Friday, October 31, 2003

Inspecting the General

Dear Readers,

Intolerance and fanaticism, mortifying the faiths and culture of others, and doing that holding high rung of American Intelligence and Military establishments, was unthinkable not so long ago.

Initially, when General Boykin’s insufferable story broke into the news media, Rumsfeld and Bush avoided commenting on this sensitive issue. Perhaps they did not wish to offend their strongest supporters, the ultra-conservative Christian groups leaded by Pat Robertson and Jerry Falwell and Graham clans. Indeed, the big election is approaching the next year.

But the American moral conscience, nurtured and developed by two hundred years of democracy, where fairness and tolerance were the foundation of this nation’s steadfast progress toward modernity, the progressive minded Americans have begun to raise their voices. This is surely a positive development.

Regards,
Mahbubul Karim (Sohel)
October 31, 2003


Inspecting the General

DEFENSE SECRETARY Donald H. Rumsfeld has punted the inconvenient matter of Lt. Gen. William G. Boykin and his intolerant public comments about religion to the Pentagon's inspector general. It's fine to have such a review, but it shouldn't be limited to the narrow question of whether Gen. Boykin ran afoul of any particular regulation. And though Mr. Rumsfeld is evidently not inclined to do so, he should rethink his inclination to leave Gen. Boykin in his sensitive position as deputy undersecretary for intelligence while his inflammatory statements are being reviewed. Senate Armed Services Committee Chairman John W. Warner (R-Va.), no foe of the administration, wisely suggested this course in a speech on the Senate floor last week in which he identified the central issue raised by the general's comments: that "implicit" in the award of three-star rank and a high-level post is confidence that the individual "has good, sound judgment -- I repeat that: good, sound judgment -- in the exercise of his freedom to speak."

Gen. Boykin has every right to his deeply held religious views. His service to his country -- and it's been extensive -- doesn't require him to relinquish his faith or to refrain from expressing it, in appropriate ways and in appropriate settings. But when Gen. Boykin tells a church group that other countries "have lost their morals, lost their values, but America is still a Christian nation," he goes too far in mixing church and state. When he tells a prayer breakfast at Fort Dix, "Don't let the media, the liberals, sway you in your faith," he goes too far into the partisan realm, an area that also includes his statements that God worked "a miracle" to put President Bush in the White House. And when he says that after a Somali warlord taunted him that "Allah will protect me . . . I knew that my god was bigger than his. I knew that my god was a real god and his was an idol," he goes way too far, to the clear detriment of U.S. interests.

Mr. Rumsfeld, who hasn't exactly been shy about speaking out when he is displeased with the statements of other subordinates, has done his best to avoid commenting on Gen. Boykin's remarks. Even as he announced the inspector general review, for example, Mr. Rumsfeld said a network tape he reviewed "had a lot of very difficult to understand words with subtitles which I was not able to verify. So I remain inexpert on precisely what he said." It was only the next day, after President Bush himself explicitly criticized the general's remarks, that Mr. Rumsfeld followed suit -- sort of. "Obviously, our views are different from those views that the press is reporting in connection with General Boykin," he said.

Pentagon spokesman Larry DiRita explained the other day that the inspector general's investigation will ask: "Is there any rule or regulation that needs clarification, is there anything that General Boykin did that may have been inconsistent with that? Those are questions that are relevant." One thing for the inspector general to examine is Gen. Boykin's apparent use of government resources in preparing his talks. Speaking at a church in Daytona, Fla., last January, Gen. Boykin said, "I'm going to drive my aide crazy because he worked until 5 o'clock this afternoon preparing a 30-slide presentation that I was going to give you tonight." Defense department rules say the duties of such aides "shall be concerned with tasks relating to the military and official responsibilities of the officers."

More critical than whether Gen. Boykin's actions comported with every jot and tittle of military regulations, however, is whether his actions were consistent with, in Mr. Warner's phrase, "the good, sound judgment" required of those entrusted with such authority. It doesn't take an inspector general to come up with the answer.

The Washington Post
Friday, October 31, 2003; Page A24
http://www.washingtonpost.com/wp-dyn/articles/A44845-2003Oct30.html
The Spear of Longinus - a Poem by Oswald LeWinter


The Spear of Longinus


By Oswald LeWinter


Time slips its leash and moves

into the garbage dump of memory

to hunt discoveries buried deep

under the detritus of a life hardly spent

in chewing each event to yield its marrow.



There lie the tattered shirts of feeling,

soiled from bloody spots of marriages

unmassaged by remorse at being cast away.

There the children’s bears, stuffing

beaten out the day I left and never came again.



Cries may be insubstantial but dried tears

glisten like specks of crystal here

and there, assuming the disguise of silver

light that points the indefatigable glance

toward some obscure and necessary treasure.



I know the gilded spear is hidden there

that pierced a martyr’s liver once, a wound

no healing ever sealed. I know from legends

how mystically, the organ’s blood congealed,

This spear cures festering guilt by penitence.



But like the Roman, chained by duty to an act

that changed his life, beset by wakefulness

so I might watch the night crawl through

the hours like a crippled thief who can’t escape

his crime, I never understood my life.



I tried the spear! Uncovered each antinomy,

risked a near century of poems. Stripped suet

from my metaphors like a chef, preparing steak

for gourmet tongues. Nothing became clear.

The meat hid in a sauce too turbid for the spear.

--------------------------------------------------------------------------------

Oswald LeWinter is a 72-year-old American poet living in Lisbon. In 1963 he published Shakespeare in Europe while teaching at Columbia University. He has also taught at the U. of Essen and at Wuerzburg, Chulalongkorn U. in Thailand, Jagiellonska U. of Cracow, Carabobo U. in Venezuela, and published in Shenandoah, Sewanee, Contact, the noble savage, Epoch, Hudson, Paris Review, Chelsea, the Literary Review, Prairie Schooner, Beloit, Botteghe Oscure, Kuerbiskern (Germany), and elsewhere. His poems have been translated into French, Spanish, Italian and Swedish and he has been anthologized in several countries--such as Best Poems of 1962 in the U.S.A and Best German Poems. Mr. LeWinter has been awarded a number of prizes, including the International Rilke Prize for poems in German and English.



Mississippi Review, June 3, 2003.

Wednesday, October 29, 2003

Literature is Freedom

Dear Readers,

In this time of violence and war, distrust and cynicism, could literature bring freedom to the billions? While the mercantilists and fundamentalists raising the hell and heaven allegories, metaphoric rumbles to spread their heart-felt desire “clash of civilizations” and “wars of the worlds” from bustling cities to deserted ones; the words of wisdom and tolerance from Margaret Atwood, Susan Sontag, Naguib Mahfouz, Isaac Bashevis Singer and the new writers like Monica Ali and Zadie Smith, could they bring any change of hearts of the warmongers?

“Literature is freedom”, proclaims Susan Sontag, one the most brilliant writers of our generation, a writer and a human rights activist, a third generation American Jewish writer. She is against violence, against Ariel Sharon’s brutal policy of repression in Palestinian territory and American new form of “imperialism”. She gave a wonderful speech while accepting a prestigious award from the German Publishers and Booksellers at the Frankfurt Book fair in the month of October of this year.

Ms. Sontag observes, “All modern wars, even when their aims are the traditional ones, such as territorial aggrandizement or the acquisition of scarce resources, are cast as clashes of civilizations --- culture wars --- with each side claiming the high ground, and characterizing the other as barbaric. The enemy is invariably a threat to "our way of life," an infidel, a desecrator, a polluter, a defiler of higher or better values.”

Another memorable comment: “Who would we be if we could not sympathize with those who are not us or ours? Who would we be if we could not forget ourselves, at least some of the time? Who would we be if we could not learn? Forgive? Become something other than we are?”

What can the world literature do to us the mortals? Ms. Sontag answers:

“To have access to literature, world literature, was to escape the prison of national vanity, of philistinism, of compulsory provincialism, of inane schooling, of imperfect destinies and bad luck. Literature was the passport to enter a larger life; that is, the zone of freedom.”

Literature is Freedom.

Regards,
Mahbubul Karim (Sohel)
October 29, 2003


Literature is freedom

The Friedenspreis acceptance speech of Susan Sontag

President Johannes Rau, Minister of the Interior Otto Schily, State Minister of Culture Christina Weiss, the Lord Mayor of Frankfurt Petra Roth, Vice-President of the Bundestag Antje Vollmer, your excellencies, other distinguished guests, honored colleagues, friends ... among them, dear Ivan Nagel:

To speak in the Paulskirche, before this audience, to receive the prize awarded in the last fifty-three years by the German Book Trade to so many writers, thinkers, and exemplary public figures whom I admire --- to speak in this history-charged place and on this occasion, is a humbling and inspiring experience. I can only the more regret the deliberate absence of the American ambassador, Mr. Daniel Coats, whose immediate refusal, in June, of the invitation from the Booksellers Association, when this year's Friedenspreis was announced, to attend our gathering here today, shows he is more interested in affirming the ideological stance and the rancorous reactiveness of the Bush administration than he is, by fulfilling a normal diplomatic duty, in representing the interests and reputation of his --- and my --- country.

Ambassador Coats has chosen not to be here, I assume, because of criticisms I have voiced, in newspaper and television interviews and in brief magazine articles, of the new radical bent of American foreign policy, as exemplified by the invasion and occupation of Iraq. He should be here, I think, because a citizen of the country he represents in Germany has been honored with an important German prize.

An American ambassador has the duty to represent his country, all of it. I, of course, do not represent America, not even that substantial minority that does not support the imperial program of Mr. Bush and his advisors. I like to think I do not represent anything but literature, a certain idea of literature, and conscience, a certain idea of conscience or duty. But, mindful of the citation for this prize from a major European country, which mentions my role as an "intellectual ambassador" between the two continents (ambassador, needless to say, in the weakest, merely metaphorical sense), I cannot resist offering a few thoughts about the renowned gap between Europe and the United States, which my interests and enthusiasms purportedly bridge.

First, is it a gap --- which continues to be bridged? Or is it not also a conflict? Irate, dismissive statements about Europe, certain European countries, are now the common coin of American political rhetoric; and here, at least in the rich countries on the western side of the continent, anti-American sentiments are more common, more audible, more intemperate than ever. What is this conflict? Does it have deep roots? I think it does.

There has always been a latent antagonism between Europe and America, one at least as complex and ambivalent as that between parent and child. America is a neo-European country and, until the last few decades, was largely populated by European peoples. And yet it is always the differences between Europe and America that have struck the most perceptive European observers: Alexis de Tocqueville, who visited the young nation in 1831 and returned to France to write Democracy in America, still, some hundred and seventy years later, the best book about my country, and D.H. Lawrence, who, eighty years ago, published the most interesting book ever written about American culture, his influential, exasperating Studies in Classic American Literature, both understood that America, the child of Europe, was becoming, or had become, the antithesis of Europe.

Rome and Athens. Mars and Venus. The authors of recent popular tracts promoting the idea of an inevitable clash of interests and values between Europe and America did not invent these antitheses. Foreigners brooded over them --- and they provide the palette, the recurrent melody, in much of American literature throughout the 19th century, from James Fenimore Cooper and Ralph Waldo Emerson to Walt Whitman, Henry James, William Dean Howells, and Mark Twain. American innocence and European sophistication; American pragmatism and European intellectualizing; American energy and European world-weariness; American naïveté and European cynicism; American goodheartedness and European malice; American moralism and the European arts of compromise --- you know the tunes.

You can choreograph them differently; indeed, they have been danced with every kind of evaluation or tilt for two tumultuous centuries. Europhiles can use the venerable antitheses to identify America with commerce-driven barbarism and Europe with high culture, while the Europhobes draw on a ready-made view in which America stands for idealism and openness and democracy and Europe a debilitating, snobbish refinement. Tocqueville and Lawrence observed something fiercer: not just a declaration of independence from Europe, and European values, but a steady undermining, an assassination of European values and European power. "You can never have a new thing without breaking an old," Lawrence wrote. "Europe happened to be the old thing. America should be the new thing. The new thing is the death of the old." America, Lawrence divined, was on a Europe-destroying mission, using democracy --- particularly cultural democracy, democracy of manners --- as an instrument. And when that task is accomplished, he went on, America might well turn from democracy to something else. (What that might be is, perhaps, emerging now.)

Bear with me if my references have been exclusively literary. After all, one function of literature --- of important literature, of necessary literature --- is to be prophetic. What we have here, writ large, is the perennial literary --- or cultural --- quarrel: between the ancients and the moderns.

The past is (or was) Europe, and America was founded on the idea of breaking with the past, which is viewed as encumbering, stultifying, and --- in its forms of deference and precedence, its standards of what is superior and what is best --- fundamentally undemocratic, or "elitist," the reigning current synonym. Those who speak for a triumphal America continue to intimate that American democracy implies repudiating Europe, and, yes, embracing a certain liberating, salutary barbarism. If, today, Europe is regarded by most Americans as more socialist than elitist, that still makes Europe, by American standards, a retrograde continent, obstinately attached to old standards: the welfare state. "Make it new" is not only a slogan for culture; it describes an ever-advancing, world-encompassing economic machine.

However, if necessary, even the "old" can be rebaptized as the "new."

It is not a coincidence that the strong-minded American Secretary of Defense tried to drive a wedge within Europe --- distinguishing unforgettably between an "old" Europe (bad) and a "new" Europe (good). How did Germany, France, and Belgium come to be consigned to "old" Europe, while Spain, Italy, Poland, Ukraine, The Netherlands, Hungary, the Czech Republic, and Bulgaria find themselves part of "new" Europe? Answer: to support the United States in its present extensions of political and military power is, by definition, to pass into the more desirable category of the "new." Whoever is with us is "new."

All modern wars, even when their aims are the traditional ones, such as territorial aggrandizement or the acquisition of scarce resources, are cast as clashes of civilizations --- culture wars --- with each side claiming the high ground, and characterizing the other as barbaric. The enemy is invariably a threat to "our way of life," an infidel, a desecrator, a polluter, a defiler of higher or better values. The current war against the very real threat posed by militant Islamic fundamentalism is a particularly clear example. What is worth remarking is that a milder version of the same terms of disparagement underlies the antagonism between Europe and America. It should also be remembered that, historically, the most virulent anti-American rhetoric ever heard in Europe --- consisting essentially in the charge that Americans are barbarians --- came not from the so-called left but from the extreme right. Both Hitler and Franco repeatedly inveighed against an America (and a world Jewry) engaged in polluting European civilization with its base, business values.

Of course, much of European public opinion continues to admire American energy, the American version of "the modern." And, to be sure, there have always been American fellow-travelers of the European cultural ideals (one stands here before you), who find in the old arts of Europe correction and a liberation from the strenuous mercantilist biases of American culture. And there have always been the counterparts of such Americans on the European side: Europeans who are fascinated, enthralled, profoundly attracted to the United States, precisely because of its difference from Europe.

What the Americans see is almost the reverse of the Europhile cliché: they see themselves defending civilization. The barbarian hordes are no longer outside the gates. They are within, in every prosperous city, plotting havoc. The "chocolate-producing" countries (France, Germany, Belgium) will have to stand aside, while a country with "will" --- and God on its side --- pursues the battle against terrorism (now conflated with barbarism). According to Secretary of State Powell, it is ridiculous for old Europe (sometimes it seems only France is meant) to aspire to play a role in governing or administering the territories won by the coalition of the conqueror. It has neither the military resources nor the taste for violence nor the support of its cosseted, all-too-pacific populations. And the Americans have it right. Europeans are not in an evangelical --- or a bellicose --- mood.

Indeed, sometimes I have to pinch myself to be sure I am not dreaming: that what many people in my own country now hold against Germany, which wreaked such horrors on the world for nearly a century --- the new "German problem," as it were --- is that Germans are repelled by war; that much of German public opinion is now virtually ... pacifist!

Were America and Europe never partners, never friends? Of course. But perhaps it is true that the periods of unity --- of common feeling ----have been exceptions, rather than the rule. One such time was from the Second World War through the early Cold War, when Europeans were profoundly grateful for America's intervention, succor, and support. Americans are comfortable seeing themselves in the role of Europe's savior. But then, America will expect the Europeans to be forever grateful, which is not what Europeans are feeling right now.

From "old" Europe's point of view, America seems bent on squandering the admiration --- and gratitude --- felt by most Europeans. The immense sympathy for the United States in the aftermath of the attack on September 11, 2001 was genuine. (I can testify to its resounding ardor and sincerity in Germany; I was in Berlin at the time.) But what has followed is an increasing estrangement on both sides. The citizens of the richest and most powerful nation in history have to know that America is loved, and envied ... and resented. More than a few who travel abroad know that Americans are regarded as crude, boorish, uncultivated by many Europeans, and don't hesitate to match these expectations with behavior that suggests the ressentiment of the ex-colonials. And some of the cultivated Europeans who seem most to enjoy visiting or living in the United States attribute to it, condescendingly, the liberating ambiance of a colony where one can throw off the restrictions and high-culture burdens of "back home." I recall being told by a German film-maker, living at the time in San Francisco, that he loved being in the States "because you don't have any culture here." For more than a few Europeans, including, it should be mentioned, D.H. Lawrence ("there the life comes up from the roots, crude but vital," he wrote to a friend in 1915, when he was making plans to live in America), America was the great escape. And vice versa: Europe was the great escape for generations of Americans seeking "culture." Of course, I am speaking only of minorities here, minorities of the privileged.

So America now sees itself as the defender of civilization and Europe's savior, and wonders why Europeans don't get the point; and Europeans see America as a reckless warrior state --- a description that the Americans return by seeing Europe as the enemy of America: only pretending, so runs rhetoric heard increasingly in the United States, to be pacifist, in order to contribute to the weakening of American power. France in particular is thought to be scheming to become America's equal, even its superior, in shaping world affairs --- "Operation America Must Fail" is the name invented by a columnist in the New York Times to describe the French drive toward dominance --- instead of realizing that an American defeat in Iraq will encourage "radical Muslim groups --- from Baghdad to the Muslim slums of Paris" to pursue their jihad against tolerance and democracy.

It is hard for people not to see the world in polarizing terms ("them" and us") and these terms have in the past strengthened the isolationist theme in American foreign policy as much as they now strengthen the imperialist theme. Americans have got used to thinking of the world in terms of enemies. Enemies are somewhere else, as the fighting is almost always "over there," with Islamic fundamentalism now replacing Russian and Chinese communism as the implacable, furtive menace to "our way of life." And terrorist is a more flexible word than communist. It can unify a larger number of quite different struggles and interests. What this may mean is that the war will be endless --- since there will always be some terrorism (as there will always be poverty and cancer); that is, there will always be asymmetrical conflicts in which the weaker side uses that form of violence, which usually targets civilians. American rhetoric, if not the popular mood, would support this unhappy prospect, for the struggle for righteousness never ends.

It is the genius of the United States, a profoundly conservative country in ways that Europeans find difficult to fathom, to have devised a form of conservative thinking that celebrates the new rather than the old. But this is also to say, that in the very ways in which the United States seems extremely conservative - for example, the extraordinary power of the consensus and the passivity and conformism of public opinion (as Tocqueville remarked in 1831) and the media – it is also radical, even revolutionary, in ways that Europeans find equally difficult to fathom.

Part of the puzzle, surely, lies in the disconnect between official rhetoric and lived realities. Americans are constantly extolling "traditions"; litanies to family values are at the center of every politician's discourse. And yet the culture of America is extremely corrosive of family life, indeed of all traditions except those redefined as "identities" that can be accepted as part of larger patterns of distinctiveness, cooperation, and openness to innovation.

Perhaps the most important source of the new (and not so new) American radicalism is what used to be viewed as a source of conservative values: namely, religion. Many commentators have noted that perhaps the biggest difference between the United States and most European countries (old as well as new according to current American distinction) is that in the United States religion still plays a central role in society and public language. But this is religion American style: more the idea of religion than religion itself.

True, when, during George Bush's run for president in 2000, a journalist was inspired to ask the candidate to name his "favorite philosopher," the well-received answer --- one that would make a candidate for high office from any centrist party here in any European country a laughing stock --- was "Jesus Christ." But, of course, Bush didn't mean, and was not understood to mean, that, if elected, his administration would actually feel bound by any of the precepts or social programs expounded by Jesus.

The United States is a generically religious society. That is, in the United States it's not important which religion you adhere to, as long as you have one. To have a ruling religion, even a theocracy, that would be just Christian (or a particular Christian denomination) would be impossible. Religion in America must be a matter of choice. This modern, relatively contentless idea of religion, constructed along the lines of consumerist choice, is the basis of American conformism, self-righteousness, and moralism (which Europeans often mistake, condescendingly, for Puritanism). Whatever historic faiths the different American religious entities purport to represent, they all preach something similar: reform of personal behavior, the value of success, community cooperativeness, tolerance of other's choices. (All virtues that further and smooth the functioning of consumer capitalism.) The very fact of being religious ensures respectability, promotes order, and gives the guarantee of virtuous intentions to the mission of the United States to lead the world.

What is being spread --- whether it is called democracy, or freedom, or civilization --- is part of a work in progress, as well as the essence of progress itself. Nowhere in the world does the Enlightenment dream of progress have such a fertile setting as it does in America.

Demystifying Polarities

Are we then really so separate? How odd that, at a moment when Europe and America have never been so similar culturally, there has never been such a great divide.

Still, for all the similarities in the daily lives of citizens in rich European countries and the daily lives of Americans, the gap between the European and the American experience is a genuine one, founded on important differences of history, of notions of the role of culture, of real and imagined memories. The antagonism --- for there is antagonism --- is not to be resolved in the immediate future, for all the good will of many people on both sides of the Atlantic. And yet one can only deplore those who want to maximize those differences, when we do have so much in common.

The dominance of America is a fact. But America, as the present administration is starting to see, cannot do everything alone. The future of our world --- the world we share --- is syncretistic, impure. We are not shut off from each other. More and more, we leak into each other.

In the end, the model for whatever understanding ---conciliation --- we might reach lies in thinking more about that venerable opposition, "old" and "new." The opposition between "civilization" and "barbarism" is essentially stipulatory; it is corrupting to think about and pontificate about --- however much it may reflect certain undeniable realities. But the opposition of "old" and "new" is genuine, ineradicable, at the center of what we understand to be experience itself.

"Old" and "new" are the perennial poles of all feeling and sense of orientation in the world. We cannot do without the old, because in what is old is invested all our past, our wisdom, our memories, our sadness, our sense of realism. We cannot do without faith in the new, because in what is new is invested all our energy, our capacity for optimism, our blind biological yearning, our ability to forget --- the healing ability that makes reconciliation possible.

The inner life tends to mistrust the new. A strongly developed inner life will be particularly resistant to the new. We are told we must choose --- the old or the new. In fact, we must choose both. What is a life if not a series of negotiations between the old and the new? It seems to me that one should always be seeking to talk oneself out of these stark oppositions.

Old versus new, nature versus culture --- perhaps it is inevitable that the great myths of our cultural life be played out as geography, not only as history. Still, they are myths, clichés, stereotypes, no more; the realities are much more complex.

A good deal of my life has been devoted to trying to demystify ways of thinking that polarize and oppose. Translated into politics, this means favoring what is pluralistic and secular. Like some Americans and many Europeans, I would far prefer to live in a multilateral world --- a world not dominated by any one country (including my own). I could express my support, in a century that already promises to be another century of extremes, of horrors, for a whole panoply of meliorist principles --- in particular, for what Virginia Woolf calls "the melancholy virtue of tolerance."

Let me rather speak first of all as a writer, as a champion of the enterprise of literature, for therein lies the only authority I have.

The writer in me distrusts the good citizen, the "intellectual ambassador," the human rights activist --- those roles which are mentioned in the citation for this prize, much as I am committed to them. The writer is more skeptical, more self-doubting, than the person who tries to do (and to support) the right thing.

One task of literature is to formulate questions and construct counter-statements to the reigning pieties. And even when art is not oppositional, the arts gravitate toward contrariness. Literature is dialogue; responsiveness. Literature might be described as the history of human responsiveness to what is alive and what is moribund as cultures evolve and interact with one another.

Writers can do something to combat these clichés of our separateness, our difference --- for writers are makers, not just transmitters, of myths. Literature offers not only myths but counter-myths, just as life offers counter-experiences --- experiences that confound what you thought you thought, or felt, or believed.

A writer, I think, is someone who pays attention to the world. That means trying to understand, take in, connect with, what wickedness human beings are capable of; and not be corrupted --- made cynical, superficial --- by this understanding.

Literature can tell us what the world is like.

Literature can give standards and pass on deep knowledge, incarnated in language, in narrative.

Literature can train, and exercise, our ability to weep for those who are not us or ours.

Who would we be if we could not sympathize with those who are not us or ours? Who would we be if we could not forget ourselves, at least some of the time? Who would we be if we could not learn? Forgive? Become something other than we are?

Escaping the prison of national vanity

On the occasion of receiving this glorious prize, this glorious German prize, let me tell you something of my own trajectory.

I was born, a third-generation American of Polish and Lithuanian Jewish descent, two weeks before Hitler came to power. I grew up in the American provinces (Arizona and California), far from Germany, and yet my entire childhood was haunted by Germany, by the monstrousness of Germany, and by the German books and the German music I loved, which set my standard for what is exalted and intense.

Even before Bach and Mozart and Beethoven and Schubert and Brahms, there were a few German books. I am thinking of a teacher in an elementary school in a small town in southern Arizona, Mr. Starkie, who had awed his pupils by telling us that he had fought with Pershing's army in Mexico against Pancho Villa: this grizzled veteran of an earlier American imperialist venture had, it seems, been touched --- in translation --- by the idealism of German literature, and, having taken in my particular hunger for books, loaned me his own copies of Werther and Immensee.

Soon after, in my childhood orgy of reading, chance led me to other German books, including Kafka's "In the Penal Colony," where I discovered dread and injustice. And a few years later, when I was a high school student in Los Angeles, I found all of Europe in a German novel. No book has been more important in my life than The Magic Mountain --- whose subject is, precisely, the clash of ideals at the heart of European civilization. And so on, through a long life that has been steeped in German high culture. Indeed, after the books and the music, which were, given the cultural desert in which I lived, virtually clandestine experiences, came real experiences. For I am also a late beneficiary of the German cultural diaspora, having had the great good fortune of knowing well some of the incomparably brilliant Hitler refugees, those writers and artists and musicians and scholars that America received in the 1930s and who so enriched the country, particularly its universities. Let me name two I was privileged to count as friends when I was in my late teens and early twenties, Hans Gerth and Herbert Marcuse; those with whom I studied at the University of Chicago and at Harvard, Christian Mackauer and Paul Tillich and Peter Heinrich von Blanckenhagen, and in private seminars, Aron Gurwitsch and Nahum Glatzer; and Hannah Arendt, whom I knew after I moved to New York in my mid-twenties --- so many models of the serious, whose memory I would like to evoke here.

But I shall never forget that my engagement with German culture, with German seriousness, all started with obscure, eccentric Mr. Starkie (I don't think I ever knew his first name), who was my teacher when I was ten, and whom I never saw afterward.

And that brings me to a story, with which I will conclude --- as seems fitting, since I am neither primarily a cultural ambassador nor a fervent critic of my own government (a task I perform as a good American citizen). I am a story-teller.

So, back to ten-year-old me, who found some relief from the tiresome duties of being a child by poring over Mr. Starkie's tattered volumes of Goethe and Storm. At the time I am speaking of, 1943, I was aware that there was a prison camp with thousands of German soldiers, Nazi soldiers as of course I thought of them, in the northern part of the state, and, knowing I was Jewish (if only nominally, my family having been completely secular and assimilated for two generations; nominally, I knew, was enough for Nazis), I was beset by a recurrent nightmare in which Nazi soldiers had escaped from the prison and had made their way downstate to the bungalow on the outskirts of the town where I lived with my mother and sister, and were about to kill me.

Flash forward to many years later, the 1970s, when my books started to be published by Hanser Verlag, and I came to know the distinguished Fritz Arnold (he had joined the firm in 1965), who was my editor at Hanser until his death in February 1999.

One of the first times we were together, Fritz said he wanted to tell me --- presuming, I suppose, that this was a prerequisite to any friendship that might arise between us --- what he had done during the war. I assured him that he did not owe me any such explanation; but, of course, I was touched by his bringing up the subject. I should add that Fritz Arnold was not the only German of his generation (he was born in 1916) who, soon after we met, insisted on telling me what he or she had done in Nazi times. And not all of the stories were as innocent as what I was to hear from Fritz.

Anyway, what Fritz told me was that he had been a university student of literature and art history, first in Munich, then in Cologne, when, at the start of the war, he was drafted into the Wehrmacht with the rank of corporal. His family was, of course, anything but pro-Nazi --- his father was Karl Arnold, the legendary political cartoonist of Simplicissimus --- but emigration seemed out of the question, and he accepted, with dread, the call to military service, hoping neither to kill anyone nor to be killed.

Fritz was one of the lucky ones. Lucky, to have been stationed first in Rome (where he refused his superior officer's invitation to be commissioned a lieutenant), then in Tunis; lucky enough to have remained behind the lines and never once to have fired a weapon; and finally, lucky, if that is the right word, to have been taken prisoner by the Americans in 1943, to have been transported by ship across the Atlantic with other captured German soldiers to Norfolk, Virginia, and then taken by train across the continent to spend the rest of the war in a prison camp in… northern Arizona.

Then I had the pleasure of telling him, sighing with wonder, for I had already started to be very fond of this man --- this was the beginning of a great friendship as well as an intense professional relationship --- that while he was a prisoner of war in northern Arizona, I was in the southern part of the state, terrified of the Nazi soldiers who were there, here, and from whom there would be no escape.

And then Fritz told me that what got him through his nearly three years in the prison camp in Arizona was that he was allowed access to books: he had spent those years reading and rereading the English and American classics. And I told him that what saved me as a schoolchild in Arizona, waiting to grow up, waiting to escape into a larger reality, was reading books, books in translation as well as those written in English.

To have access to literature, world literature, was to escape the prison of national vanity, of philistinism, of compulsory provincialism, of inane schooling, of imperfect destinies and bad luck. Literature was the passport to enter a larger life; that is, the zone of freedom.

Literature was freedom. Especially in a time in which the values of reading and inwardness are so strenuously challenged, literature is freedom.


Source: Common Dreams, October 26, 2003

Friday, October 17, 2003

Mahathir’s Acerbic Bigotry

By Mahbubul Karim (Sohel)
October 17, 2003

Where is the outrage and where is the condemnation on Malaysian Head of State Dr. Mahathir Mohammad’s deplorable delineation of the entire Jewish world? He made the following un-statesman like comment on Thursday at the Organization of Islamic Conference: "The Europeans killed 6 million Jews out of 12 million. But today the Jews rule this world by proxy. They get others to fight and die for them…..It cannot be that there is no other way; 1.3 billion Muslims cannot be defeated by a few million Jews."

Dr. Mahathir Mohammad’s comment falls flat on the same dangerous slippery slope the bigoted Jewish and Christian leaders use to portray the entire Muslim world, the whole 1.3 billions of them as terrorists for the crimes of a few.

Dr. Mahathir Mohammad has enormous stature among the Muslims and Muslim nations for his brave and courageous previous statements in opposition to all the injustices, against war and oppressions, economic manipulations by the powerful over the powerless, but his instigating acerbic remarks slammed at the Jews at OIC’s meeting may put his bold legacy tarnished in the end.

Muslims are indeed going through troubling time. Hundreds of thousands of Muslims are getting killed in forceful wars, state sponsored terrorisms and from economic ruin in badly run Muslim nations. Blaming all the problems Muslims are facing on the shoulders of Jews is pathetic to the least and overall ineffectual.

Indeed Jews had gone through one of history’s darkest time. Millions of innocent Jews were put into gas chambers, executed like ships and lambs in broad daylights. They were hurdled into train to be freighted to death soaked concentration camps. What did innocent Jewish child do to deserve such a gory fate? What did a Jewish mother did to the world to witness his husband and son’s head and limbs blown apart by Nazi mortars and machine guns?

There are bigotry filled Jews and there are bigotry filled Muslims and Christians and Hindus. And there are the mammoth majority of innocent world citizenry with varied religious belief and the thirst for a peaceful world. Dr. Mahathir Mohammad’s bigotry filled words can only instigate more tensions between Muslims and Jews, and the extremists of both religions would certainly use these words to vilify each other, providing zealous causes for the unsusceptible minds of millions.

Mahathir calls the Muslims to use their “brain” over “brawn” or muscles while His Excellency remain oblivious in his brainless remarks.

Thursday, October 16, 2003

The Pentagon Unleashes a Holy Warrior

Dear Readers,

I am astonished reading this article. Is this the way promoting tolerance and democracy? Boykin’s speeches resemble those extremists entrenched in the cave. Bush and his puppeteers regularly chime that this is not the war against any particular religion or nation. By appointing an extremist as the Deputy Undersecretary of Defense for Intelligence what tolerant agenda the Bush administration wishes to promote?

Regards,
Mahbubul Karim (Sohel)
October 16, 2003


The Pentagon Unleashes a Holy Warrior

A Christian extremist in a high Defense post can only set back the U.S. approach to the Muslim world.

By William M. Arkin, William M. Arkin is a military affairs analyst who writes regularly for The Times.

In June of 2002, Jerry Boykin stepped to the pulpit at the First Baptist Church of Broken Arrow, Okla., and described a set of photographs he had taken of Mogadishu, Somalia, from an Army helicopter in 1993.

The photographs were taken shortly after the disastrous "Blackhawk Down" mission had resulted in the death of 18 Americans. When Boykin came home and had them developed, he said, he noticed a strange dark mark over the city. He had an imagery interpreter trained by the military look at the mark. "This is not a blemish on your photograph," the interpreter told him, "This is real."

"Ladies and gentleman, this is your enemy," Boykin said to the congregation as he flashed his pictures on a screen. "It is the principalities of darkness It is a demonic presence in that city that God revealed to me as the enemy."

That's an unusual message for a high-ranking U.S. military official to deliver. But Boykin does it frequently.

This June, for instance, at the pulpit of the Good Shepherd Community Church in Sandy, Ore., he displayed slides of Osama bin Laden, Saddam Hussein and North Korea's Kim Jung Il. "Why do they hate us?" Boykin asked. "The answer to that is because we're a Christian nation We are hated because we are a nation of believers."

Our "spiritual enemy," Boykin continued, "will only be defeated if we come against them in the name of Jesus."

Who is Jerry Boykin? He is Army Lt. General William G. "Jerry" Boykin. The day before Boykin appeared at the pulpit in Oregon, the Pentagon announced that Secretary of Defense Donald Rumsfeld had nominated the general for a third star and named him to a new position as deputy undersecretary of Defense for intelligence.

In this newly created position, Boykin is not just another Pentagon apparatchik or bureaucratic warrior. He has been charged with reinvigorating Rumsfeld's "High Value Target Plan" to track down Bin Laden, Hussein, Mullah Omar and other leaders in the terrorism world.

But Gen. Boykin's appointment to a high position in the administration is a frightening blunder at a time when there is widespread acknowledgment that the position of the United States in the Islamic world has never been worse.

A monthlong journalistic investigation of Boykin reveals a 30-year veteran whose classified resumé reads like a history of special operations and counter-terrorism. From the failed Iranian hostage rescue attempt in 1980 to invasions in Grenada and Panama, to the hunt for drug lord Pablo Escobar in Colombia, to Somalia and various locales in the Middle East, Boykin has been there. He also was an advisor to Atty. Gen. Janet Reno during Waco.

He has risen in the ranks, starting out as one of the first Delta Force commandos and going on to head the top-secret Joint Special Operations Command. He has served in the Central Intelligence Agency and, most recently, he commanded Army Special Forces before being brought into the Rumsfeld leadership team.

But Boykin is also an intolerant extremist who has spoken openly about how his belief in Christianity has trumped Muslims and other non-Christians in battle.

He has described himself as a warrior in the kingdom of God and invited others to join with him in fighting for the United States through repentance, prayer and the exercise of faith in God.

He has praised the leadership of President Bush, whom he extolled as "a man who prays in the Oval Office." "George Bush was not elected by a majority of the voters in the United States," Boykin told an Oregon congregation. "He was appointed by God."

All Americans, including those in uniform, are entitled to their views. But when Boykin publicly spews this intolerant message while wearing the uniform of the U.S. Army, he strongly suggests that this is an official and sanctioned view — and that the U.S. Army is indeed a Christian army.

But that's only part of the problem. Boykin is also in a senior Pentagon policymaking position, and it's a serious mistake to allow a man who believes in a Christian "jihad" to hold such a job.

For one thing, Boykin has made it clear that he takes his orders not from his Army superiors but from God — which is a worrisome line of command. For another, it is both imprudent and dangerous to have a senior officer guiding the war on terrorism in Iraq and Afghanistan who believes that Islam is an idolatrous, sacrilegious religion against which we are waging a holy war.

And judging by his words, that is what he believes.

In a speech at a church in Daytona, Fla., in January, Boykin told the following story:

"There was a man in Mogadishu named Osman Atto," whom Boykin described as a top lieutenant of Mohammed Farah Aidid.

When Boykin's Delta Force commandos went after Atto, they missed him by seconds, he said. "He went on CNN and he laughed at us, and he said, 'They'll never get me because Allah will protect me. Allah will protect me.'

"Well, you know what?" Boykin continued. "I knew that my God was bigger than his. I knew that my God was a real God and his was an idol." Atto later was captured.

Other countries, Boykin said last year, "have lost their morals, lost their values. But America is still a Christian nation."

The general has said he has no doubt that our side is the side of the true God. He says he attends prayer services five times a week.

In Iraq, he told the Oregon congregation, special operations forces were victorious precisely because of their faith in God. "Ladies and gentlemen I want to impress upon you that the battle that we're in is a spiritual battle," he said . "Satan wants to destroy this nation, he wants to destroy us as a nation, and he wants to destroy us as a Christian army."

Since 9/11, the war against terrorism has become almost exclusively a special operations war, melding military and CIA paramilitary and covert activities with finer and finer grained integrated intelligence information. Hence, the creation of Boykin's new job as deputy undersecretary of Defense for intelligence.

The task facing Boykin, Rumsfeld insiders say, is to break down the wall between different intelligence collectors and agencies and quickly get the best information and analysis for American forces in the field.

But even as he begins his new duties, Boykin is still publicly preaching.

As late as Sept. 27, he was in Vero Beach, Fla., speaking on behalf of Visitation House Ministries.

In describing the war against terrorism, President Bush frequently says it "is not a war against Islam." In his National Security Strategy, Bush declared that "the war on terrorism is not a clash of civilizations." Yet many in the Islamic world see the U.S. as waging a cultural and religious war against them. In fact, the White House's own Advisory Group on Public Diplomacy for the Arab and Muslim World reported this month that since 9/11, "hostility toward America has reached shocking levels."

"Arabs and Muslims respond in anger to what they perceive as U.S. denigration of their societies and cultures," the report stated.

The task for the U.S., the report said, is to wage "a major struggle to expand the zone of tolerance and marginalize extremists."

Appointing Jerry Boykin, with his visions of holy war in the Islamic world, to a top position in the United States military is no way to marginalize extremism.

Source: LA Times, October 16, 2003.

http://www.latimes.com/news/opinion/commentary/la-oe-arkin16oct16,1,6820671.story?coll=la-news-comment-opinions

Sunday, October 12, 2003

Voters' Frustration May Drift Bush's Way

Dear Readers,

The dark glass wearing “terminator” is the governor of California, the most populous state in America. A movie star with no political experience, still Arnold has managed to unseat an experienced California’s governor Gray Davis. Does California’s spectacular recall election predict anything ominous for the power holders in the higher places? Kevin Phillips, the popular author of “Wealth and Democracy: A Political History of the American Rich”, thinks it does.

Before this “stars” studded election, the right wing news media was successful in blaming Governor Gray Davis for California’s enormous budget deficit and sinking economy. Kevin Phillips points to the fact that “national recessions don’t gestate locally. As for budget problems, they can be made worse by local policies, but their antecedents are in the national economy.”

Gray Davis was the scapegoat for his state’s economic turmoil. For the last three years after the Bush administration came into power, the nation’s deficit has soared, exceeding the leaps and bound, and the Bush supporters continue to chatter around an “expensive war on terrorism” though “the biggest share of the projected deficit increase has come from huge tax cuts favoring the top 1% of income earners, not from spending on homeland security.”

California’s defeated governor did not have hugely effective smokescreen that Bush administration has to divert its citizens’ attention from the real issues to mostly the pretentious ones. “Another way of putting this is that Washington, in contrast with state governors, has been able to get away with economic mischief by invoking 9/11, blaming Osama bin Laden and Saddam Hussein, letting the deficit run up and trying to keep the electorate preoccupied with foreign foes.”

But American voters are not as naïve as the crooked conservative politicians thinks they are. They have started to pay attention to the details behind the smokescreen, and they have begun to ask questions on the disappearances of hundreds of thousands of manufacturing jobs, the weakening dollar, the rising costs of health care and prescription drugs, and the utter failure in Bush’s leaky Iraq policy. Once in the vicinity of comfortable 90 percentiles amid the turn up volume of “war on terrorism”, Bush’s popularity is slumping downward, even below 50 percent in many poles.

The hawkish Bush administration’s unpopularity has reached historical proportion in the global arena. Kevin Phillips describes it quite well; he says, ““Polls taken since the U.S. invasion of Iraq show that people overseas have lost respect for American leadership, Bush's in particular. The collapse of respect for the United States found among Muslims virtually everywhere, as evidenced in May-June international surveys conducted by the Pew Research Center, doubtless helps to explain why suicide bombings and other forms of terrorism are on the rise since the Great Bungle in Baghdad was launched.”

Voters’ frustration shown in California, ousting an incumbent popular governor, may well drift to Bush administration in the coming election, Kevin Phillips argues. He says, “If Schwarzenegger can't develop a good "outsider" posture in blaming entrenched California Democrats for the probable 2004 stalemate in Sacramento, he could become the patsy — walking proof that it's not safe to elect an inexperienced, blustering chief executive who likes to play Texas Ranger, top gun or terminator.”

In 2004 election, the not-so-naïve American voters may shovel the dreaded pink slip at Bush administration’s flustering face with a riotous chorus: “Astalavista, Baby!”

Regards,
Mahbubul Karim (Sohel)
October 12, 2003


Voters' Frustration May Drift Bush's Way

By Kevin Phillips
Kevin Phillips is the author, most recently, of "Wealth and Democracy: A Political History of the American Rich."

October 12, 2003

WASHINGTON — California's recall of Gov. Gray Davis and his replacement by Arnold Schwarzenegger are the political equivalent of a Rorschach blot: Observers will interpret them to fit their moods and predilections.

One interpretation is that Tropical Depression Gray was blown away by Hurricane Arnold in another display of exotic politics for which the nation's most populous state has become famous. Yet, there's a national message lurking among the seemingly unique California circumstances.

To be sure, the collapse of the high-tech bubble hurt California's economy more than those of most other states. Yes, it is easier to recall a state official in the Golden State than it is in the other states that have recall statutes. And, obviously, movie actors enjoy credibility in a state where Ronald Reagan performed credibly as governor.

There's not much precedent, though, for blaming a governor for a lackluster state economy and huge budget deficit when the other party is in the White House. By definition, national recessions don't gestate locally. As for budget problems, they can be made worse by local policies, but their antecedents are in the national economy.

President Bush, for example, has allowed the federal budget deficit to grow more, comparatively speaking, than Davis did his state's deficit. About 12% of the nation's population lives in California, and the state's contribution to the U.S. gross domestic product exceeds even that percentage. But California's former shortfall of $38 billion amounted to only 7.5% of next year's expected $500-billion federal deficit.

This doesn't mean Davis should run for president on a platform of comparative fiscal success. But it does suggest he has been somewhat unfairly scapegoated for the fiscal consequences of U.S. economic weakness over the last three years.

The response of Bush supporters — that Washington has an expensive war on terrorism to fight — has some truth to it. Even so, the biggest share of the projected deficit increase has come from huge tax cuts favoring the top 1% of income earners, not from spending on homeland security.

Another way of putting this is that Washington, in contrast with state governors, has been able to get away with economic mischief by invoking 9/11, blaming Osama bin Laden and Saddam Hussein, letting the deficit run up and trying to keep the electorate preoccupied with foreign foes.

This may be changing, however, and here is where the parallels between California and the nation may start to get more interesting. As the United States flops around in Iraq, Bush's overall job ratings have tumbled below the 50% mark; in economic policy alone, they have dropped into the high 30s. Bush is presiding over another jobless recovery of the sort that hobbled his father's reelection bid.

Americans can't recall a president, of course. But if they could, it would be fascinating to see the numbers on a Bush recall. In August, fully 38% of Americans told New York Times/CBS Poll interviewers that they did not regard Bush as a legitimately elected president. This month, only 43% to 45% said they would vote for him against an unnamed Democratic opponent, although he was a little stronger when challengers were named. If there were a national recall mechanism, my guess is that petitioners could gather 10 million qualifying signatures in two weeks, and that Bush would have to take it seriously.

In short, what happened in California partly overlaps a gathering national malaise, and the two may yet develop an even greater resemblance. It's useful to look at four or five rapidly gestating national frustrations.

In economic terms, two major public worries stand out: popular anxiety about jobs fed by steadily eroding U.S. manufacturing employment, and the rising cost of health care and prescription drugs coupled with the declining number of Americans who have insurance coverage. Looming in the background, especially among those older than 55, is a growing concern about pensions and retirement prospects, fueled by the multiple trillions of dollars that vanished in the stock market collapse.

Globally, the future of terrorism remains an issue, especially since both Bin Laden and Hussein are still at large. Polls taken since the U.S. invasion of Iraq show that people overseas have lost respect for American leadership, Bush's in particular. The collapse of respect for the United States found among Muslims virtually everywhere, as evidenced in May-June international surveys conducted by the Pew Research Center, doubtless helps to explain why suicide bombings and other forms of terrorism are on the rise since the Great Bungle in Baghdad was launched.

Nor is the U.S. embarrassment purely military and diplomatic. The dollar has been slumping in global currency markets, as it has a long history of doing when a U.S. president or his administration is experiencing a crisis of confidence. A dollar collapse — still only a long-shot possibility — would soon be felt in the stock market and in the real economy.

Two years ago, 9/11 justifiably struck Americans as so great a problem and threat that it took their minds off, or at least subordinated, other problems and concerns. This has become a complication now that the other difficulties, economic and foreign, have not been dealt with any more successfully than Bin Laden and Hussein.

Until this summer, the average voter heard a lot more spin than serious discussion. However, the promise that has made American democracy work is that voters, far from being fools, are a lot keener in their basic antennae than politicians believe.

If Californians were frustrated enough to single out Davis, odds are that something nationally important is beginning to stir. That the Golden State's political system has yielded up an action-movie hero as Davis' replacement is likely to keep the disillusionment growing. Instead of a man on a white horse, Californians have turned to a bodybuilder on a black motorcycle.

In Washington, neither party can be happy. A year from now, Schwarzenegger could be as much a liability for the Republicans in the 2004 election year as Davis was for the Democrats this year. Democratic senators, representatives and presidential wannabes, in turn, cannot be thrilled with how their California indictment of the Republican administration has been so soulless as to be trumped by the star of such movies as "Conan the Barbarian" and "Terminator 3."

Bush could have a more subtle predicament. If Schwarzenegger can't develop a good "outsider" posture in blaming entrenched California Democrats for the probable 2004 stalemate in Sacramento, he could become the patsy — walking proof that it's not safe to elect an inexperienced, blustering chief executive who likes to play Texas Ranger, top gun or terminator.


Source: LA Times, October 12, 2003

A Nobel for Change

Dear Readers,

Shirin Ebadi, the Iranian lawyer who has won the Nobel Peace Prize this year, is a relentless fighter for the human rights of Iranian women and children. The unique point is that Ms. Ebadi is a practicing Muslim woman and she strongly believes that "there is no difference between Islam and human rights." The on going struggle in Iran, is "not about freedom from religion, but about freedom from a" stringent theocracy filled "government that uses religion to control and curtail citizen rights."

This is a good selection by the Nobel prize committee. It may bring more needed awareness in Iran and other parts of the world where the violation of human rights of ordinary folks are rampant and these violations don't get the news limelight as they deserve.

Regards,
Mahbubul Karim (Sohel)
October 12, 2003

A Nobel for change

IRANIAN LAWYER Shirin Ebadi, this year's winner of the Nobel Peace Prize, has spent the last two decades fighting for the rights of women and children in her country, fearlessly challenging the autocratic Islamic regime that controls Iran. Upon learning that she had won the prestigious award, Ms. Ebadi embraced the honor on behalf of all those working for human rights and democracy in Iran. How gracious, but more to the point, how right. Ms. Ebadi is the first Iranian and the first Muslim woman to be honored in the 102-year history of the prize. The Norwegian Nobel Committee's decision to honor the 56-year-old human rights activist will have repercussions beyond her work at the Society for the Protection of the Rights of the Child, the nonprofit advocacy group she established in 1995. The reason is that Ms. Ebadi's fight to protect and improve the rights of women and children has been waged within the rule of law in Iran.

So, too, the fight by democracy movement supporters who demonstrated by the thousands last spring. Ms. Ebadi talks about human rights in the context of Islam, and that's the rub for Iran's leading clerics, who rule with a closed fist. As she has in the past, Ms. Ebadi reminded the religious hierarchy last week that in her view there is no difference between Islam and human rights. Supporters of the democracy movement in Iran also talk about reform in the context of their religious and cultural heritage. Many point out that a free and democratic Iran won't necessarily resemble the democracies of the West.

Theirs is a struggle not about freedom from religion, but about freedom from a government that uses religion to control and curtail citizen rights.

That's why the Nobel Committee's decision to bestow the peace prize on Ms. Ebadi will be problematic for Iran's ruling mullahs. "It's not about politics; it's about how you treat your own citizens," said Sam Zia-Zarifi, of Human Rights Watch in New York.

The political reality in Iran, however, is this: Hard-liners control the country under a theocracy that centralizes power in the hands of a supreme religious leader, currently the Ayatollah Ali Khamenei, and a council of clerics. Dissidents and journalists are routinely jailed for speaking out. Student activists reportedly are facing university disciplinary panels for protesting earlier this year.

Shirin Ebadi acknowledged her fellow Iranians in receiving the Nobel Prize. They, in turn, should rejoice with her and press on with their struggle.

Source: Baltimore Sun, October 12, 2003

Tuesday, October 07, 2003

Israel - Palestine: In the Lands of the Cyclopses

Dear Readers,

Two powerful articles are published today, one in The Guardian and another one in The Washington Post, provide a grim picture of painful Israeli-Palestinian conflict.

Richard Cohen, a distinguished writer who has written many articles on Israel-Palestinian issue, mostly tilting toward Israel, but also showing the utterly failed Israeli leadership, the similar way the Palestinian leadership turns in whimsical spectacles. Like the suffering Palestinians, Israelis are suffering from this endless cycle of violence.

Richard Cohen writes: "In the perpetual war against Israel, its enemies are winning. The economy is awful. Parents do not want their children to go out. The beach is presumed safe, but not a cafe or restaurant. A commute on a bus (I have done it) is gut-wrenching. You watch everyone. What does a suicide bomber look like? The last one, the one who blew up a Haifa restaurant, was a 29-year-old woman, a law school graduate. She killed Arab and Jew alike. Even safe places are no longer safe."

Mr. Cohen acknowledges what should be done: "Israel must return to the so-called Green Line -- the border before the 1967 Six Day War. It must dismantle most of the settlements. It must do this because occupation is corrupting and, in the long run, impossible. The more Israel expands or retains settlements, the more it gets stuck in a quagmire where the enemy is everywhere. From September 2000 until recently, some 17,400 attacks were recorded in the territories -- and 40 percent of all fatalities. Even when terrorists struck in Israel proper, they invariably came from the West Bank."

History admonishes Israel because "The only places where a Western culture has successfully transplanted itself are those where great population pressure and genocidal methods were used to extirpate the indigenous peoples. This is what happened in the United States."

But can Israel afford to follow the similar genocidal path? Mr. Cohen writes: ""Genocide is out of the question. Neither the world nor Israeli morality would permit it. Yet Israel keeps lengthening the odds against itself. Instead of withdrawing to where Jews are a clear majority, it continues to cling to settlements where Jews are outnumbered. Every settlement, every day of occupation, puts Israel in greater and greater danger. Each settlement is a provocation. The deportation or killing of Arafat will do nothing but make him a martyr and exacerbate the chaos. The man himself is only a symptom of Israel's problem."

In the second article published in The Guardian, Rana Kabbani provides a more sympathetic view for the Palestinian refugees. A deeply profound line from her article says, "the humiliations of poverty and dispossession happen everywhere, all the time, to the kindest and frailest and proudest of people. "

Palestinian refugees, forcefully cluttered in shambled refugee camps, evicted from their lands and homes, living the life of constant sufferings.

Rana Kabbani delineates a struggling pictures of Palestinian refugees and exodus from their beloved land. Here is what the Palestinian refugees had lived through: "soldiers ripping through towns, shooting men, burning orchards, children who walked for days so that their feet became a red bleeding pulp when they finally arrived at nowhere - a mud field with United Nations relief and works agency tents, where exhausted mothers were unable to cope with the humiliating queues for powdered milk or rice, where time passed in trying to find a tap that could fill a vessel with clean water, or somewhere seemly to defecate. The archival footage of this exodus of 1948 tells you nothing about its individual suffering. Yellowing, shuddering reels of film depict biblical-looking beings - shepherds on crooks, limping away from their burning villages, girls with matted hair and sacks for dresses, women struggling to carry bundles and babies - the imagery of refugees everywhere, from 19th-century Russia to 20th-century Bosnia. Nevertheless, these scenes represented the cruel dispossession of Palestinian persons like Nora, one by one by one. Nora's home in Haifa comes back to haunt me, as does the poetry of Haifa's greatest son, the poet Mahmoud Darwish. He was six years old when he joined the line of terrified refugees rushing away from massacres such as that of Deir Yassin."

Haifa is the city that is considered to have "the best record of Arab-Israeli entente." But the writer correctly points out that "it was also the area from which many Palestinians living in the Jenin refugee camp were forced out 55 years ago." And last weekend's devastating suicide bomber in a Haifa restaurant on the eve of Jewish Holy Day, "carried out by a young woman from Jenin".

Senseless terrorism against the innocent Israelis by the Palestinians will never give them their long sought goal of having an independent Palestinian state because it will only harden the Israeli arch conservatives' hold in Israeli government who will manage to convince the grieving Israeli citizens that wars, murders and building more settlements around the despicable fence are the answers for their problem.

On the other side, Israeli brutal aggressions will never achieve security and peace for the Israelis either. Rana Kabbani describes this issue quite well: "I have for years argued that violence against civilians will not get the Palestinians the statehood they desperately need. Neither will Israel survive in the long term if its only methods of diplomacy are murder, siege and occupation. Military force and arrogance can easily decimate populations, but they can never create security, as both Israel and the US must soon discover. As Sharon builds his ghetto wall with American taxpayers' money, Israelis would do better to ask themselves, in Robert Frost's words, what they were walling in or walling out. The US and Israel have managed to make themselves more hated and despised in today's world than ever before. They already have far more insubordination and chaos on their hands than they can possibly handle. Yet they continue to behave like the newly blinded Cyclopses, groping for more enemies to kill. Hitting Syria, as the Israelis have just done, or Iran, as the Americans keep threatening to do, is not the answer - reading the writing on the wall is: occupation never lasts."

Regards,
Mahbubul Karim (Sohel)
October 7, 2003


In the Lands of the Cyclopses
Douce Haifa, scene of the weekend's tragic carnage, is also a city long drenched in the pain of dispossession and violence

Rana Kabbani
Tuesday October 7, 2003
The Guardian

I was four when I met my first Palestinian, in a leafy neighbourhood in Damascus where I was born. Her name was Nora Cavalcanti and she had ended up in Syria, having lost everything in 1948 when Israel was created. She must have been quite lonely to have sought the company of the chubby little girl that I was, and invited me to lunch by myself.

I climbed the shabby stone staircase that took me up to her fourth-floor flat and found her waiting in a room full of books in English, and others in a language she told me was German, which she had studied in her native city of Haifa. For pudding, she gave me biscuits in the shape of brown stars. "These are what I used to bake in Palestine for Christmas," she said, as she put two on my plate.

I recognized neither the word "Palestine" nor the word "Christmas", concepts I had not yet come across in the noisy Syrian Muslim household where I belonged across the street. "I had a lovely garden there," she continued, wistfully, "and beautiful furniture from my mother. And linen, real linen, not like this awful thing," she said, pulling at the plain tablecloth which I had sloppily managed to stain.

Young as I was, I knew that she was in pain as she spoke. Her husband, Robert, had managed to find low-paid work as a teacher of English in a Damascus school and she spoke of him with such sparkling happiness that it gave me a sense of the central importance of love from then on.

To this day, the cinnamon that spiced those edible stars continues to be my favourite taste and exerts its Proustian effect on my memory, returning me in a shiver to that day in 1962 and those signifying revelations. Having been cosseted in a thriving extended family since my birth, my visit with her showed me that loss was a real possibility - the loss of home, of material comfort, of friends and country. As Nora described to me the awful details of their lives as refugees, she taught me that the humiliations of poverty and dispossession happen everywhere, all the time, to the kindest and frailest and proudest of people.

In the years that have passed since that day, I met many other women like her, erudite and houseproud: the Afghan noblewoman who settled in Aleppo when her country was devastated and subsisted mostly on tea from a brass samovar; the Polish Jew who became an indefatigable human rights activist; the renowned Muslim beauty from India in a London council flat who never recovered from partition.

Partition for us was not that of the subcontinent, but of historical Palestine, the arbitrary colonial scratchings on a map that continue to destroy our livelihoods and lives today. Palestine, Iraq - the brutal unwinding of the Ottoman empire is still being lived out in our countries. My parents and their friends were always talking heatedly of lines: the Maginot Line, the Sykes-Picot line, the Armistice Line. These seem to have squeezed the grown-ups in a way I could not comprehend.

Their conversation was dominated by events that the Cavalcantis had actually lived through: soldiers ripping through towns, shooting men, burning orchards, children who walked for days so that their feet became a red bleeding pulp when they finally arrived at nowhere - a mud field with United Nations relief and works agency tents, where exhausted mothers were unable to cope with the humiliating queues for powdered milk or rice, where time passed in trying to find a tap that could fill a vessel with clean water, or somewhere seemly to defecate.

The archival footage of this exodus of 1948 tells you nothing about its individual suffering. Yellowing, shuddering reels of film depict biblical-looking beings - shepherds on crooks, limping away from their burning villages, girls with matted hair and sacks for dresses, women struggling to carry bundles and babies - the imagery of refugees everywhere, from 19th-century Russia to 20th-century Bosnia. Nevertheless, these scenes represented the cruel dispossession of Palestinian persons like Nora, one by one by one. Nora's home in Haifa comes back to haunt me, as does the poetry of Haifa's greatest son, the poet Mahmoud Darwish. He was six years old when he joined the line of terrified refugees rushing away from massacres such as that of Deir Yassin.

Of all the cities within Israel proper, Haifa, with its old-world Mediterranean douceur, had the best record of Arab-Israeli entente. It was also the area from which many Palestinians living in the Jenin refugee camp were forced out 55 years ago. The tragic carnage that took place in Haifa at the weekend - carried out by a young woman from Jenin - will only make the lives of Palestinians even more horrible than they already are.

I have for years argued that violence against civilians will not get the Palestinians the statehood they desperately need. Neither will Israel survive in the long term if its only methods of diplomacy are murder, siege and occupation. Military force and arrogance can easily decimate populations, but they can never create security, as both Israel and the US must soon discover. As Sharon builds his ghetto wall with American taxpayers' money, Israelis would do better to ask themselves, in Robert Frost's words, what they were walling in or walling out.

The US and Israel have managed to make themselves more hated and despised in today's world than ever before. They already have far more insubordination and chaos on their hands than they can possibly handle. Yet they continue to behave like the newly blinded Cyclopses, groping for more enemies to kill. Hitting Syria, as the Israelis have just done, or Iran, as the Americans keep threatening to do, is not the answer - reading the writing on the wall is: occupation never lasts.

· Rana Kabbani is a writer and broadcaster on Middle Eastern affairs


Israel Is Losing
By Richard Cohen
Tuesday, October 7, 2003; Page A25

Washington Post

I talked recently with an American who had just returned from more than 20 years in Israel. We did not talk for the record, so I will withhold his name and what he does for a living. But I will say he is somewhat well-known in Israel and that he loves it dearly but he has left, probably permanently, because he cannot take life there any longer. He is a nonstatistic -- a living victim of terrorism.

How many others there are like him I cannot say. He has the most valuable of all commodities in this world, an American passport, and with much regret and with questions about his courage, he used it to get out. His business had gone to hell, his life was always in danger and he simply could not take it any longer.

In the perpetual war against Israel, its enemies are winning. The economy is awful. Parents do not want their children to go out. The beach is presumed safe, but not a cafe or restaurant. A commute on a bus (I have done it) is gut-wrenching. You watch everyone. What does a suicide bomber look like? The last one, the one who blew up a Haifa restaurant, was a 29-year-old woman, a law school graduate. She killed Arab and Jew alike. Even safe places are no longer safe.

So I cannot blame Israel for striking back. It assassinates Hamas and Islamic Jihad leaders and militants. It razes the homes of suicide bombers. It has Yasser Arafat bottled up and may deport or kill him. It has bombed purported terrorist camps in Syria. But nothing Israel has done has brought it peace and security.

If you read the Israeli press, the despair is palpable. To some, especially those on the left, Israel has become virtually a dysfunctional society. The government can't protect its people. Corruption is endemic. Religious zealots have inordinate influence, and their vision, a Greater Israel, compels the building or thickening of West Bank and Gaza Strip settlements. With every suicide bombing, the rational course -- a withdrawal from Palestinian areas -- seems like weakness rather than wisdom.

Israel must return to the so-called Green Line -- the border before the 1967 Six Day War. It must dismantle most of the settlements. It must do this because occupation is corrupting and, in the long run, impossible. The more Israel expands or retains settlements, the more it gets stuck in a quagmire where the enemy is everywhere. From September 2000 until recently, some 17,400 attacks were recorded in the territories -- and 40 percent of all fatalities. Even when terrorists struck in Israel proper, they invariably came from the West Bank.

Yet Ariel Sharon recently decided to include two major settlements on the Israeli side of the fence that is being built to separate the Jewish state from the West Bank. By extending the fence to encompass the settlements, Sharon is only ensuring the continuation of his problem. He needs to get out.

For a people of the book, for a country created by history as well as by men, Israel acts as if nothing that went before has any bearing on what is happening now. But history admonishes Israel. The only places where a Western culture has successfully transplanted itself are those where great population pressure and genocidal methods were used to extirpate the indigenous peoples. This is what happened in the United States.

Genocide is out of the question. Neither the world nor Israeli morality would permit it. Yet Israel keeps lengthening the odds against itself. Instead of withdrawing to where Jews are a clear majority, it continues to cling to settlements where Jews are outnumbered. Every settlement, every day of occupation, puts Israel in greater and greater danger. Each settlement is a provocation. The deportation or killing of Arafat will do nothing but make him a martyr and exacerbate the chaos. The man himself is only a symptom of Israel's problem.

The idyllic Zionist dream is in tatters. No one wants to go to Israel. On the contrary, people want to leave. For every suicide bombing, countless others are thwarted -- 22 in the past month, according to Zeev Schiff, the esteemed military correspondent for the newspaper Haaretz.

Israel lashes out. It has now bombed Syria. What next? Iran? This is not strategy. It is fury. I can understand. But I can understand, too, why, after more than 20 years, that man I met left Israel. You could say he lost his nerve. He would say he lost hope.

Sunday, October 05, 2003

Israel - Palestine: Awful Days

Dear Readers,

These are "awful days" as the Ha'aretz editorial describes. Killings of innocent people regardless of their ethnicity or religion do not justify any humane or moral causes, it only incite more hatred and animosity. Yes, Israeli government, particularly led by Ariel Sharon is responsible for many crimes against the Palestinian people, their sufferings and anguish in the occupied land shiver billions of people around the world. So does the senseless deaths of Israeli child and adults in vengeful suicide bombings. Our condemnation, our rage as human beings, being part of this global community, espousing to be called "civilized" and sensitive to other people's pain should not block us condemning this act of terrorism committed against the innocent Israelis on the eve of their holiest day, Yom Kippur. Particularly, this suicide bombing ripped through a restaurant in Haifa which is "the model city of Arab-Jewish coexistence". Ha'aretz editorial says the following:

"Every attack deepens the hatred, the fear and the suspicion felt by Israelis and drowns hopes for peace and support for compromise. Every attack undermines the world's support for the hardships of the Palestinian population."

And every Palestinian terrorist attack provides Israeli arch conservative leader Sharon to unleash its missiles of deaths and devastations on the suffering Palestinians. It also raises questions whether Yasser Arafat and his Palestinian government has any authority or control over the rogue elements. If they don't have any control whatsoever, tiptoeing the issue into oblivion, there must be new effective leadership needed who can provide practical leadership in this time of crisis. Killings of innocent Israelis must be dealt with sincere pursuit of the masterminds of terrorism.

Coexistence is the key. "Let live and let other live" is the mantra.

And outright condemnation for terrorism and terrorists is the last shred of civility we could offer for the memories of victims and innocence lost.

Regards,
Mahbubul Karim (Sohel)
October 5, 2003


Awful days

After a short period of calm, terrorism has struck again at the heart of Israel. At least 19 people were killed and dozens injured in the suicide bombing at Maxim restaurant in Haifa, the model city of Arab-Jewish coexistence. In spreading death and destruction among a peaceful Israeli population, the men of violence and their dispatchers have condemned their own Palestinian people to another round of mourning and suffering. The hundreds of Israeli victims of terror since the outbreak of the Al Aqsa Intifada three years ago have distanced the Palestinian people from their hope for freedom from the yoke of Israeli occupation. Every attack deepens the hatred, the fear and the suspicion felt by Israelis and drowns hopes for peace and support for compromise. Every attack undermines the world's support for the hardships of the Palestinian population.

In a preliminary announcement, the Islamic Jihad claimed responsibility for the suicide bombing, asserting that it was in response to the Israeli government's decision to go ahead with the construction of the security fence cutting off the West Bank. If there was any need to explain the paramount need for a division between the terrorists and the citizens of Israel, the woman suicide bomber provided excellent proof yesterday.

Presumably the difficult sights from the scene of the attack that aired yesterday throughout the world, will mute criticism in Washington, Moscow and European capitals of the security fence, established along lines that will damage Palestinian interests and complicate their day to day lives.

The bombing in Haifa came at the peak of a complete shut-down on the territories during the high holidays, and in spite of many intelligence warmings about the extensive efforts of terrorist groups to carry out their plans. The success of the bomber in reaching the Haifa sea shore reminds us there is no magic security solution to suicide attacks.

The haplessness of the political leadership resulted, following the previous suicide bombings in Jerusalem and Tzrifin, in a decision in principle to get rid of Palestinian Authority Chairman Yasser Arafat. The government should not take advantage of the shock and rage resulting from the Haifa attack to implement this stupid decision. The policy makers should seriously consider the warnings issued by all working level security officers that the expulsion of Arafat, or his assassination, will cause the final remnants of central authority in the territories to crumble and free the path for gangs lacking any form of control.

The approaching presentation of the new Palestinian government headed by Ahmed Qureia (Abu Ala) gives the leadership of both sides another opportunity to return to sanity and fulfill their obligations to their nations. Condemnation and denouncement by the Palestinians is insufficient, and Israeli raving is useless. With the help of the international community, led by U.S. President George Bush, they must fulfill the obligations they assumed with the road map and remove the religious extremists and those thirsty for blood. The blood of the victims of the bombings and assassinations cry out to them - enough is enough!

Source: Ha'aretz, October 5, 2003

Traitors in the House

Traitors in the House



By Mahbubul Karim (Sohel)
October 4, 2003


Bob Herbert, The New York Times columnist’s observation was to the point: “It's almost as if the president had a team in the White House that was feeding his credibility into a giant shredder.” It seems like a monstrous shredder indeed. There are no stoppages of curiously inflaming issues, initially nicely ornamented by the Bush gangs for the public consumption and within a few weeks or months, all the lies presented in the colorful wrap come unfolding, tearing away flowery ribbons and bare greetings.

Now the public is beginning to pay attention. Bush is slumping in the poll. All of his “hard-fought” manipulative efforts after the September 11, 2001 devastation appear to be losing their steam.

Is there any wonderment in it? Not at all, says Bob Herbert. He writes, “Despite the administration's relentlessly optimistic chatter about the economy, the Census Bureau reported that the number of Americans living in poverty increased by 1.7 million last year, the second straight annual increase. During those two years, the number of poor Americans has grown by 3 million. Belt-tightening is also in order for the middle class. The median household income declined by 1.1 percent, a drop of about $500, to $42,400. It was the second straight year for a decline in that category as well. Per capita income decreased, too. It dropped by 1.8 percent, to $22,794 in 2002, the first decline in more than a decade.” [2]

Bush’s corporate employed economists who provided all the mumbo-jumbo tax cuts for the rich, are scratching their heads and are still devising volumes of existential economic scenario in support of their voodoo economics. The deficits are back and well fed and nurtured after this administration came into power. No wonders, even the Republicans, albeit there are good Republicans, are starting to feel uncomfortable in Bush’s naughty-naughty economic leadership.

And now come the momentous event in American history. What was the Bush Administration thinking in releasing the identity of an undercover C.I.A. officer to news organizations? Is Bob Herbert much away from truth when he describes this administration as “arrogant, venal, mean-spirited and contemptuous of law and custom”?

After C.I.A. demanded a Justice Department Inquiry, Bush appointed his pal Ashcroft to head the investigation. Some critics are referring to this appointment as “fox guarding the henhouse”. All the fingers are pointing to Bush’s closest advisor, Karl Rove, who “has been accused of leaking the identity of CIA operative Valerie Plame, in retaliation for her husband, veteran diplomat Joseph Wilson, blowing the whistle on the Bush administration's charge that Saddam Hussein attempted to import uranium for nuclear weapons from Niger.” [3]

Despite the repeated calls from the Democrats and other political and civic groups, Ashcroft has not budged in. He did not appoint an independent prosecutor to investigate this despicable act of treachery. Can Ashcroft be taken seriously on this “dependent” investigation?

The tie between Karl Rove and Ashcroft goes two decades back, “"It goes all the way back to the mid 1980's when John Ashcroft first ran for governor and then when he ran for the United States Senate against Mel Carnahan," says Moore. "Karl was so intimately involved." Not only did Rove work for Ashcroft in the 80s, but he was one of the main forces behind Ashcroft's controversial appointment to the job he currently holds, attorney general. Rove lobbied intensely for his former employer's nomination after Ashcroft lost his senate seat to a dead man, the late Mel Carnahan. [3]

There is an interesting observation on Karl Rove in Democracy Now’s article: “It is impossible for any of us to believe that this happened without Karl knowing about it," says author James Moore. "When you cross this man in the political arena, he gets even; and he gets even in a way that he doesn't just defeat you, he is compelled to destroy you. He doesn't know how to do a measured response when he is angry, and so he leaks information about people that destroys them." [3]

Perhaps this is well expected from the right wing politicians. Already the conservative media have begun to spit all forms of dirt against Mr. Wilson who blew the whistles. The Wall Street Journal editorial calls him “an open opponent of US war on terror.” perfectly knowing well that Mr. Wilson never opposed US “war on terror”. He opposed, for very good reasons, the newest war against Iraq, “because it had no obvious relevance to the campaign against terror. He feared that invading a country with no role in 9/11, and no meaningful Al Qaeda links, would divert resources from the pursuit of those who actually attacked America. Many patriots in the military and the intelligence community agreed with him then; even more agree now.” [1]

This is the same Mr. Wilson who was lauded as “truly inspiring diplomat” by Bush the father for risking his life when he stayed in Baghdad just before the first Gulf war erupted a decade back, helping in the rescuing of hundreds of Americans entrapped in Iraq. Without his timely help Saddam could have held them hostage. And now the right wing media and politicians are paying him back by pouring mud on his courageous character.

Paul Krugman introduces another valuable observation, he writes, “Before we get bogged down in the details — which is what the administration hopes will happen — let's be clear: we already know what the president knew, and when he knew it. Mr. Bush knew, 11 weeks ago, that some of his senior aides had done something utterly inexcusable. But as long as the media were willing to let the story lie — …… he didn't think this outrage required any action.” [1]

Does knowing the crime and who committed it while keeping mute about it all the time makes one accomplice to that crime? And if Bush did not know who had leaked this news, doesn’t it make Bush look like that he has no control over his administration? [4] Ira Chernus asks quite bluntly, “What else don't he know? In either event, the stain of this scandal is worse than anything Monica Lewinsky ever got on her dress.” [4]

With the question “who leaked it” comes another relevant question: why they did it? According to the various news analysts, the Bush administration retaliated against Mr. Wilson because he “went too far” when he had made the following observations in his two widely published articles this summer:

1. “Some of the intelligence related to Iraq's nuclear program was twisted to exaggerate the Iraqi threat."



2. “The Iraq-Niger hoax "begs the question as to what else they are lying about."” [5]

Ray Govern, a retired CIA analyst, observes the following: “That went too far for the White House, which took barely a week to react, using trusted columnist Robert Novak to retaliate. There was little they could do to Ambassador Wilson, but they were hell-bent on preventing others from following his courageous example. There are, after all, hundreds of people in U.S. intelligence and Foreign Service circles who know about the lies. Worse still from the White House's point of view, some are about to retire and escape the constraints that come of being on the inside. And, more often than not, the chicanery that took place can be exposed without divulging classified information. And so, White House Mafiosi decided to retaliate against the Wilsons in order to issue a clear warning that those who might be thinking of following the ambassador's example should think twice — that they can expect to pay a high price for turning state's evidence”. [5]

Doesn’t it feel like a déjà vu, having striking similarities with the old and disgraced Nixon administration when wiretappings, vengeance and retribution were things of the norm in the pursuit of “political enemies”?

Bush the father was absolutely correct when he had commented about four years ago the following:

Even though I'm a tranquil guy now at this stage of my life, I have nothing but contempt and anger for those who betray the trust by exposing the name of our sources. They are, in my view, the most insidious of traitors."
—George H. W. Bush, 1999 [5]

The son should heed to father’s wisdom. Perhaps Mr. Bush junior could show true patriotism, not the zealous flag waving one, but by being sincere to the Americans, and steering this nation away from a sure disastrous path.



References

1. Paul Krugman, “Slime and Defend”, New York Times, October 3, 2003.

2. Bob Herbert, “Shaking the House of Cards”, New York Times, October 3, 2003.

3. Amy Goodman and Jeremy Scahill, “The Ashcroft-Rove Connection – The Ties that Bind”, Democracy Now, October 2, 2003.

4. Ira Chernus, “So Many Scandals. So Little Time”, Common Dream, October 3, 2003.

5. Ray McGovern, “Conscience Before Career”, Tom Paine, October 2, 2003.

6. Picture Reference: http://www.1stpaintballs.com/images/conspiracy.jpg



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Mahbubul Karim (Sohel) is a freelance writer. His email address is: sohelkarim@yahoo.com.


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