Atlantic Free Press Book Reviews
Book Reviews from Atlantic Free Press Writers and Bloggers
Monsoon - The Indian Ocean and the Future of American Power- Book Review by Jim Miles
Sunday, 17 April 2011 07:58
by Jim Miles
When I first read Robert Kaplan, it was shortly after 9/11 when a whole library of books became available about U.S. foreign policy and how it should deal with the terrorist threat presented to the U.S. and democracy. At that time, in his work “Warrior Politics” he reasonably recognizes that his perspective is but one of many and none can be truly objective. He recognized the reality of the “American imperium” in terms that imperialism is the “most ordinary and dependable form of protection for ethnic minorities and others under violent assault,” and “an imperial reality already dominates our foreign policy.” Towards the end of the work he quotes Zbigniew Brzezinski, “Democracy is inimical to imperial mobilization,” and follows with his own summation that “the restraining power of our own democracy makes it hard for us to demand and orchestrate authentic transitions everywhere. Only through stealth and anxious foresight can America create a secure international system.”
We have had in the intervening years since that publication a significant decrease in democracy within the U.S. (constitutional issues, international law, and human rights issues such as torture). Indeed if democracy is inimical to mobilization, then democracy needs to be avoided, and its “restraining” power has been greatly diminished (when were the people, the demos, last asked if they wanted the U.S. to go to war?) As for demanding and orchestrating authentic transitions, that has been exposed through global media as being very real, although always with unexpected outcomes - and notice that the “transitions” are not necessarily labelled as democratic, simply transitions. The record over the last decade would also show that stealth has not created a secure international system (secure for whom - the global elites, the corporate bosses?) While stealth has been tried, so has massed military attack - all with expected ‘unexpecteds’ (sort of like Rumsfield’s “known unknowns”).
Monsoon - The Indian Ocean and the Future of American Power. Robert D. Kaplan. Random House, New York, 2010
In short, yes there is an empire, a U.S. empire, it is not democratic, it wants transitions to its own favour, and will try to make it happen either covertly or overtly. Neither is working well, unless one considers that the global elite are becoming richer at the expense of the many. He noted that his personal first hand experience witnessing events in the world was his education and drew him to the classics of philosophy and politics “in the hope of finding explanations for the terrors before my eyes.”
With that as my background to Kaplan’s writing, I thought that reading “Monsoon” would be a rather antagonistic affair, even while trying to keep in mind that this is obviously written from the U.S. perspective however ingrained or not that might be. Fortunately I was pleasantly surprised, not that I was in full agreement with his perspective, but his writing was both informative and entertaining within the recognition of his North American view of the world (with apologies to Mexico). Using a combination of historical background, anecdotal experiences, current interviews, supported by a wide range of travels, “Monsoon” becomes a worthwhile reading experience. It is a similarly engaging style as with Thomas Friedman and Robert Fisk, without the depth of perspective that Fisk delivers, and fortunately without the sometimes rather bizarre conclusions and statements that Friedman manages to come up with.
The theme of the book - no, not global warming - is about U.S. foreign policy and how it has and will relate to the littoral states of the Indian ocean, necessitating the inclusion of China within that discussion as a non-littoral but very involved state. Travelling generally from west to east in the narrative, Kaplan presents historical background, current situations, and personal perspectives with lively and vivid descriptions along with information from interviewing a variety of people along the way. Returning to his statement from above, that he hopes to find “explanations for the terrors before my eyes,” he comes close, very close, but is just moments short of grasping what he is really seeing or saying.
There are areas of context and interpretation that do limit the text. Two of his main sub-themes are Islamic terrorism and democracy, and for both he makes statements that are almost ‘aha’ moments, but then are left hanging without actually making it into deeper connections. Further from apparent awareness, although perhaps lingering constantly in the background, is the very empire which he identified earlier as not being given its due background for the region. Other empires - Portugal, Dutch, British, French, Japanese - are all included for the influence they have had on the region, but little is discussed of U.S. actions, covert and overt, in the region, past or present. In the manner in which his information is presented, it makes little difference to the agreeable nature of the narrative, but it needs to be kept in mind while reading that there is much of the overall general context of the U.S. imperium that is not discussed. Diego Garcia is one of the singular misses, the island nation given to the U.S. military by Britain while the indigenous Chagossians were evicted from the island and not compensated. Ethnic cleansing? Racism? Empire? Certainly far from “the restraining power of our own democracy.”
Where Did The Towers Go? - Evidence Of Directed Free-Energy Technology On 9/11 – Book Review by Eric Larsen Ph.D.
Sunday, 17 April 2011 06:32
by Eric Larsen Ph.D.
What a complete, unmitigated disaster 9/11
and the ten awful years following it have been—ten years of murder, crime,
lawlessness, deceit, stupidity, and blindness that are only now meliorated, at
long last, by the publication of Dr. Judy Wood’s unique, revelatory, and
unequivocally welcome book, Where Did the Towers Go? The Evidence of
Directed Free-Energy Technology on 9/11.
Allow me to make full disclosure now, so
that those (and, believe me, there are many) who will choose not to read
further can quit right away and save time.
I, me, Eric Larsen, wrote the Foreword to
Dr. Wood’s book. I wrote it partly because I have known for many years about
Dr. Wood’s research; partly because I have followed the website that Dr. Wood
has maintained (http://www.drjudywood.com/);
and partly because I was lucky enough to be given the opportunity to write that Foreword.
It wasn’t just an opportunity but a high
honor. To give an idea of how great an honor it was, here is the first line of
what I wrote:
The book you now hold in
your hands is the most important book of the twenty-first century.
Let me go further and quote the two
sentences also , since the same obligation pertains now as did when I wrote
them—the obligation for me to explain
why I said so unqualified a thing and what I meant by it. Here’s what I meant,
and still do:
Where Did the Towers Go? is a work,
assuming that its content and message are properly and fairly heeded, that
offers a starting point from which those who genuinely want to do it can begin,
first, to rein in and then, perhaps, even end the wanton criminality and
destructiveness of a set of American policies that took as their justification
and starting point the horrific events of September 11, 2001.
As everyone knows, 9/11 has been “the
justification and starting point” for all manner of destruction, loss, crime,
and horror. Without 9/11, there would have been no “Patriot Act,” no abuse of
FISA and stripping away of privacy rights, no Military
Commissions Act of 2006 with its setting aside of Habeas Corpus, no
implementation of Northcom and
deployment of our own military forces on domestic American soil (for use
against who, you might ask?), and no
trashing of Bill of Rights and Constitutional guarantees, no programmatic and
precedent-setting weakening and eliminating of right and guarantees so that the
very concepts of “citizenship” and “freedom” have been emptied out to the point
where setting up concentration camps inside the U.S. is now legal and not a one of us would have any
recourse whatsoever if it were decided that we should be thrown into a cell in
one of them and forgotten forever.
Without 9/11, there would never have been
any fake and opportunistic “Global War on Terror,” would never have been
Guantanamo as we know it now, never have been official programs of torture or
fake demonizing of Islam in order to justify wars in Afghanistan, Pakistan, and
Somalia, or to justify overt plans for the murder of U.S. citizens living in
places like, say, Yemen.
There’s more, much more. The complete list
of atrocities, crimes, and inhumanities triggered by or justified by 9/11 could
fill whole chapters, even books. By using 9/11 as propaganda—by using it as
trigger, excuse, justification, or catalyst—the U.S. has betrayed itself, its
principles, and its people, and has made itself the world’s most dangerous
enemy of all mankind and also of Earth herself.
How can it conceivably be, given these
facts, that we, a nation of people who presumably have minds of our own—how can
it be that we have done nothing to stop this hideous parade of monstrosities
and horrors? In the Foreword to Dr. Wood’s book, I wrote:
It is now almost a decade
since 9/11 took place, and in all that time no unassailable, permanent, or, in pragmatic terms, politically influential progress has
been made in determining exactly and irrefutably what took place on that day—or what did not take place.
We—that is, we the potential resistance or
opposition to U.S. criminal policy—have been spinning our wheels for a complete
decade. There are a lot of reasons for this wheel-spinning, including various
programs of very skillful and extraordinarily devious cover-up after cover-up
after cover-up of the central question of what
did happen on 9/11. For, as long as that central question remains
unanswered, or for as long as that question can be caused to remain obfuscated, blurred, muddled-up, in doubt—as long
as that situation continues, the
wheels will continue to spin and people won’t quite know what to do. Dr. Wood
is very well aware of this fact. Her own way of putting it is that before
accusing someone of a crime, you’ve got to know what crime they committed. In her Author’s Preface, she writes:
You cannot convict someone
of a crime if you don’t even know what crime to charge them with. If you accuse
someone of murder using a gun, you’d better be sure the body has a bullet hole
The Plight Of The Palestinians – Book Review by Edward Jayne
Tuesday, 07 December 2010 11:52
|by Edward Jayne Ph.D.
In his collection of thirty-two articles by almost as many authors, The Plight of the Palestinians: A Long History of Destruction, William Cook provides a devastating assessment of Zionist violence against Palestinians. Relentlessly told are one atrocity after another, one act of deception after another, one broken treaty after another, one surprise attack after another, one policy reversal after another--all of which are described with both effective immediacy and an adequate sense of historic context. The articles themselves extend from Francis Boyle's "Israel's Crimes against Palestinians," published in August, 2001, to Ilan Pappe's "The Necessity of Cultural Boycott," published in June, 2009, spanning almost a decade of Israel's sixty-year campaign to force the departure of Palestinians from the West Bank. Cook's long introduction is especially useful in its exploration of events during the late forties when Israel established itself as a Jewish state, the one and only specifically denominational nation in the advanced industrial world. Relevant to Zionist intentions at the time, Cook discusses such matters as the Haganah Oath, the Red House, Catling's Top Secret "Memorandum of the Criminal Investigation Department of July 31, 1947," and the Deir Yassin massacre as well as those of Saliha, Lod, Dawayima, and Abu Shusha. Regrettably, he neglects to mention the Zionist sound trucks that were reported to have circulated among Palestinian villages after the Deir Yassin massacre, warning that the same could happen to them as well.
The single issue that keeps recurring in the articles is whether Israel has been intentionally pursuing the genocidal destruction of Palestinians. The word "genocide" actually occurs in the titles of eight of the articles (one quarter of the total), and the flood of information contained therein--as well as most of the rest of the articles--suggests the choice of the word is in fact reasonable, not hyperbolic. Cook recounts how Raphael Lemkin coined the word "genocide" in 1944 by linking the Greek word "genos," referring to a tribe or race, with the Latin suffix "cide," meaning to kill. Cook also quotes Frank Chalk and Kurt Jonasson's more expansive definition of the word to suggest the destruction of culture, language, religion, political and social institutions as aspects of genocide that may fall short of total annihilation. And in fact the reference to "genocide" throughout the text is not limited to total annihilation but includes other modes of extreme repression, and appropriately so. It seems obvious by now that Zionists do not exactly seek to exterminate Palestinians, merely to get rid of them--i.e., either to "transfer" them to nearby Muslim nations or to sequester them in "cantons" (Ariel Sharon's word) equivalent to American Indian reservations minus the gambling casinos. In the words of Steven Lendman, "slow-motion genocide" would be involved, something presumably better and more "humane" than the Nazi gas chambers, but nevertheless despicable.
Truth About Global Economic Crisis: Book Review by Joel S. Hirschhorn
Sunday, 28 November 2010 12:13
by Joel S. Hirschhorn
You want to read The Global
Economic Crisis The Great Depression of the XXI Century,
edited by Michel
Chossudovsky and Andrew Gavin Marshall, if you meet these criteria: you welcome
information and analysis about critically important issues that come from great
thinkers outside the mainstream media and publishing world; you can handle brain
pain from detailed and brutally honest revelations; you are willing and able to
challenge your own biases and preconceptions to let in new explanations of how
the world really functions.
If millions of Americans read
this book, we would probably see a far stronger uprising against the political
establishment that has refused to severely punish the countless guilty people in
the financial, banking and mortgage sectors that brought down the US and global
ties together a large number of factors in twenty chapters that reveal just how
corrupt the world has become because of the power of plutocratic, wealthy and
corporate interests. From Wall
Street corporate boardrooms to the Federal Reserve and other central banks to
the US military and
NATO, a multitude of threads get woven into a disturbing tapestry of crimes
against society that still have not been prosecuted.
This book is truly an instrument
of anti-brainwashing. If you are
willing to spend serious time reading it, then you surely will become much
angrier about the dismal state of the economy that is causing so much pain and
suffering to ordinary people worldwide.
If you personally have escaped the worst ravages of the economic
meltdown, then you will have much more compassion for those severely
The Chosen Peoples - America, Israel, and the Ordeals of Divine Election - Book Review by Jim Miles
Sunday, 31 October 2010 18:20
by Jim Miles
The Chosen Peoples - America, Israel, and the Ordeals of Divine Election. Todd Gitlin and Liel Leibowtiz. Simon & Schuster. 2010.
A work on studying chosen peoples needs to be approached with some kind of trepidation when one knows that they themselves are not chosen. If for nothing else, it is impossible to rationally argue against faith in biblical ‘chosenness.’ However, if one accepts the underlying premise that other people believe in their being chosen then the idea of chosenness can be worked with. This appears to be what the authors of this new book “The Chosen Peoples” attempt to examine.
In an historical sense, looking at the way the idea of being chosen affected the decisions and events around the people claiming to be chosen, the authors did a reasonable job. It is much more of an historical overview than a psychological examination of the ramifications that assuming and advocating “divine election” would create. The material covered does provide a slim overview of historical events.
In the Jewish case the mythological biblical events concern the original ‘nation’ of Israel - nation being a term that has several meanings according to its context - and how it develops through the diaspora and on into Zionism and the current problems of Israel/Palestine. In the case of the United States, the historical review starts with the first colonial settlers and their attitudes and actions in relation with the indigenous populations, and then carries forward through several presidencies to the current support of the state of Israel by the U.S. government.
Within these presentation the obvious questions should rise, that “If you are the chosen people, are you acting in a manner in which that divine election was intended? And if not, is there the possibility that the election could be nullified?” The authors put it this way, sort of a half question, “that its [Israel’s] values rested on the people’s commitment to God’s commandments, that the land was theirs only so they might strive to become just?” This is followed by another half question reminding the readers that “Israel’s first two historical sojourns in Zionism ended in exile, with the Lord displeased with His people’s transgressions, their greed and idolatry?”
How To Reverse A Deflation: Helicopter Ben Needs To Drop Some Money On Main Street
Friday, 24 September 2010 06:54
by Eileen Fleming
The Fed is proposing another round of
“quantitative easing,” although the first round failed to reverse
deflation. It failed because the money went into the coffers of banks,
which failed to lend it on. To reverse deflation, the money needs to be
funneled directly to state and local economies.
In 2002, in a speech that earned him the nickname
“Helicopter Ben,” then-Fed Governor Bernanke famously said that the
government could easily reverse a deflation, just by printing money and
dropping it from helicopters. “The U.S. government has a technology,
called a printing press (or, today, its electronic equivalent),” he
said, “that allows it to produce as many U.S. dollars as it wishes at
essentially no cost.” Later in the speech he discussed “a
money-financed tax cut,” which he said was “essentially equivalent to
Milton Friedman’s famous ‘helicopter drop’ of money.” You could cure a
deflation, said Professor Friedman, simply by dropping money from
It seems logical enough. If there is
insufficient money in the money supply (deflation), the solution is to
put more money into it. But if deflation is so easy to fix, then why
has the Fed’s massive attempts to date failed to do the job? At the
Federal Reserve’s Jackson Hole summit on August 27, Chairman Bernanke
said he would fight deflation with his whole arsenal, including
“quantitative easing” (QE) – purchasing longterm securities with money
created on a computer. Yet since 2008, the Fed has added more than $1.2
trillion to “base money”
doing just that, and the economy is still in a serious deflationary
spiral. In the first quarter of this year, the money supply actually shrank at a record annual rate of 9.6%.
Cullen Roche at The
Pragmatic Capitalist has an answer to that puzzle. He says that as
currently practiced, quantitative easing (QE) is not really a money
drop. It is just an asset swap:
“[T]he Fed doesn’t actually ‘print’ anything when it
initiates its QE policy. The Fed simply electronically swaps an asset
with the private sector. In most cases it swaps deposits with an interest
The Fed just swaps Federal Reserve Notes (dollar bills)
for other assets (promissory notes or debt) that can quickly be turned into
money. The Fed is merely trading one form of liquidity for another, without
raising the overall water level in the pool.
Oceania by Andre Vltchek - Book Review by Jim Miles
Tuesday, 21 September 2010 10:57
by Jim Miles
Having spent six years travelling and exploring the many regions of the
idylicized South Pacific, Andre Vltchek reveals in his latest book,
“Oceania,” that it is a region endangered by its encounters with external
actions and ideas. While all is not lost yet, and some smaller areas still
retain their indigenous subsistent inhabitation of the water and lands, all the
islands, atolls, and reefs are highly stressed by many factors, factors that in
the confined spaces of an island or atoll, suddenly seem magnified in
significance as compared to a larger continental land mass.
Vltchek wanders across the entire region - slowly as it were - using the
highly constrained and schedules and authoritarian rules of the few airlines
that service the area. The airlines are predominantly foreign controlled, and
that foreign control is what leads to the majority of the problems in the
region. Most of the island groups are nominally independent countries, yet have
become ‘re-colonized’ through a variety of modern connivances and rules and
regulations imposed from outside, often supported by elites and their cronies
within. The themes and ideas covered in the book are familiar to anyone
following current world events, but in an area where so much is focussed on such
a small land base, the litany of negative events and actions appear almost
Paradise lost (almost)
As I made notes reading through this book, they quickly veered from straight
line sequenced notes to a web of interactions wherein one event or rule or
regulation affected not only one small area, but interacted with other events
and rules creating a spider web of reinforcing - and controlling - intentions.
Those intentions, in their simplest expression, is to control the resources of
the area (fishing, mining, agriculture), to control the geopolitical access and
rights of the region (the political machinations of the China/Taiwan game, UN
voting preferences on international issues, western countries that support
various elite groups), and to control information concerning the region and the
subjugation it suffers from these foreign and elitist groups.
Generally I place all current events under three very general headings, all
of which are necessarily related and intertwined with each other: the
environment, the economy, and the military /political.
The environment in the region is generally known as an idyllic tropical
get-away, with some concern about the rising ocean waters that affect Tuvalu,
the Marshall Islands, and Kiribati, with the former receiving the most media
attention. As if losing three nations and their distinct indigenous cultures is
not enough, environmental concerns arise in all of the islands for similar and
Vltchek discusses logging on the larger islands and the resulting chemical
contamination of fresh and salt waters. That necessarily ties over into the
economy as the logs are exported, leaving the concerned area with a devastated
forest, little in the way of economic development as the earnings go to the
elites but mostly to the overseas corporations that operate in the area. The
economy then has an impact on the human economy as crime, prostitution, disease,
tend to become norms in an area in which the indigenous culture no longer offers
a valid means in which to maintain a living.
Another environmental/economic factor stemming from the above is that of
agriculture. This broad topic covers everything from rising obesity, diabetes,
illnesses, pollution from garbage dumps, to insecticides and herbicides used in
palm oil plantations. Land ownership becomes an issue as the corporations run
rampant over areas that may have formerly been communal but now are claimed by
the elites and their cronies who then profit from their use for other than
subsistence agricultural purposes.
Toward a New Public Diplomacy - Redirecting U.S. Foreign Policy. Book Review by Jim Miles
Wednesday, 15 September 2010 07:08
by Jim Miles
This collection of essays could be summed up in one word: image. Other words
used throughout the text range from the more benign terms of “perception” and
“communication tactics” through to the harder terms of “propaganda,” the
military “strategic communications” and the rather laborious military phrase of
“coordinated information dissemination.” At its base however it wall returns to
the one word, image.
Image as opposed to actions, in that U.S. public diplomacy rarely if ever
admits to mistakes in the grand purpose of the U.S. and will only do so under
limited circumstances when media exposure catches their actions at cross
purposes with their purported rhetorical ideology. The underlying assumption of
all authors, some more boldly stated than others, is that the U.S. is right, it
is good, and therefore we do not need to change our actions, what we need to
adjust is our image.
Toward a New Public Diplomacy is divided into roughly three sections. The
first looks at the case for public diplomacy. The second examines three
different view points from the outside looking in (essentially all three give
‘fails’). Finally, there are five essays on what the future should hold for U.S.
public diplomacy - none of which mention the essential factor that the U.S. is a
highly militarized society occupying several countries with military bases in
over 150 countries at a huge cost to the U.S. economy.
The book attempts to make the case for “soft power”, all those things that
are non-military that can “establish the legitimacy of American action,” partly
because “The current struggle against terrorism is a struggle to win hearts and
minds.” The assumptions supporting all these arguments are the over-used phrases
about “our democracy and our political system generally,” including the
neo-liberal free market capitalism as a large part of that system. The first
chapter on soft power ends with the statement that the “natural soft power
advantages America enjoys can be of great benefit to the national interest.” Not
the Iraqi national interest… nor Afghanistan… Pakistan… Mexico… any country in
Latin America… in other words, the U.S. “national interest” is seldom one that
serves other countries well, in spite of the jargon, in spite of the rhetoric,
in spite of the image, in spite of the attempts to use soft power in the face of
hugely militarized foreign geopolitical policy.
The second chapter provides a rather boring history of attempts by Various
U.S. agencies/departments to organize public diplomacy. If this is the stuff of
U.S. academia and its insights into foreign policy, it is no wonder U.S.
diplomacy is so dismal.
Legacies of colonialism and more
In chapter three, “The Lessons of Al Hurra Television,” the U.S. sponsored
Arab language TV station, the general commentary is on its failure. Within the
discussion is the statement that the station “may have further strengthened
perceptions, of the United States as an arrogant, disrespectful and bullying
nation.” Or perhaps the realities on the ground, of the extensive use of
pre-emptive hard force, military force, and occupation, and torture, and murder
and all those other things that go along with the military might have had some
influence. Or perhaps the rest of the world is not as ignorant as the U.S.
assumes they are, and are quite aware of the U.S. interests in oil, containment
of Russia and China, and the harvesting of the wealth of the world for their own
The U.S. assumes ignorance in viewers/recipients of U.S. propaganda when
their own population is highly ignorant of world geography, cultural, and
political issues. The author recognizes this somewhat saying, “Arab
anti-American sentiment and opposition to U.S. policies in the region stem from
a number of historical factors, including the legacies of European colonialism,
as well as some important substantive disagreements about the purpose and effect
of U.S. policy, not a lack of access to information.” [italics added]
That legacy includes the overthrow of the democratically elected Mossadegh
government, the support of the Shah and his SAVAK inquisitors, the unparallel
support given to Saudi Arabia for its oil in counterpoint to its multi-billion
dollar support of Israel in its occupation of Palestinian land. I would imagine
that the “important substantive disagreements” would include the sanctions on
Iraq/Iran, the occupation of Iraq, the occupation of Afghanistan, the drone
attacks on Pakistan and the many covert government and private actions that are
spread throughout the Middle East.
The three essays looking at U.S. public diplomacy from the outside can be
summed up in one word: fail. The views arrive from Russia, Egypt, and China.
Russia is identified as a lost opportunity, lost after the dismantling of the
Soviet empire. The author recognizes that “The convergence of business and
public diplomacy activity can be successful because today’s global business is
deeply engaged in global politics and international affairs.” All too true, both
for Russia and the rest of the world.
What is not discussed in this essay is the huge impact the IMF interests had
on an unstructured post-Soviet economy and how all the rhetoric of free markets
and globalization robbed much of the wealth of Russia into the hands of a few
powerful oligarchs as well as western financial interests. Further, throughout
all the essays, there is little recognition that along with the military
hardware that the U.S. throws around the globe, there is also a lot of
influence, hard influence on the politics and financial well being of many
countries under the negative influence of IMF/World Bank/WTO/OECD regulations
under supranational corporate power. Not all of that is U.S. power, but the
initiatives come from the Washington consensus and most other countries fall
into line behind their leadership. Otherwise, even more invasive hard power is
used, covert or overt.
Palestine Betrayed - Book Review by Jim Miles
Wednesday, 01 September 2010 06:05
by Jim Miles
Palestine Betrayed. Efraim Karsh. Yale University Press, London, 2010.
Was Palestine betrayed? Of course it was, by the British, the United States,
France, the League of Nations, the United Nations, the remnants of the Ottoman
empire, all of the regional Arab countries, and by certain elites and powerful
of Palestine itself. Efraim Karsh makes the latter two the main if not the sole
responsible for the nakba - the disaster - that occurred in 1947-48 with the
announced partition of Palestine followed by the declaration of the state of
Israel. “Palestine Betrayed,” as portrayed by Karsh, is the story
of the connivances of the Arab leaders in the region along with the elites of
Palestine while the Jewish population continually offered peace and coexistence
with their brethren and encouraged them to stay in their villages and towns to
become partners in the new state enterprise.
Karsh is both right…
Karsh is right in that, yes, the Palestinians were in essence betrayed by the
Arab leaders at the time more concerned about their own scenarios and power
bases than that of a nascent Palestinian nationality. Further he is correct in
that some of the local Palestinian leadership - or what remained of it after the
British military violently dealt with them in the previous ‘Arab revolt’ - told
the people of the towns and villages to evacuate and retreat away from the
advancing Jewish forces. He presents many quotes from Jewish leaders, Ben Gurion
in particular, that attempt to show that the Jewish people wished to live in
peaceful coexistence with their Arab neighbours.
…and horribly wrong.
His approach and methodology of trying to reconstruct the arguments around
the nakba are horribly wrong in several ways.
In the introduction he writes, “It is understandable for leaders and
politicians, culpable for their nation’s greatest ever disaster, to revert to
hyperbole and lies in their quest for personal and collective exoneration, it is
inexcusable for future generations of scholars and intellectuals to substitute
propaganda for incontrovertible facts.” In other words, “These politicized
historians have turned the saga of Israel’s birth upside down, with the
aggressors transformed in hapless victims and vice versa.”
His main historical criticism is directed at the “new historians” - who have
“total unfamiliarity…with the Arab world…and their condescending treatment of
the Palestinians as passive objects.” He says that, “rather than unearth new
facts or offer novel interpretations”, they have “recycled the standard
Palestinian Arab narrative of the conflict.” Karsh then continues to announce
that “the recent declassification of millions of documents from the period of
the British mandate and Israel’s early days, documents untapped by earlier
generations of writer and ignored or distorted by the “new historians.”
The result is that the new documents reveal “that there was nothing
inevitable about the Palestinian-Jewish confrontation….that the claim of
premeditated dispossession is not only baseless but the inverse of the truth,”
and that it was the Arab leaders “against the wishes of their own constituents,
launched a relentless campaign to obliterate the Jewish national revival.”
“It is to reclaim this historical truth that this book has been written.”
Karsh succeeds, and he fails.
If the reader is unfamiliar with any other writings on Israel, the “new
historians” that Karsh so disparages (and to the uninitiated, the new historians
are predominantly if not solely Israeli academics), and if the reader is
unfamiliar with the larger historical contexts of the world’s empires during the
Nineteenth and Twentieth Century and their impacts within the Middle East, the
reclamation of historical truth works. That is, it does present a picture of a
peaceful Jewish population betrayed by a greedy, backwards, ineffective, and
self-serving Arab leadership.
The Global Economic Crisis: The Great Depression of the XXI Century - Book Review by Kellia Ramares
Sunday, 15 August 2010 00:35
by Kéllia Ramares
Orthodox economic theory does not acknowledge the amply documented fact that financial actors can not only influence but actually manipulate the market, make it move in a particular direction…. Economic theory does not address the structural causes of economic collapse…. We are not dealing with a cyclical process; what is at stake is a major dislocation in the financial, trading and productive structures of the global economy.
--Michel Chossudovsky, The Global Economic Crisis, p16 (emphasis in original).
Earlier this summer, I was invited to attend a brown bag lunch in Berkeley, California, hosted by the Sustainable Economies Law Center. SELC helps urban farmers, worker-owned co-ops, and other social enterprises sort through legal gray areas. The lunch was a discussion about money that had a diverse group of participants who wished to do various things such as “reboot” the financial system, promote individual investments in local food systems (Slow Money Alliance) or abolish monetary systems altogether (The End of Money, my contribution to the discussion). Although most of the discussion was focused on the future, one man was concerned with teaching people how the current system worked.
As he made his point, I drew from my bag a copy of The Global Economic Crisis, and soon was telling the group that this book would do just what that gentleman had just said needed to be done.
But this is not a ordinary book on financial literacy that will tell people about the differences between banks and credit unions, the role credit scores play in our personal lives, or how to access small business financing. This book is a compilation of essays by some of the most socially conscious political and economic minds of our time, including James Petras, Bartle Professor (Emeritus) of Sociology at Binghamton University, New York, and the author of more than 60 books published in 29 languages, Peter Phillips, Professor of Sociology at California State University—Sonoma and director of the Project Censored Awards program, Peter Dale Scott, a former Canadian diplomat and English Professor at the University of California—Berkeley, and renowned researcher of the New World Order, Ellen Brown, author of the best selling book Web of Debt, which examines the inner workings of the Federal Reserve, and Mike Whitney, an independent writer in Washington State who analyzes the inner workings of Wall Street.
The Global Economic Crisis describes the big picture, the global macroeconomics that translate into high unemployment, massive foreclosures, drastic cuts in local governmental services, and bankruptcy for millions of individuals, and businesses large and small, worldwide. And the understanding of economics at the global level, not how to open a checking account or how to shop for an auto loan, is the financial literacy the public needs most.
Start-Up Nation - The Story of Israel’s Economic Miracle - Book Review by Jim Miles
Friday, 06 August 2010 04:57
by Jim Miles
There are no Palestinians….
Israel is an amazing place as one puts together the implications from Start-Up Nation. It is a fount of free enterprise can-do entrepreneurial spirit. There are no resistances, although something called an Intifada concerned the authors somewhat, without being specified as to what it is/was. There are no freedom fighters nor insurgents, no guerrillas nor rebellions. For that matter there are no Palestinians as the word has been expunged from the authors’ vocabulary completely (unless it was in a boring anecdotal section that I skim read and missed - not likely). Israel, except for a few wandering Arabs, was “largely a barren wasteland.”
The only people - other than Jews, Zionists, and various other national entrepreneurs - to people this book are the terrorists, obviously dealt with very effectively by somebody within the Israeli Defence Forces (IDF). The authors use the media presumption that anyone against the state of Israel must be a terrorist and they are there for seemingly no reason at all, other than that ‘they are against us and hate us for what we are,’ an attitude one could expect from writers with Council on Foreign Relations background. Without these contextual placements, this work fails completely. Even accepting these contextual failures, the ‘miracle’ that is Israel is not very miraculous at all, but is based on what are normal means of establishing national wealth.
I knew before I read the book that I expected certain elements to be addressed in order for it to be a complete contextual presentation on this supposed miracle. The questions I asked, and that I wrote on the front fly-leaf of the book before reading even the cover flap were:
Does the book discuss the U.S. foreign aid of about $3 billion dollars annually and an etimated 114 billion dollars since inception?
Does it mention the historical period before the war, before the UN Resolution, and immediately following the declaration of the state of Israel, when financial support from the U.K. and the U.S. had already become common place?
Is there a discussion of the occupation and settlements of prime agricultural land and the control of natural resources (the most important being water)?
Is there any effect of the hostage population of Palestinians in creating cheap labour markets and a captive sales market?
Is the technology trade with the U.S. discussed, and in its entirety of state of the art military technology and not just the run of the mill, out of date stuff sold to other countries?
Well no, there are no answers to these questions, except for the one on U.S. technology imports, answered only partially and perhaps inadvertently in a single line in the concluding section of the work. Shimon Peres is cited as saying, “Every technology that arrives in Israel from America, it comes to the army and in five minutes, they change it.” The technology Israel receives is state of the art technology in military and security hardware and software.
Letters from Palestine - Palestinians Speak Out about Their Lives, Their Country, and the power of Nonviolence - Book Review by Jim Miles
Thursday, 08 July 2010 06:37
by Jim Miles
Letters from Palestine - Palestinians Speak Out about
Their Lives, Their
Country, and the power of Nonviolence. Kenneth Ring and Ghassan Abdullah
Kenneth Ring’s writing on Palestine has already
received just praise, as it
is another in a series of recently published works that cry from the
Palestine. And while I have read many other books on Palestine, “Letters
from Palestine”, as with others that are set within a personal
brings forth the undying hope and resilience of the Palestinian people
face of severe hostility from Israel and a careless disregard from most
western media and governments. What come through uniquely from this work
of hope combined with youthfulness, that the Palestinian story will
surely go on
and on as long as there are Palestinians to relate it.
The injustices perpetrated by the Zionists of Israel, supported by
awkward and embarrassing sycophantic participation of the U.S.
also military and corporations), cannot endure forever. It is from these
from Palestine that spring the message that the Palestinians will not
and die off and there will be no one left to remember that there was a
Palestine. There is life, there is hope, there is memory.
What really impressed me as I read was the general youthfulness of
writers, second and third generation refugees and residents who carried
memories forward. Not just memories of their own horrible experiences
memories of their parents and their parents before them. Combined with
youthfulness is an eagerness for education, recognizing that education
means to escape the misery of the occupation, to better one’s own life,
to contribute back to their people, their ancestors, and the land they
worked on over thousands of years, “Palestine lives in its children.”
Most ‘Americans’, if one truly includes the Americas of the central
southern geographies are well aware of the violent nature and ill
governments backed by the government of the United States. They are also
aware of the manner in which the United States ignores international law
area that gets in the way of its ideological desires. Further, they are
the covert, subversive, and torturous methods that they promulgate in
achieve their ends.
War Without Context: Restrepo and the Korengal Valley - Film Review by Hannah Gurman
Sunday, 27 June 2010 06:12
by Hannah Gurman Ph.D.
“The reaches opened
before us and closed behind, as if the forest had stepped leisurely
across the water to bar the way for our return. We
penetrated deeper and deeper into the heart of darkness.”
Heart of Darkness
Junger’s documentary, Restrepo, which premiered at the Human Rights
Watch Film Festival in New York last Friday and opens commercially on
June 25, has been racking up the superlatives. It won the
Grand Jury Prize at Sundance. The New York Times surmised
it just might be the “most frightening” of the many recent films that takes a hard-nosed
look at the daily experience of war. And according to Slug
Magazine, Restrepo “may be the finest
documentary created about war in our time”.
The film, which traces
the second battalion in the Korengal Valley over the course of their
deployment in 2006-2007, gives us the raw experience of war in this
dangerous region of Afghanistan. We hear the snap snap and
see the smoke of the machine guns and rocket fire during the daily
firefights. We feel the loss of “Doc” Restrepo, who bled out on the
helicopter after being shot in the legs in the first months of the
mission, but whose death did not prevent the group from penetrating
deeper into the steep mountainside to build an operating base named
after the fallen. We witness and vicariously feel the
shock of being ambushed on the mission to keep pushing the boundary
farther and, in the midst of battle, we see the young men turn behind
them, where the body of their friend, who has just caught enemy fire,
lies. We are with the men in quieter moments too, playing
the guitar, dancing arm in arm to the tune of “Touch Me,” and joking
about their sex lives. Basically being “normal guys.”
These scenes are
and worth documenting. In a time when most Americans are
so divorced from the experience or sacrifice of war, Restrepo drives
these realities home. Individually and collectively, the
men in the film have an important story to tell—from Captain Dan
Kearney, the no-holds-barred leader who needs to keep the mission and
his soldiers moving forward, to specialist Misha Pemble-Belkin who
reflects fondly on his hippie pacifist upbringing as he fires a machine
gun across the valley into the opposite ridge.
As illuminating as the
American soldier’s perspective may be, it is only one vantage point onto
the experience of war. Especially when it comes to
feature films, this angle generally gets more emphasis than any other,
partly because it makes for good drama and partly because of relative
institutional, cultural, and logistical ease. Embedded
journalism and film have so dominated our window onto the wars in Iraq
and Afghanistan, however, that they threaten to marginalize the larger
context of these wars.
The Korengal valley, or
“valley of death,” as it
has been dubbed by Americans, is a small region in eastern Afghanistan
near the Pakistan border. Most of the fighting occurred
around its population cluster, which consists of a handful of villages
and several hundred houses. The remoteness of the valley
lends itself to a sense of Korengal as a timeless region in “the middle
of nowhere” and “away from everything.” This, combined
with the heavy fighting and high casualties in the region, has made
Korengal the subject of many a returning soldier’s nightmares. As
Michael Cummings recounts in his blog about
the war, “In my dream, I had returned
to the Korengal
Valley, later nicknamed the "Valley of Death." I only spent a couple
months in the Korengal, but it felt much longer. The place haunted me
before I arrived in Afghanistan; it still haunts me.”
Like the river in
Conrad’s Heart of Darkness and Kubrick’s Apocalypse Now, the
valley is not so much a place in itself. Rather, it
represents the deepest and darkest recesses of the soldier’s emotional
experience. As the soldier gets deeper and deeper into the
terrain, he digs deeper and deeper into his own psyche. The
soldiers in Restrepo rarely see the man firing gunshots and
rockets at them. To the extent that he exists, the actual
human enemy, as timeless as the rocks that shape this terrain, is merely
an outgrowth of the valley itself. Here, in this alien
terrain, the soldier faces war pure and simple.
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