Wednesday, October 29, 2003
Salma Yaqoob opened, because she's the sort of person who isn't well known but should be. After a good deal of spiel about Galloway being kicked out of the Labour Party for representing Labour values and 'welcoming' George W. Bush to London , (20th November, don't forget), she outlined how, as she sees it, politicians of all parties increasingly toe the line of a tiny, unpopular minority - no, not the Tories (and for anyone who's just reading this tonight and doesn't know yet, Duncan Smith has lost his job). They represent the will of big business, multinationals and the rich. They take us back to Victorian-style capitalism (a sado-masochistic ass-fucking) and tell us it's in the name of modernisation. Therefore, since the mainstream electoral choice before us is "Bombs n Big Business New Labour", "Bombs n Big Business Tory" and "Reluctant Bombs and Wish We Were Big Business Liberal Democrat", we ought to be thinking about creating a new alternative.
The mainstream parties rely on our passivity, on the idea that we will forget, or that we will be compelled to vote for one of the main three out of "lesser-evilism" which is almost inevitably described as "realism". We are reinforced in our passivity and lack of confidence by the same story, retold in countless different and familiar ways, that There Is No Alternative. We now need to see ourselves as the agents of change. We really are "the other superpower".
There must therefore be a representation of that at elections, in the media, in the unions. We must build a new, electoral bloc, coalescing the parties and individuals of the left; a coalition that will combine grassroots activism with electoral strategy. Elections, it is true, are usually a short game - and we're playing a long game, because the fight against war and capitalism doesn't disappear the second you put your cross on a bit of paper. But even acknowledging the limites of elections, we must see the opportunities involved in making an impact in this way.
If the tiny, schismatic far right can set off a change in the political climate by taking a handful of council seats, we can certainly do much better. We must agree to work together on the issues that unite us, and not fight one another on the issues that divide us. Therefore, Salma Yaqoob says, I have distributed a document called "Principles and Unity" which talks about some of the ways in which the left can start a dialogue and overcome the divisions of the past. It isn't intended to be the end of the discussion, but the beginning of one. We should be able to build a broad movement which is not the product of a single party, or its plaything.
Different groups do have a different perspective, of course, and we don't wish to abolish those, but we must have an agreement for action. This will require open-mindedness and audacity.
Ken Loach was the next speaker, and after a couple of jokes that went down well, he repeated much of what Salma Yaqoob had just said. Then he talked about the idea of "reclaiming the Labour Party". The Labour party had always had a contradiction at its heart, he said, in that the only way it could deliver reforms in favour of working people was when employers could make big enough profits. The employers register their demands, what they require in order to be profitable, and those demands are now more extreme than ever - keep the anti-union laws, make them tougher, end welfarism, privatise what's public. Blairism is the extreme end of the cold logic of Labourism.
Reclaim the party? WHICH party? The Callaghan and Healey government, enthralled to the IMF and spending cuts, sending in the army to break up the firefighters' strike? The party of Kinnock, with its lethal bureacratic choking of what radicalism lay within the Labour Party? The party of Harold Wilson and attacks on "politically motivated" striking seamen? We see the agony of the Labour left in all this - they campaign with you to say no to war, no to privatisation, no to tuition fees, no to the neoliberal agenda. And then they say 'but you have to vote for all of that'. And where once the disenfranchised Left huddled around the warm flanks of the Labour Party, (Bennism), today's anticapitalist and antiwar movements aren't interested in Labour.
Therefore, if we fail to represent ourselves electorally, we just hand over voters to the hypocrites of the Liberal Democrat party. We must take seriously the costs and consequences involved, form a professional outfit, and "That's a real challenge for the Left".
George Monbiot offered consolations to the deposed Tory leader - IDS, RIP! Or words to that effect. IDS reminded him of the red squirrel, who until recently occupied an ecological niche in Britain, in the suburbs and countrysides. There were plenty of nuts for him to associate himself with. But the red squirrel's territory was slowly taken over and colonised by the grey squirrel, "a large, aggressive rodent with bright eyes and a bushy tail". And the red squirrel receded into the margins until there was nowhere left for him to survive but in certain decaying institutions.
Now, the Left needs to open its eyes wide to the massive ecological niche opening up for it. There is a huge space to the Left, which noone is filling. The reason we have not filled it so far is because the Blairite transformation of Labour came so quickly and hit so hard that it left some totally confused. This confusion can be registered that STILL, after everything that has been done to the, the main unions continue to contribute their funds to the Labour Party.
Many are cynical about democracy - they say it's a scam, and that the real decisions aren't taken in democratic institutions. That's true. It IS a scam, as presently constituted. The main parties conspire in making one another seem more interesting than they really are, and the net result is "the neutron bomb effect" - the structures of democracy remain intact, but the democratic life inside has died. We therefore need both an electoral and an extra-parliamentary party. Remember when New Labour were elected, they were so terrified of the Tories and their friends in the media that they rigidly stuck to the most pedantic Tory measures. WE have to make them that terrified. We therefore propose a coalition.
Yes, we have disagreements. And the 'splittism' of the Left is partially a result of the fact that we really do believe in what we say. But if we are to succeed, we must unite. And if a coalition isn't the answer, what is? Rousseau once said that the people of England think they are free, but they are not. They are free once every five years when they vote - thereupon slavery falls upon them. And looking at how they use that freedom when it falls upon the, he said, the slavery is well deserved. Our task is to prove Rousseau wrong.
A crowd of CWU reps were introduced and got an enormous, hammering, standing ovation. Tony Blair would kill to get an ovation like that - actually, if I recall right, he DID kill to get an ovation like that. Mark Dolan of the CWU told us that 30,000 postal workers across the length and breadth of Britain were out on unofficial action. That included most sorting offices and most branches. The rest were walking out as he spoke. This is a battle, he said, for the survival of the union. The management has reneged even on what limited promises and agreements it made already. It has attacked the union, targetted union officials for punishment. In Southall, some workers were asked to volunteer for some duties which they didn't normally do. When they said 'no', the manager suspended them.
We spent tonnes of money campaigning against the Tories and their privatisation agenda. Now we're paying for the Labour to do it instead!! Why do we keep giving money to people who shit on us? (He didn't mean it THAT way people! Get serious!)
He said that as far as he was concerned, the CWU should back Galloway wherever he stood, and appealed for everyone to support them, and got another standing ovation.
Linda Smith of the FBU related a few stories from the firefighters' strike, informed us that the disputes were not over and that Phase II of the 'pay deal' was likely to be voted down tomorrow, so expect more on that. John Rees, for the Socialist Alliance, read an article from the Sunday Telegraph indicating that plans for Bush and the Queen to have a triumphant procession along the Mall had to be abandoned because of the fear of antiwar demos. Other proposed events, such as a Bush address to parliament, were cancelled because of the fear of boycotts.
"And they say we didn't build a great movement? All we did was release on bloody press statement and suddenly a 'state visit' becomes 'bloke comes round for tea'!"
The next opportunity to punish New Labour will be at Bush's visit, but then we must build from there. Millions of working people are responding to decades long hurt inflicted by the neoliberal machine. You cannot do that to people and not expect a reaction. Inevitably, they will seek an alternative. Now, we have been given a window of opportunity that will last for months at best. If we don't start now, we won't start at all. Then we will be left with a liberal revival, or worse, a fascist revival. We cannot abandon activists we work with today, to the hands of the Liberal Democrats tomorrow.
Bob Crowe was most interesting in that you got to see why trade unionists actually voted for the man. He's a warm, witty man with real passion. This is obscured in the media news by a few illiterate sound-bites justifying the latest strike, featuring Bob with a minging scowl on his face. At this meeting, he was all bon homie and Labour history. He talked of how it was his union which had been crucial to the formation of the Labour Party 107 years ago. Tommy Steele of the National Union of Railwaymen argued at a meeting, (which Bob has the minutes of), all those years ago, for the formation of a Labour Representation Committee to address the fact that the working class were not being represented politically. Many backed him, but his opponents insisted that the only way to progress was to stick with the Liberals, that the working people of England would never break from the Liberal Party. They called Steele and his allies "splitters". Those discussions mirrored the discussions of today.
He pledged support for George Galloway in the elections, was scathing about New Labour, and said his union would stand shoulder to shoulder with anyone who would support them, including those Labour MPs who continue to fight for socialism and renationalisation of the railways, but the big picture was that he was going to support the SSP north of the border, his union would be giving the funds to them, and the hint was that if we built such an alternative across England and Wales...
Finally, Galloway rose to speak, like a lion in need of a good roar. He retailed a joke he has often told about the late Willie Gallacher, a Clydeside MP and Communist, but I won't tell you what it is in case you go to one of his meetings. He urged the left to build a "popular unity coalition" to oppose Bush, Blair and globalisation. We are in derelection of duty if we fail to take to the electoral battlefield against those who have hi-jacked Labour. The Prime Minister, he said, have committed "a crime, an appalling blunder" and it should be his political death. "He's on the ropes, we can knock him out, so let the bell ring!"
He announced that he would stand on a unity list of candidates across the country for the European election wherever it was thought that his candidature would be helpful. He repeated the theme of unity, and end to the squabbles of the past and roared "The People, United, Will Never be Defeated!" Following which he laid into Blunkett for his shameful response to the police racism captured on camera by the BBC. He laid into Jack Straw for sacking the British ambassador to Uzbekistan, who did the world a sterling service by standing in the main square in the capital and denouncing that dictatorship. He told the world that the ruler of Uzbekistan had thousands of people locked away, many were being tortured, and some had even been boiled to death. This was the ethical foreign policy.
Nature, he said, abhors a vacuum. (Look, I've studied science and it fucking doesn't, okay? So stop saying that everyone. It's an old Aristotelian hand down, so shut it.) He said, nature must abhor a political vacuum most of all - all sorts of nasty forces can creep in - be they fascist thugs, or liberal hypocrites.
"But I must tell you, the slogan of 'reclaim the Labour Party' does not look promising." He told of how he knew he was finished when three senior Labour Party members, (Tony Benn, Michael Foot and Tony Woodley), appealed on his behalf - and the lady at the centre of the committee of three sat mentally knitting. Who saw, he wondered, the tear-stained people cheering on the warmonger Blair for seven minutes? 'Reclaim the party' did not look promising. He had only 9 months, of course, to prepare for the elections. "But great things can happen in nine months!" We need a rebirth of the Left.
Galloway rounded up his usual oratory tour de force with a quote that I seem to have heard somewhere before - "The great only look great because we are on our knees". Yes, I remember that phrase. Paul Foot once quoted it in a meeting some years ago. His version bears repeating:
"The great only look great because we are on our knees. Let us rise!"
Monday, October 27, 2003
Killing Eye-rackians is FUN!! posted by Richard SeymourIf you kill forty people while fighting for the 'coalition', it's unfortunate. If you do it while fighting against a foreign occupation, it "shows the depth of depravity to which [you will] stoop" (Jack Straw). Today, as Iraqis mourn yet more dead kin, they will have also to stomach the astounding, sickening hypocrisy of those who wasted more living bodies during the war and subsequent occupation than the Iraqi resistance can even dream of. It's reassuring to hear from George Bush that he is now "even more determined to work with the Iraqi people", because I was starting to think the Iraqis might not care for his company.
Meanwhile, theories abound about precisely what shadowy organisation was behind this attack. Al Qaeda, of course, come to mind, and it was one of the first questions the Channel Four news asked this lunchtime of Lindsey Hilsum as she reported from the scene. According to Iraq's deputy interior minister, "Some countries, unfortunately, are trying to send people to conduct attacks". Or, if you don't like that, "Defense officials said they believe loyalists of fallen Iraqi President Saddam Hussein were responsible for the wave of bombings." The President has an even better theory, according to New York Newsday: "President Bush said progress in Iraq is making insurgents more 'desperate' and fueling attacks."
Well, George, I'm not sure exactly who are the 'desperate' ones here, but I'm convinced your right. The only reason people could possibly object to the US occupation of Iraq is because of all that progress you're making. Give 'em freedom and look what happens - they bomb you! New Labour knows the feeling. They do everything they can to help the sponging, inflexible forces of conservatism out of their hidebound public service ethic, and people are so pleased that they won't even bother to go vote for them!
It is perfectly obvious, if only anyone will bother to think through the stunning lies and smokescreens, that the escalation of violence in Iraq is a direct consequence of the occupation of Iraq. The Red Cross and other aid agencies are targetted so that they will leave and create an enormously difficult situation for the Americans who will generate massive resentment through their 'shoot first, ask questions later' security policies. Other countries are already wary of offering troop commitments to help the occupation. Does that need any further explanation? Could it be any simpler? The Iraqi resistance will inevitably include a cross-section of people, groups and interests. Inevitably, it will include some Ba'athists. Inevitably, it will include some fundamentalists. Perhaps it may even include some foreign activists. But I don't suppose it's so over the top to imagine that ordinary Iraqis may be involved in some of this. And I'll even go you one further - I think it's just possible, I'm not saying its certain, just possible, that the Iraqi people really don't appreciate the US presence in their country. To clarify, let me update you on the latest Iraqi opinion polls...
Not so very long ago, the warniks were assuring us that Iraqi public opinion was, and always had been, sovereign in the decision to invade Iraq and the decision to say there. Would the antiwar crowd now admit, they wondered, that the Iraqi people had fully endorsed the US efforts to oust Saddam, and only the international gang of leftist misanthropes had ever opposed it? Surely, they reasoned, it was a mark of the left's fundamental self-righteously errant ways that they found themselves opposing the popular Iraqi will while pretending to defend the Iraqi people?
I said before that I didn't believe this argument held much water. I still don't. If Iraqi public opinion had come out 99% in support of the war, I would consider it a disappointment and a major blow, but not a refutation of the case against US imperialism. Even oppressed people can be wrong sometimes, and surely that is a truth so obvious it ought not need stating.
Still, I suppose the warmongers will change their tune now, by the same logic that they expected the antiwar movement to crawl to the victors because of some opinion polling data. The latest poll from Iraq "released this week showed that 67 per cent of Iraqis view the American-led coalition as 'occupying powers', more than 20 per cent higher than a survey conducted shortly after the fall of the former regime. According to the poll, conducted by Iraq's Centre for Research and Strategic Studies, the number of Iraqis who view the coalition as a 'liberating' force has dropped from 43 to 15 per cent, and very few feel safe in the presence of the police or foreign armies controlling the country." ( The Observer , Sunday 26th October 2003).
Another source of triumphal back-slapping and self-congratulation among the warmongers has been their 'discovery' that most Iraqis wanted a US-style government. Well, that evidence was misrepresented to begin with (it just happened that the largest minority of the tiny fractions of a highly split vote on which country Iraqi politics should be modelled on was the US), but the news is: "In a second blow to US and British hopes for a Western-modelled democracy in Iraq, the poll also revealed that the vast majority of Iraqis preferred an Islamist government - 33 per cent supporting a theocracy and 23 per cent an Islamic democracy such as that in Iran."
So! Now that the Iraqi people have had enough of US imperialism, presumably so will the coterie of journos who were so seduced by it this Spring? I await with trembling fingers Nick Cohen's simpering apologia as he realises that it was he all along who was betraying the Iraqi people. Christopher Hitchens will presumably return to his platitudinous line that a "principled policy cannot be judged by the number of people who endorse it".
At any rate, if we don't hear from the warniks, we'll assume they admit defeat. It is at least satisfying for us to note that as pollsters ask their questions and probe the Iraqi psyche, they are obliged to withhold information about which country they are operating from: "Respondents were told the poll was being done for media both in Iraq and outside their country, but no mention was made that the American polling firm was running it." (Associated Press, October 13th, 2003).
Wednesday, October 22, 2003
The apparently rigorous fact-checking has produced a website and many, many articles and television slots for critics of Moore's work.
Spinsanity begins with a resume of the stock accusations deployed against Moore. "Moore repeated a well-debunked myth about supposed US aid to the Taliban, falsely portrayed a scene in a Michigan bank to make it appear as though one could open an account and walk out with a gun, and altered a Bush-Quayle '88 campaign ad, among numerous other distortions."
So, I suppose it would be as well to start there. The US aid to the Taliban is reported in Michael Moore's film as reported by the State Department . The critics assert that the money was handled by the UN and NGOs. Interesting logic since these same critics usually have no problem in asserting that the oil-for-food 'aid' which was given to Iraq was spent by Saddam Hussein on his palaces (so John Sweeney told me). But this aid was given in the context of US support for the Taliban (at a time when, as Moore points out, other impoverished nations with larger populations were not flattered with the same attention). This was also in the context of Taliban visits to the US to discuss an oil pipeline , an idea now being discussed by Kirzai with Pakistan and Turkmenistan The usual argument from critics is to say that this was 'food aid', an act of generosity by a benign United States. There are good reasons for thinking this is cobblers, as Moore suggests , but at that point we're entering the realm of speculation. Moore is making a case based on a quite common interpretation of the facts - Spinsanity and others counterpose it with their own interpretation which is hardly more plausible and probably a good deal less given what we know about US generosity .
The scene from the bank "falsely portrayed" is in fact an accurate portrayal of real events. The original advertisement was real, the bank offer was real, the bank really did supply him with that gun. Critics complain that Moore couldn't have got that gun from that bank, because those guns (Weatherby Mark V Magnum rifle) are only available "in a vault four hours away". Additionally, the guns you see behind Jacobson as she watches Moore fill in his forms are "models".
In fact, the whole thing was staged: 'His immediately walking out of the bank with a long-gun was allowed because "this whole thing was set up two months prior to the filming of the movie" when he had already complied with all the rules, including a background check.'
Aside from the fact that Moore was making a movie (duh!) and therefore had to take a little time over it (even fly-on-the-wall documentaries have scenes shot and re-shot), the Chicago Sun Times tells us: "Put as little as $ 869 in a 20-year certificate of deposit, and the Traverse City-based bank will hand over a Weatherby Inc. Mark V Synthetic rifle that lists for $ 779. Deposit more, and you have a choice of six Weatherby shotguns or a limited-edition rifle."
In other words, what you saw Moore do is what any customer could do on an average day, given the funds. Moore claims that his background check was completed in ten minutes, and he walked out of the place five minutes later. Perhaps that IS because he had arranged everything and made sure the movie would run smoothly - but if so, here's the question: YEAH, AND, SO, WHAT? A bank will give you a gun for a CD, and they'll give you the gun right away if they can. That's a fact, and a worrisome one.
The Willie Horton ad. The ad shown for a brief fraction of the movie, Bowling for Columbine, is a reference to smears on Michael Dukakis by Republican strategists in 1988. In Moore's movie, it features a subtitle reading: "Willie Horton Released. Then Kills Again."
Spinsanity say that "Moore has recently acknowledged some of his errors", and has "admitted" that he made a correction to the original subtitle. Moore "admitted" a "typo", noting that of course Willie Horton hadn't killed again, he had only raped someone. So that's okay. He also notes that Lee Atwater apologised on his deathbed for orchestrating the smear campaign against Dukakis. The sort of soft-headed literalism that insists upon Horton being a rapist, not a murderer may be called for, but it doesn't undermine the essence of the point. They also point out that the subtitle was not present in the original campaign ad. The association, however, (between Dukakis' "lax" prison policies and the release of a murderer who then rapes), was in the original campaign ad, but you wouldn't have known it from Moore's film if the subtitle hadn't been added. Does Moore substantially alter the facts, or is he merely employing artistic license? Even admitting the whole force of the critics' point, does it in any way attenuate the actuality of the smear?
Lockheed Martin's sattelites: Lockheed Martin apparently never made "nuclear weapons" when the Columbine Massacre took place. Therefore, Michael Moore must be lying when he suggests that it did to the Lockheed Martin spokesman: "So you don't think our kids say to themselves, well gee, dad goes off to the factory every day and, you know, he built missiles. These were weapons of mass destruction. What's the difference between that mass destruction and the mass destruction over at Columbine High School?"
Naturally, you will have noticed that nowhere does Michael Moore suggest that the plant made 'nuclear weapons' or even necessarily any kind of weapons at the time of the shooting. He does suggest that such weapons were made at certain times, and the spokesman responds by acknowledging that such weapons were made but by suggesting that these were defensive.
Nevertheless, according to Spinsanity, Moore's new book 'sets the record straight, writing that "Lockheed Martin, the biggest arms maker in the world, built rockets that carried into space the special new satellites that guided the missiles fired into Baghdad" during the recent war in Iraq. (page 74)' Oh, I do beg your pardon, but that does indeed set the record straight. Lockheed Martin did indeed once make missiles. They now make sattelites to guide those missiles. Obviously there's no connection between the two.
Spinsanity complains about the following: "Clark has said that he received phone calls on Sept. 11 and in the weeks after from people at 'think tanks' and from people within the White House telling him to use his position as a pundit for CNN to 'connect' Sept. 11 to Saddam Hussein." (From "Dude, Where's My Country?") Apparently, Wesley Clark has since set the record straight and said it was a think-tank, not the Whitehouse who contacted him on 9/11. Well, that's a reliable statement since noone could think that Clark would be pressured by the Whitehouse and others into changing his story a little. But even if it is true it doesn't change the literal veracity of Michael Moore's statement in the book, something you would expect the dogmatic literalists of Spinsanity to understand.
Spinsanity has more gripes: "There were claims that the French were only opposing war to get economic benefits out of Saddam Hussein's Iraq. In fact, it was the Americans who were making a killing. In 2001, the U.S. was Iraq's leading trading partner, consuming more than 40 percent of Iraq's oil exports. That's $6 billion in trade with the Iraqi dictator." (page 69) Thus Moore's book. Spinsanity rages that "that "trade" was done under the auspices of the United Nations oil-for-food program, which allowed Iraq to sell a limited amount of oil to purchase humanitarian supplies ... One can only imagine what Moore would have said if the U.S. refused to purchase Iraqi oil and allowed its citizens to starve".
Well, presumably America was doing it for humanitarian reasons. I have no reason to believe that the US acts for any other motive than humanitarian ones, and I certainly don't believe they imposed sanctions which were considered murderous by the DIA before their implementation and which have since proven so, with any harm in mind. Obviously, that 'trade' wasn't really 'trade' because it was allowed under UN "auspicies". Or, perhaps it really IS trade when one country purchases something from another country. What do readers think?
The allegations against Moore proceed from untrue, to vague, to tedious to bizarre. In an Extra the Spinsanity editors detail numerous 'errors' in Moore's book: "Moore offers the suggestion that the Saudi government was behind the Sept. 11 terrorist attacks ... there this no evidence that the Saudi government or Saudi officials helped plan the September 11 attacks".
Again: "Moore claims that the U.S. "oversaw the assassination of [Congo leader Patrice] Lumumba" in 1961. However, according to a July, 2000 US News & World Report article, Lumumba was actually killed by Belgian operatives (though, as that article makes clear, the CIA apparently did have its own plot to assassinate him)." Anyone who knows about the assassination of Patrice Lumumba and the murky details surrounding it also know that there is ample evidence from numerous investigations of US involvement, and Ludo DeWitte's book on this matter makes this clear. One review of the book summarises thus:
"[T]he government released archive material related to the Kennedy assassination that included an interview with the White House minute-taker under the Eisenhower administration, Robert Johnson.
In a meeting held with security advisers in August 1960, two months after Congo achieved its formal independence from Belgium, Eisenhower ordered the CIA to "eliminate" Lumumba, according to Johnson's account.
There was a stunned silence for about 15 seconds and the meeting continued, Johnson recalled.
The CIA's director, Allen Dulles, referred to the Congolese leader as a "mad dog."
Among the American agents on the ground in the Congo was a young CIA man working under diplomatic cover, Frank Carlucci, who tried to work his way into Lumumba's confidence in the months before the murder. Carlucci went on to become national security advisor and defense secretary in the Reagan administration and is today the chairman of the Carlyle Group, the influential merchant bank that includes George Bush Sr. among its directors.
According to Larry Devlin, then the CIA station chief in Leopoldville (Kinshasa), the agency's chief technical officer arrived in the African nation shortly after the elimination order from Eisenhower. With him he brought a tube of poisoned toothpaste that was to be placed in the Congolese leader's bathroom. The improbable plot was dropped, however, in favor of a more direct method. Lumumba was delivered into the hands of his bitterest political enemy, Moises Tshombe, the secessionist leader of Katanga."
Yet another: "Moore uses fake quotes as chapter headings, implying that Bush (or administration officials) said things they never said. The most problematic is '#3 Whopper with Bacon: 'Iraq has ties to Osama Bin Laden and al Qaeda!'' (page 53) He quotes Bush repeatedly stating that 'We know [Saddam] has ties to Al Qaeda' - but provides no source suggesting the administration tied Saddam to Bin Laden personally." So, supposing that Moore was only speaking of Bush and his staff (not the media, the 'experts', the pundits, the neocon intellectuals etc.) what is the material difference if Saddam was falsely said to have ties to Al Qaeda or if he was falsely said to have ties to Al Qaeda and its leader?
The list of bogus charges and surrealisms goes on and on. Sometimes, there are charges which merit further investigation. But the bulk of them are so idiotic, so literal-minded, so surreal that they would barely merit mention if they were not part of a concerted attempt to smear Moore. It would certainly be inappropriate to see Moore as a Chomskyian critic with all the academic rigor that pertains thereto. Moore has research teams ensuring that nothing he writes can land him in court, but that doesn't protect him from errors. The fact that he is a satirist affords him some freedom to exaggerate, smooth over rough edges with some glib humour and simplify rather complex arguments. It entitles him to offer the humorous proposition that Saudi Arabia knocked down the World Trade Centre in a fit of pique, without having the witless drones behind far too many internet sites pointing out the patently fucking obvious. One is only surprised that they didn't mention that Moore had urged Oprah Winfrey to run for President and point out "there is no evidence that Oprah Winfrey has expressed any desire to run for President or that she would represent Moore's twisted views if she did".
There are, of course, perfectly good reasons to criticise Moore. Some have been put off by his claim that Gen Wesley Clarkson is "antiwar" and would therefore make a good Democrat candidate for President. Others don't like him saying that Mumia Abu Jamal "probably killed that guy". These are differences of judgment as much as they are of fact, and those who criticise Moore on these grounds are being a lot more honest about their implicit ideological assumptions than the 'neutral' partisans of Spinsanity and the infantile nutball who runs "Bowling for Truth". There are many on Moore's side who would like him to be more careful, if only to protect himself from the inevitable rightwing attacks. But lenin finds the whole argument tedious. The meticulous and bloody-minded poster-boys for rationality at Spinsanity must, of course, sustain their equidistant poise between Michael Moore and Anne Coulter - which is a way of reinforcing ideological assumptions as much as it is an attempt to hide them behind apparent neutrality. Spinsanity's prose has roughly the dryness, texture and quality of a stale cow-pat, and if Moore had composed a book of outright lies called "The Complete and Utter Truth" I would still rather read that than swallow any more schoolboy 'gotchas' from his opponents.
Monday, October 20, 2003
Labour Pains? Abort! posted by Richard SeymourLet's just remind ourselves of the three existential facts which define our existence today: George W Bush is a pompous, trigger-happy trollope; Tony Blair is a cocky little shit who lied us into a war; the Labour Party supports both of these men.
Did you hear that correctly? Shall we walk through it again?
At the Labour Party conference, Tony Blair earned seven minutes of genuine standing applause from a party whose members, we were told, couldn't stand him. It didn't end with Tony Blair either:
"They gave health minister John Reid a standing ovation when he told them he wanted for the NHS exactly what Margaret Thatcher had wanted.
They got up again for the despicable David Blunkett when he banged on about crime and asylum seekers.
It seemed that no violation of labour movement traditions, from any cabinet minister, could stop them clapping."
"Party fixers or small numbers of hardcore Blairites could not have bullied all these delegates to their feet. Their applause was genuine."
( Judy Cox , Socialist Worker, 11th October, 2003)
In the minutiae of detail, too, the Labour activists aligned themselves with Tony Blair. As Nick Cohen bitterly reports:
"Activists from constituency Labour parties usually backed Blair by a majority of three-to-one. The majority never fell below two-to-one, however contentious the issue. From now on when the whips confront a rebellious Labour backbencher, they will be able to tell him he isn't standing up for his local party workers but flying in the face of their express wishes." ( Nick Cohen , The Observer, October 12th, 2003).
The Stop the War Coalition can justifiably claim to have co-represented the largest protest movement in British history. It was a mass, popular movement which had the potential to revitalise British politics. Yet, it "barely found an echo on the conference floor" (Cox). The party of the organised working class, of the trade unions and the people, not only did not represent most of the organised working class (the trade unions largely opposed the war), but it openly defied the verdict of the people on both the war and their leader.
The unions, in fact, are partially responsible for the absence of a debate on Iraq, but how many members protested this? How many registered any kind of disenchantment at all? So far it seems that the only strategy the anti-Blairites in the Labour Party have is to put Gordon Brown in charge. As the slogan goes: "If the answer is Gordon Brown, you're asking the wrong question".
The explanation for this stunning and appalling state of affairs may be rooted in the haemorrhaging of grassroots membership, the demoralisation of the Labour left, the disintegration of is institutional forms, the remaining trauma of eighteen years in the wilderness, the lack of an viable electoral alternative... Yet all of this may be reduced to one simple fact. The Labour Party no longer has either the desire or the ability to attract the kind of membership capable of pulling it in a different direction.
So where does that leave us? Shall we go down with the ship like heroic little rats? Shall we try to 'reclaim' the ship? Or shall we pitch ourselves overboard and swim to HMS Chucky Egg?
The Liberal Democrats have been the most immediate and obvious beneficiaries of the degeneration of the Labour Party. Yet, this cannot last. Charles Kennedy would certainly like to appeal to disaffected Labour voters, but he'd also like to swipe a few Tories (come to that, I'd like to swipe a few Tories too). His party's opposition to the war was decidedly unprincipled, and it shows in the fudging, shirking unconvincing answers given to interviewers around conference time. The Lib Dems will happily privatise whatever New Labour hasn't gotten around to, as they demonstrated in Sheffield and Liverpool. They have been known to dabble in racism when the mood takes them, as Yasmin Alibhai-Brown avers in the Independent (13 October 2003). Above all, they represent the precise political tradition that the Labour Party was created to supplant as the main party of the working class vote. The Liberal resurgence would be the exact zenith of Blairism, and would probably create excellent conditions for a succession of Lib-Lab pacts.
But it is most unlikely that the Liberal Democrats can sustain their Clintonite triangulation in the face of serious scrutiny.
So, are we consigned to a future of desperately trying to plaster over the cracks in Labour's creaky old vessel? I really don't think so. This political energy which we saw spill out onto the streets like so much steam will not dissipate overnight. It needs a new piston to drive, and not some crappy old Skoda piston from HMS Chucky Egg. It requires a new political alternative. So far, neither the Greens nor the new-comer Socialist Alliance have been able to do it. Only the SSP in Scotland looks like it might. So, we need a new political alternative that orients itself not only on street politics and trade unionism, but on the national theatre of electoral politics. George Monbiot's idea of creating a new electoral party or coalition with Greens, socialists, antiwar activitists, anarchists and anticapitalists working together is therefore an excellent one. The Green Party should be ashamed to have so quickly distanced themselves from such an important development. (Yes, yes, yes, many of the policies sound like those of the Green Party, but most of these activists aren't about to join the Green Party are they?) We desperately need an open-ended, political alliance that can channel anti-New Labour sentiment without succumbing to sectarianism or electoral dogma. It must make use of the placard as much as the ballot box. It must approach those unions considering a break with Labour, and sell them a credible alternative.
We desperately need to build this now. We have months, not years, and if we neglect this task and hope to 'reclaim the Labour Party' then we will lose this moment. Angry working class voters may pitch their lot with the Lib Dems, but they cannot hold any loyalty for any sustained period. Their vote has dropped back to 23% already. Alternatively, some may succumb to the serenading of the BNP, who'll offer the chance to kick a few immigrants around. We have an inspiring new tradition of street radicalism and a revival of trade unionism that needs expression in elections as much as elsewhere. The alternative is unthinkable.
Because, frankly, if all we can have is Jack Straw, Gordon Brown and David Blunkett, I might just pitch myself overboard.
Wednesday, October 08, 2003
California Dreamin'. posted by Richard SeymourThey say a socialist could never win in California for one reason: too much sun, fun and gun. Sure, the heterogeneity of community and lifestyle tend to favour some kind of liberalism, but socialism in a place where it hardly ever rains? Forget it!
Okay, so the above is a desperate caricature, but it makes about as much sense as the arguments made by the liberal-left for voting Democrat or keeping Gray Davis in power. Yes, obviously Arnie was a stooge for the Republican Party. Yes, they like celebrities to cover their staleness and distance from the people. Yes, indeed, the only possible winner of a recall was the political Right.
Here's the rub. Those who said "I'd rather support the Democrats than let the party of unalloyed bigotry, imperialism and class rule get another seat" now no longer have to choose. They got both. Indeed, one reason Arnold (apparently) got such a high vote is that his opponent was someone absolutely despised (and justifiably so) by most of the electorate. The Democrats naturally sullied themselves by supporting Davis, and a vote for Bustamante was inevitably going to be seen as a vote for Davis.
It is becoming a depressing characteristic of the timid liberal-left that they automatically consolidate themselves with the centre-liberal bloc if there's the faintest threat from a rightist. In this case, it wasn't even a terrifying rightist like Le Pen or Jorg Haider - it was a socially liberal, effette Hollywood actor! Even the old canards about abortion and lifestyle could not have been issues, because Arnold was both pro-choice and pro-gay. And the result, as Slavoj Zizek put it, is that the "populist Right moves to occupy the terrain evacuated by the Left, as the only ‘serious’ political force that still employs an anti-capitalist rhetoric—if thickly coated with a nationalist/racist/religious veneer (international corporations are ‘betraying’ the decent working people of our nation)."
Another aspect of this dismal dialectic is the attitude to corruption. Graccius' reputed claim that he would prefer a bit of Republican corruption to autocratic purity has become the watchword of the liberal Left. One US election campaign urged people to "VOTE FOR A CROOK - IT'S IMPORTANT" because the alternative was a far Right ranting racist. This may just as well have been the slogan of the Chirac supporters in France.
Aside from the failure to make the obvious point that rightists who come to power on the basis of anti-corruption tickets tend to preside over an escalation of corruption, if you are left with a choice between a racist and a crook, then I suggest that something is more deeply wrong than the threat of politicisation from the right. Or rather, the very fact that the Right is in such a position is because you have failed to problematise the whole choice that you're faced with.
The centrist elite love to use the rightist threat to solidify their hegemony. This emotional blackmail has the effect of emasculating the Left. Had the anti-war campaigns been fought on the same model, Charles Kennedy MP would have chaired the Stop the War Coalition , and not so much as half of the people who crowded Hyde Park on February 15th would have ever attended a demonstration. The hegemony of the antiwar camp would not have survived the pressure of the media, particularly with such a vacillating leadership.
Yet the sincere recommendation of liberals is that we stick with the Democrats even though we know they have done the dirty work of the Republicans time after time, even though we know they will race-bait, fag-bait, wage war, cut social security, engage in every opportunistic and mercenary sleaze. We should vote for them just because they aren't the Republicans!
Lesser-evilism is neither a moral conception, nor a sound strategy. It preserves nothing that its supposed to and gives up even more than it admits to.
The alternative strategy, the socialist strategy, the one that liberals and Democrat activists are incapable of delivering, is as follows: Repoliticise to the Left; Support a credible leftwing candidate and campaign vigorously on their behalf (the Greens?); Attack both the Democrats and Republicans as mercenaries of the same New World Order; Don't compromise your morality or waste time and energy by being involved with grey-faced centrists, or by defending patently unappealing and rightly despised candidates.
Had the left made a sustained and vigorous effort on behalf of the Greens, for instance, the electoral result might have been much the same - a large Republican vote in a high-turnout election - but the effect would be very different. A substantial Green vote (aside from eliciting the hysterical accusations of a few purblind Democrat loyalists) would have forced the centre of gravity of the Democrats to the left, just as the antiwar movement has succeeded in doing to some extent. The right could not either be so confident of having a supine population if there had been a manifestly sizeable polarisation to the left.
As it is, the greatest alibi of the Bush Whitehouse are those glibly denouncing the new ' Nazi' in the Senate.
Sunday, October 05, 2003
It's the Empire, Stupid! posted by Richard Seymour"Is the United States a Rogue State?"
While the conflagration went down in Washington and New York, President Bush sat in a classroom. Some have since been eager to educate America about exactly why it is “so hated by so many”. "Why Do People Hate America?"1 explored various levels at which American political, economic and cultural output generates resentment, while William Blum chose to call his book about America's military and covert operations from 1945 onward "Rogue State".2 It would seem a straightforward formula: "rogue states", Noam Chomsky avers, are those "states that do not regard themselves as bound by international norms".3. And which state has displayed more contempt for these norms?
The end of "anarchy".
Richard Perle, writing for the Guardian4, heralded the decline of the UN with typical bravado, suggesting that the world would be safer under a benign American imperium than under UN "anarchy". President Bush added that if the UN did not back war on Iraq, it would "fade into history as an ineffective, irrelevant debating society".5 Six months and one war on, the UN is working busily inside occupied Iraq, incurring great physical danger while trying, as Kofi Annan put it, to "confer legitimacy on the process" of building the new Iraq.6 Annan could not have put the matter more succinctly. Ineffective it may be, the UN still has relevance as a sanctifying symbol. That is, the UN is trusted where the US is not.
In his way, Perle was expressing a characteristic neoconservative disdain for the United Nations. The UN, according to Joseph Farah, hates "the Jewish State" yet allows Syria to head the Security Council.7 Newt Gingrich observes with suitable sanctimony that Libya now heads the UN Human Rights Commission while America was expelled from that body, partly because of French perfidy.8 This seems reasonable: the UN has passed innumerable resolutions against US behaviour and that of its allies.9 As an institution, it would seem to be constitutionally hostile to everything the United States, particularly its hard right, stands for.
But American conservatives might show some gratitude. The UN has been enormously useful in various ways. In particular, by supporting American intrusions into Panama, Haiti and Somalia. By assisting in the governance of post-war colonial states in Bosnia and Kosovo. And by helping to administer sanctions against Iraq which the Defence Intelligence Agency considered murderous10 and which a report for the Secretary-General by Professor of International Law Marc Bossuyt considered illegal.11 The latter point is of especial importance. Almost every American intervention since 1945 has been described by critics as "illegal" or "violating the UN Charter". But if the critics are right, the UN has been instrumental to apparently violating its own laws at times.
The "marriage made in hell".
In a debate hosted by the London Review of Books in 2002, Jacqueline Rose offered the audience three quotes and challenged them to guess the authors. All three were similar in tone, evoking some "evil" which had to be confronted on pain of assured destruction, so it was only mildly surprising to learn that the authors were, respectively, Ariel Sharon, Tony Blair, and Osama bin Laden. The “extraordinary proximity” of this language, far from suggesting a "pure antagonism" between these figures, connoted something more like a "marriage made in hell".12 To further emphasise the point, we might borrow the analogy from Slavoj Zizek of the Gestalt drawing which appears to be an outline of a goose's head or a rabbit's head, depending on how one looks at it. Zizek, referring to the Balkans war, says:
If we look at the situation in a certain way, we see the international community enforcing minimal human rights standards on a nationalist neo-Communist leader engaged in ethnic cleansing ... If we shift the focus, we see NATO, the armed hand of a new capitalist global order, defending the strategic interests of capital ... attacking a sovereign country...13
Against this "double blackmail", he suggests that rogue states like that headed by Milosevic are not the opposite of Western civilisation, but rather "its symptom, the place at which the hidden truth of the New World Order emerges". Instead of "rogue states" opposing "international norms" defended by Western democracies, we might see them as constitutive of the international norm. It was, presumably, normal conduct for the United States to assist Mobutu, just as they had Suharto, Hussein and so on.14
Al Qaeda, too, are not mere creatures of fanaticism reacting against degenerate liberalism. As John Gray points out, the loose networks that put the Al Qaeda idea into practise are part of the modern world of inter-imperial rivalries, intelligence gathering, elaborate funding networks etc.15 Having worked with the CIA, Mossad and the ISI,16 Islamist footsoldiers are as comfortable with a laptop as they are with the Holy Qu'ran. Bombed marketplaces and falling towers are part of the same world of shifting alliances, changing rivalries, of centripetal and centrifugal reactions, and of imperial power.
Peter Gowan, in "The Global Gamble", outlines what the book's subtitle calls America's "Faustian bid for global dominance". America, according to Gowan, is the last remaining empire, a "Hegemon" dominating economically through the Dollar-Wall Street Regime, and politically through military incursions into the former Yugoslavia.17 In this, he represents a strand of thinking relatively popular on the left. Gregory Elliot suggests that the term "hyperpower" most closely encapsulates the United States' "awesome dominion".18 Tariq Ali agrees - the United States is the world's "only superpower".19
This argument is not restricted to the left. Robert Kagan of the Project for the New American Century argues that US legitimacy is diminishing with friends and "like-minded" peoples as a result of US unipolarity. Europe prefers the “constraining egalitarian quality of international law” while enjoying the security provided by the “behemoth with a conscience”. America, contrary to common wisdom, can “go it alone”, and does so.20 According to Professor of International Law Michael Glennon the UN's “irrelevance” is actually a product of US "unipolarity" in a post-Cold War world. France, Russia, Germany and China also believe the world is becoming "unipolar". France's former foreign minister Hubert Vedrine believes "a politically unipolar world" is unacceptable, and therefore France is "fighting for a multipolar world". Russia and China formalised an agreement in July 2001 affirming their commitment to a multipolar constellation of global powers.21
Underpinning these arguments is some conception of what the "bipolar world" represented, and how the collapse of one of those poles has affected the world. Most of those cited above would assent to the suggestion that the USSR was some form of post-capitalist state, that it was an ideological, as well as military and economic, competitor with the United States. During the Cold War, local powers were almost inevitably sucked up into the rubric of one of the two main competing powers. The over-arching framework of bipolarity seemed to render other struggles and rivalries nothing more than local manifestations of the Cold War. When the Russian Empire collapsed not only Stalinism, but also most forces and discourses of resistance appeared to collapse. The various communist parties in Europe disbanded, disintegrated or dissembled. The social-democratic left, far from benefiting from this state of affairs, was dragged into the void with their embarrassing militant cousins. There remained only one serious narrative for the future - the free market capitalist one whose vanguard was a victorious US.
This is an optical illusion. Instead of treating the USSR as a leader of the global revolution, we should treat it as any other polity. Instead of US unipolarity, we have multipolarity. The fall of the Russian Empire has rendered existing tensions, such as those between the US and the EU, more visible. Trade disputes have been supplemented by geopolitical disputes, as several European countries refused to support the occupation of Iraq, denying the US a vital source of legitimacy. Additionally, nuclear states have proliferated. Local conflicts between India and Pakistan, and between North and South Korea, resonate well beyond their own borders. China, too, is a rapidly growing power which, according to the American international relations analyst John Mearsheimer, could "be much wealthier than its Asian rivals", its huge population base enabling it to "build a far more powerful army than either Russia or Japan could". China "has the potential to be considerably more powerful than even the United States."22
The broken eagle.
Another view is that the US has "crash landed". For Gore Vidal, America resembles nothing so much as "Rome before the fall", while for E.M. Wood present US strategy is “ultimately self-defeating”.23 This thesis is most eloquently espoused by Immanuel Wallerstein, who asserts that American behaviour, far from providing surety of future strength, is indicative of present weakness. The US has not won a serious victory since losing Vietnam. Having abandoned interventions in Lebanon and Somalia, the US has only been able to defeat minor powers and even those victories are not as complete as they appear. The first Gulf War, for instance, resulted in the status quo being restored, with Hussein smashing the Shi'ites and Kurds, and the Kuwaiti monarch returned to his throne.24 Another apparent victory, this time in the Balkans, does not bear close scrutiny either. The war ended with a deal, negotiated by Ahtisaari and Chirnomyrdin, which was much closer to Milosevic's proposed terms as the war began than to Nato’s terms at Rambouillet.25 With barely a tank dented, Milosevic gained a “defeat” more flattering than he had any right to expect. Not US military power, but Serbian people power, put Milosevic in the dock. American power is therefore on the wane, and its present conduct may serve to hasten that decline rather than prolong its longevity.
As a corrective to leftist alarmism and rightist triumphalism, this is invaluable. But Kagan is surely right when he says that the US is the only nation presently capable of projecting force over long distances. Neoconservatives want to use this power to secure hegemony. Whatever the moral implications of this stance, it reads the state of the world accurately – America remains the most powerful country in the world.26
A word about their sponsors.
If the UN appears to violate its own written rules in order to sponsor US military interventions, it may be that we misunderstand international law. Laws, as any student of tort knows, are open to endless interpretation and argument. The determinacy of these arguments is ensured at the level of the nation-state by a judge acting on behalf of the state. On the level of international politics, arguments only end by virtue of economic or military superiority. While the Guardian dismissed the UN as "a recipe for inaction"27 before the bombing of Yugoslavia, supporters of the action were swift to affirm its legality afterward. Experts on international law argued throughout the conflict that the war was legal, that human rights laws had trumped the protection of state sovereignty. International law had finally grown up.28
While Richard Perle cheered on the imminent demise of the UN, he was not rejecting international law, tout court. There is some version of international law to which US neoconservatives would subscribe, because they need as much as before to regulate their interactions with other states. This point is rendered eloquent by the current performance of the UN in legalising the occupation of Iraq while agreeing to help in its reconstruction.
The "rogue state" vs. "free world" dichotomy is an ideology, substituting for genuine analysis, whose only recognised conflict is between the West (the good guys) and the Rest (the bad guys and their wretched multitudes). International norms are elastic, disputed terms, which have rarely impinged upon real power and have rather tended to become the form that hegemony takes. Far from being a "rogue state", the United States is an Empire, and through its power is a direct author of international norms. Power is a finite resource, however, and as President Bush points out, "a regime that has lost its legitimacy will also lose its power".29
1 Ziauddin Sardar and Merryl Wyn Davies, “Why Do People Hate America”, London, 2002
2 William Blum, “Rogue State: A Guide to the World’s Only Superpower”, New York, 2001. These themes recur. See, for example, Chalmers Johnson, “Blowback: The Costs and Consequences of American Empire”, New York, 2002; Gore Vidal, “Perpetual War for Perpetual Peace: How we Got to be so Hated”, New York, 2002; Nafeez Mosaddeq Ahmed, “Behind the War on Terror: Western Secret Strategy and the Struggle for Iraq”, London, 2003; Tariq Ali, “The Clash of Fundamentalisms: Crusades, Jihads and Modernity”, London, 2002
3 Noam Chomsky, “Rogue States: The Rule of Force in World Affairs”, New York, 2000.
4 Richard Perle, The Guardian, 21st March 2003.
5 Michael J. Glennon, “Why the Security Council Failed”, Foreign Affairs, May/June 2003. Foreign Affairs is a publication of the Senate Committee on Foreign Relations and consequently offers a vivid account of the thinking of the US foreign policy establishment.
6 The Guardian, 22nd July 2003.
7 Joseph Farah, World Net Daily, 12th June 2002.
8 Newt Gingrich, “Rogue State Department”, Foreign Policy, July/August, 2003.
9 See Blum, 2001, opt cit for a comprehensive list of UN resolutions which America has vetoed with the sole assistance of a small clutch of allies such as Israel, South Africa, the United Kingdom and El Salvador.
10 US Defense Intelligence Agency, “Disease Information”, 22nd January 1991, available at: the DIA's website .
11 New Statesman, 22nd January 2001.
12 Jacqueline Rose et al, “The War on Terrorism: Is there an alternative?” Logan Hall, Institute of Education, 15th May 2002.
13 Slavoj Zizek, “Against the Double Blackmail”, New Left Review 234, 1999.
14 See, for example, William Blum, “Killing Hope: US Military and CIA Interventions Since World War Two”, New York, 2003.
15 John Gray, “Al Qaeda and What it Means to be Modern”, London, 2003 cited in Terry Eagleton, Guardian, 6th September 2003.
16 For Mossad involvement with Islamists in Afghanistan, see Tariq Ali, “Between Hammer and Anvil”, New Left Review 2, March/April 2002; for CIA and Inter Services Intelligence (ISI) collaboration, see Ahmed Rashid “Taliban”, New York, 2001.
17 Peter Gowan, “The Global Gamble: America’s Faustian Bid for Global Dominance”, London, 1999; also, on similar themes, see Antonio Negri & Michael Hardt, “Empire”, London, 2001; Ellen Meiksins Wood, “Empire of Capital”, London, 2003. Although essentially arguing that there is no unique scene of Empire given the deterritorialising effects of capital, Hardt and Negri do accept that US capitalism is, for the moment, unchallenged.
18 Gregory Elliot and John Rees, “The Balance of Global Forces”, Institute of Education, July 2001.
19 Tariq Ali, “The War on Terrorism: Is there an alternative?” op cit.
20 Robert Kagan, “Paradise and Power: America and Europe in the New World Order”, London, 2003; also, Robert Kagan, “Looking for Legitimacy in all the Wrong Places”, Foreign Policy, July/August 2003.
21 Glennon, op cit.
22 JJ Mearsheimer, “The Tragedy of Great Power Politics”, New York, 2001, p398.
23 Gore Vidal, “United States: Collected Essays, 1952-92”, New York, 1992; Ellen Meiksins Wood, “Empire of Capital”, London, 2003.
24 Immanuel Wallerstein, “The Eagle Has Crash Landed”, Foreign Policy, July/August 2002.
25 See Noam Chomsky, “Nato and the New Military Humanism: Lessons from the bombing of Yugoslavia”, London, 1999; Wallerstein, op cit, argues that US bombing did little to alter the course of Balkans history, while Kagan, in “Paradise and Power…” op cit, suggests that the war was primarily fought to preserve the unity of the transatlantic alliance, although Americans had “compelling moral reasons” to be involved – as, no doubt, did Turkey.
26 Donald Kagan, Gary Schmitt & Thomas Donnelly, “Rebuilding America’s Defenses: Strategy, Forces and Resources for a New Century”, Project for the New American Century, 2000. According to the authors: “At present the United States faces no global rival. America’s grand strategy should aim to preserve and extend this advantageousness as far as possible”. See the PNAC website ; Anatol Lieven, “The Push for War…” London Review of Books, 2002, cited in Wood, op cit.
27 Leader, The Guardian, 26th March 1999.
28 See, for instance, Press Communique 99/32 and 99/23, International Court of Justice, 2nd June 1999; “Legal Standards and the Kosovo Conflict”, Appendix B, “Yugoslav Forces Guilty of War Crimes in Racak, Kosovo”, Human Rights Watch 29th January, New York; Louis Henken, “Kosovo and the Law of Humanitarian Intervention”, American Journal of International Law, v. 93, no. 4, October 1999, available at this website . The ICJs decision on Milosevic’s attempted prosecution of leaders responsible for the Nato bombing of Yugoslavia effectively legitimised the action. While Human Rights Watch do not argue the legal case for intervention, their evidence was instrumental to forming the war’s legal basis and certainly to building the moral case for it. Henken and his colleagues argue that while the intervention was clearly called for, international law was unclear on such actions. In particular, because the post-war legal framework assumed that wars would generally only be defensive if they involved a conflict between two states.
29 “Remarks by the President in Address to the United Nations General Assembly”, New York, New York, 12th September 2002, available here .
Richard W. Seymour