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Saturday, January 17, 2004

Hockey update

Self-indulgent blog entry on my hockey season.  Of interest only to hockey fans, and only a very small subset of those.

I don’t usually post reports of individual hockey games, but this morning’s was actually narratable.  My B-league team, the Capitals, faced off against the Wolves, a team we’ve beaten all four times we’ve played them this year, outscoring them by a total of 28-6.  But in the pregame warmup I noticed that they’d added a new player, a relatively young fellow who appeared to be a strong skater with a quick shot.  I suggested to my teammates that we keep an eye on him-- with my advancing age, I’m getting better as a scout and as a commentator as I gradually lose a step or two or three to the under-30 crowd, and sure enough, I was right.  I scored on a breakaway on my first shift, but the Wolves’ new guy tied it up ten minutes later.  We went up 2-1, and New Guy tied it with about 25 minutes left (we play 60 minutes running time).  Then with 4 minutes to go, New Guy picked up a loose puck in mid ice, behind our left defenseman, who’d unwisely pinched in the Wolves’ zone (so much for heeding my pregame advice), came in alone, and scored: he now had a hat trick, and it looked like he would beat us singlehandedly.  So our bench decided to go to its One Goal Down strategy-- putting out a forward line consisting of me, Craig Polen, and Keith Varney, the three leading scorers on the team.  And with two minutes left, Craig shot a long clearing pass out of our zone, from beneath the faceoff dot, off the far boards toward a streaking Varney, who corralled the puck at the red line, came in alone, and beat the Wolves’ goaltender to the near side-- clanking a wrist shot off the post.  Just like that, we were at 3-3.  Our line stayed on the ice, and with 30 seconds to play and the puck deep in our zone, I came across the middle and called for our defenseman to hit me with a breakout pass.  He shot it my way, but maybe two or three feet behind me, and I thought, well, that’s that-- there goes our chance at mounting a last-second offensive rush.  But just for the hell of it, I reached all the way back and tipped the pass forward, just barely getting my stick on the puck . . . and weirdly, that proved enough to put the puck out of reach of the Wolves’ last defenseman at center ice, whereupon Craig Polen swooped in, picked up the loose puck, bore down on the Wolves’ goaltender, deked him to the left, and slid the puck under him on the backhand.  With seventeen seconds to go.

Well, that was fun, and uncharacteristically dramatic too.  And the moral, for all you kids out there, is get your stick on the puck even when you don’t think you have a play.  Redirect passes.  Create open ice.  Get a lucky assist on a last-minute winning goal.  You never know.

The season so far: the Capitals are 15-6-1. I’ve played 16 of those games and now have 33 goals and 15 assists for 48 points; Polen leads the team with 27-23-50.  By contrast, on my A team, the Centre County Misfits, I’m having a really terrible year: after decent seasons of 22 and 29 goals, I now have exactly 5 in 14 games.  It hasn’t helped that in October I suffered a groin injury so severe that I couldn’t even put weight on my right leg for a while, and missed five weeks of A-level play (and three weeks of B), but still, the dropoff from last year’s numbers is pretty obvious to everyone on the team.  Sigh.  Hoping for better things the rest of the way.

Posted by Michael on 01/17 at 06:37 AM
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Thursday, January 15, 2004

Conservatives denounce gay marriage, Mars mission

From “Bush’s Push for Marriage Falls Short for Conservatives,” David D. Kirkpatrick, New York Times, January 15, 2004:

Some major conservative Christian groups said yesterday that they were pleased but not satisfied by a new White House initiative to promote marriage, and they stepped up pressure on President Bush to champion a constitutional amendment prohibiting same-sex marriage in his State of the Union speech next week.

“This is like lobbing a snowball at a forest fire,” said Sandy Rios, president of Concerned Women of America, one of the largest conservative Christian advocacy groups. “This administration is dancing dangerously around the issue of homosexual marriage.”

Responding to conservative critics of the Bush administration, the Mixed Metaphor Association of America suggested that Rios’s remarks left Americans with a “thoroughly unclear” image of the threat posed by homosexuals.  “Gay marriage is like a forest fire, right, we got that part,” said Buster Poindexter, general secretary of the association.  “But then the administration is ‘dancing around’ it?  Exactly how big is this forest fire, anyway?  Is it one of those ‘raging’ things, or is it maybe just a campfire?  And where does the snow come from?  Did gays and lesbians build a campfire in the snow?  These are not idle questions.  Ordinary Americans need to know whether gays and lesbians are raging or just camping.”

In a related development, a spokesman for the Family Research Council today denounced President Bush’s plans for a manned mission to Mars later in this century.  Reginald Dwight, associate vice chair of the Council, said at a news conference that manned space exploration of the kind proposed by Bush would contribute to the deterioration of the American family.  “Mars ain’t the kind of place to raise your kids,” said Dwight.  “In fact, it’s cold as hell.  And there’s no one there to raise them, if you did.” Asked whether the Council would eventually support civil unions on Mars or perhaps one of the gaseous outer planets, Dwight replied, “I think it’s gonna be a long long time” before Christian conservatives would be willing to consider gay and lesbian rights anywhere in the known solar system.

Posted by Michael on 01/15 at 05:21 AM
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Monday, January 12, 2004

On the Mayberry machiavellis:  a theory (cough, cough) by me

Critics of the Bush administration have thus far been flummoxed by two things that just don’t seem to make sense in the context of the administration’s aggressive hawkishness: one, why have Bush-Cheney-Rumsfeld-Wolfowitz gone out of their way to disregard and alienate the US intelligence community, even going so far as to blow the cover of a CIA agent who was working on WMD proliferation (of all things), especially when CIA/DIA intelligence is so critical to fighting against a stateless entity like al-Qaeda?  and two, how in the world can the Bush administration keep cutting services and benefits for veterans of the armed forces, while so drastically downplaying deaths and casualties in Iraq and refusing to acknowledge or attend funerals of servicemen and women?

I’m as flummoxed as anyone else, but I do have a suggestion.  Perhaps, for the architects of Bush military and intelligence policy, it’s all just another political campaign, full of the usual leaks and dirty tricks and backstabbing-- except that these people, from the borderline-Strangelove Cheney to the evil-boy-genius Rove, don’t actually realize the consequences of conducting military/intelligence policy like a political campaign.  Take the Valerie Plame scandal, for instance: if we were talking about Bush v. McCain in the South Carolina primaries in 2000, maybe this kind of thing would make sense.  Let’s say Joseph Wilson pisses off the Bush team by endorsing McCain-- OK, then, the long knives come out, and they go to a compliant press apparatchik like Robert Novak with some hot dope on Wilson’s wife, leaking the fact that she just happens to be a McCain staffer.  (Then, of course, they follow it up by spreading the word that McCain himself is really a gay priest with a history of sexual abuse.) But them’s the primaries-- you just don’t do this sort of thing in the real world where there are real consequences involving real weapons.  And yet it doesn’t seem to have occurred to Cheney or whomever-- or, at least, it doesn’t seem to have bothered them-- that Plame was working on extremely sensitive matters involving the spread of nuclear weapons; no, the important thing was “sending a message” to Wilson and to anyone else in the intelligence community who might consider speaking out about the administration’s abuse of WMD intelligence in re Iraq, regardless of whether this actually damages our national security interests.  It’s just payback, the ordinary kind of retribution meted out by ruthless political machine hacks.

Likewise, with Iraq itself, I have to believe that the whole Project for the New American Century crew think of regional war as a large-scale version of board games like Risk or Diplomacy.  (Well, never mind Diplomacy-- that would involve dealing with Gerhard Schroeder.) That’s why no one in the Bush administration did any serious planning for the postwar scenario in Iraq:  in the board version of the game (the only kind most of these warlike fellows have ever played), you don’t need to secure the energy grid (or the museums!) or put together a police force or deal with massive unemployment, restive Islamist clerics, and guerrillas and their recruits sabotaging international agencies from the UN to the Red Cross.  All you have to do is roll the dice, move your pieces into the territory, and move the other guy’s pieces off the board.  In fact, I’m sure there’s an internal PNAC memo somewhere that says, “after we sweep through Baghdad and secure the Sunni triangle, we’ll move in those little pieces with the horses on them and a bunch of those cannon-things that equal ten units.  Then we can use our next turn to declare war on Syria.” (And so much for all the useful info Syrian intelligence has given us on al-Qaeda.)

And as for Bush’s treatment of our veterans and our wounded and dead in Iraq, well, here I have only a fanciful guess.  What if, just what if, Rove were conducting a kind of evil-genius (bwah hah hah hah) electoral experiment for 2004 and beyond-- to see just how shabbily a Republican administration could treat US servicemen and women and still pick up 90 percent of the military vote?  I know, it sounds loopy-- but then, I look back on the campaign the GOP ran for Senate in Georgia, and I have to think maybe it’s plausible after all.  Imagine that they’d said in early 2002, “Look at this Georgia thing-- now, let’s just see if we can run a Republican-who-avoided-the-draft against a triple-amputee Vietnam war vet, and challenge the vet on his patriotism.  Hey, if we lose, no harm done-- it’s a completely crazy-ass idea anyway.  But if we win? well, holy hypocrisy, Batman, if we win that one there’s nothing we can’t pull off in ‘04.” On that line of thinking, if a Republican White House can turn its back so callously to wounded vets who need long-term medical care and still win the military vote overwhelmingly, they obviously have that constituency locked up regardless of the facts on the ground, and they need never worry about it again.

Just a thought.

Posted by Michael on 01/12 at 09:22 AM
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Thursday, January 08, 2004

Dean really is the candidate of the far left!

After seeing that “Club for Growth” attack ad on Howard Dean, I began to wonder:  am I living in a right-wingnut fantasy world where George Bush is a “compassionate conservative” and liberal-centrists like Dean are part of a “left-wing freak show”?  Then I came across the following news item, and I realized, no, the Club for Growth has it right.  So OK, I can admit it when I’m mistaken.  Check it out:

Muscatine, Iowa (Rooters)-- Democratic presidential candidate Howard Dean today accepted the endorsement of the Workers World Party, declaring that the time had come “for black and white to unite and fight for a Worker’s World.” Together with his endorsements by the International Socialist Organization, the Spartacist League, the Revolutionary Communist Party, and the International Committee to Defend Slobodan Milosevic, the WWP announcement appeared to solidify Dean’s standing as the candidate of the far left.  “It is not enough to roll back George Bush’s tax cuts and take back America,” Dean said at a campaign stop in Ames, Iowa.  “These petty-bourgeois reform measures serve ultimately to legitimate the regime of global capital and US imperialism.  Rather, we must work at the very roots themselves, until the system of private property is abolished and the left’s long march through the institutions is completed.” When pressed on the critical question of “worker’s councils” as opposed to the formation of a “revolutionary vanguard,” however, Dean seemed to waffle, and his hesitation was immediately criticized by his Democratic rivals, especially Joseph Lieberman, who accused Dean of having “gone down the spider hole of crypto-anarcho-syndicalism,” and John Kerry, who insisted that a Democratic candidate who refused to endorse revolutionary worker’s councils would be “unelectable” against George Bush in November.

Posted by Michael on 01/08 at 06:07 AM
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I Can’t Stop

Somewhere in Scott Rettberg’s fascinating and protean hypertext novel The Unknown, there’s a character named Michael Bérubé who feeds a jukebox full of Motown tunes.  I just want to set the record straight on this.  I know it’s “fiction” and all, but Scott and I were not in the Bread Company in Urbana, Illinois, we were in a bar in downtown Cincinnati; and I was not playing Motown, I was playing a series of Al Green’s early-70s hits (this was in 1996, and you couldn’t find things like “Love and Happiness” and “You Ought to Be with Me” on just any old jukebox), and of course the Reverend made his recordings somewhat further to the south.

Everything else in The Unknown is true, however.

Anyway, for Xmas Janet got (among other things) Mr. Green’s latest, I Can’t Stop, and I’ve been listening to it these past few days, and it’s just great.  Kind of eerie, really, in that the whole thing is so thoroughly neo-70s, from the cover art to the last details of the mixing and recording.  But then, I also enjoyed more than half of Al Green’s other post-70s reappearance in pop, 1995’s Your Heart’s In Good Hands, especially “What Does It Take” (a great and still underappreciated groove).

Posted by Michael on 01/08 at 05:53 AM
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Wednesday, January 07, 2004

American Studies Association plenary address

The following is the text of the talk I delivered at the 2003 American Studies Association conference in Hartford, back in October.  I was on a plenary panel with Tariq Ali and Judith Butler; the moderator was Ruth Gilmore.  We spoke in alphabetical order, which meant that I had the unenviable task of following Tariq Ali, not that following Judith Butler would have been any easier.  As someone who supported the war in Afghanistan but strongly opposed the war in Iraq, I was in the distinct minority in a ballroom of 300-400 people-- for the former reason, not the latter, of course.

Good evening.  It is an honor to be asked to participate in this plenary session, on such a pressing topic, in such depressing times.  It is all the more an honor for me to be in such company, among people whose work I admire, because over the course of the past year and a half, I have found, not always to my surprise, that there are some precincts on the American left where I am no longer welcome.  But wherever and whenever I am given the opportunity, I will continue to try to put into practice what I learned years ago from Stuart Hall’s epochal readings of Thatcherism.  After 9-11, it has appeared to me that the only way for dissident intellectuals in the United States to oppose the Bush imperium cogently and effectively was to practice a Gramscian politics of persuasion rather than a voice-in-the-wilderness politics of declamation and denunciation.  It seemed, and it still seems, to me that the task before the left in the US is to learn to speak with people who do not share the fundamental assumptions of the left, who cannot recite all our articles of faith, but who might be persuaded that the proper response to the attacks of September 11 lay in isolating and neutralizing al-Qaeda, strengthening international systems of governance, and shoring up domestic civil services and public health systems without eroding the civil liberties of innocent people, particularly noncitizens.

Now, I have been misunderstood on this count before, and though I’m sure I?ll be misunderstood again, I’m going to give it another try.  In his recently published book, Full Spectrum Dominance: US Power in Iraq and Beyond, Rahul Mahajan writes that in 2002, the antiwar left was “afflicted with a variety of self-appointed spokespeople who were very careful to tell us the right and wrong ways to oppose the war.” About these spokespeople-- who happen to include me-- Mahajan writes, “without delving too much into their tendentious reasoning, or into their total lack of contribution to any antiwar movement, their continuing role now is very clear.  They were and are trying to keep the antiwar movement both from becoming a more sustained movement and from being an anti-imperialist movement.” This is actually wrong on both counts: what I wanted for the antiwar movement was precisely that it would be a more sustained movement, a movement capable of rallying around a principle more nuanced and more long-lived than “no blood for oil.” And I thought I was clear when I wrote, after Afghanistan, that the challenge “is to learn how to be strenuously anti-imperialist without being indiscriminately antiwar. It is a lesson the American left has never had to learn - until now.” I wrote that because I believe we have been in more or less open conflict with al-Qaeda for the past five years, and that although they are nebulous and stateless, they certainly understand themselves to be at war with us.

Perhaps I was not clear about this.  But it should be clear now, as it was clear to many of us (but not enough of us) three years ago, that the question before us in 2000 was, in part, a question of whether we could keep far-right lunatics like Cheney and Perle safely on the other side of the Potomac for another four years, lining their oily pockets in the case of Cheney and writing sci-fi fantasy Project for the New American Century “white papers” on the remaking of the Middle East in the case of Perle.  And this point speaks to two of the entrenched habits from which the intellectual left should try to wean itself.  First, the notion that national elections, in which the beliefs and desires of the intellectual left are shared by a small minority of the electorate, should be conducted by means of “expressivist” politics, as a matter of voting for the candidate you most believe in.  I believe the only way the Democratic Party is going to nominate a presidential candidate I truly love in my lifetime is if movement progressives begin to try to seize control of the party over the course of the next forty years the way movement conservatives moved the center of gravity in the GOP from Dwight Eisenhower to Tom DeLay in the last forty years.  Until then, I will consider national politics in the US largely a matter of trying to prevent the most egregious lunatics from running the asylum, and I will criticize anyone who professes indifference as to whether people like Bush, Rumsfeld, Rice, Wolfowitz, Feith, Ashcroft, Bolton and Negroponte are given access to the levers of global power.  The second habit from which the intellectual left should wean itself is the tiresome and morally bankrupt pretense that all the critics of Chomsky, Herman, Cockburn and company are craven, corporate K Street neoliberals and/or Friends of Bush.

Ed Herman is the master of this genre, unilaterally declaring who is and is not “on the left” and denouncing even publications like the Nation and In These Times as organs of “corporate mass media” whenever they publish something he doesn’t like.  Last fall Herman published a nasty piece of work, called “The Cruise Missile Left,” about which he is apparently so pleased that he has made it into a series.  The opening sentence of his initial essay reads as follows: “A prominent set of commentators claiming to speak from the left have aligned themselves with the national leadership in support of an aggressive military interventionism and projection of power abroad.” These figures, who, Herman tells us, are not really on the left, include Michael Walzer, Todd Gitlin, Marc Cooper, David Corn, Christopher Hitchens, and myself.  But the astonishing thing about this list is that, whatever the failings of its individual members (and Gitlin was wrong about identity politics eight years ago, just as I believe Cooper was wrong about Kosovo), every single person on it, with the notorious exception of Hitchens, for whom I will carry no water today, had openly and unambiguously refused to align themselves with the national leadership in support of an aggressive military interventionism and projection of power abroad.  We all opposed Bush’s war in Iraq, and we all opposed the Bush-Cheney “National Security Strategy” released in September of 2002.  (It’s interesting that two of the most intellectually serious leftists who supported a military response in Afghanistan, Richard Falk and Ian Williams, are not on this list.  It’s easy enough to have a go at Hitchens, certainly-- but Falk and Williams are much more careful thinkers, and much harder to refute or rebuke.) Herman’s ignoble but self-gratifying task, then, is-- and has been for the past year-- to show how other leftists’ opposition to war in Iraq is in fact a form of support for war in Iraq.  The logic at work here runs as follows: you are with us, or you are with the Bush administration.  I would hope that in the future, this kind of Manicheanism should remain confined to the Bush administration.

Herman proceeds by showing that the cruise missile leftists supported retaliatory strikes against the Taliban, whereas Herman himself, even in December 2001, did not consider the Taliban worth the trouble: as he put it, “the idea that the Taliban is a fascist and expansionist threat, and that Islamic fundamentalism more broadly speaking is the same, doesn’t hold water.” One wonders just how far Islamists would have to reach-- beyond, say, Kabul, Lagos, New York, and Bali-- before Herman would consider them “expansionist,” and how many more Muslims they would have to kill, never mind non-Muslims, before Herman would consider them sufficiently dangerous to warrant consideration from the left.  But speaking only for myself, I believe there is a world of difference between “regime change” in Afghanistan and in Iraq, and I can say this without condoning every US action in Afghanistan and even while acknowledging that the Bush-Cheney program in Afghanistan since the fall of the Taliban has looked as if it were designed to produce a resurgence of al-Qaeda in that part of the world.  The difference is this: the military strikes in Afghanistan were retaliatory-- retaliation against the only state controlled by al-Qaeda, the only state from which they could establish training camps and plan future actions.  And as I said earlier, al-Qaeda had been at war with the US since the bombings of American embassies in Kenya and Tanzania, and the attack on the USS Cole.  Now, it happens to be true that some populations around the globe have good reason to consider the US their enemy, and some of them would find ready sympathizers within the US, also for good reason; but by any leftist standard I can credit, al-Qaeda is not one of them.

The military operations in Iraq, by contrast, represent a decisive and perhaps irreversible step in US foreign policy: over that threshold, we are explicitly engaged in a pre-emptive, imperialist and potentially neocolonialist enterprise, even if, like Paul Wolfowitz or Robert Kaplan, you believe that we are doing it for the good of the planet, as opposed, say, for the good of the senior officials of Halliburton.  That is why I opposed the war in Iraq: not simply because it would cost too much or put Americans in harm’s way but because it represented the triumph of the neoconservative and explicitly imperialist program for US foreign policy (as contrasted with the covertly imperialist or imperialist-by-proxy or imperialist-in-denial program, as Amy Kaplan pointed out last night).  To oppose the neocon program, as many liberals did, by suggesting that Iraq was a distraction from al-Qaeda and Afghanistan was to miss the point (these liberals, including Al Gore, were right, but they missed the point); for Cheney and Wolfowitz, Rumsfeld and Perle, the whole PNAC crew, it was the other way around: for them, after 9/11, Afghanistan was a distraction from the redrawing of the Middle East beginning with Iraq.  I want to stress this point, and I want especially to stress how counterintuitive it is: for PNAC, al-Qaeda itself was not even so much a pretext as a distraction.  Iraq was Item A from the very start, indeed from the founding PNAC memo of 1998, regardless of who was actually responsible for September 11.

To some extent, it is understandable that marginalized left intellectuals might respond to the events of the past two years by circling the wagons when people like me take issue with Noam Chomsky’s declaration, in mid-September 2001, that the US was already guilty of possibly millions of murders yet to be committed in Afghanistan, or when we object to Chomsky’s even earlier declaration, on the afternoon of September 11, that the events of that day are dwarfed by Clinton’s bombing of the al-Shifa pharmaceutical plant in Khartoum in 1998.  And though this shouldn’t be necessary, let me say it again: the bombing of al-Shifa was a crime.  The subsequent coverup was a crime.  And the bombing of the wedding party at Kakrak, Afghanistan in July 2002 was an atrocity.  But it will not do to pretend, as Norman Finkelstein does in his most recent essay, that all critiques of Chomsky are part of a “smear” campaign.  This willingness to construe legitimate disagreement as slander is a hallmark of the Fox News-Karl Rove-Ann Coulter right, and this too should remain confined to the right, where, I believe, it will find its natural home.

Still, I can understand some wagon-circling when it comes to Chomsky.  Chomsky is an intellectual giant, has been a freedom fighter from Vietnam to Central America to East Timor, and is not a threat to the planet.  On all three counts, he is distinguishable from George Bush.  And what’s more, criticisms of public intellectuals on the left do sometimes take the form of smears, as they have in the past month in obituaries of Edward Said filed by Richard Bernstein of The New York Times and the anonymous Ibn Warraq for the Wall Street Journal. But I cannot understand this kind of defensiveness when it comes to the Workers World Party and their near-monopoly over antiwar demonstrations last year.  Here too, I need to clarify the record:  I have never suggested that the WWP or any other neo-Stalinoid splinter group be driven out of the antiwar movement.  I believe that every mass movement is allowed to have its fringy wingnuts, and we are certainly entitled to ours.  But the idea that anyone on the democratic socialist left, like myself, should suppress their criticisms of the WWP in the interests of unity while the WWP itself proceeds with a divisive and sectarian antiwar agenda-- this idea is not worthy of the name. It is simply not the case that International ANSWER organized an antiwar movement; on the contrary, International ANSWER managed to hijack a broad antiwar movement and use it to forward its own agenda, particularly with regard to Israel and Palestine.  If Dick Cheney had gotten together with the editors of the Wall Street Journal to decide how to infiltrate the left and drive Americans away from the antiwar movement, they could not have done better than to form ANSWER.  And it is much too late in the day for the far left to pretend that anti-ANSWER critics like myself and David Corn are the kind of anti-Communists who would’ve washed our hands of the Scottsboro Boys because they were being defended by the CPUSA.  The leaders of the WWP, supporters of North Korea, Slobodan Milosevic, and the massacre in Tiananmen Square, are not your grandfather’s Communist Party, and the US left will never mount an effective opposition to the Bush imperium if we tell ourselves we just need to party like it’s 1933.

Opposition to our occupation of Iraq is growing, but it is for the most part a narrowly pragmatic and self-interested opposition, based largely on the costs of war to Americans in terms of budgets and bodybags.  I want to forge a broad front of opposition to Bush and PNAC long before they invade Syria, long before they have given Ariel Sharon the go-ahead for massive “transfers” and ethnic cleansing in the Occupied Territories.  But a principled left can’t argue against our misadventure in Iraq simply on the basis of budgets and bodybags.  It may nevertheless be possible, in many counties of this country, to argue from the left that global empire is, finally, not in the nation’s long-term best interest.  It may sound to some of you like a timid, nationalist argument, one that leaves the idea of the “national” interest intact.  And I was reminded last night that right-wing anti-imperialism, such as Pat Buchanan’s, is of no use to us; an anti-imperialism founded on nativism and xenophobia is indeed worse than useless.  But arguing that imperialism is bad for the US itself is no more timid and no more compromised, I think, than the parallel argument that Sharon and his fellow Likudniks will ultimately degrade and destroy the very idea of Israel.  If there has been one unexpected development in the national security apparatus in the past two years, it has been the gradual discovery that there are indeed many people in the military and in the intelligence services who do not want to see the United States take irrevocable steps toward a pre-emptive military policy and an explicitly imperialist relation to the rest of the globe.  Figures like Rand Beers, Joseph Wilson, and General Anthony Zinni probably do not read Z Magazine-- I don’t think they even read Dissent.  And their opposition to American empire is couched largely in terms of American national self-interest.  But as the American left tries slowly to regain some of the ground and some of the constituencies we have lost since 9-11, we cannot afford to ignore such potential allies in the struggle against the Project for the New American Century, and we cannot afford to ignore the potential of appeals to an enlightened and anti-imperialist national interest.

Postscript:  The very first “question” from the floor came from a man who called this talk “disgraceful” and claimed that I had, in fact, “smeared” Chomsky by claiming that he had accused the US of “possibly millions” of deaths in Afghanistan.  I referred the questioner both to Chomsky’s Radio B92 (Belgrade) interview of September 18, 2001 and the New York Times article of September 16, 2001 which Chomsky was at once citing and inflating, but only to assure the audience that I was not making up the charge-- that far from “smearing” Chomsky, I was quoting him directly.  But this was, of course, lost on the questioner himself, who likewise did not understand (and I did not want to up the agon ante by pointing this out at the time) that his question had in fact (unfortunately, but quite dramatically) confirmed my claim that the far left now construes legitimate disagreement as slander.

Posted by Michael on 01/07 at 06:07 AM
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