(February 14, 2005)
DU and PTSD: Philip Greenspan's Excessive Demands Will Exceed CapabilitiesTo the Editor:
I think your article covered the topic of PTSD very well. It is one of many costs of war the Pentagon does not quantify for us as we decide whether to go into war.
The Pentagon is happy to advertise the success of our "Shock and Awe" weapons and the low casualty rates for our troops because we are using these weapons. The final costs of using such weapons will not be known for years. Some of the information we have to date shows the costs to be shocking and awful.
We used 300 tons of nuclear material (radioactive depleted uranium) in the warheads of our armor piercing and bunker busting weapons in the two Gulf Wars. Some of this radioactive material vaporized as it burned in the explosion upon reaching it's target. These vaporized particles are blowing in the winds across the landscape of Iraq, the particles inhaled and ingested by the Iraqi citizens and by our own troops.
The results: birth defects, cancer, "unexplained" illnesses of all sorts.
It will be much harder to blame Gulf War syndrome on Saddam this time around.
Des Moines, IA, USA - February 11, 2005
Movements without a Cause or a Cause without a Movement?Dear Gilles,
I have been reading Swans now for a couple of years, and find many of the articles interesting. However, I have been trying to convince many people in Canada for some time now that simply sending around stuff on e-mail lists and reading e-zines of various sorts wherein we do the old "preaching to the converted" trick is nowhere near enough -- if we want to have any chance to install a sane government in Canada (although it used to be one of the best in the world, the last 20 years it has been taken over by the same sort of neocon movement that took over the US government, and we have been going backwards at a rather quick pace, although that news hasn't got to most of the world yet that still seem to regard Canada as some sort of a shining beacon -- courtesy, of course, of the right wing neocon media, for whom we can thank for many such things), we have to do some organising to make it happen. With about one very small exception that I recall, my pleas and entreaties have fallen on deaf ears. Thus I was given a small blip of interest in the latest Swans when I read this:
"In correspondence between authors at Swans, Gilles d'Aymery had commented on the need for a message that cuts across factionalism, and defines a movement. Three excerpts from his message of 29 December 2004 state the matter succinctly:So I just thought I would send along a piece I recently sent around to a number of people (once again no interest) that looks at this problem, and asks (what I think are!) a couple of serious questions about the reasons for it -- there are others of us out there who think we need to start organising into some sort of coherent movement offering some sort of credible program for people to look at, but evidently we are in a quite small minority, which rather puzzles me. I believe there are some similar questions in the U.S. concerning some of your "progressive leaders" ....
Prince of Songkla University
Hat Yai, Thailand - January 31, 2005
John Steppling's Review of Swans' January 31 Edition
To the Editor:
"You go into Afghanistan, you've got guys who slapped women around for five years because they didn't wear a veil. You know, guys like that ain't got no manhood left anyway. So it's a hell of a lot of fun to shoot them."Sound historical perspective is difficult, since there is little that is more complex than what we call "history." Philip Greenspan gives us a quick but clear historical take on Vietnam, Palestine, and our current debacle in Iraq. Greenspan's point is really how a-historical the US Empire can be, and how its delusions can lead to disaster. American society is addicted to forgetting...though they are starting to see it is easier to never know (cut out the forget part altogether). Greenspan makes a number of observations on a possible draft and the mechanisms of volunteerism in the military -- most of which I agree with. I do think a word on the economic determinants of the current volunteer army is needed, however. This is a minor complaint for what is, as is usual with Philip, a smart and tough article.
I will cut to the blips section right away since several items are of particular interest to me. Gilles and I have both written about the "Open Letter to Hugo Chávez" penned by James Petras and signed by many, including Noam Chomsky. Now another similar item has appeared...a statement condemning the killing of a trade union leader in Iraq by the "resistance" (though it's clear nobody really knows exactly what happened). Gilles asks, quite rightly, what is the point of these letters? I wonder this, too. Beyond that, the second letter raises questions I find really troublesome; like, for instance, criticizing the resistance from the comfort of one's desk at the University (or café or living room). Iraq is under occupation -- a brutal and destructive occupation -- and for anyone who cares about the struggle against Imperialism, a support should be given in principle to those Iraqi resistants. I certainly don't know the particulars of what happened to Mr. Salah (the trade unionist) but I am guessing he was seen as a collaborator. If this is wrong, then it's another bit of tragedy in the wider tragedy of Imperial domination. The debate goes on regarding the elections as well, a farce stage managed by the US military. I will let Bill Van Auken from the WSWS express it:
The day after the election, just like the day before, Iraqi towns and villages are subject to bombardment by US military aircraft. Ordinary people face the prospect of being summarily shot or thrown into detention camps without charges or trials, to face abuse and torture.Or, as Rick Salutin has it:
Now does anyone think the U.S. invaded Iraq just to impose elections? It wasn't even No. 1 on their own list of fake reasons. There will be two tests regarding sovereignty: oil and bases. (The Globe and Mail, Feb 5)The elections mean nothing.
But back to these letters. The second one, regarding Mr. Salah's murder, ends up suggesting Westerners (mostly citizens of the country occupying Iraq) have the obligation to condemn certain acts of resistance (if that's who actually killed Salah). When will Westerners stop this kind of paternalism? Wars of resistance are awful, violent, ugly things and lots of people who don't deserve to die, do die. Was Salah a collaborator? I've no idea, and neither do the folks signing this "statement." Arabs are fully capable of determining their own lives and if Imperial powers simply withdrew and allowed a natural process of state evolution to occur, we would be able to see this in pretty short order, I suspect. For that to happen the occupation must end, and for that to happen the resistance must drive them out. This last point brings me back to Chomsky, who has said he doesn't care about the resistance, only the people of Iraq. Uh, if you care about the people then you HAVE to care about the resistance. He also defends the Chávez letter. Couple this with Noam's support of a vote for Kerry, whose inside guys worked for the anti-Chávez fascists, and you have a widening portrait of the former moral authority of the left transformed into a cottage industry -- the Holy Man who refuses to admit error. Chomsky would be well advised to go back and read Jean Paul Sartre on the Algerian resistance.
A note on the Tenured Left. The brownshirts are coming! First Ward Churchill, and then Dr. Alam, and who knows what or who is next (both are being hounded out of jobs because the far right doesn't like what they have to say. Freedom of speech?). When O'Reilly and Hannity and the rest can exert this kind of influence, then we are indeed pretty close to ethical and moral shut down. Check Frank Rich's piece in the NY Times on the anniversary of Janet's breast ("The Year of Living Indecently," February 6, 2005). I saw this coming ten years ago, and it's a big reason I left the U.S. -- trust me, it will get worse. From Super Bowl morality to ousting professors, it all seems increasingly Nazi-like.
Jan Baughman has a fine take on Bush nominee Mike Leavitt. Health and Human Services isn't an arena much covered by the mass media, so this creep flies under the radar. Read Baughman for a concise overview of what's in store for aspects of domestic policy.
Gerard Donnelly Smith's latest is a follow-up to his piece on Halliburton. This time, it's Bechtel. The megacorporations of death are almost surreal in their amorality and Smith's two articles deserve to be saved and referenced. The sentiments about buying horses and whatnot are amusing, but I suspect also contain a genuine truth. Get off the wheel of madness, simplify, and question anything from mass media. Good stuff.
Louis Proyect writes a good review of John Hess's last book, but it's the coda (following news of Hess' death) that struck me:
"[Ed. Shortly after this article was submitted to Swans, John L. Hess died at the age of 87 in New York City. When Louis Proyect read The New York Times obituary on Hess, which effectively swept his post-NY Times radical journalism under the rug, he was moved to write the following to Daniel Okrent, the New York Times ombudsman:]Yeah, the paper of record... Really grotesque, and pretty depressing... All must be cleansed of real political discourse and all must be trivialized... Damn, I hate the NY Times!
Finally, whenever you see the name Shakespeare in an article written by Charles Marowitz, hurry and read it. Marowitz is at his best on Shakespeare, and even in relatively minor reviews like this one, you are going to learn something. And I did.
In Krakow Dick Cheney visited Auschwitz for the 60-year memorial...and attended in a green parka and ski hat. Was this contempt (it's just a village in fucking Poland for cryin' out loud...I don't have to wear my good overcoat...) or stupidity, or both? Anyway, the city was in chaos for two days so that the Imperial rulers could move about freely. There was a heavy snowstorm the first day and with trams and buses shut down, I had to (like many others) help the old and weak get home...walking through dense snow and across iced sidewalks. Guess nobody thought about the elderly having to get home. All that matters is Augustus Caesar....er....Dick Cheney and Putin needed to make it to the Sheraton. Even a cop I spoke with (as I walked an hour and a half back home) spit out his contempt for these creeps. Not everyone is fooled! Anyway, it's finally cold...and over a foot of snow remains on the ground. It's beautiful and feels like a spiritual disinfectant. Only in minus twelve (c.) can I start to forget how ugly the world is.
Krakow, Poland - February 6, 2005
[ed. Steppling is a LA playwright (Rockefeller fellow, NEA recipient, and PEN-West winner) and screenwriter (most recent was Animal Factory directed by Steve Buscemi). He is currently living in Poland where he teaches at the National Film School in Lodz. You can find more about his writing on his personal Swans' cove.]
It sure made a difference!To the Editor:
As always, what fun it was to watch Nancy Pelosi take on Ms. Rice. The Bay Area Reporter was very informed: "Are you calling me a liar?" Ms. Rice asked Nancy. Nancy Pelosi said, "I am only repeating the statements you made when you advised going into Iraq and two and a half years later, declined to repeat the same reasons."
Continue the good work.
San Francisco, California, USA - February 6, 2005
Libertarian Brain FertilizerDear Editor:
Look. All of this crap will continue until it can't. Human beings have NEVER used their God-given brains to think themselves out of environmental trouble. Mama Earth ALWAYS kills them when they exceed capacity, just like a three-year-old killing ants on his way to the sandbox. Jared Diamond's "Crash" is an excellent read, and for those of us humans with the relatively new-found capacity to actually USE our brains to prevent catastrophe, it is a wonderful guide to how to prevent your genetic code from being cast upon the ash heap of history.
The first order of business is that when the crash begins...Gorton-like, ensure that the inferior molecules around you are used for fertilizer. It just ain't that hard. Start by making lists today. Just an FYI...
"This indispensable core, which now acts as a mass citizen militia for Karl Rove and other Bush commandants, scares the hell out of many of the 44 percent of white folks who didn't vote for Bush. Black Americans do not need European models of fascism to understand the grave threat these people represent to life and liberty. They are the folks standing under the tree, while we swing from the limbs."
--The Black Commentator
"Whenever I hear anyone arguing for slavery, I feel a strong impulse to see it tried on him personally."
Michael P. Anderson
Nevada City Free Press
Nevada City, California, USA - January 31, 2005
Shocked, Shocked, Shocked: Charles Marowitz's Working With HavelTo the Editor:
I write as a regular reader of Swans. I was a little shocked to see an article in favour of Vaclav Havel in your 17/1/2005 mailing.
He is absolutely notorious as a Quisling for the American Empire, and as well as proposing Madeleine Albright as his successor is notorious for acting as its faithful saltrap, supporting every attack on Jugoslavia and Iraq.
At the time of the Ukraine putsch an amazing article was published in the British Guardian, "The Confessions of a Cold War Bagman" in which it was revealed Havel and his network of academics were all on CIA stipends of at least $600 a month -- he knew as he had distributed them.
Sheffield, South Yorkshire, England - January 31, 2005
Corpocracy, a terminal disease...To the Editor:
Your site, Swans.com, puts out some fantastic articles. I had read "Why Vote" by Philip Greenspan which I thought was a powerful piece, sort of along the lines of Carolyn Baker's "Why I Will Not Vote." The fraudulent election just concluded demonstrates the validity of their, and my similar thinking on the subject. After the "election" I put out a call for a re-election in view of the fraud that took place but very few people felt there was any possibility of such an event taking place in this now completely fascist nation. I'm sending here a copy of my call which was published by the UN Observer to illustrate my thinking on the subject. Again, I congratulate you for your exceptional material that I observe, along with the sound principles you exhibit on your masthead. You may wish to view an essay I wrote on behalf of the Alliance for Democracy, of which I was one of the founding members: "Corporism: The Systemic Disease That Destroys Civilization." It is on their web site www.thealliancefordemocracy.org as well as Google under "Corporism," a word I coined for reasons explained in the article.
Long Beach, California, USA - January 31, 2005
Right on the Money: John Steppling's Johnny CarsonTo the Editor:
Steppling is right on the money in regard to Johnny Carson as an American myth-maker. It was the incongruous mix of Small-Town-American-Boy-Makes-Good and All-Powerful-Media-Icon which made him both available and enthralling. The fact that he went on at 11:30 p.m. and was probably the last thing Americans saw before they had a nocturnal piece of nookie added an erotic dimension to The Tonight Show which Carson himself often alluded to. In the unconscious of many Americans, the halo around the man was as much sexual as it was personable. The other rare quality was the "modesty" which was as genuine as much of the gregariousness was manufactured. How many genuinely modest people does one encounter in modern America nowadays? A land dominated by The Brash, the Bumptious and The Bolshy.
Malibu, California, USA - January 31, 2005
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