WAR & PEACE
The Shame of Nations
Lawrence S. Wittner
Israel Plots Endgame
The Propaganda System in Overdrive
Edward S. Herman
You Are All Suspects
Occupy & Labor
Educational Diversity Case
Books, Music, TV, and Film
Events, Campaigns, New Releases
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Michael Dobbs on Genocide Prevention: The Propaganda System in Overdrive
Michael Dobbs is a veteran Washington Post reporter who has received some modest attention recently with his Foreign Policy blog, where he has covered (or rather obfuscated) the background and trial of Ratko Mladic and had some exchanges with critics of his undeviatingly establishment positions on the Balkans wars. I won’t deal now with his positions in that Mladic debate, but want to focus on a blog he put up on April 23, 2012 on “Obama, Samantha Power, and the ‘problem from hell’,” which gives in compact and convenient form a string of establishment truths from which Dobbs does not deviate.
This blog is built around a speech that President Obama gave at the U.S. Holocaust Memorial Museum on April 23, 2012, in which he announced new sanctions against perpetrators of mass atrocities. Predictably, the named villains in Obama’s speech were the Nazis (the Holocaust), Cambodia (presumably under the Khmer Rouge; the genocidal bombing under Nixon doesn’t exist in establishment thought), Rwanda (1994), Bosnia, Darfur, Iran, South Sudan, Côte D’Ivoire, Libya, Joseph Kony’s Lords’ Resistance Army, Ratko Mladic, and Syria and Assad.
First Principle of a Propaganda System
This selectivity, and the absence of Bahrain, Kagame, and Rwanda (operating in the Democratic Republic of the Congo), or Israel, certainly doesn’t bother Dobbs in the least. He adheres closely to the first principle of a dependable agent of a propaganda system: namely, his country is only a positive actor in the mass atrocities scene—it doesn’t commit atrocities or support those that do. Its official targets are the genuine villains needing condemnation and punishment and it has a right and responsibility to set things straight. But Dobbs shows his independence by criticizing his leaders a bit—they have lagged in aggressiveness in pursuing their targeted villains.
A second principle of propaganda is to rely strictly on establishment sources. So Dobbs’s sources are Obama, Susan Rice, Samantha Power, and Elie Wiesel. Samantha Power ranks high with Dobbs, as the author of that great and Pulitzer Prize-winning establishment treatise “A Problem From Hell: America in the Age of Genocide (2002). Dobbs says that she “provided much of the intellectual heft for a growing genocide prevention movement that has sought to pressure the United States government to live up to the slogan ‘Never Again’.” Power, like the bold Dobbs, also feels that the United States has been laggardly in fighting against genocide, though it has apparently never occurred to her, or Dobbs, that its first order of business in opposing genocide should be to stop doing it.
Samantha Power is, in fact, the perfect intellectual to chair the Obama administration’s new Atrocities Prevention Board, to which she has been appointed, as her book and record show that she picks and chooses “atrocities” and “genocide” with exquisitely fine selectivity. Dobbs mentions that Power is “haunted” by her failure to do more at the time of the Srebrenica Massacre in Bosnia in 1995. These were “worthy” victims and this attention to Bosnia and Srebrenica was and remains well attuned to the U.S. foreign policy agenda.
The index of Power’s book does not list Indonesia, South Africa, Vietnam, or Guatemala. While she does mention Iraq and Saddam’s crimes, she fails to discuss the “sanctions of mass destruction” that caused the deaths of more than 25 times the number of Bosnian Muslim civilians killed in the 1990s Bosnian wars (which include Srebrenica and to which Power devotes concentrated attention). As regards Indonesia in East Timor, where, again, many more were killed than in Bosnia, she says that the United States simply “turned away.” This is extremely misleading, as President Ford and Secretary of State Henry Kissinger visited Jakarta immediately prior to the Indonesia invasion of East Timor and clearly did not veto it. Arms flowed from the United States to the killers before and after the invasion and U.S. Ambassador to the UN, Daniel Patrick Moynihan, bragged in his memoirs of having prevented any UN intervention to stop the genocide.
Dobbs mentions that another Obama foreign policy adviser, Susan Rice, is also “haunted”—by the experience of the failure of the Clinton administration to intervene to stop the genocide in Rwanda—and she swore that “if I ever faced such a crisis again I would come down on the side of dramatic action.” Samantha Power also stated that, as in East Timor, the United States once again “stood on the sidelines,” as genocide developed in Rwanda. These are twin lies and liars.
The United States supported Paul Kagame and the Rwanda Patriotic Front in its invasion of Rwanda from Uganda starting in 1990. It helped cover up Kagame’s and the RPF’s shooting down of the plane carrying President Habyarimana on April 6, 1994. This event triggered the massive killings (ICTR prosecutor Louise Arbour, under instruction from U.S. officials, cancelled any further investigation of this shootdown once the ICTR’s chief investigator Michael Hourigan, found Kagame likely guilty). Knowing that Kagame had the upper hand militarily, the Clinton administration supported a cutback in UN peacekeeping forces in April 1994 as the killing was escalating.
A State Department memo of September 1994 indicated that Kagame’s forces were killing 10,000 Hutu civilians per month, but this did not interfere with the Clinton administration’s ongoing support of the killing regime, and it failed to “haunt” Rice or Power. So all of Clinton’s belated apologies for failure to intervene are hypocritical lies, Power and Rice are supportive liars and de facto apologists for genocide and Michael Dobbs is a protector of the hypocrites, lies and liars, and policies of genocide support (for details, see Herman and Peterson, The Politics of Genocide).
Dobbs mentions that Elie Wiesel (who spoke at the Holocaust Memorial Museum on April 23) was also haunted and had been “unable to sleep” because of the bloodshed in the former Yugoslavia. Isn’t it remarkable that Power and Wiesel have not been “haunted by” or “unable to sleep” at what happened to the Mayan Indians of Guatemala in the 1980s and what has been going on in nearby Honduras since 2009 or those 500,000 Iraqi children whose deaths via the “sanctions of mass destruction” were said to be “worth it” by Madeleine Albright in 1996? The power of selective indignation is great, but so is the payoff. Here is Power, a professor at Harvard, an adviser to Obama, now chair of an Atrocities Prevention Board, and celebrated here by Michael Dobbs.
Elie Wiesel also contributes to Dobb’s understanding by calling attention to the fact that “Bashar Assad is ‘still in power’ in Syria alongside ‘number one Holocaust Denier’ Mahmoud Ahmadinejad of Iran.” Of course, the number one ethnic cleanser of the current period, Benjamin Netanyahu, is still in power in Israel, and the number one (and only) global free-fire-zone-bomber was standing right next to Wiesel in the Holocaust Memorial Museum. But this is the land of hypocrisy and home of the knave, so it all fits together.
Dobbs tells us that a main lesson of Power’s “seminal” book is that “U.S. policy-makers are adept at calling for action to stop ‘genocide in the abstract while simultaneously opposing American involvement at the moment’.” Actually, the United States has often been involved “at the moment” in carrying out genocide directly, as in Vietnam (maybe 3 million killed, versus 100,000 in Bosnia), the “sanctions of mass destruction” in Iraq (maybe 1 million), and in Indonesia, East Timor, and the DRC (through support of murderous clients Kagame and Museveni). The United States has also been a crucial participant in the slow genocide being carried out by Israel in Palestine where there has been a long-standing effort to get the untermenschen to die or migrate and to crush them as a people and a culture. So Americans are deeply involved “at every moment,” but with morally bereft tools like Obama, Power, Rice and Wiesel, with a depoliticized and brainwashed public, and with pathetic hacks like Michael Dobbs to spew forth the party lines, reality can be stood on its head.
Edward S. Herman is an economist, media critic, and author. His latest book is The Politics of Genocide (with David Peterson).
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.
Contact: Douglas@thefarmcommunity.com; http://www.thefarmcommunity.com/.
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.
Contact: firstname.lastname@example.org; http://www.palestinianconference.org/.
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.
Contact: PNLHA, 27920 68th Ave. East, Graham, WA 98338; 206-406-2604; PNLHA1@aol.com; http://www3.telus.net.
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.
Contact: email@example.com; https://nato5support.wordpress.com.
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.
Contact: WisCon, ? SF3, PO Box 1624, Madison, WI 53701; firstname.lastname@example.org; http://www.wiscon.info/.
ANARCHY FEST - A month-long Festival of Anarchy is scheduled for May in Montreal. The festival includes The Montreal Anarchist Bookfair (May 19-20).
Contact: http://www.anarchistbookfair.ca/; http://www.radicalmontreal.com/.
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.
Contact: SWCHRS, 3200 Marshall Avenue, Suite 290, Norman, OK 73072; 405-325-3694; email@example.com; www.ncore.ou.edu.
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.
RADIO - The 38th Annual Community Radio Conference is schedule for May 29-June 1, in San Francisco, CA, with discussions and workshops.
Contact: 1101 Pennsylvania Ave. NW, Suite 600, Washington, DC 20004; 202-756-2268; firstname.lastname@example.org; http://www.nfcb.org/.
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.
Contact: Bikes Not Bombs, 284 Amory St., Jamaica Plain, MA 02130; 617-522-0222; email@example.com; www.bikesnotbombs.org.
LEFT FORUM - The 2013 Left Forum will be held June 7-9, at Pace University in New York City.
Contact: 365 Fifth Avenue, CUNY Graduated Center, ? Sociology Dept., New York, NY 10016; http://www.leftforum.org/.
VEGAN FEST - Mad City Vegan Fest will be held in Madison, WI, June 8. The annual event features food, speakers, and exhibitors.
Contact: 122 State Street, Suite 405 B, Madison, WI 53701; firstname.lastname@example.org; http://veganfest.org/.
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.
Contact: 1990 M Street, Suite 610, Washington, DC, 20036; 202-244-2990; email@example.com http://convention.adc.org/.
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.
Contact: firstname.lastname@example.org; http://www.globaljusticecenter.org/.
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.
Contact: 164 Robles Way, #276, Vallejo, CA 94591; email@example.com; http://www.netrootsnation.org/.
MEDIA - The 15th annual Allied Media Conference will be held June 20-23, in Detroit.
Contact: 4126 Third Street, Detroit, MI 48201; http://alliedmedia.org/.
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.
Contact: firstname.lastname@example.org; http://www.socialismconference.org.
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.
Contact: 10 Laurel Hill Drive, Cherry Hill, NJ 08003; http://namle.net/conference/.
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.
Contact: Bill Habedank, 1913 Grandview Ave., Red Wing, MN 55066; 651-388-7733; email@example.com; http://www.peacestockvfp.org.
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.
Contact: firstname.lastname@example.org; http://www.childrensdefense.org.
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.
Contact: email@example.com; http://yeacamp.org/.
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.
Contact: NCLR Headquarters Office, Raul Yzaguirre Building, 1126 16th Street, NW, Washington, DC 20036; 202-785-1670; www.nclr.org.
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.
Contact: firstname.lastname@example.org; http://east.usworker.coop/.
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.
Contact: 747 Polk Street, San Francisco, CA 94109; 415-864-1278; RadicalWomenUS@gmail.com; http://lynnestewart.org/; http://www.radicalwomen.org/.
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.
Contact: 121 West 27th Street, #301, New York, NY 10001; 212-627-0444; email@example.com; http://www.madre.org.
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.
Contact: http://www.falconridgefolk.com/; firstname.lastname@example.org.
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.