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The Bush single-minded concentration on satisfying the greed of the few at the expense 

of the needs of the multitude is nowhere better expressed than in the so-called war

on terror and the inhumanities and injustices that flow from that  ‘war’.

 

 

 Book by John Maxwell

How to Make Our Own News: A Primer for Environmentalist and Journalists

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Our Lives in their Hands

By John Maxwell

 

Field Marshal von Rumsfeld is correct.

The Iraq Torture Scandal is going to get worse, much worse before it blows over. Before that happens, however, the scandal will have presented to the people of the United States a unique opportunity for decision: whether to follow the Bush Administration’s precipitous descent into a degenerate corporate statism and ultimately, dictatorship, or to seize control of the ideals and instruments bequeathed them by their founding fathers two centuries ago, to re-invent a functioning  democracy

Franklin Roosevelt, and most of the liberal democrats who have led the United States at one level or another, believed that the US “constitution is so simple and practical that it is possible always to meet extraordinary needs by changes in emphasis and arrangement without loss of essential form” as he said in his first inaugural speech in January 1933.

Most American leaders – Presidents and others and particularly the members of the Supreme Court, did not until recently, regard the US Constitution as inherently vulnerable to subversion. Of whatever party, all felt constrained by an idea of  ‘America’ which was inherently well-meaning and dedicated to the greater good of the people as a whole.

Roosevelt put it this way in his inaugural speech:

If I read the temper of our people correctly, we now realize as we have never realized before, our interdependence on each other; that we can not merely take but we must give as well; that if we are to go forward, we must move as a trained and loyal army willing to sacrifice for the good of a common discipline, because without such discipline no progress is made, no leadership becomes effective. We are, I know, ready and willing to submit our lives and property to such discipline, because it makes possible a leadership which aims at a larger good.

Who Benefits?

The Bush counter-revolution, on the other hand, makes no bones about its dedication to the larger good of the rich and powerful. At this very moment it is engaged in an ideological struggle within its own ranks in the Senate, to entrench new benefits for the rich as against providing for the disinherited. And it marshals consent by scaring the daylights out of its own people.

Roosevelt said ”There is nothing to fear but fear itself.” He might have added, “and unbridled selfishness and arrogance.

The Bush single-minded concentration on satisfying the greed of the few at the expense of the needs of the multitude is nowhere better expressed than in the so-called war on terror and the inhumanities and injustices that flow from that  ‘war’.

It was a truism, stated even by Bush himself, that the essence of defeat would be for the United States to yield up its liberty and surrender its civilisation in the struggle.  But it was clear from the start that this struggle against terror was a con. Declaring war against terror is declaring war against an abstraction, as many of us said at the time. It allows the President to pick and choose his enemies, without regard for anything that they might have done. And among those enemies it transpired, were Free Speech and Justice.

Iraq was invaded on totally and now, admittedly, false pretences for what South Sea Bubble prospectuses described as “purposes which will in due time be revealed.” At the moment, the US is supposed to be bringing civilisation and the rule of law to a nation which is now horrified by tales of American depravity and outlawry.

It has allowed the US to intervene on the side of a few rich elites to decapitate the nascent Haitian democracy and to threaten Cuba with social ‘improvements’ which would turn that nation back forty years.

Here in Jamaica, to demonstrate its complete control of our destinies, the US has decided to wreck what remains of our efforts at town planning by inserting its terrorist attracting embassy into the heart of a residential communitydoing what Ariel Sharon says terrorists dohiding behind innocent bystanders, using them as shields. 

‘We Pledge Our Word…’

John F Kennedy's inaugural speech, which we at the JBC  broadcast live on  January 20 1961, electrified millions of people round the world  when the new President  promised to deal honourably with people like us.

“To those new States whom we welcome to the ranks of the free, we pledge our word that one form of colonial control shall not have passed away merely to be replaced by a far more iron tyranny. We shall not always expect to find them supporting our view. But we shall always hope to find them strongly supporting their own freedom—and to remember that, in the past, those who foolishly sought power by riding the back of the tiger ended up inside.

“The tiger of course, was the spectre of communism which dominated the waking thoughts of western statesmen. But people of goodwill then believed that eventually even that obsession would go away. Kennedy held out his hand “to those nations who would make themselves our adversary, we offer not a pledge but a request: that both sides begin anew the quest for peace, before the dark powers of destruction unleashed by science engulf all humanity in planned or accidental self-destruction.”

Kennedy had no intention of being a softie, of adopting any leftish position, but he recognised the madness of “ both sides overburdened by the cost of modern weapons, both rightly alarmed by the steady spread of the deadly atom, yet both racing to alter that uncertain balance of terror that stays the hand of mankind's final war.”

Kennedy proved he was no pushover in the Cuban Missile crisis, and began the path which would lead to the de-escalation of nuclear menace, to nuclear non-proliferation treaties and to the Anti-Ballistic Missile Treaty so cavalierly scrapped by President George Bush.

Bush’s reasons:  to free the United States from any apparent restrictions on the use of its power and to empower the military industrial complex against which, in his farewell speech in 1961, President Eisenhower warned so strongly:

The Military-Industrial complex

The total influenceeconomic, political, even spiritualis felt in every city, every State house, every office of the Federal government. . . .

In the councils of government, we must guard against the acquisition of unwarranted influence, whether sought or unsought, by the military-industrial complex. The potential for the disastrous rise of misplaced power exists and will persist.

We must never let the weight of this combination endanger our liberties or democratic processes. We should take nothing for granted. Only an alert and knowledgeable citizenry can compel the proper meshing of the huge industrial and military machinery of defense with our peaceful methods and goals, so that security and liberty may prosper together.

Last year, I was one of millions round the world who marched in protest against the United States’ plans to attack Iraq, in violation of international law, common sense and common decency. 'No blood for oil!', we said, but tens of thousands of Iraqis perished plus nearly a thousand Americans and their allies, while the ranks of the terrorists and those who hate the United States have swelled beyond calculation. 

In a column ten days after 9/11 I said

Anyone who has studied the honeybee soon realises that bees make four types of cells: honeycomb cells and brood cells for Queens, Drones, and Worker bees. Queen Bees lay the same eggs in every brood cell. Some cells are differently shaped and sized for Drones and Queens. When a hive loses a Queen it simply transfers an egg from a worker cell to a Queen cell, and presto, a new Queen. Queens go on laying eggs for life, once fertilised by a Drone.

Any human brain, fertilised by Injustice, can, similarly, produce a hero or a terrorist.

As the careers of Menachem Begin, Yitzhak Shamir and Ariel Sharon demonstrate, the differences between them may not be visible to the naked eye.

While Mr Bush may see every justification for Mr Sharon’s latest campaign in the Gaza Strip and approve of his tanks, helicopter gunships and bulldozers, the Palestinians collectively punished by him may have very different ideas. Some of them, indeed, may be provoked into turning themselves into one-man armiesaka terroriststo avenge their grievous injury.

Sharpening the Contradictions

In the same column in which I discussed the habits of bees, I also suggested that “Although a majority of Americans are now standing to attention and saluting the flag, many, I believe, would welcome a little more obvious moral and intellectual leadership from the White House. What they get instead is incitement to lynch law and racial war. Sooner or later, it will be obvious that Justice cannot be achieved that way.”

That denouement has come sooner rather than later.

A majority of Americans now disapprove of Mr Bush’s handling of the war, and as the heinous and depraved nature of the military response becomes more apparent, an even greater majority will develop.  Mr Karl RoveMr Bush’s so-called ‘brain’obviously believes that all of usAmericans and othersare fools who can be turned round by the expenditure of millions of dollars on misleading and untruthful advertisements. Their underhand methods of propaganda extend even to using taxpayers money to pay for a campaign boosting their political version of Medicare. With the money at their disposal, the Republicans will do much more damage to American trust and national integrity before they are through.

The people they went to rescue in Iraq, are, according to an US Army sponsored poll, 90% against American presence in Iraq. And this was before the exposure of the torture regimes of Messrs. Rumsfeld, Wolfowitz, and Cambrone.

The Bush war has sharpened the contradictions between the original American Dream (however inadequate) and the neo-fascist nightmare now being prepared for all of us. American conservatives are now beginning to understand what people like us in the developing world meant when we said that Globalisation was slavery by another name. In Iraq, the US Army is preparing to sacrifice its own slaves to save the necks of the elite.  

And, at last, even the corporate American media is awakening to an understanding of what is at stake.

The latest Al Ghraib videos reportedly show American soldiers engaging in sex orgies in the sight of Iraqis they had just finished abusing. It may be depraved, but it is not unexpected. People whose civilised instincts are suppressed by intimidation or coercion are likely to express their alienation and distress in singularly inappropriate ways. They are as much victims as the people they had so recently and brutally victimised.

War is not a civilised pursuit. General George Patton sixty years ago had the courage to put into words the real depravity of war whether conducted by Americans or anyone else:

… the very thought of losing is hateful to Americans. Now, an army is a team. It lives, eats, sleeps, fights as a team. This individuality stuff is a bunch of crap. The bilious bastards who wrote that stuff about individuality for the Saturday Evening Post, don't know anything more about real battle than they do about fornicating. Now we have the finest food and equipment, the best spirit, and the best men in the world. You know . . . My God, I actually pity those poor bastards we're going up against. My God, I do. We're not just going to shoot the bastards, we're going to cut out their living guts and use them to grease the treads of our tanks. We're going to murder those lousy Hun bastards by the bushel.

Mr Bush said he wants to be known as a “war President”. Little does he know.

Copyright©2004 John Maxwell

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AALBC.com's 25 Best Selling Books


 

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Incognegro: A Memoir of Exile and Apartheid

By  Frank B. Wilderson III

Wilderson, a professor, writer and filmmaker from the Midwest, presents a gripping account of his role in the downfall of South African apartheid as one of only two black Americans in the African National Congress (ANC). After marrying a South African law student, Wilderson reluctantly returns with her to South Africa in the early 1990s, where he teaches Johannesburg and Soweto students, and soon joins the military wing of the ANC. Wilderson's stinging portrait of Nelson Mandela as a petulant elder eager to accommodate his white countrymen will jolt readers who've accepted the reverential treatment usually accorded him. After the assassination of Mandela's rival, South African Communist Party leader Chris Hani, Mandela's regime deems Wilderson's public questions a threat to national security; soon, having lost his stomach for the cause, he returns to America. Wilderson has a distinct, powerful voice and a strong story that shuffles between the indignities of Johannesburg life and his early years in Minneapolis, the precocious child of academics who barely tolerate his emerging political consciousness. Wilderson's observations about love within and across the color line and cultural divides are as provocative as his politics; despite some distracting digressions, this is a riveting memoir of apartheid's last days.—Publishers Weekly

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Becoming American Under Fire

Irish Americans, African Americans, and the Politics of Citizenship

During the Civil War Era

By Christian G. Samito

In Becoming American under Fire, Christian G. Samito provides a rich account of how African American and Irish American soldiers influenced the modern vision of national citizenship that developed during the Civil War era. By bearing arms for the Union, African Americans and Irish Americans exhibited their loyalty to the United States and their capacity to act as citizens; they strengthened their American identity in the process. . . . For African American soldiers, proving manhood in combat was only one aspect to their quest for acceptance as citizens. As Samito reveals, by participating in courts-martial and protesting against unequal treatment, African Americans gained access to legal and political processes from which they had previously been excluded. The experience of African Americans in the military helped shape a postwar political movement that successfully called for rights and protections regardless of race. For Irish Americans, soldiering in the Civil War was part of a larger affirmation of republican government and it forged a bond between their American citizenship and their Irish nationalism. The wartime experiences of Irish Americans helped bring about recognition of their full citizenship through naturalization and also caused the United States to pressure Britain to abandon its centuries-old policy of refusing to recognize the naturalization of British subjects abroad. / For Love of Liberty

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The White Masters of the World

From The World and Africa, 1965

By W. E. B. Du Bois

W. E. B. Du Bois’ Arraignment and Indictment of White Civilization (Fletcher)

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Ancient African Nations

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The Death of Emmett Till by Bob Dylan  The Lonesome Death of Hattie Carroll  Only a Pawn in Their Game

Rev. Jesse Lee Peterson Thanks America for Slavery

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