

In MemoriamEdward Said

1935-2003

and

Fred Tuttle

1919-2003

* * * * *

 

THUGS IN SUITS

* * * * *

In This Issue:

  • David’s Notes

  • Quote of the Summer/In This Issue/Thugs in Suits
  • Letter from Egypt by Carol Ann Clouston
  • Beware the Middle East Expert by Donald Malcom Reid
  • The Stroke That Changed the World by David Cavanagh
  • The Case Against Foreign Aid by David French
  • Sign the Petition to Fire Rumsfeld
  • Songs for a Suffering World Gets Good Reviews

  •  

    * * * * *

    DAVID’S NOTES:
     

    Quote of the Summer

     

    “I don’t do quagmires.”-Donald Rumsfeld

    In This Issue

    Our Canadian friend living in Egypt, Carol Ann Clouston, writes another letter from Cairo about how America looks from her perspective in the Middle East and what that means for our future.

    Donald Malcom Reid sends an essay about Middle East Experts–he being one himself–in which he tells, among other things, the appalling story of how George Bush appointed war monger Daniel Pipes to the U. S. Institute of Peace.

    Poet David Cavanagh weighs in with a compact, poetical history of the USA since Monica.

    David French takes JME #28 to task and responds by writing an essay addressing what we left wing liberals and radicals would rather not hear about what’s wrong with foreign aid.

    All four of these offerings are original and exclusive to THE JUDEVINE MOUNTAIN EMAILITE. They can be found nowhere else on the web.


    Thugs in Suits

    At one point in Carol Ann Clouston’s letter she says, “Some, but not enough, of your mainstream media have begun to spit out the gags shoved in their mouths by their corporate masters.” Not enough, to be sure. And NPR is as limp and frightened as any.

    A case in point, not from radio, but from the print media. In the summer of 2002, I was commissioned to write an essay about “9/11 a year later”, by a newspaper in the Gannett chain. The flagship paper for Gannett is, as you know, USA TODAY. I began the essay this way, “A year after 9/11, it is clear that George Bush and his administration are using the so-called War on Terror as an excuse to advance their dreams of unilateral domination abroad and their Right Wing agenda at home. The sooner we can be rid of This Disaster and his administration the better off we all will be.” I wrote this in July of 2002, 8 months before the war in Iraq began.

    I was told by an editor at the paper that this lead was “Like a two by six to the face.” which, when you think about it, isn’t anything like the bombs of Shock and Awe. They refused to publish the essay even though I had warned them ahead of time that I was going to go after George Bush and they had given me the go ahead to do so.

    I ended it this way, “The plague of Pax Americana is upon the world. And it is upon us also.” As Pogo said once, “We have met the enemy and he is us.”

    This essay which was rejected for being so unreasonable seems like pabulum now just a little more than a year later.

    Yet the beat goes on. The arrogance of American unilateralism keeps topping itself. Just when you think it can’t get worse, it does. That gang of self-righteous, holier than thou, neo-cons who attacked randy Bill Clinton and promised America that they could and would return morality, purity and clean government to Washington have established the meanest, most corrupt, dishonest and destructive government in the history of this country. The thugs in suits now in charge at the White House, however, are too arrogant ever to admit their mistakes. And that hubris, as the Greek tragedians understood so well, is bound, sooner or later, to be their downfall.

    * * * * *

    Not since Mussolini invaded Ethiopia in 1935 have we seen such a brazen and universally condemned act of aggression, in violation of the decisions of international organizations and international law. Iraq poses about the same “threat” to the U.S. that Ethiopia posed to Italy.

     

    –Who Said This?

     

    * * * * *

    LETTER FROM EGYPT

    by
    Carol Ann Clouston

    Dear American Friends,

    The Egyptian street is quiet. All other Arab city streets are quiet–with the notable exceptions of Iraqi and Palestinian cities, that is. There are no riots, violent protests, “massive civil disobedience” or government destabilization, as predicted in my letter to George Dubya. (The Judevine Mountain Emailite #28: JME #28) No Americans or other foreign nationals are being attacked here–yet. The people of the Arab nations are still stunned, feeling powerless and humiliated by the spectacle of their proud sister nation–often referred to as The Cradle of Civilization–brought to her knees and occupied by the American led Coalition of the Willing. And worse, there’s not a thing they can do about it; there wasn’t then and there isn’t now. But they have millennia of practice in waiting patiently for things to change.

    However, thousands of angry Arab youth have found their way into Iraq and are working out their feelings against your troops. Countless others are finding their way into bona fide terrorist organizations. Their numbers will grow steadily and they’ll spread out over the world unchecked, wherever there are Americans, for a very long time to come. And this is the truth. A very different thing from what you’re accustomed to hearing, I’m afraid.

    While they wait, they comfort themselves with humorous aspects of the situation. For example, 9/11 was indeed a tragic event, but one of my Egyptian colleagues summed up the general Egyptian response to Arabs being pinpointed as the perpetrators, as follows: “What? Cells of Arab terrorists who don’t talk to each other? Forget it! Arabs could never get it together to pull off aerobatic stunts like that inside America without Americans themselves helping!” And it seems that they did.

    Some hideous unspeakable truths are emerging re: the US Administration’s tacit complicity with the 9/11 terrorists -whoever they were. It’s emerging bit by horrible bit that George Bush, under the thrall of his handlers–the cabal, including Cheney and Wolfowitz, who commissioned the script entitled Rebuilding America’s Defenses or Pax Americana, in Sept. 2000–for months on end ignored an abundance of solid-source intelligence concerning just about everything except the date and time of the 9/11 attacks. And, there’s one particularly glaring question among the many which have gone unanswered: “Why didn’t the FAA order a single fighter jet up into the deep blue yonder to see what the heck was going on, until about an hour after the first plane went off course?” Why do questions such as these hang in the air? Because the answers are too appalling. This administration was just chomping at the bit for an event such as 9/11, both as a smoke screen to launch their long planned imperialist drive into this region and to whip you all into a patriotic frenzy to support it. They succeeded in doing both.

    I can only imagine how unbearable it must be for you to watch as your brave young men and women in Iraq are wounded, maimed and killed, while, at the same time, you’re confronted, almost daily now, with yet another snippet of truth about the insidious ways in which your administration duped the great majority of you into supporting this attack on Iraq. According to the most recent polls assessing Dubya’s popularity, some of you are waking up from the hypnotic patriotic trance induced by the frenetic pounding on war drums from the neo-con road-show. Some, but not enough, of your mainstream media have begun to spit out the gags shoved in their mouths by their corporate masters to keep them writing and mouthing nothing but ‘patriotic’ platitudes, and are telling it like it is.

    Surely by now you must at least suspect what the rest of the world (not having been prey to the pre and post-war rhetoric spewing out of Washington and London) has always known: this war was not about imminent “nukyiler” attacks on the US and/or Britain, not about freeing the poor Iraqis from a tyrant, not about WMD stashed away over here (except in Israel of course!) or any of that folksy Texas accented insinuation about Sadaam’s intimacies with Al Qaeda. All hogwash, of course!

    It was primarily about three things: First, protecting American interests in the region i.e. securing an uninterrupted flow of ‘black gold’ by redrawing the geopolitical map of the region; second, insuring Israel’s military dominance in the region; and, finally, imposing once and for all time the noxious Pax Americana. (Of course, there was also the extra perk for the Israelis, i.e. Washington’s tacit approval of their particular and intensified brand of the “preemptive” option, terminating as many Palestinians as they’d care to, demolishing their homes and farms and humiliating them unmercifully–as long as they called all their victims “terrorists”, of course.

    You’ve been had, my friends–big time! Your economy’s down the toilet to pay for this horrific fiasco, you’ve got what amounts to another Vietnam on your hands and you’ve lost the hard won respect of most of the world. Come out of that patriotic anesthetic! Wake up! Your beloved country is being held hostage by a handful of neo-con nuts, and it looks like it’s about to get worse. Attack Iran or Syria–which is in that Project for the New American Century script.

    And know this: in your own and your great-great-great grandchildren’s lifetimes, there’ll never be a place for an American to feel welcome or secure.

    As long as it’s under the misguided direction of George Dubya and his sociopathic and corporate buddies, the country that poses the greatest threat to you is your very own. I hope for your sake, and for the sake of millions of others in the world community, that your voting machines work properly next year. And some international observers for next November, wouldn’t go amiss either.

    Sincerely,
    Carol Ann Clouston
    —–
    Carol Ann Clouston writes from the Adham Center for TV Journalism,
    The American University in Cairo.
    —–
    For supporting evidence for opinions cited in this letter see:

    Michael Meacher’s, “This War on Terrorism is Bogus”, THE GUARDIAN, 9/6/03,http://politics.guardian.co.uk/iraq/comment/0,,1036687,00.html

    John Pilger’s article “The Big Lie”, THE LONDON DAILY MIRROR, 9/22/03,http://www.mirror.co.uk/news/allnews/content_objectid=13434081_method=full_siteid=50143_headline=-THE%2DBIG%2DLIE-name_page.html

    To find the original Project for the New American Century documents, go to: http://www.newamericancentury.org/

     

    * * * * *

    The Nationalist not only does not disapprove of atrocities committed by his own side, but he has a remarkable capacity for not even hearing about them.

    -George Orwell

     

    * * * * *

    BEWARE OF MIDDLE EAST EXPERTS

    by
    Donald Malcolm Reid
    Professor of History and Middle East Expert


    In the welter of spun information, insinuation, disinformation, and outright lies with which the Bush administration has flooded the American public since 9/11, we must keep reminding ourselves and others of a few simple truths. No evidence, for example, has surfaced that Iraq had anything to do with the 9/11 attacks on New York and Washington or that Iraq possessed weapons of mass destruction last spring. These two central falsehoods were cynically used to sell a war on Iraq which had been planned in neo-conservative circles years before 9/11.

    What does the public need to know about the field of Middle East studies and the “experts,” “specialists,” and “consultants” who pop up on our television screens whenever Middle East-related violence intrudes upon our equanimity? Even those of us who have spent a lifetime studying Muslims, Arabs, and Middle Easterners can understand only small fractions of their realities. Any expert who spouts such orientalist maxims as “Arabs respect force” or “Islam is fundamentally …. (fill in the blank)….” as prescriptions for dealing with other cultures is deluding himself and others. Then too, many of the expert commentators are not really specialists on the Middle East but on such politically-charged fields as terrorism, security systems, and military affairs.

    Even those who are truly Middle East specialists do not necessarily proffer wise advice for formulating realistic and just American foreign policies. Octogenarian Bernard Lewis is a great scholar, but for decades the intensity and angle of his commitment to Zionism has made his advice counterproductive for those who would pursue a reasonable resolution of the Israeli-Arab conflict.

    Daniel Pipes is a Middle East specialist who abandoned academia early on for right-wing think tanks. In Sept. 2002 he opened a McCarthy-like website called Campus Watch. It blacklisted prominent American professors as apologists for Palestinian and Islamist violence and encouraged students to inform on professors judged to have an anti-Israel bias. Pipes and his close associate Martin Kramer, also a Middle Eastern Ph.D., have castigated the Middle East Studies Association of North America–the preeminent organization for academic specialists in the field, with 2700 members­for its alleged biases. Pipes and Kramer were avid supporters of the war on Iraq. The views of Pipes are so extreme that congressional approval of his recent nomination to the board of the U. S. Institute of Peace was in doubt. But President Bush waited until late this summer when Congress was in recess and by-passed congressional approval to make the appointment. Shades of George Orwell — War Is Peace.

    What of experts with “ethnic credentials,” born and raised in the Middle East, many of whom are now U.S. citizens? With their insiders’ understanding, some have become among our most distinguished specialists on Islam and the Middle East. Others, usually involuntary exiles, have fixated on personal and family losses and pursued narrow-minded politics of revenge. Anti-Castro extremists among Cuban exiles have warped American policies toward their homeland into counterproductive shapes. Similarly, the Pentagon as it planned the Iraqi invasion listened too eagerly to Ahmad Chalabi’s assurances that Iraqis would welcome American soldiers with open arms. Scion of a family prominent under the monarchy half a century ago, Chalabi had not lived in Iraq since fleeing the 1958 revolution as a child. That he is wanted in Jordan for a banking scandal in the 1980s did not worry top Pentagon officials, who have taken the Enron, World Com, Arthur Anderson, and Haliburton scandals in stride. The Pentagon footed the bill for training a private army for this potential “our man in Iraq” and airlifted him and his men into Iraq at the earliest opportunity during the invasion.

    As the administration rushed to war last spring, most of the mainstream media played cheerleader. Most of the experts furnishing the running commentary were drawn from a narrow range of specialists who told the administration and nervous public what they wanted to hear. Cheney and Rumsfeld had already made up their minds for war, and they knew precisely which scholars and exiles would lend their expertise to the propaganda blitz. The many Middle East specialists who opposed the war faced a dilemma if they did get on the air–either tone down their message so as not to offend their hosts and a public craving reassurance, or tell the blunt truth but never get invited back.

    Middle East specialists have protested in vain a program that is now pumping money into university teaching of critical Middle East languages through the Department of Defense instead of through the Department of Education. In Iraq, of course, the U.S. Department of Defense, not the Department of State–which is supposed to run our foreign policy–is calling the shots.

    Don’t be awed by Middle East experts–they can be rented, bought, or sincere but deluded. Trust your political instincts as an intelligent generalist and citizen. Check the credentials of the often self-proclaimed experts. Seek out the wide range of wise and humane Middle East expertise that is out there but which is hard to hear over the drumbeat of the “war on terrorism.”

    - – -

    Donald Malcom Reid teaches Middle Eastern History at Georgia State University in Atlanta.

     

    * * * * *

    THE STROKE THAT CHANGED THE WORLD

    by
    David Cavanagh

    Begin with Monica, not innocent, but on her knees God
    love her, little sense of what it meant beyond the heady
    ambition of it all, labially impressing the presidential member.

    Then the media, lip-licking gleeful on the hunt, houses of Congress
    outragedandharrumphed. (Outbreak of nervous tics, stiff necks
    from twisting back over shoulders, into closets, leaning on delete.)

    Then Mr. VP, off the Mayflower by way of Tennessee, buttoning down
    everything against the big blow — and everything already buttoned down.
    Pilgrim Proper scrubbed for Sunday showing.

    Middle America on its knees, double-barreled prayer — give us this day Mr.
    Clean, yes, but not the guy with no juice left, and not anyone friend of
    President Smutty Pants.

    Guidance, Lord, guidance, then the answer — pilgrim, sure, not Mr.
    Mayflower, the other one, the well-oiled, scripted dude, talks in mcnuggets,
    clear that wilderness, savage, claim

    it, yes, City of God, but make it oversized, like Texas, ignorance and
    meanness in the mix, oh Monica, down on our knees is right. Then an
    invasion of hanging chads — weapon of mass induction —

    a vicious slide at home plate, an ugly late call by the 9 umps supreme (“Safe!”
    “Yer out!” — one for Tex, one for Pilgrim Proper). Bushwhacked ever since.
    The national wagon madly chased and

    flipped — Kyoto-Afghanistan-Iraq-jobs-schools-rights gunned down —
    tombstone air over everything, all gone hugely, Shakespeareously wrong.
    Centuries to come already writ large and bad, the children’s

    future cracked and leeched, squandered toxic, and most everyone cool as a
    ‘burb about it, gone ga-ga, like little kids who’ve nibbled peeling paint too
    long, tiny neuron bombs, lethal, silent, gradual bombs

    gone off in us, little poofs of comfort, somnambulists ‘r us; smoking
    oil well for horizon, cauldron of world hate, seethe, send more blackhawk
    choppers, blood blooms, how do you say environmental meltdown, thugs

    in white houses, plunder as policy, collective anesthesia, reality TV
    gone real, gone fear factor, no millionaire left behind, down on our knees,
    it gushes, it’s a gusher, the whole world down on shattered knees, oh Monica

     

    David Cavanagh

    —–

    David Cavanagh is a poet living in Burlington, Vermont. His book of poems, THE MIDDLEMAN, is due out from Salmon Publishing in October, 2003. For more information about the book go to: www.salmonpoetry.com

     

     

    * * * * *

    When the whole nation is roaring Patriotism at the top of its voice, I am fain to explore the cleanness of its hand and the purity of its heart.

    –Ralph Waldo Emerson

    * * * * *

    THE CASE AGAINST FOREIGN AIDby
    David French

    Under the headline “HOW GENEROUS WE ARE: A Foreign Aid Fact,” The Judevine Mountain Emailite #28 (JME #28)reports: “The foreign aid budget in the United States is 1/10th of 1% of our Gross National Product. Of the 22 richest nations in the world, that ranks us 22nd.”

    True, but so what? The U.S.’s low foreign aid budget does reflect a meanness of spirit that parallels the lack of any real concern for the poor at home. Unfortunately, to increase foreign aid might make us feel better, but it wouldn’t do much for the world’s poor. Aid is mostly money pissed away.

    I say this with sorrow, having spent much of my career in development agencies. In my time, I worked for the U.N.’s World Food Program, the World Bank, and the U.S. Agency for International Development, as well as consulting for ILO, IFAD, FAO and a number of nongovernmental groups. I lived and traveled widely in Africa and Asia. I don’t think I ever saw an aid project that seemed worth the cost and trouble, at least to the people who were supposed to be its beneficiaries. (Most projects are worth the cost and trouble to the bureaucracies that finance them — spending money is how these organizations perpetuate themselves — but that shouldn’t be the point for anybody outside the bureaucracy.)

    We need to distinguish between “humanitarian” aid (designed to keep people alive after droughts or wars) and “development” aid (intended to make societies richer and more productive). Only a small part of my career was spent in humanitarian aid, so I’m hesitant to be too categorical about the results. Food and other emergency assistance does keep people alive who would otherwise die. However, this also undercuts traditional coping mechanisms, frees resources of the recipient government for alternative uses like buying weapons, provides a major disincentive to local agriculture when food aid is spread around too lavishly or too long (as it often is), and kills people through epidemics at the feeding centers where people congregate. I suppose humanitarian aid is worth it on balance, but you have to recoil at how thoughtlessly it is often done.

    When it comes to “development” aid, on the other hand, there is almost nothing positive to say. For one thing, aid tends in practice to be more political than developmental. In the last fiscal year, the U.S. earmarked $1.2 billion in “development” aid to Israel (for being Israel) and Egypt (for being nice to Israel). The whole of sub-Saharan Africa had to make do with another $1.2 billion. (With a population of 6 million, Israel got $600 million, not counting military assistance; Ethiopia and Nigeria, with a combined population of 200 million, together got $144 million.) Other major recipients were Pakistan, Jordan, Russia, Ukraine, and Colombia. This year, you can add Iraq to the list. The major criteria being applied here are not those of need.

    That doesn’t mean aid to the poorer countries should be increased. For one thing, they couldn’t use it. I’ve never been in a poor country that wasn’t flooded with more development aid than it could absorb, given its limited infrastructure and implementing capacity. One of the reasons the World Bank originally got into its dreadful “structural adjustment” lending was that it couldn’t unload its resources through normal development projects. Ratcheting up aid levels would simply increase the already large backlog of promised but unspendable funds.

    There are fundamental problems on the donor side as well. “Development” would be staggeringly difficult even if it was the real point of the exercise, but it isn’t. Any bureaucracy’s overriding aims are to look good to its funders and to maintain or increase its budget. To achieve these aims, projects designed by aid organizations are formulated as quickly and cheaply as possible (allowing for a minimum of thought or “quality control”) in ways that are driven by the current winds of developmental fashion. Impact on the recipients is a public relations matter (easily finessed by having the organizations evaluate their own work) in which actual results count for little.

    A World Bank project on which I worked for four years in Malawi is typical enough. To address the scarcity of wood fuel, millions of dollars were spent on firewood plantations and nurseries from which farmers could buy seedlings for private or communal woodlots. Only after the project was underway (and had been declared a success by the Bank) did anyone try to find out whether any of this made sense.

    As it turned out, no sane farmer would have planted woodlots (there were many other crops that would have been more profitable), nobody wanted to plant their fuelwood communally (would you?), and the plantation wood was too expensive for the poor to buy. Tobacco plantations (many of them owned by Kamuzu Banda, then Malawi’s President for Life) bought some of the highly subsidized trees and seedlings for firewood to cure their crops, but most of the project’s output went unused. Malawi is now paying back, with interest, the loan that forced all this into existence.

    None of this was exceptional: ignorance, carelessness and self-satisfaction characterize the work of all development agencies. In a manner of speaking, the game “works” anyway. The agencies move their money, host governments and local bosses skim off their cut, “beneficiaries” are given various “incentives” to play along, and the donors tell you what a good job they’ve done. However, little actually happens that is positive or sustainable. The real outcome is that local societies are disrupted, self-reliance is discouraged, individual preferences are overridden, government priorities are manipulated by outsiders, national debts accumulate, and foreign interests shape the future (using aid funds, for example, to force GM seed into local agriculture). These results aren¹t correctable accidents; they are inherent in the process.

    In other words, forget statements like “The foreign aid budget in the United States is 1/10th of 1% of our Gross National Product.” Aid sucks. Let’s not get romantic about wanting more of it.

    —–

    David French is an American living in Dublin, Ireland.

    —–

     

    * * * * *

    The word genius isn’t applicable in football. A genius is a guy like Norman Einstein.

     

    –Joe Theismann, football commentator and former quarterback

    * * * * *

    SIGN THE FIRE RUMSFELD PETITION

    As most of you probably already know, Moveon.Org is circulating a petition to fire Donald Rumsfeld. To sign the petition go to:http://www.moveon.org/firerumsfeld/?id=1680-355396-mr9XCWSYJoPC3VTijXXNPQ>http://www.moveon.org/firerumsfeld/

     

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    SONGS FOR A SUFFERING WORLD GETS GOOD REVIEWS 

    SONGS FOR A SUFFERING WORLD: A PRAYER FOR PEACE, A PROTEST AGAINST WAR, the new words and music cd with William Parker, Hamid Drake and David Budbill, is getting great reviews in Los Angeles, San Antonio, Montreal, Edinburgh and on the Internet. To read the reviews and for other information about the cd go to: http://www.davidbudbill.com/songsfasw.html

     

     

    * * * * *

    COMING SOON IN THE JUDEVINE MOUNTAIN EMAILITE #31I CHARGE THE WHITE MAN: MALCOM X SPEAKS
    The Neo-Cons, the New American Imperialism and Race


     

     

     

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