(January 1, 2007)
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Do not Throw Hope and Optimism out with the Bath Water
I read the article on the "Failure Of Anti-War Movement" and your introduction to the end of 2006, and I am moved to send you a note of solidarity.
I sympathize with the carpal-tunnel threats. I've even learned to handle the ever-dangerous mouse with my left hand, as my right one is the first to feel the pain -- typing is usually OK if I sit properly and hold my hands right, take breaks, stretch and massage my wrists. If you're already doing this, well, good luck.
Perhaps I'm an incurable optimist, but even though I experienced the same general political experience you did in 2006, I did find a few things that make me not want to abandon all hope. I guess there could be worse things than a continuation of mass apathy, but I am hoping for an upsurge in struggle, and I wouldn't want to give up just before this happens.
Here are my signs of hope:
1. US imperialism's position in Iraq is impossible. The Bush administration nevertheless continues with the occupation and is even escalating the troop deployment. The ruling class here is openly fighting over the war's tactics and this keeps the issue before the eyes and ears of the mass of the population at the same time that the military and its troops cannot turn the situation around.
2. The immigrant demonstrations of last May 1, though limited to the narrow segment of the population but a significant part of the working class -- 10 million immigrant workers -- were tremendous. This is another unresolved question for the ruling class -- they need immigrant labor, yet they are making life even more miserable for the immigrants. This contradiction makes more struggle inevitable.
3. The African American population here in New York City just had a mass demonstration against police brutality. We might have expected more regarding Katrina. Maybe the struggle will break out in this new arena.
4. The question of false hope in the Democratic Party has been with us for a long time and it will stay with us. This is an ongoing problem, and I hope people who understand it don't stop trying to explain it to others.
5. I would see that our problem is building solidarity in an atomized society. Those who rule have lots of advantage on this. I tend not so much to blame the mass of the population. Sixty-four days watching television, computer games, isolating MP3 players, will there ever be a breakthrough? I have no answer to this one but to keep trying. Solidarity with the immigrant and the anti-racist struggles is key.
6. I had hoped for a stronger outbreak of resistance inside the military. The "professional" army has a different breaking point. But we don't know when it will be reached. We have to be in touch with it when it comes. There are some positive signs: a "coffee house" near Ft. Drum, N.Y.; an anti-war petition signed by active-duty GIs; a continuing stream of individual war refusers.
I have believed that SWANS had a place in our struggle. It contributes to counteracting the ruling-class monopoly on propaganda. I hope you can keep SWANS going. We should keep in mind that ALL the media outlets, including corporate, are having trouble keeping an audience and keeping their funding. It's not just SWANS and Monthly Review.
I think it is interesting, what you wrote about the blogging adding to the atomization. You should develop this idea more. But maybe it is a process that is only at its beginning. The good part of it is the general loss of confidence in the corporate media to provide the answers.
I won't try to suggest what you should do. My own game plan is to keep on plugging as long as possible, look for the openings, do what I need (if possible) for myself to keep up personal spirits, and hope one is still in good shape when the openings appear. Easier said than done.
New York, New York, USA - December 20, 2006
Between Iraq and the Hard Place
To the Editor:
This came to me as I was listening to an NPR commentary:
Thanks to the Bush syndicate (I have a hard time with "President Bush") and the spineless majority, we are now caught between Iraq and a hard place.
Love ya' all.
Oneonta, New York, USA - December 18, 2006
Loving all the Sanchos of this world and voting for Ségolène
Hey Monsieur d'Aymery,
I certainly was not at the Alpe d'Huez. A gal like me with endearing perfect legs would shun such a lowly place. Only St. Moritz would do. I want it all as you should know. I stayed in Paris, warmly enjoying the holidays in the company of a googling would-be executive. There may be a future for my legs after all.
I did not answer your Sancho Panza due to the high spirit I enjoyed in these blessed holidays. It's the season, you know. Did not feel the urgent need to rejoin his rant. Still do not. I am too busy working with Désirs d'avenir and campaigning for Ségolène Royal. It's about time we join Chile and Finland in electing our first Madame la Présidente. On your side of the pond it's Elizabeth Edwards who should be a candidate, not her photogenic husband. Women, women, women, if you get my meaning -- real women, not Hillaries
I'd be glad to join the resistance as he recommends. But we did it once in 2002 and 2003. We begged, we prodded, we explained. End result: Freedom fries, champagne thrown down the drain of American toilets (that's a real insult to humanity), boycott of French products, and you ending up in jail for your very French-ness and rationality. Meanwhile a country is destroyed and its people raped. Great! Next stop, Tehran. What does Sancho expect a tip-top lady of my caliber to do? At this point in time, those of us who value life, condoms, and beautiful legs, are just sitting back, watching a bankrupt country destroy itself and possibly the world. We can only hope the world will survive the mayhem created by all the American Sanchos, whether neocons, neolibs, or neoresisters.
Allez, bon vent; do not give 'em hell -- they already inhabit it. In France, Monsieur d'Aymery, you would have health care at the very least, and by now a pension. Ask your Sancho to reflect on this.
Paris, France - December 23, 2006
"All the News That's Fit to Print"
[ed. Here is a letter to the Editor of The New York Times related to their December 24, 2006, Editorial that advocated growing the military in manpower and money "for the sort of battles America is likely to fight during the coming decades." Evidently, the paper of record did not see it fit to publish.]
RE: A Real-World Army, Editorial
To the Editor:
I was dumbfounded as I read the editorial "A Real-World Army" (Dec. 24) applauding the "military reality" that was acknowledged by President Bush last week; that is, the need for increasing the number of "overstretched" Army and Marine Corps, and your assertion that "9/11 changed everything, except the Pentagon mind-set."
9/11 did not change everything. The administration used 9/11 to wage a global war that is doing nothing to "keep us all more secure," save for the beneficiaries of the military-industrial complex. Perhaps if America were to stop waging its global war then fewer troops would be required, our obscene military budget could be used humanely, and we all, globally, would be more secure. Has The Times learned nothing from its embroiled coverage of the facts and the lies behind the war on Iraq shrouded as a war on terrorism? Can we not plan for peace instead of perpetual war?
San Francisco, California, USA - December 25, 2006
Peak Oil, Anyone? An Interview with CIA Analyst Tom Whipple
You may not have heard yet about Peak Oil. The paradigm is simple: we've used up, or are about to use up, the first half of the world's endowment of petroleum -- from here on out oil becomes more scarce and more expensive. Much more. The question is how much disruption this causes. Though some petroleum geologists have been talking about Peak Oil for decades it's only within the last five or six years that a significant minority of industry insiders (from geologists to engineers to investment bankers) have begun to meticulously detail the problem. And the government, our American government anyway, is still well behind the curve. But there should be no doubt: Peak Oil is a huge issue, and like it or not it's going to become one of our top priorities.
It isn't easy to find someone good to talk to about Peak Oil. Some months back I interviewed a top scientist but didn't publish the conversation because he couldn't coherently explain his case. And there aren't many non-scientists or non-engineers out there who can speak clearly to the facts. Of those who can, there aren't many who aren't in the catastrophist camp. And to find all the above plus a working understanding of the policy process -- that's a tall order indeed.
Fortunately for us, I was able to talk with Tom Whipple, a retired senior CIA analyst. Tom is extremely au courant with the oil market and puts things into an understandable perspective. Like me, he's pragmatic, and like me he thinks (or hopes) we can muddle through. But it won't be easy.
I hope you find this conversation interesting, provocative, and helpful. Thanks for listening.
The podcast entry is here:
Bethesda, Maryland, USA - December 22, 2006
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