Volume 21, Number 7
Fannie Lou Hamer
Winter Soldier II
Behind the Scenes
Center for constitutional rights -- Ccr
CÃ©sar cuauhtÃ©moc GarcÃÂa hernÃ¡ndez
Pentagon's Toxic Legacy
Jeffrey st. Clair
Vietnam to Dude...
Body of War
Soldiers of Reason
Zinn's American Empire
Vision - Cooling Planet
Chomsky, Pappé Interview
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Invading the Middle East: Napolean to Bush
An interview with Juan Cole
BARSAMIAN: Joseph Conrad in Heart of Darkness writes, "They were conquerors and for that you want only brute force. They grabbed what they could for the sake of what was to be got. It was just robbery with violence, aggravated murder on a grand scale, and men going at it blind." Talk about Conrad's observations about conquest and the notion of an idea and Napoleon's
Many high-minded things are said in such situations, but, typically, if you look closely at what's actually happening, there are attacks on villagers, there is theft of livestock to pay taxes. For example, in
What memory did the Crusades play in terms of the Arab
Literate Egyptians, clerics, and historians remembered the Crusades and were writing about them at that time. Bonaparte was afraid that the general Egyptian public might interpret his invasion as a renewal of the Crusades so he was careful to disassociate himself from Christianity. He boasted that he had attacked the Pope in
Instruments of state propaganda were rather modest then compared to today. How did Napoleon sell his project?
Bonaparte brought a printing press with him. It wasn't the first time Egyptians had ever had experience of a printing press because there was printing in
And then he claimed to be a Muslim of some sort or about to convert. His argument was that French deism of the time—it was associated with the French Revolution—didn't reject the existence of God, but rejected Christian theology, the divinity of Christ, the Trinity, the church hierarchy, and so on. Bonaparte's argument was, if you take all those emphases of deism, the idea of God as a clockmaker, it's basically like Islam. He understood that the illegitimacy of a Christian European ruling a Muslim country would stand in the way of the success of his enterprise so he tried to finesse things.
In the 18th century
You describe Napoleon as speaking flawed French with a Corsican accent. Nevertheless, he had a charismatic hold on his troops and, presumably, on large numbers of the French people. You quote a French officer at the time, who said, "I was seduced by the renown of the commander in chief and the glory of our arms. It was a delirium."
This great expedition to
You compare Napoleon's France with the North Atlantic states who later invaded the
I talk about the persistent pathologies of the enlightenment republic. Famously, Aristotle talked about the three major forms of government: monarchy, aristocracy, and democracy. He thought each of them could deteriorate so a monarchy eventually becomes a tyranny and an aristocracy eventually becomes a junta. What can happen to democracies is that they can be seduced by a charismatic leader, they can turn somewhat fascist.
I think it's implicit in enlightenment ideology and in the French and American Revolutions that each nation would have sovereignty, that people would be free to rule themselves. But both the
It's possible for a republic to betray its belief in popular sovereignty. This seems to be the direction in which democracies decay. Sometimes they decay altogether and you get the Weimar Republic turning into Nazi Germany, but sometimes they keep the semblance at home of democratic institutions, but they engage in activities abroad that are entirely incompatible with their founding principles.
Muslim societies, as some Americans are discovering—in
This is something that the French discovered in
The tendency for modern Western armies is to search and destroy. When you have an enemy, you find the troublemakers and there are arms caches and then you kill them and get rid of the arms. Then everything will be quiet. That's the assumption, anyway. But if you're dealing with a kinship society, there is this sense of honor and revenge. If you track an insurgent down and kill him, you may be incurring a big feud against 25 cousins. Search and destroy tactics can actually start a spiral of violence.
The people that planned the
Bush, just weeks before the attack on Iraq, did not know that there were Sunnis and Shi'as in the country.
That's what Ambassador Peter Galbraith reports, that there were Sunnis and Shi'ites and there might be some reprisals. Galbraith reports Bush as saying, "I thought they were all Muslims." So he doesn't seem to have had a clear idea of what a Sunni and a Shi'ite is.
You cite Edward Said about orientalism. One of Said's points is that there is a cadre of scholars who put themselves at the service of power.
Said's idea is more wide-ranging. I think he's taking over from a French philosopher, Michel Foucault, the premise that all knowledge is entangled with networks of power, that knowledge and power are inseparable from one another. A lot of the ways in which the Middle East is talked about, even by people who are on the ground and know it fairly well, reflect ways of talking about it that go back to the 19th century. Even just calling these "clan leaders" and Ramadi "tribal chieftains," that's a Victorian phrase for them.
There is a kind of excuse given for the brutal and vicious French invasion and occupation of
But Said would say they measured
You think about what is the
It's actually quite ironic. Napoleon had to escape from
One of the explanations for the centrality of political Islam to contemporary Middle Eastern developments is that it's a reaction against colonial impositions. One of the things political Islam asks is, Why should we have British, Anglo-Saxon, common law as the basis for our legal procedure? Why wouldn't it be Islamic law, which is what we had before the British showed up? Then, of course, they romanticize the history of Islamic law.
Many of the disputes are really about authenticity and one's relationship to the former metropole and so forth. The Algerian civil war of the 1990s and early 2000s is, in a way, a fight between lower-middle-class Arabic speakers who don't have much of the French heritage and the Algerian upper and middle classes—people in the oil industry and people in the army, many of whom went to school in France. So that cultural divide and the dispute over the colonial heritage are important for the destiny of the country.
One of the major issues in Islam, particularly in the
The first thing to say is that the Sunni-Shi'ite divide, although it is long standing and has characterized the conflict in places like Iran and elsewhere in history, doesn't have to be the basis for political identity. In 20th century
It was Saddam Hussein who tried to make the Sunni areas in
It was the U.S. destruction of the secular Ba'ath regime that then caused Iraqis to reorganize themselves and to rethink their position and often to make an appeal, as political entrepreneurs emerged, to religious identity as a way of winning elections and getting ahead. And then you had the Sunni Arab guerilla movement, some of it Ba'athist, some of it fundamentalist Sunnis or Salafis, who deliberately attempted to foment sectarian violence as a way of making the country ungovernable and forcing the Americans out.
The things that have happened since 2003 are now often talked about by observers, politicians, and journalists in the
Weren't there also particular political decisions made by
Yes. The American conception of how to rule
That's part of what went on, but I think the bigger source of these problems was that the Americans more or less conducted a social revolution when they conquered
It would be as though a foreign country conquered the
In your book you write that Napoleon was "pioneering a form of imperialism that deployed liberal rhetoric and institutions for the extraction of resources and geopolitical advantage." Can one perhaps insert the name of George Bush or some other contemporary leader and read the same sentence?
That was one of the things that I was talking about when I was discussing the pathologies of Enlightenment republics. It is possible to mobilize that rhetoric of liberty and popular sovereignty for essentially imperial purposes. It's an odd combination because you can understand how an empire, like the Spanish Empire, might get involved in having colonies because from the point of view of an empire, what would it matter to the emperor whether they're ruling Catalans or Mexicans. The nature of empire is to be polyglot and to incorporate as much territory as possible, without regard to what language people speak or what religion they are or whatever. So many empires have been quite mixed in their populations. The
But what the French were really doing in the course of the late 18th century was developing sister republics or daughter republics. So the French re-formed
So this republican empire looks a little bit different, but it is ultimately empire and it is ultimately hierarchical and it's extractive and it's oppressive in various ways.
You used the word "mess" to describe
It's counterfactual and historians are uncomfortable with counterfactuals: could things have been done differently, could things have been done better, and so forth. If the question is, was it ever likely that the
What lessons can you draw based on the research you did for Napoleon's
My argument is that Bonaparte's
Over time, in the 19th century, the gap grew so the Europeans tended to have much better guns. Range and accuracy in a gun really means quite a lot. If I can pick somebody off at 100 yards and they can't pick me off unless I get closer, then I win every time. So there was this long period in the 19th century and the early 20th century when European powers really could rule over
One of the problems with the American enterprise in
What I'm saying is that it was predictable. For the same reason that the British couldn't remain in
Z Magazine Archive
AnnouncementsLABOR - May 1 is May Day. Workers of the world will celebrate the 124th anniversary of International Worker’s Day. Born out of a call for an 8-hour workday in the United States, this day is an opportunity for all workers to show their solidarity with one another, as well as to renew the call for labor rights.
FARM CONFERENCE - The Farm Conference on Community and Sustainability will be held May 24-26 in Summertown, TN, in partnership with the Fellowship of Intentional Communities. Tour green homes, see sustainable food production, learn about solar installations, alternative education, midwifery, and more.
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PALESTINE - The Conference of the Palestinian Shatat in North American will be held June 3-5 in Vancouver. The conference will examine the future of the Palestinian liberation movement.
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LABOR - The Pacific Northwest Labor History Association’s 45th annual conference will be held May 3-5, in Portland, OR. This year’s theme is Labor Under Attack: Learning from the Past and Preparing for the Future. A call for presentations, workshops and papers is currently underway.
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MARIJUANA - On the first Saturday of May marijuana legalization activists will hold informational and educational events, rallies and marches in over 300 cities around the world.
ECONOMICS - The Union For Radical Political Economics will hold its 39th annual conference May 9-11 in New York City.
RECLAIM THE DREAM - The 2013 Poor People’s Campaign & March from Baltimore to Washington D.C. will be May 11. Communities, schools and unions interested in participating are encouraged to contact the Baltimore People’s Assembly.
Contact: 410-500-2168; 410-218-4835; BaltimorePeoplesAssembly@gmail.com; Southern Christian Leadership Conference of Baltimore and the Baltimore Peoples Power Assembly, 2011 N. Charles St., Baltimore, MD 21218.
MOTHER’S DAY - The 17th Annual Mother’s Day Walk For Peace will be May 12th, in Dorchester, MA. The walk began in 1996 for families who had lost children to violence. The day has become a way for thousands of people to financially support the work of the Louis Brown Peace Institute.
Contact: http://www.ldbpeaceinstitute.org/; http://mothersdaywalk4peace.org/.
NATO 5 - An International Week of Solidarity with the NATO 5 has been called for May 16-21. Supports call on supporters to raise awareness of the NATO 5 and support funds for the defendants on the one-year anniversary of their preemptive arrests.
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MOUNTAINTOP - The 2013 Mountain Justice Summer Activist Training Camp will be held May 19-27 in Damascus, VA. It will be a week of workshops, field trips to view Mountain Top Removal coal mines, direct actions, and service project.
FEMINIST SCI-FI - The feminist science fiction convention WisCon 37 is scheduled for May 24-27 in Madison, WI.
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ANARCHY FEST - A month-long Festival of Anarchy is scheduled for May in Montreal. The festival includes The Montreal Anarchist Bookfair (May 19-20).
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LABOR - The International Labor Rights Forum will present: Down the Supply Chain, Driving Corporate Accountability, on May 22 in Washington, DC. The Labor Rights Awards Ceremony and Reception will honor pioneers in supply chain worker organizing, working solidarity and international labor rights policy.
MULTICULTURE - The 26th annual National Conference on Race & Ethnicity in American Higher Education (NCORE) will take place May 28-June 1, in New Orleans.
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MEDIA - The 2013 Alliance for Community Media Annual Conference will be held May 29-31, in San Francisco, CA. Participants will include educators, community leaders, media professionals, journalists, nonprofit leaders, policymakers and students.
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BRADLEY MANNING - On June 1, a rally will be held at Fort Meade in support of Bradley Manning.
BIKES - Bikes Not Bombs is holding its 24th annual Bike-A-Thon and Green Roots Festival in Boston, MA on June 3, with several bike rides scheduled, music, exhibitors and more.
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LEFT FORUM - The 2013 Left Forum will be held June 7-9, at Pace University in New York City.
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ADC CONFERENCE - The American-Arab Anti-Discrimination Committee (ADC) holds its annual conference June 13-16, in Washington, DC, with panel discussions and workshops on civil rights, media and other topics.
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CUBA/SOCIALISM - A Cuban-North American Dialog on Socialist Renewal and Global Capitalist Crisis will be held in Havana, Cuba, June 16-30. There will be a 5 day Seminar at University of Havana, plus visits to a cooperative, urban garden, community development project, social research centers, and educational & medical institutions.
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NETROOTS - The 8th Annual Netroots Nation conference will take place June 20-23 in San Jose, CA. The event features panels, trainings, networking, screenings, and keynotes.
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MEDIA - The 15th annual Allied Media Conference will be held June 20-23, in Detroit.
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GRASSROOTS - The United We Stand Festival will be hosted by Free & Equal, June 22 in Little Rock, Arkansas. The festival aims to reform the electoral process throughout the U.S.
SOCIALISM - The Socialism 2013 Conference is scheduled for June 27-30 in Chicago, featuring talks and panel discussions.
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LITERACY - The National Association for Media Literacy Education (NAMLE) will hold its conference July 12-13 in Los Angeles under the heading, Intersections: Teaching and Learning Across Media.
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IWW - The North American Work People’s College will take place July 12-16 at Mesaba Co-op Park in northern Minnesota. The event will bring together Wobblies from branches across the continent to learn new skills and build One Big Union.
PEACESTOCK - On July 13th, the 11th Annual Peacestock: A Gathering for Peace, will take place at Windbeam Farm in Hager City, WI. The event is a mixture of music, speakers and community for peace. Sponsored by Veterans for Peace.
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CHILDREN’S DEFENSE - July 15-19, join clergy, seminarians, Christian educators, young adult leaders and other faith-based advocates for children at CDF Haley Farm in Clinton, Tennessee, for five days of spiritual renewal, networking, movement building workshops, and continuing education about the urgent needs of children at the 19th annual Proctor Institute for Child Advocacy Ministry.
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ACTIVIST CAMP - Youth Empowered Action (YEA) Camp will have sessions in July and August in Ben Lomond, CA; Portland, OR; Charlton, MA. YEA Camp is designed for activists 12-17 years old who want to make a difference in the world.
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LA RAZA - The annual National Council of La Raza (NCLR) Conference is scheduled for July 18-19 in New Orleans, with workshops, presentations and panel discussions.
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LABOR - The Eastern Conference For Workplace Democracy: Growing Our Cooperatives, Growing Our Communities, will be held at Drexel University in Philadelphia, PA, July 26-28.
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WOMEN/LYNNE STEWART- Radical Women is asking for support letters and cards to be sent to Lynne Stewart. Stewart is a civil rights attorney and political prisoner who is currently in jail. She has breast cancer and authorities have denied her request for transfer from her Texas prison to the New York City hospital where she received medical attention during a prior bout of breast cancer. Send messages and cards to: Lynne Stewart 53504-054, Federal Medical Center Carswell, P.O. Box 27137, Fort Worth, TX 76127.
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HAITI/WOMEN - Haiti’s government is considering a legal reform measure that would prohibit and punish all sexual assault, including marital rape. MADRE and the International Campaign to Stop Rape & Gender Violence in Conflict are launching a petition to raise international support for this push to address violence against women in Haiti.
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SYRIA/MIDDLE EAST - The Middle East Children’s Alliance (MECA) is currently seeking funds to assist more than 200,000 refugees fleeing violence in Syria.
FOLK FESTIVAL - The Falcon Ridge Folk Festival will be held August 2-4, in the Berkshires, NY.
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WAR RESISTERS - The War Resisters League will hold its 90th anniversary conference, Revolutionary Nonviolence: Building Bridges Across Generations and Communities, August 1-4, at Georgetown University. The event will focus on the U.S.’ long history of antimilitarism.
Contact: 339 Lafayette Street, New York, NY 10012; 212-228-0450; email@example.com; http://www.warresisters.org.
POPULAR ECONOMICS - The Center for Popular Economics is holding its 2013 Summer Institute August 4-9 at Hampshire College in Amherst, MA. No background in economics is needed for this intensive training. This year’s theme is, The Care Economy: Building a Just Economy with a Heart.
Contact: Center for Popular Economics, PO Box 785 Amherst, MA 01004; 413-545-0743; firstname.lastname@example.org; www.populareconomics.org.
VETERANS - Veterans for Peace is holding the 28th annual convention August 6-11 in Madison, WI. This year’s theme is, Power To The Peaceful.
DEMOCRACY - The Democracy Convention will take place August 7-11 in Madison, WI. The convention brings together nine conferences including topics such as media, education, defense, race, environment and others.
MEN - The 38th National Conference on Men & Masculinity: Forging Justice: Creating Safe, Equal and Accountable Communities, presented in partnership with HAVEN, will be held in Detroit, MI, August 8-10.
Contact: email@example.com; http://www.nomas.org/.
OCCUPY - An Occupy National Gathering will be held in Kalamazoo, MI, August 21-25.
Contact: firstname.lastname@example.org; http://occupynationalgathering.net/.
COMMUNITIES - The Communities Conference is a networking and learning opportunity for co-operative or communal lifestyles, with workshops, events and entertainment; scheduled for August 30-September 2 at the Twin Oaks Community in Louisa, Virginia.
LABOR DAY - The 29th annual Bread and Roses Festival, a celebration of the ethnic diversity and labor history of Lawrence, MA, will be held September 2, in honor of the 1912 Bread and Roses Strike. There will be music, dance, poetry, drama, ethnic food, historical demonstrations, walking & trolley tours.
Contact: PO Box 1137, Lawrence, MA 01842; 978-794-1655; http://www.breadandrosesheritage.org/.
OCCUPY WALL STREET - September 17 is the two-year anniversary of the Occupy Wall Street movement. Events are planned in New York City and worldwide.
TEACHERS - The 13th Annual Conference, “Teaching for Social Justice: The Politics of Pedagogy,” will be held October 12 in San Francisco, CA. The free event features workshops, resources, and free childcare.
Contact: 415-676-7844; email@example.com; http://www.t4sj.org/.
HAITI - International Action, which brings clean water and chlorinators to Haiti, seeks office space capable of housing up to six people and their office equipment.
Contact: Zach Bremer, Zbrehmer@haitiwater.org; 202-488-0735; http://www.haitiwater.org/.
MEDIA - The Union for Democratic Communications and Project Censored are sponsoring a joint conference on media democracy, media activism and social justice to be held November 1-3 at the University of San Francisco. Proposals for presentations, workshops and panels from activists and critical scholars are invited.