Edward S. Herman
Nicolas J.S. Davies
War in Mali
A Lock on the House
Double Dip Recession
Politics of Austerity
Compiled by Joel Chaffee
The Z Page
NOTE: Z Magazine subscribers and sustainers have access to all Z Magazine articles here and in the archive. The latest Z Magazine articles available to everyone are listed in the Free Articles box at the top of the table of contents, and are starred in the list below. Questions? e-mail Z Magazine Online.
Peace Through Weakness
One of the agreed-on truths of the U.S. political establishment is that peace results from adequate strength, which will provide us with “national security” as well as other benefits. This was a favorite Reaganite slogan, repeated recently by Paul Ryan, who said that “Peace through strength is not just a slogan. It’s not just something we say, it’s what we do. It’s our doctrine.” (Mitchell Landsberg, “Paul Ryan Fires up Colorado Crowd with Focus on Military,” Los Angeles Times, October 21, 2012.)
This doctrine and policy thrust is obviously very convenient, even essential, to the military-industrial-complex (MIC), which stands ready, willing and able to increase national strength in the interest of peace, as well as for bonanza profits, higher salaries, jobs, honor, and the security and operational freedom of Israel and other friends and clients.
One major difficulty with this peace-through-strength doctrine, however, is that the underlying set of vested interests that supposedly implement it may find actual war serving their interests better than peace. War means even more business, prestige and power for the MIC, so that while its leaders and publicists may stress the peace aim for public relations purposes, they may really work to subvert peace.
Threats of demonized enemies and contrived fears of terrorists in themselves will help enlarge budgets, but actually engaging in wars and attacks on these enemies increase budgets further. The wars may also enlarge spheres of control of the state supposedly only seeking peace and security, which may greatly increase the privileged access of U.S. transnationals to energy resources and growing markets. Thus, if strength brings war rather than peace, this may be seen as good, at least for some, at least in the short-run.
A related point stressed by Gareth Porter in his Perils of Dominance (University of California, 2005), with the book subtitled Imbalance of Power and the Road to War in Vietnam, is that a great excess of military power leads to more aggressive behavior, effectively refusing to negotiate (with insistence on de facto surrender), and ending up more frequently in wars, often Orwellianized into wars for peace. This structural and vested interest bias makes for a preference for escalation during wars rather than any negotiated settlement.
The “perils of dominance” emphasized by Porter adds to the war-making proclivities of a system where an MIC and/or military-fighting-oriented elite needs and wants wars. What they prefer is a nice series of small wars like the ones on Serbia in 1999, Panama in 1989-1990, or the first Persian Gulf war on Iraq in 1990-1991, where the demonized enemy can be beaten quickly and with relatively moderate financial cost and a low attacker body count (zero in the bombing war on Serbia). But there is always the risk that what seemed like potential cakewalks drag on for a long time and with large financial and casualty costs to the aggressor (those suffered by the target, classically “mere gooks” are ignorable for the leaders of the aggressor).
The ongoing Iran crisis has been an objective lesson in these perils. Both Israel and the United States have threatened Iran with military attack and regime change, and Israel has clearly been trying to coax or pressure the United States into going to war with Iran on its behalf. Iran does not have a single nuclear weapon, and is subject to almost continuous IAEA inspections on its nuclear program, whereas Israel has been able, with Western assistance, to build up a sizable nuclear arsenal and remain outside of IAEA jurisdiction and free from inspections. Iran is, however, an independent power in an area that the United States wants to dominate as thoroughly as possible and where Israel wants freedom of action to attack any neighbor or group (i.e. “terrorists”) that challenge its “Greater Israel” dispossession process.
The alleged Iran nuclear “threat” is in large measure an excuse for hostile U.S.-Israeli actions toward Iran that are based on the threat of an independent power source, with the IAEA and EU following in lockstep as the servile instruments they are (See Herman and Peterson, “The Iran ‘Threat’ in a Kafkaesque World,” Journal Of Palestine Studies, Autumn, 2012). But it is true that an Iranian nuclear weapons capability would threaten the United States and Israel—not of any Iranian offensive attack, which would be suicidal, but of an Iranian defense capability that might constrain U.S. and especially Israeli aggression rights in the area. Serious self-defense would be the Iranian threat. Israeli analysist Martin van Creveld said, in a much quoted statement (but not in the NYT), that the Iranians “would be crazy” if they didn’t try to acquire nuclear weapons.
He was clearly not referring to any enhanced ability to attack, but rather to an ability to defend. In other words, a reduction in the imbalance of nuclear weapons capability in the Middle East might well reduce the probability of war.
The policy conclusion from all this, and implicit advice to activists and democrats, is that it is urgently important to fight very hard against the quest for military superiority and dominance, which means fighting against the permanent war system, the vast base network, and the high budgets of the MIC. Peace is by no means assured by “weakness” (which as used here includes military preparedness limited to genuine defense needs), but weakness means a diminished seeming ease of knocking over weak targets, reduced plausibility in pushes for wars by powerful vested interests, and a loss in the credibility of phony PR diplomacy and “peace processes” designed to evade peace.
In his empire-friendly book, The Better Angels of Our Nature: Why Violence Has Declined (Viking, 2011), Steven Pinker makes his empirical case for the existence of a unique “Democratic Peace” in our time by defining that peace as one between the great democracies, completely ignoring in this definition their continuous attacks on the lesser countries that are more or less easily bullied.
He also starts his analysis of this Democratic Peace in 1946, right after a gigantic war that took over 50 million lives. But most interesting, perhaps, is his focus on our individual natures as the root of the new peacefulness, allegedly steadily improving in the “civilized” west, except for the savages in the ghettos who are fortunately (in his view) increasingly pulled off the streets and put in prisons. This is part of what he calls “The Civilizing Process” (chapter 3), and in a 2007 Technology Entertainment Design (TED) lecture, Pinker publicly thanked Bill Clinton for his pioneering effort in large-scale imprisonment: “President Clinton, if you’re here, thank you.” (youtube.com/watch?v= ramBFRt1Uzk.)
But Pinker completely ignores institutional factors making for war, such as the growth of the MIC and the perils of dominance. You may be sure that he never cites Gareth Porter, Andrew Bacevich or Chalmers Johnson in his book featuring the decline in violence. And the role of slavery and the subsequent institutionalized racism in producing the ghettos and crime in the streets is also essentially ignored by Pinker. This is social science at its ideological pit.
Rights to Kill
We may be living in a period when civil liberties are under attack, a global war on terror has been institutionalized, drone bombings have increased and drone bases proliferate, and the entire globe has been declared a U.S. “free fire zone,” but pieces of social progress continue to take place, even if some are problematic. Gay rights have steadily advanced and, perhaps, women’s rights as well. President Obama has pushed for gay rights in the military and now we have the Joint Chiefs eliminating the 1994 official ban on women’s combat role in U.S. wars. These are strange forms of progress, the new right to participate in killing people abroad. They are accompanied by Katherine Bigelow’s putting a positive spin not only on torture, but on a woman’s heroic role in the torture machinery.
My tentative interpretation of this form of progress is that granting these social advances is easier than stopping the war machine and that they may be advanced at least in part by the desire to placate political constituencies that do not like or are clearly harmed by war, buying their acquiescence or, at least, keeping them a bit more quiet. I interpret Lyndon Johnson’s civil rights and war on poverty energy in the same fashion—at least in part buying support for or toleration of his steady escalation of the war in Vietnam. Obviously the social advances of the gay minority and still-discriminated-against female (possible) majority are forms of progress, but wouldn’t it be wonderful if they weren’t engineered in any way to protect the outward explosion of “the greatest purveyor of violence in the world today” (Martin Luther King).
Edward S. Herman is an economist, media critic, and author of numerous articles and books. His latest book is The Politics of Genocide (with David Petersen).
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.